Monday, June 27, 2011

49ers' Stadium Subsidy Ticker: Over Four Years of Secrecy - And For What?

Santa Clarans,

Imagine that your city had loads of empty hundred-acre parcels.  Imagine that it's thinking about locating an arena somewhere within its city limits.  Imagine that the actual location is not yet determined.

Our elected leaders would seek to reduce to a minimum the public costs of the land, but the only way they can do that is to shield the ground lease negotiations from the rampant speculation which would drive up the costs to us taxpayers.

The Ralph M. Brown Act rightly allows an elected body to take negotiations over real estate - and personnel matters and bargaining-unit negotiations - into closed session in order to get the best deal for taxpayers.  No one claiming to advocate "taxpayer value" could sensibly argue otherwise.

But now I'm going to pop that balloon. 

If you look at our own City Council Agenda of May 1, 2007, you will see virtually the same wording as you'd see if you looked at the Agenda of two weeks ago. **   For over four years now, we have known exactly who the participants are.

But far more important:  We've always known exactly which five land parcels are involved and where they're located.

The ultimate costs of the 49ers' stadium subsidies to Santa Clara residents, then, are far more dependent upon the giveaways awarded by our City Council's "stadium boosters" than they ever will be on the base costs of the land.  Our "partners" aren't even a public corporation, in fact, but are the super-secretive San Francisco 49ers. 

Now, consider:  At the Council meeting of June 7th, we were finally told not only that our RDA will be taking cash advances from the 49ers and paying them back at up to 8.5% interest - but that our Santa Clara Stadium Authority will now be doing the same thing.  Both agencies will be paying far more money to the 49ers to service that debt than they would with any bonds they could issue.  In the case of the RDA, they'll be paying for it out of your tax increment money.

In fact, the costs of the massive 49ers' stadium subsidy to Santa Clarans are about to be greatly increased.

As taxpayers, the giveaways to the San Francisco 49ers are indeed our business.  However, the Closed Sessions of the Santa Clara City Council give the clearest indication that the 49ers don't want us finding out about these cost increases until it's way too late to do anything about them. 

If the secret, Closed Sessions of our City Council and our Agencies are in fact merely being held to conceal the increasing indebtedness of our Santa Clara Stadium Authority from us taxpayers, then they have no place in the All-American City. 

Santa Clarans who contacted City Hall before the June 14th Council Meeting were entirely right to do so.  Thank you all for speaking up.

In fact, the Councilman who went completely off-Agenda on June 14th in order to criticize your correspondence may have revealed a bit more about this entire process than he intended. 

Please.  Stay informed on the 49ers' stadium subsidy. 

Demand more.

Thanks for your support,
Bill Bailey, Treasurer,

Annotated Brown Act - brochure from 2003.  Dated, perhaps - but then again, something like the Brown Act probably shouldn't change much anyway.

** I mentioned the June 14th meeting on purpose - because it was "Not Held."   When we count up the number of Closed Sessions, we specifically exclude dates such as June 14th.  We count only the meetings that were actually held.  June 14th doesn't count.

May 10th, May 24th and June 7th, however, do count.  The total of secret, Closed Session Council/Agency meetings is indeed 91 as of this evening.  Really.

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