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LATC: Round Four Live

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, May 06, 2005, at 02:20PM

So we're back in City Hall Room 1010 today as the new process to select an operator for the Los Angeles Theatre Center begins. Instant recap: After two years of delay, City Council just Wednesday killed the original RFP process. Now it's back in front of the Budget & Finance Committee as we determine how this is going to proceed.

6:00 -- The meeting's over, I just got some tamales for a late lunch, and now I'm finally back to summarize this all up. Bottom line: Nothing's happening by any sort of a May 17th date. Over the next thirty days the City will talk to interested parties about the operation of the center, and then the CLA's office will come back with "results and recommendations." My live-blogged notes are after the jump, and I'll even throw in a little bit of my opinion beforehand, just in case you were interested.

Both the new and old reports from the CLA's office are available in the council file.

Update (8pm): This week's issue of the Downtown News has an article on Wednesday's proceedings, titled "LATC Battle Continues to Inflame." Jon notes that the same report considered today will also come before Arts, Parks, Health and Aging on Tuesday morning.

My Post-Meeting Opinions

It was an interesting meeting today. I thought Councilman Parks ran things in an orderly fashion and, as I mentioned in the liveblog, I really appreciated that they put the CLA's report before public comment. I'm still a little apprehensive about the idea of negotiations and an "expedited solicitation process," though. In a case such as this, clear requirements are needed to establish criteria to which the interested parties can respond. Without that sort of guidance, one ends up in a situation of having to compare apples and oranges and it all comes down to a subjective decision. This must be more about the community than it is about who brings more money to the table.

Most of the public comment was orderly this time around. However, I did not care for some of the things those associated with the Latino Theatre Company had to say about Tom Gilmore. I don't know and I don't care about who caused negotiations between the two to go sour, but when it comes to a public meeting there is a way to say a thing in order to get your point across while retaining your decency. As an unassociated party I was offended by their statements. The Councilmembers present have to endure a lot in public comment, but I would hope that they were offended as well.

Liveblogged Notes

2:20 -- Still waiting for the meeting to begin.

2:25 -- Now we're starting. The first thing Bernard Parks had to do was tell the public that the meeting was properly noticed, no matter whether it showed up on the website twenty-four hours ahead or not.

2:35 -- First up is a rep from the CLA. The first issue is how to preserve the grant while still having very different conditions than the first time the RFP process happened. CLA recommends that the Council approve the concept of leasing for twenty years. Authorize staff to enter into non-exclusive negotiations with LTC/LM to flesh out proposal. Find out if they're willing to run the facility under conditions that the facility is for public-use. Recommend soliciting other proposals at the same time and see who else would be willing to bring eight million dollars to the table.

Clarification via questioning from Parks on whether this is an RFP process. CLA rep moved around the question, but the gist is it wouldn't be a formal RFP with normal scoring and criteria.

More questioning from Parks on the May 17th deadline. CLA doesn't anticipate the Endowment acting on the grant at that time, but they could do whatever they wanted. Showing progress should buy time for a decision.

2:45 -- Garcetti is up now. Says it feels like theatre in LA is leaderless. More theatres than other cities, but still companies looking at having to leave. "Make sure that this isn't just a discussion about two theatre companies and one location." Clarifies with CLA that they would be negotiating feasibility, not an actual deal. Doesn't think the first procedure was necessarily fair, but doesn't think anything other than a full RFP would be fair now. Says Council "has a lot of eyes upon us, as there should be."

CLA reaffirms belief that progress, and a willingness to look at the process, would keep the grant process open as more deliberately paced discussions ensue.

To interject my opinion for a second, I really like that this questioning is happening before public comment. It's not productive for public comment to happen blind.

2:50 -- Questioning is still around whether this would be an RFP. Could be an "Expidited Solicitation of Interest." Garcetti says he isn't all too familiar with that, and wants to make sure that any process is very clear to the public.

2:57 -- Margie Reese: Issue primarily related to time. Looking to resolve two issues here. Looking to settle fate of LATC, but also looking for something that might be a theatre master plan. Wants to be able to work with the CRA on a larger plan to look for theatre homes. Need different departments to have consolidated plan. Understand need for timeliness, but want to take the time needed to develop a plan. Part of success with Valley Cultural Center has come from Cultural Affairs being able to be involved in helping the theatre operations get going.

Parks clarifies that there not looking for a master plan right now, just some preliminary steps.

3:04 -- Public comment is starting. It will be limited to one minute per speaker. First speaker is from LTC, reading a letter from someone who couldn't be here, and it's a lot longer than a minute. The letter emphasized Councilwoman Perry's motion calling for joint negotiation with Will & Co. / LTC. It's pretty obviously anti-Gilmore. Comments that grant is only for LTC's operation of the facility. Says what was received and filed was just Gilmore's proposal. Says there was an invitation a year ago for anyone to present a new proposal.

3:06 -- Gilmore's up now. "Asking you to do one thing and one thing only." Asks that Gilmore/Will & Co be specifically added to negotiations. Parks says they fall under "any other company." It was a little tense.

3:10 -- A Will & Co member is asking why this committee is meeting so quickly. Says reschedule requests from both Miscikowski and Smith (both of whom are absent) were denied.

3:24 -- Brady got to go over the minute as well, taking time to play a tape of statements from the last meeting talking about how the original LATC went bankrupt because of having to pay rent, and then saying he had reports showing that to be false.

Then I spoke, and had a nice time with a cracking voice. I don't know what was up with that. Kjell says it's nice to see I've hit puberty. My comment, though, was that we need to recognize the needs and desired of the Downtown community in these discussions.

3:33 -- A speaker from LTC is up now, and I'm not going to get into accusations of "they wouldn't cooperate" / "no they wouldn't". But yikes... He just said LTC is people of color, Will & Co is people of color, Gilmore is "the color of money." After that Gilmore got up and walked out.

3:40 -- Public comment is over. Whew.

Parks says that the meeting had to be today since Budget & Finance is about to be sequestered on the budget. He says the two committee members not present did not in fact ask for the meeting to be delayed and were comfortable with it proceeding in their absense. He says they wanted to hold the meeting now to give the CLA as much time as possible.

"This is not a rush to judgement, but a rush to information."

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