Sorting out the America's Cup re-do


I have to say this for Mayor Ed Lee: He's not so stubborn or egotistical. He's willing to listen. And when something really, really doesn't make sense, he's willing to let it slide.

Not like Gavin Newsom.

If Newsom were still the mayor (ick! gasp!), he'd be desperately trying to keep together the deal that gave five pieces of the waterfront to the sixth richest person on Earth for more than two-thirds of a century. He'd refuse to admit that maybe the promises of vast wealth accruing to the city from what's really an untested event might be a little lower than projected. He's be sucking up madly to Larry Ellison, promising him more and more city money if only His Larryness would bestow the greatness of his hotel, restaurant and condo manna upon us poor lowly San Franciscans.

The current mayor has a little more sense. But then, I don't think Ed Lee spends much time dreaming about the Oval Office.

So now that Ellison's team realized they weren't going to be guaranteed enough of a profit on waterfront development and Lee realized that giving away any more of the store, or rushing this through any faster, was bad for the city, we have a deal that's based on San Francisco hosting a sports event, not on extensive real-estate development on the waterfront. It's better than it was, and I give the mayor credit for that.

But a few things are worth remembering:

The proverbial devil is in the proverbial details, and right now they aren't so proverbial. There's the minor matter of about $15 million worth of upgrades and repairs to the waterfront that's needed for the race -- and the city's on the hook for it. Right now, it's not clear where that money's going to come from.

One option: The city could go back to giving Ellison some property or development rights. The Chron quotes Jennifer Matz, the mayor's economic development director, saying that the rights to Seawall Lot 330 are still on the table (bad, bad idea). Stephanie Martin, spokesperson for Ellison's operation, told me there are no long-term development plans included at all. Maybe the city will just pay cash from the General Fund to Ellison (seems unlikely; I'd love to watch that Budget and Finance Committee meeting.) Maybe the Port will sell revenue bonds and pay Ellison out of the projected new income from the event.

Or maybe some other deal that will be bad for the city and good for Larry will emerge, and we'll all have to fight that one.

I realize that, if the attendance figures are anywhere near what's projected, the city will still wind up millions of dollars to the good.

But I still don't understand: Why are we paying Ellison to hold his race here? Yeah, it will bring tourists to the city -- but as former Sup. Aaron Peskin points out, we don't pay the Navy to bring Fleet Week and the Blue Angels to town. If anything, we should be charging these folks for the right to use so much public property for their own commercial gain. (Yes, the America's Cup involves commercial gain. Ellison does it because he loves yacht racing and likes to win shit, but you don't think that giant Oracle logo in 80 million pictures in newspapers and on TV isn't worth a whole lot of money?)

Why isn't a guy who counts as one of this generation's great industrialists, with a fortune rivaling the Rockefellers and the Morgans and that gang, donating anything at all to San Francisco? Those old robber barons built libraries and museums and stuff for the benefit of the public. Come on, Larry -- step up and help out here. Do the race, defend your Cup, then give something back to the city instead of asking the taxpayers to cover your tab.

PS: I read Randy Shaw's attack (if that's what this odd little piece was) on Aaron Peskin, and I wonder -- what's wrong with being a maverick who works from the outside to try to defend the city's interests? I don't always agree with Peskin (see: Home Depot) but I can tell you: There are a lot of people inside City Hall who are really, really happy that he's out there doing what he's doing. If nobody on the outside was taking on the America's Cup deal, the city would absolutely be worse than it is. Peskin's trying to save the city money. Why is that a bad thing?

Here's what made me really laugh, though: Shaw criticizes Peskin for failing to support Malia Cohen and Jane Kim for supervisor, saying that he could have been mayor if he'd been working for candidates who ended up winning. Huh? Don't progessives usuall go after pols who sell out their principles for political gain? If Peskin thought that Debra Walker and Tony Kelly would be better supervisors than Cohen and Kim, shouldn't he be working for them instead of thinking about his own political future?

Odd where Randy Shaw is going these days.




Randy Shaw is only protecting his "non-profit ghetto" interests and thinks that it is protecting the people that he serves.

Posted by Jerry Jarvis on Feb. 28, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

>"as former Sup. Aaron Peskin points out, we don't pay the Navy to bring Fleet Week and the Blue Angels to town."

The Navy is part of the Federal Government, funded by our tax dollars.

Does the company that does the fireworks on the 4th of July work for free?

I never ceased to be amazed at how dumb Peskin manages to sound every time he opens his mouth. I expect to hear stupid things but am always amazed nonetheless.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

Okay, you don't like that example? Do we pay the Giants to play games here (and draw crowds)? Do we pay big conventions that come to town (and bring tourists)? Do we pay Outside Lands to do its show at GG Park? No -- they pay us. I can't think of a single commercial event that gets paid to come to this city. All of them pay fees for the use of our parks, waterfront, streets, etc. Just Larry Ellison. He gets the special deal.



Posted by tim on Feb. 28, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

My point, and I think that it is worthwhile, is that Peskin consistently says really stupid things, and that it is necessary to make that point because people, including yourself, have called him brilliant. He isn't. Anyone with ordinary intelligence would have realized within a few seconds that the Navy wasn't a good analogy to use. He NEVER did. The guy just does not have a lot of intellectual horsepower, and that is an important thing to note because of his pompousness.

BTW, every example you cite, the Giants, Outside Lands, Moscone Conventions charge people huge entrance fees to take part in their events (okay, the Giants have that free section behind right field but that's about it). The America's Cup can be viewed by anyone. I thought that the Ellison deal was sort of funky myself but it is a unique event and difficult to compare to others.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

I read the bit that R. Shaw did on Peskin the Maverick and as I read on, all I could think of was , why is this article turning into some boring old tape replay about Randy and his feelings. He had wandered so far off course I just stopped reading.

The Maverick has never had his vision clouded by money or prestige. As a taxpayer, I am very happy SOMEONE stood up for my City Budget, my slice of the Public Trust and a deal that makes sense for both the City and the Event.

Perhaps the Maverick's stand will inspire some of the newer Board members to hunker down and do the immense homework it takes to gain the unshakeable confidence to "do the right thing" when the next standoff comes up - and one thing is sure, there is a long, backlogged line just waiting to come up...

Posted by Guest observer on Feb. 28, 2012 @ 11:03 pm

And by "do the right thing" I mean tow the 1% party line endorsed by the Telegraph hill dwellers.
Peskin is a one trick pony. The fact that he continues to be allowed to meddle when he is just a citizen speaks volume for the inbreded-ness of SF politics.

Posted by Vibral on Feb. 29, 2012 @ 7:20 am

My problem with Peskinism is that it is always about blocking something and never about building or creating anything of value. Yes, in this instance he may have helped block something of questionable value but I think it is a broken clock instance.

If anybody wants to create something within the line of sight of Telegraph Hill they can count on an annoying gnat trying to screw up the process, like ants at a picnic. In this case, although he is probably falling all over himself with self congratulations, if there was support for the Ellison plan they would have swatted away his lawsuit. Just like his Treasure Island lawsuit it was more a matter that he didn't like the plan rather than that he uncovered a problem with due process

Posted by Guest on Feb. 29, 2012 @ 8:00 am

My problem with Peskinism is that he's so damn successful at what he does. We tried to get rid of him twice and our candidates couldn't even come close. WTF? You'd think D3 would be full of rich white people ready to vote in some BOMA-backed candidate. Go figure.

If we could just get rid of all those 100-year old wooden boxes and let the free market run the town, I betcha we could make some serious bucks covering all of North Beach in skyscrapers. These a-hole historic preservationists and their quaint notions of the city's character and quality of life -what a bunch of idiots. The rich developers know better what to do with the land -that's why they're rich, duh! And where I come from, quality of life means throwing homeless people in jail. I love the sound that a police baton makes when it hits the skull of some poor slob who can't afford to buy a million dollar condo!

Posted by Steroidal Moderate on Mar. 01, 2012 @ 12:11 am