Thursday, September 19, 2013

Oakland gives sweetheart deal to anti-worker creep

Take a look at this: A Teamster-hating, worker-screwing California business owner, who swindled port truck drivers out of nearly $1 million, is getting a $1.5 million handout from the city of Oakland. And to top it off, the city doesn’t have the money to cover the deal with the influence-wielding contractor -- Bill Aboudi.

Aboudi, who an Alameda County Superior Court judge determined in June had stolen $965,000 in wages from 73 current and former employees, just doesn’t like to follow the rules. And in addition to screwing his workers, his company, Oakland Maritime Support Services, has also been discharging storm water pollution into the San Francisco Bay in violation of state and federal environmental laws, court documents show.
That, however, seems of little concern to Oakland officials, who gave him the money to offset his move from a former Army base being redeveloped by the city. By the way, did we mention Aboudi has also repeatedly missed rent payments in excess of $235,000 and that his business has been effectively exempted from having to pay parking taxes?

Doug Bloch of Teamsters Joint Council 7 said he is befuddled by the turn of events:
I’m speechless. It’s a gift of public funds.
What’s really going on here? The East Bay Express explains:
So why has the city been assisting a contractor who fails to pay his workers and has polluted the environment? And why does it continue to do financial favors for him? Aboudi has strong defenders on the city council: namely, Councilmembers Larry Reid, Desley Brooks, and Rebecca Kaplan.
Aboudi also has exploited citizen fears of trucks parking in West Oakland neighborhoods by telling folks that if the city does not provide him with another truck-parking location, then truckers will park their big rigs in front of people's homes — even though such long-term parking is illegal. And Aboudi's threats are hollow because the port also operates a thirty-acre truck-parking facility, and thus provides plenty of truck parking in the area.
Port officials also have been less accommodating toward Aboudi than the city has. The port balked at agreeing to a multi-year lease with the city because of Aboudi's many legal troubles and the $1 million court judgment against him. As a result, city officials ordered the Army Base development team, led by Oakland developer Phil Tagami, to move part of its construction-staging area to the port property so that Aboudi could move his business onto the land that Tagami's team had planned to use.
See the switch-a-roo they pulled?

But there’s a snag. The switch will cost an extra $1.465 million, Tagami said late last week, because the port property has to be readied for use as a construction-staging site. That's $1.465 million that the city doesn't have -- and wouldn't otherwise have to spend were the city weren’t making accommodations for Aboudi. "The city wrote a letter accepting responsibility," Tagami said of the extra costs, "but doesn't have the money to pay for it."
So to recap, powerful city contractor with lots of connections is getting something for nothing while he screws drivers who work for him, taxpayers and the environment. Got it!