After nearly three years of smoke and mirrors from politicians, a disingenuous community-benefits process and blatant lack of financial transparency, there may finally be a chance for Oakland residents to be heard about whether they want hundreds of millions of their tax dollars to be spent supporting the for-profit project of a billionaire.
Oakland City Council members Carroll Fife and Noel Gallo are proposing council actions to ensure Oakland residents have a say. The first is a ballot measure allowing Oakland voters to decide whether it’s appropriate and responsible to spend nearly a billion dollars of public funds to build a privately developed project. The second is a requirement that a full, independent economic analysis be performed before a decision is made on the A’s Howard Terminal development.
The ballot measure and financial analysis are the right things to do when so much is at stake, especially when Oakland has so many very immediate needs to address.
It is not unreasonable — or without precedent — to allow Oakland residents the right to vote on the future of their community and how their tax dollars are spent. What is unprecedented is the mind-boggling amount of public money the A’s are asking from taxpayers to subsidize their massive private real estate development (anchored by a stadium) at the working port. This sum of nearly $1 billion could strap the city for decades.