I've been giving some thought to what I would like to hear from at least one Oakland mayoral candidate.
I don't believe it would garner much opposition to suggest Oakland doesn't need an overseer of the existing status quo. Ironically, a candidate who truly thought outside the box could very well be penalized for his or her creativity.
From the economy, to public safety, to public education, to nihilism that suffocates portions of the city, Oakland is besieged with myriad challenges that were generations in the making.
I would like to hear a candidate offer a bold initiative that echoes the words taken from President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, "All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration."
Reactionary proposals to combat the existing problems, though needed and understandable, will inevitably fall short because they are not designed to address the root cause. Why can't we have at least one mayoral candidate with an eye to Oakland's future?
Assuming the Warriors make good on their promise to move to San Francisco, I would like to see a mayoral candidate commit to building the stadium for the Oakland A's in the Jack London Square area and allow the Raiders to move to Concord, Iriwindale, Barstow, or anywhere else that suits their fancy.
That would leave a vacant Coliseum property. What then? How about offering the property to a "Larry Ellison" type to move their headquarters to 7000 Coliseum Way? With BART expanding directly to the Oakland Airport the location would be ideal.
Load the package with incentives so that an offer is made that cannot be refused. But this would merely be an initial step.
The one stipulation would be to include a top-flight high school on the property along with a systematic plan so that middle schools in the area would serve as feeders.
In order to make a deal like this to work there would need to be efforts to bring business and quality housing to the area as well. The Emeryville model is a good one to emulate in that residents of Emeryville are within a 5-minute drive of practically every good and service needed.
The corridor along San Leandro Blvd. is pregnant with vacant buildings. Why can't this area be an enterprise zone for live-work space?
A study by the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, found that a typical baseball or football stadium costs taxpayers $188 million while generating only $40 million in long-term benefits from jobs and tax revenues--a 4 to 1 deficit.
According to a study conducted by Dennis Coates & Brad Humphreys entitled, "The Effects of Professional Sports on the Earnings of Individuals, indicate stadiums actually destroy more jobs than they create and reduce local income overall.
The report cites: "Sports teams require relatively few employees to operate, and most of they jobs are low-wage temporary positions, they cause overall employment and income in a city to decrease when they drive out other local businesses (which provide more jobs at better pay)."
The overall state of the city must be greater than pride associated with having professional sports teams. The gold that was promised when the Raiders returned in 1995 is at best iron pyrite (fools gold).
Is this a perfect solution? No! But we already know the status quo does not work. Why not have at least one candidate bold enough to risk defeat in order to steer the city in a new direction?
Anything short would simply suggest the cavalcade of candidates are offering solutions that tinker around the edges focused more on self-aggrandizement than offering badly needed change. Haven't we had our fill of such mediocrity?