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Anti-ballpark group sues San Jose over proposed deal with Athletics

Dec 3, 2011, 9:30 AM EDT

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More ballpark stuff. Janie McCauley of the Associated Press reports that a coalition group called “Stand for San Jose” filed a lawsuit yesterday against the city of San Jose claiming that they failed to perform proper environmental review of land committed to the Athletics for a new stadium.

The lawsuit comes after the San Jose City Council agreed last month to sell nearly five acres of land to the A’s at a reduced rate on the condition that is used to build a ballpark. In addition to the environmental concerns, “Stand for San Jose” argues that the city violated citizens’ rights by not putting the issue to a public vote.

“In the midst of its 11th consecutive budget deficit, San Jose politicians rushed to sell prime downtown land for only $6.9 million, even though it was acquired for $25 million and is currently appraised at approximately $14 million,” Stand for San Jose said in a statement to the AP. “This huge discount for wealthy developers who want to build a baseball stadium comes at a time of fiscal challenges so severe that the Mayor recently admitted: ‘We’re not as bad as Greece, I don’t think.'”

The group has the support of the Giants, who are reluctant to give up their territorial rights in San Jose. Bud Selig has been reviewing the matter for years now, but we heard late last month that he planned to meet with the Giants in the near future in an effort to gain their approval.

  1. JBerardi - Dec 3, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    “In the midst of its 11th consecutive budget deficit, San Jose politicians rushed to sell prime downtown land for only $6.9 million, even though it was acquired for $25 million and is currently appraised at approximately $14 million,” Stand for San Jose said in a statement to the AP. “This huge discount for wealthy developers who want to build a baseball stadium comes at a time of fiscal challenges so severe that the Mayor recently admitted: ‘We’re not as bad as Greece, I don’t think.’”

    Hey, does anyone want to make the argument that it’s greedy players who are ripping the public off? I offer that now is the time for you to bring that up.

    Best of luck to the Stand for San Jose folks.

    • Old Gator - Dec 3, 2011 at 10:30 AM

      As do I. If MLB wants to make this move, let them buy the land and build the stadium on their own nickel. It’s not like they can afford it. Whatever happened to the good old days when crooked public servants were tarred and feathered in the public square? We got chickens….

    • paperlions - Dec 3, 2011 at 11:02 AM

      No, it is not greedy players who are ripping off the public. If player salaries were 1/2 what they are now, owners would STILL beg for and extort money from local governments because they can….owners (and other rich people that are sufficiently powerful to manipulate political and economic systems) don’t do what they do out of need, but out of their own greed and because they can.

      Blaming the players is like blaming the unions for state budget problems while ignoring the fact that cities and states have given permanent billion dollar tax breaks to corporations…it isn’t that someone is getting paid too much…it is that someone else is not paying their own way….and curiously, it is those most capable of paying their own way that are not doing so.

      • JBerardi - Dec 3, 2011 at 11:30 AM

        “Blaming the players is like blaming the unions for state budget problems while ignoring the fact that cities and states have given permanent billion dollar tax breaks to corporations…it isn’t that someone is getting paid too much…it is that someone else is not paying their own way….and curiously, it is those most capable of paying their own way that are not doing so.”

        I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.

        http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jay_Gould#Attributed

        Remember that the next time some talking head with a $500 haircut comes on TV to tell you how all the problems in America today exist because the unemployed, the working class, old people, and yes, even professional athletes just have it too darn easy.

      • joekozo - Dec 3, 2011 at 11:52 AM

        “San Jose’s employee retirement bill has more than tripled in a decade to $245 million and may top $400 million in four years.”

        http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_19460166

        Ignoring union culpability in muni deficits is like blaming baseball ticket prices on beer contracts.

      • cur68 - Dec 3, 2011 at 12:16 PM

        joe:
        Disclaimer-I am not an American, so this is a purely academic exercize for me, but having read the linked article, I am struck by some things.

        1)It took 2 to create that mess. The politicians who enabled such large increases in retirement payouts need to be held accountable. Reminds me of that commenter who blamed Barry Zito for his contract when it was Brian Sabean who gave it to him. Are we blaming people for taking what’s offered?

        2)The unions are prepared to come to the table and negotiate to reduce the problem while the government is preferring to go to court and spend up to 8 million imposing its will. Very much like Zito trying to give back some his contract money but Sabean taking him to court over it anyways.

        3)None of this has anything to do with rich guys (MLB owners) ripping off the public with the local government being complicit in the ripping off.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 3, 2011 at 1:06 PM

        The politicians who enabled such large increases in retirement payouts need to be held accountable

        Quick note, politicians have nothing to do with this. Municipalities are probably the last places on earth where Defined Benefit Plans are the pension norm whereas almost everywhere else it’s Defined Contributions. The former is far more costly to run (both due to the huge benefits and Congress’s recent laws on funding) which is why most companies switched over 10-15-20 years ago.

      • cur68 - Dec 3, 2011 at 1:46 PM

        Thanks Church. I didn’t know that and the article didn’t explain it. But at least this is tax payers, who are not relatively rich, trying to secure the best retirement possible from other tax payers. In the case of the stadium we have something wholly different. It’s my final point which, was the one I was really going for.

        “None of this has anything to do with rich guys (MLB owners) ripping off the public with the local government being complicit in the ripping off.”

        In this case the MLB can damn well afford their own stadium. Why local tax payers should be on the hook for it is beyond me. What any of that has to do with unions is also beyond me.

      • paperlions - Dec 3, 2011 at 2:39 PM

        All true…but the increase in retirement payouts wouldn’t have mattered if the rich and corporations were paying their fair share of taxes for the burden they put on the infrastructure. For example, GE makes billions/year, is located in CT, and pays $0 in taxes to the state. The McCourts made over $100M over a 4 year period and paid $0 in federal or state taxes. Spending is part of the problem….a far larger share of the blame rests is associated with states (and the feds) not taking in money they should because the rich (including corporations) have bought changes to tax codes and gotten sweet deals by threatening to move their business elsewhere….which they often do anyway.

        It amazes me that people blame the poor and middle class for problems when those are not the groups of people that have created, run, and manipulated the system….there is a group of people getting richer than ever right now while everyone is struggling….and somehow, people think the poor or middle class are the problem…yeah, that makes sense.

  2. davebrownspiral - Dec 3, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Cur:

    Yes, it takes two to make the mess. However, the politicians who enabled such large increases in retirement payouts and benefits are the very politicians that were elected (aka bought and paid for) by the unions themselves. That is what alot of people don’t get. The very politicians that unions support and help get elected are the same politicians the unions get to sit down at the table and negotiate their contracts with. It’s a laughable conflict of interest. It would be like me getting my boss hired as President of the firm I work at, and then negotiating my raise with him, and basically telling him, if I don’t receive a nice raise, I’ll have you fired.

    • cur68 - Dec 3, 2011 at 1:49 PM

      Dave: see churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged explanation ^^ of how politician’s had nothing to do with the unions getting those retirement monies. Glad I’m not the only person who didn’t know.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 3, 2011 at 4:41 PM

      However, the politicians who enabled such large increases in retirement payouts and benefits are the very politicians that were elected (aka bought and paid for) by the unions themselves

      As cur mentions, and I did above, it has nothing to do with politicians. Here we go, pension 101

      A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, people worked for companies and had a Defined Benefit Plan. Essentially the plan stated that after X number of years you were eligible for the pension plan, and you began accruing a benefit of Y% of your income each year. For example, most were 5% of your yearly income each year vesting at 100% after 20. This is extremely costly to fund because you had to keep enough money in reserve to pay off these future benefits as they were guaranteed by your company (and many had short vestment periods). It got even more costly when you had companies like the Suffolk County Police Dept (NY) who would pay 100% of your salary as a benefit based on the last three years you worked. Guys would work desk jobs 60-70 hours a week getting 1.5x-2x salary for the last three years thus receiving enormous pensions even though they worked 17 out of the 20 years at half the salary. It wasn’t unheard of for these cops to retire at 40-45 with a $100-$150K annual pension and then go work another job.

      Defined Contribution Plans are what most people have now and what everyone is familiar with, 401Ks (403b’s if you are a teacher). Employers are only responsible for usually 3-5% after you are vested, leaving most of the risk with the employee.

      The very politicians that unions support and help get elected are the same politicians the unions get to sit down at the table and negotiate their contracts with. It’s a laughable conflict of interest.

      The only people who would negotiate with politicians over their benefits are those who work for the gov’t. And even then, it’s only people who collectively bargain with the state for their benefits (See Wisconsin controversy). If we are even talking about them, why is the individual’s fault for wanting better benefits? When it comes to your annual review with your company, do you tell your boss that even though you busted your ass for the year, you don’t want the raise that comes with all your hard work?

  3. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 3, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    Any bets that the Giants are funding the group?

    • Old Gator - Dec 3, 2011 at 4:33 PM

      We already know that they are. See the initial article above.

      And for all you right-wing droolers who want to blame unions for supporting candidates who support them, how about all the politicians bought and paid for by big corporate interests who then turn around and grant those Brobdingnagian tax cuts to them? What do you want to bet that if you stacked up the pension contributions against the taxes big business get away without paying, the latter would exceed the former melodramatically?

      The answer to both problems is simple: end both union and corporate contributions to election campaigns and institute publicly funded elections. Period.

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