San Francisco MUNI Bus - Photo: munidiaries.com
By: Good Neighbor Coalition Member
San Francisco prides itself on promoting “Respect”, “Equality”, “Diversity”, “Environmentalism” and generally a “Progressive Agenda”. But SF elected officials consistently have demonstrated hypocrisy by not practicing what they preach.
Prop I, “The Relocation of Professional Sports Teams”, will go before the voters in June – it is sponsored by the entirely-volunteer Good Neighbor Coalition. A Yes vote will make it clear that residents want to uphold the principles that make this a world-class city by adopting a policy that “SF will not invite, entice, encourage, cajole or condone the relocation of any professional sports team that has previously established itself in another city and has demonstrated clear and convincing support from community and fans for at least 20 years, and is profitable.”
Prop I would also “adopt a policy that the City take a stand against any sports team ownership group attempting to avoid payment of an outstanding public debt.”
The Chase Center, is emblematic of what happens when the political machine in SF is lured by self-interest over what is in the best interest for "All." The arena project is the result of political greed, manipulating documents and an ominous - “support the arena or else” - threat made by the late Mayor Ed Lee to the arena’s closest neighbor; the UCSF Medical Center and Children’s Hospital which opposed the project. Without underhanded dealings, the Golden State Warriors 18,000-seat arena project would never have been approved for construction anywhere there is dirt in San Francisco – and especially feet away from a hospital in the Mission Bay neighborhood.
At the same time, the Warriors are aiming to get out of paying a $40M public debt owed to Oakland for upgrades to Oracle arena. This would leave Oakland, that supported the team for over 45 years, $40M short on funds for healthcare, safety, homelessness and other services. (A 2016 study by San Francisco State professor Philip G. King determined, Oakland could lose 805 jobs and as much as $87 million a year in economic energy when the Warriors move 11 miles across the bay.)
The City that prides itself on showing ‘Respect for All’ was involved in orchestrating the relocation of the Warriors from an economically less prosperous neighboring community and prioritizing the wants of deep pocketed NBA team owners over the needs of a public-serving medical center.
Allen Jones, founder of the Good Neighbor Coalition, the entirely volunteer group dedicated to calling out the injustice of the arena project, sees the clear racial thread. The “Relocation of Professional Sports Teams” measure is about drawing attention to SF City Hall’s role in taking a team from a predominantly Black community.
This is the same City Hall that sold out the Black community of Bayview Hunters Point (video) for a mere $1 million, to the owners of the San Francisco 49ers who took a $1.3 billion stadium project out of San Francisco. Now, this same political machine intends to get away with scheming to take a billion-dollar arena project from a predominantly Black Oakland neighborhood? A world class city helps its neighbors; it does not help itself to its neighbor’s jewels.
And all the while, SF politicians continue to support this project with the leading argument of, “They were here first.” And going blank when asked, “Why did they leave”?
Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO - whose name is on the Children’s Hospital and who sold the Warriors the arena land in Mission Bay famously said in a New York Times article, he felt the arena was important because he didn’t want to have to drive to see U2 in concert. Bono of U2 would not dare repeat that a man sold his property at over a $100 million discount just to attend his concerts 11 miles closer.
The 30-person governing body of local Democrats, the SF Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC), including Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi endorsed a ‘No’ vote on Prop I. The vote tally is evidence of a cover up for City Hall’s covetousness and greed. Not too many San Franciscans will believe Senator Feinstein and Rep. Pelosi ever had the time to read this local ballot measure.
The Warriors PR machine would have everyone believe that SF overwhelmingly supports this project. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The California Nurses Association opposed it on the basis it would compromise patient care.
All environmental groups have opposed it on environmental and social justice grounds. Over 20 noted UCSF faculty and health researchers signed a letter to Mayor Lee, resolute against the project. UCSF’s Chancellor sent numerous communications to City Hall with the question: “why are you prioritizing a for profit NBA franchise?”
To promote the arena prior to the Board of Supervisors vote in 2015, the Warriors and the tech cadre, in partnership with SF City Hall, pressured UCSF to publicly support the project. Following memos from Ed Lee to UCSF, no dissention was allowed on campus. That was UC’s pat response, “we can't have opposition to this project on campus”. As part of the UC System, the epicenter of Free Speech, it was unimaginable that students, faculty and staff members were prohibited from voicing their opinions.
Without interference from SF City Hall, this would not have happened.
Values such as “Diversity”, “Equality”, “Environmentalism “and “Respect for All” – permeate most of San Francisco life, but get cloudy the closer one gets to City Hall. We can try to shrug off this single-minded focus on money from the business people - but we can’t shrug it off when elected officials are involved.
Nearly 15,000 SF voters agreed and signed the petition to successfully put this measure “The Relocation of Professional Sports Teams” on the ballot.
It’s a referendum on past conduct and sends a message that San Francisco’s value system doesn’t support hypocrisy; be it brazen as in this arena project, or in typical City Hall orchestrated fashion of secrecy.
A “YES” Vote Means: If you vote “yes,” you want to make it City policy not to encourage professional sports teams from other cities to move to San Francisco and to take a stand against any sports team ownership group attempting to avoid payment of an outstanding public debt.
A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want to adopt these City policies.
Vote YES on Prop I and remind SF City Hall, respect for all includes our neighbors.