Secret Baseball Meetings, Audit Coincide

The proposed Oakland A’s move to San Jose hasn’t had much progress in over three years. But an interesting development occurred last week. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s three-person committee in charge of finding the best future home for the A’s reportedly met with city officials and business leaders in San Jose and Oakland.

These meetings surprisingly took place around the same time State Controller John Chiang came to San Jose to investigate if the city illegally moved $25 million dollars in property from its dismantled Redevelopment Agency to hold land for a new home for the A’s.

David Vossbrink, San Jose’s director of communications, tells San Jose Inside that four or five investigators from Chiang’s office have been in San Jose for the last month, combing through Redevelopment Agency records. A report from Chiang’s office is expected to be completed by September, Vossbrink said.

If Chiang and his auditors find any actions by San Jose were illegal, the city could be forced to sell its property, which could impede relocation by the A’s. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed told the San Francisco Chronicle he’s not worried about that possibility and believes the A’s will still find a home in San Jose.

“We have looked at the statute very closely, and we are within our rights,” Reed told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Selig’s committee, which consists of Corey Busch, Irwin Raij and Bob Starkey, met with Reed, the mayor’s chief of staff Pete Furman, City Manager Debra Figone, Figone’s assistant city manager Ed Shikada, planning director Joe Horwedel and transportation director Hans Larson. Brad Ruskin, an attorney with anti-trust expertise, also reportedly attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, Oakland seems to think it still has a shot to retain the A’s with old ballpark sites being considered with renewed optimism.

15 Comments

    • Look, everyone has a different point of view and that’s cool. But the one thing I thought I could count on was all of us caring about San Jose. There are times we have to put our differences aside and do what’s best for the city. Bringing the A’s here is best for San Jose. Come on people, do the right thing.

      • I don’t know why I’m so dense that I can’t grasp the notion that EVERYONE is for bringing baseball to San Jose. As long as Lew Wolffe pays for it. Why can’t I grasp that?

        • Because idiots like prescient don’t get it and you cannot get a grasp!  The city is giving money away for free when there are more important issues.  Remember we voted against the SF Giants coming here!

          The city will pay for this not Wolfe.  Then look at how much we are already spending for road improvements. For a ball park that will not come.  And then there are the properties that will not sell to the city.

          Not going to happen!  SF Giants will not let it happen, MLB will not let ot happen unless SJ pays more millions for rights.  And yet the city is spending millions when it could go to real road improvements.

  1. Sorry Chuck,

    Sorry many hidden deals, giving land away for almost free, property that will not sell to SJ, lack of vorer approval, Giants will never give up rights.  Do I need to go on, this is what happens we your so called transparency policy is just BS.

    Time for Wolfe to seek property in Oakland or more out of the state.  Speaking of the state, I hope they come out with the truth and expose how illegal this city has been hiding money.  Thank Ded, Doyle and the 5 other clowns.

    I you could just be honest with us we could appreciate your efforts.  But lie after lie, I think you should get a vote of no confidence!

    • If you’re not for the A’s moving to San Jose, then you cannot be taken seriously as someone who cares about this city. This comment proves you don’t live in San Jose.

      • I went to see the A’s beat the Angels yesterday.  I live in District 1.  I like the A’s and I like baseball, but I do not want San Jose to spend anything on a new stadium.

        If Wolfe wants to move on his own dime, then I’m all for it, but otherwise, I will fight against it.

        Professional baseball is having to pay $4.25 for a small soda.

        • Newsflash….Reed’s RDA already spent the money on the land they plan to GIVE to Wolfe so he can close his end of the deal by building “Cisco Field” with “private money.” The deal is conditional on MLB approving an A’s move to San Jose. If MLB does not approve the move the taxpayers are stuck with the land that Chuck Reed and his RDA bought at inflated process with borrowed money. As it stands now San Jose taxpayers owe $4BILLION (yes with a”B”) thanks to Reed, the RDA and their suicidal spending and pathological lack of business sense.

          …but continue to blame the pensions of you must it is so much easier isn’t it?

        • …but continue to blame the pensions of you must it is so much easier isn’t it?

          How are we going to get that money back?  We definitely are where we are due to some incredibly bad leadership.  I’m not sure you can blame all of that on Reed.

          Unlike “presient”, I don’t pretend to know the future.  I do think if we’re going to get out of this mess, we have to cut back.  I understand how you must feel having to take the cuts you’re taking and then having the City continue to pursue money-wasting boondoggles.

          It’s hard to sell shared sacrifice, when it isn’t shared.  I fault Reed for not showing better leadership in the here and now.  Asking for sacrifice while insisting on the City’s right to give away money to a rich SoCal developer is more than dumb.

        • s randall, you ask a very important question here, and one that deserves a couple of different answers. In the first place the city’s unions had offered a variety of concessions which would have saved the city hundreds of millions of dollars. The would not have resolved the city’s financial woes overnight, but they would have been a good honest start and, had they been accepted, would have been less likely to produce the mass exodus of talent – particularly from the police departemtn – than has Measure B.

          Measure B is a classic – and in all likelihood illegal (see the Orange County DSA vs. County of Orange decision) – case of being penny-wise and pound foolish. Well over a hundred officers in the last year or so have left the department for either retirement earlier than intended or to work for other agencies and private employers. Just in the first year of employment, the cost of training a new recruit is somewhere around $175,000, and training costs accumulate, by necessity, every year. San Jose hasn’t had an academy or hired new officers in at least three years (actually, four, I think) so the cost of training those officers certainly exceeds $17.5 million – particularly when you see 20-year veterans leaving the department to work for other agencies such as the FBI. And, just as the monetary cost of losing all these officers is virtually impossibly to calculate accurately, the cost of the loss of institutional knowledge is equally impossible to calculate. How much does it cost to train a 20 year veteran who is a bomb tech and has numerous other specialized skills? How do you calculate the cost of the loss of officers who are experts in gang crime, experienced homicide or robbery or sex crime investigators?  And, with San Jose’s compensation package being so radically inferior to virtually every other agency in the Bay Area, how can we expect to recruit and retain the same caliber of public safety candidates San Jose has traditionally enjoyed. It isn’t just attrition and loss of institution knowledge that will hurt the Police Department and the city overall. It is going to be a problem or a lack of retention or of hiring inferior candidates.

          Then, too, how do you calculate the cost of the loss of morale and the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that comes with trying to police a city with under 1000 effective officers. That’s right. Under a thousand. Presently, there are a bit over 1060 officers and 80 of us are on disability.

          However, there are a number of solutions which will begin to resolve the City’s financial woes, incrementally over time:

          1. Sell unused/unneeded city-owned properties at fair market value
          2. Stop building new housing and especially low-income housing.
          3. Stop converting commercially zoned properties to residential.
          4. Stop paying grants paid out of the general fund to entities which do not directly support charter city services
          5. Sell – even at a loss – such money-losing endeavors as Los Lagos golf course, the Mexican Heritage Plaza, and the Hayes Mansion.
          6. Accept the legal and workable concessions offered by various union groups – including the POA.
          7. Offer short-term tax incentives to both large and small businesses who want to relocate to San Jose
          8. Create an Ombudsman position for business development and streamline the permitting process for new businesses.
          9. Stop giving permits to entities who want to open large clubs downtown. Rather, permit numerous smaller entertainment venues
          10. Allow restaurants more restaurants to remain open in the downtown corridor either 24/7 or for a few hours after the night clubs close.

          Finally, as you say, the city needs to stop pursuing money-wasting boondoggles. The management of the WPCP has, historically been a classic example of that, the venues listed in item 5 are another, and, considering the cost to the city of laying in infrastructure, land procurement etc. of the A’s stadium, that idea, too, needs to be abandoned.

        • I don’t know that we can get the money back. I think that Reed is 100% to blame. Remember that the RDA board of directors WAS the City Council and its president was the mayor. Reed is an attorney whose practice (pre-planning commision, pre-city council/RDA and pre-Mayor) centered around environmental law and real estate – his clients were local real estate developers who funded his campaigns for the school board, city council(RDA), Mayor(RDA), Measures V, W and B…

          It may be some wild conspiracy theory to think that these real estate folks (McEnery, Swenson, Sobrato Wolfe…) funded their attorney’s quest to elected office understanding that if he was elected they would reap amazing benefits from their relationship – like the thing they need the most to do what they do——L-A-N-D.

          Now the biggest land deal of Reed’s career (the Stadium) threatened by (1) MLB not approving the A’s move (2) The State disbanding the RDA and taking what ever cash it had on hand (3) the economy and a stockpile of land onthe City’s books that isn’t worth near what Reed and the RDA paid for it is causing him to do more than sweat – Reed is soiling himself over this!  The debt that is on the books from the RDA is $4billion dollars!!!

          $4billion is SIX times the amount of Reed’s $650million exageration (some say LIE) over what the unfunded pension liability maybe, could, might possibly be if…  Reed and Baseball SanJose say a stadium will add 1000-1500 jobs to the local economy and bring in a whopping $3million/year to the local economy. WE OWE $4billion!!!

          That 3mil a year will retire the $4bill in just 1333 years!  It makes the $72million the City commited to “infrastructure” surrounding that stadium look like chump change! 

          See Reed has to blame someone for the City’s financial problems and the easiest in these times is the public employee unions and pensions. Reed willfully chose to sacriice City Employees at taxpayer expense to direct YOUR attention away from his waste of tax dollars.

          As the Police Department continues to shrink and crime continues to rise I can only hope the public becomes so outraged that it rips open Reed’s City Hall and exposes it to the Sunlight he has been hiding from.

      • Prescient

        I Have lived in San Jose for over 40 years , and used to be very proud of that fact. but over the last few years , this city has become a cesspool. Thanks to the politicians , your Hero “Reed” included. The Oakland A’s belong in Oakland. on what Planet does it make sense to “WASTE ” money on a ball park and team , when this city is falling apart? You think things are bad now? wait until the mass exodus of Public Safety slows down and we see what we are left with. It will take years and millions of dollars to replace the experience and manpower that this mayor has cost this city. meanwhile burglaries,gang activity, violent crimes, arson fires are all on the rise. But hey i guess a ball team makes everything better

        • I think if you look at the numbers the economy of San Jose and the surrounding areas is doing great. Remember, it’s all a numbers game. San Jose will be just fine thank you. Do in no small part to Measures V, W and B. Don’t forget, it’s San Jose we all care about. I was born, raised, live and work in San Jose. I’m raising a family in San Jose. As long as this city is doing alright I’ll be fine.