@THE GUSS REPORT-It would be easier to write something positive about Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti if there wasn’t the gnawing feeling that virtually everything he says is torturously measured, in need of dissection and adding an asterisk or three.
For example, last week the San Diego Chargers announced they are leaving the team’s home of 56 years to come to LA … the County of Los Angeles, not the City of Los Angeles where Garcetti is Mayor.
The Chargers wisely chose to play their next few seasons in the nearby City of Carson’s diminutive, but new and fun 30,000-seat StubHub Center and have the place filled to the brim with fans rather than in Garcetti’s half-empty, soon-to-be-vacant and soon-to-be 95-year old LA Memorial Coliseum while the Rams’ billion dollar stadium in the City of Inglewood is being built.
So let’s back-up and dissect, shall we?
The Chargers are moving between three cities not named Los Angeles. They are leaving San Diego, temporarily to Carson, and will eventually wind-up in Inglewood. They will only be in the City of Los Angeles if, and when, they play the soon-to-be-leaving Rams.
But in Garcetti’s mind, he needs to make the public (i.e. voters) feel as though he accomplished something, and so put out a statement welcoming the Chargers “back to” LA:
“….Today, we welcome an important part of (LA’s sports) history back with the Chargers returning to Los Angeles….The Chargers will make our NFL tradition even richer….”
What NFL tradition? The City of Los Angeles does not have its own franchise anymore, and hasn’t in decades. What is this “will make” you speak of, Mayor Garcetti?
The Chargers played in the City of Los Angeles for just one season, in 1960, when the Coliseum was only 37 years old. There was so little interest in them despite their having a winning season that on December 10, 1960 only 9,928 people attended the game in the nearly 100,000 seat Coliseum. Their highest attendance that season was 21,805.
By “returning to” Los Angeles, Garcetti once again tries to blur the lines between the City which he does govern and the County which he does not.
The only City of Los Angeles Mayor to bring the Chargers here was C. Norris Poulson, who also lured the Dodgers to LA from Brooklyn. Garcetti misleads the public on the NFL because there is nothing that an ambitious politician loves more than those awkward stadium groundbreaking photos where he (or she) wears a pricey suit with a silver hard hat and holds a shovel. Politicians crave them because, they feel, the massive cost of the project to the taxpayers takes a backseat to being able to claim that they brought a sports team and thousands of jobs to the area.
In each chapter of Garcetti’s career in City Hall he never got that photo so he issues statements and Tweets, all deceptively.
(Note: there is an unintentionally humorous and ironic anecdote on Mayor Poulson’s Wikipedia page which reads “Poulson's victory in the Los Angeles mayoral race came after a contentious battle in which his opponent, incumbent Mayor Fletcher Bowron, claimed that the Los Angeles Times wanted to control city government and, by endorsing Poulson, would have a puppet in the mayor's office.)
Some things never change, but I digress.
Garcetti’s NFL charade is nothing new. During his failed quest for the Rams to make the City of Los Angeles its permanent home, he discouraged other U.S. mayors from doing the same thing, telling ESPN, “Don't be so desperate for a sports franchise and don't put your city in debt for decades.”
But that is precisely what Garcetti did during his 12 years on the LA City Council, six of which he spent as its president, and during his first term as Mayor.
Last May, I wrote that City Hall squandered too much time groveling for a Super Bowl that it wouldn’t – and didn’t – get.
And in June, I pointed out that Garcetti was still awkwardly and deceptively Tweeting that he succeeded in getting the 2021 Super Bowl when he didn’t.
The only rich NFL tradition that Garcetti and the LA City Council have is their ill-advised begging for it, always coming up empty and never quite telling it like it is.
(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a contributor to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, Huffington Post and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.