Bruce Nye: Mayor Quan’s Budget Framework: May We Try This Again Please?

Bruce Nye is a board member of Make Oakland Better Now!. This guest post is presented on MOBN!’s behalf. The Oakland City Council will be holding a public workshop to discuss the budget, and Mayor Quan’s report, on Monday, April 11 at 9:00 a.m. at Joaquin Miller Community Center, 3594 Sanborn Drive, Oakland.

On January 4, the day after her inauguration, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan promised a budget by the end of March. At her weekly press conference on February 18, she told the media she was still on target, although her budget would present options, not just a budget.

Last Wednesday, Mayor Quan released her “Informational Report on the City’s Fiscal Condition and Framework For A Balancing Plan,” which contained no budget at all. Instead of a budget, the mayor gave us a history of the City’s well-known economic woes and a calculation of the effect of cutting department requests by 15%. In her report, she proposed no priorities, no specific innovations, no specific department consolidations and no new ways of funding city government functions.

Instead, Mayor Quan laid out facts that are well-known to anyone who follows city government and asked City Council members to send her a memo by April 8 outlining what their priorities are. The San Francisco Chronicle summed it up by quoting Council Member Ignacio De La Fuente: “It’s leadership afraid to make real decisions.” Make Oakland Better Now! believes that thoughtful, disciplined, collaborative and innovative thinking in can solve many intractable problems. So we were thinking: Why don’t we give Mayor Quan a do-over? Instead of largely unspecified and hypothetical across-the-board cuts and pleas for help to the City Council, why don’t we give her the chance to take a different approach, something like this:


Dear President Reid and Members of the City Council, Department Heads, Public Employees, Unions and Citizens of Oakland:

If you have been paying any attention to what is happening in Oakland, you know revenue has plummeted in recent years and expenses have skyrocketed. You also know that in trying to deal with those realities, we in City government have subjected city services to death by a thousand cuts. So I really don’t need to spend any more time telling you about those problems. My job as Mayor is to make proposals that will solve them. Since November, I have spent all of my waking hours trying to find new and innovative ways to provide essential services with less money. I appointed a transition committee consisting of some of the smartest people in Oakland, people with deep backgrounds in business, government, economics and public policy. I spent a great deal of time listening to others. The result is the very difficult proposed budget I now present to you.

From the start, it was clear to me that we could not solve our budget problems without a complete understanding of what they were. So, I asked our budget director and her staff to provide a clear analysis of the structural deficits faced by the City over the next five years. The resulting numbers were worse than anything you or I have seen before. Previous city presentations (including this one, at page 13) have never included the unfunded PFRS obligation or the need to repay some $33 million in negative fund balances (PDF) for which there is no repayment plan. If we include these, the five year general purpose fund deficit totals at least $690 million (all numbers below in millions):

Oakland Deficit

It was also clear that neither I nor anyone else had a monopoly on wisdom when it came to solving this very large problem. So in the past three months, my transition team and I have met regularly with representatives of the City Council, department heads, and union leaders to try to work collaboratively on reimagining the City’s budget. All of them were asked to contribute their innovative ideas on how to make City government more efficient, more responsive, and less expensive. And I have listened to them. Finally, I imposed an overarching guideline for the budget process. Whereas past budget deliberations have been marked by increasingly strident discussions among interest groups competing for resources (arts vs. police, parks v. public works, etc.), during my administration decisions are based on a holistic, prioritized view of the City’s needs. As Mayor, it is my primary job to set priorities for consideration and adoption by the City Council.

Not everything can be a priority. Since at least the Roman Empire, civilization has known that governmental “core services” consist of keeping citizens safe, maintaining infrastructure, and upkeep for public property. My budget reflects these few critical priorities. Here are the other steps my administration has taken in the past ninety days:

Mediating salary and benefit issues with all public employees: While nearly all of my public pronouncements about public employee benefit costs have addressed police retirement, a full contribution by our uniformed police officers will only reduce the deficit by around $6 million to $8 million. The benefits expense problem is much greater than this, and Oakland has proved itself completely unable to reach negotiated solutions to date. Therefore, I have offered to enter into a multi-party mediation process with all of the City’s unions and representatives of the retirees to find solutions that are fair, collaborative, and manageable. I have suggested several respected third-party mediators, and have agreed that, particularly as to police and fire, there should be a full airing of issues between the unions and the City. We will be presenting second-tier salary and benefit structures, changes to employee contributions to health and retirement benefits, and “anti-spiking” changes, with estimates of the budget savings to be achieved from each proposal. We realize these are very sensitive subjects for our City’s employees, and welcome their ideas about alternative measures that can achieve similar savings.

Consolidation and Reliance On The Community and Private Sector: This budget contains much consolidation, and requires public/private partnerships. We propose combining departments. We propose combining facilities. We propose an increased reliance on community support organizations for our libraries, parks, and many other parts of government.

Leveraging Technology: Technologically, Oakland is living in the twentieth century. We need to leverage “Government 2.0” and social networking technology in a way that makes City government cheaper and more responsive. I am announcing the formation of an Oakland Technology Advisory Committee, consisting of leaders in the social networking world, to recommend ways to completely re-envision the technological interface between City government and citizens. Among other things, I hope their recommendations will facilitate the implementation of CitiStat, a data collection, data use, and management method I campaigned on.

Non-Profits and Volunteers: We will not be able to provide all the services cities have traditionally provided. We will need to look to our community’s volunteers and non-profits to help us in many operations traditionally provided by City employees. Otherwise, we will not have those services at all. I will be going to the voters with an initiative to amend our City Charter’s “contracting out” prohibition so as to provide that nothing in the Charter will be deemed to prohibit the use of non-profits or volunteers.

Performance Based Budgeting: Oaklanders must know what services they are getting for their tax dollars, and that information must be presented in a quantitative, measurable manner. Accordingly, the budget I am presenting implements performance based budgeting and shows Oaklanders exactly what services they can expect from their city and the unit costs for those services.

Budgeting for Outcomes: Finally, we are starting a year-long process to implement the “Budgeting for Outcomes” model. Our goal is to have an outcomes-based budget in place in time for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

This proposed budget is very tough, and eliminates many services we all feel strongly about. But it is the Mayor’s responsibility to propose tough decisions, and the City Council’s responsibility to make tough decisions. When, and only when, we have enacted an honest, easily understood balanced budget that prioritizes core services, we should go to the voters with a tax measure that allows the voters to decide if they want to provide more. We are all in this together, and I look forward to working with the City Council at the April 11 budget workshop and as many further workshops and meetings as are necessary to complete the difficult tasks ahead of us.

Respectfully,
Jean Quan
Mayor of Oakland

225 thoughts on “Bruce Nye: Mayor Quan’s Budget Framework: May We Try This Again Please?

  1. ralph

    “When, and only when, we have enacted an honest, easily understood balanced budget that prioritizes core services, we should go to the voters with a tax measure that allows the voters to decide if they want to provide more.”

    I would also do without the back and forth w/council. You start with 8 council members and finish with 20 priorities. Kill the death by a 1000 cuts. The mayor must define the priorities. This may result in cuts to cherished programs, but I would rather lose a less valued program at 100% than have a fully valued program working at 10%.

    Intellectually, I may know that services are required but until the city can tell me what I am buying and how it addresses the core responsibilities, I am going to have a difficult time voting for new taxes.

    I might argue that this push to social media is a waste of hard earned money. If the city wants to spend any money on technology, I recommend improving the city’s website (on appearance and feel SF has Oakland beat handsdown) and the then the library computers.

  2. Oakie

    Bankruptcy. It’s the only way. We must be able to reset all union contracts. If not, this city is toast.

    Someone passed on the following about the State of California budget 1990 vs 2009:
    Here are some figures generated in about five minutes from State web sites.
    1990 – population 29.7 million, budget 48.6 billion
    2009 population 48.6 million, budget 144.5 billion
    Cumulative inflation during this period: 71%

    Two minutes of number crunching yields:

    Per capita gov’t spending in 1990 (1990 dollars): $1663
    Per capita gov’t spending in 2009 (1990 dollars): $2220

    That’s a 36% increase in REAL per capita spending in 19 years.

    Look at it another way. If spending had been restricted to population growth plus inflation (as some states do), our 2009 budget would have been 36% lower, or $106 billion. Presto, no deficit. In fact a rather considerable surplus would have been built up over the two decades.

    Yep, it’s not spending, it’s our inadequate taxation.
    ===============
    Well, what a similar comparison be for Oakland? And actually I would prefer comparing to 1978, as the old canard about Prop 13 preventing us from sufficient level of taxation can be put to rest once and for all.

    Just heard Quan on KQED. She’s feeding her union buddies assurances. Good luck getting anything good out of this.

  3. Bruce Nye

    Oakie,

    Has any city or county in the US had a good outcome from a Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing? Not Vallejo. Not Orange County. Is there any successful model Oakland can follow? If not, then isn’t talk of bankruptcy just magical thinking that keeps us from digging in and doing the hard work to solve our problems ourselves?

  4. len raphael

    You’re giving up all leverage with city employees other than threat of layoffs if you rule out privatizing and rule out Chapter 9.

    Vallejo is a valid example of another strong union town avoiding the third rail of union retirement benefits. It is not proof of what’s legally or politically possible.

    JQ will give the voters a choice between laying off 50% of the staff resulting in a 60% cut in output, and maybe a 30% in compensation costs; vs a 1,000/parcel tax plus sales tax increase to 10%, with some more cuts to the cops but not ofd.

    If she mobilizes a coalition of well to do hills people to whom 1,000 deductible tax is minor and poor residents who aren’t affected by parcel taxes and spend most of their money on non taxable essentials, I’d bet on her winning.

    (What’s the ratio of tax per parcel to total pacel tax revenue?)

  5. len raphael

    I understand the politics of the possible of limiting outsourcing to volunteers, bids, and non-profits, but you there’s a reality that the salaries of many non profit executives is comparable to that of the profit plus compensation of the owners of many small and not so small private businesses.

  6. ralph

    There is no bankruptcy leverage. At most one achieves a change to OPEB but the pension obligation stays the same. In addition, there is financial costs when the city goes to the market. Remind me again who is responsible for the debt service.

  7. Slio

    A little known fact is that the City of Oakland’s administrative overhead is as high as 72% — yes, SEVENTY-TWO PERCENT! This makes City workers grossly more expense than non-profit staff. Add to this the reality that non-profit staff are often more caring and competent direct service providers, and its a no-brainer that this is strategy worth exploring.

    Sadly, Oakland is moving in the wrong direction on this one. Over the past few years — no doubt driven by sheer desperation to raise money, any money — Oakland Departments have used political influence to beat-out non-profits in competitive bids for federal and state funds. This has ballooned the City’s direct service role, inflating cost and some would argue diminishing the quality of services we receive.

    if we really want better service for less money let’s establish clear performance measures — no matter who services us — and limit City staff to functions inappropriate for others, like fire, police, building inspection, and other municipal roles.

  8. len raphael

    Remind me again what’s the moral distinction between JQ laying off a bunch of employees and outsourcing it to nonprofits but keeping compensation and work rules unchanged for remaining people, vs Wisconsin Walker overriding collective bargining to force employees to work full time for less money?

    Sure, if your one of the lucky survivors. But for the laid off workers and the city residents?

    Is JQ’s way somehow more progressive than Walker because she honored union collective bargaining right to throw the low totem employees over the side?

  9. len raphael

    Apparently the distinction between the JQ aproach and WI Walker was also lost on the union members at that rally.

    Ralph, you might be right, you might be wrong about bankruptcy. But if you were a union leader would you want to be the one who called Oakland’s bluff?

    MY point being if JQ’s only leverage is threat of layoffs and some modest pension tinkering, the unions will hunker down to basic union principles of protecting the pay scale and seniority no matter what.

    i can maybe see the value of that in a Midwest Harley Davidson plant where production is going overseas. But in a muni service context that’s unacceptable.

    My impression is ultimately that’s only making wage concessions without give backs on job rules and seniority will fail to deliver adequate services to the residents at an affordable cost.

    Anyone else have the impression that two tier pay systems abysmal employee morale and medioccre service? That’s my impression of how it works at Safeway vs say Trader Joes.

    -len

  10. len raphael

    Sounds like Pat K went back on her brave declaration at the Lakeshore budget meeting in January that she was “elected by the residents not the unions”.

    Today’s Chron “Three councilwomen – Libby Schaaf, Rebecca Kaplan and Pat Kernighan – had planned to put countermeasures on the ballot to rein in city expenses, particularly labor costs. But resistance from labor unions prompted the three to back down.”

    Exactly what I’d expect from up and comers Schaaf and Kaplan hoping to up and get out of Oakland to higher office. But what’s Pat K have to lose by sticking to her principles?

    approx 600Mill deficit divided by 5 years = 120mill/year we have to cover eventually.

    Divide that by the approx 10Mill that wb raised annually by an $80 dollar parcel tax.

    So JQ et al will have to eventuallly propose a parcel tax that is 12 x 80/year per parcel = $960/year per parcel. Say 1,000/year per parcel.

    Can someone translate that into barrista terms?

  11. livegreen

    I read this to Len. Very disappointed in both Pat Kernighan and Rebecca Kaplan. In the same article Libby Schaaf said she’d vote against the parcel tax.

    It appears the Unions are instigating a union vs. middle class taxpayers, who they will try to say represent the banks?

    BTW, when where and how was the labor union “resistance” expressed? At a City Council meeting, or where?

  12. Chris Kidd

    Oakie’s right. *Everything* should be as it was in 1978, adjusted for inflation, of course.

    Like home prices. 1978 inflation adjusted median home price in CA: $234,249. 2009 5-year estimate ACS median home price in CA: $479,200. How dare homes be more expensive? They should be just as cheap as they were in 1978!

    Or median income. 1984 inflation adjusted median household income in CA (the earliest date I could find on short notice): $52,366. 2009 median household income in CA: $56,134. How dare employers overpay by $4,000?

    Or poverty rates. 1978 had a CA poverty rate of 10%. 2010? 15.3%. How dare California have more poor people? Don’t they know we’re supposed to have everything locked in to the magical year 1978?

  13. V Smoothe

    Len, I think you’re reading too much into one sentence. If there is no deep pocketed source to fund a campaign in favor of charter amendments, and there is significant union resistance, that means the chance of any ballot proposals passing is basically non-existent. Much better to wait until one has the capacity to do a real campaign rather than waste money by putting something doomed to failure on the ballot.

  14. livegreen

    Or refuse to put the tax on the ballot unless the unions agree to a) greater concessions, &/or b) get their support for the countermeasures.

    The time for City Councilmembers to negotiate, the ONLY time they have leverage, is BEFORE they agree to a special vote on new taxes.

    Afterwards its too late and the Unions will wait to see if it passes. By then will negotiations be over?

  15. len raphael

    The public official in SF who put pension reform on the ballot even though it was not expected to pass had the right idea.

    He made it acceptable to talk about the unthinkable. Next time it will probably pass.

    if there’s already going to be a special election or even if they wait till November, the council can put it on the ballot at 0 monetary cost, only a political cost to them.

    The sooner our pols start the public discussion on compensation, the better.
    -len raphael, temescal

  16. V Smoothe

    Len, that’s the perspective one would expect from angry citizens who want to complain about unions. The reality, however, for people who are serious about creating real long-term change and understand how elections work, is that it is much harder to pass something if it has been strongly defeated already. Regardless of immediate costs of holding an election, there is a significant long-term cost to putting forward ballot measures doomed to failure. Oakland is a very union-supportive town, and passing any charter amendments that can be perceived as an attack on unions will be a difficult battle, one that it would be extremely unwise to enter unprepared.

  17. Patrick M. Mitchell

    How about the significant longterm cost of putting parcel tax measure after parcel tax measure on the ballot? And I mean to the citizenry.

  18. charlie s

    @Oakie,

    Thanks for those stats regarding state spending in the past 20 years. However, spending has risen far more than you think. Let’s assume your other numbers are right, but substitute an accurate count of California’s current population — 37.2 million. This puts spending at $3880 per capita, which is a 125% increase over 1990 levels. In other words, we’re spending about two-and-one-half times what we did then, per capita.

  19. len raphael

    The official in SF is considered to be a “progressive” and an experienced politician.

    Is the SF political situation much different from here, other than we have a higher percentage of poor voters?

  20. MarleenLee

    LG, the unions will not “wait” to see if the parcel tax passes. The way it works is that the City is in cahoots with the unions and the nonprofits, and gets them to fund the pro-parcel tax campaign and do all the legwork on the ground to get it passed. City officials are not legally allowed to use any city resources to advocate for a parcel tax. So they have to delegate to the unions and non-profits. As was recently reported, the fire department union paid something like $100,000 to support Measure Y, and in exchange they got language that in essence amounted to a no-layoff clause. The City counts on union support to get the parcel taxes passed. It is no wonder they don’t want to try to pass the tax on the same ballot that they tick off the unions. They know which side their bread is buttered on.

  21. len raphael

    fundamental obstacle to reducing cost of ofd and opd is binding arbitration.

    if i understand correctly, ofd and opd got binding arbitration in exchange for no strike clause, pretty darn close to WI Walker move to take away binding arbitration But then WI Walker didn’t cut state cop compensation, did he?

    btw, i’m not opposed to parcel taxes. I’d even be willing to consider the mother of all parcel taxes if it meant we’d get the level of services that residents of Sunnyvale get. But we all know that’s not even a gleam in the eye of JQ and friends.

  22. len raphael

    why is JQ the big OUSD booster, not proposing a joint parcel tax campaign with OUSD? Suppose she wants to give an OUSD tax a fighting chance of passing?

  23. Bruce Nye

    Len, binding arbitration for uniformed public safety employees is in the city charter. Striking by fire fighters is illegal under California law, and although it’s a little less certain, that’s probably so for police as well.

  24. ralph

    Len,
    The trend in SF is moving towards moderate. SF is still left of center but I would not call it hippie nation. I suspect that is Oakland is also trending moderate but no one has really realized it yet.

  25. livegreen

    I’m still in shock by what Marleen has informed. Questions:
    –Any reading/links to “As was recently reported, the fire department union paid something like $100,000 to support Measure Y, and in exchange they got language that in essence amounted to a no-layoff clause.” or other such examples?

    –Is there not any alternative to the Unions in Oakland to campaign for Charter Amendments? If not, how can anything possibly pass?

    This is further demonstration of the negative of money in politics, but that’s another point…

  26. len raphael

    LG, if the city council is unwilling to put a charter amendment on the ballot, figure it would cost private citizens a couple of hundred thou in sign collection and legal costs, plus or minus 20%. Add marketing costs to that.

    K K & S withdrawing the very weak reform proposal is simply giving the unions something to partially concede on, in return for protecting wages, benefits, reduced layoffs etc. Gee, what did they think before proposing the reforms: that the unions were going to give them hugs and kisses?

  27. Charles Pine

    Quan knows what she wants to do. Her time-wasting charade of asking for councilmembers’ individual input is an attempt to make them the fall guys.

    So long as City Hall cannot provide a plan to get out of the financial hole, voting for a tax would simply be signing on for years more of the chaos.

    Also huge hypocrisy insisting we must vote by mail this July after all her arguments for RCV.

    Ranked Choice for Mayor, Tricks-by-Mail for Tax

  28. Barry K

    Livegreen: the fire dept’s $100,000 investment in Measure (wh)Y, also pays out millions back to them each year.

    Also, Quan created the Hills Fire Assessment District that taxes homeowners another $60 per year x 10 years. This helps pay for more overtime and benefits for the Fire Dept too. Seems like there are more sheepeople than goats in the hills to keep voting for taxes that don’t deliver services.

    Charles- Are you also counting Quan’s Hill Fire Tax in your list? Does this make it 16 taxes under her belt?
    Quan’s plan since OUSD: Spend more than you have.

  29. Charles Pine

    Barry asks, “Charles – Are you also counting Quan’s Hill Fire Tax in your list? Does this make it 16 taxes under her belt?”

    Could be. I took Quan’s statement at a recent council meeting when she bragged that she had passed 14 taxes in her terms on the school board and city council.

  30. len raphael

    btw, i’m not angry about unions in general, or public unions in particular. some of my best friends…

    without the unions, nepotism and favoritism in Oakland city govt wb an order of magnitude worse.

    on the other hand muni unions do not face the countervailing forces that private enterprise unions face.

    In the absence of those forces, muni unions have more power than the residents.

    cities got along fine for years from the fifties thru the late 70′s with relatively weak muni unions. the overall increase in muni union power dates back only a decade or so. (except for teachers’ unions which goes back to the late 60′s)

    time for the pendulum to swing back the other way.

    -len raphael, temescal

  31. Dax

    Agree Len.

    I grew up around Oakland police and fire.
    They were always well paid when you factored in the salary + benefits + pension.
    However over the past 30 years things have gotten out of control.
    Then all the other employees got unionized and ended up with pension rates higher than the police had only a decade or so before.

    Did you read about what is under consideration in San Carlos?
    They have a firm willing to do fire protection for between 50% to 70% of current costs, depending on various staffing options.

    Sadly, the same folks who got Oakland into its current mess are still in office.
    They not only need to have a enlightenment, but then they also have to reverse their prior positions.
    They will drag their heels kicking and screaming….offering up alternative parcels taxes as some kind of “splitting it down the middle” type of logic.
    You know, half revenue, half cuts.

    Which ends up for the residents as “you pay more AND as a bonus “you get poorer service”

    But please, don’t ask us to upset the union members, after all, why attack the “working man” because of what “Wall Street” did to us.
    No, instead, tax the working residents.

  32. len raphael

    re 17, does that mean i’m not serious ;)

    this isn’t a reaction to your comment, but reverse red baiting in the bay area is just funny.

    anywhere else but here and maybe Madison, I’d be considered a flaming liberal.

  33. Barry K

    Quan’s parcel tax likely dead!
    “…the problem Tuesday was with open government rules. Because the council had known there was a chance the state special election would fall through, it had no excuse for voting on a special city election without having given the public 10 days’ notice, Schaaf said.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_17780653

    Thanks to: Brooks, DeLaFuente and Schaaf.
    Boos to Quan for avoiding public notice.

  34. TimCrookes

    Barry,

    I think it will be a useful exercise for Quan and the council to at least try and balance the budget without the “promise” of a parcel tax.

    Let them show us what and where those cuts will be and then, if they are horrifying enough, perhaps there will be enough votes for a parcel tax in November.

    Moreover, I feel sure that voters will be more likely to support that if (and perhaps only if) they see that sacrifices have been made across the board, excluding nobody and no sacred cows.

  35. ralph

    I must say that I appreciate Ms. Schaaf’s comments last night. The council did know weeks ago that there was a chance the state would not hold an election.

    Frankly, I hate fiscal emergencies because it generally means the Council failed to take action at an earlier date. While I just assume resolve the budget problem, it is also refreshing to know that Schaaf and IDLF and Brooks will hold the Council responsible.

  36. SF2OAK

    I must still be sleepy b/c I would vote for JQ if she wrote the OP- now looking at the byline (and through the looking glass) it’s Bruce Nye 2 votes Bruce. Real reform in OAK gov’t must happen, our taxes are high, our services poor, there is little if any trust that OAK gov’t spends $ wisely or is looking out for the ones who actually pay the taxes- in fact we (taxpayers) don’t even get a seat at the table.

    among the most humorous lines in sfgate this am: Councilwoman Nancy Nadel said the tax being blocked by three members was a “tyranny of the minority,” while Quan referred to the noticing requirement as “parliamentary procedures” that block democracy. Isn’t RCV a tyranny of the minority? and aren’t notices and sunshine rules and following them just a quaint notion? How dare there be rules to follow for her empress, JQ.
    To NNadel who thinks just saying Wall St is to blame a lot of hogwash when her own little fiefdom is still doing the pick a pay loans and doing a negative amortization play in the pension obligations.

    When people and especially politicians say ” I trust in the people, the voters are smart,” I laugh because Oaklanders keep returning those who got us to where we are today to office.

  37. livegreen

    Agreed, Ralph. Furthermore the time to negotiate concessions is before a tax is put on the ballot. Which leads one to question whether the Mayor or Councilmembers who voted for more taxes even want to negotiate with the Unions?

    & do they believe it’s better to negotiate from a position of strength, or a position of weakness?

  38. CitizenX

    The Chron article on the firefighter contract was a little fuzzy. The firefighters had threatened to work on placing a Charter amendment on the ballot in 2004, which would have mandated full staffing. The per engine/truck staffing requirement was the result of an arbitration decision. The firefighters were concerned about the rolling fire station closures, which were put in place in 2003 as a budget measure.

    In April 2004, the City agreed to fully staff (no more rolling closures), if the upcoming ballot measure (Y) passed. The agreement which set the required staffing can be seen in the Local 55 contract in Appendix F:

    http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca/groups/hrm/documents/webcontent/dowd005629.pdf

    So, the exact staffing levels were set in the April 2004 agreement, not after Measure Y passed, as the article claims. It is also common knowledge that the agreement was negotiated by the guy who is the last to be quoted in the article — Ignacio de la Fuente. Guess he’s changed his opinion on this one.

  39. Max Allstadt

    I imagine because the city could use the money.

    I am beginning to be ambivalent about the tax. At first I was for it, but I didn’t think it would pass because I thought Quan was exaggerating the size of her poll. Now I’m not sure whether I’m even for it.

    The City needs to live within it’s means, and it may be that a real crisis, necessitating real cuts, is the only way for them to learn.

  40. Ravi Olla

    “The City needs to live within it’s means, and it may be that a real crisis, necessitating real cuts, is the only way for them to learn.”

    You are assuming that they are capable of this learning. I don’t make this assumption.

  41. ralph

    When did RK get happy on property taxes? I never really had the sense anyone on council is happy about taxes but they are willing to let voters decide.

    I suggest the City back to the point just before we collected excess tax revenue from property transfers and sales tax and set that as the starting revenue from which we have to meet our obligations.

  42. Max Allstadt

    Guess what:

    The council has scheduled a special meeting on the budget. At 9am. On a friday. At Joaquin Miller Rec. Center.

    Nice job including the public!

  43. MarleenLee

    At 4:50 p.m., the City posted an agenda on line for a special meeting Friday (i.e. 50 minutes late) to revive the damn parcel tax. Now the proposed date of the special election is July 19. My understanding is that all the information needs to get to the assessor by August 1. Is that even logistically possible to count all the votes by then?

  44. ralph

    Max,
    I am confused. Did the city reschedule the April 11 mtg or is the April 8 mtg new?

    Or are you referring to the 4pm Council meeting to vote on the holding a July 19th election. This would bring us to the City Atty question you raised last night. Election Consolidation or 2 elections

  45. ralph

    So here is a question, on the off chance that the residents agree to additional taxes, are we still obligated to pay if the mtg that gave rise to the election was not properly noticed.

  46. MarleenLee

    Ralph, for violations of the Brown Act/Sunshine Ordinance, you should do a request to “cure and correct.” Then, the public agency is supposed to renotice the meeting properly.

  47. Max Allstadt

    My mistake. The budget meeting is 9am on Monday the 11th.

    It’s still 9am on a week day at a location with poor public transit access. If I didn’t drive, I’d have to get on the bus before 8am and make two transfers to get there.

    This basically means that concern citizens with day jobs can’t go, and concerned citizens who don’t have cars and have day jobs really can’t go.

    Which, in turn, means that virtually every public speaker at this meeting will be a payed employee of a special interest group.

    I thought the reason that the Mayor created a non-budget budget was to solicit input.

  48. Max Allstadt

    FYI,

    According to the City of Oakland Website, the meeting which Marleen pointed out had been posted 50 minutes late has been cancelled.

    So, in summary:

    The Mayor pushed for an emergency item on the agenda to call a mail-in election.

    The Council failed to affirm that it was an actual emergency, so they couldn’t vote on it last night, according to the law.

    The mayor got frustrated and called this situation being defeated by “parliamentary procedure”, when it is more accurately described as “following the damn law”.

    Then, the Mayor asked for a second chance to put the tax on the ballot this week. City Attorney Parker confirmed in Council Chambers that they could have a special meeting on friday if it was noticed 48 hours prior.

    And then, the Mayor or one of her subordinates managed to notice the meeting 47 hours prior. Marleen notices this. Somebody at city hall notices this, and the result is: meeting goes online, meeting comes offline, in a matter of about half an hour.

    Blowing your first chance? Not great.
    Knowing exactly how you blew your your first chance, getting explicit confirmation from the city parliamentarian about the rules you need to follow in order to get a second chance, and then managing to blow your second chance anyway?

    Are you kidding me?

    FAIL.

  49. Barry K

    “Quan said that if the tax is approved by voters after the July deadline that allows the city to collect the tax, Oakland would loan itself the $11 million and make it up while collecting the tax the next year. “I’m almost desperate enough to go ahead and try to do that,” Quan said.
    http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_17780653

    Does anyone else feel that this sounds like she’s willing to break the law (assuming the voters pass it), and, let it go to court to get a ruling in her favor; much like Measure whY?

  50. MarleenLee

    Actually, it was Bruce who first noticed the meeting was posted, but the agenda was not. So I started monitoring the website and the agenda got posted between 45 and 50 minutes late. Totally pathetic. And let us not forget that the original draft of the parcel tax was a a total mess – completely illegal in numerous ways. Obviously drafted on the back of somebody’s napkin while they were waiting for the barkeep to draw them a pint. The care with which this whole enterprise has been executed tells us exactly how our hard earned tax dollars are being spent – with no care at all!

  51. Max Allstadt

    Eagle Eye Nye. For the win.

    You know, we ought to find a way to crowdsource this sort of watchdogging, so we get’em every time they screw up. A little FAIL therapy.

    If we can catch the city 100% of the time when it screws up public notice, they might actually learn to get it right.

  52. Bruce Nye

    Courtney Ruby told us awhile ago — “you have to watch them every minute.” And she’s right. Wouldn’t it be great if we had somebody to attend every meeting, check every online post, and hold them to the law? No more idiotic attempts to slide in the ABC Securities and Merritt Bakeries of this world. I love the blogoaksphere, but suppose they pushed the keyboards away? I have to think the resources are out there to make this happen if only about 20 of us would, as Max sez, crowdsource it.

  53. TimCrookes

    Outstanding job, guys,

    Courtney Ruby for Mayor

    Bruce, Max, Ralph, Marleen, Daz, Livegreen and VSmoothie for City Council.

  54. livegreen

    I’m sorry, but why does the Mayor want to put it up in the Hills? So only Hills people can go? So its as far away from DT as possible? Are City Hall’s meeting rooms all full?

    I mean, maybe there is a logical reason for it that doesn’t fly in the face of Open Government. So Mayor, please enlighten us, why is this meeting as far up in the Hills, away from Downtown, as possible?

  55. livegreen

    I didn’t get an answer to my earlier question in another thread, so I’m reposting:

    Is the “$10-15 million in employee concessions” compared to last fiscal year, or compared to the Mayor’s revised starting point in her budget memo?

    Because page 6 of the memo says they presume furloughs are rescinded: salaries INCREASE by $8.2 mill for FY11-12 due to excluding business shutdown savings (=furloughs)…that have not been assumed to carry forward, because business negotiations haven’t started…

    So the Mayor isn’t starting negotiations from where we are today. She’s planning on giving up the 5% BEFORE re-negotiating it?

  56. livegreen

    I’ll answer my own question: by rescinding the furloughs and increasing salaries by $8.2 million, then proposing employee concessions of $10-15 million, the Mayor is proposing $1.8-6.8 million in new employee concessions.

    Well below the $11 million in new property taxes she’s asking homeowners to “share”. “The Administration’s balanced framework” (page 2) is NOT.

  57. ralph

    While a weekend date for the budget review may have been better, I do not think the selection of JM was some great conspiracy to exclude people. I am guess the selection of JM was a function of space and money.

    As to homeowner share, I strongly favor a P13 catch-up. If you are sitting on a house with a P13 value of $100K and a market of $400K, then you should pay more.

  58. Dax

    I tell you what. We allow a Prop 13 “catch-up” for a Oakland tax, but only for those residents whose annual compensation is greater than the total compensation of the average city employee.

    Which places that trip-wire at over $100,000 per year.
    Thus any resident who doesn’t have a annual compensation greater than $100K or so, gets no increase in the tax.

    Well now, what percentage of residents do you imagine will qualify for no tax increase?

  59. Ravi Olla

    Ralph and Dax–I think there is plenty of additional tax revenue available to the city of Oakland, from those (perhaps relatively few) who can afford it.

    The problem is not with the citizenry, who seem to be quite willing to ante up.

    The problem is with the electeds who just can’t manage anything adequately or spend money efficiently.

    Oakland has resources and know-how. But our government is completely incompetent.

  60. ralph

    Ignoring the apple / orange comparison, which mught be your w/c, I am must interested in requiring those individuals who think newer home owners are penalized for for paying taxes on “market value” of their home while P13 holders pay on a much lower value. (Now, since I one day expect to benefit from holding property, I have no interest in this law applying to me at a later date.) I would also like those individuals who want to pay higher taxes be able to freely contribute to the city. I have noticed a few posters on other blogs say this.

    Clearly these people are not paying enough in taxes and we should make it easier for them to contribute.

  61. len raphael

    ralph, if those posters are that eager to help out, all they have to do is write a check out to the City of Oakland General Fund and write “voluntary contribution” in the memo field. I’m sure that after the accounting staff at City Hall pick themselves up off the floor after they fainted from the surprise, they would gladly send a tax deductible proof of donation thank you letter.

    good thing about charitable gifts to governments is they’re deductible for alternative minimum tax, which home property tax is not.

    For someone who wants to donate to Oakland charities but doesn’t have the time to the research, just call up the East Bay Community Foundation eastbaycf.org for assistance.

    The people I know who really believe they can afford more to help others, don’t blog about doing it. They just do it.

    But what most of the posters really mean, is that they are willing to pay more taxes IF everyone else pays more also.

    -len raphael, temescal

  62. Navigator

    This is off topic but I just can’t resist. Did anyone see the Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night? It seems that Jay took a cheap shot at Oakland during the monolog. Jay was talking about a Southwest flight that was diverted to Oakland for safety reasons. Jay made a crack about whether landing in Oakland would be safer than taking your chances in the air. It seems that no matter how much Oakland changes or how much crime goes down, there’s always some uninformed knucklehead relying on out-dated stereotypes to get a cheap laugh at Oakland’s expense. I guess Leno’s irresponsible “joke” cancels out the great piece in the LA Times Travel section about Oakland. Send you letter to Jay Leno at NBC Studios Burbank California.

  63. Dax

    You know, all this budgets, increased taxes discussion and debate go around and around.

    Sometimes its useful to have the discussion grounded in reality. Or perhaps secured in cement.

    Lets look at what Oakland pays its “concrete finishers”….
    But before we do, let us all imagine what a “concrete finisher” might get out there in the other world. Working for a contractor on various buildings and homes.
    Imagine what he is paid and what kind of benefits and pension he would have.

    Oakland pays its “concrete finishers” $65,660 “base pay” for a 37.5 hour week, with 3 to 5 weeks vacation and a dozen paid holidays.
    On top of the $65,660, a typical benefit/pension package will be another $40,000 of medical, dental, pension, etc.
    (anywhere from 55% to 63% of base)
    So, no matter what, we’re talking about over $100,000 for a “cement finisher”

    OK… now back to debating the need for new taxes to avoid cutting any further into the bone.

  64. ralph

    Nav,
    I normally don’t watch the TS because I think JL is a punk, but last night I was too laxy to reach for the remote and heard the remark. I got a sudden burst of energy. That remark was completely disrespectful.

  65. len raphael

    Nav, we’ll have to add JL to our official boycott list.

    Dax, at the height of the building boom, i had to pay highly skilled concrete finisher sub contractors $200/day. That day was anywhere from 5 hours to 12, whatever it took.

    So at that time there was enough work to keep them fully employed at 50 weeks x 5 days x $200/day = $50,000 total compensation.

  66. ralph

    Max,
    C’mon. You know that murders do not happen on a timetable. Murders are personal – a boy – girl, a street pharma deal gone bad, respect/disrespecting. One day that could be up 50%, the next down 50%.

  67. len raphael

    Reading some of the state level situation makes me think that JQ’s best shot at getting any tax increase is to get it on a ballot very soon before OUSD and before the State. It’s a certainty that Brown will ask for some combo of tax increases and inevitable that it will come out of the broad middle.

    -len

  68. V Smoothe

    Ralph, holding a Council meeting in an out of the way, off-site location is obviously not an issue of space or money. There is plenty of space available to the Council at no cost for holding budget discussions. It’s called Council Chambers. A meeting at City Hall would have the bonus effect of making it easier for the public to attend.

  69. Barry K

    Quan should get a resolution declaring the Council Chambers a bakery. Then, she can request and get Council approval of an $11M loan for the bakery. It will default and not get paid back.

    Off-site locations provide Quan with many photo opportunities for her website, newsletters and campaign (office and tax) materials, and media outlets.

  70. Patrick M. Mitchell

    The only thing that’s transparent about Mayor Quan is her attempts to pull wool over our eyes. Not winning!

  71. ralph

    I did not read Monday’s budget discussion as a council meeting. I read it as a workshop with breakout sessions and discussion. For that purpose, I do not think council chambers are great for breakout sessions. One could possibly utilize the hearing rooms but still not perfect. If all it is people asking questions, then maybe you hold it in chambers and disperse the overflow to the Hearing Rooms and people can ask questions from the rooms.

    Didn’t they hold a budget workshop at LM once? I seem to recall other similar mtgs at offsite locations.

  72. livegreen

    That’s true about Murders, Ralph. To your point earlier in the year murders were up about 80%. Now murders have increased only about 50%. It’s just peachy keen, fantastic that the increase is trending down…

  73. livegreen

    Regarding Monday’s City Council meeting the Agenda says “Recommendation: Discussion and Action on an Informational Report” (then links to Jean’s memos & reports…).

    Does this mean for the Parcel Tax to be decided on it needs to be explicitly spelled out in the Agenda, or not?

  74. ralph

    I believe I said most, not all, primary reason being I know of at least 2 murders which were opportunistic killings. I’ve lived in cities where the the murder rate is significantly higher than Oakland’s and the number of actual bodies is 3 and 4x the number of murders in Oakland.

    And yes today’s unfortunate incident does not appear to be between known individuals but more facts are needed.

  75. Max Allstadt

    Livegreen,

    Yes. In order to vote on the parcel tax, they need to properly notice it, or achieve a 6-2 or better vote declaring the matter urgent.

    Having failed at this twice in one week, it would be astounding if their third attempt wasn’t ironclad, duly noticed, and set up for a straight majority vote.

    Even so, it’s entirely possible that the vote will come out 5-3, which is as weak as it could possibly be.

  76. Ravi Olla

    Ralphie sez:
    “I’ve lived in cities where the the murder rate is significantly higher than Oakland’s and the number of actual bodies is 3 and 4x the number of murders in Oakland.”

    Uh huh. You sound to me a lot like your siblings on the City Council. What wuz dat you said?

  77. ralph

    Ravie, for you, people don’t bury rates, they bury people. 25/100K in a city of 100K is different than 25/100K in a city of 400K

  78. Ravi Olla

    Actually Ralphie, you are still thinking like an Oakland City Council member. The murdered are murdered whether we count them as absolute numbers or as a percentage.

    In other words, we experience murder as directly in terms of its rate (frequency) as we do in terms of its absolute numbers.

    The point is that most of us know that there’s far too much murder in Oakland. The City Council doesn’t appear to know this. Possibly you don’t either.

  79. V Smoothe

    Ralph, it’s not a workshop with breakout sessions. Not sure where you got that idea. It’s a Council meeting about the budget being held off site at an odd hour in a difficult to access location. The only difference between this and your standard budget meeting will be that there are fewer members of the public in attendance urging this or that to be prioritized.

    Livegreen, Monday’s meet is just a budget discussion. The special election and parcel tax are not part of that.

  80. ralph

    Ravioli, you don’t experience it the same way, which is precisely why I hate the emphasis on rate. One murder is too many, but I suspect that the emotional toll is not as high with one random murder versus 100 murders. But I am glad you feel free to think you know me when in fact you don’t know jack about me.

  81. ralph

    V, got the idea from this, “The Oakland City Council will be holding a public workshop to discuss the budget.” I think of a workshop with people playing with the numbers – workshopping. But if all they are doing is receiving a report, then yes JM does seem like a major inconvenience.

  82. Patrick M. Mitchell

    So ralph are you suggesting that most of the victims of murder in Oakland are people who are somehow less worthy of our concern?

  83. Dax

    Regarding Quan’s use of the “poll” to encourage council members to place the parcel tax on the ballot, the following article in today’s EastBay Express

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/92510/archives/2011/04/08/mayor-and-council-should-ignore-parcel-tax-poll

    Reminds me of the recent statewide poll showing that most Californians wanted higher taxes on the wealthy.
    Might be true, but since it was paid for by the California Teachers Association, you can hardly count it as unbiased.

    Same with the “poll” Quan is using as justification.
    Justification alright, for what she wanted before ever seeing this bogus poll.
    Secret polls that even the public can’t see.

    Open government? Someone needs a lesson in Democracy. So soon in her mayoral term and so soon to withhold information from the residents and press.

  84. ralph

    I am out of the murder discussion as some of you seem intent on distorting what I have made very clear. One murder is too many. I am not interested in reducing the pace at which murders occured last year because that could change with the day of the week, time of the day. The mother who lost her child to murder does not give a damn whether you cut the rate from 50/100K to 25/100K; all she knows is her child is not coming home. It is for this reason I do not like the attn paid to rate unless it is 0/100K.

  85. Livegreen

    So, referring to the Oakland Local article, Jean still plans a mail-in vote on the Parcel Tax? To b discussed at upcoming budget meetings and introduced with proper notification (at the May City Council or other…).

    Also, when do negotiations start with the Unions about their contracts? Or are they already ongoing behind scenes?

  86. Navigator

    Max, I don’t know what to say. Keep in mind that the first three months of last year started off with very few homicides. Murders are up in Oakland this year but we shoudn’t be comparing the numbers to a rate that was very low for the beginning of last year and then escalated in the following months. Saying that Oakland is 50% above last year doesn’t mean very much . Are we on a pace to have more homicides then the 95 last year? And if so by how many?

    Regardless, SF has already recorded over 20 homicides (they haven’t counted three which would count in Oakland) and SJ has already had half the entire total for last year. Homicide is up in all three Bay Area cities. Oakland didn’t deserve that comment because we have homicides. Welcome to the good ol USA. Leno doesn’t even know Oakland and one of his goofy and lazy writers took this cheap shot at Oakland.

    Man there are a whole lot of bitter people here who really don’t like Oakland. I guess I came to the wrong place to cry about this.

  87. Barry K

    “Quan said that if the tax is approved by voters after the July deadline that allows the city to collect the tax, Oakland would loan itself the $11 million and make it up while collecting the tax the next year. “I’m almost desperate enough to go ahead and try to do that,” Quan said.
    http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_17780653

    Pick any article: SJMercuryNews, EBExpress, OalandLocal. Quan will NOT stop until she gets her way. She said she is desperate to make this happen.

    Negotiations with Unions on contracts? More likely, negotiations with Unions on which ones will supply $ to pay for the “Vote Yes Quan’s Tax” mailers and Yes campaign. Also, determining which poor-looking, under-served children will pose for the photos. Maybe a few in front of schools or libraries, others surrounding Quan and tugging at her purse strings….

  88. MarleenLee

    The reality is that it is too late for a parcel tax. They need special legislation (i.e. a new municipal ordinance) in order to even conduct a mail election at such a bizarre time of year. They need two readings before adopting the ordinance, one week apart. Then, they need 90 days advance notice to call the election. Then, they need several days to open all the envelopes and tally the votes. Information must be conveyed to the Tax Assessor by August 1, as far as I know, to get the tax included for the November bills. There is no way they’re going to be able to do that. So then Quan is talking about borrowing $11 million for a whole year to cover the debt? Okay, so $1 million for the election itself, then interest on $11 million, for a tax that is likely to fail, all without having even gone to the table to ask for concessions with the unions? And taxpayers facing a double bill for 2012? This is fiscal irresponsibility at its worst!

  89. Livegreen

    From the EastBay Express article it also looks like we have a new unelected City Attorney. Is there a good reason Joel Siegel would be answering Public Information requests made to City Hall?

    What’s the bad reason? He also represents the union who commissioned the poll?

  90. V Smoothe

    FYI:

    News from: Office of the City Administrator
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    April 8, 2011

    City of Oakland Provides Limited Transportation to Budget Workshop on Monday

    Oakland, CA – On Monday, April 11, 2011, the Oakland City Council is holding a Budget Workshop to discuss the Fiscal Year 2011-13 budget. The workshop will be held from 9 am to 5 pm at Joaquin Miller Community Center, located at 3594 Sanborn Drive.

    To augment public transportation to the Community Center, the City of Oakland is providing free, limited shuttle service, as follows:

    Two Morning Shuttles to Joaquin Miller Community Center

    1. 8:15 am — The first shuttle will depart at from City Hall; pick-up will be in front of the Clay Street Garage, located on Clay Street at 14th Street.
    2. 8:45 am — The second shuttle will depart at from the same location.

    Two Return Shuttles Back to City Hall

    1. 1 pm — The first shuttle will provide transportation back to City Hall for those that may not be able to stay all day.
    2. 5 pm — The last run is at 5 pm or directly at the close of the City Council meeting.

  91. Max Allstadt

    @Livegreen:

    Robert Gammon seemed to have been giving the Mayor the benefit of the doubt for a while, but now he’s calling her claims about the parcel tax out, referring to them as “alleged poll results”.

    Props to Bob for writing a very clear critique of this problem. I would have gone a little farther myself, but the main points are there.

  92. Livegreen

    Gammon should call it like it is. Otherwise he might get accused of being the Mayor’s ally. Especially after the complements she gave him in person at her victory banquet.

  93. len raphael

    Well Gammon d_ well should be holding her accountable because other than Perata’s own gaffes, Gammon singlehandedly was biggest single boost to her victory. He got her elected, now she’s his responsibility.

  94. Barry K

    Dan Siegel is Quan’s private “adviser” and defender of thugs and gangs. Speaking of gangs, 1/3 of them (injunction) are back in jail:

    http://tinyurl.com/3cqhabj

    Max- I don’t think you should be calling him the “illegal city attorney” yet. Be careful. With Siegal as Quan’s adviser on City matters, is that illegal? I think that’s the point Russo was telling everyone.

  95. Livegreen

    Barry K, The article points out Siegel is now answering requests for Public Records to the Mayor’s Office. That’s not the job of a personal attorney or advisor. That’s the job of an Oakland public officials. And in the case of a legal issue, that falls to the City Attorney.

    This is not a case of political preference, for or against the Mayor. It is a question of doing what is legal.

    Does the State Attorney General have any jurisdiction in such issues, or is it all dependent on somebody suing the City?

    If the latter then there’s not much expectation of enforcement or a private Attorney suing (Marleen is overstretched as it is…)

  96. Max Allstadt

    Barry,

    I have obtained copies of two pieces of correspondence from Dan Siegel, one addressed to the Oakland City Attorney’s office and one to Sanjiv Handa.

    In both letters, Mr. Siegel says that he is representing “Mayor Quan”.

    In the letter to the City Attorney’s office, Mr. Siegel says that he will be handling all public records requests directed to the mayor henceforth.

    In the letter to Mr. Handa, Mr. Siegel says that he is writing on behalf of Mayor Quan and at her behest. He cites statute in order to justify denying Mr. Handa his record request for the Mayor’s mysterious poll.

    There is another letter, identical to the one sent to Mr. Handa, which was sent to the Oakland Tribune, denying their identical records request. I have not seen this letter but two reliable sources inside the local print media have confirmed that they had seen it.

    All of this correspondence was on Siegel and Yee letterhead.

    The Charter is absolutely specific that the City Attorney is the only attorney authorized to engage in this sort of correspondence. City officials who ignore this provision are breaking the law.

    Illegal City Attorney seems a rather reasonable term. If we wanted to be hair splitting about it, I should have referred to Siegel as “an” illegal city attorney, rather than “the” illegal city attorney.

    He has not completely usurped the leadership of the City’s legal department, so he isn’t “the”. He’s only usurped a portion of it, hence “an”.

    Either way, the Mayor has chosen to subvert the Charter in order to hide a poll that is either flawed or non-existent.

  97. Dax

    New Daniel Borenstein commentary.
    “Oakland pension fund plan is not responsible”

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/opinion/ci_17802735

    Looks like Oakland’s financial brain-trust is at it again.
    Running “fantastic future projections” up the flagpole and seeing if the City Council will salute.

    I always love the numbers guys as they aim to please the current mayor’s wishes.

    Oaklands pension program is going to outlast the last person getting a pension from it. Great grandchildren will still be paying for Grand-Dad’s 2011 rounds of golf.

  98. Barry K

    Hi Max,

    I was just suggesting that you CYA (cover your ass) when using terms. Yes, he represents “Mayor” Quan, not, citizen Quan.
    At the council meeting that Quan and council were writing/rewriting/adjusting/tweaking this terrible parcel tax, I heard Quan say something close to, “Max. I promise you’ll see the poll.” Anyone up for searching the council video and posting the file and time she promised Max the poll?

    I assume that Siegel is also coordinating the settlement between Quan and the PEC over her Mayoral Campaign violations? (The PEC would not respond to my Public Records Request on this matter; except to stay that in the coming months, they’ll reach a settlement with Quan.)

    Livegreen- Don’t expect any help or support form State Atty Harris; she’s part of the same machine. We need the FBI the same way the citizens of Bell did.

    We can spend the next 3.8 years musing over this, or, find a grassroots effort to champion some democracy and turn Oakland around.

  99. Born in Oakland

    I was polled in the telephone poll everyone was referring to. I was asked multiple times whether I would support the tax and answered probably rather than most probably (whatever the scale was) and everytime I was asked if I supported (or again whatever the term was) Mayor Quan my response was not positive. If everyone responded like me small wonder she doesn’t want it released.

  100. Born in Oakland

    Hey V., I don’t know how the “click to edit” function works but I was commenting on how I was called to participate in the poll everyone is referring to. I wanted to add something and “clicked to edit” and then “clicked to delete” when the screen simply went dark. Maybe my original post will be posted. I wanted to add that in addition to polling about “feelings” about the parcel tax, there were multiple questions about support of the telephone landline fee and some other fee. I guess most people felt more negatively about the other two “taxes” referred to on the poll or we would have heard about them. There were multiple questions about support of Quan as well and none of those questions were answered very positively. People may have polled positive about the parcel tax and negative about Quan and maybe that is why the poll has not been released by her.

  101. Max Allstadt

    Barry,

    I have the video. She promised to try, not do succeed.

    As far as covering my ass is concerned, if they sue me, they make me famous. Don’t think they want that.

    Quan violated Campaign rules and is dealing with the PEC? Tell me more…

  102. Naomi Schiff

    Just to address the Leno thing, Navigator. I emailed the p.r. people at the network and invited Leno and his writers to visit Oakland and do a show here, and that their cheap shot at Oakland was ill-informed. I also mentioned that Leno owns at least one custom collector’s automobile from Moal Coachbuilders, of Oakland, CA.

  103. Navigator

    Naomi,

    That’s great. Thank you for doing that. Do you have the email address?

    It’s really important that Oaklanders stand up for the city that we all love. Despite the indiference of some, it does affect Oakland’s image when some one like Jay Leno, who has millions of viewers, takes a cheap and uninformed shot at Oakland. Crime has been down in Oakland for 4 consecutive years. It’s important that the nation understand that Oakland has been transformed in the last 10 years into a vibrant and eclectic city.

    It’s a shame that Leno can just do a driveby sliming of Oakland and just go on his merry way without any consequences. Meanwhile the nice PR Oakland has been getting lately by media organizations like the LA Times, New York Times and various other media entities, gets canceled out in one fell swoop by an irresponsible remark. It’s not right. I know mny people on this site like to deal with policy and minutae, but this is the big picture. You can’t just turn away and say “we deserve it.” Oakland doesn’t deserve being slamed for having crime any more than SF deserves to be known for tourists being hit by stray bullets or for LA being where baseball fans get their heads beat in. It was wrong what Leno did and he and his show should be held responsible in some way.

    I like your positive approach Naomi. You handle it a lot better than I would. Thanks for doing that and I suggets that more Oaklanders who love their city do the same.

  104. Barry K

    Quan’s campaign violations and the PEC.

    Complaint 10-24
    http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca/groups/cityadministrator/documents/agenda/oak025736.pdf

    Check out Item E.3., a complaint filed against Quan. “The Commission has discretion whether to schedule and conduct an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether Ms. Quan intentionally or negligently violated OCRA Section 3.12.140(P) by failing to include the required language in her campaign fundraising material.”

    The Commission was asked to get a settlement from Quan on her alleged violations during the next few months and it will be back before another Commission meeting.

    Complaint 09-15,
    http://www.oaklandnet.com/government/public_ethics/March-01-2010/ITEME-3.pdf

    The PEC was asked to create policy proposals on Quan’s hyperlinks. This has been delayed and is taking longer than expected. The Commission expects to have this resolved in the next few months too.

    I realize the PEC walks a fine line along with the office of the City Auditor. Last year I heard candidate Quan publicly question the need for both agencies and would consider consolidating them; ie downsizing and underfunding them.

  105. TimCrookes

    Dax,

    That Borenstein article you cited is profoundly disturbing and depressing.

    Not least because Quan is advocating the exact same games that got us into this mess in the first place.

    All Quan seems to want to do is borrow more and tax more. That isn’t leadership; it’s a shell game, wrapped in dishonest rhetoric

  106. livegreen

    The Mayor has confirmed what she said in the Oakland Local article: She’s going for a vote-by-mail Parcel Tax.

    Looks like Barry K.’s right: get ready for a Union-funded campaign with flyers of children and city workers.

    As V & Marleen have stated, nothing can happen without the Unions campaigning (for ballot initiatives, charter amendments, etc.).

    So they are the only funding stream for campaigns? (The OPOA & Prison Guards on one side, the rest on the other).

  107. len raphael

    LG, i wouldn’t put most of the blame for unions’ undo influence over elected officials on the unions. Ordinary citizens around here don’t donate money generously to their candidates.

    Little wonder that candidates suck up to unions.

    -len raphael, temescal

  108. livegreen

    I’m not just blaming the unions. I agree with them the banks created this mess (by lobbying Republicans and Sen. Phil Gramm for deregulation). But we’re all in this together does not equal mostly taxes on working and middle class people in the private sector.

    That is where I differ with the Unions.

    If they were willing to accept the necessary cuts to bring costs into line with spending, I would be willing to pay more taxes for increased services (as I’ve voted for in the past).

  109. Dax

    We had two bubbles over the past decade.
    The housing bubble that led to this dire recession and decreasing city revenues.

    Then we had the public employee compensation bubble in both pay, benefits and especially pensions.

    Clearly the housing bubble adjustments have taken place and are continuing to effect city revenues.

    Compared to that adjustment, the “total compensation” bubble in public employee contracts has changed very little.
    Other than a few “temporary” furlough days, not much has changed for current employees.
    It seems that the compensation bubble will mostly be handled through laying off those employees with less seniority, thus lowering service to the public.

    Then we have a little chatter about reducing compensation for “future hires”, which is saying, we’ll keep our portion of the bubble but you new guys won’t get the same bubble benefits.

    Now, the public is being asked to keep some air in the public employee bubble by passing a parcel tax ( which further removes air from the taxpayer’s own bubble, if they every had any in the first place. Most did not, other than their homes, which are already mostly deflated or entirely gone/lost.)

    Am I missing the significant adjustments that are being offered by the public employee unions or associations?
    Other than merely foregoing scheduled raises. Yes, yes, I know about the furlough days of the past year, where you don’t get paid for the days you don’t work.

    Could someone name me a major employee group in the city that has taken a real pay or benefit decrease aside from the above mentioned temporary furlough days.
    (I’m excluding merely giving up future raises)

    There may be some examples that I just don’t know about.

  110. livegreen

    Dax, as noted, the Mayor’s memo proposes canceling the Furloughs, = increasing compensation in next year’s budget, before negotiations.

    After negotiations whatever compensation concessions, this same amount would be given back (furloughs or elsewhere, not spelled out) in an amount of $1.8 million in total net cuts over the current year.

  111. Scott Law

    Group…

    Assume many have seen this url, but just in case, here is the link to the Oakland city employees compensation. This was ferreted out by the ANG news group.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/public-employee-salaries-results

    Still haven’t figured out how to get a comma delimitted or spreadsheet file out of this for better analysis, but can sort the fields to get a rough idea.

    The relevance here is that out of approx
    5k employees, 2k are receiving more than
    100k in compensation a year – that is 40% of the employees. (and no, not just police and fire….).

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/public-employee-salaries-results

    All the discussion about furloughs, civilianizing parts of police, etc, etc are meaningless until the budget discussion turns to how the compensation is reduced (ie 25% for over 100k, 10% for over 80k, 5% for over 70k,, etc) . One issue I have with Quan approach is she is constantly pounding on the police 9% contribution to pensions. This is a small start, but the real work is reducing the compensation levels for all employees as quickly as possible.

    Scott L

  112. len raphael

    Dax, to put most of the blame on republicans for pushing and approving the deregulation of the securities industry is not accurate. Many democrats, especially from the east coast, such as such heavy hitters as schummer, dodd, leiberman, also supported deregulation. my recollection is that clinton favored it too.

    for laughs you should find the video of the SEC hearing where one of the SEC board members, a columbia biz school prof, mused aloud that if something bad did happen after deregulation, it could be very very bad. Then he went ahead and voted for deregulaton after sec head of compliance assured him everything was closely monitored. :)

    -len raphael, temescal

  113. Dax

    Len, I think you are referring to Livegreen when you talk about blaming the Republicans.

    I said nothing about creating the mess with toxic securities, mortgages, the entire meltdown mess.

    I would say this…. It might have been advantageous having at least one business type, or Republican on the Oakland City Council during the past 12 years.
    You know, someone who can actually use a simple HP business calculator to figure out simple things like Golden Parachutes when given to thousands of workers like Quan, De La Fuentes, Brunner, Reid, and Nadel did in 2004.
    Imagine giving hundreds and thousands of city employees each from $100,000 to $1,000,000.
    I still can’t believe that less than 1% of city residents are aware that took place.
    (1% if you exclude those who are city workers)

  114. ralph

    If they had a tv crew there, then what was the reason for not airing this trip.

    And Len, you are correct, Clinton and the dems loved deregulation. Politicians were doing whatever was necessary to give lower income individuals access to products they could not afford and did not need. But no one held a gun to anyone’s head and said you must take out a loan you can not afford.

    At the same time, the person creating the product for a consumer they knew who could not afford it probably should not be receiving a taxpayer subsidy to stay afloat.

  115. Max Allstadt

    Perhaps city hall is wired for cablecasting and the Joaquin Miller Community Center is not? Seems a reasonable hypothesis.

    As far as who’s fault it was, lets also not forget that the banks didn’t do anything about the wildly inflated values of homes. There wasn’t much reason to believe that the values were legit, but they kept lending people money to buy them anyway. Lowering principal is a reasonable price they should have to pay for that.

  116. len raphael

    Dax, yes i meant to say LG.

    The fact that Wall St and banks wanted a bailout to save their bacon wasn’t the reason both obama and bush bailed them out: neither bush nor obamba could see a way of preventing a world wide credit collapse that wouldn’t benefit many of those who profited from the credit derivatives and no doc loans.

    The best alternative was nationalizing the banks and brokerage firms. If the feds weren’t capable of monitoring the financial instutions, they certainly weren’t capable of running them.

    My impression is that in the final tally, the US government will break even on the direct financial costs of the bailout.

    The biggest costs were the losses to people who lost their downpayments and their savings when some of the institutions were allowed to fail.

    Despite the unfairness of the result, the bailout largely prevented a situation where many more people would have been out of work, homeless etc because of economic collapse.

    Unfortunately, JQ and some of our other local leaders seem to suffer from the delusion that Oakland and other struggling local governments are also “too big” for the Feds to allow to fail. Tell that to Detroit.

    -len raphael, temescal

  117. Barry K

    Meet Oakland’s $100,000 pension retirees.
    Search “Oakland.”

    http://www.californiapensionreform.com/database.asp?vttable=calpers

    For Oaklands teachers and administrators:

    http://www.californiapensionreform.com/database.asp?vttable=calstrs

    (How is it possible that Carole Quan and David Chaconas can each collect $150,000 a year?)

    Hi Scott- I thought you’d like to add these to your list of public employee salaries too.
    (Nice seeing you post here in addition to msic. -Barry)

  118. Dax

    Just a note…

    A example of what the huge pension increase of 2004 resulted in.

    EDGERLY, DEBORAH $150,602.16 pension.

    If Jean Quan and several other current city council members hadn’t boosted pensions by 35%, then Ms. Edgerly’s pension would be $111,557 per year.

    Given her age when she was let go, she is expected to get that extra $39,000 bonus increase for 28 years.
    Her share of the huge 2004 pension increase.
    A mere $1,092,000

    Funny that the results of this effective Golden Parachute policy was never reported in the Oakland Tribune either before or after that vote was taken.

    Shades of Bell, California when you add up the resultant numbers.

    Instead Quan now focuses on laying off tree trimmers and meter maids.

  119. len raphael

    I admit to not following our Mayor’s press releases, but how did she go from a couple of months saying all we had to was get the cops to pay in 9% to now saying the sky is falling?

    Seems like the latest deficit estimate increased by about twice the 6mill that the 9% would have yielded.

    it’s not like we’re talking about economic forecasts that do change and can greatly affect income tax collections by state and the feds. is it strictly the push down from the state crisis?

    or does she really believe that the 9% plus an $80 parcel tax is enough to get her thru 4 years, and the latest deficit projection is meant to scare up support for the tax increase?

    -len raphael, temescal

  120. Ravi Olla

    Len sez:
    Or does she (Mayor Q) really believe that the 9% plus an $80 parcel tax is enough to get her thru 4 years, and the latest deficit projection is meant to scare up support for the tax increase?”

    Len, open your eyes. The Empress believes whatever she says from moment to moment. She understands only getting an allowance (tax receipts) and writing checks for people who will vote for her. Expecting anything other than than that from her is nuts.

  121. Max Allstadt

    There are several important options that aren’t on the table.

    1. We should look at closing up to 3 libraries, not one. The least used libraries in Oakland all have one thing in common: they’re small libraries in relatively close proximity to larger libraries, basically, they’re redundant.

    2. We should sell some more real estate. I reject the argument that we shouldn’t sell in a down market. The city has the ability to upzone property and then sell it, which creates value in a way that the private sector cannot. Also, sometimes, when you’re broke or in debt, you need to sell things at a loss to survive. (anybody want to buy an SPL GoldMike MkII Microphone Pre-Amp for 70% off list price, so I can finally pay off the lawyers I hired to sue Marcel Diallo?)

    3. We need to aggressively lobby Sacramento to get the proposed wealth tax on the ballot. Did you make over $500k last year? Do you think it’s unfair that you might get a 1% bump in your taxes? I don’t care. If you’re that rich and that cheap, I’m overjoyed to shove that tax down your throat whether you like it or not. It ought to escalate up to a 10% bump at $5 million.

  122. Dax

    A interesting 5 page article about a particular SFPD program.

    I suggest you read just page 3 for what it says about how some crazy public employee compensation rules get put in place.

    A partial quote of one section…

    “Small groups can beat out larger ones — “even if the vast majority of the population loses out as a result,” as Olson put it — because of the nature of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs.”

    http://www.sfweekly.com/2011-04-13/news/drop-program-san-franciscio-police-pension-program-joe-eskenazi/4/

    and–
    “While the union and its membership are greatly enriched by a program like DROP, the bill, when divvied up among the city’s taxpayers, is hardly anything to get worked up about.”

  123. Naomi Schiff

    Max, watch that stuff about closing libraries, please. Some of the smaller ones are very busy and much needed. I agree with your number 3, but 1 and 2 may be considerably less wise.

  124. ralph

    Max,
    I somewhat disagree with #3. I think I favor a sound and fair tax policy but not one that is based on punishment.

    But 1 and 2 make sense. We can not afford everything we want and redundant libraries should be open for discussion as well as unused real estate. I think RK has an idea of how best to do this that solves short term needs without ignoring long-term City objectives.

  125. Max Allstadt

    Naomi,

    I am talking about the 3 least used branches in the city. I believe the Mayor herself has already floated the idea of closing one library.

    As for property, I’m mostly talking about at least one golf course. We’ve had a long discussion about the definition of core services in this city. Running three golf courses simply is not a core service.

    There are also many languishing properties that could be put to much better use by private parties. I would expect that any sales of buildings and land would need to come with contracts that mandate the new owners actually do something with the property.

    Ralph: I disagree with the characterization of progressive taxation as punishment. In particular, because our current tax codes frequently have loopholes that allow professional tax preparers to dramatically lower the true tax rate paid by the wealthy, it seems more than fair to up their overall tax rate. But even without that problem, I really don’t see how someone who’s made $500k is being egregiously punished by being asked to cough up an extra $5000 a year.

  126. ralph

    Actually, it was the “Do you think it’s unfair that you might get a 1% bump in your taxes? I don’t care. If you’re that rich and that cheap, I’m overjoyed to shove that tax down your throat whether you like it or not,” I found troublesome. A kinder gentler Ralph may agree to tax code changes but is not in favor of a cram down.

    Keep in mind, I favor P13 beneficiaries making additional tax contributions if they feel they have a huge tax benefit relative to their younger newer owner neighbor. I also support voluntary tax contributions by those who feel like they should pay more. But more than anything, I support tax relief for the middle class. No one should be paying 9.55% on income over $47K

  127. Max Allstadt

    Yeah, that was aggressive. But how else do you get a wealth tax to pass other than using the ballot box to override the wishes of a small demographic of rich people with the wishes of everybody else?

  128. livegreen

    Re. Police & the Budget, I was speaking with an Officer and he mentioned they lost something like 6 Officers last month, most to SFPD.

    He said it’s not the pay or that SFPD is paying more, but because of the continuous unresolved budget problems Officers fear for their jobs. There’s a quick way to gain job security: Go to another City or Department…

  129. Ravi Olla

    To add to what livegreen sez–

    Trained officers are expensive. When we lose trained cops we lose the investment we make in their training. Training a new cop to replace a lost cop costs twice as much as simply maintaining cops at a constant level.

    This is all about leadership and management skills. Notably lacking in the Quan. She is unable to inspire confidence in public servants as she works steadily to deepen the economic hole we’re in.

  130. TimCrookes

    Max,

    When you talk about a “wealth tax”, I’m not sure what you mean.

    There is a proposal to continue the highest rate of CA income tax on the highest earners for another five years. But that’s a tax on income while, technically, a wealth tax is a tax on assets and/or net worth.

    To my knowledge, the only State that has a true wealth tax is Florida, where they call it an Intangibles Tax. Obviously it’s targeted at all those rich retirees.

    I know of no plans for a CA wealth tax. And, interestingly, the Federal government is constitutionally barred from imposing one.

    Of course, property tax is a loose form of wealth tax. But the wealth tax they have in France is something like 1% of your net worth every year. It’s main effect is to keep those Swiss bank accounts full and busy.

  131. Max Allstadt

    A semantic error on my part. I was talking about taxing people who earn a lot of money at a higher rate, and I believe there’s a recent poll that shows overwhelming support for this.

  132. Ravi Olla

    Just for you Ralphie:

    78% of Californians support more taxes on wealthy, California Tax Reform Assn poll,
    March 2011.

    61% of Americans favor higher taxes on the wealthy, 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll, January 2011.

    74% U.S. citizens favor more taxes on wealthy, CBS/NYTimes poll, April 2009.

    And on and on.

  133. ralph

    Ravi, I am pretty sure I did not wake up next to you; the name is Ralph. I would appreciate it that you use it when addressing me. Thank you.

  134. Dax

    Ravi, you state the following.
    “78% of Californians support more taxes on wealthy, California Tax Reform Assn poll,
    March 2011.”

    Now Ravi, the rest of the story.

    The poll was conducted by Democratic pollster Ben Tulchin and was sponsored by the California Federation of Teachers.

    Tell me, what would you say if the Howard Jarvis organization sponsored a poll that came out with a entirely different conclusion? After all, it would be a poll, so I’m sure you’d believe it to be valid, right?

    The above poll sounds eerily similar to Jean Quan’s “secret source” poll that was paid for by local public employee groups…ending up saying Oakland residents wanted a $80 parcel tax.

    We all have to beware of buying into every poll that supports what we want to hear.
    What do they say about statistics?

  135. Naomi Schiff

    Hmm the last time Oakland thought about selling the golf courses it was the soon-to-get-into-financial-trouble people who owned the Claremont Hotel who were trying to work a sweetheart deal with some denizens of City Hall. These things have to be watched extremely closely. The dangers include: environmental awfulness, failed projects, and corruption. Note that many recent east bay large-scale land deals have ended up with recriminations and land sitting unmaintained. It’s pretty hard to get good development going in this economy, so you end up with highly speculative and not highly profitable deals for the city if you aren’t extremely cautious. Tough business, selling real estate at the low spot in the market. (Oak Knoll, anyone?)

  136. ralph

    Naomi -
    It seems to me that you address your issues by stating the objectives of the deal up front. I am not sure what difference it makes if the city owns a parcel of land it can’t afford to maintain or someone else owns that parcel of land. At some point, one needs to give the elected officials an opportunity to perform.

  137. Naomi Schiff

    You are correct, of course, and Max mentioned too that the city has zoning power (not to mention redevelopment powers, in some places) and can have a say in what happens should it sell off a parcel. But I’m not sure we would make much money in the r. e. market at present. One obvious moneymaker could be a sizable parcel that will be created when the DD rebuild of 12th Street is done. It was under the roadway so it is like brand new land in some respects.

  138. ralph

    A smart mother is not going to sit on a Honus Wgner baseball child while her child starves to death. She is going to sell that card and feed her child. The city can use zoning to enhance the value of a piece of land. But one can not let the potential value of land tomorrow prevent one from doing what they need to do today.

    I just don’t think one can continually hold past mistakes against individuals or groups. You perform the post-mortem, make the improvements and move-on.

  139. ralph

    Hey, Can one of you budget gurus tell me if the budgeted property tax revenue for the city looks a little light. I thought I saw a budget of $125MM but the annual property tax appears to be about $194MM. Does the $125MM exclude set asides/dedicated amounts included in the GPF? Can someone please HABO? Thanks.

  140. FloodedByCEDA

    Ralph, There is sewer service also. 30M+ is collected on our water bills and gets spent by several city departments. The funds are not “restricted” to sewer service so it is similar to a $310/year parcel tax.

  141. Patrick M. Mitchell

    AGAIN I ask: if the sewer charge is not being spent on “sewers” only, it is a tax, not a fee? Yes? Anyone?

  142. Ravi Olla

    “Tell me, what would you say if the Howard Jarvis organization sponsored a poll that came out with a entirely different conclusion? After all, it would be a poll, so I’m sure you’d believe it to be valid, right?”

    I wouldn’t say anything because I have no political interest in a clown like Jarvis.
    You should know that there is no specific measure of “validity” in statistics. And I’m not a believer in polls generally.

    “We all have to beware of buying into every poll that supports what we want to hear. What do they say about statistics?”

    Twain put it well: three kinds of lies–lies, damned lies and statistics.

    What I do know is that here in the US we pay taxes at an exceedingly low rate. And we all expect a lot from the gov’t–safe streets, paved streets, breathable air, drinkable water and food that kills slowly rather than instantly.

    Some people, largely “liberals” who seem to be better readers than their more reactionary siblings, know that there is no free lunch. It’s the reactionaries among us who believe in the free lunch. I’m just interested when the free lunch paradigm gets exposed.

  143. Dax

    Ravi…
    “Some people, largely “liberals” who seem to be better readers than their more reactionary siblings, know that there is no free lunch.”

    No bias there. While I’m a lifelong Democrat, I hardly look upon the “group think” found in the East Bay as the result of “better readers”.

    Just look at what some of Oakland’s progressive thinking had brought us.
    City salaries, benefits, and pensions fully out of line with both revenues and what those paying the taxes earn themselves.

    Meaning Oakland compensation has city employees making significantly more in total compensation than those they are suppose to serve.

    So, is that kind of thinking due to the “better readers” that you speak about.’
    Or do we just accept it as progressive and pass yet another parcel tax to keep the city “working man” fully funded at current levels both during his career and in retirement.

  144. MarleenLee

    Patrick: There is a fairly distinct difference between a fee and a tax. A fee really only can be spent on item being used or regulated, and must be consistent with the actual cost of providing the service. The California Supreme Court Sinclair Paint Co. case gets into this. Not that the rule is easy to apply – it isn’t.

  145. Ravi Olla

    “So, is that kind of thinking due to the “better readers” that you speak about.’
    Or do we just accept it as progressive and pass yet another parcel tax to keep the city “working man” fully funded at current levels both during his career and in retirement.”

    There’s nothing progressive about the realpolitik in Oakland. It’s the traditional, corrupt: you vote for me and I write you a check.

    Cloaked, of course, in the cliches of what were once lefty principles.

    I’m fully aware of California “Left Coast” provincialism. It keeps all of us self-styled liberals from doing any critical thinking, and from getting anything useful done.

  146. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Thank you Marleen. So as the sewer “fee” isn’t being spent on the item used/regulated, it is a tax? And as a tax, we should not be paying any portion of it that was not approved by voters (and that would put the upcoming 15% increase in jeopardy, too). I realize this isn’t Measure Y. Actually, it costs us more than Measure Y.

  147. MarleenLee

    Patrick, exactly. Problem is, it is very hard to prove how much the program (e.g. sewers) cost to maintain, regulate etc., and how the amount of the “fee” was calculated, proving that the amount exceeds the amount necessary etc. The one published case I could find dealing with a challenge to parking meter rates had the plaintiff losing.

  148. Barry K

    Jean Quan: “It doesn’t say in the charter that the mayor must do what the city attorney says,” she said yesterday.

    Duffy Carolan, an attorney for the Bay Area News Group from the firm of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, wrote to City Attorney John Russo last week, copying Quan’s office and calling Siegel’s position “flatly untenable.”

    “Public officials should not be allowed to place before voting members or the public an anonymously commissioned poll the results of which are completely immune from public scrutiny,” Carolan wrote. “Without access to the poll, there is no way of measuring or testing the integrity of the data Mayor Quan presented to the Councilmembers as a basis for urging their vote in favor of the parcel tax measure.”

    Excellent write up by Sean Maher in the Trib:
    http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_17849966

  149. len raphael

    flap over release of poll complete waste of time unless you’re john russo. we should be focused on critiquing the budget and the priorities.

    reminds me of quan and kaplan making a big deal about perata’s campaign funding. this does show that quan can’t take her a dose of her own medicine. but what else is new.

  150. Ravi Olla

    Lennie sez
    “we should be focused on critiquing the budget and the priorities.”

    I haven’t heard a single word around here from the likes of you on priorities.

  151. Dax

    Jean Quan on KGO radio at 8:17 AM Tuesday.

    Some items mentioned by her.

    Her polling shows her “approval” at 71%, not the paltry 57 found by the CBS5 poll.
    However that poll which asked the questions “she wanted to know” is not hers and as such, she can’t release it because she only knows the results, but no details……UH you mean like the questions, like the ones that got her a 71% approval.

    ~~~~ Question #9… Who do you like more, the current mayor Quan, or former mayor Dellums? ~~~~~~~ 71% prefer Quan. See!

    She said the deficit she has to cover is 81 million dollars.

    She said police take up 50% of the general fund spending and fire takes up another 25%.
    (That means the other 2,500 city employees must be paid with only 25% of general fund)

    She threw out a figure of 400 million for the general fund.
    Of course any listener with a calculator might take the remaining 25% or 100 million and divide it by 2,500 employees and come up with a total compensation of $40,000 per employee… That would be about $25,000 in salary and $15,000 in benefits.
    Is that about the average salary in Oakland, $25,000 a year? I thought it might be a bit higher.

    Of course all of the above assumes not spending on materials, utilities, autos, fuel, and a jillion other items.

    Then again, the general fund is not the entire picture.

    Oh, the mayor put heavy emphasis on getting the 9% contribution from the police for their pensions.

    She also said she will need to lay off another 10 police officers unless everything goes her way, or perhaps even if it does.

    So, she said, everyone must do their “share” and the citizens “share’ is to pay another “temporary” FIVE YEAR parcel tax of $80… ( why not just make it a 8 year parcel tax…Temporary of course!, until she leaves office)

    Now she is OFF to Detroit to compare notes with that city’s mayor regarding police issues.

    Anyone else hear that KGO interview. It was probably only 5 minutes or less long.
    I’m sure there are other takes on what was said as everyone hears something different.

    I’ve heard her do two of these “regular” Jean Quan interviews. The questions are not the best.
    Previously they did interviews with Jerry Brown. Then I believe since Dellums wouldn’t do them, they tried De La Fuente for a while.
    I’m thinking they don’t want the questions to be overly tough or they’ll lose the interviews over the years.

  152. Barry K

    Who’s paying for Quan’s 3-city tour of China for her next social networking event in May?
    Thanks for posting this Dax. I didn’t know she was off to Detroit this week.
    Perhaps Quan needs that $80 parcel tax to fuel her frequent flying and jet-setting ways.

    Any use in filing Public Record Requests on the public costs of her trips (Washington DC, New York City, Sacramento, Yosemite…Detroit, China, so far), since Quan has opted to break our Charter with Dan Siegel.

  153. Ken O

    @Raviolla,

    Priorities of city government.

    1. keep the majority safe/stable with sufficient security forces. enforce laws. make/change laws to benefit the public majority while respecting private ownership rights.

    2. keep JUST north south/east west main roads paved. Screw the rest. Roads to be maintained: International, Broadway, College, Telegraph, Shattuck, MLK, San Pablo, Grand, Park. That’s all. (Richmond has us beat there.)

    3. keep sewer pipes in working condition. as part of this, increase amount of “bio swales” along city streets/parking lots to reduce rainwater flowing into sewer system. (don’t know if we have CSO system or not, but City of El Cerrito does this along San Pablo)

    4. provide minimal entertainment and cultural services or regulation of such (libraries, parks, bars) – at minimum one public park and/or pool per 100k residents, geographically distributed.

    If city government can’t afford #4, let private industry run it.

    At some point, government may be unable to operate at the past few decades’ (pitiable, but still there) level of service. In that case, more services will go private. They will be well-run, or at least competently run, if unaffordable for ever larger numbers of people.

    So far city is doing ‘okay’ for items 1-3 in downtown and northern areas. Don’t hardly ever visit east/west oakland but those areas’ infrastructure seems sort of okay too.

    @ comment #70, Barry, probably no use. It will never become public. Maybe we need a cityleaks.org. MarleenSacks and FloodedbyCeda seems to be on point there…

    Our models to consider are Japan (more public transit use/development clustering), India/China (less “services” per person, more sustainable due to lower energy use and infrastructure overall), and Africa (lowest possible energy/water/resource use)… we’ll end up there in the end anyway. J

    Obviously no politician, city level or higher, is going to announce “yes your standard of living is dropping every year from here on out folks, now re-elect me bitchez”… but we can candidly discuss reality, perceptions and emotional responses/desires here.

  154. Dax

    Ken O, Well now its all completely clear…. compete with charts and graphs.

    How about the easier explanation.

    Go to Sears and head towards the tool department.

    Find the socket wrench display. Most of these are of the ratchet variety.

    On them there is a little switch, which allows the nut to be turned in one direction, but when the handle is moved in the other direction it does not move to loosen the nut.

    This is how government (Oakland) works.
    You ratchet up the spending and hiring during good times, but when a decline in revenue occurs you move the handle backwards and nothing happens.
    Then you muddle through until good times appear and ratchet up the spending again.
    Ever and ever higher.

    Unlike the tool in Sears, government spending doesn’t have the little switch on the handle to allow the tool to undo the nut during lean times.

    If, over the past 40 years, Oakland, with its stable population, had only increase staffing and spending in line with population and inflation, then it wouldn’t have a deficit today.

    Forty years ago we could actually keep the streets paved but we didn’t have all the wonderful “good” programs we have today.
    Back then city workers didn’t make more than the typical resident, nor did they only work a 37.5 hour week and I don’t believe they could retire at 55 with 80% or 90% pay. Now, even for non-safety workers, if you work for Oakland from age 25 to 55 you then get a 81% pension until age 82 male or 85 female on average.
    Think about it… work 30 yrs….81% pension for 30 yrs.
    Does that math sound sensible?

  155. Ravi

    Ken O–You’re on the right track. Prioritizing means actually saying what is most important. I think most rational Oaklanders would take your priorities very seriously.

    Dax–Nice story! Except that the tools at Sears are nicely made, shiny and new. Oakland’s governmental tools are designed and made by idiots and are very dirty and very old.

  156. livegreen

    It would be nice to know the average age of retirement of City Employees in the last 10 years.

    If an employee isn’t replaced by somebody who works for the same duration as the original employee’s retirement, then the cost becomes something like 1+.8 employees (1 for current, .8 for retired).

    Anything less and the City has to start paying pensions of 40-50%, while still paying the original + other replacements. So costs of current employee + retirees look something like 1+.8 +.5, etc. (depending on the pension calculations and how long they get paid for) for every FTE budgeted…

    It would be nice to see how this adds up over time. Such a formula/algorithm should be reasonably easy to build with the City’s data.

  157. livegreen

    Come to think of it, is this how actuaries measure the costs? If so, how can we get the details on their calculations, and is such info already available through City agendas & reports?

  158. TimCrookes

    Dax,

    What is significant about what Quan’s KGO rhetoric is what she didn’t say.

    She emphasized a parcel tax (of course, she previously admitted she was “desperate” to get it), getting the cops to contribute the 9%, and she “threatened” to lay off 10 cops.

    (Didn’t she re-hire 10 cops with great fanfare in January?)

    She said nothing in that piece about cutting spending, negotiating with non-police unions or layoffs.

    Why isn’t she “desperate” to cut spending on social services or rec? Why isn’t she “threatening” to lay off non-sworn employees?

    Rather, she’s tried to push that off to the City Council. That’s isnt leadership. It’s denial.

  159. Barry K

    Livegreen, I did a search on the Legistar system and did not see any relevant reports pertaining to pension costs/reviews.

    However, on 4/26, the Budget office is releasing the “Subject: Travel Expenditures From: Office Of Budget Recommendation: Recieve An Informational Report On Travel Expenditures Incurred By The City During The Fiscal Year”
    That’s 2009-2010!! 10 months after the period and well after the election for Mayor and council.

    http://oakland.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=1254171&GUID=510DEF45-2B95-4046-A47F-C436A24FE7A7

  160. Dax

    Why are “open” threads closed?
    I want to post something new, but there is no box at the end of “open threads”…

    What I wanted to post was about the new 2010 Contra Costa Times Data bases of public employee compensation.
    Also available in the Tribune

    BUT… The City Of Oakland is delaying or refusing to release its information.
    The newer data base includes the all important information on ALL the forms of compensation included in a total pay package. Total compensation, the only true measure of public employee pay and costs relative to the private sector.

    Let me give you one shocking example

    Alameda County Sheriff, Jim Ahern.

    Base salary $268,739
    “other” 22,159 (not overtime)
    Gross $290,898
    Med/dent/v 23,474
    Emp/Pension $150,298 (employer paid)
    Deferred comp 44,050 (employer part)
    ————————————————-
    total comp $508,732

    Please note, that is NOT a figure that includes some final year payout of accrued vacation time, or accrued sick time.
    That IS his normal full compensation.

    Now you might see why Oakland may be dragging its heels in giving out the information.
    Of course, it is possible their system is just so poor, or they don’t have the staff expertise, such that they can’t easily extract the needed data

  161. ralph

    From Naomi’s link, these sentences caught my eye,

    “Now, with his wife in graduate school, Bottega looks at his house in Santa Cruz with the chickens and the black lab and figures it, like his job, will soon be gone. At 37, the veteran officer can’t realistically go back to NYPD. He gets depressed thinking of how hard he will have to compete against the flood of other cops who are being dumped on the job market.”

    I wonder how many San Jose residents are complaining about officers not living in San Jose.

  162. len raphael

    Why is Dan Lindheim still on the city payroll?

    I actually think that without him Dellum’s would have sunk the ship, but I thought Lindheim was only sticking around till Quan hired his replacement.

    Has anyone succeeded in getting a FOI request for Quan’s official calendar. Impression is that she’s out Delluming Dellums with frequent out of town trips.

    -len raphael, temescal

  163. ralph

    Len,
    I seem to recall that Lindheim would still be on the city payroll due to his involvement in certain deals.

  164. Barry K

    Oakland Officials and employees travel report FY 2009-2010!

    http://oakland.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=1260383&GUID=658F7C7F-3BA5-485E-8DEE-8C1630B9D06D

    Quan needs the “Fiscal Emergency” to ensure “essential city service” continue; code words = travel.

    **Check out .pdf pages 30 of 54 for Human Services. Nearly $1600 was paid to three employees for their babysitters while they attending a Head Start Conference.

    **Just check out pages 28-30 and see how 30 employees of Human Services attended a National Head Start program; must have been a nice vacation for the staff.

    **Ronald & Cynthia Dellums travel .pdf pages 35-38. Love that whopping $6000 hotel stay at the Ritz Carlton. I had no idea we paid for a lot of Mrs Mayor’s travel too!

    **A PWA manager attended the World Cup Bid representing Oakland for only $1200.

    Len- Quan is outpacing Dellums with her travel; especially with China next month.
    Say “NO” to Quan’s next parcel tax.

  165. len raphael

    Quan’s traveling around getting awards for being the first female asian us mayor, while the red fiscal meltdown lights are flashing, and DTO club patrons get mowed down by weapons more powerful than the cops. then the shooter drives away a la Bey.

    Even more astounding is the lack of concern by most residents that there really is no one in charge at City Hall or Council with even a mid range plan to deal with our problems.

    What will it take for residents and business and property owners to get angry?

    -len raphael, temescal

  166. len raphael

    Ralph, and those special assignments that are best done by Lindheim would be ?

    Police and fire contract negotiation?

    As much as the cops believe correctly that Quan would just as soon cut staffing permanently to 650 and cut the pay in half for new hires, I don’t see any advantage to the residents for paying Lindheim to take the blame when negotiations collapse like they did the last time before the cop layoffs.

    Or maybe she’s just playing for time figuring that when enough other cities stop hiring/lay off cops, the cops will give major concessions without any assurances from the city about staffing levels. Quan should know by now that at sometime during her reign another tsunami of red ink will hit from retirement costs.

    if she contractually protects staffing levels, she won’t be able to save her cherished youth and anti violence programs. What was her quote about Midnight Basketball re. the shootings in DTO ?

  167. Naomi Schiff

    Just to give another view, today I was in a meeting with some quite prominent large developers who own properties in downtown Oakland, and they were extremely complimentary of Mayor Quan for being an aggressive city booster, for working with them to help get deals to occupy major space in downtown, and for being very willing to work the phones for them as they try to put things together. These people are well aware that most California municipalities are having budgetary problems, and difficulties in fully staffing their public safety services.

  168. ralph

    Did you suggest the large developers go on a diet? I would have to imagine that the only people not aware of the financial crunch that most cities face haven’t even been born yet. But it is good to know that investment is continuing because now is the time to invest not retreat.

    Len, the baseball deal. Might be others but that is what I recall from prior press releases when the exit strategy was being announced.

  169. Dax

    Still no “open thread” where you can post off-topic information.
    Here is a interesting chart from EBMUD regarding various agency, county, and city pension plans. Oakland’s information is listed. This chart was done in January 2011.

    Interesting comparisons except that in some cases they only show the age 55 rates, where in some of those, if you wait until age 60 or 62, etc, you will get more than is shown for age 55.

    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:KmbKNZlX29MJ:www.afscme2019.org/ATTACHMENTS/2011/11%2520-%2520Survey%2520of%2520Contributions.pdf+%22ac+transit%22+pension&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjNPp9njzxsGvKi5DhKdhuND-JD94xAl7stCC3n-84ucsQQlPp2kk5YrJvdXI_gq5wtvgTWuc9uhppXsg3tKbyJnpAuCxvLLq0nJyBlOJpE5ygidfbHSNf-GBf8qn_A_Ji5OgjY&sig=AHIEtbQPENW3cXRowlIjGhS7k0aFFgSiIA&pli=1

  170. livegreen

    Dax, Open Thread isn’t visible on Home Pg but is when you go to any topic (like this one). Top right, not far under the image of the Lake…

  171. ralph

    LG that doesn’t work nor does typing open thread in the search box. At least for me, it does not work.

  172. Patrick M. Mitchell

    You have to click on the words: “Want to talk about something I haven’t brought up? Do it here.” in pink type.

  173. Max Allstadt

    @Naomi,

    I’m glad the Mayor is pushing hard to get new leases in downtown too, but I think she may have missed an opportunity created by the recent sweetheart deals that San Francisco gave to Twitter and other tech companies.

    Last night a friend pointed out to me that SF either exempted or reduced taxes on stock option compensation in order to kiss up to tech companies.

    Instead of trying to compete with SF head to head for tech firms, Oakland should consider going after every non-tech firm in SF that has been offended by SFs tech-firm pandering tax structure.

    Law firms don’t pay people in stock options, they pay people in money. Many other kinds of companies operate in this way too. Basically anybody but start ups uses real money to pay people.

    In short, the Mayor should consider arguing that SF’s payroll tax is a reason to move to Oakland. The sectors that she can target using this talking point are also more stable than tech is, and as such the companies we might attract are likely to sign longer leases and they’re less likely to suddenly disappear on us.

  174. Oakland Space Academy

    Ralph, Your takeaway (comment 182) from the San Jose article is odd. Now is the precise time to be reducing salaries, demanding more in pension/benefit contributions, and requiring officers (and all city employees) to live in the community for which they work.

    I truly feel bad for Bottega, but I’d feel a lot worse if he were more vested in the city that pays his salary, and didn’t commute 60 miles a day, presumably by car. It is pretty telling that he seemed to move for the trees, and places no blame on his own (the police union), who seem to have refused any compensation concessions.

  175. ralph

    Max,
    Those tech companies were never coming to Oakland. I probably would have re-written the law to exclude stock options across the board or capped what a company pays. Due to poaching, I think salaries in start-up are creeping up. I don’t like penalizing the company.

    Until Oakland creates an infrastructure to support large business it will have a hard time attracting some name firms. Big firms host huge conferences, you need to have beds for attendees and conference space. Oakland does not have it.

    OSA,
    It is no secret that I do not favor laws that require officers to live in the city in which they work. There are a number of reasons why people choose to live where they do and I don’t thinking forcing people to live in the city makes them more tied to the city.

    Renters live in the community but the general view is people think renters are least vested in the community, even less than the officer who lives in a different city.

  176. livegreen

    Looks like Open Thread worked until April 19 then no more. Need for a newer thread (or +page)…

  177. livegreen

    These “exceptions” DT keep happening and, while acknowledging Navigator’s points that they happen in DT SF but don’t get the same negative press, violence is still too prevalent both DT and all through Oakland.

    At least slowly Oakland has had more successful companies growing here. But we’re still talking really small #’s. Get crime down and there will be a sea change.

  178. Oakland Space Academy

    Ralph,
    Overall you are probably right regarding Max’s proposal, but for the wrong reasons. I don’t think the main problem is infrastructure, it’s cache. And Ms. Quan is at least a step in the right direction in that regard. That said, I think it is still worth a try, since it is a classic chicken-egg issue.

    Nobody is forcing anyone to work for the San Jose Police Department. And thank goodness, could you imagine having to live in San Jose? Requiring city employees to live where they draw their salary creates huge ancillary benefits, especially in a place trying to attract middle-class families to struggling neighborhoods. These benefits are far greater than the slightly higher compensation that would be required.

    On my block, there is no way an off-duty police officer living in El Cerrito is more vested than the renters, but I have a pretty amazing block that way. But it isn’t that high a bar really. They just need to keep up their place, attend a few neighborhood gatherings, support some local shops, and not be paid to do it, and they’ll have cleared the hurdle.

  179. livegreen

    Don’t forget supporting the neighborhood schools. Even if no kids there, volunteering there is a big bang for the buck.

    (While I appreciate the Mayor’s efforts to target the kids who have the biggest problems, I think it should be far more broad).

  180. ralph

    You bring in the boutique hotels, attract some more desirable name hotels, build out an arts center and a world class convention center with continued growth in the specialty dining then Oakland becomes desirable.

    Tell me how well that residency requirement is working out for New Orleans PD, a PD that bleeds officers.

  181. Oakland Space Academy

    I don’t know anything about New Orleans other than it seems they are not paying their police officers enough to compensate for either a) having to live in a place trashed by a hurricane a few years back, or b) having to work for a dysfunctional department or city government.

    How are you able to attribute the bleeding to the residency requirement?

  182. Max Allstadt

    OSA,

    Not my thinking, not my idea. It’s somebody else’s, I’m just showing appreciation and agreement.

  183. Navigator

    Livegreen,

    Crime has been down for the last three years and is down another 12% so far in 2011. The fact is that these are the first homicdes to occurr in the downtown Oakland neighborhoods of Jack London Square, Chinatown, Old Oakland, City Center, Frank Ogawa Plaza, Uptown and Lake Merritt. This is a large area of over 360 blocks. Downtown SF has already recorded 7 homicides and historically has had far more homicdes and violence in its downtown neighborhoods than downtown Oakland. Three years ago I counted 18 homicides in the Tenderloin, SOMA, Mid Market, 6th Street and Civic Center. Oakland has averaged about two to three homicides downtown per year.

    Have you noticed how the SF media is trying to make this hole in a wall into a “Jack London Restaurant?” Isn’t this place more a bar or club that was open at 12:45 AM on a Monday morning? They also like to emphasize anything that suggests “”randomness.” They’re playing it as a random robbery with no history of the infamous Sweet Jimmie’s connection to the crime infested club this family ran on 17th & San Pablo for so many years before they were forced to close because of so much violence. I’m speculating that this may have been a drug deal gone bad and the drug dealers brought out the assault weapon. It may have been a drug related robbery. All the SF media wants the public to know is that “two people were killed and four others were wounded in a completely random attack at an Oakland restaurant.”

    I would love to see gun totting thugs completely out of Oakland. I would love to see Oakland with zero homicides. This stuff is sick. There’s a segment of this society that is evil and sick. You throw in the easy availabiltiy of assault weapons and other guns, and this is what we get. We get uncivilized cities in the United States. Anyone who thinks that they’re safer in downtown SF than in downtown Oakland doesn’t know the stats. Regardless, based on European civility and other first world cities, they’re both uncivilized and dangerous, with SF downtown more so.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that pointing fingers at Oakland from SF is absolutely laughable. And if Oakland had 20 homicdes per year those homicdes would have far more weight and carry far more coverage than homicides in San Francisco. Oakland neeeds to lower the crime as much as possible, but don’t kid yourself, they won’t allow the perception to change. How do you think they keep the Bay Bridge congested with 200,000 East Bay commutters per day?

  184. MarleenLee

    Navigator, don’t believe everything you read. What reliable data are you referring to about crime being down 12% so far this year? Jean Quan’s newsletter? Where is the actual source for this data? It only comes from REPORTS of crime, not actual crime. We all know that the police have virtually no resources to take reports of many of the crimes, let alone actually investigate them. So many people don’t even bother to report crime anymore. That’s great for the politicians who want to crow about how “crime is down.” Didn’t you ever watch “The Wire?” Don’t you understand how the data can be massaged and manipulated and “juked” to con the masses?

  185. Navigator

    How come no one complaints about the data when Oakland shows up in idiotic “most dangerous” lists? So when crime is up and Oakland shows badly against other cities, the data is just fine? SF isn’t manipulating its data so as not to look bad? Other cities aren’t manipulating the data or have different methodology in collecting crime stats. If you believe the data when it puts Oakland in a bad light , then I’ll choose to believe the data that shows progress and things getting better.

  186. ralph

    Except for murder, stats can be juked. And even murder can be juked but it is harder to not count a nose.

    All I know is reported crime is down. I use simple measures about actual crime – do people feel safer, do people feel less stressed.

    Something tells me that the JLS event was random, it could have happened anywhere.

  187. Livegreen

    I think your point about Oakland crime vs. SF is well taken Nav. But either way crime is still too high. And murders have still increased.

    Even if they decrease, it will still be too high.

    We need to hold the media accountable, but we also need to hold the criminals accountable, and the politicians for allowing us to b in this situation.

  188. ralph

    Call it a pet peeve but murder has not increased. Absent a sustained changed in the number of murders per 100K there is no change in murder. A one person, or whatever the number is, change in y/y numbers does not equal an increase. This is just as irresponsible as the SF press.

    Now, I will agree that any number higher than zero, nada, zip, zilch is too high.

  189. James

    Ralph,

    I don’t understand what you mean about the murders. According to the Oakland Tribune, there have been 38 homicides so far this year. Last year at this time there were 31. Isn’t that an increase?

  190. len raphael

    Nav, you’re partially off track on blaming Sweet Jimmie’s for attracting criminals.

    My understanding from a buddy who used to be a regular at SJ at the former location before the owner’s son turned it into more of a hip hop club and less of a an older crowd r&b place, is that crime was very low until the son’s changes at the old location.

    From the news reports it does sound like SJ’s should have been closed because it didn’t have a valid liquor license, but that didn’t “attract” the shooters.

    You shouldn’t encourage a “vibrant” urban entertainment district in a city unless you can afford to smother the district with cops the way NYC did/does with Times Square.

    There was an abundance of eyes on the street, but apparently not a cop to be seen even though it should have been basic intel for the OPD to know that some hip hop star was having his get out of jail party at Kimballs that night.

    There was probably a base pitard going around that the guy who was most po’d by the Upper Bway rezoing height limits had been considering putting in a hip hop club on the ground floor. No doubt a dastardly rumor to stir up the NIMBYS’ but not implausible.

    Basic chicken or egg problem here.

    -len raphael, temescal

  191. len raphael

    MY SF business clients didn’t complain about SF giving tax breaks to Facebook or whatever. To them it was just good business: to retain/attract a good sized growing for profit business, that will reduce vacancy rates and generate a bunch of high sales tax generating employees and business supply/equipt purchases is a no brainer.

    Large service firms aren’t going to move to Oakland because we don’t have a payroll tax. We have a very hefty gross revenue tax that is particularly onerous on service business.

    Oakland should be cutting any deal it can make with good sized potential employers if it doesn’t cost us any cash.

    if that means giving a business tax holiday, do it.

    if that means telling the RDA to give a year’s free rent to attractive new tennants with high potential, go ahead. The alternative is the RDA dumping a bunch of empty properties at fire sale prices just to generate some cash for our officials to reach retirement, and then repo’ng them later.

    Is there a list of potential RDA vacant buildings ?

    -len raphael, temescal

  192. ralph

    James,
    It is a point in time problem. Robberies, burglaries, other crime tends to work on a regular basis. Murder is personal. Assume that last year this time total murders were 38 and this year it 31, but by the end of May l/y ytd murders were still 38 but this year they were 40. The balance sheet approach to determine if murder has gone up or done makes no sense.

    Len
    Speaking of employers, did you see the SFBT? Alameda landed a SF company. Oakland loses again.

  193. Navigator

    Len, Thanks for that very informative link. The writer is pretty spot on and details the double standard of the San Francisco media. The SF media was trying to paint Jack London Square as a “dangerous” area by going back and rehashing every incident over the last ten years. We all know what their agenda is, and we all know that Chip Johnson has been carrying their water for years.

    As far as Swet Jimmie’s, the place looks like a blighted magnet for crime. The garish red awning, the huge graffiti on the brick side of the building, the ugly gates in the front of the building all make this place a blighted magnet with an ownership which has a long history of violent incidents. In my opinion the place is a cancer on lower Broadway and will inhibit business and restaurant growth in that area. I feel sorry for the Ellington condo development and other reputable businesses and restaurants trying to improve that one to two block stretch of Broadway. I’d close the place down because we all know that any business that associates with and caters to the Hip Hop customer is going to bring violence. It happens like clock work and it brings Oakland’s reputation to the gutter.

    We have a media in a city across the Bay which is waiting for every opportunitty and cheking police scanners to hurt Oakland economically. Oakland can’t get away with having dozens of nighclub shootings, or having random tourits hit by stray bullets like SF can. We have a shooting at a club and all of a sudden we’re on Reuters. We have no choice but to be better and to do all we can to make sure stuff like this doesn’t happen again. Close down Sweet Jimmies and any other clubs which cater to Hip Hop.

  194. ralph

    I suspect SJ will not be long for the neighborhood. There was another club in that area that had a long history with gun violence and it was shuttered. The people who moved to The Ellington and the other buildings believe in the longterm potential. They aren’t going to cut bait. Instead it is more likely they will be what is necessary to improve the neighborhood. At least that was the thinking I had when I was thinking about City Walk.

  195. len raphael

    Nav, you can’t be serious. Oakland and hip hop are joined at the hip rom birth.

    You just have to staff police properly for entertainment districts. That just take money.
    Extra assessment for bars and restaurants.

    Trickier part is the zoning/regulating. Clubs in my area would push my nimby button big time and make me sound more anti hip hop than you. Last club above Shattuck was the OMNI.

    At some point clubs become as incompatible as industrial with residential, unless you’re under 26 years old and like clubbing.

  196. Navigator

    Hip hop may be popular with a certain sub culture which romanticizes guns and violence but it certainly doesn’t define the majority of Oakland’s dinning and entertainment business districts.

    No amount of police will stop violence at these locations. Oakland Police Headquarters was two blocks away and they had off duty Oakland Police working security a block down the street at another club. This stuff happens very often in San Francisco and they have many more cops than Oakland. It’s the culture. If you have a club which caters to hip hop you will have a violent incident at some point. It’s only a matter of time. It happened at Mingles near Jack London Square before they closed the place down. It happened at Sweet Jimmie’s on San Pablo. It happened at a club on Franklin. It happened at a club know as @17th before that place was closed down. It happened at Suede in SF, jelly’s, and many other clubs in SOMA.

    These clubs attract thugs with guns. There’s no denying it and the risks far outweigh any rewards.

  197. len raphael

    Nav, you’re gonna have to get over your antipathy to hip hop if you ever hope to move back here. i made my piece with rap,then hip hop because you either accept it or move to crocker highlands, the hills etc, and never descend to elevations below the Claremont Country Club.

    Some of it even helps gettnig thru the rough patches of Oakland life, gives a bit of insight too.

    back in the rap period, i’d find myself saying how it was a good day in oakland because there were no reports of anyone using their AK.

    i’m going back to enjoying the bitter sweet announcement of the death of obl. if i had a loaded weapon, i’d be sorely tempted to celebrate in traditional stupid Oakland manner of shooting into the air.

    -len