Public power football

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By Tim Redmond

The City of Santa Clara has a lot that the San Francisco 49ers find attractive: A nice site for a stadium, a local fan base -- and, it turns out, $200 million in cash. That money, which the team has its eyes on, is sitting in the bank -- it's the surplus from the city's municipal electric utility.

Isn't it funny: San Francisco may lose a football team in part because our competing city did what we should have done many years ago, and created a public-power agency. Now it's got some money to spare.

This all came up at Mayor Gavin Newsom's weekly department heads meeting March 18. when a mayoral staffer gave a briefing on the Santa Clara 49ers situation, including an explanation of how the Niners want that $200 mill (which the Santa Clara power agency is reluctant to part with). In the middle of the briefing, Sheriff Mike Hennessey dared to interrupt with the obvious question:

"Are you saying," he asked, "that a city can make a profit from public power?"

The staffer's response: "No comment."