Letters for the Week of December 14, 2016

Readers sound off about proposed Raiders subsidies.

“Oakland to Vote on $350 Million Public Subsidy for New $1.3 Billion Raiders Stadium This Tuesday” by Nick Miller, News, December 9:

Make The Raiders Pay Get the Raiders to cough up the $95 million that’s owed on the existing facility (which is owed thanks to the earlier enticement to bring the team back and to satisfy Al Davis’ desire for luxury boxes — that didn’t sell or generate revenue). The Coliseum was never able to host a Super Bowl, because even with all that was spent the capacity was insufficient for the NFL.

Larry Medina

Focus On Basic
City Services

Not one dime for the Raiders. Fund the Public Works Department instead! Unlike City Council, Public Works actually does something useful. Use “surplus” public land to provide housing for middle-income people, and keep building until rents become reasonable again.

Oakland streets ruin cars and kill bicyclists and pedestrians; our median strips feature dead bushes, weeds, and garbage. The homeless are forced to camp under overpasses, with zero city amenities provided. Trees have not been trimmed in years, and some parks have had little or no attention for just as long. The Oakland Police Department tells us to “download a report,” and complains of understaffing while apparently staffed sufficiently enough to abuse its authority. We need city government to focus on providing basic city services. Let the Raiders go.

Jan Van Dusen

Don’t Burn Dollars
for Mark Davis

I have one thing to say: Raiders, go to Las Vegas. Please. Take your team, your rep, and your game somewhere else. Why should Oakland go begging for this when we have residents who are hardcore fans getting displaced by greed and gentrification? Raiders were a part of Oakland culture, but apparently we need to burn dollars at the feet of their owners to make them love us as much as we love them. Screw that.

Whitney Smith

‘I Am Skeptical’

The citizens of Oakland should be very wary of Mayor Libby Schaaf and her assertion on one hand that there will be no public money. The deal includes throwing in $150 million, the value of the (public) land, plus $200 million, to be financed by private bonds and repaid from stadium revenues; plus $95 million to pay off Mt. Davis. The people of Oakland and the City Council need to ask a lot of questions about this bond approach prior to approval. Who is left holding the bag if the revenues are not there? When and where has this private-bond financing approach for public projects been used, and what was the outcome?

I am skeptical of any new, never-tried Wall Street financing instruments. Many cities over the last twenty years have been left holding the bag on projects that they wanted so bad that they were willing to experiment with non-traditional financing. At the end of the day, the mayor needs to be honest with the public. Don’t play word games.

Gary Patton

Schaaf Lies?

Mayor Libby Schaaf came into office insisting no public money for a Raiders stadium. Now she offers the spoiled owner of the Raiders public money. She wants the city to pour some $200 million into bonds that would be repaid by anticipated tax revenues from development. These tax revenues should support and normally would support city services — but here they would be diverted into paying off bonds that built stuff of benefit to the Raiders owner. Schaaf lies.

Charlie Pine

It’s Risky

“Skin in the game” means nothing other than the assumption of financial risk by the citizens of Oakland. Oaklanders have been here before because of the fantasies of electeds.

Politicians love to hire consultants to cover their behinds. It seems to me, with hundreds of millions of public dollars at stake, the feedback from an independent financial consultant might be very useful as to the precise nature of the financial risks to us as a city.

In general, sports arenas have not turned out to be of significant financial benefit to cities. This is important in light of the many shortcomings in Oakland regarding public safety due to lack of adequate resources. Homicides and deadly fires come to mind.

Hobart Johnson


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