More Poll Dancing

Pollster Rick Lindholm (not to be confused with actress Riki Lindhome) is back with a new set of polls of Santa Clara and San Jose residents regarding their respective stadium “propositions.” This time the results are a bit different – though the polls’ wording may have something to do with it. Consider the following two questions:

Shall the City of Santa Clara adopt Ordinance 17.20 leasing City property for a professional football stadium and other events; no use of City General or Enterprise funds for construction; no new taxes for residents for stadium; Redevelopment Agency funds capped for construction; private party pays all construction cost overruns; no City/Agency obligation for stadium operating/maintenance; private party payment of projected fair market rent; and additional funds for senior/youth/library/recreation to City”s General Fund?

Question: Do you approve or disapprove of moving the A’s baseball team to San Jose?

Obviously, the San Jose question leaves a bit to be desired. We don’t know anything about how narrow or broad the final San Jose measure will be, or what commitments it would make of the city if approved. We also don’t know how much money is on tap for the pro-ballpark folks to use in their efforts. That said, the A’s-to-San Jose effort has practically gotten a Colbert bump, from 45% for/43% against to 53% for/37% against. The difference, as implied in the article, is that the issue has more visibility only two months later and may be viewed as more tangible. Lew Wolff has stated San Jose as his preferred landing spot. That’s without any ad push by pro-ballpark folks, and most importantly, without the official blessing of one A.H. “Bud” Selig.

On the other side of the Airport, the results are more of a mixed bag. That’s not surprising, given the wording of the question. It’s the exact same language as what will appear on the June ballot. Unfortunately, that means when asked, voters might have to consider most if not all of the words in the question. Keep in mind that the 49ers have signed off on the language, and that there’s no mention of either the $114 million in contributions or the Santa Clara owned public authority that will ultimately be responsible for up to $330 million more in funding. As confusing as the question looks, it’s about as 49er-friendly as it can get. That’s not to say that the Niners are in trouble. They have been spending in force and will continue to do so until the measure gets passed. At this point, I’m certain that the only hope for stadium opponents is for some serious money to drop out of the sky for their cause. I should also point out that on KQED’s Forum two months ago, I mentioned the $330 million. That’s not to say that I’m against the 49ers stadium – I don’t take a position one way or the other. I’d simply prefer that it be a fair debate and dialogue with voters, and it’s quite apparent that one side is much better at getting their message out.

San Jose boosters shouldn’t be thinking about season ticket waiting lists just yet. Rest assured that after the SEIR is certified in April/May and SJ’s City Council drafts ballot language for November, that measure will come under greater scrutiny. I don’t expect that the final question will include anything about new public funding, since Redevelopment has just been authorized to spend another $30 million on site acquisition. However, there remains a small chance of eminent domain proceedings for one or two existing landowners, and if that’s the case the measure will prove to be much more potentially divisive – though we’re talking eminent domain against a business, not a homeowner. Personally, I’m at best lukewarm on voting for an A’s stadium if eminent domain is involved (I would’ve felt the same way about San Jose Arena if were of voting age back then). At the same time, I’m definitely not down with a holdout jacking up the price significantly above FMV + relocation costs – there has to be some give and take involved.

Another thing to take into consideration: timing. Previously I had opined that having both the 49ers and A’s ballot measures in the same election cycle would be harmful to one if not both initiatives, since there would be some amount of comparison. This is setting up to have the 49ers have a full leadup to the June primary, whereas the A’s campaign will pick up almost immediately afterwards, thereby eliminating the possibility of a direct, concurrent comparison.

Don’t get too comfortable with the poll numbers. Lindholm has been gathering data on roughly a monthly basis, so when the next pulse is taken we may see something very different. I’m an huge fan of Nate Silver‘s poll aggregator FiveThirthyEight, and frequent readers to that site know that the half-life of a poll can be measured in weeks or days at best.

Other numbers to chew on regarding San Jose:

  • Population: 905,180
  • Registered voters: 346,227
  • Petition threshold for ballot initiative: 5% or 17,312 registered voters
  • Normal turnout for a November election: 64% or 221,585 registered voters (36% for primaries)
  • Possible necessary Yes votes for a San Jose ballpark: 110,793 (16.3% of San Jose’s adult population)

Full disclosure on my feelings about the Santa Clara 49ers stadium: I’m rather torn on it. I’m not a 49ers or Raiders fan, so I don’t have any personal feelings about either team. I was born in San Francisco and lived there until I was 4. My dad, fearing the rise in violence there in the late 70’s, got a job at a Valley tech firm and moved us to Sunnyvale in 1979. He was attracted to the wide open spaces, the prospect of having a decently sized yard to grow fruits and vegetables, and the lower crime. In hindsight I sense my mom was ambivalent since she knew San Francisco well, but she signed on in the end. My dad’s employer was located in the “Lockheed/Moffett Park” area near 237, and next to the company parking lot was a still active cornfield, where he took me and my twin brother on occasion.

Eventually, that cornfield was paved over. We’ve seen what happened to the Valley over the next 30 years. My mom passed away nearly three years ago, my dad retired last year and now spends most of his time watching CNN and Discovery/Animal Planet while on Facebook. He goes to his homeland, the Philippines, twice a year to tend to family matters and land (no, he is not rich).

My dad likes Sundays. He still goes to church, albeit irregularly, the same Catholic church you can see from 101 when going to Great America. Sundays are the one time during the week when it feels a little like the slower pace of 1979, when people weren’t in such a damn hurry to get everywhere. With the Niners coming in, traffic cops will be posted at the entrances to his little neighborhood, to protect the parking from football fan invaders. He hated the inconvenience when Great America forced this policy for their Independence Day fireworks shows, he’ll hate it much more when it’s 10 or 20 additional dates – mostly Sundays – per year. I don’t want there to be yet another reason for him to leave. As much of a curmudgeon as he’s become, I love him and want to keep watch over him once in a while.

Over those 30 years, the neighborhood has become a Filipino enclave. My parents were one of the first families to move into what was then and still is today a decidedly middle class neighborhood. They sponsored one family, who became citizens and sponsored other families, who became citizens and sponsored yet more families. This happened for both my dad’s and mom’s side of the family. Mom, who toiled at Security Pacific/Bank of America for 35 years, wrote the script that all of the newcomers would use to become Americans. There are still new relatives coming in, all legally, all wanting to be citizens. One is in her mid 60’s and has been here for a decade. She just got her paperwork to start the citizenship process. She has been working as a seamstress – a damn good one – at Great America much of that time. If Great America goes away, whether or not it’s due to the 49ers, she’ll have to do something else, go somewhere else. Maybe that’ll be a final return to the Philippines, where she has been sending what little money she has to her husband, who see sees maybe once a year. Two other relatives are newcomers, both in the hospitality industry in the area. Both would welcome the new jobs, they could both easily and willingly do the food service work – those jobs that so many criticize as “meaningless” – so that they could save money and eventually bring their families over.

So you see, there’s an intensely personal debate going on within me over this. Because of that, I’d long ago recused myself from the debate. And that’s the way it’ll stay since my own extended family will be split over the outcome.

21 thoughts on “More Poll Dancing

  1. Two comments:

    1) The big question is what are the Giants going to do. 53% doesn’t give us a lot of wiggle room, and if the Giants start to get nasty and claim that the A’s stadium will raise every one’s taxes, waist millions of $$$, and will kill everyone in San Jose’s first born child this could get ugly. Conversely, I feel the Santa Clara 49’s stadium is more likely to pass even though it’s at 45% BECAUSE they don’t have someone with money like the Giants opposing it and willing to spread lie$ to kill it.

    2) This is slightly off topic, but any word on the Blue Ribbon commission that was supposed to give Bud Selig their report. The only reason I can think we haven’t herd from them yet is a) They still haven’t given it or b) They have given it and the conclusion was a move to San Jose so there is back room negotiating with the Giants going on right now. If they came to the conclusion that the A’s could stay in Oakland or move to Fremont there would be no reason not to announce the finding immediately.

    • There are practical limits to what the Giants and their proxies can do. They’re naturally putting themselves in a “villain” role, and constantly bleating FUD isn’t going to help them there. The San Jose boosters have deep pockets too, and they’ve been waiting 20 years to fight this battle so they shouldn’t be underestimated.

      You may be on to something with (b), Sam.

      • (b) could be it, considering all of a sudden the Giants have “no comment” on the issue. Throw in the fact that MLB gave both Wolff and Neukom gag orders in December and, well…Irwin Raij at work yall!

    • MLB officials are meeting with Fremont City Manager Diaz in the next couple of weeks to discuss their proposal to build in Fremont.

      • Re: MLB officials are meeting with Fremont City Manager Diaz in the next couple of weeks to discuss their proposal to build in Fremont.

        1-2 weeks

      • You guys realized why there’s no post on this, right? There is no news to report! We are under the assumption that until the report is released MLB will be talking to all three cities and perhaps beyond. When an actual news item comes out of those talks, we’ll devote a post to it. Don’t feel like you have to get a word in for Fremont. No one’s ignoring them.

      • Seems like were making up news for San Jose though, I haven’t heard one word about negotiations with Nuekom taking place.

      • Not sure where I or Jeffrey reported anything like that in a post, but okay…

      • Just to jump in on speculation… I think the coming meetings with Fremont are something the folks in Oakland should be worried about. Of course, I don’t have first hand knowledge of this… but it seems logical that Bud and crew are working a multi tracked strategy.

        2 of the possible 3 tracks involve getting closer to the South Bay.

        If the panel thought Oakland was the best option, why would they even look at the other two options?

        I just hope for some resolution so I can buy a brick for the new stadium some time soon.

      • You assume they’d have any before the panel makes its decision.

      • What’s a negotiation without some good ol’ fashioned leverage?

    • I honestly don’t know what the Giants can do however. They can claim it’s raising everyone’s taxes, but all the A’s and San Jose have to keep saying is that it’s a privately financed stadium. And if this poll is to be believed that message is getting out if support is raising for the A’s stadium. Sooner or later the Giants false claims of raising taxes will be discovered for the farce they are and the Giants will end up not only looking like the villain, but could end up with a PR problem on their hand. Or possibly even a self fulfilling prophesy about losing fans in San Jose when the A’s eventually come to town. Remember, the Giants have money, but so do the A’s. Plus the A’s have the city gov’t of San Jose on their side as well as the truth (that the stadium is going to be privately financed and run), the Giants are fighting a losing battle. The second territorial rights are lifted the game is over for the Giants, their only hope is to convince MLB not to grant the change in rights. And even then the Giants may end up a PR loser.

      • I don’t think MLB will allow two of its teams to engage in an ugly, public PR battle over the ballpark. If MLB makes the decision to remove t-rights, they’ll tell the Giants to back off and address their grievances in-house.

      • Honestly though I’m shocked they haven’t done that already. But you’re right, once the grant of rights to the A’s is given MLB will tell the Giants to back off. But frankly I think the Giants would naturally back off at that point anyway. If they lose the territorial rights to the South Bay then they have no real argument against the A’s move anymore.

  2. BTW, that’s an interesting personal history, ML. Sounds like the American dream is alive and well in your family.

    • Thanks bc. As polarized and cynical as America is, it’s easy to lose sight of the many small stories, the people that go unnoticed. The best things I observe from my immigrant relatives are their humility and their lack of entitlement. We would be a better America if we all used that perspective once in a while (I lose track myself frequently).

  3. Very nice personal history. Since it is personal I hope you take my comment on this as respectful as it is intended:

    “traffic cops will be posted at the entrances to his little neighborhood, to protect the parking from football fan invaders. He hated the inconvenience”

    Something very similar with traffic cops is planned in the EIR for the neighborhoods surrounding the Diridon site. Just like your dad, quite a few of these neighbors are retired and have lived in the area for 40, 50 years and frankly are very worried about this invasion. Also, their homes are old and not well insulated and lack airconditioning, so closing windows to block the noise is not an option in the summer.

    • I completely empathize with the residents around Diridon. I myself have been looking at real estate in the area as I may plan a move there. The current residents haven’t asked for the headaches, and I worry that City may not do enough for them. I think City should address the noise issue head on, though the true impact won’t be felt until after a ballpark is built (at least they’ll do measurements pre and post).

      However, there are two major differences between those residents and my dad. My dad intentionally moved to a very sleepy suburban neighborhood closer to emerging employment centers than a downtown or even a major shopping center. Diridon residents have lived next to downtown for years and under a flight path for decades. Growth and redevelopment were destined for that area. My dad lives in Sunnyvale, whereas the football stadium will be in Santa Clara. Diridon residents get to vote their opinion. My dad doesn’t.

    • One more…
      I like Buan, but it was time for a change:

      The A’s this morning announced that nationally-syndicated broadcaster Chris Townsend will host the A’s radio postgame show on XTRA Sports 860 this season. “A’s Talk with Chris Townsend” will make its debut tomorrow immediately following the team’s opener. Ken Korach, Ray Fosse and Vince Controneo will handle tomorrow’s game broadcast, with the pre-game show starting at 11:30am PST. Meanwhile, Robert Buan will continue to contribute to the club’s postgame show by providing on-site interviews.

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