Take a step back and look at the debate around a proposed downtown football stadium in Los Angeles. What can be found are issues that transcend a topic as peripheral as whether or not a government should pay or subsidize a sports complex; it can serve as an allegory of people’s opinions on local government in general.

How does the public view of government? Simply, in the case of Los Angeles, and the opinion of the Los Angeles Times opinion writer, they see it as weak. The cut throat negotiators have moved on from the city, leaving it in a weaker position to handle business matters. While Mayor Villaraigosa may be a skilled labor negotiator, business prowess in the city is weaker than it was two decades ago.

What are government spending priorities? Some would say that spending money on a new stadium at this time would not be prudent. And they could be right. However, the stadium costs to the city are not immediate or significant. The issue here is delivery of information and facts. The city’s investment in the stadium is forfeiting future taxes. In other words, instead of funding the stadium now, they are simply opting not to receive money that they wouldn’t exist if the stadium were not built at all. But failing to successfully deliver that point leaves the city defending itself against these claims.

People’s trust in governments large and small have been shaken by a bad economy and pervasively high unemployment, scandals and special interests. Answering the question of whether or not to build a new stadium is answering the challenges of the public, its trust, and its money.

From the Los Angeles Times Opinion:

In the debate over whether to build a downtown football stadium, there’s a gnawing, vague and understandable public apprehension that the city may be getting snookered. It’s not an entirely formed idea – those who advance it cite a variety of qualms, many at odds with one another. But in the deliberations of the City Council, in public meetings and especially in private conversations, there’s a drumbeat of dread.

When The Times’ editorial board endorsed most aspects of the stadium proposal eight days ago, the reaction of some readers reflected that unease. A few cheered the idea, but others complained that it was a giveaway to billionaires (Phil Anschutz is the Denver magnate behind AEG), or that the city was in no position to be subsidizing a big project, or that the developer was ducking environmental review.

Read the full article here.