Raiders Lawsuit, right? Well, no. Raiders Lawsuit update? Yes, it’s necessary.
The City of Oakland has not, as of this writing, filed a lawsuit with any court and against the Oakland Raiders and the National Football League (NFL). So why the rancor? Two words: click bait.
But let me summarize:
First, the City of Oakland has not filed a lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders as of now.
Second, the Oakland City Council, reportedly to me, gave the Oakland City Attorney’s Office the power to file a lawsuit on its behalf and did so before the recess.
Third, the Oakland Raiders have already signed the lease extension and it was stuck at the City Attorney’s Office for a month before it was returned to the Coliseum JPA for final approval.
Fourth, the Raiders had threatened to move to San Jose if the City of Oakland files a lowsuit.
This was a case of one media organization sitting on a story that it knows I first issued on August 18th, when I vlogged and blogged that the Oakland Raiders were considering playing their games in San Jose at San Jose State, if the City of Oakland filed a lawsuit against the team and the NFL. How I got the story will give a picture of the road that led us to this point, today.
I was in conversation with a long-time friend of mine who’s also a public official – I have a lot of relationships which can be described that way. A good set of them go as far back at 1987, and my first job out of the Berkeley Planning School, with the Oakland Redevelopment Agency. But, I digress.
We were talking about the Coliseum in general, and my friend happened to mention that the Raiders were threatening to move to San Jose. And so I said “Where did that come from? So, he told me. When I called that organization for confirmation (not a media company), the person on the phone said “Where did you get that front?” I said “I can’t tell you that. I have to protect a source.” So, I was told “We’ll call you back in 20 minutes.” When 20 minutes turned to the next day, I figured I was on to something – at that point, I knew I had a scoop, so I created a video-blog from what I was told, and mated that to what I already knew.
So, the next day, August 19th 2018, I called the main source back. The main source said “Maybe you got the word that the XFL was talking to San Jose about using their stadium,” and referring to the fact that the XFL was interested in playing football at the Oakland Coliseum before the Oakland A’s stepped in and effectively put the kabosh on XFL Football at the home of the A’s and the Raiders due to scheduling conflicts in the year 2020.
I said “No, I didn’t get anything mixed up at all.” So then, my main source said “I’ll call you back.” I believed then, that my main source was saving that information for the so-called mainstream media, and that person’s plans were screwed up by some one else’s loose lips, and that I’d never hear back from that person, at least about this. (See more on why this situation exists, at this link and below.)
So, I introduced the video-blog post. This one: Oakland Raiders Threaten San Jose St Stadium Move If City Of Oakland Files NFL Lawsuit (http://oaklandnewsnow.com/index.php/2018/08/15/oakland-raiders-threaten-san-jose-st-move-if-city-of-oakland-files-nfl-lawsuit/)
Which reported: The Oakland Raiders have threatened to move games to San Jose State’s football stadium if the City of Oakland files an NFL Lawsuit. That comes from a well placed source who called earlier today August 18th. The Oakland Raiders have given up on the expensive-for-them idea of going to Levi Stadium and joining the San Francisco 49ers. And obviously Las Vegas has no place for the Raiders to play right now. Also it would mean that San Diego and San Antonio are closed as moving options.
As an update, there’s no word from anyone if Oakland has either filed or approved a lawsuit. Oakland News Now has reported before that the Oakland City Council was to vote on a lawsuit, presumably in closed session, first.
That was then; the report you’ve read today is basically the same one but with the mention of San Jose taken out of it. Instead, no actual place is mentioned, just that the Raiders would “leave early” – but it did not at all specify where they were going. Other media outfits assumed the place was Las Vegas, and Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said today that either the Las Vegas Speedway or Sam Boyd Stadium would be ready, although he was careful to add that their readiness would be “at a cost.”
The #Oakland City Council has authorized lawsuit against @Raiders and @NFL over Las #Vegas move. As a result, team might leave Oakland sooner. Cmsr. @SteveSisolak says steps could be taken to welcome #Raiders before 2020.
— Clark County Nevada (@ClarkCountyNV) September 5, 2018
But, again, the report didn’t actually say where the Raiders were going. And that’s because the real punchline, that it was San Jose, was taken away by yours truly, and thanks to a friend who didn’t know the information was being protected and believed I should know about it.
But now that it’s out, and Commissioner and Nevada Democratic Gubenatorial Candidate Sisolak’s taken the bait and said Las Vegas would be ready to take the Raiders early, let’s review how we got here. Keep in mind, again, as of now nothing has been filed in any court, yet.
The Story On The Lawsuit Process Really Started With Ray Bobitt, Godfather Griz, and Forever Oakland
The story of this lawsuit must start with the sadly forgotten work of Ray Bobitt, Russell Rivera, and of Forever Oakland, led by Greg “Godfather Griz” Jones. Ray’s work started with the first Oakland Raiders Fans press conference he held January 17th 2017 at Everett and Jones BBQ in Oakland. Here’s Ray….
Then Ray held a giant meeting at the Hilton Hotel on March 12th 2017, and drew 111 Raiders fans.
Here’s the livestream, if you’ve not seen it:
And here’s Ray…
And even San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders Legend Ronnie Loot, who was head of a development team that was working to build a stadium for the Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum, came to Ray’s event…
And Godfather Griz and Forever Oakland were in attendance….
The work of Ray in concert with Forever Oakland and to fashion a fan-driven lawsuit pretty much started with the end of the Mayor of Oakland’s “town hall” meeting rally on Saturday, March 24th and two days before the 2017 NFL Annual Meeting and the vote to allow the Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas. (But it must be reported that the non-profit group “Stay in Oakland” really laid the groundwork in getting the word out about how the Raiders were not being a fair ‘team player’ in the discussion of a new stadium for the NFL Organization in Oakland. “Stay in Oakland” held many of the early talks and press conferences, and even joined me in an event to present a plan Oakland Raiders Owner Mark Davis asked me to form in 2015. )
All of that led to meetings with Oakland and Alameda County elected officials. The constant message was that this was a fan driven effort, but at the time some of the public officials believed, ultimately, it would wind up costing the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda. That said, the lawsuit’s “reason for being” remained understood: since 2011, the City of Oakland had been led to believe the Mark Davis-owned Oakland Raiders wanted to stay in Oakland, but all the while, Davis was working behind the scenes and at times in public to promote other locations as potential homes for the Silver and Black.
A look back at the history of the relationship between the Oakland and Alameda County leaders and the Raiders from late 2011 to present day, shows a series of events that led to this blogger asking Oakland Raiders Owner Mark Davis why he was working behind the back of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in 2015….
And then asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell why the NFL was allowing the Raiders’ Davis to violate the good faith clause of the relocation agreement with his behind-Oakland’s-back actions in trying to move the team to Las Vegas. Goodell said that part of the reason the Raiders didn’t have their own stadium in Oakland was their own fault…
Finally, the work of Forever Oakland and Godfather Griz (and Bobitt’s spending $48,000 of his own money) secured the services of James Quinn of Berg & Androphy , one of the best sports lawyers in America. He and his business partner James W. Quinn and Eric Hochstadt of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP came out to Oakland for a press conference on June 12th 2017. The livestream of that event is here:
After that presentation, Oakland Raiders fans anticipation of the filing of a lawsuit was at fear-pitch, but that could not be said for the Oakland City Council or the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The legal opinion of the County”s lawyer was that if there was a loss, the City and County would be on the hook for millions of dollars.
And while there was a way to overcome that scenario, at the time, the legal staff of Alameda County seemed unmovable. Still, it was anticipated that the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority Board would vote to ignite a laweuit. Instead, on October 20th, 2017, what was called “The Forever Oakland Initiative” was rejected by the Coliseum JPA Board. The livestream of that meeting is here:
It seemed that all was lost and that the hopes of filing a lawsuit were dashed. But, to his credit, Ray Bobitt never gave up (though he had many reasons to do so). Bobitt and Griz then held a new press conference on January 23rd 2018 at Alameda County’s Administration Building:
This news presented a new legal approach. Buoyed by the success of the St.Louis lawsuit against the NFL and the now-LA, then St. Louis Rams, James Quinn fashioned a new approach such that they could guarantee the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda would lose nothing if a lawsuit did not win in court.
In a post on June 26th 2018, Quinn told me “We are still in the process of finalizing and waiting for the City’s final approval.”
That effort, led by Oakland Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Noel Gallo, led a series of closed session meetings. The pivotal one of those was held during the last week of Oakland City Council meetings before the 2018 recess. There, the Oakland City Council voted to give the right to file a lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL to the Barbara Parker-directed Oakland City Attorney’s Office, working with James Quinn and his team of lawyers.
I wrote then…
Mr. Quinn responded by email: “We are still in the process of finalizing and waiting for the City’s final approval.”
According to a letter distributed by Oakland At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan on April 13th of this year, and from Mr. Quinn,“disgorgement” is said to be “a remedy where the plaintiff seeks to recover profits reaped by the defendants from their unlawful conduct.”
The request for compensation would focus on the $370 million relocation fee that the Oakland Raiders will owe the National Football League for the Las Vegas Relocation. In that, this would not be the first “relocation fee” the Raiders has to pay the NFL – that would be the $64 million “non-recourse loan” that was poid by the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda (which later formed the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum’s then-new joint powers authority in 1995).
That so-called “non-recourse loan” was determined by the California Court Of Appeals to have not been that, and because the NFL Bylaws and Constitution was written such that what was givne to the Raiders was a payment and not a loan. That’s because the Raiders attempted to have that payment not considered a revenue enrichment. The California courts disagreed, stating the NFL Bylaws and Constitution did not allow for such financial discrmination. (See: California Supreme Court: The OAKLAND RAIDERS, Plaintiff, Cross-defendant and Appellant, v. NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, Defendant, Cross-complainant and Appellant; Paul Tagliabue et al., Defendants and Respondents. 61 Cal. Rptr. 3D 634 (2007), 41 Cal. 4Th 624, 161 P.3d 151.)
That matter is important, because the financial documents from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority explained as recently as in the June 30th 2016 Financial Report “As discussed in Note 4 to the basic financial statemen ts, the Authority has loans receivable from the Oakland Raiders in the amount of $155,562,629 as of June 30, 2016. These loans have increased in the amount of $6,890,325 in fiscal year 2016 and have increased a total of $92,366,439 since the inception of these loans in fiscal year 1996. The Authority has not adopted a methodology for reviewing the collectability of Raiders loans receivable reported in the governmental activities and the major special revenue fund and, accordingly, has not considered the need to provide an allowance for uncollectible amounts. The Authority has not evaluated the recoverability of these loans through the maturity date in fiscal year 2036.”
In other words, this so called “non-recourse loan” is not that, and from my estimation as a former City of Oakland official charged by Mayor Elihu Harris to play watch-dog on Raiders-related issues, given the court’s decision, it looks more like the forerunner to the modern NFL relocation fee. By my estimate, that so-called $64 million loan to the Oakland Raiders to move from Los Angeles, that’s really a payment to the NFL, is now worth $218 million.
Now, we are at less than a week before the NFL Season. The other media have the word out again, but the fact is, the news that the Raiders might leave for San Jose if the City of Oakland sued them started here. Now, it’s up to the City Attorney to determine when to pull the trigger.
The Media War Against Zennie Abraham – A Necessary Digression For A Moment
The way the modern so-called mainstream sports media is in the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Area, they don’t credit bloggers and especially African American bloggers who own their own media operations, even if they regularly cover the NFL. I do. Moreover, if this blogger, me, does anything of note, they ignore it. Even when I posted at SFGate.com and for City Brights from 2009 to 2011, they never once mentioned that the person who gained the most traffic for the San Francisco Chronicle website for 2009, and even over the popular gossip section called “Daily Dish” was a guy named “Zennie Abraham.”
How did I learn this? Because Phil Bronstein, then in 2009 the Executive Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, told me. When I went to interview the legendary journalist for my City Brights’s blog, we started our conversation with this: “You’re name came up in the meeting with the ‘Big Boss.’ I had no idea who Phil was talking about. “Steven R. Swartz,” Phil said, and referring to the man who was then the head of the News Division of Hearst Corporation and is now President and CEO. According to Bronstein, Swartz pulled up a spreadsheet for the meeting attendees, pointed to my name, and asked “Who’s he?”
I was puzzled. What was the spreadsheet? It was a recording of the top traffic generating parts of the San Francisco Chronicle website, and above them all, including SF Chronicle colunists, and the afforementioned Daily Dash, sat the name “Zennie Abraham.” Me.
I reached out to Swartz via Linkedin, and who emailed back and even invited to take me to dinner in New York City.
To make a long story short, Phil advocated for the SF Chronicle to hire me as either CEO of the SFGate.com website or as a consultant; the rest of the brass did neither, and instead, were convinced, at first, that I was doing something that was somehow not legal, when all I was doing was following Google Trends, and a special code I installed that was given to me by a fellow City Brights blogger, who had a then-new web trafffic counter that he believed could track down an annoymous person who was sending me death threats (I wish that were not true). In the hunt for that person, I discovered and created a form of blogging I simply call “real time blogging.”
Meanwhile, the SFGate.com brass separate from Phil Bronstein, never told anyone what I did for the site, promoted other City Brights bloggers, and seemed bent on finding a reason to get rid of me (even though they weren’t paying me and I figured out a code-based way to drive traffic to my YouTube videos). And, rather than even invite me to interview for the job of running SFGate.com, they hired someone else. And Swartz never followed up about that New York dinner (even though, arguably, I am the one who got him the CEO job for Hearst).
Meanwhile, my traffic generator and other information, reported that by the time I stopped blogging for them in 2011, I’d gained 26 million page views between April 2009 (when I came on) and November 11, 2011 (when I stopped) and about a personally estimated $100,000 in advertising revenue for the San Francisco Chronicle.
I have vlogged about that before, and about my departure, as well as the promise I made on video that I would beat SFGate.com at its own media game, at least in Oakland. Fast forward to today, and Oakland News Now, and in many cases, I’m winning the war. But the fact is, the failure of mainstream media to source my work (and for the most part ignore any black media they don’t own and control) means you, the reader, lose out on getting the best information available, regardless of source.
Back to the main story.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media