Bowers agreement ought to be canceled

I believe that a case could be made that the contract the City of Santa Ana entered into with the Bowers Museum’s Board of Governors, back in 2003 if I recall correctly, should be voided, for several reasons.

Firstly, there was no consideration. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about this legal concept:

Consideration is something that is done or promised in return for a contractual promise. For example, in a promise between A and B for the sale of A’s car to B, B’s payment of the price of the car (or promise to do so) is the consideration for A’s promise. Consideration is a central concept in the common law of contracts. Under classical contract theory, consideration is required for a contract to be enforceable. Service contracts and, in the United States, other contracts not governed by the Uniform Commercial Code, generally require consideration for a contract modification to be binding on the parties, because of the preexisting duty rule. Consideration is what must be given up by each party when making an agreement; this may be by means of doing or not doing an act or just promising to do or not do an act. Consideration can be defined as being a benefit to one party while being a detriment to the other one at the same time.

Santa Ana residents get no return from the Bowers agreement. They get to go to the Bowers for free twice a month NOT because of the agreement, or anything in it to that effect, but rather because the Bowers is subsidizing those visits under the terms of a few large grants to the museum from supporters who are now dead. You can read about this at the Bowers website.

The agreement spans 39 years – at a current level of support of $2 million a year. That is a ton of money. In a city with one library, I don’t know how you can justify spending that money on a facility that the majority of the city sees absolutely no benefit from.

The City of Santa Ana owns the land the Bowers sits on and the facility itself. Why not stipulate in the agreement that Santa Ana residents can go to the Bowers anytime – gratis? I am not asking for a handout. We own it and are paying for all of its operating costs. Yet we draw ZERO benefits from it.

Better still, why not SELL the Bowers and use that money to open likely as many as three libraries? Now that makes a ton of sense!

It’s not like this museum is doing much with regards to local history. It is full of mummies and now they are expanding with a new wing that, “include a major Asian History and Arts Gallery focusing on 5,000 years of Chinese history.” I am sure that a city that is over 90% Latino will be thrilled about that.

Furthermore, it appears that the Bowers Board of Governors has only one Latino on it, in the form of Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido. And I truly doubt that very many, if any, of the other Board members live in Santa Ana. We are giving them $2 million a year – with almost NO representation. Again this speaks to consideration. The agreement should have mandated that a majority of the Board be drawn from Santa Ana residents.

We can also argue that the City Council members who voted for the agreement were incapable of representing the best interest of the residents. The lack of consideration supports that argument. This agreement sticks us with almost $100 million in corporate welfare to the Bowers and residents are left holding an empty bag.

Santa Ana residents ought to show up in force on Monday night at City Hall to ask the Santa Ana City Council to cancel the agreement. And we ought to ask the O.C. District Attorney and/or the O.C. Grand Jury to investigate this.

It is unconscionable for the City of Santa Ana to blow almost $100 million on an extravagant playground for the rich, in a city that is struggling with only one library, not enough parks, messed up roads and more liquor stores than any other city in the O.C.

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.