Congratulations, new Oakland Mayor Jean Quan

Yeah, I don’t actually have anything ready to say about this at the moment. I mean, obviously, I’m disappointed in how this election turned out. And even after having had a few days to think about it, and to make myself ready, I never managed to get it together to prepare a blog to post for this outcome.

I mean, I wrote about this last week, right? What more is there to say? It hurts when your candidate doesn’t win. But also, it isn’t the end of the world either. And I do think all volunteers should feel good about the work they did, no matter the outcome of the campaign.

I will try to update this post tomorrow with more of my thoughts on the election. Try is the key word there. No promises. This is one of the funny things about having a blog. Everyone expects you to have something to say about everything. But sometimes, you don’t know what to say. I mean, I really do wish her luck. I hope she will do a good job. But it’s not like I can pretend that I was all in favor of her all along or anything. The fact is that I disagree with a lot of the things she advocates for.

So…I will write about this. But I may need a little bit of time. And for now, well, congratulations to new Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Winning elections is hard. And hey — running the City is even harder. So you’ve got a very tough road ahead of you. I wish you the very best of luck in the next four years.

One thing I can say right now is that I am very happy that we’re going to have someone in that office who is a very hard worker. Oakland needs someone who will put in a more than full work week, and I have no doubt in my mind that Jean Quan will do that.

Also, I am exceedingly happy that this is all finally over.

154 thoughts on “Congratulations, new Oakland Mayor Jean Quan

  1. Katy

    One thing I can say is I really like ranked choice voting. Sure it’s confusing but once you get into the swing of 1st/2nd/3rd choice, etc., it makes so much sense. It’s empowering for the voter.

  2. Naomi Schiff

    Two good things to report: 1) The person at right in the photo above, Margaret Gordon, of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, yesterday received a $100,000 award in honor of her organizing, advocacy, and work in environmental health in West Oakland. The award is for recipients who have started new projects late in life. 2) Henry Gardner, one of the more competent city managers past (hired under Lionel Wilson) and recent ABAG chief, is heading Quan’s search committee for a city administrator. Henry is smart and has integrity. I think it is a hopeful sign.

  3. Kent L.

    This morning I read both in the Examiner and the SF Chronicle two editorials criticizing RCV. The writers (CW Nevius of the Chronicle, and Ken Garcia of the Examiner) both feel that RCV is undemocratic. Yet in Oakland we saw that RCV can work by allowing a third party candidate to legitimately compete and limiting the amount of time candidates need to spend campaigning (at least I hope it did that.) I would be interested in your perspective on RCV. It could also be that in a big city like S.F. where voters don’t know the candidates as well as Oakland, RCV is not as effective.

  4. ralph

    Kent,
    What third party candidate had a legitimate chance to compete. The only true 3rd party was MacLeay and he was behind Candell and Hodge. As for the other races, I think everyone was D. Do you mean lesser known candidates?

    But if you are a lesser known candidate, you need to spend a considerable amount of effort to obtain voter support. Even then, you probably will not do as well as name candidates. People may like outsiders but it seems like people allocate a vote based on a candidates ability to accomplish goals because of established relationshp that they have built over time.

  5. Colin

    Kent,

    V hates RCV (or IRV, depending on what we’re calling it on which day):
    http://www.abetteroakland.com/dear-council-64000-voters-are-the-boss-of-you-you-have-to-do-irv/2010-01-05
    As far as I’m concerned, IRV is an idiotic system designed to make leftists feel less guilty about voting for fringe candidates.

    She’s also posted to try and make it seem extremely complicated and confusing:
    http://www.abetteroakland.com/how-your-ranked-choice-voting-ballot-gets-counted/2010-10-07
    A couple months ago, I conducted a little experiment to see how well people understood ranked choice voting. The results were fairly dismal.

    She’s very dismissive of it, for the same reasons as Perata. (hmmm… let’s get someone on this conspiracy toot sweet!)

    I would say that this election (in which she refused to put more than one candidate on the ballot) is reasonable proof that it worked well, but she may argue. She may even think it was a travesty of democracy.

  6. DontBotherDelores

    I’m interested in the data from this election. How many people didn’t use RCV at all? How many people voted just one candidate and who were those people that voted just one candidate?

  7. ralph

    DBD,
    I think California Watch analyzed the results. There was, I think, a link to the analyzed results in one of these threads.

    A fair number of people only selected 1 or 2 candidates. But honestly, if your first choice was either Perata or Quan, then I would not be surprised if you only selected 1 given the high probability of each being in the top 2. That being said, it would have made more sense for Quan supporters to at least make a second pick as I think her camp thought it would be close between her and Kaplan.

  8. Patrick M. Mitchell

    I hope she governs with one tiny tidbit of information constantly running through her mind: only 24% of Oaklanders chose her as their first choice. That’s amazing, considering her length of service in this City – and I don’t mean that in a good way. 76% of Oaklanders looked at her past contributions, considered her platform…and voted for someone else. Jean won because people thought they had to fill in all three choices, not because they wanted her to be Mayor.

  9. Oaklandlifer

    I think RCV is wonderful, and agree it is empowering. I was partifularly delighted to be able to pick my most desired candidates and also to be able in the end to have a say when it came down to the two who were polling highest. I would vote to retain RCV! I think the majority wants it, probably all of the Quan voters and at least some of the Perata voters. It seems apparent that the majority will favor it when the candidate who won of course was preferred or at least less hated by a majority.

  10. Jason G.

    I doubt that “people thought they had to fill in three choices”. People voted FOR Jean Quan, whether first, second, or third. I don’t know how VOTING for someone communicates that you DON’T want them in office. If a lot of people thought “I want Rebecca Kaplan as mayor, but I’m fine with Quan, and I want to support a candidate that has a chance to win”, then in RCV they get to put Kaplan first and Quan second. In a “normal” election, who’s to say how many of those people would have just voted for Quan?

    Looking at the results, it seemed most voters understood the system perfectly well — only about 2700 of the original 121,000+ ballots cast didn’t count in the first round. And by round 8 only 5,000 didn’t count, though I suppose that’s just evidence that most people put one of the front-runners as #1. Better evidence is that fully 32,000 votes counted in the final tally that wouldn’t have otherwise.

    I would rather have “pick your top 3″ than non-ranked choice, but I would rather have FULL ranked choice of all the candidates, because it would be even more reflective of the voters’ actual preferences (though that’s an unrealistic possibility based on the RCV pushback that already exists).

    Frankly I think Perata’s objections to RCV have a LOT to do with the fact that he didn’t win. I’m guessing if he had gotten 50.98% of the votes that had counted, he wouldn’t have said anything.

  11. SF2OAK

    What the RCV showed is utter confusion for voters. This will probably get smoothed out as more RCV elections occur. To her credit Quan understood RCV and Don Perata did not and she won on that. I do wish Quan the best of luck, she will need it and so will Oaklanders and all Californians.

  12. Naomi Schiff

    Based on chatting with quite a few people of various preferences, and hearing them discuss how best to use their three votes strategically, I don’t think it was so confusing. Don’s campaign people just didn’t think this through, or believed they could win outright based on a large funding advantage. Jean and Rebecca and Joe were not sneaky about the strategy: they spoke freely about the effects of number 2 and 3 votes for weeks, in public venues.

  13. Oaklandlifer

    Mr Mitchell you come across like one of these constants who are paid enormous sums to not know what the heck they are talking about. I thought long and hard about my decision to include or not include each candidate on my ballot, and was pleased with my choices and most pleased to be able to help chose at the end. To suggest otherwise is insulting and shows a disconnection from the voters. All my friends I discussed the election with were similarly careful. Comments like yours are elitist, and truly seem like the propaganda of a paid hack. I’m sure you don’t mean to come across that way, but that is how it conveys to me

  14. Jim T

    What I will say about RCV is that it made me, and seemed to make my friends, pay attention to more than just one candidate. I had decided early who my first choice was (Kaplan, for the record), but since I knew I had multiple choices, I surveyed the field much longer than I would have. I feel that I am much more informed about each of the candidates than I otherwise would have been (and, for the record, and context, Quan was not in my top three).

    It seems to me that the debate is whether or not a true run-off would change the result, and if it did, whether that change would be more “democratic” or “of the will of the voters” than RCV. My opinion is out on that. I think that a run-off WOULD favor someone with more money (read: Perata), but it also might force more of a coalition (see Nevius’ piece, as mentioned above). Time and further analysis may tell what the difference is.

    What I categorically disagree with is that RCV somehow hijacks the system. Or that Quan didn’t “earn” her Mayoralty. Bull. People clearly chose her as one of their choices. It wasn’t some dupe. So I hope we don’t hear much more along that line of discussion. In my mind, it distracts from a genuine consideration of the pluses and minuses of an interesting, and cost-saving, system.

  15. Tim Anderson

    I say congratulations to Mayor Quan too. Regardless of who you voted for, it’s not in anyones interest for her to be a failure.

  16. len raphael

    What i still can’t fathom is why anyone who is supposedly knowledgable about Oakland’s financial situation as JQ would want to be mayor?

    The “hardest” decision JQ had to make as council member was to layoff 80 cops is nothing compared to the massive budget cuts and layoffs she’ll have to recommend as Mayor. Continual fighting with the unions and pissed off residents.

    She won’t be able to blame it on her predecessor like Obamba could, she won’t be able to say she didn’t know the facts like Perata could say.

    I’ll call her reign a success if her prediction of bankruptcy in 6 years comes true. I’m thinking a lot sooner than that unless she pulls off some feat of getting the unions and the council members all working together that doesnt involve a 500 to 1,000 parcel tax.

  17. len raphael

    Anyone know that’s going on with the consolidation of the job training programs to CEDA control from the ngo’s? Is the city going to continue to contract out the training or try to do the training inhouse?

  18. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Oaklandlifer, why do candidates put so much effort into lawn signs? Is it possible that name recognition is extremely important when voters are in the voting booth? And if not, why do candidates bother with lawn signs? Why have so many other commenters been discussing the same thing (visibility)? To think that the average Oaklander practices the same level of due diligence prior to marking their ballot as the average ABO reader shows an enormous amount of naivete on your part. At least that’s how it conveys to me. In any event, the main point of my comment is an irrefutable fact: 76% of Oaklanders did not want Jean Quan to be Mayor. They voted for someone else as their first and best choice.

    BTW, paid hacks don’t attach their real names to their comments. That’s the province of Johnny-com-lately hecklers.

  19. Max Allstadt

    I have come to think that RCV is absolutely a better reflection of the will of the people that standard voting.

    I voted for Perata as my third choice, and my vote counted. The people of Oakland very clearly did not do the same. RCV allows voters to vote “anybody but THAT guy”, and have it work out in the results.

    The rhetoric out of Perata supporters on this is really pathetic. RCV did not cost Perata the election. His failure to strategize appropriately cost him the election.

    The Perata campaign made no apparent effort to counter the negative perceptions that were his biggest liability. It was irrelevant that Don and his allies believed that the complete works of Robert Gammon were bullshit. Those articles exist. Because they exist, calling for the elimination of the ethics commission was tactically idiotic. Don wrote the punchline to his own attack mailer.

    I voted for Don and not Quan, but he has no-one to blame but himself for this loss. RCV works. RCV also creates subtle changes in election tactics. Everybody but Perata tailored their campaign tactics based on this. That stubbornness was his undoing.

  20. Max Allstadt

    Patrick,

    That 76% line is bullshit. It’s meaningless. Second choice votes are votes.

    The only question I have about the final tally is what % of ballots were exhausted before the final round. If it was 10%, for example, how do we adjust the outcome to reflect what % of voters voted for quan as one of their choices? If you factor in exhausted ballots, neither Quan or Perata’s final total percentage is as high as stated by the ROV

  21. Oaklandlifer

    I think candidates put so much effort into lawn signs because consultants and others wrongly tell them how wise that effort is, but that does not make it so. Tuman seems to have the most lawn signs in the hills but I don’t think he carried any of the hills in firsts or seconds or thirds.

    If your thinking on Quan is correct than a full two thirds of voters rejected Perata, right? So how by your thinking is that any sort of win? To spin that as a triumphant victory strikes me as silly, and I’d guess such a conclusion would only makes sense to those who put Perata first. I would guess that as many as 2/3 would reject such an idea – by your thinking about the same as “rejected” Perata himself.

  22. ralph

    Max,
    I don’t if it is better reflection as I am not convinced we would not have had the same result had we gone the traditional route.

    The vote spread is on the AC ROV page. I believe some 13K ballots out of 121K were exhausted. I am going to go out on a limb and assume you know how to do the math to fix the percentages.

  23. Colin

    Max,

    The numbers you’re looking for are here:
    http://www.acgov.org/rov/rcv/results/rcvresults_2984.htm
    105,498 of 121,927 ballots made it through to the final round, so 16,429 did not. That’s somewhere around 15% (I don’t have a calculator handy so I’m estimating). 13,631 of those were exhausted by the final round and not over- or under-voted, so about 11% of voters did not have Quan or Perata in their top 3.

    But again, the issue isn’t who got what percentage of all the votes, it’s who got more votes.

  24. ralph

    Max,
    I am mildly curious about your ballot. I skimmed your earlier post but in re-reading the post, I noticed something that makes wonder, “did you do that which you were not going to do?”

  25. len raphael

    if true that Quan did not have a shadow cabinet ready and is now using head hunter to fill key admin positions, does that mean she didn’t expect to win?

    Surprising that for her umpteen years in public service she doesn’t have a network of contacts for this.

    -len raphael, temescal

  26. Max Allstadt

    Colin,

    my point is that by using the numbers you cite, we can easily point out that neither Quan nor Perata actually won a majority of the electorate. That’s the only reason I can come up with to question the appropriateness of IRV.

    Ralph,

    Kaplan, Tuman, Perata, in that order. And Tuman only got my second choice vote because I knew it was a throw-away, but I wanted to bump his post-election stats up in order to encourage other potentially viable outsiders to run.

    That mucking about couldn’t have affected who won, or I wouldn’t have done it. My actual opinion on who was the best choice for mayor? Kaplan, followed by Perata, followed by nobody.

    My main reasons for leaving Quan off my ballot were the huge number of NIMBY types that backed her, her vote to spend rainy day funds during a boom, and one other reason that I can’t disclose without violating another person’s confidence.

    I supported Rebecca Kaplan wholeheartedly in public, but with some private reservations. Such is the nature of getting deeply involved in a campaign. I still saw her as a better choice than Perata, but I don’t think I’ll engage in the same kind of absolutist cheerleading for any candidate ever again. They’re all imperfect.

    Actually my very first choice for Mayor wasn’t on the Ballot. I hope John Russo runs in the future.

  27. Art

    Honestly, I don’t know too many people who were confused by RCV. I mean, I’m sure there were some, and of course the County needs to continue educating people on it, but I really don’t think that’s what flipped this election. It’s probably implicit in this conversation, but in addition to changing campaign tactics, RCV changes voting tactics. We had dinner with friends last night and there was much discussion of RCV and the election outcome. It was interesting to see that there were Kaplan and Tuman first choice voters who would not have voted for those candidates in a traditional winner-take-all election—they would have chosen between Quan and Perata. Instead, they used their second or third place votes to do this. So possibly we shouldn’t be according the same weight to “first choice” votes in an RCV election that we might in a traditional election. Would a runoff have achieved a similar result? Sure, maybe. But it costs more, and everyone I’ve talked to seems to have understood that the race was likely to come down to Quan v. Perata, and that a ballot with neither name was effectively an opt-out. The few people I know who did this (or who voted for only one candidate) did so very intentionally—they just didn’t like any other options. Frustrating that this was an election where so many people were voting against candidates rather than voting for them—but there you go.

  28. Max Allstadt

    Also, all of the above doesn’t mean that I think that Quan will do no good for the City. I expect there are many things that are non-controversial that she’ll get done and get done fairly well.

    There’s a lot of stuff that simply languished in Limbo under Dellums that she can fix just by getting out of bed and actually going to work.

  29. gem

    “76% of Oaklanders did not want Jean Quan to be Mayor.”

    Uh, if that were true, she wouldn’t have won, because people would not have put her as their second or third choice. I didn’t vote for Jean, because I didn’t want her to be mayor, so why the heck would I put her down anywhere on that ballot? People had plenty of other choices if they wanted to not vote for Quan, including choosing less than three candidates, as I did.

    It’s pretty darn clear with all the votes Quan received after Kaplan was eliminated that many Kaplan voters made a deliberate choice to put Quan as their next candidate. If you think that somehow doesn’t count as a real vote, then you don’t understand ranked choice voting. The lame arguments that the votes she received don’t count because she didn’t get them all in the first round are disingenuous at best, and just plain insulting to all the people who actually knew what they were doing when they voted. Seriously, even if Oakland is full of morons and people just put whatever name they knew best as their second choice, or just some random candidate, Perata would probably have won. Unfortunately for him, more Kaplan voter *consciously* chose not to vote for him, and gave their vote to Jean.

  30. Karen Bishop

    max,

    please splain something to me. If Tuman was your #2 and he was eliminated before Kaplan, then wasn’t your #2 vote part of the exhausted votes and wouldn’t have had any effect on Tuman’s stats?

  31. Karen Bishop

    Len,

    I don’t think Quan’s not having a “shadow cabinet” means anything. As a matter of fact Quan conducting a nationwide search sends positive signals to me — that she wants the best not necessarily friends, cronies or people who need to be politically paid back.

  32. ralph

    Max,
    I think someone close to you said it best, you are not going to agree with everything the candidate says but if there is enough there that you support knock yourself out.

    Your mucking about doesn’t change the outcome but it confuses the heck out of people studying the way people voted. I would argue if you wanted to throw a bone to the outsider, it would have made more sense to do T-K-P. By throwing T support after he has been discarded is like showing no love at all. You still only have the one vote and it went to P.

  33. Art

    Exhausted ballots means the ballots with no viable votes left (because everyone has been eliminated), so if you had Quan or Perata anywhere on there, your ballot was never exhausted. Still, I don’t know if a second place Tuman vote gets tallied anywhere or not if he’s already out when the first place candidate is eliminated—he had my second place vote too for roughly Max’s reasons, and I wondered about that. (I didn’t worry about it too much because, again, wasn’t voting for him to win—just as encouragement for future outsider candidates—but I did/still do wonder.)

    I didn’t vote Tuman first because I didn’t actually think that he should win (highly unlikely, but ya never know), and because my first choice vote went to Kaplan, and I had no idea how many (if any) RCV rounds they would go through to get a winner, so it might have been important for her to have an extra first round vote. It wasn’t, in the end, but no way to know that ahead of time.

  34. Naomi Schiff

    Voters’ strategic thinking and their concern about how best to vote increased the interest in the election. People seemed to consider their options carefully, not a bad thing. I am really struck that Don P. didn’t adjust his campaign strategy. The only to understand it is if he anticipated getting more than 51% (even with ten candidates). What were his campaign managers thinking?

    I don’t see how Quan or anyone could have secured a city administrator before the election. Seems fine to me to have former city mgr. Gardner head up a search. He is very qualified, not a hothead, and knows everybody.

  35. ralph

    Art,
    To answer your question, a second choice vote for Tuman after he was tossed meant nothing.

    It was only important for RK to have your first choice if you thought there was a high probability of her going out before Tuman by 1/2 a vote (curious to know what would have happened had 2 candidates tied for lowest total in a middle round).

  36. Jennylynn

    Congratulations, Oakland, you are now officially the toilet of the world! This is going to be so much fun, I can’t wait as crisis after crisis, failure after failure, job loss, murder and exodus of business leaves Oakland with nothing more than Robert Gammon, modestexpert, Rebecca Quan’s ignorant supporters to bury themselves in the rubble. You people deserve what comes next with your sixth grade school election BS – “oh, you vote for me and I’ll vote for you, and then I get BOTH VOTES!! Yay!” Oakland used to be the laughing stock of the country. Now it aspires to be that stupid.

  37. Dax

    I listened to Jean Quan’s comments.

    She emphasized that she was Oakland’s first Asian mayor and first woman mayor.
    Beating out San Francisco in being the first Asian mayor.

    While she is correct, in 2010, were either of these “firsts” something one needed to overcome? (I’m not sure that was the meaning of her remarks, instead of just being proud for there to be a first. Especially given Oakland’s long history of Asian residents and council members of all genders)

    Or in fact did she benefit from being Asian and being a woman.

    I wonder, if Jean Quan were not Asian would she have won?
    If she were not a woman, would she have won?
    If she didn’t have the combination of the two, Asian & female, would she have won strictly on the basis of her past experience, acts and track record?

    I don’t know the answer, but I believe the net effect of being Asian and a woman, gained her more votes than it might have cost her.

    Perhaps enough to make the difference?
    After all if about 1 in 50 voters who voted for Quan, had instead voted for Perata, then he could have won.

    Personally, the last thought on my mind when I had to decide which of the two to make my #3 (real) vote was anything to do with their ethnicity or gender.

    Though I finally ended up voting for Perata, in my mind Jean Quan won because she ran a very superior campaign, but she may have also benefited from those other factors.

  38. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Max, second place is a great place to be! Just ask the Texas Rangers.

    Oaklandlifer:

    Jean Quan did not pull ahead of Perata until the NINTH elimination. She didn’t win; she was ushered in begrudgingly.

    Said, she did win. And I wish her all the best. As I stated earlier, my hope is that she understands that she doesn’t govern via a mandate, but rather from a position of serendipitous polarity. Perata may have been “despised”; but more Oaklanders stepped up and voted for his agenda – for their primary vote – than they did for Quan.

  39. len raphael

    Don’t buy the theory that Quan ran a superior campaign, grassroots etc.

    She won because Perata’s fbi investigation and his connection to the Prison Guards, combined with his initial embrace of OPD close in time to when several council members were blaming all of our fiscal problems on the greedy overpaid cops.

    Add to that the unexpected strength of Kaplan (in part due to her PAC) and Tuman, both of whom coyly and not so coyly criticized Perata instead of each other or Quan.

    Perata over relied on a heavier turnout in East Oakland flats and underestimated the any one but perata attitude in the high turn out affluent areas.

  40. Max Allstadt

    Patrick,

    Everything you say supports my theory that RCV more accurately reflects the opinion of the electorate. The VAST majority of voters think most politicians are lower life forms. And therefore, the vast majority of votes are cast begrudgingly!

  41. Naomi Schiff

    I think you are right, Max. It is hard to be 100% excited about most candidates. And it is difficult enough and thankless enough a task to run medium-sized cities that one isn’t surprised it doesn’t always attract stellar talent. As to Jennylynn, I don’t get it. Jean Quan is not so radical in any direction that she would likely represent a sudden turn toward apocalypse. And Perata is not so wonderful that he would represent nirvana. Things just aren’t that thrilling around here.

  42. annoyed

    What a weird place for me to be in. No matter who won, I could be relieved the other guy didn’t win while having no joy about the winner. I honestly didn’t care who won because each one has the capacity to imflict their own special brand of incompetence on the city. The notion that you go with the one you mostly agree with didn’t work for me. I actually don’t have any respect for Quan, Perata, or Kaplan. And the rest couldn’t possibly be serious by waiting until the last minute to rev up a campaign.

    I look at SF with envy. I would be happy with either Dufty or Herrera. In a few years, Josse Cisneros will probably run and he will be a great mayor. We did not have a single candidate that comes anywhere near their level. Oakland is like junior high school. Truly pathetic.

    For all the whiners about RCV, get over it. If Perata had won, you wouldn’t be walking around with your lips all poked out. I’m sickof shelling out for runoff elections. RCV gives voters more flexibility and it saves us money. Deal with it.

  43. len raphael

    Quan as mayor elect seems consistent with Quan as candidate. Unconcerned about the fiscal iceberg on a collision course with the city.

    Quote from Q in today’s trib:

    “if the economy holds, (the city) will be able to bring back more officers.”

    Is she contradicting Lindheim’s projections of what 30 to 50 Mill deficit, without accounting for off the balance sheet retirement costs and deferred maintenance?

    During the election all four leading candidates avoided the deficit discussion like the plague.

    Perata and Tuman could claim ignorance of the true numbers, Kaplan knew the true numbers but saw no benefit in bearing bad news. But Quan, head of council finance committee is a mystery.

    Does she know something Lindheim overlooked in his disaster projections?

    -len raphael, temescal

  44. We Fight Blight

    So, with the election of Jean Quan, the reality is that not much has changed in the City of Oakland. Essentially, we have swapped out Dellums for Libby Schaaf among the politicos. The vast majority of those who have brought Oakland to the precipice of financial disaster are still on the payroll and will still be making the decisions on how to spend your tax dollars. Rather than being the Chair of the Finance Committee, Jean Quan will now be Mayor. Her role in moving the City to financial ruin will continue. We can pretty much expect the same. The one area where we may see some improvement is in the replacement of Dan Lindheim with a more seasoned and astute City Administrator who is able to ensure accountability, transparency and fiduciary responsibility among the various City Departments. But that will only come with significant house cleaning and wholesale replacements of Department Heads which may not occur under Quan. In addition, you still have an entrenched bureaucracy of dolts that will make change difficult and slow. So Oakland will pretty much remain on the same course–continued budget crises, high crime rates, high taxes and poor city services. Let’s hope that the East Bay doesn’t suffer a devastating earthquake along the Hayward fault while Jean is working hard to dismantle the police and fire departments. Go Jean!!

  45. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Max, I agree that RCV accurately reflects the opinion of the electorate. My issue is that it reflects the opinion of the electorate in one moment in time. The final question is: if Quan and Perata had faced a run-off election, would Quan still have won? Obviously, it’s an unanswerable question. If we had a run-off, voters would have been forced to further scrutinize the remaining candidates. Instead, we voted for our first choice and then winged it on #s 2 and 3.

  46. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Max, I agree that RCV accurately reflects the opinion of the electorate. My issue is that it reflects the opinion of the electorate in one moment in time. The final question is: if Quan and Perata had faced a run-off election, would Quan still have won? Obviously, it’s an unanswerable question. If we had a run-off, voters would have been forced to further scrutinize the remaining candidates. Instead, we voted for our first choice and then winged it on #s 2 and 3.

  47. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Max, I agree that RCV accurately reflects the opinion of the electorate. My issue is that it reflects the opinion of the electorate in one moment in time. The final question is: if Quan and Perata had faced a run-off election, would Quan still have won? Obviously, it’s an unanswerable question. If we had a run-off, voters would have been forced to further scrutinize the remaining candidates. Instead, we voted for our first choice and then winged it on #s 2 and 3.

  48. CitizenX

    Patrick, a couple of things would have happened in a conventional runoff election. Perata would have tossed megabucks into the contest. How this might have effected the outcome, it’s hard to say, but I would rate Perata’s fund raising capabilities ahead of Quan’s.

    Second, there were about 16 thousand ballots that did not figure in to the final (round 10) tabulation. Some were in error and tossed out, but then there were those who cast their three (or fewer) votes for candidates other than the two finalists. Anyone’s guess on who these voters would have picked, if the choices were Quan and Perata.

  49. CitizenX

    The bright side to the Quan victory is, as I’ve mentioned before, that the Mayor has little actual authority. I think Quan may well face stiff opposition from the Peratisti contingent on the City Council. City Council has much power and authority.

    The single most important act that Ms. Quan can do in the near term is to find an effective City Administrator– someone who can make the trains run on time. A smart and competent City Administrator could do much to cancel out any negative fall out from Ms. Quan’s “progressive” agenda.

  50. len raphael

    WFB, Lindheim wasn’t a good administrator, but he was good with patching the budget sinking ship. If the cc members had acted on his dire warnings sooner, we’d all be better off.

    Patrick M, I see the election as the last hurrah of the self styled progressive political power over the city government.

    Add Quan’s voters to Kaplan’s supporters to see that that section of Oakland voters is alive and well at both ends of the age spectrum.

    At most, the other section is the sum of Tuman plus Perata voters.

    In this round, Kaplan supporters didn’t have to reconcile their “progressive” priorities with unaffordable personnel costs.

    Traditional progressives in Oakland were very pro union.

    Wonder how enthusiastic younger residents will be when they have to choose between retirement benefits and social programs. Or social programs and parks and safety.

    Quan just declared her priorities to be “crime, jobs, and youth” . No mention of solvency.

    Today’s Trib editorial is the first time I saw them use the B word. “Staggering long term debt cannot be ignored without the risk of sending the city into bankruptcy or strapping future generations with unacceptable obligations”

    Wonder what Lindheim would say.

  51. Naomi Schiff

    We can help Oakland by pitching in, not just sniping from the sidelines. Let’s work toward consensus and achievable goals. While I respect Len’s understanding of pension obligations, and the dangerous shortfalls they portend, can we consider feasible positions and how to find a solid footing–public employee unions included? I hope people will step up as constructive participants, and neither confine themselves to advocating for all-or-nothing unionism, nor consigning us to municipal bankruptcy. I do take encouragement in Quan’s approach to a city administrator search, and her involving people who really know the terrain.

  52. ralph

    I would like to see changes in the City Charter which actually gives some teeth to the mayor’s position. The mayor’s office is hte executive branch so it is appropriate that the mayor be the Chief Exectutive Officer with all the roles and responsibilities of the position. I like to think that I am a reasonably educated man, but I can not for the life of me figure out what is meant by Chief Elected Officer.

  53. Naomi Schiff

    I don’t see why it matters what is is called. Jerry Brown and his minions wrote the Strong Mayor ordinance. It was the third (or second?) try after an earlier Elihu Harris attempt (defeated in an election). Then it was amended after it turned out to be not well-written, with lacunae, contradictions, and unworkable bits, including the possibility that the mayor would never be required to engage the public in any open meetings. My question is, what part of it do you want to change? And, why do you think strong mayor is a better form? I question that. If we had had a much stronger mayor would that have made any difference over the last ten years? A lot of it has nothing to do with the format, but much more to do with the coalitions and power arrangements in city hall, which are less formal. It is not necessarily structural.
    To me, the oddest thing that occurred was the invention of a “president of the city council” and its increased power, creating a second locus of more or less executive activity.

  54. Dax

    #
    45
    len raphael Says:
    “Don’t buy the theory that Quan ran a superior campaign, grassroots etc.”
    “Perata over relied on a heavier turnout in East Oakland flats and underestimated the any one but Perata attitude in the high turn out affluent areas.”
    —————————————————-

    Yes, and Perata also failed to smartly address his “weakness”, found in so many of the issues you mentioned.
    He failed to grasp how many people actively didn’t like him and address that issue actively.
    Bottom line, Quan ran a superior campaign to Perata (on a relative basis) and given the circumstances in place on September 1st, 2010.

    I know, at my house, and with my viewing habits, looking at the mail, the house to house walking, the TV or lack thereof…
    No doubt where I live, Perata ran campaign that was far less effective than Quans.

    Elsewhere in the city, it may have been different.

    Just judging from comments of one of his political consultants, it is easy to see they were totally out of touch with the Oakland reality.
    Thus, now they cry about how unfair and distorted the election was.

    They failed to deliver, failed to produce.
    They were overpaid and produced poor results.

  55. Art

    @ralph—Oh, I know the 2nd place Tuman vote *meant* nothing, since clearly he was going to be out before Kaplan. But what I’m wondering is whether the 2nd and 3rd place votes get tallied anywhere—that is, does someone have a master list of how many 1st/2nd/3rd place votes candidates got independent of whether they counted in the election itself? (e.g., a ballot with Perata first and then Kaplan and Quan, which is how one person I know voted—that stays a Perata vote all the way till the end, but is there any record of the fact that it had those 2nd/3rd place picks?) That’s a curiosity more than anything else. I haven’t seen any tallies, but they might exist somewhere.

    Also, Kaplan was my first choice not because I thought she might go out before Tuman (highly unlikely), but because I thought there was a chance that someone might hit 50% before any of the top four went out, so it could have mattered who was first. (But, again, it didn’t, and even if someone had, the odds of it being Kaplan were slim from the get-go.) I was surprised to see it really go all the way down to two—I had expected Perata to win, and to win before either Kaplan or Quan had been eliminated. Interesting how it played out.

  56. livegreen

    Naomi, I agree with your comments about “pitching in”-including the unions. As previously commented on another post, I’m more likely to vote for an increase in property taxes IF the unions agree to concessions that balance the budget AND there are pass-throughs to renters (except lower income).

    That is TRUE participation.

    In turn, if the City, Unions & renters participate I’m more willing to accept another tax. Despite the fact that we and many middle class families employed in the private sector have lost a SIGNIFICANT amount of income in this recession.

  57. ralph

    Art,
    Not sure if there is any value in keeping a tally of who got 1st – 3rds. Anyone who voted for Perata 1 could have had 2 throwaway votes in 2 – 3 because they knew there was no chance of their vote going to the throwaway candidates.

  58. livegreen

    Naomi, re. Strong Mayor, my problem with it is not the balance between the Council & Mayor. It’s the added layer of bureaucracy created by the City Administrator. The C.A. has his/her own power base, and is difficult to fire, if they mess around, without big risks of lawsuits.

    Robert Bobb & Jerry Brown had regular disagreements which delayed policy, created friction, & created uncertainty in the bureaucracy.

    Dan Lindheim often ignored the City Council in ways that the Mayor would have politically had difficulty doing. & by putting his name (instead of the Mayor’s) on City Staff proposals avoided tough choices (esp. re. city budgets when Lindheim defended Staff perks).

    The Mayor having direct responsibility over the administration (like in NYC) removes a layer of bureaucracy, removes somebody for the Mayor to hide behind, and increases accountability (inside the bureaucracy & to the electorate).

    It should be part of our consideration when we elect the C.A. -oops- I mean the Mayor. Just like in NYC.

    If the politician isn’t good at it as Mayor (as you’ll say) then vote them out.

  59. len raphael

    Dax, if we can get voting results by precinct, we’ll have a good idea if Quan had strong Asian support. My impression is that Chinatown went for Perata.

    Naomi, it was no big deal to line up several qualified interested candidates for Quan’s shadow cabinet. Relying on headhunters is never good in any business.

    Even Greg Harland had a decent shadow cabinet, and surely someone as politically active as Quan should have many leads. Unless as I suspect she really was an amateur after 19 years of this stuff.

  60. Dax

    Has anyone spent any effort trying to determine if Kaplan had gotten just a tiny bit more whether she also would have beaten Perata in the final round of RCV.

    After all, she was at 28.91% versus Quan’s 30.95%.
    Unsure if Kaplan would also have gotten 75% of the votes verus Perata’s 25% in the final RCV round. Perhaps more, perhaps less.

    Given her late start, I guess Kaplan really ran the best campaign of the top three.

    Will the raw data ever become available, with all the ballots and their rankings?

  61. ralph

    Dax,
    I am of the mindset that had Kaplan closed the gap on Quan, Camp Quan would have gone Kaplan. But I’ll be honest I met Quan supporters who did not like either K or P. On the lesser of evils theory, I suspect they would have gone K. If they dropped out completely, then it goes P.

  62. len raphael

    Naomi, I don’t see us heading into a situation that rewards the unions to pitch in, or for people like myself who are in no position to pay a +1,000/year per parcel to get mediocre city services.

    Yesterday afternoon, I took a young couple out to lunch on College. He was deciding between going to UCB or Stanford for engineering grad school. Both top engineering schools, so it came down between living in Berkeley/Oakland vs Palo Alto.

    We’re more diverse and don’t believe that stuff about all of Oakland is dangerous. That’s all i could say as we avoided buckled sidewalks.

    -len raphael, temescal

  63. Jon

    I was an RCV facilitator on election day in Berkeley and I did not receive any complaints or questions about RCV whatsoever. My precinct had about 500 people come in throughout the day and everyone knew how to fill out an RCV ballot. Personally, I think it is very self-explanatory and I think we should give people more credit. People are not as stupid as we think. The system is pretty self-explanatory even if you are an old person or unfamiliar with the system. You rank your favorite person first, your second favorite second, and your third favorite third. If you don’t have multiple preferences just put however many you want. Very basic. If you were confused on election day, there were helpers in the precincts you could ask.

    I think a lot of the frustration about RCV stems not from actual facts about RCV, in fact the facts show that a lot of people knew what they were doing and only a very small percentage did not. Plus the people who did not understand it probably was just unfamiliar, but now they probably do know what to do, and if they are still confused they can always ask.

    I think there is too much harmful rhetoric against RCV, a lot of it which is politically influenced by Perata. Perata was smart. He knew RCV would hurt his chances becoming mayor so he argued whatever was necessary to prevent RCV from being implemented, using the uneducated people argument with ulterior motivations. He was right that RCV hurt his chances because the result was true.

    Let’s be real here, the rhetoric against RCV is not so much that it is bad for voters, but that it is bad for camp Perata.

  64. ralph

    Naomi,
    To be honest Chief Elected Officer sounds like some ceremonially head without and real responsibility. The office of the mayor is the executive office and it should be treated as such.

    We have an executive officer without a cabinet. Then there is the added C.A. layer. I am a little annoyed by the usage of strong mayor and stronger mayor. (I am sure you get it but I see others use it but the two have nothing to do with each other.)

    The charter is some type of bastard hybrid:
    http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2010-02-11/article/34636?headline=Undercurrents-Oakland-s-Strong-Mayor-Charter-Ambiguous-As-to-Mayor-s-Duties

  65. Karen Bishop

    “Relying on headhunters is never good in any business.” Really? I’ve found some excellent employees this way. I would rather find some highly qualified new blood that can bring new thinking into the process — isn’t that what most of us have been complaining about here that nothing has really changed? If we have someone who knows the system there is a high likelihood they are beholden to the same ole, same ole’.

  66. Max Allstadt

    @Ralph

    You’re spot on. Kaplan entered this race because second and third choice votes made her viable, very viable. She really understands the game theory behind elections, RCV, standard or otherwise.

    Team Kaplan was looking to hit 25% first choice on election night, believing that would mean a near-guaranteed victory. They were right. The only thing that kept us from getting there was that we got started a little too late. We had a steady upward trending poll number. Perata’s trended steadily down. Quan’s was borderline stagnant. There were other missteps in Kaplan’s bid, but in my opinion, a little more time would have been enough to get the job done.

  67. Karen Bishop

    Once the results are certified by ROV will the raw data be available to the public? I think some breakdown of information (who got more support from which district) would be helpful.

    Quan, bankruptcy, budget, etc. I think she is very optimistic that she can negotiate with OPD. I’ll be at a business roundtable where Quan, Cohen, Signature Properties will be speaking. I’m very interested in what they will have to say.

  68. Jay Peel

    I think the vote results show that Oakland voters DID understand RCV. In a runoff between Perata and Quan, most of Kaplan’s supporters would have voted for Quan over Perata (in RCV the split was 75/25) and most of Kaplan’s would have gone to Quan. Between them they may have pulled in voters that might not have been there if only of them ran. I think its pretty clear that a (narrow) majority of voters did not want Perata, and a narrow majority thought either Quan or Kaplan would be better. Let’s see if Quan can unite a very divided Oakland and an even more divided City Council, which still holds the real power in Oakland – budget in particular.

  69. Jay Peel

    On the issue of union concessions and retirement benefits — some unions have made significant concessions, others haven’t. The distinction is important, because the ones that haven’t account for the bulk of the General Fund.

    Police and Fire have significantly better retirement benefits than civilian employees. (Incidentally, City employees are not covered by Social Security, which is why retirement benefits matter so much to them).

    Firefighters contribute 13% of gross pay for retirement, Police contribute 0%.
    Civilians pay the full 8% employee contribution mandated by PERS (the City used to pay some or all of this, but not anymore).

    Civilian unions agreed to slash pay by 10% from their last raise (July 2007) through furloughs and shifting retirement costs from City to employees. They now take home less than in 2005, while Police are making around 12% more than in 2005.

    Starting in July 2009, the civilian unions agreed to contribute an additional 5% of their salary to their pensions, which significantly reduced the City’s costs.

    The City has also eliminated hundreds of positions (beyond the 80 police positions) through attrition, encourating people to retire, and laying people off.

    The fact remains…City General Fund revenues have fallen by 20% (almost $100 million) because of the housing crash and recession. Police and Fire make up about 75% of the General Fund, and over half of what’s left is for paying off bonds or funding voter mandates like Kids First and the Library. There’s not really a lot left to cut unless you want to shut down the parks, the museum, the library, senior centers, etc.

    Oakland has it worse than other cities and shouldn’t have squandered surpluses when it had them (on police overtime and Council pet projects and “Pay-Go”), but city and state budgets are in crisis all over the country because of the recession.

    Back in the 1970s, the Nixon and Ford Administrations established “General Revenue Sharing” which helped local governments with their fiscal problems in bad economic times. It was seen as a counter-cyclical fiscal stimulus. It was eliminated under Reagan and there’s nothing like that today, though many economists have called for its revival.

  70. livegreen

    Jay, City Employees have 5% in temporary furloughs when they don’t work anyway, & when we don’t get services. + 5% contributions to retirement benefits (which are WAY better than private sector retirements).

    I agree with you about OPD Retirements, but they would point out they gave OTHER concessions, namely a give-back of guarantee pay increases (in lieu of contributions which they offered).

    We need a spreadsheet of all the contributions to decipher each union’s slant on reality. &
    negotiating with each union is going to be difficult because EACH one will be pointing fingers at the OTHER one.

    & bickering to the bitter end.

    Fact is, more taxes didn’t pass, so either services or wages/benefits will have to be given back.

    SF unions contributed much more than Oakland unions did. Why can’t ours do the same?

    Around & around we go. Where we stop nobody knows…

  71. Karen Bishop

    I guess we can kiss RCV goodbye. Sounds like the state democratic power structure is all in a tizzie over it. Newsom was on the news making fun of it acting like he didn’t understand it, then made the comment that someone was working to get rid of it. I’m assuming someone is writing a ballot initiative.

    What I can’t understand is why? Is the state democratic committee afraid of outsiders coming in to power? Are they afraid somehow Republicans will gain more control? Maybe others have some good ideas to share.

  72. len raphael

    Any reason to doubt that Quan and council are going ahead and laying off 120 cops very soon unless the OFD and the cops agrees together agree to 30% concessions. Then in the spring, will have to layoff more.

    If you were a cop in Oakland, would you vote to take a 30% cut knowing that there’s an excellent chance more of you will be cut or asked for more concessions six months later? Maybe if you’re far from retirement and have roots here.

    -len raphael

  73. Dax

    Jay, some of your statements are a bit much.

    “Police and Fire have significantly better retirement benefits than civilian employees. ”

    I don’t really think that is true.
    In 2004, the civilian employees pensions were jacked up a full 35% and now are 90% of the rate of the police and fire. 3% vs 2.7% for each year.

    Civilians are able to retire at age 55.
    The age of the average police and fire employee is not younger than that age.

    Civilian employees can collect pensions of over 100% of their highest salary if they work to the typical age that private sector employees work. Begin at age 23, work until age 66, and the civilian employee would collect a 116% pension.

    The furlough days are not a real pay cut.
    Not if you don’t work for those hours.
    Most civilian workers only work a 37.5 hour week, 11 hours per month less than workers in the private sector are expected to work. And that doesn’t even take into account the multitude of extra holidays, few of which private sector employees get to take.

    The 2.7% jacked up pension plan will not meet its projected future costs even with the 8% contribution by the workers.
    It still faces a shortfall.
    That foolish 2.7% boost will have to be reduced back to the prior sustainable rate of 2.0% where it was for decades.

    The worst part of the entire pension boost fiasco was that all the civilian workers were given a huge golden parachute when all their prior years of service were jacked up to the 2.7% rate when they had agreed to work for a 2.0% pension for years and years.
    It was nothing but a huge give-a-way to city workers. Hundreds have already benefited by retiring with pensions that will be boosted from $200,000 to over $1,000,000 during their expected retirement.

    Lastly, can you give me any sensible reason why regular civilian employees of Oakland should be able to retire any earlier than the other residents who have to work until age 65 or 66 to gain their Social Security?

  74. ralph

    I think it is good that JQ is looking across the country for an Administrator. I am hopeful that potential candidates will have a strong understanding of accounting and internal control as that is something the city desperately needs. I am also hopeful that the person has a record of economic development in a former city. If JQ wants to accomplish some of her goals for the youth, we need to look beyond Oakland’s traditional funding mechanisms. We need to have coroporate partners. This model is used successfully in many cities. And someone who has a strong understanding of the needs of city government, business and the community.

    Personally, I think MEJQ should be reaching out to former Baltimore City Deputy Mayor Andy Frank. From the Baltimore Sun, “Frank is highly admired by the city’s business leaders…”

    “In the administration of former Mayor Sheila Dixon, Frank was the business community’s main line of communication to City Hall. He served on the Board of Directors of the Baltimore Development Corp, city’s quasi-public development arm, and made recommendations on development projects, including the West Side Superblock project – - a proposed, $100 million-plus urban renewal effort — and Westport, a “second downtown” with office buildings and residences proposed for the Middle Branch of the Patapsco.

    “Stanley S. Fine, a partner with Rosenberg Martin Greenberg LP and a leader of the Baltimore Development Workgroup, an association that advocates for the interests of real estate professionals, said that Frank was able to balance the needs of the community, the business community and city government.

    “Fine represented the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation in a complicated land swap deal that allowed for the Superblock project to go forward. He said that Frank was essential in drafting a memorandum of agreement that united the parties involved in the deal.

    “We were able to complete very early on a memorandum of agreement in the Superblock, and it was a very large, progressive step,” Fine said. “Andy helped complete that agreement. He was able to get the people to the table and get it done.”

    “David Cordish, a prominent developer who has built or transformed hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial real estate in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, praised Frank as well.”

    Before moving to City Hall, Mr. Frank was executive vice president of the Balto. Development Corp, , for six years, involved in attracting and retaining businesses, redevelopment, commercial revitalization, and urban design and planning, among other issues. He also served as Inner Harbor coordinator, supervising implementation of the 2003 Inner Harbor Master Plan, chairing the intra-agency Inner Harbor Task Force and managing the $5 million renovation of the West Shore Park.

    Of course, the big task will be wooing him out of Baltimore where he is currently doing economic development for JHU.

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/2010/03/andy_franks_unfinished_busines.html

  75. len raphael

    The city employees are not going to make major concessions in their entire compensation packages as long as informed people like JP think the main cause of the fiscal problem we face is excessive police/fire retirement and compensation and that we would have been ok if not for the real estate crash/stock market decline.

    The fire and non security employees will wait to see if the city will cut the cops down to 250 before they agree to retire at age 65, take medicare instead of kaiser on retirement, and take additional pay cuts.

    Over 600mill of our retirement obligations is for non police retirement medical coverage. There never were any funds invested in stock market for that. So the stock market decline has nothing at all to with that problem.

    -len raphael, temescal

  76. ralph

    Len,
    Yes, there are fewer corp in Oakland today than there were a few days ago, but that does not mean we should not have an individual responsible for business attraction. It is no secret that salesforce.com had been looking for new space for over a year. Dellums should have had someone, I suspect he did not. But a big key to Oakland’s future will be expanding the pie. Adding business to your revenue sources expands the pie. Further, if Oakland does not participate in business, its voice in the region will be lost. Having business does not mean you are anti-community. Having business allows the government to do activities for the community.

  77. len raphael

    JohnB, useful link. Anyone have a link to the Calpers increase assumptions Lindheim last used? My dim recollection is that he used numbers supplied by Calpers based on the 35%
    “smoothed” increase to make up for their investment losses relative.

    For those previous Calpers estimated increases, public safety had already been increased for higher than expected life expectancies at retirement.

    Anyone know how much of the general fund goes to Calpers contributions now or in Lindheim’s last deficit projection? multiply by 1.35% to get Lindheim’s number, then see how much his number goes up if you multiply by another 1.20%.

  78. len raphael

    JB, amazing how sensitive the contribution rate is to the rate of return assumption. No wonder the Calpers board dare not drop that to say 6% or the state and local officials would face mass recalls and a whole new set of ballot propositions when the voters realize they were sold in the early 2000′s.

  79. Oaklandlifer

    Does anyone know what percentage of the police force actively patrols? I have been hearing disconcerting figured such as about 50% or fewer. Could this be true? I also read somewhere but don’t remember where that officers stop patrolling for the most part by 10 years into their career. I would guess it is set up so that those with the most experience don’t really patrol the streets, and if those officers are making the most in compensation that seems wrong to me. Anyone who knows concrete information on this, please do share it.

  80. John B

    I agree about the contribution rate/assumed return thing, Len. And I actually expect that Mr. Lindheim has a pretty solid (and accurate)ballpark figure. We shall see.

  81. len raphael

    Wait to see how younger and poorer residents react when the city mothers and fathers tell them that they’ll be supporting thousands of city employees in the style they’re accustomed, and who retired in their 50′s and early 60′s, for the next 30 to 40 years.

    most likely residents under 40 won’t even be able to get social security, let alone retire, until they’re 69.

    fooled again.

  82. ken o

    I support overall abolishment of Unions. They started well. They are no longer beneficial to most of society.

    They are as useful and good now as the USSR, coal-electric cars, repair-injectors-every-other-year-biodiesel cars or being mugged.

    Or, as useful as communism, socialism, capitalism, all the *isms. These are all fossil fuel/industrial society constructs. They will go away in the lifetimes of us, the living.

    Not willingly. But it will happen. We will probably get halfway to Cambodian standards of living in our lifetimes. Halfway… I see more and more people riding mopeds and motorcycles every day! Welcome to the “Long Emergency” of perpetual recession.

    I’d support Unions if ALL Americans were part of one big one. In a way we supposedly are, but really it’s indentured servants/debt serfs/peons, then a layer of vestigial middle class + geeks + government cheese, then finally the hedge fund manager + dynastic wealthy families + bankers layer of Plutocracy.

    [ / negativity ]

    Have a great weekend! :)

  83. Max Allstadt

    Ken,

    I find a lot of frustration in the way that unions operate in municipal government, and I find an equal amount of frustration in the way that business organizations operate on the same playing field.

    The airport connector had union reps along with COC reps calling for wasteful spending.

    The problem isn’t that there are unions. The problem is that our city’s electorate is disengaged enough to elect short-sighted politicians who make unreasonable concessions to unions.

    I don’t blame OPOA, for instance, for fighting hard to keep their salaries and benefits. I blame the council for increasing those salaries and benefits to an unsustainable level. The council set OPOA up for disappointment by promising something they couldn’t deliver.

    As for your “part of the same big union” thought, Rand Paul agrees with you…
    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/364881/november-08-2010/the-word—nothingness

  84. Dax

    Unions. Too few and too weak in the private sector.

    Unions. Too extensive and too powerful in the public sector.

    The KEY feature that causes the excesses in the public employee unions is MONOPOLY.
    If they strike, there is no other company to come in and perform the services.
    Also, the entity that they work for does not need to make a profit or even break even to stay in business

    Second key feature is that they can excessively influence those who control the purse strings, via campaign contributions.

    Lastly, in regard to the huge issue of pensions, everyone involved in the negotiations gets the benefits of any raises in pensions.

    -The union workers
    -the staff putting forth proposals
    -the elected officials

    All of them get the pension boosts.

    Is it any wonder their have been and are abuses. Absurd work rules, vacations, holidays, massive benefits, unsustainable pensions.

    In the SF Bay Area, less than 10% of private workers are unionized while over 65% of public employees are.
    No wonder pay in government jobs is much more lucrative for the average worker of similar skill and ambition.

    Lastly, those public employee union members and the cities they work for, don’t allow the large influence of undocumented workers to lower wages and benefits.
    Undocumented workers are weeded out in the hiring process.

    Rather ironic when those very same cities and unions portray themselves as being all for open and welcoming policies regarding illegal immigration.

    Hypocrisy at its best.
    We’re all for undocumented workers, just don’t try to get one of the jobs in our city government.
    NO, go over THERE and compete with that private sector guy, undercut his wages, while we sit here protected, fat, and happy with out public sector union protecting us.

    Oakland, a prime example of the above.

  85. CitizenX

    Police and Fire employees received a bump in their retirement benefits, too — Fire at the same time as civilians and police a year earlier. They went from a 3% at 55 program to a 3% at 50. Fire pays the full 9% employee contribution, plus 4% of the employer contribution and Police pay nothing. Of course, Fire did get an 8% pay increase, the year they began paying the extra 4%.

  86. Dax

    “plus 4% of the employer contribution and Police pay nothing. Of course, Fire did get an 8% pay increase, the year they began paying the extra 4%”

    Translated, they got a net 4% raise in pay.

    BTW, I’m sure they didn’t overlook the fact that the full 8% would be counted when pension calculations are considered.

    Thus even if you pay a extra 4%, of the employers contribution, for perhaps 3 or 5 or even 10 years, you have just raised your pension by 90% of that for 25 or 30 years.

    You do the math, and see what gets you the most money over the next 20 to 40 years.

    Every time these deals are made, guess who loses? The city —> taxpayers.

    The “miscellaneous” got a bigger percentage boost in their pensions when they went from 2.0 to 2.7 for each year of service.

    Though police and fire got 3% at 50, most don’t retire before 55 anyway.

    One thing about which I am uncertain is, prior to 1999 or around then, what was the percentage for police and fire?
    What was their 3.0% back in 1995, 1985, 1975, etc.

    Does anyone know that? 2.5% or less?

    Also the retirement age? 55 back then?

  87. Naomi Schiff

    I am not at all sure about this but somewhere rattling around in my brain is a patrol number of 280-something. Not all patrol officers are on duty at once. I can’t remember the numbers, and no doubt someone will correct me, but I do remember being surprised it was less than half. There are many other functions, of course (investigators, traffic, supervisors, and so on). But one does wonder how the overall allocation looks and how effective it is. And, whether Oakland’s ratios are similar to what might be expected.

  88. Naomi Schiff

    PS: I don’t think it is relevant to get mired in a discussion of abolishing unions. Not happening.

  89. livegreen

    Don’t forget paperwork. I recall a significant time Officers spend is on NSA-mandated paperwork when they make an arrest. + a Supervisor has to come down to a crime scene under many circumstances and Officers must wait for them. & If the Supervisor has more than 2 or more crime scenes to go to, the Officers wait on scene that much longer.

    It’s been a while since I looked at it hence my vague recollection.

    Related, the Chief said in a Tribune article a few months back that the type of NSA mandated documentation OPD has to do is not different from what’s standard at other PD’s. What I don’t understand about this statement is in the same article it mentioned that OPD spends significantly more time than other PD’s on paperwork.

    So either OPD Officers are simply slower than Officers in other Departments, or they have significantly more paperwork. Or both. But what the Chief said simply didn’t jibe with the time spent…

  90. Dax

    Max, Naomi,

    I don’t think we are getting “mired” in a discussion about abolishing unions.

    Only one poster even suggested such.
    That was Ken O,
    I only pointed out the distortions which the unions without competition can cause in the system.

    From time to time, each of us need a reality check on what city workers make.
    To compare it with the rest of the private work force.

    I recently saw a two man city clean up team.
    They drive a fair sized garbage truck, though not nearly as large as a Waste Management truck.

    They go from site to site, picking up trash that has been dumped. Usually called in by a resident.

    I saw them picking up few bag fulls that had been left near the old Navel hospital, so I pulled over to ask if they had been called. Yes they hand, even though that particular garbage is picked up weekly by a fantastic citizen who keeps about a mile of that road clean. Stopped and learned about his quiet deeds one day.
    All on his own, he just cleans up one road.

    Back to my main point.

    After asking about that pick up, I told them the city would be a mess without their efforts and then asked what their job titles were.
    1. Street maintenance leader
    2. Public works maintenance worker

    Now, these guys do a job that is not glamorous to be sure. They pick up piles of trash in all manner of locations.

    They do their work, but are in no way on a schedule like we see for Waste Management workers where its go go go the entire day.
    When I saw them the were just taking it easy before going on to the next location.

    OK… I looked up their salaries

    Street maintenance leader (in charge of one guy, his partner on that truck)

    Salary range to begin $53,102… to about $66,000 plus.
    Most are getting about $61,500 without overtime.

    The training for that job would take perhaps a few weeks to a month or two.

    The other position

    Public works maintenance worker—
    Beginning salary $41,808 to max $51,334

    Most seem to be making $48,000 without overtime.

    Training needed for that job, about 1 week maximum. There is the trash, with your team leader, pick it up.
    When I saw them he was just standing there. Perhaps they were both resting, but they certainly weren’t under some “Waste Management” type of schedule or pace.

    Now, each of these workers would also be getting a full benefit package, with just the medical and dental costing from $8,000 to $18,000 per year. Plus all the other pension, paid holidays, vacations etc. that normally come with city employment in Oakland.

    The team leader with his base of $61,500 would seem to have a total compensation package of $95k to $100K plus.

    The “worker” would seem to be in the $75K to $80K range of total compensation.

    Neither of the above figures counts any overtime.
    Both employees work 37.5 hours per week for base pay.

    Now neither of those jobs require much more than minimal training that could be accomplished in a few weeks.
    A few instructions about hazardous waste, etc. Safety instructions.

    I must say, even before our recent downturn, those wages, for the work being done, are very high.
    When you factor in the benefits, pensions, holidays, vacation and 37.5 hour week, you are talking about workers who are getting a minimum of 50% more than a private sector worker would get for the same tasks and responsibilities.

    Be wildly fair, and say its only a 25% premium to the regular market.
    That would mean you could easily cut their wages by 20% and still be at the upper end of the market for comparable work and its total compensation.

    Think about that worker who is the number two man. $4,000 per month plus another $2,000 to $2,500 in benefits/pension/etc.

    37.5 hour week, picking up stuff on the street.

    Do you not think $6,000 to $6,500 is excessive.

    OK…. just bringing reader to real world examples.
    I think it explains a great deal of why Oakland is in such condition.
    Do you really expect residents to boost their property taxes, or telephone taxes to keep that kind of compensation in place.

    The worker of the two who is called the “leader” makes over $5,000 a month plus another $2,500 to $3,000 in benefits, pensions, and the like.
    That compensation, nearing $50 per hour for a job that could be learned in a few weeks.

    Or is this just what we should expect and view as normal?

    Just a reality check. The kind of numbers that get lost when a finance committee pours over a stack of figures.
    Yet there they are.

  91. CitizenX

    Naomi, I’m working from memory here, but your 280-ish number of officers assigned to patrol is correct.

  92. CitizenX

    Dax, you are absolutely correct re the 8% pay increase/4% contribution. The firefighters all got a healthy bumb to their retirement earnings with that one. The former head of the fire union was also an accountant. He figured out the angles, including the fact that pension contributions are excluded from taxable income.

  93. livegreen

    Well, now, the Firefighters contract should make negotiating with the OPOA a whole lot easier.

    Think they’ll agree to be the only union to make concessions if the Firefighters got a salary raise to make their retirement contribution?

    Again, the only fair thing to do, is all employees take the same haircut, wherever they stand now. Otherwise we get into each union arguing against the other, each one doing separate rounds of negotiations.

    Wonder how complicated that will get, how long it will take, and how much yelling at the Mayor & City Council will be done? It will be a circus.

  94. John B

    If I recall right, (at least in Oakland PD’s case) the previous Calpers retirement formula was “2% at 50″…capped at 75%….but….
    …the 2% per service year ramped up quite quickly to a top of 2.5% per year when most members hit their early 50′s. (52-55 Y/O).
    The formula was a bit more jumbled…
    This compelled personnel to hang on a bit longer into their early/mid 50′s before retiring.
    Thus, 30 years gave the max 75% pension.
    This was previous to the SB400 that prompted 3 at 50 now in place, and was independent of and subsequent to the old “P and F” system

  95. Dax

    John B, Yes that 2.0% ramping up after age 50 sounds familiar.
    Ending at what is effectively about 30 years at 2.5%, giving 75%.

    SB400, courtesy of Don Perata and others gave us the 3% ending at 90%.
    Then departments were played off against each other, one city to the next.

    Finally the other workers plied the legislature into giving away the farm.

    Think about it, going from effectively 2.5% to 3.0% is a 20% boost.

    But the rest of the Oakland employees instead of “just” getting a excessive boost of 20% from 2.0 to 2.4%, were granted a massive boost from 2.0 to 2.7… giving them a gigantic boost of 35%.

    And……as I always point out, they made the worst sin of all, and made it retroactive for all prior years of service.

    From one day to the next, a $60K pension, overnight became a $81K pension even if you only stayed on for another month.

    NO ONE………I mean NO ONE, in the city knew this massive give-a-way took place.

    The Tribune never pointed out that the city had just given hundreds of people, soon to retire, gifts of between $150,000 and $1,000,000.

    Example, Deborah Edgerly, living to the expected age, will have gotten over $1,000,000 extra from that boost.

    I know, I know, I repeat this every week or so, but asking people around Oakland what they know about this episode….

    They know NOTHING.. Zippo….nada.

    The most massive fiscal event to ever take place in the City of Oakland and it never even made the newspaper. All done quietly because…… because….everyone benefited. Even those council members, 6 of whom are still in office, including the mayor-elect Ms Quan.

    All, getting their own share of the 35% boost.

    This massive give-a-way will be the gift that keeps on giving, as it drives annual deficits as far into the future as the eye can see.
    A iron chain around the city, depriving other programs of funds.

    Ever more, the city will be all about paying pensions, much more than funding city needs.
    Its going to get worse, and with every new hire under the current program you are cementing in a new 50 year obligation.
    That 25 year old person you hire today, at the 2.7% pension, will still be collecting that pension 55 to 60 years from now.

    Every new hire done under the current system will cost an extra $200,000 compared to a person hired after they finally (when?) create a two tiered system which everyone knows will happen.

    Priority one for the city is putting that new pension system in place now.
    Why pay a extra $200,000 or more for each new hire. Freeze hiring until the new plan is in place. ( I realize that most hiring is indeed frozen, but there is NO announced plan to pass a new pension plan and I’m thinking Quan will walk on ice with the SEIU etc, instead focusing on the police 9% contribution deal.)

    The damage is done. Done in 2004.
    I don’t imagine Oakland will be fiscally sound for decades to come.

  96. len raphael

    Naomi, Max there are unions and then there municipal unions. It’s not union busting to do what more and more smaller cities are doing:
    laying off their current union employees, and outsourcing the work to unionized private service providers.

    A client of mine does that for cities that used to sweep their own streets. Savings to the cities are in the 40% range.

    I have no doubt that the savings aren’t etirely from lower wage and benefits, but also from work rules and competent management.

    The city council could place and support a charter amendment on the next ballot to allow private outsourcing and outsourcing public security to other state or county agencies. Upon passage, Quan gives the muni unions a choice: dramatically extend retirement ages for all employees, no medical benefits until same age that residents qualify for medicare; or get replaced by a private unionized vendor, county sheriff’s, county fire etc.

    Of course our cc and Quan would never do something that unprogressive until they took us into bankruptcy, when they could blame a bankruptcy judge for making them do it.

  97. Steve Lowe

    According to a friend who visits China two weeks out of every month, the media there is all excited about an Asian face in a major American city – not to mention a port city on the Pacific Rim at that.

    If Don had won, the news there would still be focused on how the Mayor of Shanghai’s son was nearly beaten to death here in Oakland and other stories about – at least in the eyes of others – our apparently business-averse City.

    I voted for Rebecca first because it meant more focus on regional transportation initiatives, stuff that no one around here seems to care much about because they’re preoccupied with more personal matters, I guess. But here we are, smack dab in the middle of the Bay Area and not getting the transit options that would otherwise make us the business hub of the region.

    Luckily, Jean and Rebecca have good priorities and have shown a willingness to support each other; so, though my second choice and first choice were a little reversed, perhaps, here we are with a Council that will now have a much more difficult time undercutting a Mayor just so their favorite pol might ascend the tattered throne of Oakland.

    Thanks,

    – S

    [Incidentally, can't wait for the report on Marcie's campaign financing. Anybody here just a little concerned where she got the big bucks to put up all those billboards? Haven't heard much from her supporters on this, maybe because they're kinda non-existent?]

  98. Dax

    One would hope there is some middle ground. Better to attain some compromise rather than just outsourcing everyone’s job.
    Public employees need to see the alternative they face, such as that seen in San Jose.
    I’m sure the workers there never thought it could happen to them.

    From the San Jose Mercury News…
    ——————————————————————

    SAN JOSE, Calif.—About 70 city janitors are losing their jobs in San Jose because of budget woes.

    City officials facing a record budget deficit have decided to hire private contractors to perform custodian duties, saving the city about $4 million a year, including $3.3 million at the airport.

    It’s the first major outsourcing of city work in more than a decade.

    City custodians earn up to $23.07 an hour, plus pension and health care benefits that bring the hourly total to $40.41.

    Contract custodians can be paid $12.83 an hour, with benefits, under San Jose’s “living wage” policy.
    ——————————————————————

    I’m also troubled that if those jobs go to people working for less than half the total compensation, that they will then become significantly held by undocumented workers, leaving long time Oakland residents left out of yet another field of employment. As if this trend hasn’t already been very pronounced in Oakland.

    Take a look at the following 33 page report of the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury Report on…..”Cities Must Rein In Unsustainable Employee Costs”

    http://www.sccsuperiorcourt.org/jury/GJreports/2010/CitiesMustReinInUnsustainableEmployeeCosts.pdf

    Take a look at the recommendations.

    Also look at the chart on page 5, showing the rate of total employee compensation rising from 2000 to 2010 compared to the CPI (consumer price index).

    Compensation greatly outpaced the CPI for the Bay Area.

    Oakland is no different. You’d have to cut total compensation by about 20% or more to bring it back to a “inflation adjusted” wage comparable to what city workers are getting today.

    People don’t realize that because their memories are so short.
    They just don’t see the huge jump that has taken place.
    Without which, we wouldn’t be having the huge fiscal problems we now encounter.

    So look, see the reality of only 10 years ago. See where the inflation adjusted charts diverge as public employee total compensation skyrockets.

  99. len raphael

    Steve, are there precinct vote counts that show what JQ’s support was in Chinatown?

    Judging from posters there and acquaintances, she wasn’t too popular there.

  100. len raphael

    JQ and cc will never even try force all of the unions to take 20% cuts in current pay and benefits; and bigger cuts in retirement benefits.

    They will stick us with 30 years of the mother of all bond issues with matching parcel tax to pay for all current employee promises (except cops), and put in a second tier for newbies.

    Even if JQ and cc were willing to threaten to privatize, there could be so many current employees who would simply retire early that our Caplers rates and medical costs would still require a lesser bond issue.

    When i drove back to Oakland today from a trip to the coast, first Oakland resident I saw was a homeless guy with a pushcart, waving to cars at the freeway exit. Welcome to Oakland.

  101. len raphael

    San Carlos will probably outsource its police dept to either San Mateo County or a neighboring city at significant savings. Not sure where the savings come from for them.

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-06-03/news/21655157_1_police-force-police-department-deputies

    Would think that in ten years from now, quite a few stand alone cities will merge their police and fire departments to realize economies of scale and eliminate high paid management positions, headquarters etc.

    Hayward and San Leandro might be naturals for that. Albany and Berkeley. But who would want to be dragged down by needy Oakland?

  102. CitizenX

    In light of this talk of outsourcing, we need to keep in mind Section 902(e) of the City Charter:

    “…provided, that no such contract for service shall result in the loss of employment or salary by any person having permanent status in the competitive service.”

    This is the barrier to outsourcing in Oakland. Any change, of course, would require voter approval. Think any Councilmembers or Mayor-elects have the moxie to address this issue?

  103. Naomi Schiff

    Len, working here on the edge of Chinatown, what I noticed was that quite a number of storefronts had multiple campaign signs: Perata Pae Kernighan Quan Kaplan Tuman, in various combinations, hedging their bets! However, most of the shop owners do not live in Chinatown. They reside all around Oakland, and some outside Oakland, too. So one would indeed have to review the local precinct results, which ought to be available from County, but are not posted on the website, as far as I see. There are significant numbers of voters in senior housing. By the way, loved seeing Kernighan’s name spelled out phonetically in Chinese. A translator’s challenge.

  104. len raphael

    Understood. That’s why JQ and cc would have to put an amendment to the charter on the next ballot. Dream on.

    Am i missing something here re possible solutions? As Jerry Brown said the other day about the state’s situation, there aren’t a lot of good alternatives.

    And we have neither the taxing power nor the borrowing power of the state. Even repealing prop 13 for commercial real estate, probably would help our situation because we already have captured the increment in the the RD zones; much of our appreciated commercial real estate is held by tax exempt orgs, and the already depressed valuations of the remainder will drop further if property taxes go up dramatically.

    Only benefit from doing nothing as cc and JQ will, is hoping that there’s safety in numbers if we wait till a bunch of other similar sized cities loudly talk bankruptcy, mount court challenges to medical retirement obligations, and outsource.

    Judging by the recent little tremors in the muni bond market, investors eventually won’t distinguish between filing for bankruptcy and defacto bankruptcy. Our borrowing rates will skyrocket. That’s an arguement for cutting costs, borrowing up the wazo, and passing a big parcel tax sooner than later.

  105. len raphael

    Re JQ and the cc are hoping for help from Jerry Brown and Senator Darrell Steinberg, the president pro tem of the Senate:

    “Mr. Steinberg said that given all the restrictions the state faced, the best course of action would be a realignment of state services, in a way that would require local governments — which might have more flexibility to raise some taxes — to provide them. He said he thought Mr. Brown would be more receptive to that kind of restructuring than Mr. Schwarzenegger.”

    “I think the notion of trying to raise state taxes to continue to prop up this system is a dead end,” Mr. Steinberg said, adding, “Unless we get the miracle of an economic recovery faster than anyone expects, we have to be bold.”

    California has, over the last three years, become accustomed to regular rounds of bad economic news. In this case, however, the level of despair is striking.

    “What the new governor would be loath to admit is that California’s fate depends on circumstances beyond his control,” said John J. Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College. “If there is a robust national economy, that would go a long way toward easing our problems. But the state of the national economy is not under Sacramento’s control.”

    “It’s been a while since they had actual balance,” Professor Pitney said of California. “If this were a private sector company, the governor and the Legislature would have gone to prison a long time ago.”

  106. Dax

    From Anchorage, discussion of their city salaries

    Anchorage is a city with a high cost of living, though Oakland is higher.

    http://www.adn.com/2010/11/13/1553467/salaries-at-center-of-city-budget.html
    —————————————————-
    The average regular pay of the 20 police officers in the top 100 city worker salaries was $89,000, with overtime adding another $45,000 to their paychecks.

    The average benefit cost during the 12 months for police union members was $38,000.
    —————————————————

    That means the average total compensation cost for a police officer (in the top 100 city employees)–(not including overtime) came to $127,000 per year.

    If adjusted to Oakland’s cost of living that would equal $149,000

    (that average is high though, because it was taken for for those 20 officers in the top 100 city employees pay. Thus the true police officer compensation would be below that. Neither figure uses overtime)

    Compare that to Oakland’s $180,00+ total compensation per officer (without OT)
    Over 20% higher, even after factoring in the higher cost of living in Oakland)

    In Anchorage, of about 4,116 city employees, 120 made $115,000 or more, including overtime.
    That is less than 3%…of the 4,116. Or of regular full time workers which number 2,800. Of those 2,800 that equals about 4.2% getting $115K and above.

    Now compare $115,000 in Anchorage vs Oakland and do the adjustments.

    According to the “Cost of Living” calculator at Salary.com, the Oakland employer would pay for the same work $118,811

    Thus in Oakland 19% of workers are paid that amount compared to the 3% in Anchorage that are paid the $115K.

    Then we compare, not just what employers are paying, but factoring in the true extra cost-of-living.
    That $115,000 in Anchorage would require $135,512 in Oakland.

    OK, in Anchorage 3% got that $115K level while the adjusted $135,512 level in Oakland was given to 628 of 5030 total employees or 12.5%…

    Or to about 15.7% of the regular 4,000 employees in Oakland, versus the 4.2% of the regular employees in Anchorage.

    http://swz.salary.com/costoflivingwizard/layoutscripts/coll_result.asp?presentsalary=115000&presenthomemetrocode=207&presentworkmetrocode=207&newhomemetrocode=122&newworkmetrocode=122&x=39&y=11

    Hmmm… Do you want more numbers?

    I don’t think the average city council member ever bothers to think in terms of comparative numbers, and everyone involved in the process of setting numbers and negotiating contracts has it in their best interests to give higher salaries, because their own salary will later be compared to this process.

    Everyone….ever higher.

    Now the money runs out and everyone wonders why.

    Too many employees, from top to bottom getting too much compensation for too few hours of work.

    Remember that “crew leader” I spoke about yesterday. Driving the medium sized garbage truck with one guy along, the one he “supervises”…
    Getting about $61,500 (without OT) plus a benefit package of over $35,000.
    Say a clean $100,000 to keep one such employee on payroll.

    All the way up the line…. to the $200,000 police sargeant’s total comp. (without OT).

    The public really doesn’t know or understand the true largess going on.
    The council has been signing off on this excess for so long they think any cutting of salary or benefits is “cutting to the bone”.
    They are lost in their own world of normalcy.

  107. Naomi Schiff

    Len, I think that your and Dax’s analyses of pension and pay costs and the resultant dangers are useful. I wonder if this would have more impact upon our elected officials, unions, and employees if they could be separated from the emotional construct of condemnation, gloom and doom. A realistic but dryer delivery can be effective in getting people to consider the substance of the comments without immediately feeling attacked. Cloaked in pejoratives, a valuable message can be lost.

  108. Dax

    Naomi, It is difficult to speak about the fiscal reality, the correction of which, requires those parties to “give up” something, and not have them perceive it as “cloaked in pejoratives”.

    If pointing out that a “street maintenance leader” who supervises one worker on a garbage truck, picking up piles of trash, might not need to be paid $100,000 a year in total comp., is perceived as speaking in pejoratives, then what can one say?

    How do you happily say, “you are earning too much for what you do” to someone who has been getting that compensation for many years.

    Other than, “we’re out of money” I don’t think they’d welcome or accept any other niceties.

    Like Mike, the policeman who came here months ago, “he deserved it” and we were ungrateful to even bring up the issue.

    I really don’t know the method or venue for these issues to be aired in a manner where the public and the employees will be forthright.

    The Tribune has all but abandoned its responsibilities to inform the public.
    Certainly anything involving math and data will never make it to broadcast TV news or even discussion.

    The Tribune’s coverage is just plain shameful, but then, they have perhaps one reporter who is suppose to focus on the daily items. No time for a major article or series on compensation in city employment given their staffing levels, while they try to stay in business.

    No political leaders speak about these issues, certainly not mayoral candidates.

    I don’t know the answer.
    Where or who is the person with whom one is suppose to dryly discuss the compensation issues.

    People on the streets know absolutely nothing. The only hear the city is broke and will be laying off people.

    I wish you could point out specific “perjoratives” or “attacks”.

    I don’t have many problems with most city workers. Only that they are paid on average about 20% more than they should be, work 2.5 hours less per week than everyone else, and get to retire 5 to 10 years earlier, on pensions that are at 35% excessive.

    Mind you, all of the above which I just mentioned was not the case as recently as 20 years ago.

    Much of it has changed in the last 6 to 10 years.

    Read that Civil Grand Jury Report I linked to in a earlier post. Though for cities in Santa Clara County, it listed A-Z all the items I just mentioned, suggesting we were on the road to disaster.

    The institutional memory of the recent past seems to have been lost.
    Lost by employees, the reporters, and even seemingly by the city council members.
    I’m sure many of them can hardly remember voting for 35% pension boosts only 6 years ago.
    Ooops, I’d better watch it, or I’ll arouse a negative response in them by reminding them of what was previously “normal”.
    The old “normal” which IDLF now admits we have to return to.

  109. Livegreen

    Dax, Whatever Council mtg u go to, try to say it in 2 minutes. If busy, 1 minute. Or make a deal with Sanjiv Handa…

  110. len raphael

    Naomi, doom and gloom is a coldly realistic attitude in our situation. We’d all be better off except for the lawyers, the sooner our officials and union leaders and members and ngo’s realize that the residents are not going to sacrifice basic services to pay for stupidly unsustainable promises our officials made.

    I don’t expect any politician of the Oakland variety to deal with this until the very last second.

    During the mayoral election, a buddy of friend who has a much better command of our budget details than I, had a one on one meeting with one of the fabulous 4.

    as my friend delved into the grim numbers the candidate literally hugged knees into a semi fetal position. eyes glazed over, ears shut down. or as one of my kids used to say when he was 9 years old and i was lecturing him “DONT WANT TO HEAR IT!”

    Try to describe how bad the situation is to a normal resident and the response is

    either “I’m sure they’re hiding a bunch of money somewhere” or “Can’t be true. Never heard of anyone getting those kind of pensions and salaries working for the govt. They’d never let it get this bad”

  111. Naomi Schiff

    “to pay for stupidly unsustainable promises our officials made.

    I don’t expect any politician of the Oakland variety to deal with this until the very last second.”
    While these phrases may express how you feel they might not be useful in convincing someone. How about: “I am volunteering my not inconsiderable expertise to help the city out of a terrible jam. Let me describe the problem, and suggest some approaches to it.”?

  112. len raphael

    Naomi,

    you’re right of course.

    but ultimately the pols, employees, and ngo’s have to see it an advantage for them to handle this sooner than later.

    if i were an employee close to or over min retirement age, there’s no reason for me to rush things. every day of status quo, i’m better off.

    for younger employees, different story.

    for pol, no one ever won elections telling voters bad news. especially since part of the solution is apologizing to the employees and the voters for making promises that were unsustainable from the start. I think we’ll have to wait till brunner, nadel, idl retire.

    -len

  113. len raphael

    Naomi, the tried and true method for pols to handle political hot potatoes is to appoint a blue ribbon panel of just a few prominent competent retired worthies. They’ll need some money or staff also.

    They have to be retired or some how insulated from public opinion and interest group pressure.

    Something akin to the Erskin Bowles/Alan Simpson combo that Obamba appointed for recommendations on the federal structural.

    Not like the study groups Dullums created that sunk without a trace. Maybe Steve Lowe can comment on the good and the bad of those.

    possibles would be Dick Spees, Danny Wong, retired head of Kaiser Health. Maybe the guy on the Peralta CC Board, Abel Guillen. Ideally we’d also find a retired union labor lawyer like the late Theodore Kheel of NYC.

    In a perfect world, our existing Citizen’s Budget Committee would serve this function….

  114. Dax

    Actually Ignacio De La Fuente is the only one I’ve heard thus far saying we urgently need to take all miscellaneous employees back to their prior 2.0% for each year of service.

    Or should I say, he suggested such for “new hires”.
    However the damage he and the others did is probably locked in place for every current employee..

    Not only for all the years of service prior to 2004, and to all the years since then, but sadly also to all the years until current new employees retire.

    That 23 year old guy hired in August, will be on the lucrative 2.7% until he retires in 2042… and then collecting that rate of pension until 2069, his life expectancy being 82.
    Of course with increasing life expectancies, he could easily be benefiting from the terrible financial decision of 2004, until 2080 when he will be 93.

    That amazing 2004 decision reached back for some employees to their service in 1964 and as we see, might extend until 2080.

    Yes, that one, hastily made financial blunder will effectively cost Oakland for a span of 116 years of employee service.

    Yet just 6 years after enactment, IDLF has already seen it was a huge blunder.
    Amazing how the rules always work against the city/residents when it comes to any corrections.

    The problem we have is that just about the ONLY people who know about the problem are those who want to keep it quiet.
    Employees and the council.

    The general public knows nothing about it.
    I mean nothing.
    Perhaps 1 resident in 1,000 has a inkling. (other than city workers).

  115. V Smoothe

    Clearly this comment stream has gotten away from me. However, Dax, I need to tell you once again that your behavior is not acceptable. How many times have I explained this? Over a dozen, I am sure. It is not okay for you to hijack the comments on every single post with your obsession about employee pensions. If you want to comment on a blog post, you need to leave a comment that is relevant to the subject of the post. That means that the only time it is appropriate to write some long screed about pensions is if I write a post about pensions.

  116. Dax

    Len, the framework is already there.

    As I pointed out earlier, the Santa Clara Civil Grand Jury report covered almost all the points for the cities in that county.

    Did anyone listen? I don’t know.

    http://www.sccsuperiorcourt.org/jury/GJreports/2010/CitiesMustReinInUnsustainableEmployeeCosts.pdf

    Not sure what would make the public stand up and listen or be upset.

    They like the Bell CA type “expose’ ”
    Shock… a handle…a villain.

    To say everyone is overpaid becomes very diffuse. At the very least most people require some USA Today type charts graphically showing the excess.

    Simple numbers make 75% of the public roll their eyes and switch to Dancing With The Stars.

    Heck, half the people reading my posts are reaching for their remotes before they finish.

  117. Dax

    OK V, I take your point. I reviewed the 134 posts under this topic.

    I was doing just fine, posting several times on RCV and the election. Staying on topic.

    Then at post #80 Jay, who sounds like a city employee, started up with the pay and pension issue. He must have activated my patellar reflex.
    Prior to that I’d not said a word about it.

    I posted something in response and it kind of took off.
    I will say though, that the police contribution issue was a major point in Jean Quan’s campaign.

    OK, I’ll try to contain myself. If only to do more productive things and to maintain my sanity.
    Keeping it down to a “low roar” if I can.

  118. Born in Oakland

    You go V! Set down the rules on your own site.

    It IS a pain in the elbow to have to scroll and then choose a page and then scroll again. Maybe someone can tell me how to easily and quickly get to the next post when the thread gets this long.

  119. LoveOakland

    Thank you Naomi Schiff for your call to everyone to pitch in. It’s OUR city and we have to do more than just complain from the sidelines.

    BTW, of the city’s 3 retirement programs, only one, a closed end system for retired Police and Fire is underfunded. The city can remedy this through a pension bond but IMHO, only if money will actually be set aside over time to pay the debt.

  120. len raphael

    LO, are you suggesting we join JQ’s 1’000 person army? or just refrain from criticizing her administration for say 1 year?

    I find it galling for her to ask residents to volunteer to do the work her highly compensated workforce should be doing.

    If she figures out a way to lower my ad valorem property taxes the 1,200 more i pay than than the same value house would cost in Orinda, than maybe i’ll have some leisure time to donate to Oakland.

  121. Dax

    LoveOakland,

    Just for the record, those of us who complain, may also “pitch in” for the city.
    I can’t speak for others, but I do no less than 4 to 8 hours a week on tasks that would otherwise require a city worker to perform.
    However, with current budgets, it simply wouldn’t get done if a volunteer didn’t do it.

    Many more volunteers will be needed in the future as the “underfunded” reality becomes a legally mandated drain on the General Fund.

  122. len raphael

    and i pick up trash and other people’s dog poop around emerson elementary every day on my dog run.

    the whole mentality of our officials that volunteers should make up for a badly managed, misfunded public work force is not new with Quan.

    Brunner used to do the same thing but with the cops, reminding citizens to do their smokey the bear best “only you can reduce crime by reporting suspicious.
    people to OPD”

    She seems to have stopped saying that after the 80 layoffs.

  123. Born in Oakland

    No one ever asked us to but we pick up the trash in our neighborhood every single day and also keep the storm drains clear. Our responsibility to the neighborhood does not stop at our front gate. My husband also weed wacks (sp?) the parking strips and the front yards of anyone who needs it. It does take a village.

  124. len raphael

    yup, i’m the median strip weed wacker, empty lot tree trimmer etc. but what happens as the basic city services contract to the point where there isn’t a public container near Emerson for me to throw away the trash. Am I supposed to drive my pickup around and paying for dump runs next so that our city public works people can retire when i can’t?

  125. Naomi Schiff

    Len, if you have large amoutns of trash you can get trash bags from Adopt A Spot, and the city will come pick them up if you call them, or for greenwaste, you can get brown bags prepaid for Waste Management to collect. I get huge amounts of stuff picked up in these ways, plus of course Illegal Dumping calls when the local absentee landlords and their hapless tenants dump left-behind furnishings on our traffic island (today, three large upholstered pieces, thanks guys). It takes a few days but works pretty well. Public Works.

  126. Dax

    Careful Len…

    To get those Adopt-A-Spot bags, and have them picked up, we need to involve lots of people, all running about $100K a year.

    1.
    http://www.keepoaklandbeautiful.org/AssetFactory.aspx?did=2214

    2.
    http://www.keepoaklandbeautiful.org/AssetFactory.aspx?did=3836

    3.
    http://www.keepoaklandbeautiful.org/AssetFactory.aspx?did=3575

    4.
    Then the employee(s) need to be scheduled to pick up your bag(s), drive to your location, load them, return them, where they are then dumped.
    All under the supervision of a employee costing $120K per year (total comp)

    5. Estimated final cost to remove that ONE typical large sized plastic bag…
    About $20 to $30 minimum.

    Perhaps its better to not involve the city.

    For Oakland to ever be clean, there has to be a better system that encourages people to help, without having to fill out 3 forms, including-Volunteer Waiver and Release of Liability-

    BTW, I’d like to see Jean Quan do one act.

    A very visible act.
    I’d like to see her carry around a small plastic bag as she goes about many of her daily duties on the streets.
    Then when she, the Mayor, sees a item on the ground, walk over to it and pick it up.

    Lead by example…
    How can you expect citizens to do the same thing you don’t do or don’t want to be seen doing.
    If its beneath a Mayor to do such a practice, then why should anyone do it.

    By the same thinking, if the mayor is willing to do such, then others may deem it NOT beneath their place to do the same.

    Lead by example.
    How about if all city leaders, council members, and city employees began following the same practice.

    You don’t think 4,000 people acting and preaching in concert would have some effect? 3 to 5 pieces of litter each per day.

    Or we can just go on hiring $100K workers to pick up paper cups, or having a tiny number of city residents, after filling out 3 sets of forms, picking up a few limited locations.
    All ending up with vast areas of the city remaining blighted with litter.

    It doesn’t seem the current system is working.

    Block by Block…think outside the box

  127. Dax

    Just a added note, this is not to say that major projects like Naomi and her group do around Lake Merritt do not require city involvement.

    Obviously major cleanups and projects are extremely valuable and do indeed require the city to be involved.

    I was just referring to cleaning up in some smaller areas or residential blocks where its almost better to just do it yourself, with your own bags, gloves, and tools.

  128. Naomi Schiff

    To answer more exhaustingly: If the amount I pick up fits in my green or trash container, or if a neighbor offers extra space, I put it in there. If it doesn’t fit, I have the city bags waiting for use. I only have the city pick up a) things bigger than a trash can or that I can’t lift, at my advanced age; or b) when I have more than two green trash bags. The paper greenwaste bags one just puts out for waste management on the regular day. Last time I did a cleanup I left 10 or 12 full greenwaste bags, and the city did nothing except furnish the prepaid bags from waste management, who picks them up.

    Also: when I was precinct walking with Jean she did indeed pick up miscellaneous litter, kind of an automatic action I think for a lot of us. This is how I recycle my winter newspaper bags—I usually have one in my pocket for use on my way to work. (You will know I have gone off the deep end when you see me scrubbing the sidewalk cracks with a toothbrush.)

  129. len raphael

    if there were a few more strategically placed public trash cans, that were emptied once a week, we’d save everyone’s time.

    But if anything, wasn’t the payment to WM for emptying the public trash containers on the list of proposed cuts?

    The one suggestion of Arnie Fields resonated: have ousd train kids not to litter from an early age. I wouldn’t give it as high a priority and as likeley to have a massive broken windows effect, but it wb cheaper to fund anti litter ed in grade schools than pay city workers or use volunteer time to pick up after the dirty deed.

    Around temescal most of the littering is done by school kids, and most of that from ghetto kids, and an occasional wannabe white kid yeah, a racist non pc statement but wev.

    Used to think it was an fu kinda statement, till a buddy of mine suggested that many of the kids from oakland ghettos simply have never had any parental discipline consistently applied. so it’s not a statement of anger, resentment, disaffection, alienation blah blah, just easier to litter than to carry the trash to the distant container.

    -len raphael, temescal

  130. ralph

    This trash talking is interesting. But I think Fields idea of teaching kids to respect the community is hollow if everything around them says that the city does not care about them. We teach the kids to be young activist. We teach them to speak before council and to write their CM about neighborhood blight and months later the blight is still there. The schools are in desperate needs of facilities upgrades. So, what message are we sending? Not a matter of the kids getting what they want, they can’t even get what they need.

  131. len raphael

    The conversation with my friend turned to his impressions from visiting 3 elementary schools in west and east oakland. He was struck by both the academic success of the KIPP school and its almost oppressive orderliness and formality compared to abysmal test scores/classroom impressions and and somewhat chaotic atmosphere of the public schools. Correction, not that they were chaotic, but only compared to KIPP.

    He was speculating why the kids at KIPP seemed quite happy with the regimentation.

    -len raphael

  132. Mr Ron Perazzo,sr

    Well Here We Go Again More Killings in Oakland
    Again I’m Asking for You Staff to Push Our State Reps For Pushing For
    “2′,3′ Floor Behind Mirror-Glass – Public Safety-Security Surveillance Web Cams
    Mounted on Public Storefronts,Homeowners,Transit-Hubs,Clubs, To Catch Any
    Robbers,Killers,Gang-Taggers,On Film and Send the Thugs To Jail for the Next
    10/15-, 25-50-yrs for Taking lives,Or Some People More Worried About the Thugs
    Rights. And City/State Pd Dpts Print out Gang,Killers Mug shots Id photos for
    Public Web cites for the Public to spot and drop a dime on them.

  133. Mr Ron Perazzo,sr

    Well Here We go Again shooting/killing in Oakland Again
    Again I’m Asking you and your staff to Push our City/State Reps
    To Push for Public Safety Security Surveillance Web Cams Mounted
    up on 2′,3′ Floor Behind Mirror Glass on Storefronts,Homeowners
    Schools,Clubs,Transit-Hubs,Parks To catch any Robberies,Killings
    Gangs-taggers On film and Send them to Jail for the next 5-10-yrs
    Or Life Takers 25-50-yrs For their Crimes,Or Some Public More
    Worried About the Thugs,Gangs,Killers Rights. What About the Lost
    Lives and their Family rights.