It’s an e-sign of the times

ANOTHER BRANDED Cities outdoor display (Branded Cities).

Did you ever work real hard, or spend a lot of money on, a gift for someone, to have them turn up their noses and say, “Take it back”?

The rough equivalent of that took place last Wednesday when the Westminster City Council set back to July 12 an elaborate, time-consuming and potentially lucrative proposal to lease land on city-owned property for electronic billboards.

It looks like a golden deal for a city that’s municipal economy has been running on fumes for years. The plan was to move toward an agreement with Branded Cities Los Angeles LLC to build and operate two such billboards with the possibility of stuffing city coffers with as much as $121.7 million over a 30-year period.

But as soon as the glittering plans were laid out, the majority of the city council – Councilmember Amy Phan West,  Mayor Pro Tem NamQuan Nguyen and Mayor Chi Charlie Nguyen – began taking shots at it. They all “need more information” and hinted that it would have been better if councilmembers had been more deeply involved in the vetting process.

Those are not entirely ridic… No, wait, they are. There have been credible accusations in the past of councilmembers intruding themselves in negotiations, perhaps even on behalf a client or ally. As for the “more information,” that reason/excuse can be used as cover for delay, delay, delay.

Considering that earlier in the same meeting, council members heard about the financial woes of the city, at the very least, the council members should have expressed gratitude and optimism about the project, even if some corners needed to sanded down.

Branded Cities is a heavy hitter, not some dreamer that’s all hat and no cattle. On the the other hand, one town’s loss is another’s gain. I know of a city just across the street with lots of freeway exposure that’s a bit more welcoming toward such adventures. 

In a zero-sum game, is Westminster willing to accept zero?

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