Ok, here we go again: the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda take up the issue of the distribution of sports tickets. It was supposed to be the homeless issue that gets top billing, but the simple fact the City of Oakland spends more time (it seems) on the matter of which elected officials get sports tickets then on housing the homeless is indicative of how far off the rails Oakland Government has gone, of late.
The question this blogger has is which Oakland Public Ethics Commission Member couldn’t afford Warriors Playoffs Tickets? I ask because the matter of the distribution of sports tickets comes up just after an Oakland sports team gets to the NBA finals in the case of the Golden State Warriors or the Super Bowl in the case of the Oakland Raiders.
Looked at another way, the number of times someone in Oakland screams and yells about sports tickets and politicians reflects the largely sorry state of sports in Oakland from a championship perspective, in the 21st Century: the Raiders went to the Super Bowl once, and that was in 2003. The Warriors recent success, and its frequency, might cause some to forget facts, but the last time the Oakland A’s went to the World Series was in 1989, 29 years ago. (Remember the Loma Piereta Earthquake? I was in it!)
The point is, the fact that Oakland sports success translates to someone yelling about sports tickets should cause someone to ask what is the real concern? Personally, if this all started because someone on either the Oakland Public Ethics Commission or the Alameda County Grand Jury was pissed off they couldn’t attend a Warriors Playoffs game, or for that matter sit in the City of Oakland or County of Alameda luxury suite, then they should be booted off either organization, pronto! One thing I’m sick and tired of is elected officials being beaten up over sports tickets.
I think Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority Executive Director Scott McKibben put it very well at last Friday’s Coliseum JPA Meeting when they explained that the tickets from sports teams come to elected officials as part of overall public financing deals to build sports facilities – specifically, the reformed Oakland Coliseum Stadium (for the Raiders) and the new Coliseum Arena (really, it is new since 1998) for the Golden State Warriors. If someone wants to have sports tickets from the elected officials, they should do three things: 1, get to know who their elected representatives are, and 2, vote, and 3, ask them for the tickets.
But what I’m really bothered about is this: elected officials should have some perks that come with the job of representing the public. That sports tickets and Oakland politicians are the subject of anger by some only reflects a complete disrespect for what polticians do. It’s no wonder voter turnout is low. We say that’s bad and we should take action to encourage people to vote, but then we do nothing. I propose that one action we take is to make being an elected official a coveted job, with perks.
If that statement bothers you, then I’ve achieved my objective. The fact is, we have a society where people don’t seem to want to have any ambition to do anything, and while about those who do. So, the politicians who works hard to get thousands of people to vote for them, then wonders why they did the work to get elected once they get into office. That’s a massively dumb situation, but it’s what we have, today.
Oakland elected officials are expected to do a lot for little money, even though the job calls for a salary that allows some comfort. The common Oakland City Councilmember makes about $80,000 annually, and the last notable increase was in 2014. Considering the role of the Oakland City Councilmember, and the cost of living in Oakland, today, that pay should be $100,000, base. And rather than you whining about this take of mine, what you should want is a higher pay rate so more people will to desire to hold the position – then we get more quality candidates, and a higher interest in what government does at the local level. And, if you think about it at $100,000 pay, a councilmember can afford Warriors or Raiders or A’s tickets – which brings me back to the subject of the distribution of sports tickets.
As Oakland Public Ethics Commission Executive Director Whitney Barazoto explained to me when we talked at The Art and Soul Festival, Oakland elected officials get many ticket to events, but they go unused because the politicians want to avoid the controversy that comes with having them. That’s just plain stupid. There should be a way that community groups can get in line for available tickets by Oakland politicians – some kind of lottery. Moreover, Oakland elected officials should not be vilified for having sports tickets.
It’s like this: if you say “I don’t want them spending taxpayer dollars on sports tickets,” my reply is that, taken to its logical conclusion, you really don’t want the elected official to be paid by the taxpayer at all, do you? And if that’s the case, you’re not at all thinking systemically about what you’re saying because if you were, you’d realize that you’re just wanting to take us back to the Oakland City Council of decades past – virtually no pay, so the only people who could afford to hold the position were rich. I was about to write “and white” but the great aspect of society today is we have well-off black and Latino and Asian and “people of color” Oaklanders too – so it’s more a class issue, today, than a race issue.
But I digress.
Oakland elected officials should have some perks to the job, and sports tickets should be recognized as one of those perks – and not a “public asset” (Which means any law that calls sports tickets a public asset should be rewritten in my opinion. It’s stupid and just plain implies a kind of legal action by someone who’s upset they didn’t get a Golden State Warriors Courtside Seat.)
Consider the Oakland Public Ethics Commission Report, which starts out with “Oakland City officials have been receiving thousands of luxury suite tickets from the Oracle Arena and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland Coliseum) each year pursuant to contracts with the Golden State Warriors, Oakland Raiders, and Oakland Athletics (A’s) sports teams.” So, really, in truth, someone on the Ethics Commission’s pissed off they didn’t get to sit in the City of Oakland suite. Right. Gotcha.
That said Oakland elected officials should also have a kind of systemic distribution system for the public to have sports tickets. But we have to stop doing this thing where the topic of what politician got what tickets to a playoff or championship game only comes up when Oakland sports teams do well. It comes off as disingenuous, to say the least. After all, I don’t see anyone whining about Oakland A’s “Dollar Days” tickets, do you?
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media