Monthly Archives: November 2007

Weekend highlights – Don’t miss the Oakland Holiday Parade on Saturday

I apologize for the somewhat erratic posting lately. This is a busy time of year for me. But I seem to be on a bit of a blogging binge today, so scroll down to make sure you catch all the new ones. I figure that another lengthy post would probably be kind of overwhelming, so I’m going to hold off continuing the Oak to Ninth stuff until Monday. Anyway, I want to highlight two things going on this weekend, plus a little bit of good news for West Oakland. Continue reading

Breaking: City of Oakland wastes money! Shocker!

I know I already said this, but after waking up this morning to three more stories about it, I really have to wonder about all this fuss over a report that basically says we should have firmer guidelines for off-cycle payroll. It just isn’t that sexy.

Allowing people to buy-back vacation is a fairly normal business practice, and Edgerly’s correct when she says that it’s cheaper to let employees do it sooner rather than later (the cost of vacation increases over time due to pre-negotiated annual salary raises). So yeah, fix the guidelines so they make more sense, make sure that Administrative Instructions gel better with our various MOU’s, and maintain better documentation. It’s not rocket science. But while everyone is busy getting all worked up about giving city employees a total of less than $400,000 in performance bonuses over three years, remember that the Council is about to approve an expenditure of $575,000, $375,000 of it being Measure Y money, over the concerns of the Measure Y Oversight Committee, for the world’s vaguest RFP. I mean, come on.

I wrote already about how the Oversight Committee asked the Mayor’s office to return with more details about their proposal. After their meeting, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums sent a letter to the Council asking them to ignore the Committee’s concerns: Continue reading

Vacation buybacks! Car allowances! Management Leave! Horrors!

So while I’m usually pretty quick to damn the City for perpetually wasting copious amount of money and time, I have to admit that I’m not really feeling the outrage at the recently released City Auditor’s report on payroll and compensation practices (PDF!). Certainly, Courtney Ruby’s first report as City Auditor highlights some inefficiencies that need to be addressed.

But the Chronicle story on this begins with a level of horror that I can’t quite get behind: Continue reading

So what is CEQA, anyway?

So I was on vacay last week when the Oak to Ninth CEQA lawsuit ruling was in the news, so I didn’t really have a chance to talk about it here. Sadly, looking around, it seems that there still hasn’t really been any clear or informative coverage of what actually happened. Over the next week, I hope to post some blogs about the decision and related issues.

I think that to have a clear picture of what is going on here, one really needs to have a good understanding of what CEQA is. Of course, some of my readers I’m sure know way more about CEQA than they’d probably like to, but for most people, I think that CEQA and EIR are terms that just get thrown around a lot. It can be confusing. So I’m going to start out today with a some background. Continue reading

Council ignores Measure Y Oversight Committee’s concerns about how to spend Measure Y money

Okay, this is amazing.

Yesterday, I wrote about a proposal to issue an RFP for a new street outreach program funded with Measure Y reserve money for Novometro. Although the Measure Y Oversight Committee had previously rejected the proposal as written, and asked the Mayor’s office to return in December with a more well thought-out plan, the matter had already been scheduled to be heard by the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

I was hoping that the Mayor’s office would respect the concerns of the Oversight Committee and tell the Public Safety Committee that they would be returning in a month with a more detailed proposal. Barring that, I was hoping that the Councilmembers would show some respect for the concept of citizen oversight and accountability when it comes to spending the taxes they’ve collected. I was disappointed on both counts. The Public Safety Committee dismissed the concerns of the Oversight Committee members and moved forward a half-baked plan to issue a RFP to spend $375,000 of Measure Y funds based on a 211 word program description. The whole affair is shocking. Details (and some video) below. Continue reading

Share your holiday spirit

If you’re anything like most Americans, you spent yesterday gorging yourself on turkey and stuffing, then today buying lots of things you probably don’t need. Which is, of course, very fun and all that. But as the holiday season gets underway, I encourage everyone to take some time out of their busy schedules of shopping and parties and decorating and try to do something that will make the holidays a little bit brighter for the less fortunate among us. Here are two ways to do so right here in Oakland. Continue reading

Your tax dollars at work

So if you drive a car or ride a bicycle to get around Oakland, you probably have an opinion on the city’s new pay and display parking kiosks (PDF!). If you walk everywhere, then you don’t care about parking meters, and you’re probably sick of listening to people complain about how you can’t leave extra time behind for the next person to come along, or how you have to walk all the way down the block and back to pay, or how the new kiosks are totally unfair to motorcycles, or how the city is just trying to squeeze extra money from us, or whatever other problems people might have. Continue reading

Murders spread throughout the city

So I imagine that as a public official, it must be nearly impossible to come up with something good to tell a reporter when asked to comment on a report rating Oakland the 4th most dangerous city in the US. I can’t imagine what my response would be. But in today’s Trib, Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker provides us with a near-perfect example of what you shouldn’t say: Continue reading

Flora revisited

Okay, so I got take-out from Flora last night (they have their liquor license, finally!), and I’m sorry to say that the food was just plain not good. At all. My salad (which arrived already dressed in the to go box!) was incredibly bitter, to the point of basically being inedible. There was almost none of the promised shaved fennel and I was unable to identify any pomegranate flavor in the pomegranate vinaigrette. Continue reading