Saturday, August 9, 2008

Brian Robinson, Jordan Brower, Greg Johns, Mayor Greg Nickels

Quoted below, in its entirety, is a statement by Brian Robinson from Save Our Sonics to the readers of

I am posting the statement here since there are currently some stability issues with web site.

Mr. Robinson's statement is in response to quotes by Jordan Brower to Seattle PI reporter Greg Johns about Brower's effort to gather signatures in an attempt to stop the settlement between the City of seattle and PBC (Clay Bennett). At best the result of the petition to have a vote against the authorization for the agreement.

The net benefit of Brower’s action would be another lawsuit that might return that franchise, with its current owner, for one year. The effort would sidetrack efforts to get an arena solution, delaying or killing a long term solution.

Look up Brower and call him, caution, he may demand $100,000 from you.

The completion of the settlement was postponed until after the signature gathering deadline of August 15th. The settlement was supposed to complete by August 6th, but has been moved to August 25th.Read the Seattle PI story here on the delay, and Jordan Brower's comments on his view of Save Our Sonics.

Jordan Brower's comments from the Seattle PI August 6, 2008:
However, Brower said Wednesday he was stunned that he received no support from the Save Our Sonics organization concerning such a petition and expects the issue to die without financial and political backing from that group.

Save Our Sonics leaders prefer to work with Mayor Greg Nickels and his efforts to pursue KeyArena financing in the Legislature.

"They don't want to upset the apple cart," Brower said. "I think they're misguided. My whole point was to give Sonics fans a voice. But unless they want to kick in and do the rest, I'm not going to make the numbers."

Statement made on August 9, 2008, by Brian Robinson from Save Our Sonics to the readers of in response to Jordan Brower.

Jordan Brower and Eaten Threads

For starters I did not deleat any threads relating to this issue. I moved into a new house this week and I’m busy. Our site is falling apart. If you have wordpress experience I’d sure appreciate some help.

Secondly I have no comprehension why Greg Johns did not call me for commentary when he talks about me and my efforts. I don’t understand why he did that because I have a good relationship with Greg. He’s going to be writing a followup on this piece.

So Gregs article basically had Jordan Brower taking a shot at me, and stated that our plan is to work with the Mayor because we’re scared to be confrontational. What a bunch of crap.

When we first got wind of Jordan Brower we were obviously highly interested. Its an unusual turn even by the standards of this situation which has had a lot of unusual turns. We spoke with him immediately on the phone, met with him in person on multiple occasions, and floated his idea to multiple legal experts.

The initial concerns about Brower centered around his motivations. The guy claims he wants sports fans to have a voice and to save the team but he’s an on the record anti-arena advocate. When Key Arena was built he testified alongside Chris VanDyk, lobbied against the arena, and had a series of litigation designed to stop the construction. People who interacted with him at that time advised that we should simply keep our distance as his primary role has always been simply to cause chaos and rock the boat. I cannot help but speculate that he likes to get in the paper as well since he’s already taken his little show out to multiple press releases.

When we met with Brower we had two primary questions. Why are you doing this? and How will this help us get our team back?

The answer to the first question is somewhat muddled. He states he is doing this as an advocate of transperant government and as a reaction to Greg Nickels selling people out. My perception is that he remains bitter over some conflict with the Ackerley family, Bank of America, and the local government who set up Key Arena. He seems to feel that he can tie these 13 year old injustices to our cause by claiming that legislature is deeply concerned about this old corruption and that this is the reason they will not fund a new arena for our current mayor. It is a stretch. Brower has a history of litigation against the Ackerleys and it goes so far that there are claims of stalking by Chris Ackerley and some type of physical confrontation which was settled out of court in a sealed agreement. As near as I can tell Brower got Chris to take a shot at him and got paid for taking the hit. This guy has some interesting history and I have been advised to stay away from him. Despite those warnings and his apperent eccentricity we met with him twice, spoke with him omore htan that to see if this option was legitimate in any way.

I felt that there were key misrepresentations made by Brower that I preferrer to keep silent. In response to Greg Johns’ article however I have some obligation to bring some of them to light. As an example Brower told us that he had briefed the governors staff on this issue and that they were highly interested in the scandal. He felt that they may take some action. Upon checking up it turned out that he had simply mailed a letter to the Governors office and to the best of my knowledge gotten no reply. He made similar contentions regarding the council that had similar outcomes.

When it comes to bringing the team back we felt that this option had no legs. There are very serious legal and contractual issues that make it virtually impossible to get them back in this manner. Prior to the team leaving we had “posession’ of the team in our region and they were not allowed to move pending the resolution of litigation. We have to remember that the court case was solely about specific performance of the lease as opposed to Bennett making a cash payment. The contract could be enforced specifically at the sole discretion of the Mayor. The agreement made by the Mayor dismissed the court case with Judge Pechman and resolved that the city would waive specific performance in exchange for cash considerations.

Browers plan had tremendous downside. It is hard to gather signatures and win a vote even if you have some allies on your side. To do so when every party including the mayor, the governor, the league, and the team ownership would go on record that a public vote is completely irrelevant would make it hard to pass. In a worst case scenario it would fail to get signatures or pass the vote and all parties would claim this as further proof that the city did not support basketball.

In a best case scenario, after spending $100K that Brower demanded from SOS the councils ruling would be unwound. The team however would still be located in OKC. At that point the city would have a choice to file suit to bring them back. The team would argue that they have already moved and that it is an undue burden and ask the court for an equitable(cash) solution. Since the city had already accepted cash the argument against a cash value would be significantly lessened. Meanwhile the team would be playing in OKC, the court case could take a year, leaving only 1 year remaining on the lease, and nobody would be working on an arena. The cash could be significantly less than we have now and the $30M additional payment and agreement between Stern and Balmer would all go away.

I continue to say, and believe unequivically that a building is ultimately the problem and any solution that does not include a building is a waste of time. Right now, despite how we all feel about the Mayor he is the one leading a charge for a new building. Having Jordan Brower lead us against the powers that be simply to rile things up and get in the paper seems counterproductive.

The article also implies that I’m content to work with the city and the context of that implication is pretty inaccurate. Here is the deal: I am taking the same approach to the city that I did Clay Bennett. I have told them bluntly that we’ll work with them honestly at first but that if we ever get the sense that they are just going through the motions we will turn on them and that the months we spent closely involved will add a lot of credibility to our complaints. Understanding Bennett and having given him the benefit of the doubt legitimized us in many ways when we actually went on the attack. The same could happen with our local government. I hope that it never comes to that.

Right now Greg Nickels is the guy who sold our team and lost the NBA for this city. He will have that title until he resolves the problem and I don’t intend to forget it or be particularly kind to him. I want to be supportive not of him, but of the Ballmer ownership group who really are our last hope. Remember if you spurn the Mayor you spurn them. We can try to work with Nickels but to do so as a driving force to get him to do more, not as a decoy that he can hide behind. Believe what you want but the conversations have been confrontational enough that they know were we stand. We are making demands of them, not the other way around.

Over the last couple of weeks there have been multiple meetings involving a good chunk of the community. I have made some mistakes in keeping the work too “in house” and trying to do everything myself. That hurt bad when, over the last 10 days, I got busy with a move and some real business and communication just ended. I need to work more closely with my SOS cohorts and get a bigger team involved. Look for some news later this week.

Hope you’re all well. I am about 80% moved into the new place, love having a swimming pool, and getting ready for the big party next week.

Initial statement, here is an additional comment:
# Brian Robinson Says:
August 9th, 2008 at 10:59 am

I was at a fundraising event with the Mayor two weeks ago and former Mayor Charlie Royer introduced himself and said that “I was the mayor the year the Sonics won the championship. What a great thing that was for the city.”

I replied “Thats a better legacy than Greg has right now.” and Royer immediately picked up on it and called Nickels over to rib him about that.

Nickels does not want to be the guy who sold the NBA. Whether his reasoning for that is because he wants political coverage, because its the right thing to do, or because he legitimately wants basketball back is not the most relevant question. We need to figure out what steps he’s taking to pass that buck to the Governor and Legislature, and push him to do so in a really legitimate and serious way. Then we need to move up the ladder and insist that the governor and legislature take the same steps.

I have a ton of skepticism of anyone in government. You can’t trust any of them but you have to work with all of them. A lot of energy can be spent trying to determine their motivations and how to make the most of those motivations.

And this:

Brian Robinson Says:
August 9th, 2008 at 11:52 am

He [Mayor Nickels] states that it was the best he could do. He felt that if he pressed the lawsuit that the league and Bennett would offer some compromise. They never did. They never even got close. They continued to re-itterate that it would be 2 and through if he won and he grew to believe that was the case. He states that he believes that given the options this settlement gave us our best odds of long term basketball. He didn’t like the options we had but he worked with it.

I understand Robinson's position, it is pragmatic.

The problem I have is not with Robinson, but with Nickels, and Christine Gregiore, and Ron Sims, and everybody else the believed Clay Bennett and David Stern when they told the politicos that if Seattle went through with the court case that the NBA would wait out the two years of the lease, leave, and not return. Why believe those two, Stern and Bennett, now?
My guess is that nobody has actually believed that the 13th largest media market, with an arena solution, with Steve Ballmer willing to buy a team, would never get another NBA team. I think they used the lies for political cover to end a no-win situation that would require political leadership from people that act only on sure things.
The sure thing right now is that Greg Nickels is grasping for revenue streams, like chairing the Sound Transit board, like Nickels wanting to dedicate the hotel/motel/car rental tax collect in Seattle to the entire Seattle Center remodel.
Quite frankly, Nickels does not have a viaduct solution, an urban mass transit solution, or a solution for a 74 acre Seattle Center site that is in decay.
What does he put on his campaign literature? Plastic bag tax? Sculpture Park? Losing the NBA to Oklahoma City?

I will agree with Robinson that the fastest way to get an arena solution and the NBA back in Seattle is to just move on from the Bennett situation, and focus on getting the arena funded on the state side.

In a parallel universe Howard Schultz is about to apply a lot of pressure on David Stern and Clay Bennett to deliver a team to an ready arena, a willing buyer, and a publicly willing NBA, to the Seattle market.

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