Secret negotiations. Mysterious dismissals at City Hall. Billion dollar sports arenas. The political intrigue is deepening in Inglewood over the Los Angeles Clippers’ proposed stadium.
The Madison Square Garden Company has been battling the city in court to block the $1.1 billion arena project, which was proposed to sit just a few blocks from MSG Co.-owned The Forum. Now a former aide to Mayor James T. Butts appears to support one of MSG’s central claims against the city, according to the Daily Breeze.
MSG Co. claims city officials lied to company executives when they said the city wanted to build a technology park on a city-owned parcel that MSG Co. had rights to lease. MSG Co. gave up rights to the property and the city soon announced a deal with the Clippers to build their stadium there, a clear violation of the MSG Co.-Inglewood agreement, the company claims.
Now, Butts’ former aide Melanie McDade-Dickens has submitted changes to 148 answers she gave in two depositions as part of MSG’s suit. She claims she heard Butts specifically mention a technology park in a phone discussion with MSG Co. chairman Irving Azoff before the city announced the Clippers agreement, something she previously denied.
The city denies McDade-Dickens’ claims and asked a judge to throw out her corrections. Skip Miller, an attorney for the city, called it “perjury on a massive scale,” and accused McDade-Dickens of coordinating with MSG Co. to change her testimony.
McDade-Dickens worked for Butts for eight years and her $342,000 salary was one of the highest in the city last year. In July, McDade-Dickens was escorted from city hall against her will and hasn’t returned, suggesting her relationship with Butts soured at some point.
MSG Co. has fought the Clippers’ project tooth and nail, protesting the franchise’s effort to streamline approvals for it and allegedly funding two lawsuits by community advocacy groups against the city over the project. [Daily Breeze] – Dennis Lynch