OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Some of the luckiest Golden State Warriors fans in the Bay Area are East Bay politicians.
As a KPIX 5 investigation revealed during the NBA team’s 2016 playoff run that some politicians get to go to games, including the NBA playoffs and Finals, any time they want, courtesy the taxpayers.READ MORE: Santa Rosa Neighbors Blame City After Creek Overflows, Flooding Homes, Forcing Evacuations
At a specially called meeting at City Hall Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission blasted the city’s elected officials over that pricey perk.
“City council members and the mayor of the city of Oakland again and again and again have put on forms that they are going to see games to oversee the facility when the only reason I think they’re going to see game after game several times a week is to enjoy the game,” said commissioner Stephen Shefler.
A KPIX 5 investigation found Councilmembers Lynette McElhaney, Dan Kalb and Abel Guillen go to more Warriors games for free than any other local politicians.
Since January of 2015, Mcelhaney has received $170,000 dollars worth of free tickets. Kalb got $116,000 worth and Guillen got $76,000 in free tickets.
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It’s part of an agreement signed over a decade ago. The City Council, county supervisors and members of the Joint Powers Authority that oversees the Coliseum Complex each get a luxury suite.
The tickets are supposed to be used for a “public purpose.” But we found elected officials routinely get around the rules by claiming they are going to “investigate inefficiencies” or for “oversight of facilities.”READ MORE: Los Gatos Mayor Issues Warning To Residents To Stop Harassment At Council Meetings
McElhaney did not comment on the record when we reached her by phone. We did manage to catch up with Guillen. He referred us to the Joint Powers Authority, but the JPA’s Scott McKibben told us he’s just the delivery man.
“The tickets are sent to us by the teams,” McKibben told KPIX 5. “All we do is take those down to the county office and we take them down to the city office. Once those tickets have been dropped off, at that point in time we are no longer involved in any way shape or form.”
When KPIX 5 brought the issue to the attention of Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission, they launched an investigation. They also took a closer look at the city’s ticket policy.
“Millions of dollars in tickets pass through the city’s hands,” said Commissioner Dana King. “There needs to be strict guidance and accountability as to how they are shared with the public if they’re taken by the city at all.”
Wednesday night’s hearing was designed to get feedback from the public. Invited, but noticeably absent, were all but one member of the Oakland City Council.
Noel Gallo says he hopes this process brings clarity and transparency to the city’s ticket policy.
“We do need to change the system on how we receive them, how we use them and at the end of the day, it is a privilege that we have that other cities do not,” said Gallo.MORE NEWS: Lowell High School Alumni File Lawsuit To Reinstate Merit-Based Admissions
From here a subcommittee will make recommendations to the Oakland City Council on how to change the ticket policy. Those recommendations could come in January.