OAKLAND — Mayor Ron Dellums sees some renewed hope for the A's chances of staying in Oakland.
Two weeks after A's owner Lew Wolff said he wasn't sure if he would succeed in building a proposed 32,000-seat stadium in Fremont, Dellums told the Tribune he's prepared to do anything "within reason" to keep the A's in town.
His remarks came as players took warm-ups before their game at McAfee Coliseum Wednesday. Dellums was at the ball park for the annual Silence the Violence event, aimed at curbing crime and increasing economic opportunity in the city.
"There are a number of 'ifs' in order for the A's to stick around, because they've already made that deal down in Fremont," Dellums said. "The question is whether that deal will stick or not. And I've said to (Wolff), if there's anything we can do that's within reason, we're prepared to do it."
A day after Wolff expressed doubt about the Fremont deal last month, however, the owner said that although he's frustrated at the pace at which the project is moving, he's ultimately optimistic it will work out.
"I still think it's going to happen," he said July 31.
Wolff could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
The A's had planned to open their Fremont park, Cisco Field, in 2011, but that date was pushed back until 2012 at the earliest. An environmental impact report on Fremont's "Ballpark Village," which would also include retail and housing, is in the works, but won't be finished until 2009.
"With a deal that is as big as the deal is in Fremont, anything could go wrong," Dellums said, adding, "I want to continue to keep the door open so that we can keep the A's. The best-case scenario would be that they stay in Oakland. I would like to try to help them stay in Oakland."
Dellums has not endorsed any site in Oakland as potential new home for the club should the Fremont deal fall apart.
Scott Peterson, public policy director for the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber's members would love the team to stay.
"I think a strong coalition of the private sector, local government and community groups could probably make a convincing argument that the A's are wanted here," he said. "It really comes down to a financial deal that makes sense to both the team and the city. And that's a big deal to put together, but it's not impossible."
Assemblyman Sandre Swanson's (D-Oakland) whistle-blower protection bill, which was authored by Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby, will soon move to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk after clearing both the state Senate and Assembly.
The legislation would authorize a city or county's auditor or controller to operate whistle-blower hot lines where government workers could report fraud or abuse.
Their identities would be protected to ensure against retaliation from superiors.
Schwarzenegger is expected to consider signing the bill into law after the state budget crisis is resolved.
Big trees in Oakland
Council member Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel) announced the start of a program this week to encourage residents to help identify the biggest living trees in Oakland.
The effort is similar to existing state and national programs and came about after the city had to remove one of Oakland's oldest Oak trees, the "Champagne Oak" in Dimond Park, in 2005.
Quan made an effort to save the Champaign Oak, but it ultimately had to be removed because it was so diseased that it was considered a hazard to people using the park.
Trees determined to be the largest of their species will not qualify for any type of formal protection. Rather, the program is about drawing attention to some of the city's natural wonders.
"Jean thought it would be very important for our residents to know where our landmark trees are and for them to help us find them," said Sue Piper, a policy analyst in Quan's office.
For more information visit www.oaklandnet.com/big_tree_registry/home.asp.
Staff Writer Angela Woodall contributed to this report. CityWise runs Fridays in Metro. Reach Kelly Rayburn at (510) 208-6435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.