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  1. #1
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    St. Louis CVC Asks Judge Whether Dome Records Should Be Released Publicly

    St. Louis CVC asks judge whether Dome records should be released publicly

    BY MATTHEW HATHAWAY
    Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    ST. LOUIS The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission wants a judge's ruling on whether it is obligated to publicly release the Rams' proposal for renovating the Edward Jones Dome.

    The CVC this morning filed a petition in St. Louis Circuit Court to get a determination on whether the Rams' plan, and other records related to the Dome lease, must be released per the state's Sunshine Law, or whether the records qualify for exemptions and can be kept out of public view.

    In a counter suit filed this afternoon, the Post-Dispatch seeks a court order forcing the CVC to release the Rams' Dome-improvement plan, as well as other documents the commission has so far refused to make public.

    The CVC acted this morning after the Post-Dispatch had previously informed the agency that the news organization would sue to obtain the documents. The Post-Dispatch contends that the Rams' plan should be released to the public and does not qualify for exemptions from the Sunshine Law.

    The Rams' lease for the Dome requires that the building be a "first tier" facility by 2015. The CVC, which runs the Dome, and the Rams have exchanged plans on how to do so. The Rams have already rejected the CVC's $124 million proposal and presented their own plan on Tuesday. The CVC and Rams have declined to release that proposal, which the CVC has until June 1 to accept or reject.

    In its legal filing, the CVC argues that since talks with the Rams are still proceeding, "there is a very real danger that public knowledge of on-going negotiations might adversely affect the legal considerations for any lease amendment."

    The CVC also contends that "various interest groups and citizens will have diverse and conflicting opinions" regarding proposed improvements and that they "will undoubtedly attempt to put pressure on the CVC, as well as elected officials...regarding the outcome of these negotiations."

    The filing points, however, that the CVC "has no intention of shielding any eventual agreement with the Rams from public disclosure or scrutiny."

    The CVC further argues that if it is not legally required to release the documents but does so, it could breach a confidentiality clause in the Dome lease, potentially opening the door for the team to terminate the lease altogether.

    The CVC has argued to the Post-Dispatch that the lease's confidentiality clause prevented the release of records. But public-records experts say such a clause cannot trump the state's Sunshine Law. The CVC also has argued that records related to the Dome talks qualify for exemptions under the Sunshine Law.

    The Post-Dispatch maintains that none of the exemptions apply to the CVC and Rams proposals because they pertain specifically to a lease that is already an effective contract.

    "It's simple, really," said Editor Arnie Robbins. "The CVC is a public governmental body funded by public funds. It is negotiating improvements for a publicly owned stadium that likely will involve public funds."

    He added that the intent of the Sunshine Law is to ensure transparency in situations involving tax money.

    "We don't believe it serves the public to learn the facts after a deal is done," he said.

    In its counter suit, the Post-Dispatch responded that "public knowledge and scrutiny into the process is not a 'danger,' but the very thing the Sunshine Law is designed to foster."

    The Post-Dispatch filing also says the CVC's "only possible justification for non-disclosure is to shield from public scrutiny matters which are or could prove embarrassing to the CVC or Rams" or to shield plans and expenses that impact the public.

    While taxpayers may have to fund much, if not most, of any Dome improvements, the government leaders of the city and county have had little to say on the issue of keeping records out of public view. An aide to Mayor Francis Slay said he was not available today. Instead, his office released a statement attributed to Slay's chief of staff, Jeff Rainford saying the CVC should violate neither the Sunshine Law nor its obligations under the lease.

    "So it would be good if the courts would give the CVC some direction," the statement said.

    County Executive Charlie A. Dooley agreed.

    "I support the CVC's action in court to clarify what needs to be done with the Sunshine requests from the Post-Dispatch," Dooley said in a brief phone interview. Letting a judge decide the issue "makes sense to me," he said.

    Slay and Dooley appoint 10 of the 11 board members of the CVC.

    If the CVC and Rams don't strike a deal by June 15 on how to make the Dome "first tier," they would go into arbitration, which could run through year's end. Without a deal, the Rams ultimately could terminate the lease after the 2014 season or renew it on a year-to-year basis.

    Greg Smith, a lawyer for the CVC, said in an interview today: "We don't want to be in a position of breaking the law or breaking the lease...The Rams have made it clear through their attorneys that they believe we are obligated to follow the confidentiality clause of the lease in respect to the Sunshine Law requests."

    Smith, the chief executive and managing partner of Husch Blackwell, has been involved in several stadium construction deals, and he represented the CVC when the lease was written in the 1990s.

    Smith also said public pressure on officials could cause the CVC to make an offer that is too low to appease the Rams, or one that is more generous than it needs to be.

    "The concern about pressure is a concern about both people who would have the CVC offer less in terms of (publicly funded) improvements and people who would insist the CVC spend more than is necessary to keep the Rams here," he said.

    But Robbins, the Post-Dispatch's editor, said, "In a democratic society, public input into the process is vital and should not be treated as an inconvenience."


  2. #2
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    Re: St. Louis CVC Asks Judge Whether Dome Records Should Be Released Publicly

    What is the CVC afraid of? if they deal in good faith, there should be no concerns over citizens reactions. They work for the owners of the Dome, the public, and have a duty to keep those owners informed on what is being done with public property. The CVC needs to wise up.

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    Re: St. Louis CVC Asks Judge Whether Dome Records Should Be Released Publicly

    I wonder how much of a "hard bargain" Stan is pushing. There are only so many public dollars that the CVC could commit in my mind. It'd not like every resident of St Louis or Missouri is a football fan and will allow them pay stupid money to keep the team in the lease. And then, maybe Stan is just looking to get control of the stadium so he can do what ever he wants with his buckets of money, as long as he can keep the return on investment...
    "The disappointment of losing is huge!"

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    Re: St. Louis CVC Asks Judge Whether Dome Records Should Be Released Publicly

    Quote Originally Posted by MoonJoe View Post
    I wonder how much of a "hard bargain" Stan is pushing. There are only so many public dollars that the CVC could commit in my mind. It'd not like every resident of St Louis or Missouri is a football fan and will allow them pay stupid money to keep the team in the lease. And then, maybe Stan is just looking to get control of the stadium so he can do what ever he wants with his buckets of money, as long as he can keep the return on investment...
    You can pretty much bet the only way the Rams stay in St. Louis is if Stan gets the stadium, or at least control of the stadium.
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

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    Re: St. Louis CVC Asks Judge Whether Dome Records Should Be Released Publicly

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMFANRAIDERHATER View Post
    You can pretty much bet the only way the Rams stay in St. Louis is if Stan gets the stadium, or at least control of the stadium.
    I certainly can't see him dropping a billion for a "Cowboys" style stadium and I am sure the City of St. Louis won't either. The catch would be could they sell or give the stadium to him without the citizens permission or would they want to?
    "The disappointment of losing is huge!"

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    Re: St. Louis CVC Asks Judge Whether Dome Records Should Be Released Publicly

    The post disgrace is being a big baby, and trying to strong-arm the CVC into giving them something that they can use to sell more papers. They just want something that they claim is fact, so they can distort them, drive up public outcry, rebuke that public out cry, then flare it up again by taking devils advocate, etc, etc, etc, so they can sell more papers.

    Having been under non-disclosures, I believe the CVC is being wise to ask for a ruling in the courts. If they don't, they potentially void the lease; which would also give the post disgrace more oppotunities to sell papers. If the courts say they have to disclose the proposal, it removes them from non-disclosure penalties.

    If I was on the CVC, and the courts said that the Sunshine Law covers the proposal, and it must be released, I would release it to every newspaper that wasn't in any way shape or form related to the post disgrace first. The post disgrace copy would be hand delivered by Chinese delivery, via mainland China.


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    Re: St. Louis CVC Asks Judge Whether Dome Records Should Be Released Publicly

    What the CVC is doing here makes sense. The release could conceivably help them in negotiations since similar public pressure could be applied to the Rams organization, but at least if they do have to reveal the Rams' counter-offer, they can legitimately argue that they went through proper legal process and didn't leak it as a negotiating ploy.

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