News for 1/23/12

As usual, we’re in a quiet period leaving the January winter meetings and a month before pitchers and catchers report. At least we have FanFest coming up this weekend. Speaking of FanFest, if folks would like to meetup at FanFest, I think we can meet just inside whichever entrance they use, probably the Plaza Club entrance (lower) or East entrance (upper). I’d love to meet at a great restaurant or bar within walking distance, but… you know the problem there.

Now the news:

  • The Merc’s Tracy Seipel has a roundup of effect the shuttering of redevelopment will have on numerous South Bay redevelopment agencies, including San Jose’s. As has been written previously, SJRA has been winding down over the last year or so, making the shutdown less painful and abrupt than it is for other cities, many of whom are trying to extend the deadline from February 1 to April 15. While San Jose remains in an good position with regard to getting its planning and preparation together on a ballpark, its ability to acquire additional land for the ballpark is gone, leaving A’s ownership to take care of the rest.
  • Also in the Merc, columnist Scott Herhold makes the political calculation that if San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed continues to be aggressive if pushing for a pension reform referendum, he may find a lot of enemies of the ballpark in the form of public employee unions. Personally I know a few who are already opposed and are blaming the ballpark effort, so this is no joke. The simple fact of the matter is that with the unions providing givebacks and lower projected costs leading to a smaller budget deficit, the City is not in the kind of fiscal state of emergency that requires such drastic action on the Mayor’s part. Cooler heads should prevail.
  • St. Petersburg pols think a light rail system connecting their city with Tampa could help jumpstart attendance.
  • Apparently there is a Florida law which dictates that any stadia built with some amount of public funds requires those facilities to be used as homeless shelters when games aren’t being played. This includes huge football stadia, domes like Tropicana Field, even spring training ballparks. Now two legislators are trying to enforce that provision, which until now has remained dormant.
  • Chron’s Leah Garchik has an entertaining account of 49er fans being stuck on a bus in gridlock for three hours even though it was only going within city limits.
  • Added 12:07 PM – Lawrence Berkeley Lab has picked the site for its second campus: Richmond. The land was already owned by UC, so LBL needed to be bowled over to pick a different site in Oakland, Alameda, or Emeryville. In the end, that apparently didn’t happen. Sites proposed by Oakland included the Zhone property across 880 from the Coliseum, and the Oak-to-Ninth site east of Jack London Square.
  • Added 8:30 PM – The City of Oakland released a proposal that would layoff only 105 full-time employees as part of the redevelopment shutdown. That figure would be slightly more than half of the 200 layoffs that were expected.
  • Added 11:35 PM – The Santa Clara County Registrar confirmed that the 4,500 signatures gathered in a petition effort for a new referendum were good. This sets up a situation where the City Council, which has been firmly pro-stadium, will probably reject the petition effort, setting up a court battle. The interesting new twist to this saga is that the current Mayor is Jamie Matthews, a staunch opponent of the stadium plan. Matthews, who replaced Pat Mahan (proponent) last year, was merely a dissenting vote on the Council when the original vote passed in June 2010. Matthews seems emboldened enough now to turn the stadium effort into a real war. Correction 1/25 9:00 PM – Councilmember Jamie McLeod is a dissenter, not Jamie Matthews, who has been a longtime supporter of the stadium plan.

More if/as it comes.

19 thoughts on “News for 1/23/12

  1. Just my opinion of course, but IF (emphasis on if) Wolff somehow pays full market value for the Diridon site there should be no referendum. Especially since the wording of Muni code is as clear as day. Especially if things get ugly on the pension, public employee front. For the record, I will soon be registered to vote in the city of SJ as I will soon be a citizen once again of the city of SJ; glad I got that off my chest.

  2. Yes, there are some who will pass up a $500 mill in private investment for downtown San Jose because the city is kicking in $18 mill worth of land – as if that $18 mill solves all the city’s budget problems forever. Never mind that the ballpark brings in millions more than that for decades. The whole equation will be reduced to “We’re spending millions on a ballpark while the city is laying off police officers!” Short-term vision. And there will be a perception by some, incorrect as it is, that the city is paying for the ballpark. I’ve already seen commenters on Mercury News articles who believe this.

  3. Herhold points out that the ballpark land money comes from a different pot than what pays city salaries. And he notes it won’t be viewed that way. Newark, NJ, had the same issue with its $200 mill or so in redevelopment money it got from the Port Authority. The money was being used for the Prudential Center Arena. Although it was stipulated that the money could only be used for redevelopment, some wanted it used to buy school books instead.

  4. Great piece on getting to the Stick from central SF. It’s a nightmare. With the time it takes to get from anywhere central SF to Candlestick driving on a gameday, you can watch The Godfather. It’s nearly the exact same commute from from when I commuted from Santa Cruz. As long as the Niners play at the Stick, the A’s don’t have the worst stadium in pro sports. It’s not like you can just chill in the area until the traffic has died down either. The only thing that goes on out there are shootings, massives/raves and Niner games… and shootings at Niner games.

  5. The SJ City Council as recently as November was prepared to declare a “fiscal emergency”. According to the long running stories in the Mercury for one, outside sources weighed in on this including the Attorney General and state controller who believed the action was unwarranted and if memory serves, unlawful. San Jose declaring a fiscal emergency when Stockton or Oakland does not? Even Vallejo is trying to emerge from BK. It seemed to be quite a risk which casts a very unfavorable light on San Jose and her ability to support herself.

    A few days before the City Council meeting, there was an “unanticipated” discovery that there had been a serious miscalculation of the City’s pension liability to the tune of about $50mil that weighed in the City’s favor thus reducing the projected deficet to a more manageable $25mil+/- for FY 2012. The council voted against declaring fiscal emergency but they did vote to proceed to approve the voter referandum on pensions. The only change was they delayed it from a special election in March to June. I don’t know how Selig’s decision making process could be involved in what the City is doing. Hernhold makes the ascertation that has been mirrored by others that the measure if successful is headed for court. I’ve seen nothing to suggest there is any other course of action being considered. I can’t think as long and hard as the City has been challenging unions that they will back off for a baseball park and seem as though they are prepared to deal with the fallout of it especially since their timetable is rapidly closing and the fact it changed was due to a situation completely independent of the A’s relocation.

    Pierre Luigi Oliveiro is a councilman who boasts in a Mercury article over the weekend that he used a non-union printer to make up some political pamphlets. Things between the City and the unions do not appear to be settling whatsoever and does not appear to be a concern by the City that there will probably be some vocal critics.

  6. @marinelayer – Not sure about making FF, but don’t forget about Francesco’s!

  7. Don’t know what happened to my last post (was it that bad RM?). But in short, those who don’t want to see the A’s in San Jose shouldn’t now count on our unions being their “ally.” Mayor Reed and the SJ Council are smart folk, so they won’t let this become a major issue; it will be all about compromise in the end.

  8. Got it RM. Way OT and crazy: being that a spanking new arena could be built in SF by 2017 and HP Pavilion will turn 30 in 2023, I’m proposing a new “Shark Tank” be built on Market Street south and adjacent to the current McEnery Convention Center. Kind of like how Staples Center is integrated with the LA Convention Center. To be paid for through naming rights and current Mellow Roos for the CC expansion/renovation. A tremendous boost to SoFa and downtown core while still connected to Diridon via light-rail lines. Current arena site and existing parking lot could become exclusive parking for Cisco Field to the south. OK, enough already.

  9. Those who do want the A’s in San Jose recognize the points raised by the paragraph above in that refernces Hernhold’s article. How big an issue the unions or others that might pick up the cause becuase they feel the stadium is a bad use of any public funds in this climate deserves discussion and I’m glad to see it included in the topic. It’s important to realize that somebody, such as myself, wants only what will make the A’s competetive and stable. During various periods since the mid-70’s the A’s have alternately been in and out of crises mode. A new stadium in Oakland, Fremont or now San Jose will create changes making the franchise interesting to watch without the discussion ever couple of years about contraction, Las Vegas or Florida.

    I don’t think this topic is real hot on as many San Jose plates as we’d like. It’s high on the list, but it’salso fallable for me to believe that any personnel bargaining decisions are being made with the hopes that Selig will approve the project and move ahead thus thwarting the issues that are being negotiated.. I fully expect San Jose would be living under a self imposed condition of fiscal emergency right now f they could have pushed it through without regard to what MLB was to think of moving a team to a location facing fiscal emergency. But independent of any of these things, the budget changed and they council didn’t approve the declaration.. As it stands now, there is a highly contentious ballot measure that the City fully expects to have on the June ballot regardless of the stadium deal.

    it’s my belief that city employee negotiations and the stadium are independent of eachother completely. The stadium issue has been dragging on for years and the little glimmer of hope before Christmas came over a month after the City council’s ballot decision. The unions pension costs are something the City is working vigorously to address under means that some may consider questionable.

    As far as bargaining with the unions on a time frame to accomodate Selig, that’s not happening. You’ll need to talk to a lawyer to get the meaning of vested rights doctrine and how that enters into the equation of a legal statute the city hopes to impose on labor unions after this election or even which of those types of benefits can even be negotiatied by a 3rd party. Some cannot and so there is a wildcard out there that no matter how smart the City is and how likely it is that the population will bite off on that ballot measure for the A’s is anybodies guess. The fact is that they have numerous unions still negotiating after rounds of paycuts, threats to unilaterally modifiy benefits by ballot and many of these tactics have failed. I don’t see how that affects the hope of geting a stadium built except it was raised as a potential issue in the paragraphs above.

    FYI, I’m an Oakland A’s fan since 1968 and my first choice was for them to stay in Oakland. That’s obvoiusly not going to happen, so we’re left with San Jose.The area should play nicely into the park which will admit the A’s into an era of finally being able to suport a successful and competetive franchise. There are people who are going to s marine layer mentioned, some he knows that are dead set against it. Hopefully, there can be some negotiated peace, but at this point, I’d doubt it and think that it’s just going to be contentious between the City and labor for some time.

    Lastly, since I don’t live in SJ or Oakland, so I don’t have a dog in this fight except being an A’s fan. Just a decent place where I can go watch A’s baseball. The situation is not completely without risk in San Jose even if 3/4 of the owners approve the move tomorrow because all is not a collective calm there. But that doesn’t make me somebody who doesn’t want to see the A’s in San Jose, quite the opposite in fact.

  10. There is a big picture that the article touches slightly upon (and something I wrote in a post on this site a month or two ago). The Stadium project is a shot in the arm to unions that are seeing their roles (i.e. their power) eroding. Multiple departments will add to their employment roles because of the stadium.
    So while there is little doubt the unions will use the stadium issue as leverage (and whether you are a union supporter or not), business is business. It is unlikely a deal will not be struck specifically on the stadium because of the golden rule (it will be gold for both of sides). It’s kind of like congressional pay raises. Both sides may violently fight on every issue, however, when it comes to voting on giving themselves a raise, they manage to find unity.
    I fully expect the unions to support the stadium project.

  11. @ McGilicuddy – You make some interesting points, but I’m glad you understand and believe that the pension debate should be segregated from the ballpark discussion. Too many in the opposition crowd, especially those in the Better Sense San Jose (aka the Autumn Ln. NIMBYs), would like to associate the 2 to further their cause. It is my opinion that the majority of San Joseans already are aware of the difference and can see the added benefits of a new stadium, even if it means *investing* millions in order to gain a half a billion dollar project in our locale. As far as union pensions goes, it’s great that an auditor was able to show we are not *yet* in a crisis mode, but if you look at the increasing amounts over the next few years, even with what the unions have proposed, it balloons to an unmanageable sum very, very quickly. Chuck realizes this and wants this to be part of his legacy as the mayor who controlled the city budget for years to come by confronting greedy unions. Fortunately, most of the populace here agrees with that notion otherwise they wouldn’t of just passed measure V and W over the past summer. However, i do again agree that it will be a tactic used by the stadium opposition. Stand for San Jose already started this with their push-polling b.s. and the city has already recognized it accordingly (see The only counter to this propaganda is public education of the issues at hand to again understand as you noted that they are 2 independent topics.

  12. well they were talking a’s to sj again on chron live having both purdy and poole on who at this time you could argue are the most staunch reps on both sides.

    poole said that he doesn’t think wolff had his eyes on sj since he owned the team since he since about a dozen years ago that in an interview he did wolff said if he had his way the city of sj would be the a’s home. purdy countered saying wolff hasn’t looked towards sj as the a’s long term home. first being coliseum north although the city of oakland didn’t want to use emiment domain on all those businesses. secondly he said coliseum south was the next spot in oakland he chose but the city of oakland didn’t even want to split the 250k study needed for the site’s potential as a smaller residential/commercial ballpark village than what coliseum north was. then he went to fremont and we all saw what took place there. so wolff did all he could do to remain in alameda county but couldn’t find a place to build a park.

    purdy also mentioned that even if the a’s franchise had their eyes set on another city, the city of oakland didn’t help itself when it bent over backwards to spend 200 million on luring back the raiders when that org left the city in the first place. poole agreed that he thinks city officials regret making that move and maybe that’s why they’re hestitant in working out another a deal for sports facility with the a’s. poole then mentioned that selig 5-6 years ago said when he came to the coliseum that the a’s couldn’t compete here even though they had made the playoffs 4 straight years from 00-03 and when poole asked why the marlins were able to compete in a similar “dump” and selig had no answer.

    poole/purdy thinks mlb wanted to see what’s taken place to happen giving the opening for sj although if mlb really wanted the a’s to move to sj, then they wouldn’t have taken over 3 years for the panel’s decision to be announced publicly.

    in the end kozimor asked ten years from now whether there will be no teams playing in the city of oakland. poole said he said false as he thinks there maybe 1 or 2 teams leaving but not all three since it’s hard to move and build anything here in california. purdy said that the south bay will be the center location for the sports in the bay area. kozimor himself said the a’s will move to sj, niners/raiders will be in santa clara, and w’s will be in sf.

    kozimor i might add late last week on this show said the a’s will move to sj and deservedly so should move down south so add him to the media here locally that believes the a’s to sj should happen which includes purdy and knbr’s fitzgerald as strong proponents of the a’s to sj movement.

  13. Nice recap letsgoa’s! The discussion seems to parallel this forum: Pooole the emotional, yet misguided voice of Oakland, while Purdy the rational sounding board that favors a sustainable franchise with SJ being the clear choice.

  14. For those who paint Poole and Purdy as extreme opposites and general cheerleaders for their respective causes:

    – Poole conceded that, if MLB were to start anew and place two teams in the Bay Area, they would logically pick San Francisco and San Jose.

    – Purdy agreed with Poole that Oakland would not be entirely without pro sports in ten years’ time, citing that it is a good location.

  15. Are folks meeting up on at FanFest? I’m still on the fence about going but if regulars here want to split a luxury booth at some game this season, I’m interested. If there’s enough of us, the price shouldn’t be too bad.

  16. yeah forgot to mention those other talking points yesterday. correction in my last post in the first paragraph where it’s supposed to read wolff hasn’t always had his eyes set on sj as the a’s long term home when he gained control of the franchise.

    as for oakland a decade from now, the only team i honestly could still see being there are the raiders. i think the a’s will be the likely team to move first. w’s owners the moment they’ve gained control unlike what wolff protests, has always had their eyes set on the ctiy of sf as the future home of the franchise from having all their important events like press conferences set somewhere in sf. raiders are the huge question mark? do they wanna share the new santa clara stadium or stay at the coliseum and maybe somehow try to spruce it up after it becomes a one team facility once the a’s move to sj in 3-4 years and try to build their own stadium somewhere a decade from now even though i dont’ know what major improvements can be made to the venue other than at this time the proposed new video screens that were rumored to be installed for this upcoming season that i read would happen last year. do the raiders want to be the second tenants in that santa clara stadium where it’s gonna look very much like a niners stadium from the red seats to probably a lot of niners murals and statues in and out of the stadium or do they want to stay at the coliseum where even though it’s a mediocre venue compared to the new football stadiums built, it’s an easy location to go to and centered where the majority of your fans are in the east bay and it’ll all yours essentially too.

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