Claycord – Talk About Local Politics

January 11, 2019 19:00 pm · 12 comments

voted1

This special post is “Talk About LOCAL Politics”.

Please use this post to talk about LOCAL politics, and keep state and national politics out of this thread.

Thank you, and be kind to each other.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy January 12, 2019 at 12:02 AM

NO to the downtown Concord 15,000 seat soccer stadium idea. Imagine the traffic congestion! It will be a nightmare for the residents near this.

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Giddyup January 12, 2019 at 5:31 AM

A sports stadium is exactly what Concord needs to complete its transition to “The Oakland of Central Contra Costa County.”

Concord Mike January 12, 2019 at 6:47 AM

@Amy,

I am inclined to agree with you. A really bad location.

The developers should be working with the CNWS planning team. Perhaps a public/private partnership for a stadium on the campus of the new college being planned adjacent to North Concord BART?

Hope Johnson January 12, 2019 at 10:28 AM

No public funding for sports stadiums. It is always a losing situation for cities. Here is the text of the email I sent to the Council on this matter:

The City of Concord should not be entertaining any exclusive agreement or using staff time on the feasibility of the proposed soccer stadium downtown, or anywhere else in Concord, until Mark Hall brings the Council written commitments from private investors stating they are willing and able to fund the project without the use of public funds or financing. Concord should not be financing this wealthy man’s sports toys.

Mr. Hall has now been to two separate public entities, the Concord City Council and the BART Board, with his hands out asking for the use of public land and potential public financing. Where is his money? The public should in no way be on the hook for the risks associated with his desire to participate in soccer.

The Council’s consideration of this project using public funds or financing is the height of irresponsibility, especially when this body has been considering doubling the Measure Q tax. It is well-documented by economists and known similar sports projects that providing public subsidies to build stadiums usually ends up costing taxpayers more than any of the economic benefits actually generated. Sometimes the teams that are supposed to play at the new facilities even leave and then any private investors try to back out of financial commitments made to the city. Any belief on the Council’s part that this project will revitalize downtown Concord is misguided and without any support whatsoever.

Even the US Senate recognized how detrimental these arrangements can be. In 2017, it considered adopting a bill to prevent public financing of sports stadiums, which are commonly financed through tax-exempt bonds.

In addition, the proposed agreement contains several provisions detrimental to Concord. First, it appears to limit Concord’s ability to look for more appropriate and beneficial projects. Concord should be seeking and accepting multiple proposals in a timely manner. Second, it prevents lobbying and campaign contributions by the developer parties to Councilmembers and Planning Commissioners. This ban should include contributions to any candidates for those positions and to any city events sponsored by Councilmembers or Planning Commissioners or their pet projects (for example, the 4th of July Parade is touted by Mayor Obringer and Vice Mayor McGallian or the Family Justice Center that candidates like to use to impress voters).

As some of my criticism will undoubtedly bring on comparisons of AT&T Park in San Francisco: SF bragged it spent only $15M in public money on the stadium because it had to pay to move a transit stop. But there were other costs involved no one talks about. The land was “donated” to the Giants by SF and was estimated to be worth something like $33M at the time. Because the land itself is owned by SF, it is exempt from regular property taxes. SF does collect possessory interest taxes on the Giants’ leasing rights (which is less than the property value tax would be) but economists in 2005 estimated this resulted in a loss of $83M to SF in property taxes as of 2005. It was also estimated at that time it cost SF $25M in fire, police, and garbage services. And it’s reasonable to assume this cost has increased greatly over time. I work down the street from the stadium and King Street has to be closed toward the end of each home game. A couple of years ago, the Giants also tried to say the value of the stadium was half of what SF’s assessor’s office said it was, and asked to have the taxes it owed cut in half.

Even when the stadiums are privately funded, there are still costs to taxpayers to consider.

In addition, the proposed location for the stadium in Concord is terrible. The traffic and noise will destroy what is left of the charm of old Concord. SF’s fancy major league ball park built on the waterfront near a beautiful bridge with spectacular views is hardly comparable to a soccer stadium in Concord. The build up around the ballpark was not only for the building itself but the waterfront value – that’s why the area around other inland stadiums don’t generate the same interests. Most visitors to a soccer stadium will park in the neighborhood but spend money in the stadium, not surrounding areas. Maybe this could be improved by the convention center that is supposed to be included in the project but I don’t see any basis for that. Concord is always thinking they will do better with the same exact project if they just build a new building. Instead, this project is likely to kill off the Todos Santos area by building a new area around the stadium, much as the Veranda is hurting the Willows. And how will the neighbors like to hear some metal or rap bands for the evening? Levi’s Stadium is constantly battling with neighbors over noise at night.

Plus, there is zero support for the idea its being near Concord Bart will improve use of public transit. Bart continues to lose money on its extension to the Oakland Airport because Bart is expensive for trips by more than one person. Families coming to a soccer game will save lots of money by taking their own car or a ride share. It’s expensive for four or five people’s combined Bart fare. And this is going to be a 15,000 to 18,000 seat stadium.

If you want a convention center, seek developers who will build a convention center with much needed affordable housing.

This project should not have exclusive rights or be in any way considered until private financing is shown to be available. Otherwise, I hope the voters remember which of you were eager give away our public property to the rich and pay them to use it.

Hope Johnson January 12, 2019 at 11:43 AM

Also, no public funding of projects on the CNWS – we were promised Concord residents would not have to pay for the base. There may be support to publicly fund housing that is for people with average incomes for this area but most definitely not for a sports stadium that is intended for use by an already wealthy individual. He can fund that himself or move on.

ZZ January 12, 2019 at 8:13 AM

NO to the soccer field and NO to the apartment complex they want to put in the “white picket fence” area. Too many people!! Too many cars!!

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Antler January 12, 2019 at 4:11 PM

Thank you, Amy and Hope!

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Concord Mike January 12, 2019 at 5:17 PM

Just to be clear, a “public/private partnership” does not mean public money supporting private ventures. Could be a four year public college benefiting from use of a stadium constructed with private dollars, and sharing parking construction expenses. In other words, a win-win.

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Hope Johnson January 12, 2019 at 9:03 PM

The private sector entity would expect to receive some benefit to pay back construction costs such as naming rights or money from all concessions, etc. (Can’t wait for those drunk soccer fans to buy beer to make up costs!) The issue at the CNWS is that Concord will have the land transferred to it but it will owe money on that land because it has to buy the property from the Navy. Whatever gets built out there has to start by covering purchase costs from the Navy – that will be both for the property the stadium is on and any college they may eventually get someone interested in establishing on that site.

Nonetheless, the exclusive negotiating agreement Council had on agenda specifically referenced exploring public financing. Hall Sports Ventures should be required to prove it has private funding available before any such agreements are signed.

Victor January 13, 2019 at 5:13 PM

Professional sports are a cancer on America. Today I’m a lunatic. In five years I’ll be “the enemy”, as more people examine the evidence and give consideration to my viewpoint. In thirty years I’ll be dead, but I’ll be vindicated as the majority of citizens look back at a strange period in American history when sports oligarchs raped municipalities of millions and millions dollars, grown men wore other men’s jerseys like smitten teenyboppers, teenagers killed each other over sneakers with artificially inflated values, and they’ll wonder why on earth we let this nonsense go on for so long.

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Anonymous January 15, 2019 at 9:02 AM

Good report by Hope.
Follow the money.

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Lars Anderson January 15, 2019 at 11:51 PM

Concord residents don’t get a whole lot from development, when new sources of revenue are developed the wages of city employees go up, often quite dramatically, so there is little net gain. We residents will likely get nothing from the development but traffic jams and increased pollution.
I recall when the Veranda shopping center came online in Concord in 2017 the managers at the city all got big fat raises. City officials use development in Concord as a money-making tool for themselves. This corruption has been going on in Concord for years. This is one of the reasons Concord has the highest median wages per employee of almost any city in the State of California. That’s Concord’s claim to fame to now, our city workers are all making 150,000 and up!
This culture of corruption we have in Concord is a key reason we can’t get a new library built in Concord, a teen center, or decent basketball courts. It also explains why almost no money – at all – is spent on youth services. Only the senior citizens center in Concord gets any money, and they are only getting taken care of because the city council people farm the senior for votes every election year.
The bigwigs that work at the Concord police Department, according to my research, have been functioning like the Wyatt Earp gang that policed Tombstone Arizona in the 1800’s. These managers at the PD, like PD Chief Guy Swanger, or Police Captain Garry Voerge, take a “cut” of any new tax dollars coming into the city, such as the revenue the new Veranda Shopping Center is generating.
These PD bigwigs at Concord PD are not going over to the shopping center with a big black bag to pick up money – it’s not as blatant as that – but these managers at the PD do strong arm City manager Valerie Barone into giving them big fat raises, which are not justified, given Concord’s modest crime levels. The city could fill these jobs for less, surrounding cities are doing it, but Concord is a city steeped in corruption and cronyism.
PD Chief Swanger, for example, was making 186,000 in 2011, by 2017 his pay has ballooned to 270,000. As many are aware, Swanger is already drawing a 155,000 a year pension from his previous job as a manager at some PD department down South, so he didn’t need that big fat raise Valerie Barrone gave him – at all – but she went ahead and gave it to him anyway because she’s weak and easily dominated by the pushy Swanger.
Another member of this modern day version of the Wyatt Earp gang that runs Concord PD is this PD Captain Garret Voerge. He makes 222,000 a year as a Police Captain, which is more money than most of the PD Chief’s in our county make. He even makes more than the PD Chief does in Walnut Creek, which is a very wealthy city compared to Concord. Voerge makes so much money they call him “Champagne Gary”, but always behind his back because he is guy you don’t want to cross.
Both of these guys – Swanger and Voerge – I should mention, are well past retirement age, but they are refusing to retire because the pay is so fantastic at Concord PD, and because they really don’t have to do all that much work for these gargantuan paychecks – the workload is low because Concord does not have much crime. Swanger and Voerge have got a great little hustle going, so I think you can predict they will be running the department for many more years to come, possibly when they are in wheelchairs and gumming their teeth – given these huge salaries they make.
I should mention there is actually another “gang” running the Concord PD – behind the scenes – that’s this hideous Concord Police Officers Association, which is led by this patrolman Ronald Bruckert. If PD Chief Swanger is a updated version of Wyatt Earp, this head of the POA – Ronald Bruckert – is” Ronny the Kid” because Bruckert makes more money than Swanger or Voerge, if that’s even possible (it is, apparently)
According to Transparent California, the public interest group that tracks city salaries up and down the state, Bruckert has average 291,000 a year in pay the last three years working at the Concord PD, even though he is just a lowly patrolman! And he has been raking in that kind of dough for many, many years, according to a 2010 East Bay News Article
And Bruckert is not the only patrolman racking in the big bucks – there is a bunch of patrolman and Sgt. and Lt’s wracking up fantastic OT at Concord PD too. So I think you can argue Concord has got the Wyatt Earp gang running the PD at the top, while the rank a file officers down below – the lowly patrolman – have morphed into the “Dalton Gang”. I mean if you check out the money being made by the police officers in Concord – in a city that has little serious crime – you just cannot believe it, the cold hard numbers are just unbelievable.
Interestingly, this POA Chief Ronald Bruckert – is highly regarded as a police officer – criminals in Concord are petrified of him. He doesn’t take guff from anybody. But it isn’t just the bad guys that are afraid of Bruckert, so are all the Concord Council people, the city managers – even PD Chief Swanger.
They say when Bruckert drops by the city managers office at the Concord Civic Center everybody working at the office snaps to attention, same when he goes to meet with Swanger and other members of the Earp gang. They don’t call Bruckert “Ronnie the Kid” for nothing, everybody is afraid of the guy! This Bruckert wields immense power behind the scenes in Concord, which helps to explain those gargantuan pay checks of his.
The reason I am going over this – again – is to highlight the ongoing corruption going on at the City of Concord. These fantastic wages being paid to city workers are happening because the people at the city are using their enhanced positions – see PD Chief Swanger – to rig the city budget to work for them, rather than for city taxpayers. This, in my view, is municipal corruption.
Getting back to the proposed soccer stadium in downtown Concord -it does no good to ramp up development at the city of Concord – only the people work at the city benefit from the development – Concord residents get almost nothing from development. We don’t get a new library, we don’t get funding for youth services, we don’t get a teen center, or money for the arts – all we get from city officials is higher city salaries for the city paper pushers and lectures on how broke the city is.

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