So Oakland has been given the supersecret financing plan for a Raiders’ stadium, and is keeping it supersecret.
Now what could possibly be weaselly about that?
Floyd Kephart, the San Diego-based businessman who has created the report as part of an array of proposals, is bound by a confidentiality agreement (of course) that prevents the issue to be placed with greater clarity before the people who would have to pay for the damned thing.
You know. Us.
Now Kephart still has until Aug. 21 to present a final proposal, which has apocalyptically been described by both city officials and raiders owner Mark Davis as a potential make-or-break development in the last-ditch retention of the Raiders. But that proposal, like any proposal, has the problems of (a) explaining where a tapped-out city comes up with $400 million atop the $100 million it still owes on the last stadium boondoggle, and (b) getting Davis to admit that he doesn’t want to be in Oakland anyway but is going through this charade to deflect blame for the eventual departure.
In other words, this is all just chin music to make sure that the abuse ends up at the door of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who has only inherited the mess that began when the Raiders came back in 1995 -- when she was still plowing through Loyola Law School.
But the idea that even a preliminary report that relates to taxpayer money can be kept secret ought to offend everyone, because secrecy is not only the enemy of democracy, but given the figures involved, an insult to logic.
There is, frankly, no reason to think that anyone involved in this knows what the hell he or she is doing, at least not with any degree of certainty. The crush of timing, the logical result of kicking the can down the road until you run out of road, has finally inundated everyone, and people in a hurry make mistakes -- mistakes that, when they involve taxpayer money, need to be made public so that repairs can be made quickly.
And that’s a pipe dream anyway, but the effort must still be made.
The real truths, though, are these, and Floyd Kephart cannot write these away in any report, secret or otherwise.
1. The Raiders are worth more in Los Angeles than in Oakland. By a lot.
2. Oakland has little in the way of incentives to keep the Raiders against Mark Davis’ financial benefit save guilt over the crimes of previous administrations, including the Al Administration (124-196 over the 20 years since their return, 56-136 since the last playoff appearance).
3. The San Diego Chargers are gung-ho for going to Carson, and their plan hinges on the Raiders going with them. Davis has to live with his fellow NFL owners a lot longer than he has to live with Oakland, and betraying a partner is the kind of sin that rich folks do not easily forgive.
4. The NFL office wants the problem of Los Angeles solved, and it wants the problem of the liquidity-poor Raiders solved. The Raiders’ situation, in fact, is far more worrisome than the problems in San Diego or St. Louis because those cities are further along in their likely-doomed plans to build new stadia than Oakland.
5. Roger Goodell is not David Stern, Oakland is not Sacramento, the Raiders are not the Kings, and Libby Schaaf is not Kevin Johnson -- though in some ways, not being Kevin Johnson is a positive boon.
You’ll notice we didn’t make much of the A’s objections to the Raiders’ plan, such as it is. Johnny Fisher and Lew Wolff have rarely been in a position of leverage in this real estate kabuki, and the sooner the Raiders are abandoned, the sooner the A’s can start dictating to Oakland in earnest. But these flirtations with the Raiders are vexing because they alter the balance of power yet again, and the idiotic Oakland political strategy of playing one team against the other has more than run its course. That may not have dawned on the genii who run Oakland, but the bill for this sleazy yet impotent gamesmanship is coming due, and there’s no escaping it.
No, this is about secrecy, and the illusion that somehow releasing a report will change the real equation of the Raiders in Oakland. What it does, though, is allow for the possibility that the city could try to end-run the process entirely and prevent the empty-gesture voting to the city council rather than the electorate at large. That would be okay if the members of the city council were covering the whole $400M nut, but of course they are not.
So we can dismiss the value of any report that nobody can see, because the end game still puts the Raiders in Los Angeles. If the report has some other scenario that isn’t made of bubbles and clouds, it must be made public if only to show people that fiction writing is not yet dead.