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The story of SF Mayor Hood Robin’ and his Merrie Men

May 25, 2017

A proposal to bring city halls and major league teams to heel

by Allen Jones

San Francisco has the highest employment disparity between Blacks and Whites in the country, with 84 percent of White San Franciscans employed compared to 53 percent of Black San Franciscans, according to a February 2017 report from the Brookings Institution, a hundred-year-old research group based in Washington D.C.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Warriors Public Affairs Director Theodore Ellington, a Bayview Hunters Point native, get ready to welcome 200 elementary and middle school students to the Bayview Opera House for the Warriors’ Season of Giving last December. – Photo: Meaghan Mitchell, Hoodline

The legend of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men who stole from the rich to give to the poor has more myth than truth to it. However, in San Francisco, the story of Mayor Hood Robin’ and his Merrie Men, who steal from the poor to give to the rich has more truth than myth.

As reported by the San Francisco Examiner, SF Board of Supervisors President London Breed went off on Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) Director Todd Rufo for what the article described as an “oversight.” OEWD presented its proposal for an upcoming budget with no funds for job training earmarked for the youth of Bayview Hunters Point.

This was no oversight. There are four Blacks of the 52 senior staff employed by OEWD. Twelve work directly under Todd Rufo, of which seven are White and one is Black.

“Breed threatened to hold hostage the department’s budget if Rufo didn’t address her complaint by adding funding to several groups serving black communities that aren’t in line to receive funding,” the Examiner reported. San Francisco voters can do the same in a measure that will reverberate across the country if San Franciscans just cared for our neighbor.

For years, I have been criticizing City Hall for its blatant disregard for the Black community to no avail. This indifference towards the Black community by Mayor Ed Lee extends all the way across the Bay to Oakland.

During a speech to the Commonwealth Club, Mayor Lee said, “Then there’s this NBA franchise that wants to be part of the success of this city,” Lee said. “I want to welcome them. … I’m not going to ever apologize for grabbing somebody else’s team. Someone did it to us.”

Is this in the good neighbor handbook? For Mayor Ed Lee to be more concerned with taking from Oakland than helping Oakland as an excuse for our loss of the 49ers? Consider this: San Francisco has an annual budget of $9.6 billion. Oakland has an annual budget of $1.2 billion. San Francisco has a $14 billion annual tourism industry. Oakland has an $800 million annual tourism industry.

For years, I have been criticizing City Hall for its blatant disregard for the Black community to no avail. This indifference towards the Black community by Mayor Ed Lee extends all the way across the Bay to Oakland.

I applaud the Golden State Warriors for creating a job training program for San Francisco youth, and over the years they have been excellent neighbors. But what about the many more jobs this move took from another Black community?

This theft by multi-billion dollar corporations like the NBA with the help of City Hall should not be allowed. If San Francisco wanted a professional basketball team so bad, it has seven billionaires living in the city. Tap them. Don’t take our neighbor’s jewels. This behavior has caused me to think of other struggling communities, where professional sports teams made their riches at taxpayers’ expense and then packed their bags for even greater riches.

The San Francisco Department of Elections has granted me permission to collect the 9,520 signatures needed to place on the June 2018 election ballot a declaration of policy that “Thou Shall Not Covet” to make it clear to all owners of professional sports teams that the City and County of San Francisco will not endorse or condone the relocation of any team with an extensive history in another location.

I applaud the Golden State Warriors for creating a job training program for San Francisco youth, and over the years they have been excellent neighbors. But what about the many more jobs this move took from another Black community?

The city attorney has prepared the following title and summary of the chief purpose and points of the proposed measure:

Relocation of Professional Sports Teams

“The City’s professional sports teams include the San Francisco Giants baseball team. The San Francisco 49ers football team plays its home games in Santa Clara.

“The Golden State Warriors basketball team currently plays its home games in Oakland, but will start playing its home games in San Francisco when the Chase Center, a multi-purpose arena under construction in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood, is completed.

“This measure would adopt a policy providing that the City will not invite, entice, encourage, cajole, or condone the relocation of any professional sports team that has previously established itself in another municipality and has demonstrated clear and convincing support from community and fans for at least 20 years and is profitable. This measure would also adopt a policy against any sports team ownership group that attempts to avoid payment of an outstanding public debt.”

Once passed by real San Franciscans, the message this declaration of policy sends to American professional sports teams is simple. Respect the struggling communities who made you rich or fear that more cities will adopt similar policies that will not allow you to abandon struggling communities.

More hood robin’: With the Oakland Raiders planned move to Las Vegas, the 31 other owners get to divide a $350 million relocation fee the Oakland Raiders must pay them just to move. And you can bet not one owner has offered to donate his or her share to help Oakland pay off the remaining $167 million owed for renovating the Oakland Coliseum.

Respect the struggling communities who made you rich or fear that more cities will adopt similar policies that will not allow you to abandon struggling communities.

A city policy, which states no city will allow a team to relocate to their city with an outstanding debt to another city would at the very least keep the relocation fee in the hands of the poor, not the greedy rich, by not allowing these dead beats to move without first paying their bill.

San Francisco writer Allen Jones, author of “Case Game: Activating the Activist,” can be reached at (415) 756-7733 or jones-allen@att.net. Visit his website, at http://casegame.squarespace.com.

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