On Point: And that’s the word
The drama that surrounds Measure B, the February 2 ballot measure that could decide the fate of Alameda Point, is the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season, with Santa leaving the first pair of cranky pants under the tree of a Mr. Barry Fadem.
Fadem is one of the attorneys who helped draft the initiative for developer SunCal, and on December 3, he shot off a testy, two-page letter to five of its opponents, claiming some of the ballot-book language they wrote to protest the measure gave an inaccurate accounting of its shortcomings.
Specifically, Fadem contested the group’s assertion that residents of Oakland had sued SunCal for millions of dollars to abate hazardous conditions at the former Oak Knoll Naval Hospital and also their statement that the “developer’s shortfall of nearly $500 million in funding for public benefits will result in a failure to deliver promised benefits.”
The letter was addressed to City Councilman Frank Matarrese, City Auditor Kevin Kearney, School Board Trustees Tracy Jensen and Trish Hererra Spencer and anti-SunCal activist and onetime council candidate Ashley “Ash” Jones (who Fadem referred to as “Ms. Jones” in his letter but who, for all anyone else knows, has been a Mr. for his seven-plus decades on Earth). And it threatened legal action if the alleged deficiencies were not cured within a week.
“The proponents and opponents to the initiative may have differing opinions about the plan, but there is a duty for both sides to provide voters with factual information so they can make an informed decision,” Fadem wrote, using an argument that had to this point almost universally been associated with his client’s detractors.
As has become increasingly custom for SunCal and their associates, Fadem didn’t respond to a reporter’s request for comment. But recipients of the letter dismissed it as politics as usual (even as they conceded a wee political liberty or two of their own).
“It’s just a big joke,” said Jones, who signed the rebuttal to the argument in favor of the measure but said he did not have a hand in drafting it. “I don’t think it’s to be taken too seriously.”
In a one-paragraph response to Fadem a week later, Jensen admitted the group had made “an honest mistake” in assuming that only Lehman Brothers Holdings and not SunCal – which had purchased Oak Knoll at auction and partnered with Lehman to develop it – that had been subject to claims from the City of Oakland and neighbors who feared the derelict property had become a fire hazard.
(The $500 million figure, which the group did not budge on, is the sum of $175 in city staff-estimated cost overruns on public benefits, $184 in future tax revenues that are to be leveraged for roads, sewers and other infrastructure and the Navy’s $108 million asking price for the Point – give or take about $30 million.)
In the end, opponents agreed to remove just one of the 257 words they used to excoriate the developer and attack their initiative as a one-sided agreement that is damaging for the city: The first of four mentions of SunCal.
“They just wrote the letter because they didn’t like what we said,” Jensen said.
The letters, and the contested ballot argument (that’s courtesy of www.alamedapointinfo.com), below.