Updated below: Mike Bonin, Rosendahl's chief of staff, responds.
Rosendahl got into arcane details of the project's financing, its potential to interfere with conventions, the parking, and a host of other concerns. All told, it ran to 38 queries, all of which are still awaiting answers from the city's experts.
The L.A Weekly recently obtained another list of 44 questions, which appears to be the basis for many of Rosendahl's questions. According to the source who provided the list, it was distributed to council staff by John Ek, who at the time was lobbying on behalf of Majestic Realty — AEG's arch-rival in the quest to bring an NFL team to L.A.
The lists are not identical, but a side-by-side comparison shows that many questions are pretty similar:
Majestic: “Will the stadium developer agree to never sell/refinance the project until the bonds are paid off?”
Rosendahl: “Will the developer agree to never sell/refinance the project until the bonds are paid off?
Majestic: “The L.A. Auto Show controls the entire convention center nearly the whole month of November; will we have Football or the L.A. Auto Show?”
Rosendahl: “The L.A. Auto Show occupies the entire Convention Center nearly the whole month of November which is football season. How will the two co-exist?”
Majestic: “Given the passing of Prop. 26, would a 'ticket tax' require voter approval?”
Rosendahl: “Does the new Proposition 26 require that the proposed ticket tax be approved by voters?”
Rosendahl's office has denied that his questions were supplied or at least inspired by Majestic's lobbyist. “We have not talked to Majestic,” said his spokesman, Tony Arranaga.
Asked to explain the similarity between the two lists, Arranaga said that it could be a coincidence. He did not offer any other explanation.
Ek — who is the subject of these week's L.A. Weekly cover story, “Mr. Juice: How Lobbyist John Ek Gets His Way at City Hall” — has not returned phone calls. He has cited a policy of not talking to the press.
A Majestic rep said the list did not come directly from Majestic, but did not know whether Ek had supplied such a list to council members on Majestic's behalf. Ek is no longer employed by Majestic.
“These are legitimate and valid questions that any elected official would ask, especially when taxpayer dollars and public land is being discussed,” the Majestic representative said.
According to the source who provided the list, it was distributed shortly before the council's first vote on the AEG project, in early February. That's about a month before Rosendahl issued his public list of questions about the AEG project.
If Rosendahl's office offers any further explanation, we'll report it here. Update: A more detailed statement from Mike Bonin, Rosendahl's chief of staff:
We did not have any conversations or communications at all with Magestic or any member of the Ek & Ek staff regarding the questions the councilman has asked about the AEG proposal.
Since the councilman began focusing on this issue, he and his staff have asked for and received potential questions from scores of people – constituents, current city employees, former city employees, people familiar with the Staples deal in the 90s, people who are knowledgeable about municipal finance and business, and even reporters. People have suggested questions at City Hall, at public events, and at the local farmer's markets.
People outside and inside of city government are interested and engaged in this issue, and the councilman wants to be a conduit for their concerns and questions.
Frankly, we can't see why or how the source of the questions matter. We'll entertain and ask questions from anyone – constituents, community leaders, labor officials, businesspeople and bloggers. Like journalists, we think questions are good — and from the feedback we're getting, Los Angeles agrees; people are thrilled Bill is asking them.
Rosendahl's 38 questions are here. The list of 44 questions is below: