Saturday, June 21, 2014

Joe Lacob: A Sterling Example of the Rich Stealing from the Poor in Alameda County

The amount of outstanding debt Warriors
owner Joe Lacob owes Alameda County is
almost the same as its fiscal budget shortfall.
ALAMEDA COUNTY | BUDGET | Starting next week, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors will begin deliberations on a $2.8 billion fiscal budget. Over the past five years, charting the roller coaster of red ink at the county level has proven to be an accurate depiction of the overall depths of the Great Recession. Conversely, the estimated $67 million budget shortfall next year show just how far we have come. Although, Alameda County is still in the red, the exact figure represents the end of five long and devastating years for the poor, sick and old among us. In fact, the shortfall essentially resets the fiscal order of the county’s finance back to 2008, or before the bottom fell out of the local and national economy.

The Board of Supervisors may not get much credit, but the horrors of a $177 million shortfall just five years ago were plugged up with excruciating cuts to health care, welfare and jobs, but never was a complete collapse imminent. But, as tax revenues and the housing market begins to heat up, the Board of Supervisors will soon be figuring out how to close the ragged loose ends from the Great Recession while beginning to contemplate which programs should again be expanded or even created from scratch.

Alameda County is now just in the early stages of running on all fiscal gears. Just the fact that people are reading about budget-related news stories in mid-June and not March and April shows the perils of previous years are much less dire. Last year, the budget shortfall penciled out at $80 million. The last time the county deficit was this low was way back in 2007-08, when it stood at $52 million.

However, large numbers residents still count on the county for health care, employment opportunities and other forms of aid for quality of life issues. For one, the roads are badly in need of rehabilitation and reconstruction. A transportation sales tax returns to the November ballot that hopes to raise revenues for such an endeavor. But it also helps to acknowledge the basic functions of government not only rest with public officials, but with all of us. We all must do our part, yet some resist.

At a candidate’s forum two weeks ago for Oakland’s District 2 City Council race, Abel Guillen said this of the Golden State Warriors move to San Francisco. “I’m disappointed about the Warriors,” he said. “But don’t let the doors hit you on the way out.” The sentiment is definitely shared by many Oakland nationalists, but he should have added one caveat: before you go, pay the $62 million you owe on Oracle Arena.

Even though the team’s ownership group is contractually obligated to pay the balance of their debt, most local and county officials are almost certain the Warriors and owner Joe Lacob will never pay up. It’s helpful to note the county’s budget shortfall this year is almost the same amount as what Lacob owes them. It’s not hyperbole to suggest Lacob’s refusal to pay his debts should put him the rarefied air of the Donald Sterling’s of the world.

The Clippers owner also screwed over poor, minority tenants at one of his housing development and lost a pricey lawsuit for his transgression. Lacob’s outstanding tab also affects minorities, the poor and everyone else. All those gigantic pot holes bored into the streets in Alameda County amounts to serious wear and tear on your tires. When they begin to bald, how about telling the cashier at Big O Tires to send the bill to Joe Lacob?


So what? If it truly is owed, go to court.

That will take years, years and appeals. It probably will be settled a the last possible minute for pennies on the dollar.

But, hey, it's the American way!

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