Opponents of the proposed San Francisco 49ers' Santa Clara stadium effort had a small but deadly silver bullet in their pocket for their fight against the 68,500-seat football facility being built on what is now the Great America parking lot.
Throughout the Measure J campaign that Santa Clara voters approved in June, the 49ers had claimed in mailers and campaign literature that that there would be "no impact on (Santa Clara's) General Fund" and "No cost to Santa Clara residents. Period".
But some crafty Santa Clara residents have successfully nailed the 49ers on both counts.
The stadium opposition group Santa Clara Plays Fair discovered in August that the team has been getting free police escorts to and from stadiums and airports, at the cost of nearly $18,000 per individual trip coming out of Santa Clara's general fund.
Eighteen thousand dollars may not sound like much in the context of a $450 million stadium deal. But the 49ers had been caught in a lie, which could have served as the springboard for a new round of stadium opposition.
No more. The 49ers have nipped the practice in the bud, with the San Jose Mercury News reporting that the 49ers will, effective immediately, pay for all police escorts.
"They weren't going to do this until they got caught," Santa Clara Plays Fair's Jay Keehan told the Merc. "They're doing what they should have been doing all along. This is a drop in the bucket in terms of money, but it's symbolic in light of the cutbacks and layoffs and library closures we're having in the city."
Keehan has kind of a point. The City of Santa Clara approved a tentative plan to lay off nine percent of its workforce at last week's council meeting.