Six months into working together on a lease extension to keep the A's at O.Co Coliseum through 2024, Oakland and Alameda County leaders turned on each Friday after the city boycotted a vote on the deal it thinks favors the ballclub.
Acting on their colleague's orders, Councilmembers Larry Reid and Rebecca Kaplan did not attend Friday's special meeting of the joint city-county board that oversees the Oakland Coliseum complex. The boycott came just two days after Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and A's owner Lew Wolff announced that a lease deal had been struck.
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who chairs the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, refused to cancel the meeting, even after being informed earlier this week that the city's representatives wouldn't attend.
Without enough members present to proceed with a vote on the lease deal, several of the county's representatives on the board, known as the JPA, used the forum to apologize to the A's and attack the city for forcing a second postponement of the lease extension.
"We are constantly frustrated by the actions of our partners," Miley said. "Not being able to vote on this deal today, I think that sends a chilling message ... to Major League Baseball that is very disappointing." Miley said he would schedule another vote on Thursday.
Reid, reached by telephone, criticized Miley for trying to force a vote when the city was still trying to wrangle concessions from the A's.
"Nate shouldn't be trying to run the JPA like a dictatorship," he said.
Friday's war of words underscored long-standing tensions between the city and the county over their joint management of the Coliseum complex. But it is unlikely to impede a 10-year lease extension with the A's, whose owners need time to determine whether they will get permission to move to San Jose or if they want to build a ballpark in Oakland. The team's current lease runs through the 2015 season.
Lease negotiations between the team and city on Thursday were "productive and positive," although no deal was struck, Mayor Jean Quan and Council President Pat Kernighan said in a statement Friday.
A's Co-owner Lew Wolff said he believed a deal was close at hand. "We understand the city will take one last look at the transaction early next week," he said. "And we would expect a formal vote by the JPA by the end of the week."
Terms of the lease deal are expected to remain private until the Coliseum board votes on it. The lease would also have to be approved by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Oakland City Council.
Oakland and Alameda County jointly own the sprawling Coliseum complex in East Oakland and are supposed to be on the same team in lease negotiations with the A's.
But Friday's meeting laid bare a stark divide. The four county representatives on the eight-member board were all present Friday and all spoke in support of the lease deal. But the city's four representatives, including the two council members, were absent.
Supervisor Scott Haggerty praised the A's for making concessions and called the city's boycott an embarrassing moment for the Coliseum board. "I feel like I almost need to apologize to ... Lew (Wolff) for what happened here today," he said.
When asked why he proceeded with a meeting that Oakland critics could point to as evidence that East Bay leaders aren't capable of working with the A's, Miley said it was his responsibility to call for the vote and that MLB officials would have frowned on a delay. Miley had previously postponed a June 20th meeting to vote on the lease.
"Holding off on the meeting would have been just as bad or worse," Miley said. "Major League Baseball wanted us to vote on this a week ago."
Among the city's concerns, sources say, is that the lease would allow the A's to leave Oakland after the 2018 season. It also would forgive the A's more than $5 million that the team has deducted from its rent payments to offset a city parking tax. The money would go toward a new $10 million scoreboard for the A's.
The city's parking tax had also been a sore spot for the county, which only recently settled a lawsuit against the city for a share of the tax proceeds.
City-county relations were further strained two years ago when Oakland entered into exclusive negotiations to redevelop the Coliseum site without keeping county officials abreast of their actions.
Miley on Friday bashed the proposed Coliseum City development plan, and reiterated his desire for the city to buy out the county's share of the Coliseum complex.
"We can't function under this model," Miley said after having to cancel the vote on the lease. "The governance structure might possibly be coming down."
Reid said his colleagues on the City Council all want the A's to stay, but only on fair terms.
"We're not that far off," he said. "But this meeting today should not have taken place."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.