The Morning Call revealed yesterday that the Arena Authority has been meeting behind closed doors, in violation of the Sunshine Act. The stunning article, by Emily Opilo and Matt Assad, explains how meetings were not advertised, and that a reporter was asked to leave at a recent meeting. In a further demonstration of their arrogance, two attorneys connected with the board, claim ignorance of the violation. The one attorney on the board, Sy Taub, maintained that bond payment arrangements between the Authority and chief beneficiary, J.B. Reilly, should be determined in private executive session. Before the Authority was formed, the Administration made a case that a degree of secrecy was necessary when acquiring properties for the arena, to protect the public cost from real estate speculation. Since the public portion of acquisition has been completed, I see no justification for keeping arrangements between Reilly and the Authority private.
UPDATE: Although the private Executive Session can be technically used under the Sunshine Act for an agency to discuss lease and purchase of real estate, Sy Taub extending that exception to a private developer is a legal stretch, showing the contempt this Administration and Agency has for the general public.
Does the Authority exist to service Reilly, or the public good? In the first year of using state taxes, half of the revenue went for Reilly's debt service. Who determined that ratio between Reilly's interests, and that of the citizens? In the two hybrid buildings on the Arena Complex, partially owned by Reilly, who determines what percentage of the building belongs to whom. How could Taub and Jerome Frank justify no public knowledge, much less scrutiny? The Arena Authority has no oversight by the State of Pennsylvania. Last year Sy Taub said that it would be up to the Authority to monitor itself. So far, they have failed miserably with that promise.