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Friday, June 20, 2008

Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis’s Testimony Next Week Could be Crucial to City’s Case

posted by on June 20 at 17:56 PM

Day Five of the Sonics trial ended with some pretty irrelevant testimony. Team Bennett called Woody Allenish City Council Member Nick Licata, the anti-sports stadium council member (it’s why he got elected in 1997), to show that a member of the Seattle City Council believed that the Sonics don’t have a major impact on Seattle’s economy! Yep—and that’s what Licata said he believed.

Licata, cool as a cucumber, pointed out that he was the lone member on the council with this view, and he understood that his POV was part of an ongoing debate about the issue. Yawn. He’ll be back to continue his testimony when the trial resumes next Thursday, June 26, and I imagine Bennett’s lawyers will “reveal” that Licata once told Sports Illustrated—as was published in Sports Illustrated—that he doesn’t think the Sonics have much of a cultural impact on the city.

The real news is still former Sonics CEO Wally Walker’s testimony earlier in the day (and real estate developer Matt Griffin’s testimony later on). Both men, under questioning from Bennett’s lawyers, showed that the group trying to renovate KeyArena and orchestrate a buyout—Griffin, Steve Ballmer, Slade Gorton, Mike McGavick, and John Stanton—was working in concert with the city’s lawsuit. It seemed, in fact, that the lawsuit was a weapon in the group’s plan to get Bennett to sell.

The key link is that the city hired Gorton as lead counsel in this case. Sloppy!

Today’s testimony showed that Gorton was deeply involved in pushing a “poisoned well” strategy, outlining the secret plan at a meeting at Walker’s house last October.

The city announced at the end of the day that Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis would be called to testify when the trial resumes on Thursday.

I imagine he’s being brought in to address the “dirty hands” argument that Team Bennett laid out today—the idea that the city’s suit is based on ulterior motives. While this doesn’t have anything to do with the debate over the “specific performance” lease (a specific performance contract is one that mandates the parties to fulfill the obligations of the contract by explicitly disallowing one party to break the contract with economic compensation) which is all that really matters in the case, it could corrupt the city’s case and cause Judge Pechman to just toss the whole thing.

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Woody Allenish as in the Woody Allen who's noted for sitting courtside at NY Knicks (pro basketball) games?

Posted by umvue | June 20, 2008 6:10 PM

"Cool as a cucumber"? That's stylish writing, Josh Feit.

The blog was alive with talk you were fired. Did you promise to avoid cliches?

And come you're sucking up to Ceis now? A job in the works?

Do tell!

Posted by Editor's Note | June 20, 2008 6:18 PM

Josh, all -

In civil matters, there are generally two forms of relief. Damages, and equitable relief. Damages equate to money - and most contract breaches are resolved by a calculation of the amount of money it takes to make the other party "whole." In this case, it might be the $10 million, or some other figure that included parking, concessions, etc. (sometimes called "incidental and consequential" damages).

The other type of relief is "equitable" relief, and it is designed to compensate a breached-against party where money damages are insufficient. Typically, to claim equitable damages, a party must have "clean hands."

I would not speculate as to whether the city's hands, if they were found to be "unclean", became so at a time that effects their ability to claim the relief.

Yes, IAAL. But not yours.

And having been on the other side of the table from "attack dog" Paul Taylor, I would simply say he is very effective, and in my experience, a fair dealer. That does not mean he will not eat your lunch. That is his job.

The merits of the case aside, is anyone surprised that the City government, mayor and council both, comprised of the sort of B-Team quality our local process engenders, went out and retained their own B-Team consultants and legal team to pursue this matter? Wally Walker? FFS.

Posted by rtm | June 20, 2008 6:26 PM

Team Bennett called Woody Allenish City Council Member Nick Licata, the anti-sports stadium council member (it's why he got elected in 1997)

For the last couple of years, whenever the subject of Licata and his comments comes up on 950 KJR, the myopian talk show hosts there always grumble something to the effect of, "how does he manage to win elections saying these things about sports teams etc." - and I say to my radio, "saying these things is exactly why he keeps winning elections."

Posted by jmr | June 20, 2008 7:08 PM

Guess the jocks have taken over the Stranger. Licata is denigrated as a skinny nebbish cuz he's against public subsidies -- taxing the poor -- for pro sports multimillionaires.
Golly what a nerd. Ha, ha ha. He's so "alone" on this he's right there with the 78% of Seattle voters who agreed with him in the initiative telling the Sonics to go away.

Meanwhile to say unclean hands is not relevant but could mean the city loses the case is.....what should I say ..."illogical" ??

That nice lawyer dude who chimed in seemed to know more about what was going on. Maybe you should talk to him when you try to deconstruct the legal ins and outs.

Anyway joke time:

Q: How did the Shark win his lawsuit?
A: They couldn't prove he had unclean hands.

Posted by PC | June 20, 2008 7:48 PM

There's also another remedy where money damages and/or an equitable solution are inadequate--it's called "specific performance" i.e., you do precisely what the contract obligates you to do.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | June 20, 2008 9:16 PM

As someone who worked on Nick Licata's campaign in 1997, the theory that he won in 1997 because of his position on sports is simply not correct. Nick ran on a broad platform; he did not hide from his position on sports, but he was not a single issue candidate in his race again Aaron Ostrom.

Posted by Dean | June 20, 2008 11:37 PM

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