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    In February, the Chargers revealed they were planning a new football stadium that would cost more than $1 billion to share with the Oakland Raiders in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson. Team officials said they’d been secretly negotiating with Carson leaders for at least a month prior to the announcement.

    What did those negotiations consist of? Not a single email, text message, memo or anything on paper at all between the teams or the NFL and any elected official in Carson, according to city officials.

    Less than a week after the Carson stadium news broke, we asked the city for any communications between Carson’s mayor or City Council members and the Chargers, Raiders or the league. We asked again after the city approved the new stadium at a Council meeting. Both times Carson’s attorneys requested multiple extensions of the state’s public records law before telling us twice that no records existed.

    Carson is not saying that written communications between its elected officials and the Chargers, Raiders and league should be shielded from public view because they are part of real estate negotiations or other legitimate exemptions from the state’s records laws. No, they’re saying that there are literally zero electronic or paper communications between Carson’s elected officials and the NFL.


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    We find this hard to believe. So we sued Carson on May 27, asking a court to compel the city to turn over any documents that might exist. From the suit:

    The city’s refusal to provide the records sought by Voice’s first two [public records] requests lacks any substantive or evidentiary justification and instead relies upon an unreasonable suspension of belief – namely, that a small city may interact with multi-billion dollar organizations like the NFL and the teams without the production of a single email, text message or letter, even those relating to public hearings which the city has already held in approving the stadium project without a vote of its citizenry and circumventing CEQA.

    The suit may not ultimately yield any new documents. But we’ll keep you updated on the case.

      This article relates to: Chargers Stadium, News

      Written by Liam Dillon

      Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

      25 comments
      Juniper Flesco
      Juniper Flesco

      The Voice of San Diego's suit against the City of Carson contains the term "suspension of belief." That's a serious blunder. The correct term is "suspension of disbelief." Didn't anybody at Voice of San Diego copy-edit their own lawsuit?

      Dean Plassaras
      Dean Plassaras

      There you go. Confirmation that the Chargers have been talking to Carson since 2013:


      http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/sports/Tough-Negotiations-on-Chargers-Stadium-Start-Tuesday-305780461.html


      This also confirms the validity of the VOSD lawsuit because Carson should have at least given them copies of the exclusive agreements by Rand and US Capital showing the NFL and Chargers contacts dating back to 2013. It was a grand lie to say that Carson had no written record because such non-existing written record just surfaced as part of another lawsuit against Carson.


      http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2091261-city-of-carson-lawsuit.html#document/p3


      The thing about lies is that once you tell one a whole bunch of more lies follow to cover the original lie. Deception at work.



      rhylton
      rhylton subscriber

      I may be mistaken in two areas.


      1. Even if Goldsmith did invoke attorney-client privilege that invocation could be challenged if what has been said about Goldsmith's letter is true, i.e. it had been sent to both sides. By both sides I mean the letter was sent to representatives of both the  City and of the Chargers.

      2. My recollection of the article that disclosed/ discussed the  above.


      Go for it  means go for consistency. A spurious invocation of privilege operates the same way as an outright denial of existence; nothing is produced.

      Dean Plassaras
      Dean Plassaras

      @Robert Cohen Robles made a series of faux pas in his interview. He said that The Chargers (an extension of the NFL) and Carson Marketplace (aka Starwood) were in private talks yet Carson Marketplace(the Seller) can't even go to the bathroom without Carson's permission (because of certain specific covenants about Starwood's deliverables vis-a-vis the city of Carson). So Carson knew from day one about the NFL's interest which remains paperless (very odd). It might turn out that Starwood Capital is the Achilles heel in all of this. When were the Chargers first talked to Starwood/Carson Marketplace about a new stadium and hence the need for a map zoning overlay to allow for such stadium use?  It's a lie to suggest that all these contacts have happened during the last 6-7 months. This smells like at least 24 months effort in the making.

      Robert Cohen
      Robert Cohen subscriber

      Nice interview with AM980 in Los Angeles regarding the lawsuit.

      Dean Plassaras
      Dean Plassaras

      @Robert Cohen Liam's interview was fine but a bit on the defensive. I would have said to the Beast 980 interviewers that the Carson documents might uncover a major lie told by the local owner. Namely that there were no previous communications in 2014 with Carson and that the whole Carson stadium idea was a spontaneous product following the mayoral speech early this year.


      It's quite obvious that Fabiani had initiated discussions with Carson sometime in 2013, because the owner by May 2014 was admitting that they have a plan which they couldn't openly share for obvious reasons.


      An obvious question for Liam is: did he try to contact Carson Marketplace (the land Seller)? Because the minute Carson Marketplace was contacted by Fabiani about a possible deal they must have relayed such info immediately to the city due to the seller's contractual obligation about site clean up. So , another way to find out when actual conversations started in Carson about a stadium is to find out how early the land seller was contacted and by whom.

      Jim Abbott
      Jim Abbott subscribermember

      I urge VOSD to produce and distribute a travelogue-style film about Carson. From the choking traffic along the I-405 to fuming, sulphur-spewing refineries that define Carson as less California and more like a scene from Dante's Inferno.


      At the risk of hate-mail, either this whole, improbable move to LA as the third-string team behind the probable return of both the Rams and the Raiders - is a ruse or it's a done deal. I hope I am wrong. In the event that the Spanos/Fabiani satanic partnership has winked or inked a contract with Carson, San Diego should proceed with a bayfront stadium downtown funded by the NFL and the owners of a soon-to-be-determined NFL franchise that knows better how to win a public relations battle and how to a win superbowl - neither of which the Chargers ever will do.  

      michael-leonard
      michael-leonard subscriber

      The story here is that the City of Carson says there is no documentation to be given, NOT that VoSD is suing them. It IS an important issue. But to make yourselves the story, as your headline does, is self-serving and unprofessional.

      Dean Plassaras
      Dean Plassaras

      @michael-leonard But there is an actual case number and a real case filed by VOSD. How could any of this be construed as self-serving and unprofessional?


      VoSD's mission is transparency for the benefit of citizens. So, if VOSD had actually filed a case against Carson (as they already did) and never disclosed it openly via a very public article such the one you just read, that would have been very unprofessional and perhaps self-serving.


      Are you accusing VOSD of making its own news? Because this is not the case at all. Having filed its case, VOSD's business was to make you aware of it consistent with VOSD's mission statement.

      fuck stick
      fuck stick

      @Dean Plassaras @michael-leonard "VoSD's mission is transparency for the benefit of citizens." What citizens are you speaking of? Carsons or SDs? If its Carson, they dont need it, they signed a petition. 

      rhylton
      rhylton subscriber

      Liam;


      I would prefer to see a headline caption that reads; "We are suing the City of San Diego."


      VOSD reports :


      "Scott Lewis also describes the city attorney’s contortions to hide the contents of a message that’s “apparently so toxic and disruptive to the mayor’s strategy in dealing with the Chargers that the city is taking extraordinary measures to keep it confidential.”


      Since Goldsmith has refused to release his toxic and disruptive letter, it seems, at least to me, that similar grounds for suit exist right here.


      Go for it Liam!

      Dean Plassaras
      Dean Plassaras

      @rhylton I don't thing you get it.


      The issue is not to have SD city documents which could very well be shielded under attorney client privilege or protected as critical docs  towards a potential a deal such as the status of SD's stadium.


      The issue here is when exactly (at which precise point in time) discussions started with Carson about converting some otherwise zoned land to allow also for building a stadium? When? 2 months ago? 2 years ago? and by whom? Who contacted the city of Carson first and said "guys I have an idea; let's convert an already entitled project towards a stadium overlay use as well".


      This would expose the opaque methods used by the NFL franchises in securing negative leverage against their host cities. What would a similar exercise in SD reveal to you? That the owner has been belly aching since he got his last renovation and a new training facility? The local owner is on record as early as 2001 asking for a new stadium 3 years after he got a major renovation costing the SD taxpayer roughly $80 Million.


      So what do you mean by go for it? Did the city of San Diego ever pretended that they absolutely have no documents on the Chargers' case? Because that's what Carson is saying. Incredible as it sounds Carson maintains that the Carson stadium deal was a product of document  parthenogenesis( virgin birth). It just happened without anyone ever documenting anything about it.



      Silence Dogood
      Silence Dogood

      How much money does Voice of San Diego stand to make from such a lawsuit?

      Dean Plassaras
      Dean Plassaras

      @Silence Dogood A summons is not a lawsuit. A summons is best described as an order towards a specific action. The summons filed by VOSD compels Carson to produce material  or reply within 30 days.


      There is no money to be made from such actions. VOSD is acting on a principle similar to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) which entitles citizens to be in the know about their government.


      The case filed is related to the summons but at the moment it's the response to the summons that matters the most. However, the basis for VOSD's action is found here:


      http://www.thefirstamendment.org/publicrecordsact.pdf


      Robert Cohen
      Robert Cohen subscriber

      @Silence Dogood VOSD is most likely filing a lawsuit under the California Public Records Act. A favorable decision by a court would allow VOSD to get it's court costs and attorneys' fees reimbursed by the city.  

      Dean Plassaras
      Dean Plassaras

      Carson would be such an embarrassment for the NFL owner. It shows the low IQ level which conceived this stupendous nonsense.

      tarfu7
      tarfu7 subscribermember

      Nice work, guys. It certainly seems like the public leaders in this stadium saga - in both San Diego and Carson - are trying to avoid public oversight as much as possible. Yet they're toying with billions of dollars in public money. Thank you for shining some light on these dealings. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. 

      Whether we build a new stadium or not, our citizens will be better served by a transparent process - so that WE can decide what happens with our valuable tax dollars. 

      David Benz
      David Benz subscriber

      @Dean Plassaras Dean you are an ignorant moron.  You don't have any "inside" information, that's just another one of your pathetic lies.  You've been outed repeatedly as a pathological liar, no one believes your BS

      Dean Plassaras
      Dean Plassaras

      @tarfu7 It is a well known fact that as of last May 2014 the owner had already settled on the Carson plan and was speaking to Carson about it. There is clear evidence of which I am personally aware of (but can't publicly disclose).