Thursday’s episode of Crossing Broadcast was dedicated to the Chinatown side of the Sixers arena debate. Joining us was arena activist and Philly native Kenny Chiu, and Mohan Seshadri, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance.

One of the topics we got into was compromise – is it possible for the neighborhood and the Sixers to hash out a deal? I proposed a hypothetical:

Crossing Broad: Nobody has said this. This is me just concocting it in my head. The Sixers are offering a $50 million community benefits agreement. They’re on the record saying that. If enough money from that was allocated to a project like the 676 stitch, and capping the highway and allowing Chinatown to expand north, or even (something involving the former Roundhouse site), …could you see the community accepting some sort of compromise like that?

Mohan Seshadri: “I think we’re ready to look at hard details, and then have a real, earnest, in-depth discussion about the positives and negatives. It’s really hard to do that when there aren’t enough details on the financing and when there aren’t enough details on what the actual plan is. But I really want to bring it back to the way these developers have gone about this, because it’s core and central to this. Maybe it’s developers, and unions, and us at a table together hashing this out about what would work and what would be acceptable and all that – but that has not happened. We’re not at the table and the developers made it clear from the beginning, that for all of their rhetoric and all of their PR and the money they spent on fancy billboards, they weren’t interested whatsoever at having us at the table. That’s what makes it hard to envision any sort of compromise, because we’re talking about people who made it clear from the beginning that they don’t actually care about us. Whether or not they’re promising 50 million dollars, we can’t necessarily trust people who spent millions and millions to try to ram this thing through, to actually pony up, even if there was enough money to sustain Chinatown against the impact of six years of construction and then the arena.”

A follow-up question:

If Chinatown was looking for information and communication, why did the December meeting with the Sixers and Chief Diversity and Impact Officer David Gould devolve into shouting and chaos?

“It was the first meeting where we had full language access,” Seshadri explained. “Where we actually translated everything and made sure to include the members of our community who don’t speak any English but still deserve answers. It was the first opportunity where members of our community had a chance to be face to face with members of the developers’ staff in a way that didn’t involve people being encouraged to not ask tough questions. to save face and respect our guests in the community. What you saw was the natural reaction of six months of misinformation and sneaking around, especially right after that parking bill thing happened. Our folks asked those hard questions and in the face of those hard questions, they left early. David Gould left early. (Councilman) Mark Squilla stayed and answered our tough questions. Other local elected officials stayed. We had good dialogue with them after, but David Gould and the developers left early.”

“I definitely want to second the disrespect we felt,” Chiu added. “It (the arena) was announced in July, and finally in December we have a public meeting with language (access) and with the community you’re building in. David Adelman and none of the owners being there I thought was a little weird… Chinatown is the nearest community that this arena is going to be to. You saw those boos and you saw tough questions because Chinatown has seen threats like this and we just wanted answers.

“I just found it really weird that the developer left early and cited hostility concerns.”

Here’s the full discussion for your listening and viewing pleasure: