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Coliseum official seeks to improve staff oversight

The president of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission acknowledged Tuesday that the commission failed to closely monitor its managers, a statement that comes several months after The Times disclosed that a commission events manager was also employed by a rave company that held events there.

As a result, commission President David Israel said he wanted to determine if there's a better way to oversee managers of the center, which has been thrown into disarray with the resignations of the events manager, Todd DeStefano, and the longtime general manager, Patrick Lynch.

Israel said the scandal "probably represented a tipping point" in his thinking, and he criticized the commission's structure -- a joint body with representatives from the state, county and city -- as making it difficult to oversee management. The presidency of the nine-member commission changes every year, rotating among state, county and city representatives.

"Just when someone is really getting to understand what's been going on, how the organization is going, the term is over," Israel said. "I've been around, finally, long enough this time that I know what questions to ask. So I found out some things that were unpleasant to discover that in a different organization might not have occurred or may have been discovered earlier."

Israel joined the commission in 2005 as an appointee of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and served his first term as president in 2008. Israel began his second term this year, succeeding Barry Sanders just before The Times reported on the double employment of DeStefano.

The Times reported that DeStefano received money from rave company Insomniac Inc. while also being employed by the Coliseum, where his job was to help oversee security and emergency medical services during the company's Electric Daisy Carnival rave last year. The rave ended with numerous arrests and attendees taken to hospitals, and the fatal drug overdose of a 15-year-old girl.

When asked if oversight of the commission managers was broken, Israel said, "It was at least temporarily broken, given what happened."

Israel said he would suggest at Thursday's meeting that a committee be created to consider changing the way the commission works.

"Everything is on the table. Is this the best way to operate the building?.... Are we the best method for running the business?" Israel asked.

On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed selling the Coliseum as part of a push to sell off state properties that have "no state programmatic use."

Schwarzenegger and some legislators had previously proposed selling the Coliseum, but the move was fiercely opposed in 2009 by the then-president of the commission, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Legislators ultimately blocked the move to sell the storied 88-year-old stadium.

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ron.lin@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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