Legally Speaking With Pamela Price

Pamela Y. Price, Attorney at Law

Category: Environmental Policies

Post Op-Ed: Stop The Sale

Oakland Coliseum, Credit: Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group

Keep the A’s at the Coliseum

The Oakland City Council is considering whether to sell its half interest in the Oakland Coliseum property to the A’s at the below‑market rate of $85 million.  The Coliseum is some of the most valuable land in the entire Bay Area. This public land should not be handed over without full, public deliberation – especially when the sale would be at a discounted price. At a minimum, the City must require that, if the A’s buy the land, they must actually build their stadium at the Coliseum site.

Oakland Always Gets the Short End of the Deal

Among American cities with major‑league sports franchises, Oakland has ended up on the short end of the stick more than any other – at least financially speaking. The Raiders moved to Las Vegas, leaving behind a $65 million tab for Oakland taxpayers. When the Warriors left for San Francisco, they left us on the hook for $40 million in arena improvements.

The A’s claim their stadium and the proposed gondola-in-the-sky will be privately-financed. The truth is Oakland taxpayers will be on the hook for at least $200 million. That is what the A’s and Mayor Schaaf have said it will cost to upgrade the roads and bridges for the stadium and the environmental clean-up at the Port.

The A’s say that Howard Terminal is an “underutilized” essentially abandoned site that can be partitioned off from the Port. The truth is Howard Terminal is part of the third largest port on the West Coast and the ninth largest port in the country.  It is actively utilized for Port activities, such as trucking, shipping and storage. Fifty railroad trains a day run across Howard Terminal.

Additionally, the Howard Terminal project threatens jobs at the Port which are primarily held by African American residents and union members. The ILWU has a long and treasured history of economic empowerment for Black workers and their families.

East Oakland Is The Best Option

Unlike Howard Terminal, the Coliseum site requires no additional review, has minimal red tape, offers plentiful public transportation options, already has $40 million available for upgrading the BART Station and sits in a part of Oakland that is long overdue for economic stimulus. A recent poll found that 62% of us want the A’s to stay and build a new stadium at the Coliseum.

Keeping the A’s in East Oakland and using a new ballpark as a magnet for a fully realized housing, entertainment and sports complex that benefits the community is the only thing that makes sense.

The A’s claim they will “deliver a bold vision and real benefits specifically tailored to the goals and needs of East Oakland” and “revitalize the Coliseum with new economic, cultural, and recreational programming.”  They say they plan to “accelerate the redevelopment of the Coliseum.”

As a resident of East Oakland for decades, I have not seen the A’s commitment to uplifting East Oakland.  In fact, they have consistently tried to relocate to other places. The A’s have been at the Coliseum since 1968 and billionaire John Fisher has owned the A’s since 2005.  What real benefits “tailored to the goals and needs of East Oakland” have they already provided? Is there a written plan to “accelerate the redevelopment of the Coliseum?”

After a long history of broken promises to East Oakland, how can residents benefit from more empty words and pretty pictures that do not include a new ballpark to anchor revitalization of this community?

The A’s have brought home multiple championships to Oakland during their decades in the Town and have a dedicated fan base here. The City Council should absolutely work to keep the team in Oakland – but not by recklessly giving away public land or millions of taxpayer dollars.

What Can You Do?

If you want to oppose the backroom sale of public land to billionaire John Fisher, e‑mail the Oakland City Council at council@oaklandca.gov.

COVID-19 Alert: ILWU Protects Us

ILWU Local 10 President Trent Willis and his members fighting COVID-19
ILWU Local 10 President Trent Willis and his members

Oakland is in a crisis. This is a COVID-19 Alert! The ILWU (International Longshoreman & Workers Union) Local 10 has sounded the alarm again!

Last week, ILWU Locals 10 and 34 stopped the owners of the Grand Princess cruise ship from off-loading COVID-19 contaminated waste into Oakland. The ILWU is also insisting that the companies profiting off of their labor and our land at the Port of Oakland take necessary steps to protect the workers at the Port and our community. 

The longshoreman and port workers are on the front lines of our national transportation network. At the same time, they are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Most of them live in this community. If they are exposed to the coronavirus, they will carry the virus into the community. 

What Do They Want?

What the ILWU is asking is really simple:   

Disinfect their worksite: the equipment, work areas, terminal bathrooms, mechanic shops, tools, machines, turnstiles, gates and every place they work on the Port. 

Some of the companies that use our Port are refusing to properly disinfect the worksite. We know in the face of this highly contagious virus, employers as well employees have to take extra steps to stop the spread. But the workers are simply not equipped to disinfect the entire worksite. And it’s not their responsibility. The responsibility is on the employer. 

By taking a strident and firm stand against working in a contaminated environment and sounding the alarm on management, the ILWU protects us – the entire Bay Area – from a higher risk of infection with COVID-19.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) represents the companies operating at the Port of Oakland. We need to contact PMA, Port officials and Assemblymember Rob Bonta to demand that the companies do their part to protect our community. 

Who You Going to Call?

Dan Kaney is the Northern California Area Managing Director for PMA. Call him at 510-891-4628 or e-mail: dkaney@pmanet.org.

Danny Wan is the Executive Director for the Port of Oakland. Call him at 510-627-1100 or e-mail: https://www.portofoakland.com/people/danny-wan.

John Driscoll is the Maritime Director for the Port of Oakland. Call him at 510-627-1243 or e-mail: https://www.portofoakland.com/people/john-c-driscoll-maritime-director. 

Amy Tharpe is the Director of Social Responsibility for the Port of Oakland. Call her at 510-627-1302 or e-mail: https://www.portofoakland.com/people/amy-tharpe-director-social-responsibility.

The Port is located in Hon. Rob Bonta‘s Assembly District (AD18). His District Director is Tonya Love. Call her at 510-286-1670 or e-mail: Tonya.love@asm.ca.gov.

COVID-19 Alert: the ILWU Protects Us!

It is still true that we know so little about the disease. What we do know is more people will get infected and too many will not survive if we force people to work in areas infected by the coronavirus without protection. 

This is a preventable public health crisis happening in our community right now. We may not be able to get out the house but we can still call or e-mail. Make the call asap. Send an e-mail. Let’s support the people who are working hard to protect us. 

The Greatest Threat of All

The Greatest Threat of All

I remember the first time I ever heard Tom Steyer speak. It’s 2014. We’re at the San Francisco Bay Area Lawyer’s Committee Annual Martin Luther King Luncheon. Tom stands before a thousand lawyers. Tom is not a great public speaker. He stumbles as he thanks us. Initially, I am not impressed with this person. He is not a lawyer.  As I listen to him speak, however, he gets my attention. He engages my understanding of global warming.  In short order and very dramatically, Tom Steyer has an impact on me and everyone else in the room. He makes us know and believe that climate change is the greatest threat to our existence on the planet. I quickly develop an appreciation for the work that Tom does to save the planet. Eventually, I join his organization, Nextgen Climate.

Climate Change Is Real

polar-bear-global-_3339474bClimate change is not a hoax.  I have been haunted for years by the dramatic images of stranded polar bears. Polar bears swim in the Artic sea and live between the water and the sea ice. Global warming causes sea ice to melt.  Melting sea ice means reduced access to food, increased cannabilism, lower cub survival rates and increased drowning of these unique creatures, among other challenges. The U.S. Geological Survey projects that two thirds of polar bears will disappear by 2050.

The “Climate Criminal”

Fast forward to 2016.  News breaks that President-Elect Donald Trump selects Myron Ebell to head Trump’s transition team at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Trump claims that climate change is a hoax. He says “the Chinese” created climate change to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Mr. Ebell’s new job is to set the direction of the federal agencies that will address climate change and environmental policy under Donald Trump’s leadership.

ebellMyron Ebell is currently the Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Peabody Energy Corporation, America’s largest underground coal mining company, oil giant ExxonMobil and foundations controlled by the billionaire Koch brothers are major donors to CEI. CEI has been one of the most vocal opponents of the Clean Power Plan developed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The plan seeks to reduce carbon pollution in our air by 32 percent by 2030. It could result in the closing of many coal-burning power plants. CEI has published a “hit list” of Executive Orders it thinks should be repealed by President Trump.

In 2015, environmental activists in Paris labeled Mr. Ebell a “climate criminal” wanted for “destroying our future.” One Hundred and ninety-five countries, including the U.S. signed the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce carbon emissions worldwide. Mr. Ebell leads the Cooler Heads Coalition, a group of conservatives that focuses on dispelling “the myths of global warming.” He wrote an article called “Love Global Warming,” in which he states that “higher temperatures are killing people who are likely to die soon anyway.” He opposes the Endangered Species Act and the Paris Climate Agreement. He says that he wants more funding to “combat the nonsense put out by the environmental movement.

If He Keeps His Promises

If Donald Trump keeps his campaign promises, he will shut down the EPA. We are facing the greatest threat to the planet in our lifetime. Donald Trump will leave us defenseless. He will certainly try to confuse the issue. He may try to force us into collective denial of all the scientific evidence of global warming. Mr. Ebell poses a particular threat to California because he helped kill national “cap and trade” legislation in 2009. We have our own “cap and trade” program which is a key component of California’s climate plan. How Mr. Ebell will try to undercut our state climate plan remains to be seen. His followers and supporters in the coal and oil industries may give him a few very bad suggestions. As California has led the nation on this issue, we will probably have to lead the fight to save the planet.

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