The authority, made up of city, county and state officials, frequently cancels its meetings, creates cryptic agendas that shed little light on the real business at hand, and often goes behind closed doors for executive sessions. All but unknown to the Los Angeles public, the arcane authority typically gives only 48 hours' notice that it is meeting.
The only Grand Avenue Authority board member willing to speak publicly about Broad's new role in the Grand Avenue development was Los Angeles County Chief Executive Officer William T. Fujioka, the fiscal adviser to the Board of Supervisors. Fujioka says he is comfortable with Broad's role, as long as Fujioka fulfills his job: to fiscally examine any deal to assure that "it's a good project for the county."
Rich tease: Eli Broad dangled his art in front of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, but privately pushed for downtown.
A spokesman for Grand Avenue Authority member Gloria Molina would not comment. That spokesman referred questions to Grand Avenue Committee staffer Martha Welborne — an indication of the intertwined insider nature of the project and its overseers. Welborne was president of the American Institute of Architects/Los Angeles in 2008. In that position, she chose Broad to receive the group's "Building Team of the Year" award.
Another politician on the Grand Avenue Authority, Councilwoman Perry, did not respond to the Weekly's requests for comment. Perry owns a condo a very short walk from the planned hotel and shops — and, now, from the proposed new site of the Broad art museum.
Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who along with City Councilman Bill Rosendahl has been the only elected official to vote against the Grand Avenue development, reacted with strong words to Broad's plan to use part of the land for his museum.
Antonovich notes in an e-mail, "It would be irresponsible for the Grand Avenue Authority to give away more taxpayer funds to use as an 'incentive' for a museum that Beverly Hills and Santa Monica are courting."
Broad is widely credited with saving MOCA from financial demise in December 2008, when few of the city's elite would contribute to the troubled institution.
"He's been not just the architect of the remaking of downtown, but the rainmaker," notes Court.
The idea of displaying Broad's own collection across the street from MOCA has earned rave reviews in many quarters.
"When you add the Broad Museum, in combination with MOCA and the Music Center and the Grand Avenue project, I'm sure it will be an amazing cultural center," says Russell Brown, a downtown resident who is president of the Downtown Neighborhood Council.
And, as Court notes: "There's no law against being rich and powerful and having your art displayed on the front lawn of the project you developed — I think."