December 21, 2018

Standing Up for Our Taxpayers

By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

For some time now, we have seen cities being pitted against each other, to give away their treasure for the promise of corporate presence in their communities. Most recently, Amazon put cities into this feeding frenzy for the pleasure of having a corporate center or warehouse in their community. After getting many locations to put in a huge amount of work and offering vast sums of money, Amazon declared that multiple locations, including New York, had “won.”

But these giveaways do not bring real victory to communities. They generally do not provide jobs to local residents who need them, and the amount of money that the companies take exceeds any benefit to the public, since companies get sweetheart tax deals while vital public services go underfunded.

In Oakland we have been facing an issue similar to the national Amazon HQ mess, as the NFL—a group of billionaires—has been pushing to receive huge amounts of public money, and is having teams pay them hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes, thereby pitting cities against each other while allowing teams to relocate.

In deciding to move the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, the NFL did not conduct a full and fair evaluation or decision-making process, but they did take hundreds of millions of dollars to allow for the relocation. They seek to make the taxpayers of Oakland fight against those of Las Vegas, as these billionaires try to squeeze out as much money as they can to line their own pockets, all while violating their own bylaws and violating antitrust laws.

That is part of why I have been urging that we fight for the needs of our community and to protect the taxpayers. I am pleased that we recently filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, for their misconduct in the Raiders relocation. We are working with the Oakland City Attorneys, and the law firms of Berg & Androphy and Pearson, Simon & Warshaw, LLP, both of whom employ nationally recognized antitrust lawyers working on a contingency basis, so the public will not have to pay any money up front to launch the case, and the attorney fees and costs will be paid solely from any recovery. This means they only get paid if they win.


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