Election Aftermath 2014

A wise person would’ve turned off the lights and gone to sleep early, waiting to let the election news wash over them until the following morning. Not this guy. As the various county registrars were plagued by reporting delays traced back to a vendor in Florida (that’s your first clue right there), election observers sat at their computers, thumbs properly inserted.

Eventually we got our results. Though not certified, we have a pretty good sense where everything’s leading:

  1. Libby Schaaf is the apparent winner of the Oakland mayoral race.
  2. Sam Liccardo narrowly defeated Dave Cortese in San Jose’s mayoral race.
  3. Alameda County’s Measure BB passed with 69% of the vote, approving a 0.5% sales tax hike for 30 years.

Last week Schaaf did an interview with Athletics Nation in which she discussed current efforts to keep the A’s and other teams in town, as well as her own ideas on doing things differently. She said many of the right things about the City working with greater transparency. She criticized certain aspects of the Coliseum City plan, such as the fanciful replacement arena for the Warriors (who are working on their own arena in SF). Fans of the A’s and/or Raiders will definitely seize upon this:

AN: Do you see keeping the A’s and Raiders as mutually exclusive? What are some of the challenges that go along with keeping both teams in the city?

Schaaf: There is enough room for both teams, and my clear priority is keeping both teams. But from an economic point of view, the A’s have a larger economic benefit for Oakland that should always be kept in mind. They play more than 80 games a year, compared to 10. But I just want to be clear, I’m a very proud Oakland native; my parents were season-ticket holders for both the A’s and the Raiders throughout my life.

If Schaaf is going to work via a straight economic comparison of the two sports, there’s little doubt that the regular season of baseball is far more impactful than a football season. Football’s big payoff was to come via a Super Bowl, though that’s perhaps more of a pipe dream than Coliseum City itself. If Schaaf moves towards abandoning visions of a Super Bowl or retractable roof stadium, it would lead to much more productive discussions between the City and the Raiders. The team and the NFL don’t particularly care about Oakland’s Super Bowl fantasies, and the added cost ($200-300 million at today’s rates) makes an already difficult project even more prohibitive.

Schaaf also led off by saying there’s enough room for both teams, a common refrain from many candidates during the campaign. The problem is not a matter of physical room, it’s whether or not the assembled parcels and other resources can properly pay for the bulk of two stadia. Later on in the interview she emphasizes that the venue(s) will be built with someone else’s money, which is fine as long as someone else can figure out a way to make it pay for itself and turn a profit to boot.

For now Coliseum City remains lame duck mayor Jean Quan’s baby, one covered with the stench of desperation and imminent failure. Schaaf won’t be sworn in until January, which will leave probably one week for her to determine in concert with a new city council how to proceed. She can choose to carry on Quan’s work as Quan conceives the project, leave certain processes going (EIR) while regrouping to think up another strategy, or abandon the project altogether to come up with a completely different plan. How Schaaf proceeds will largely dictate how the A’s and Raiders act, since both teams are waiting for each other to vacate. Complicating matters is the NFL’s activity, which includes a special meeting of its stadium and finance committees to further plan potential Los Angeles relocation(s). In February the relocation window officially opens, which could allow the Rams and/or Raiders to apply to move. If that happens, it’s expected that the NFL will have the procedure in place for relocation candidates to move forward.

If the Raiders leave Oakland only one month into Schaaf’s tenure, her legacy won’t be defined by it. She has worked just about everywhere in Oakland government except as part of the JPA or with the JPA. She has been a sitting council member, sure, but that’s much different from working deals the way Rebecca Kaplan did recently or Schaaf’s old boss Ignacio De La Fuente did previously as members of both the City Council and the JPA. If Schaaf allows both the A’s and Raiders to leave with the Warriors already one foot out the door – now that could be terribly damaging to her. Quan has been scrambling to keep all three teams without a cohesive plan. Schaaf doesn’t want to repeat that. The Raiders leaving would allow Schaaf to devote resources to the A’s, an idea the JPA is already on board with. If the Raiders decide to stay in Oakland and partner with Coliseum City everything remains status quo, though Schaaf will also have the new task of negotiating a short-term lease with Mark Davis.

If the Raiders choose to nix LA and work on a new stadium in Oakland, Schaaf will have to decide if it makes sense to devote more resources towards an A’s ballpark. She expressed support for Howard Terminal, yet the A’s lease and stance leave the site out of the picture. Perhaps Schaaf could work with Doug Boxer and Don Knauss to better present a plan to pay for the ballpark at HT while smoothing over the bad relationship between Quan and Lew Wolff – it is a new regime, right? However, that may be a bridge too far for a site that neither Wolff nor MLB supports. Building a stadium in California is hard. If Schaaf can guide her city towards the realization that they’ll be more productive by putting more wood behind fewer arrows, they stand a better chance at turning that dream of a new stadium into a reality. Schaaf will have to remember one guiding principle: If she’s going to plan for a stadium with someone else’s money, chances are that someone else will have a lot more say about how that stadium gets built than a publicly-built stadium.

P.S. – One other thing. Without knowing that much about Schaaf’s work in her district, all the talk about her work ethic and positive attitude reminds me of fictional city bureaucrat Leslie Knope. Is that a reasonable comparison? Oakland could use Leslie Knope’s kind of determination. Maybe we’ll be able to see that now that the craziness of the campaign is over.

31 thoughts on “Election Aftermath 2014

  1. Get it done, Libby!

    • How? When she has to wait till January? What do we do until then?

      ML, what are your thoughts on this?

      • His thoughts are written above.

        Of course, not this week, or next month. But she can lay the groundwork and get it done, starting ASAP.

        Though, this is most likely not priority one.

      • They don’t have to do anything right now. We’re going to hit the holiday recess anyway. The expedient thing to do is to wait for the Raiders to act, and then react accordingly. If the Raiders don’t apply for a move to LA, that will also inform future actions. Wolff got the lease extension through at least 2018. Two months is not going to make a difference.

      • She has to get sworn in which typically takes place around New Years Day according to the city charter.

  2. Libby seems grounded and pragmatic enough, to get something done. It’s nice to see her focusing on the A’s and (or), the Raiders and letting the reality of the Warriors situation settle in.
    She says there is enough room for both, and that’s probably true if there were a huge public subsidy, but we all know that’s not going to happen and as ML mentioned, if its someone else’s money (Wolff, Davis, investors), you lose more and more control over what happens within the project.
    The Raiders are up; if they can make something happen (skeptical), of course that’s provided Mark even truly wants (can), to make something happen, so be it.
    Wolff has allowed, Davis to have first crack at the coliseum site, weather this is by design, because he wants to make it look like Oakland chose the Raiders, thereby making a stronger case for his claim to San Jose within MLB, or he knows Davis either cannot make it work finically and will be forced to leave, or he knows Davis wants to leave and was simply doing his “due diligence”, as required by the NFL before he can leave, either case, would strengthen Wolff’s position with the city and county, as the A’s would be the lone remaining team to strike a deal with.
    For whatever the reasons, Wolff has made a calculated choice to allow the Raiders to make their case first; the Raiders can’t say (truthfully), that it was because of the A’s that they could not make it work in Oakland, truth be told neither could the A’s, since nothing was providing either franchise from striking a deal first (IMHO)

    • Sorry: “nothing was preventing either franchise from striking a deal first (IMHO”
      It has been stated several times that “Oakland has to make a choice”, but I don’t think it’s that simple, Oakland choices (such as they are), are predicated on what the Warriors have done, what the Raiders, will do (first), and then by what the A’s do (second), choices, choices, choices.

    • I’m not so sure that Wolff is really giving the Raiders first crack. I think the city did this.

      Regardless of Oakland or San Jose, I think it’s clear that Wolff wants to own the development. Oakland knows that giving the A’s ownership of the development puts the Raiders in 2nd place and the existing politicians in Oakland did not want to be seen as doing anything negative towards the Raiders.

      Really the priority was set when the Raiders returned and Schott’s idea for a new A’s stadium was shot down in favor of Mt Davis and the Raiders.

      • Well said. You hit the points I was going to mention.

      • @Slacker

        It is certainly true, that the city has made every attempt in the past to accommodate the Raiders, before they would do anything for the A’s, and you could be correct when you say, you think the city was the one behind it, but Wolff had every opportunity to make a deal before now and has not, just as the Raiders have, it seems more likely that each of them was hoping the other strike a deal first, but Wolff has more time to work with, because he does not have two other MLB teams eying San Jose, as Davis dose with LA, consequently he has to make his move faster than Wolff, that is if Davis wants LA.
        I guess my point, was that I don’t buy into the talking point of “Oakland has to choose”, not that Oakland does not have choices to make here, but the choices they have to make are largely dictated by the Raiders, and A’s, as it was the Warriors before them.
        At the moment we are waiting on the Raiders, to make a choice, Oakland gets to make a choice (such as it is), biased on what choice, the Raiders make first, and we can talk all day about Wolff is working on a deal, with the JPA but that deal is primarily based on the Raiders making a choice to leave first, and if Wolff wanted to he could have come up with this plan and presented it to Oakland, signed sealed and delivered, then Oakland would have actually had a choice between the A’s and the Raiders.
        I’m not mad at Wolff for working it that way, I’m just saying this idea that Oakland has to make a choice is a little much, Oakland may have chosen the Raiders in the past and by all rights, perhaps they don’t deserve to have a choice today, but something tells me that Oakland wishes it had the choses, that some think they have.
        BTW: what were Oakland’s choices, when it came to the Warriors again?

      • @ Slacker
        I think you make a good point, when you say “the existing politicians in Oakland did not want to be seen as doing anything negative towards the Raider”
        I would have to agree with that statement in principal, but two things can be true at the same time, the politicians (I am sure), did not want to look like they were doing anything negative toward the Raiders, but that does not mean they had an iron clad proposal from Lew Wolff in front of them at the time.
        Oakland is in the position, of dealing with whomever will deal with them, Wolff has made no secret of the fact that he won’t even entertain the idea of the coliseum site, unless he has total control and the Raiders are gone (implied, IMHO), so he has no motive to craft a serious deal before the Raider leave, especially when if the Raiders chose first and actually take the site, he plans on using that as evidence to leverage with MLB, for a San Jose move it made sense for Wolff not to go first, thereby letting the Raiders make choices first, but I don’t think that should be confused with Oakland having to make choices, when they that have not had any to make, at least not in the last 5 years anyway.

      • Actually the city made the choice for Wolff when it signed the ENA. They can’t review an alternative plan for the site so whether he wants to or not, Wolff can’t present an alternative plan to the city.

        Granted he could go to the JPA and other sources however I don’t think that would endear him to the city as it would likely come off as a way for Lew to undercut the plans for the Raiders/Coliseum City

        Either way you are right about Oakland’s choices being dictated by the Raiders and A’s. Oakland isn’t negotiating from a position of power. They don’t have the money to do anything on their own. They also haven’t been able to build a coalition of corporate support to offer teams. The only thing the city has to offer is land but even that comes with strings in the form of the Mt Davis/Arena dept and the JPA connections. This is the price though of choosing the Raiders in the past and ultimately for choosing to want to host professional sports teams.

        In terms of the Warriors, Oakland had no options. It’s simple economics, the Warriors thought they could make more money in SF and nothing was stopping them from going there.

        MLB is stopping the A’s from going to San Jose and Mark Davis’ incompetence ties him to Oakland for the time being. Both of those items are out of Oakland’s control however so it’s important for Scaaf to do something somewhat quickly otherwise Oakland may truly have no choices.

      • @ Slacker
        I agree with almost everything you said, I will quibble a bit on your statement of,

        “Actually the city made the choice for Wolff when it signed the ENA”

        It could have been a situation where Wolff gave the city on “real”, choice so they went ahead and singed the ENA. We all know Wolff will use the Raiders building on the site (if that actually happens), as evidence that Oakland has made a “choice”, in his efforts to get San Jose, so did Oakland make a choice to sign the ENA, or did they have no “real” choice other than to sign it, (chicken or the egg), it’s not like Wolff had a wonderful proposal right in front of them, for then to turn down, thereby choosing.
        The whole thing is party messed up, San Jose dose not get to make any choices, the A’s can’t make the choice they want to make, David does not have enough money to make the choice, he probably wants to make, Oakland does not have enough money, to help him make that choice any easier, and Oakland (love it, like it, or hate it), doesn’t have a lot of “real” choices, due to their poor choices in the past (as you mentioned), and the nature of the,“host professional sports teams.” as you said, or shall we say the beast.

      • I agree. In some respects it’s in Wolff’s best interest to drag his feat as the A’s are a profitable team with revenue sharing. If that goes away with a new stadium they may no longer be profitable.

        If Al Davis (before he became senile) owned the A’s, I don’t think the A’s would be in the same situation. Granted he might have pissed off the rest of MLB by forcing an anti-trust lawsuit to move to San Jose but he would have pressed much harder than Wolff has whether that be in Oakland, San Jose or even Fremont.

  3. Quick note – You may have noticed that Navigator is no longer commenting here. He didn’t take too kindly to my moderating his comments, so he chose to stop posting. His choice.

  4. Somewhat off topic, however relevant to the A’s organization, Farhan Zaidi (A’s assistant GM) was signed as the new Dodgers’ GM. Evidently experience with the A’s organization is good for an MLB exe/coach’s resume (they seem to be in demand).

    Conversely, MLB franchises managements. are evidently not so much impressed with the Giants organization – rarely are personnel from the giants organization pursued by other organizations – Evidently the MLB world knows the real story about the A’s and Giants.

  5. @ ML, so just to put me out of my pathetic worry about the A’s and Raiders staying in Oakland, we can just wait for the new Mayor to take office and have a two month relief of worry?

    Sounds good to me.

    Happy Holidays!

  6. I can’t imagine any Oakland politician working with Doug Boxer on a sports project, ever. Not anymore anyway. Those two parties should be on opposite sides of a courtroom soon.

    • @ AT SPES INFRACTA (@muppet151)
      Man, you are on the money. There is a distinct possibility of that happening.

  7. Speaking of scoreboards ML (since you posted about the Padres moving on up to 3rd biggest from 2nd smallest (just bigger than Oakland’s). Are the A’s moving forward with new scoreboards for the Coliseum?

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