Update 1:25 PM – Mayor-elect Schaaf did an interview with KQED radio today. She was tossed a few sports-related questions from Forum host Scott Shafer. After reaffirming her no-public-funding stance, Shafer got her to clarify a few things about the Raiders-vs.-A’s conflict.
Shafer: There’s a lot of pressure on public officials – mayors – that you don’t want to “lose” the Raiders or “lose” the A’s. The 49ers are now essentially in San Jose, they’re down in Santa Clara. The Giants have a wonderful ballpark on the (SF) waterfront. If you had to lose one of those teams, which one would you rather lose? In terms of the economic health of the city, which one matters me?
Schaaf: I’ve already gone on the record on this question. My first and strongest priority is keeping both teams. I believe that we can afford to not pit against one another. But as far as economic impact, our baseball team has a greater economic impact to the city.
Shafer: And in terms of what is the most likely location for a new ballpark for the A’s, what would it be?
Schaaf: Honestly, I love the idea of a waterfront ballpark in Jack London Square, at Howard Terminal, but I’m very transparent about this. Wherever somebody else’s money is gonna build a stadium – I will support that location.
The refreshing thing about Schaaf’s statement is that it sounds like she’s going to let the money (the A’s) lead the way, instead of combatively trying to force A’s ownership to comply with a concept they don’t believe in (ahem, Howard Terminal). That’s a good first step towards building a healthy public-private partnership.
Believe it or not, there are many Raider fans who believe that a football stadium can drive greater economic impact than a ballpark, despite the numbers that suggest it’s impossible (82 baseball games vs. 10 football games, 2.5 million attendance vs. 650,000). It’s good to hear Schaaf put that debate – if there ever was one – to bed.
Only two days after Election Day, current Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Mayor-elect Libby Schaaf held a joint press conference to announce the office transition. Despite some rather forced-looking hand-holding, it’s a great first step towards improved decorum and organizational unity at City Hall, which would be a huge change from Quan’s uneven tenure. Schaaf talked about five goals for the transition and her first days in office.
(1/4) From joint press conference w/ Mayor Quan at City Hall: My 1st priority is safety & to hire the best City Administrator in the country
— Libby Schaaf (@libbyformayor) November 6, 2014
(2/4) I plan to work very closely with the police department immediately. — Libby Schaaf (@libbyformayor) November 6, 2014
(3/4) I’m excited to continue the work that Mayor Quan has put in to keep our sports teams in Oakland.
— Libby Schaaf (@libbyformayor) November 6, 2014
It’s good to hear that Schaaf is willing to “fight like hell” to keep both teams in Oakland. A more collegial environment can only help, compared to the last four years of backbiting among Quan, Wolff, and former City Administrator Deanna Santana (remember the “lost letter” mini-scandal?). Schaaf indicated that she would call Wolff about ballpark possibilities, though I wouldn’t expect the conversation to be much more than a courtesy call.
Schaaf inserted herself into the A’s extension talks when she took some time while on the campaign trail to criticize the negotiations. Rebecca Kaplan, who got both credit and heat for leading the talks, fired back that Schaaf hadn’t asked for information on the talks before stepping onto a soapbox. Was that just the usual campaign trail opportunism, or Schaaf’s desire to be more involved? From KRON:
At the time Schaaf also said that there would be legislation forthcoming that would force more open negotiations (past talks have been notoriously secretive). Her resolution was titled The Accountability and Transparency in High-Stakes Negotiations Act.
Recommendation: Adopt The Accountability And Transparency In High Stakes Negotiations Policy Resolution Amending Rule 25 Of The Council’s Rules Of Procedure, Resolution No. 82580 C.M.S. And Resolution No. 84758 C.M.S., To Require City Councilmembers Appointed To Serve On Boards, Commissions, Agencies, Joint Powers Authorities, (“Representatives”) To: (1) Notify The City Council As Soon As High-Stakes Negotiations Commence; (2) Provide Real-Time Reports On High-Stakes Negotiations And Annual Reports On General Business; And (3) Participate In Training Regarding Their Duties And Obligations Of Representation Within 30 Days Of Appointment
Basically, it requires the negotiating parties (the two CMs appointed to the JPA board) to keep the rest of the Council and the Mayor in the loop and inform on a regular basis. You’d think this would be standard operating procedure, and I’d ask you what cute small town you live in where this happens. In any event, the resolution passed – coincidentally on Wednesday. Now Schaaf will have the opportunity to play by the very rule she drew up. Whether or not it was politics, it should work to the public’s benefit when the time comes for real negotiations. It’s a lot better than the Mayor’s office whispering information to useful idiot types who then spew it out to a select audience.
The underappreciated part of Schaaf’s pledge is the need for a professional, permanent City Administrator. Keeping one in place has been less successful than having a drummer in Spinal Tap. There was Santana’s tumultuous reign, then Fred Blackwell stayed on the job for a month before taking a private sector position. Prior to Santana were two interim administrators, P. Lamont Ewell and Dan Lindheim. The current administrator is also an temporary hire, Henry Gardner. And we can’t forget that Robert Bobb was run out of town by Jerry Brown when Bobb pushed for an Uptown ballpark. The job is not for the meek. Bobb’s consulting firm is taking a gig with the JPA, negotiating Coliseum City or an alternative on their behalf. Bobb negotiated the publicly-financed Nationals Ballpark deal and recently helped deliver a report on a nearby stadium concept for the DC United soccer franchise. At $286 million, nearly half paid by the District, it would be the most expensive stadium in MLS by leaps and bounds. A City Manager/Administrator does far more than stadium deals, and finding qualified, experienced candidates is not easy, as Oakland has seen the last several years. Having one in place who supports the project, negotiates fairly for the City, and communicates regularly is just as important as having a Mayor on board. It doesn’t hurt to have a good working relationship between the City Administrator and Mayor. What’s particularly troubling is that the rapid turnover has exposed a brain drain problem at City Hall. Many cities promote from within to fill an open city manager position, with the advantage that an internal candidate already knows the local turf and pitfalls, no learning curve required. Gardner’s expected to leave with Quan, so to call the need urgent would not be an understatement.