Bill Banning Ticketmaster’s Scalping Software Becomes Law 

Plus, more turmoil in Alameda, and Raiders foes throw a Hail Mary.

click to enlarge Scalpers need not apply.

Scalpers need not apply.

A secret software program created by Ticketmaster to help buyers purchase large quantities of tickets to sporting events and concerts and then later re-sell them on the secondary market with huge mark-ups in price has caused an uproar in the ticket-selling industry ever since the practice was highlighted in an investigative report last year.

A bill introduced by Hayward Assemblyman Bill Quirk banning the use of software by ticket sellers in California was unanimously approved by the State Legislature two weeks ago and signed into law Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Although, California has existing laws prohibiting the use of so-called computer bots to quickly process ticket purchases, it did not specifically cover the type of software used by Ticketmaster named TradeDesk, which acts more like a service offered on the side to professional ticket scalpers.

Quirk's office has said the bill, AB 1032 was inspired by aninvestigative report in the Toronto Sun and the Canadian Broadcasting Company last year in which Ticketmaster employees at a trade show in Las Vegas described how professional ticket brokers could use the TradeDesk system to avoid the risk of violating some of Ticketmaster's own rules and regulations when purchasing large amounts of tickets.

Some ticket brokers are known to set up hundreds of unique Ticketmaster accounts in hopes of procuring an inventory of tickets to highly sought after events. The TradeDesk software allows the brokers to seamlessly gather the accounts in a single program and then post the newly purchased tickets on various resale sites such as StubHub. Ticketmaster, therefore, receives two commissions from the operation–one from the initial purchase, and a cut of the verified resale.

"It shouldn't matter if scalpers are using custom-made bots or use sophisticated services like TradeDesk," Quirk said, in a statement Monday. "There is no reason consumers should pay hundreds of dollars over face value for concerts or musicals just because they are competing against software for a limited amount of tickets. I'm glad Governor Newsom agreed with my logic and signed this measure into law."

 


Alameda City Council Agrees Two Members Violated the Charter

With a segment of its residents fuming over a scathing civil grand jury finding that two Alameda elected officials violated the city charter, the Alameda City Council voted to accept its findings and recommendations. Jim Oddie and Malia, the councilmembers in question, each recused themselves from the agenda item.

Although the trio of councilmembers voted unanimously to agree with the grand jury's findings, Councilmember Tony Daysog said, "I don't believe the city of Alameda is ready to move on yet," at least, until reforms are made to the city charter. "No person is above the law," he said. "The law of the land is the Alameda city charter." Echoing a number of citizen's comments, Daysog urged for a discussion on a number of actions the council could take to officially rebuke Oddie and Vella, including censure or recall.

Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft called the episode a "regrettable chapter in our city's history." She opined that the scandal that engulfed City Hall over the past two years was, in some part, hastened by former Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer's lack of leadership as the controversy was unfolding. She made her comments prior to the council discussion about a civil grand jury's findings that two Alameda councilmembers violated the charter by allegedly pressuring the then-city manager to hire a candidate for the open fire chief position that was supported by the city's firefighters' union.

Ashcraft spoke off-the-cuff about Spencer's handling of the matter while mayor. "One of the points that the grand jury made in its report was that in some councils, a strong, capable mayor would have put a stop to what was going on, but that was not the case here," she said. "We have a different council now and I believe that we are going to take this matter into hand and do the right thing."

As Ashcraft was delivering the scathing indictment of Spencer's time as mayor, there were murmurs among the packed council chamber's audience. Spencer attended the meeting and was sitting in the second row when Ashcraft make her comments.

In an interview, Spencer slammed Ashcraft for personalizing the scandal for her own benefit. "It was challenging to work with her," the former mayor said of her successor. "I think she has a hard time focusing. It shows immaturity on her part. Not appropriate. And more importantly, it shows that she does not understand the complexity of this matter for our city. It's historical. Instead, she decided to make it about her being mayor."

In some ways Ashcraft's comments were a clap back at Spencer. Spencer's literal last words before ending her stint as mayor last December included a diatribe against what she believed were Ashcraft's dishonorable campaign tactics against her. Spencer did not name Ashcraft in the criticism.


After Oakland's Lawsuit Against NFL Viewed Skeptically, Councilman Wants to 'Apply' for a Team

The construction of a nearly $2 billion football stadium in Las Vegas for the Oakland Raiders hit a snag earlier this year when the trusses for its roof did not properly fit. Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed by the city of Oakland last December to keep the team's iconic logo and colors in the East Bay is built on a seriously flawed foundation, a federal judge said last Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge Jospeh Spero gave attorneys 45 days to reconfigure its argument that the team's move to Las Vegas is a violation of anti-trust law. Despite the reprieve, the case appears to be a re-do for what was already akin to an 80-yard Hail Mary attempt with the game clock near nearing triple-zeroes.

The lawsuit grew out of a local grassroots effort to sue the National Football League and the Raiders for failing to properly follow its bylaws when relocating franchises. Attorneys argued that because of exorbitant relocation fees paid to NFL owners, they had an incentive to allow moves such as the Raiders' bid for Las Vegas.

Although the team is scheduled to move to Las Vegas in time for the 2020 season, the lawsuit is focused on replicating Cleveland's successful complaint in the late 1990s to keep the Browns' name, colors, and history book in Ohio. The Cleveland franchise moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens. Cleveland received an expansion team in 1999 that became the new Browns. Judge Spero, in his 45-minute remarks, questioned why the lawsuit would seek the Raiders logo and colors when there has been no attempt by the city to either seek an NFL expansion franchise or entice an existing franchise to Oakland.

Councimember Gallo told NBC Bay Area that he will begin researching how to apply for a NFL team.


In Other News ...

Oakland's Police Commission called for the firing of five Oakland police officers involved the shooting of Joshua Pawlik in March 2018, according to documents obtained by the East Bay Times. The commission's determination matches a similar recommendation by a federal court monitor. Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick had given the officers lighter punishments. ... Oakland's rate of homelessness increased 47 percent in the last two years, according to a count performed by the county, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. ... Undocumented immigrants were ferried out of Oakland Airport at an astonishing pace from 2010 to last October, the Times reported. ... Berkeley's municipal code will no longer made reference to "manholes" after the City Council voted to remove the term and replace it with the gender-neutral phrase "maintenance holes," Curbed SF reported. ... Oakland became the second city in the U.S. to ban the purchase of facial-recognition software, the Times reported. ... The Ghost Ship Trial will head into recess until July 29 when closing arguments will begin in the trial of Derick Almena and Max Harris. ...

The East Bay Regional Park District became the latest government body to ban the use of the weed killer Roundup, the Times reported. Several lawsuits in the state have yielded large payouts to individuals who have proven the weed killer causes cancer. ... San Leandro Police released audio and body-worn camera video of the June 11 fatal shooting of 56-year-old Anthony Gomez, KPIX reported. Gomez was first seen wielding a machete in the street. After being confronted by police, Gomez appeared to aim an object at officers, who then opened fire. The object was determined to be a piece of wood painted black. ... Sen. Kamala Harris is leading a new Quinnipiac poll in her home state, Politico reported. On the heels of Harris's successful debate appearance, she has risen to the top in the delegate-rich state with 23 percent of the survey, besting Joe Biden's 21 percent. ... Officials are investigation a flaring incident that occurred Wednesday at the Chevron refinery, the Times reported. Black smoke could be seen over some parts of the East Bay. ...

The Golden State Warriors are the ninth most valuable sports franchise in the world, according to Forbes. The team's valuation increased 13 percent over a year ago to $3.5 billion. The Dallas Cowboys, at $5 billion, topped the annual rankings. ... Pumpsie Green, a native of Richmond and graduate of El Cerrito High School, who became the first African-American to play for the Boston Red Sox, died Wednesday. 

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