24 May 2006

Choose or Lose event wrap-up

A late work-related appointment forced me to arrive late to the "Choose or Lose" event earlier tonight. Organizer Robert Limon assured me that I didn't miss anything. Two mayoral candidates were present: Nancy Nadel and Arnie Fields. Also on hand was OUSD board candidate Chris Dobbins, a teacher who started the Green Stampede Homework Club tutoring program. I counted 40-50 attendees, not bad for a nearly impromptu event.

Nadel had the most time at the dais, repeatedly fielding questions about City Hall's perceived inaction in keeping the A's. One-by-one, A's supporters pointed to the team's legacy and how the A's are woven into the fabric of the community. Nadel painted herself as "realistic," replying that the council was looking for either a site that could accomodate both a ballpark and ballpark village housing, or separate sites for each. She also warned finding a site was not easy because of the city's "built up" nature and the reluctance to use eminent domain. Near the end of her time on stage, she gave a rather ominous statement (paraphrased) to the keep-the-A's-in-Oakland crowd, "If you polled Oakland residents, you'd find that you'd be in the minority." This caused a bit a grumbling in the gallery, which gets me wondering - what if Oakland residents were polled? What would the results be?

Arnie Fields was next, proudly wearing an A's cap. He supported keeping the A's at the current Coliseum, with development around it spurred by a shuttle that operated between the BART station and the plaza between the stadium and arena. The shuttle would have its own guideway that would run parallel to the existing BART pedestrian bridge. Golf carts or similar vehicles would operate on this guideway, and it would be run by a community group, ideally including local youths. Fields would also support a waterfront (JLS) ballpark plan.

Two videotaped statements were made by Ron Dellums and Ignacio De La Fuente. Dellums repeated the "Don't break your pick" quote attributed to Lew Wolff in a previous conversation. He felt that the door an opportunity to keep the A's was "open, but not wide open." IDLF slyly said he's optimistic that the A's and Oakland can get a deal done "if the A's are sincere." Now that's a qualifier if I've ever heard one.

The best ideas seemed to come after the event officially ended, when Limon, several of the bleacher drummers, and other attendees had a little pow-wow to discuss future actions. Another rally-type event is tentatively scheduled for sometime in late June. Ways to raise the movement's media profile were discussed. The group piled on Nadel. I mentioned the ill-fated Broadway Auto Row proposal. The group's sense of frustration with local government was palpable. The good thing about all of this is that there is a movement afoot, and that it doesn't merely consist of putting up banners. It looks like pressure will be applied to pols and local media, though it will take some resourcefulness to come up with concrete plans and proposals. The bittersweet irony of the rally's location came to me as I left for the BART station. Across Telegraph Avenue sits the old Uptown site, once considered the great hope for an urban ballpark in Oakland.