Henderson adds that scrutiny of those seeking to take over the Padres is also needed to make sure that the franchise is free from any criminal taint. “There are lots of reasons why you need to know who you are doing transactions with. They could be convicted felons.
“If somebody comes in and says, ‘I’d like to do a transaction with the City, but, by the way, I won’t tell you who I represent; you can just do the transaction in my name, although I’m not really the person who is responsible for all this,’ charter Section 225 in effect says, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ ”
Henderson says that the argument made by Padres vice president Pothier that the baseball team would continue to be owned by Padres L.P. doesn’t wash. “The essence of 225 is that you know who the economic interests are that you are dealing with. So if the owners of an entity are changing, you need to know that.
“Just the fact that the entity hasn’t changed, if you think about it, doesn’t really answer the question of who is the City doing business with.
“Is their money dirty, or do you have reason to believe it’s dirty? Is it drug money? You don’t want to do business with people who have drug money.
“But more than that, even if it’s clean money, it’s very important for you to know who’s involved. Councilmembers need to know, are any of these people contributors to their campaigns. That way, if there is an appearance of impropriety, they can address it right up front.
“Secrecy is power. The fact is that Major League Baseball may very well over the years have developed a policy that they want to provide confidentiality so that people really don’t know who owns baseball teams.
“They say it’s just the Padres. If you allow them to get away with that, you never know that local powerbrokers who are influencing legislation at the local, state, and national level have interests that they are pursuing. That’s what corporations and partnerships are often used for, to hide the real economic interests that are involved.
“Obviously those people with economic interests would like to keep things secret. They’d like to be able to stand in front of the council and say, ‘I’m just a concerned citizen, I have no economic interest whatsoever, I just want good government.’
“In fact, that’s the last thing they want, many of them. They want some special decision that will help them economically, and the public be damned. That happens all the time when you don’t have full disclosure.”