The Council didn’t pass a budget last night, but hopefully will do so at their meeting on Thursday. There isn’t really much to say beyond that. There was a suggested compromise budget, and of course tons of great tweets, though. Read on for the highlights.
LWV Statement requesting the Council to preserve transparency
For a couple minutes last night, I stepped out of my blogger role and put on my League of Women Voters of Oakland pin. I read to the Council a statement from the League objecting to the proposed cuts to open government and transparency functions. Many thanks to LWVO member Rebecca Saltzman for leaving a party that I’m sure was much more fun than the budget meeting in order to come cede me time!
A number of people asked me about it afterwards, so I thought it might be of interest to you guys too. Here it is:
The League understands very well the overwhelming financial difficulties facing the city. We also understand that in a time of budget crisis, transparency, sunshine, and the public’s ability to scrutinize the actions of city government become more essential than ever.
We strongly object to the proposed reduction of the Public Ethics Executive Director position and the proposed elimination of the Public Ethics executive assistant. Since its creation in 1997, the Public Ethics Commission has been severely understaffed, operating with only two employees, a fraction of the support staff afforded to similar commissions in neighboring cities.
Any further reduction of Public Ethics staff would render it impossible for the Commission to fulfill its charter mandated duties, which include administration and enforcement of the Sunshine Ordinance, the Campaign Reform Act, the Lobbyist Registration Act, and campaign public financing, among others.
Additionally, the League strongly objects to the proposed reduction of the number of public meetings broadcast by KTOP. These recordings play a critical role in ensuring transparent government, as they are often the only opportunity for citizens to witness the public decision-making process. Meeting minutes are not an adequate substitute, as they record votes only, and provide no information about the substance of discussions.
Again, we appreciate the difficulty of the choices before you. But reducing transparency and obliterating enforcement of open government laws is unacceptable. Limitations on the city budget do not eliminate the public’s right to know.
A budget compromise
Noting the many common elements between all budget proposals, District 4 Councilmember Libby Schaaf suggested a compromise that incorporated some elements of all the different plans.
Here’s what it looked like. Remember, all of this is changes to the Mayor’s Scenario A. This document (PDF) lists all the proposed cuts and additional revenue measures in the Mayor’s Scenarios A, B, and C. This document (PDF) compares the three different proposals from Councilmembers (thanks to Matthai Kuruvila from the Chronicle for sharing).
Additional Expenditures versus Mayor’s Scenario A
The total cost of these add backs is $12,439,756 in FY11-12 and $13,898,150 in FY12-13.
- Transfer 2 FTEs from Council offices to redevelopment (would count towards already budgeted 15% reduction)
- Do not delay opening of East Oakland Sports Center
- Maintain library services
- Keep Main Library open during Winter Break
- Preserve 9 Neighborhood Service Coordinators, eliminate 1 vacant NSC position
- Maintain 85% of cultural arts grants funding
- Preserve 2 Information Technology FTEs by moving them to the Library and funding them with Measure Q surplus
- Preserve 1 FTE Oakland Film Office
- Maintain 85% subsidies to Oakland Zoo, Vietnamese Senior Centers, Symphony in schools program, AIDs initiative, Women’s Business Initiative, Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland Asian Cultural Center & Peralta Hacienda
- Maintain 100% of Eden I&R 211 Information & Referral funding and move to Library GPF budget
- Keep all fire stations open
- Preserve programming at Manzanita, San Antonio and Poplar Rec Centers
- Civilianize police internal affairs
- Hire back 44 laid off officers immediately (increasing sworn strength by 22 officers)
- Preserve 3 gardener II positions
- Retain one tree trimming crew, move that and three gardener positions and one gardener crew supervisor position to LLAD
- Freeze 5 FTE Information Technology positions previously proposed to be restored for one year, all positions are currently vacant
- Preserve 1 HR & 2 Accounting positions
- Restore Principal Financial Analyst and Payroll Personnel Clerk III in treasury division
- Downgrade one Principal Financial Analyst to Senior Human Resources Systems Analyst
- Downgrade one Payroll Personnel Clerk III to Payroll Personnel Clerk II
- Contribute whatever savings we have at the end of the day to reserve
- Restore hazmat pay to firefighters
The total amount in additional savings and new revenue (again, compared to the Mayor’s Scenario A) is $14,576,227 in FY11-12 and $21,897,000 in FY12-13.
- Cost Savings from Labor agreements
- Move some money from Kaiser Arena sales proceeds away from accelerated negative fund payment and put it in general fund reserve
- Shift some Kaiser Center sales proceeds from 2nd to 1st year
- Adjust OPD attrition assumption rate from 3.3 to 4 per month
- Convert 580 Underpass Lot to 169 meters
I was delighted last night to see a number of new people tweeting the Council meeting! Below, I’ve collected some of the highlights of the Twitter coverage. If you want to see all of it, just search #oakmtg on Twitter.
matthai: hundreds have poured into Oakland CC budget meetings, but tonight is relatively tame. No pitchforks or chainsaws tonight. #oakmtg
dto510: Current speaker helped me file my taxes two years ago. I agree that revenue-generating positions should’t be cut. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: Former Ethics Commissioner Barbara Newcombe speaking, objects to cuts to Public Ethics dept., KTOP programming. #oakmtg
dto510: West #Oakland er says new youth services agency isn’t doing a good job, CM Nadel no longer represents area, to applause. #oakmtg
matthai: can we take an #oakmtg poll? What % chance do you think the council will actually vote on the budget tonight rather than push it off?
dto510: @matthai 25%. It’s not yet the last minute. #oakmtg
dto510: Library worker tells a touching family story “through the library, the internet and Google.” #oakmtg
matthai: @vsmoothe, on behalf of LWV, criticizes council proposals to cut Ethics Commission & KTOP broadcasts. #oakmtg
matthai: … @vsmoothe: “limitations on the city budget do not eliminate the public’s right to know.” #oakmtg
anca: Thank you League of Women Voters for standing up for transparency. #oakmtg
dto510: Next speaker expounds on idea of “creative taxes,” says Council should focus on national issues like bank bailouts. #oakmtg
dto510: IFPTE 21 rep decries sorry state of City technology infrastructure, wants preservation of Oaklanders’ Assistance Center. #oakmtg
mcplanner: Fun Sanjay Facts: 20% of Oakland hotel rentals are prostitution. Ticket cyclists as revenue source #oakmtg
dto510: “Pat Kernighan loves bicyclists… & stops Oakland from holding (them) accountable.” – Sanjiv Handa. Not the advocates’ perspective. #oakmtg
dto510: Handa calls out Mayor Quan for sending fundraising plea to email addresses gleaned from non-political events. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: Speaker now objecting to police use of mind control technology. Um… #oakmtg
dto510: While #Oakland City Council listens to the public b/c of that pesky Brown Act, State Legislature blows thru budget bills. #oakmtg
matthai: A 360 degree view of council chambers tonight. Wish I’d done this when we had pitchforks. http://bit.ly/iQkgqe #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: Speaker: Our librarian doesn’t deserve to lose her job, she deserves an Oscar. #oakmtg And that’s it for public comment!
oaklandscene: Between the call for an investigation of CIA mind control and speaker talking & also breast feeding at things are a bit surreal. #oakmtg
eastbaycitizen: Reading my Twitter timeline is quite riveting with tweets from #CAbudget, #oakmtg and #CARedistricting happening all at once.
Vsmoothe: CM Brooks now presenting her team’s budget. If you haven’t seen the budgets, they’re all available on http://t.co/hAIdtdA #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: CM Brooks: Council offices + Neighborhood Service Coordinators can handle job of Oaklanders Assistance Center. Already take calls. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: I have an idea! If they do the same thing, how about we keep the Oaklanders Assistance Center and cut Council staff to pay for it? #oakmtg
dto510: CM Brooks says despite new funds, still need for cuts and new revenues for the next budget process. #oakmtg
MarleenLee: Oh. So part of the police proposal is to give them a raise in 2014? Interesting. #oakmtg
dto510: CM De La Fuente says OPOA contract makes problem worse b/c trades 9% pension contribution for a 4% raise, 2x sick days. #oakmtg
dto510: CM DLF: We’re ignoring $138m debt on funds, half-billion-dollar PFRS liability, $43m payment next month. #oakmtg
MarleenLee: Pat Kernighan admits that the budget proposals are nothing more than band-aids. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: CM Kernighan: “In two years when this budget is up, we will again be in difficult straits.” #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: Is that a joke? I will be FLOORED if they make it through December without having to open up the budget and do this all over again. #oakmtg
oaklandscene: Fiinal budget vote looks remote especially when council members are still questioning city staff about proposed budget components. #oakmtg
dto510: Consultant defends changing revenue collection, says model data-mining program exceeded revenue targets by $3.2m. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: Staff spending ridiculous amnt of time explaining to the Council they’re using computers now instead of people with pens and paper. #oakmtg
anca: Hmm, some councilpeeps seem awfully ignorant about the Revenue Dept’s IT improvements, which replace antiquated manual processes #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: Or is it me? Am I missing something here? This whole discussion seems ridiculously stupid. #oakmtg
DIYGene: @Vsmoothe “so explain these computer things…” #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: I really wish they would stop talking about this. This discussion is boring and repetitive. #oakmtg
MarleenLee: I think this discussion on the revenue collection is an excellent way to cut down on public speakers-new way around Brown Act. #oakmtg
DIYGene: #oakmtg let’s talk about the budget proposals, shall we? #facepalm
Vsmoothe: I think Council is trying to drive everyone away w/this inane discussion so nobody sees what they say about the rest of the budget. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: OMG Thank goodness! It’s over! Now CM Brunner asking about rehiring officers. “Where is this money coming from?” #oakmtg
OaklandBecks: CM Brunner – We need consensus. We can keep giving speeches, but that’s not going to bring us to consensus. Agreed. #oakmtg
anca: I can’t believe that we are counting on selling off city property (which does not have a buyer) as a way to solve budget problems. #oakmtg
matthai: Gang of 4 budget assumes cops cost $149k/yr. Avg cop in Oakland previously stated at $188k/yr. #oakmtg
OaklandBecks: Budgeting by magic! RT @matthai Gang of 4 budget assumes cops cost $149k/yr. Avg cop in Oakland previously started at $188k/yr. #oakmtg
chuklessmith@OaklandBecks I didn’t read the 7th Harry Potter book, but I expect it ended with him slaying Voldemort, not balancing the Oakland budget.
Vsmoothe: CM Nadel: We wanted to wait for negotiations before having a proposal so it wouldn’t get out that libraries might be closed. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: WTF? Has she been living in the same city as I have for the last two months? #oakmtg
matthai: Nadel says budget proposals delayed so advocates wouldn’t be pit against each other. But that’s exactly what happened for 2 months. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: CM Schaaf: We’ll have no new information on budget Thurs that we don’t have tonight. Delaying costs money! Must pass budget tonight! #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: I am curious where this sudden sense of urgency is coming from, when the Council went 2 months without saying a word! #oakmtg
dto510: They’re getting down to brass tacks. CM Schaaf says her team will accept parking meters under 580 but not in Eastlake. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: CM Schaaf moves adoption of a combination of her team’s budget and the other budgets, CM Nadel seconds. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: CM Reid asks @jeanquan to respect Council and let them discuss budget w/o interruption. She interrupts: “I’m not a typical Mayor.” #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: CM Brunner: This is not a real compromise, I would need to see something in writing. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: CM Brunner: I am not comfortable with spending one time money on ongoing operations. CM Brooks also wants to see it in writing. #oakmtg
OaklandBecks: Looks like we might have a #cabudget vote tonight, but clearly there will be no Oakland budget passed tonight. #oakmtg
Vsmoothe: #oakmtg isn’t over, but I’ve had enough! Goodnight!
matthai: Council will vote on budget on Thursday — last day of fiscal year. Council proposals might be posted online tomorrow #oakmtg
Gcrime: I should have gone to #oakmtg instead of obsessing over gamer serial killers on British television
Vsmoothe: Now for the best part of #oakmtg. The glass of wine afterwards!
matthai: Oakland Council turns down their salary increases. #oakmtg
DIYGene: given pushing everything to Thursday #oakmtg i wonder if anyone will show up for the opening of the EO sports center
DIYGene #oakmtg votes 8-0 to accept contract for EO sports center as-is, rather than do 6 months and re-evaluate. made CM reid happy
amymartincomics: Reid is cranky, and he just said “my sugar is up.” #oakmtg
amymartincomics: CM Brooks thinks fees are “way too high” for E. Oakland Sports Ctr?.. erm, kind of late to bring that up, isn’t it? #oakmtg