Karl Olson

– Records About California Air Resources Board’s Approval of Inglewood Arena Are Being Slow Walked

– Office of Planning and Research Violates State Records Law  

– City of Inglewood Ignores Basic Requests

Checks and Balances Project (C&BP) has hired leading California First Amendment attorney Karl Olson to force access to public records concerning the recent surprise decision to greenlight a basketball arena for tech billionaire Steve Ballmer. The decision by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) brushed aside concerns about the pollution Ballmer’s arena will dump into the low-income community of Inglewood. It is also potentially a big step backwards for the state’s tough carbon pollution reduction goals.

C&BP wants to get to the bottom of questions around influence peddling that triggered this decision. CARB and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) have chosen to drag their feet on basic records requests. Ethically challenged Mayor James Butts of Inglewood has chosen to ignore the records request altogether.

Ballmer, who is Microsoft’s former CEO and the 15th richest person in the world —chose to build his arena in a transit desert when other options were available. CARB’s decision to approve it leaves growing concerns about increased pollution levels in Inglewood largely unaddressed.

“We’re not going to let this surprise decision go unexamined, as uncomfortable as bureaucrats, politicians and lobbyists might be about that,” said C&BP Executive Director Scott Peterson.

Read Olson’s letter to CARB by clicking HERE. You can read the letter to OPR HERE.

About Karl Olson

In 2017, Mr. Olson represented the California Newspaper Publishers Association, Los Angeles Times, McClatchy Newspapers and others in the briefing and oral argument in the California Supreme Court in City of San Jose v. Superior Court case. This case established that public officials’ and public employees’ emails and texts using “private” electronic devices to conduct public business are subject to the California Public Records Act.

In 2018 and 2005, Olson was awarded the James Madison award for legal counsel from the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In addition, he was the recipient of the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Award in 2012.

Olson and C&BP

Previously, Olson represented C&BP in twin cases against the Bakersfield City Council and Kern County Board of Supervisors to get to the bottom of their dealings with Realtor lobbyists to kill popular home improvement financing program, Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE. The cases were successfully settled out of court.

Olson also provided legal counsel to C&BP in 2015 during an investigation into a California Public Utilities commissioner’s effort to undercut popular rooftop solar programs.


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Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.


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