Oakland News: Coliseum JPA Interviews McKibben; Mayor Schaaf’s Epic Speech

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Posted on Jan 30 2015 - 7:52pm by Zennie Abraham

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As you read this, the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum JPA will have (just) completed an interview with former Rose Bowl head Scott McKibben this morning – it started after 9 am according to sources. This is the re-start of the original executive director search process that went off the rails because Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty tried to move heaven and earth to get former Dublin Mayor and California GOP Assemblyman Guy Houston selected as the JPA’s exec director, only to have that effort scuttled by this blogger’s discovery of Mr. Houston’s out-of-court settled lawsuit by an elderly group who accused him of trying to defraud them. To say the optics were bad is an understatement.

After this space broke that story, labor groups chimed in, calling JPA board members and asking them not to pick Houston for reasons related to his negative vote on their issues, and for his awful role in blocking funding for a county hunger prevention program in 2008. Ah, perils of a political record.

All of that should have bounced Houston out, and left the JPA to select from the top two candidates the headhunter organization The Hawkins Company advanced: McKibben, and the number one person Pittsburgh Steelers CFO Mark Hart. Hart didn’t want the job because the JPA refused to match his over half-million-dollar salary demand; McKibben wasn’t given a chance to counter offer, and it looked like someone was trying to rig it so he was bounced out without a chance to talk to anyone. But that changed thanks to Oakland At-Large Councilmember and JPA Board Member Rebecca Kaplan.

Councilmember Kaplan along with other JPA board members worked to get Scott back into consideration, more than anything out of fairness: he was the number two candidate and number one quit. Meanwhile, Houston was not giving up without a fight.

Guy Houston showed up for almost every JPA meeting. On the day last fall 2014 when it was obvious he wasn’t going to get the job after a motion to hire him was tabled, Houston reportedly threatened legal action. The reason was that he believed he was the person who emerged from the process and was offered the job, only to have the offer pulled. Reportedly, Coliseum JPA legal counsel Deena McClain said the only way to avoid that mess was to restart the whole process.

But since McKibben was still out there, the JPA made the decision to interview him again. But Supervisor Haggerty added in a name at the last minute: former JPA executive director Mark Kaufmann. So, for a few weeks, it looked like a new two horse race – that is until Kaufmann voluntarily backed out of being interviewed.

That leaves Scott McKibben.

I do hope Scott is hired and for a host of reasons. First, he’s a true sports management professional who combines that with experience in Oakland as a newspaper publisher. Among his experiences, Scott ran the Rose Bowl, helped start the A11 Football League, and was the Oakland Tribune publisher. The Oakland A’s and Oakland Raiders honchos have recommended him for the job, as have local sports management legends like Andy Dolich. He would be an excellent person to work with NFL Business Manager Eric Grubman, who’s watching these developments as I write this. There’s no risk in selecting Scott for the job. Let’s see what happens.

Floyd Kephart Leaves Informative Newballpark Park Blog Comment

Floyd Kephart, the head of the New City group that has the current ‘exclusive negotiating agreement’ with the City of Oakland to establish the process that will lead to the construction of Coliseum City, is a frequent reader of Rhamses Murcada’s great stadium blog NewBallPark.org. Concerned with media misinformation regarding his project, he wrote this on the blog :

I will try an answer some of the questions and respond to some of the comments from this morning.  Yes, this is the “real” Floyd Kephart.  Who would want to be me anyway:-)There  cannot be a “deal” discussion until the City and County agree on a process that can result in a proposal being submitted to the City and County legislative bodies for approval.  We (including the Mayor Schaaff and President of the Board of Supervisors, Haggerty) are working to put that process in place but it is not there yet.
The Master Plan and the DEIR covers 800 acres and that has not changed.  The 3 sports teams and most of the publicly owned land are contained in the approximate 200 acres that comprises Phase 1 of the development plan being considered.  This has not changed nor has the land shrunk even though it is occasionally engulfed in water.
The Transit Hub is a major reason the Coliseum district is a potentially viable project,  The expansion and full utilization of BART is necessary for any investment to be made….by anyone.
The documents submitted by us to date that are final are available and those that are being created or reviewed and still purely analytical to establish actual facts are not.  We are trying to establish real facts instead of those continuing to be made up or have become anecdotal and not real so the City, County and yes, New City can make a rational decision on what can be done and under what circumstances.
No one has submitted any proposal that details a development plan and probably won’t until there is a negotiating group on the public side with whom to submit such a plan for consideration.
I am not sharing our considerations or decision making factors during the discussion stage with anyone that is not a principal in the transaction and that leaves you out of that distribution Marine Layer.  Once we have something that can be considered by the public, it will be presented for you to analysis and report accordingly.  Until then………I will continue to attempt and correct misstatements of fact although my time to review the various press reports and blogs are limited.  This morning I just happened to be on line when the post went up.
As for my PR or lack thereof, my intent is to not embarrass myself or the City of Oakland.
Hope this helps clarify some of the situation.

A High Speed Rail Station At Coliseum City?

Long time Oakland land-use advocate Steve Lowe chimed in a while back and asked me what I thought of a high speed rail station at Coliseum City, and if that would help move the development process for that concept along. At the time I said I’d have to think about it, and that was because I was still miffed that Oakland wasn’t in the original plan, and that even after all the work I did to try and get Oakland into it, and while working as Elihu Harris’ economic adviser between 1995 and 1999. I’m going to resist my desire to write a book on what happened at this point, and just say that I think it’s a good idea.

But the next step, Steve, is to move beyond the cocktail chat level and really work to get the idea to become reality. My read is that a lot of elected officials would get behind a California High Speed Rail station at a new Coliseum City development. Ok Steve, stop the cocktailing and start the calling! Ping Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf first!

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf Gave An Epic #BlackLivesMatter Speech

Last Saturday, Oakland City Hall was filled to capacity as a Special Oakland City Council Meeting was held on the bad relationship between our city’s African American Community and the Oakland Police Department. The meeting, called by Oakland City Council President, Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney (District Three), was stirring. There were many great speakers and speeches. But I take this time to single out Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for a speech that was epic and brave. I recorded the whole deal right here:

Libby just may be the first white mayor in California history to openly admit that there are racist organizations. In all, her candor was a total breath of fresh air. What I disliked (and look, considring our familial relationship, I am biased but also I’m not blind or deaf, Ok.) was how some of the young African American attendees in the audience were knee-jerk ready to be hostile to her just because she was the Mayor and white. One young lady from West Oakland who spoke with energy and passion but also an incredible anger directed at Mayor Schaaf said “we haven’t seen you; I haven’t seen you!!” But when Libby reached her hand out to invite the young lady to come over and talk with her, she just walked by her. That told me something.

What it said to me was that some of us as African Americans have to stop giving power to someone because they are white, and then acting on that by assuming they don’t want to get to know us, and then avoiding contact as a way of reenforcing that idea, even when the white person has their hand out trying to establish a relationship. That kind of behavior results in a lot of assumed ideas of who has power, leads to enaction, and eventually the complaint that life is tough for us – so much so that it’s not worth trying to forge a better path.

To her credit Libby walked over to the young lady and met with her – that was the right way. I’m very proud of what Libby did. I still think former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris was the best we ever had, but Libby’s off to a good start.

Oakland City Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney (D3) gave her take:

Here are the rest of the speeches and interviews I recorded from the event:

W Kamau Bell Gets Served Some Racism At Elwood Cafe

I have to add this as it’s a real pisser: famed Oakland comedian W Kamau Bel was the victim of a racism incident at The Elwood Cafe this week. The full account is at his blog here but what basically happened was a staffer at the cafe saw him talking to a white woman and a group sitting at a table outside, and pounded on the window, yelling at him to “scram”.

The woman was Mr. Bell’s wife Melissa, and with her 13-month-old daughter, and her friends from New York. The female staffer said she thought he was “trying to sell something”, when he was showing his wife and her new friends a book he bought down the street.

Wow, this is one of those examples of racism being a mental illness. And it does fit with the example of how Libby was treated at the #BlackLivesMatter event – racism causes a person to see someone else as ‘the other’ and a threat. The Elwood Cafe white female staffer didn’t even stop to think that the black man may be related to the group of white people, let alone married to one of them. That kind of thinking must be eliminated from society. The staffer reportedly told the Bells that race had nothing to do with it. As one person wrote on Twitter, if you have to say race had nothing to do with it, race had something to do with it.

The Bells met with the Elwood Cafe owner and say they don’t want anyone fired, but want a public discussion. They’re better than me; I’d want the staffer to find new work. That’s the best way to learn not to do that again. I’m personally sick and tired of institutional racism. Always have been. I remember hating Polish jokes when they were popular – and at the time I was just six years old in Chicago in 1968. Making others feel bad because you perceive them as different is just plain ugly. Period.

You know what bothers me? When someone, usually white, tries to tell me that racism had nothing to do with an incident I experienced. Note: I experienced. Now, I ask you: is it right to tell a woman who complains about sexism as a booth worker as a convention that she’s wrong and sexism had nothing to do with it? Get the picture?

It reminds me of something that happened to me at International CES in Las Vegas, here:

But I have to report, CES Las Vegas was a blast. I made 88 videos and interviewed many startup entrepreneurs. Oakland should have a presence there, and take startups based in our city that won a kind of local competition. Osaka, Japan did that, and with great success.

Here are my CES 2015 videos in one playlist:

Marshawn Lynch Day In Oakland?

Hey, just thinking, why not a Marshawn Lynch Day in Oakland? The Seattle Seahawks Running Back has given Oakland a bright spotlight this Super Bowl Week. Why not? Yes, he’s not an Oakland Raider, but he could be.

In closing, please, be kind to everyone.

  • Steve Lowe

    Thanks for mentioning that I should ping Libby regarding HSR at the Coli.

    I think first, however, she has to have chosen an Economic Development
    advisor who’s willing to look at the longer arc of Oakland’s trajectory
    within the confines of the greater Bay Area metropolitan region and reassess
    what it really means to the transportation epicenter here – and take advantage
    of it for the sake of moving Oakland’s economy to a higher and better position,
    complete with more jobs, opportunities and PLAs for everyone.

    I don’t hear many policymakers extolling that vision, and it’s worrisome in
    that it likely means business as usual will continue at City Hall and therefore
    all the usual consultants will continue telling every elected personage pretty
    much what they all strongly hint they want to hear anyway during the
    preselection round.

    After all, Oakland’s xenophobia (no pun intended!) is a good part of the
    reason we’re frequently mired in the gunk and other problems we have,
    ironically, most of that condition having to do with the institutional racism
    and classism that tends to settle on and around transportation hubs
    pretty much all across the country! Living on the other side of the tracks
    is a pretty ancient phenomenon; today, we’ve merely added “under the freeway”
    as part of that same syndrome.

    So all I’m saying is can we at least have a Plan B for HSR that has an
    option to include the Coli if by some ridiculous chance the Authority might
    blunder with respect to cost overruns or bad bolts from Mongolia or something
    else that could possibly go wrong with a budget that already not a single person
    anywhere in this State or Washington DC believes for a single second is
    at all accurate.

    To find extra funding by going out to the voters of California once again
    and saying that no one ever guessed this megaproject would be more
    expensive than at first calculated is going to be quite dicey for anyone
    in Sacramento I would think – unless, of course, there’s a cost-cutting
    Plan B in place that saves, let’s say, maybe six or so billion dollars by
    making the Coli the Bay Area’s Grand Central Station and thereby
    abandoning the notion that HSR needs to plow through all those
    horrified Peninsula cities (of which several are currently engaged in
    litigation to stop the thing from destroying their downtowns).

    My less-than-official vote-calculator says that all the East Bay would vote
    for that option, plus all the Peninsula, plus all the North Bay folks, too,
    as they’ll see more of an opportunity to access the primary HSR feeder,
    i.e. BART, in Richmond than in downtown Frisco. (I get to call it that
    now that Herb Caen is no longer around because I was born there and
    am constantly steamed that Oakland is still a prime subject of derision
    by all the newbies on that side of the Bay who claim to love SF,
    while all the time complaining about the fog and how our jejune
    West Coast culture, food, amenities, etc., can’t compare with New York!)

    So is it so terrible to have such a Plan B standing by just in case?
    Better for the Bay Area economy, better for Oakland, maybe even a
    mind-changer for all those major league teams now at the Coli who
    could see that an HSR-connected Coliseum City at buildout would have
    worldwide renown, drawing even more fans than super-congested,
    stuffy old Frisco ever can: they’re all at the opera anyway pretending
    to be so wonderfully cultured that even the thought of a monster
    chili-cheese corndog would make them turn even paler than they
    already are.

    The question is: what consultant would be willing to undertake even
    a quick mini-study to evaluate a Plan B and then face the wrath of the
    Sacto-based Friscophile-insiders who rule our Northern California roost?




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About the Author

Zennie Abraham is the founder of Zennie62Media which consists of zennie62blog.com and a multimedia blog news aggregator and video network, and 78-blog network, with social media and content development services and consulting. Zennie is a pioneer video blogger, YouTube Partner, social media practitioner, game developer, and pundit. Note: news aggregator content does not reflect the personal views of Mr. Abraham.

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