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What Goes With Red Meat, Port Or Ballpark?

Syndication: Milwaukee
“We got the vote!!!”
Dale Guldan/Milwaukee Journal

June ended with a “Phew!” vote from the AC DC rock group (I may be off by a letter) and July has begun with something that is apparently called a ‘win’. As the A’s aim for an undefeated July, an amazing feat that would get them almost to .500, was the 23-2 vote the beginning of the march towards actually breaking ground on a stadium or just a high before some low derails the project at closer to the 11th hour?

In order to offer some odds of the stadium getting built at this point, I have made up some numbers because I am on the internet and this counts as research. I also consulted a psychic, who predicted I would write this sentence.

So how do I see the odds of this project getting to the finish line, now that “Hurdle BCDC” has been cleared? Let’s look at the remaining hurdles the A’s need to clear without slamming their cojones on one of the bars...

“You got the designation but you can’t have the permit”

Could the same commission that said, “OK, the land doesn’t just have to be used for ports” turn around and vote that “Well no, we won’t give a permit for a stadium. How about a Bed Bath & Beyond?”

The A’s still need to pull a permit for the project they envision, but I am not at all worried they will be stymied on this front. Not only did the commission give a resounding 23-2 vote on “not just a port” designation, the same people will be approving the permit and it needs only a majority vote this time, not the 23 needed on Thursday.

Most importantly, when they voted on the “designation” issue, these commissioners knew exactly why they were voting: because a project is planned there that includes a waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal. If these commissioners were not planning to allow a permit to be drawn for this, they would not have voted yes on Thursday knowing this is the precise designation coming before them for a permit soon. The A’s will need 13-14 votes for this permit (depending on abstentions — there are 27 commissioners, 25 of whom voted on Thursday), and most likely they will get about 23.

So I’ll say there is a 1% chance that the project falls apart because the A’s can’t get the permit, which is very low considering that my odds for anything always include a 1% chance of flesh eating zombies getting involved.

“IFD — who’s going to pay for ___?”

The A’s and the city of Oakland are still negotiating around a second IFD (Infrastructure Financing District) and exactly where millions of dollars will come from. A’s President Dave Kaval currently characterizes the two sides as “still far apart but talking every week,” while Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf has cited various funding sources, from city to county to federal funds, as potentially tapable into in order to help bridge the gaps.

I think anytime millions of dollars sit there and someone still has to agree to be the one to spend it, there’s an actual problem. As a result, until this is resolved I feel it’s probably the single biggest threat to the project happening.

Everyone will want everyone else to pull the money from their coffers, and someone has to blink or else everyone has to compromise in unison. Neither has happened yet. The hope is that neither side — the A’s or the city of Oakland — is going to let the whole project come all the way to the 5 yard line only to fall apart over this last financial piece. Both stand to gain too much, financially and otherwise, if the project comes to fruition.

But issues of money are never simple nor solved just by goodwill or common sense. So...I have to still give the “IFD issue” a resounding 20% chance of being a roadblock we look back at as why the project never broke ground.

“Affordable housing...”

This is the other issue that has not been fully resolved, though the two sides appear closer than they are with regard to the infrastructure financing. You would like to think that the issue was not controversial, that the A’s and city would be holding hands in their quest to keep A’s fans and Oakland residents affordably housed. Welcome to America, son, where we said you have the right to an AK47, not a roof.

On site, off site...15%, 5%...the squabbling persists, but it seems highly unlikely that all issues but this one will be solved and that the two sides won’t find common ground on a matter where they aren’t even all that far apart and it looks pretty bad to be on the wrong side.

The cynic in me thinks that the combination of greed and incompetence — both in full force when these entities get together — could mess this up, but the realist in me cannot give more than a 5% chance that the “affordable housing” issue actually rises as the killer of an otherwise successful project.


Welcome again to America, where every town is Sue City! Three lawsuits were filed at the deadline, complaining that the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) was rushed, not thorough, that the project must be delayed or denied...

The success of any of these lawsuits could in fact kill the project, and it’s always a scary proposition when opponents have “3 to make 1”. However...

Today’s secret word is “frivolous”. In all 3 cases, the plaintiffs are relying on the courts to agree that the EIR wasn’t done properly, or with due diligence, and this simply isn’t the case. The EIR took a long time to conduct, and produced a document that if dropped from the 13th floor would surely kill John Fisher on impact (hey, it’s just a suggestion). It is nothing if not thorough and exhaustive.

The plaintiffs may be arguing that the EIR was done wrong, but what they mean is that they don’t care for the results. And that’s really not the basis for a successful lawsuit. If you want an easy bet, go ahead and wager that all 3 will be tossed quickly because there is no real basis for them. I give these lawsuits no more than a 2% chance of being the demise of the project, 1% of it from one of the judges being successfully bribed and 1% from one of the judges being a flesh eating zombie.

“We must survey the voters!”

The last ‘hail mary’ being thrown to try to destroy this project is a movement to bring to the November ballot an initiative that would require time to let Oakland residents weigh in on whether or not they approve of this project. The real goal is to delay the project beyond Libby Schaaf’s term, which expires on the same day this vote would take place, and the terms of a couple key council members.

We will know on July 5th (Tuesday) whether this initiative has legs to get on November’s ballot, but there are myriad reasons the council should not endorse this idea. One is that we have already had months and years to survey Oakland residents all we want, and another is that we have elected officials precisely because small groups of appointed representatives are far more capable of becoming informed than “the masses” (which it has been noted, and proven time and time again, “are asses”).

You could even argue that Oakland’s residents have voted and weighed in: by voting for these council members and saying, “We choose you to analyze big issues and represent us in your votes.”

Hopefully the council members remain strong on Tuesday and reject the idea that “the people must be asked, now, when we didn’t seem to see the need before,” and will recognize that this is nothing more than a play by the opposition desperately trying to derail the train before it gets round the bend.

Luckily, there are a few chances for this not to be a defining issue. The council could decide not to put an initiative on the ballot. The initiative could get on the ballot but not be approved by voters. Or the initiative could pass, but not significantly delay the project as the surveyed are “thanked for their opinions” but don’t have those opinions catered to — as happened June 30th when the impassioned dissents of some of the speakers were heard but not accommodated.

All of this yields, according to my complex algorithm of flippantly pulling numbers out of my ass, a 7% chance that uninformed random people are at the root of delaying and ultimately destroying the project.

So what does this all mean? It means the June 30th vote leaves in its wake a total of 35% of a pie of doom that could still await the Howard Terminal project. That leaves a 65% chance, or roughly 23 probability, that the A’s have cleared enough major hurdles that this thing will actually get built.

Although all that toxic waste probably yields a higher chance of producing flesh eating zombies, so ... I might have to do a little recalculating.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to actual persons or projects, living or zombie, are purely coincidental. As a result, any key facts I got completely wrong are not my fault and were presumably caused by Mark Kotsay selecting the wrong reliever.