NFL bruises stadium plan 

San Francisco may still be in the stadium-building game, even if the action taken by the National Football League this week amounts to just a short completion.

The head of the NFL’s corporate development division sent a letter to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency telling officials that if The City wants to build a new football stadium for the 49ers, it must include several transportation links the league says are vital to any future plans.

Backers of the stadium proposal at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, headed by former 49ers President Carmen Policy, took it as a sign that the NFL is still open to San Francisco as the future home of the team, even if team owners insist they’re not.

“If the league really didn’t think it was worth maintaining this option, I don’t know that it would have voiced an opinion,” Policy told me. “The NFL is not sitting on the same side of the table as the 49ers.”

Among the transportation improvements deemed “critical” for the NFL by Neil Glat, the league’s senior vice president of corporate development, are a new interchange on U.S. Highway 101 connecting it with Harney Way and a bridge over Yosemite Slough, which would connect the proposed stadium site with Candlestick Point. Both those additions are included in the environmental impact report on the shipyard project by developer Lennar Corp., which plans to build 10,000 new homes, retail space and parks along with the new stadium.

Policy told me he’s encouraged by the NFL’s stance, especially since the 49ers’ preferred option — to build a new stadium in Santa Clara — is potentially marred by the lack of parking at that site, which the team has said may not allow it to host Monday or weeknight games.

“Why would any team want to be eliminated from prime time?” Policy said. “There’s no way the NFL wants the No. 6 television market blacked out. It’s an absurd scenario. There’s no way I can imagine that the team or the league would agree to any deal that would block them from prime time.”

The NFL also may be leery of letting a city of 40,000 people assume some of the $900 million debt for the Santa Clara stadium, especially after The New York Times recently reported on how cities like Cincinnati and Glendale, Ariz., have been hammered by deficits due to stadium-financing plans.


Security-cost legislation loses backing, faces veto

The plan to force Mayor Gavin Newsom to pay for out-of-state security costs will die a death by veto, and no one could be happier than District Attorney Kamala Harris, who actually would have been the one person hurt by the proposal.
Newsom had been the target of the legislation sought, almost obsessively, by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who has spent the better part of a year questioning the costs involved in security detail. Mirkarimi called the funding for security a “ghost budget’’ even after the ghost was revealed to be about $2 million.

Police Chief George Gascón opposes the legislation because he said it could cause some officials to decline security due to the costs, even if the security is deemed necessary. Originally, Mirkarimi sought to have all security costs reimbursed for any trips outside San Francisco, and then, when it was pointed out that would include trips to San Jose and Oakland, he agreed that it would just apply to journeys out of state.

Once Newsom dropped out of the governor’s race, the issue became moot, but not to his adversaries on the Board of Supervisors. It would have affected Harris, who’s running for attorney general, but now the mayor is about to do her a big (fundraising) favor.

The debate seems to indicate that supervisors who supported it don’t believe strongly in their chances of becoming mayor, district attorney or some other elected official — a reality check that public polls reflect.

Based on his recent budget forecast, it appears Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the one-time film action hero, is steering toward comedy these days. The fanciful budget proposal he submitted has received near-unanimous bad reviews for its eye-catching numbers, which include almost $7 billion in federal aid that the people in the federal government say is never going to come.
Lawsuits from cities and counties whose funding he proposes to raid are much more likely. It’s a similar scenario to last year’s budget dance, and it promises to be just as long and raucous.

The city and county of San Francisco faces a $200 million loss in state funding under the governor’s proposal, and Los Angeles County faces up to a $4 billion drop in state revenue. The nonpartisan legislative analyst said Schwarzenegger’s budget was based on risky assumptions, such as the idea that the feds will somehow bail out California.

“We believe that the likelihood of Washington agreeing to all of the governor’s requests is almost nonexistent,” the Legislative Analyst’s Office said.

If he were still in Hollywood, Schwarzenegger would be calling for a script doctor. In Sacramento, this is known as the beginning of the budget cycle.


Mayor praises board, then says ‘get moving’

If you didn’t know better, you would have thought Mayor Gavin Newsom and the far-left-leaning members of the Board of Supervisors had just returned from a lengthy team-building retreat, judging by the mayor’s repeated heaping of praise on members during his State of The City speech the other night.

The mayor thanked the board, collectively and individually, about 30 times during the annual confab, a gracious gesture from someone who spends most of his time dodging its rhetorical knives in the press.

Newsom did allow that three tax initiatives to create more jobs had stalled at the board and he wants supervisors to move on them. And sure enough, board President David Chiu was quoted afterward saying the tax breaks amounted to “giveaways” to businesses.

For someone who claims to be an advocate for small businesses, we can only say to Chiu that that’s exactly the point.

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