Finally, Council silence on the budget ends

In the nearly two months since the Mayor released her three proposed budget scenarios, Oakland residents concerned about service cuts have waited and waited and waited to hear how the Council will react. Today, we finally got some information about alternatives the Council will be discussing at the special Council meetings being held on Tuesday and Thursday of next week.

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a comparison of the budget changes in the Mayor’s three budget scenarios (PDF).

Proposal from Ignacio De La Fuente

And here’s the budget proposal from Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente (PDF). It maintains library services, as well as cultural arts funding and Neighborhood Service Coordinators. In the accompanying memo (PDF), he notes:

Of particular significance is my proposal to impose 20 furlough days for police. I differ from my colleagues and the Mayor and City Administration in that my proposal does not use gimmicks or revenue projections that are not real. This proposal lives up to the expectation that every sector of the City provides their fair share to balance this budget.

So here’s what it looks like.

Added back to Mayor’s Scenario A, totaling $10,532,406

  • No fire station closures: $310,000
  • No reduction in library staffing: $5,447,340
  • Film office staffing, add back 1 FTE
  • No Rec Center reduction programming at Manzanita and San Antonio: $184,963
  • Council Offices: move 2 FTE from General Fund to Redevelopment: $252,182 (plus other “alternative reduction”, for total savings of $378,856)
  • Opening of East Oakland Sports Center: $500,000
  • Maintain minimal funding at Zoo: $150,000
  • Neighborhood Service Coordinators: $1,000,000
  • No Parking Division Reorganization: $617,237
  • No Reduction in Accounting, Treasury, and Admin Positions: $1,000,000
  • Cultural Arts Grants Funding: $730,000
  • Peralta Hacienda: $54,000
  • Asian Cultural Center: $60,000

New revenue, totaling: $8,266,340

  • Additional 5 days of Mandatory Leave without Pay for police, bringing total to 20: $2,300,000
  • Firefighter union concessions: $3,700,000
  • Convert 580 underpass lot to 169 meters: $483,340
  • Reinstall 200 meters at East Lake: $660,000
  • Transfer Tax from sale of The Landing at Jack London Square: $973,000
  • Sell former Champion Street Fire Station: $150,000

New savings, totaling $2,299,336

  • Eliminate City Attorney legal communications officer: $164,448
  • Eliminate Neighborhood Law Corps Director position: $161,451
  • Eliminate Misdemeanor Prosecution Program: $297,662
  • Eliminate Half-Time Executive Assistant to the Public Ethics Director: $51,240
  • Reduce Public Ethics Director Position to Half Time: $75,862
  • 12 Yearly Closure Dates and PWA Savings at the East Oakland Sports Center: $500,000
  • Administrative Assistant to Mayor: $82,184 (NSD)
  • Eliminate Program Analyst III (NSD): $134,134
  • Eliminate Police Service Technician II (NSD): $87,002
  • Eliminate Administrative Services Manager II (Parking Division): $178,494
  • Eliminate Administrative Assistant I (Parking Division): $76,261
  • Reduce Parking Enforcement Supervisor II to Parking Enforcement Supervisor 1: $33,136
  • Reduce Accountant III to Accountant II (Parking Division): $19,436
  • Parking: Reduce Accountant Clerk III to Accountant II (vacant): $37,470
  • Freeze Parking Meter Repair Worker (vacant): $76,806
  • Freeze Parking Meter Collector (vacant): $71,568
  • 1 FTE Film Office from General Fund to Redevelopment: $100,000
  • For Public Works: Add back 3 FTE Tree Trimmers ($333,199), 1 FTE Tree Supervisor ($132,844), 2 FTE Gardeners II ($177,794), Eliminate $350,000 newly proposed Emergency Tree Contract, Eliminate newly proposed Program Analyst II ($102,950), Eliminate Management Intern Facilities and Environment Division ($83,000), Eliminate Account III – Fiscal Services ($128,000), Utilize LLAD Operating Surplus ($44,439)

I’ll update this post with other two Council budget proposals when they appear.

Proposal from Councilmembers Nancy Nadel, Pat Kernighan, Rebecca Kaplan, and Libby Schaaf

And here’s the budget proposal from Councilmembers Nadel, Kernighan, Kaplan, and Schaaf (PDF). Strangely, although it continues to rely on the sale of the Kaiser Convention Center for an absurd price, it conditions the sale on “modified purchase sources” and the immediate issuance of an RFQ. It’s unclear what these purchase sources are — a different Redevelopment Area (as proposed by Brooks, Brunner, and Reid)? Or a private party, which is what the reference to an RFQ seems to imply? If that’s the case, it does not seem realistic to me at all. Selling it to ourselves for so much money was bad, but the idea that anyone else would buy it for the amount budgeted is just laughable.

Additional Expenditures versus Mayor’s Scenario A, totaling $20,131,037

  • Maintain library services: $5,450,000
  • Keep Main Library open during Winter Break: $50,000
  • Preserve all 9 Community Policing Neighborhood Service Coords: $829,929
  • Maintain 85% of cultural arts grants funding: $620,602
  • Preserve 2 Information Technology FTEs by moving them to the Library and funding them with Measure Q surplus: $240,000
  • Preserve 1 FTE Oakland Film Office: $98,543
  • Maintain 85% subsidies to Oakland Zoo, Vietnamese Senior Centers, Symphony in schools program, AIDs initiative, Women’s Business Initiative, Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland Asian Cultural Center & Peralta Hacienda: $799,615
  • Maintain 100% of Eden I&R 211 Information & Referral funding and move to Library GPF budget: $100,000
  • Keep all fire stations open: $320,000
  • Preserve programming at Manzanita, San Antonio and Poplar Rec Centers: $299,393
  • Civilianize police internal affairs ($1,340,000 in savings in FY12/13, none in FY11-12)
  • Hire back 44 laid off officers immediately (increasing sworn strength by 22 officers): $3,271,478
  • Preserve 3 gardener II positions: $257,000
  • Preserve 5 Tree Trimmers + 2 Tree Supervisor 1s: $705,174
  • Preserve 5 Information technology FTEs: $705,174
  • Preserve 1 HR & 2 Accounting positions: $325,000
  • Contribution to Reserve: $6,050,000

Additional Savings, totaling $20,140,000

  • Cost Savings Goal from Labor Agreements: $12,200,000
  • Move $1.3 of Kaiser Arena sales proceeds from accelerated negative fund payment to general fund reserve: $1,300,000
  • Shift Henry Kaiser Center sales proceeds from 2nd to 1st year: $5,100,000
  • Adjust OPD attrition assumption rate from 3.3 to 4 per month: $1,200,000
  • Draw Measure Q surplus to preserve library services and dedicated Library Technology staff: $340,000
  • Total savings: $20,140,000

Cost Neutral Proposals

  • Reject current reorganization proposal of parking division. Direct staff to return with a new cost-neutral proposal that maintains Parking Director position.
  • Adopt City Attorney’s proposal to add 6 Attorney and 3 Support Staff positions funded by Self Liability Insurance fund 1100 in Non-Dept. and reduce liability costs by same amount. Require study 9 months after implementation to evaluate promised cost savings.
  • Support 5 day reduced hours at Senior Centers.
  • Condition sale of Henry J. Kaiser Center on modified purchase sources and issuance of RFQ asap.
  • Restore as many Gardener II’s as possible through savings in LLAD realized by labor agreements

Future Revenue Ideas

  • Lease Miller Library
  • Sell Chabot Golf Course
  • Seek WIB funding for Second Start Literacy Program
  • Seek Redevelopment funding for Tool Lending Library
  • Explore revenue generation through fees or membership program at AAMLO Museum

Proposal from Councilmembers Larry Reid, Desley Brooks, and Jane Brunner

Here is the budget proposal from Councilmember Reid, Brooks, and Brunner (PDF). It’s extremely similar to De La Fuente’s budget, except with fewer sources of new revenue and it does not restore the proposed cuts of gardeners and tree trimmers or the cultural arts grant funding. It also eliminates the Oaklanders Assistance Center. Both this budget and De La Fuente’s budget gut the Public Ethics Office, eliminating the part-time assistant entirely and reducing the Executive Director (the only other Public Ethics staff member) to half-time.

Added back to Mayor’s Scenario A, totaling $10,448,405

  • No fire station closures: $310,000
  • No reduction in library staffing: $5,797,340
  • Film office staffing, add back 1 FTE: $100,000
  • No Rec Center reduction programming at Manzanita: $400,000
  • Council Offices: move 2 FTE from General Fund to Redevelopment: $378,856
  • Opening of East Oakland Sports Center: $500,000
  • Maintain minimal funding at Zoo: $400,000
  • Neighborhood Service Coordinators: $1,000,000
  • No Parking Division Reorganization: $562,199
  • No Reduction in Accounting, Treasury, and Admin Positions: $1,000,010
  • No elimination of 0.50 FTE Revenue Assistant or 4.80 FTEs Tax Enforcement Officer II positions: $562,199

Alternative to Mayor’s proposal

  • “Alternative funding of Kaiser from other Redevelopment Sources”: $15,000,000.
  • New revenue, totaling: $2,140,000

    • Convert 580 underpass lot to 169 meters: $483,340
    • Reinstall 200 meters at East Lake: $660,000
    • Transfer Tax from sale of The Landing at Jack London Square: $973,000

    New savings, totaling $2,299,336

    • Eliminate City Attorney legal communications officer: $164,448
    • Eliminate Misdemeanor Prosecution Program: $297,662
    • Elimination Oakland Assistance Center: $251,151
    • Eliminate Half-Time Executive Assistant to the Public Ethics Director: $51,240
    • Reduce Public Ethics Director Position to Half Time: $75,862
    • 12 Yearly Closure Dates and PWA Savings at the East Oakland Sports Center: $500,000
    • Eliminate Neighborhood Service Director (Administrative Assistant to Mayor: $82,184 (NSD)
    • Eliminate Program Analyst III (NSD): $134,134
    • Eliminate Police Service Technician II (NSD): $87,002
    • Eliminate Administrative Services Manager II (Parking Division): $178,494
    • Eliminate Administrative Assistant I (Parking Division): $76,261
    • Downgrade Parking Enforcement Supervisor II to Parking Enforcement Supervisor 1: $24,514
    • Downgrade Accountant III to Accountant II (Parking Division): $27,597
    • Freeze Assistant Controller: $105,386
    • Eliminate Administrator Analyst (new proposed budget position): $95,627
    • Transfer 1 FTE from Film Office from General Fund to Redevelopment: $100,000

    104 thoughts on “Finally, Council silence on the budget ends

    1. Patrick M. Mitchell

      OK. Finally. Something that isn’t just specifically designed to scare people into voting for the Mayor’s newest parcel tax. But…

      I still ask: Wouldn’t it be more cost effective for the City to lay off police officers rather than give furlough days? 20 days each for 650 officers is 13,000 days. If one works 5 days a week for 50 weeks, that equals 250 days. So, 20 furlough days is the equivalent of laying off about 52 officers. Except…

      We’re still paying their health benefits. They’re still accruing pension benefits.
      So…

      Wouldn’t we be able to effectively lay off fewer officers if we didn’t have to pay all those extras? And wouldn’t we be better off financially in the long run if we just laid them off? While I understand the desire not to lay anyone off, in this case it just doesn’t seem to make financial sense. And this is, after all, a budget consideration – not civic welfare.

    2. livegreen

      You just know that the biggest deal here is having to pay meter parking under 580. Now we really won’t have any free parking.

      Of course the owner of the Grand Lake and his “shop every where else” supporters said there wasn’t any to begin.

      It will be too bad for the farmers market though…

    3. Christopher Kidd

      Worrying about metered parking in a business district that desperately needs parking demand management while the City teeters on the brink of budget oblivion is like rearranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg.

    4. livegreen

      Since their responding to Option A, does this mean they’re assuming no Employee Concessions (other than those inserted) and no addressing of PFRS?

      If so, does this mean the Unions stop negotiating since they don’t need to make any concessions?

    5. Daniel Schulman

      Wonder where KTOP fits in all of this. It doesn’t seem to be mentioned in either of the two new budget proposals as rev neutral or additions to the Mayor’s budgets. That kind of makes sense since it is largely not funded from the general fund, but still its status seems in limbo.

      Bit of a shame since we have some really good things coming up on the July 11 Landmarks Board meeting including a bit about the legendary Bruce Lee.

    6. Art

      I’m actually really excited to see the 580 parking lot metering on here. That’s my neighborhood, and we desperately need better parking management, and have been suggesting this as a revenue strategy for years. I should also note that the same Grand Lake business owner who’s particularly vocal on the free parking front is currently up in arms about wanting the farmers’ market gone because he thinks it’s bad for his business (clearly a lot of people wrestle with whether to go buy vegetables at the market or go to the movies at 9 am on a Saturday…), so I take everything from him with a grain of salt.

    7. Oakie

      As usual, Oakland in particular and California in general are laggards at solving these fiscal messes.

      Watch New Jersey, generally as Democratic as California. But they are trying to really put a dent in the structural deficits and pension time bombs. I’ve given up on California’s ability to deal with these problems. And the next 20 years will demonstrate the impact of failing to do something about it now.

    8. ralph

      Parking meters should not be a revenue strategy. Parking strategy should support commerce and the orderly flow of traffic.

      Assemblymembers Ma, Swanson, Hancock and the D tribe spend their time working on legislation that makes no sense – banning alcohol sales at “self serve” grocery check-outs under the guise that it will prevent underage alcohol sales but don’t lift finger one to do something that will alleviate real city problems such as individuals driving $90K cars but exempt from feeding $2 into a meter because they have an HC placard and making it darn near impossible for others to find a park and screwing cities out of millions.

      Oops my bad, I forgot damn unions are really behind the check out ban and I suppose the placard people have a lobbyist too. Is there a politician who speaks for me? Who speaks for me?

    9. Naomi Schiff

      Progress. As weak as it admittedly is, further weakening Public Ethics seems like a bad idea. I’d also push to continue KTOP’s televising as many public meetings as possible. Fosters openness and at least some of the famous transparency everyone wants. But I am so happy to see some specifics so we can compare them and understand what is on the table.

    10. Chris Kidd

      @Jeff – I think you may be confusing “business” with “city government”, whose business is, in fact, delivering services to its citizens. The consensus of society, voters, and taxpayers for over 100 years has deemed libraries to be one of those services.

    11. ralph

      I don’t think libraries will ever be obsolete, but Chris, I am sure you will agree, governments do need to figure out how to be more cost effective in the services it delivers.

    12. Ravi

      Naomi: “As weak as it admittedly is, further weakening Public Ethics seems like a bad idea. I’d also push to continue KTOP’s televising as many public meetings as possible. Fosters openness and at least some of the famous transparency everyone wants.”

      Weakening Public Ethics is clearly and definitely a bad idea, hardly seemingly. And transparency is hardly a famous theme in City Hall.

    13. len raphael

      Public libraries have to re-invent themselves. They survived this round of the first of many cuts to come.

      If all the library supporters got out of their victory was that yelling and screaming works, in another couple of successive deficit years away, the yelling from all corners will drown them out if they don’t have a more compelling message for sympathetic residents like me.

      -len

    14. len raphael

      Didn’t occur to me during the initial misc city employee furlough phase, but one of the advantages to the residents of furloughs of cops as cf to layoffs, is that we don’t get a heavier concentration of old highly paid cops from furloughs.

      And at the speed with which cops leave OPD, if as is likely the CC will find an excuse not to fund the academy or not to hire it’s new grads, we have a chance at not driving the younger cops away if they can survive another five lean years.

      Just like parks and libraries, hiring and training new cops is very expensive. Been there, done that.

    15. len raphael

      I need help understanding how Kaplan/Nadel/Kern/Schaaf civilianizing saves 1.3Mill a year from now. Aren’t those cc members showing the 1.3M as an additional expenditure a year from now?

      But it has been touted by PUEBLO as saving money.

      Then there’s the revised attrititon assumpton that we’ll lose 48 cops/year cf to hiring back 44 cops.

      No mention of cutting the police academy yet.

      I don’t see how their budget will even get off the ground for a few yards.

    16. Ravi

      “Len, Really? The library supporters were yelling and screaming?”

      At the Council budget meeting on May 26 one young female librarian (I should have noted her name because I thought I should complain to her boss) referred to Oakland police officers in the most bigoted and ignorant ways, as violent racists, etc. All the while saying how libraries prevent crime (somehow I don’t think gangbangers spend much time looking things up at the libe). Many of the pro-library audience did, indeed, yell and scream. In support of ignorance and bigotry.

      So much for the virtue of some of the library set.

    17. Ravi

      The bottom line is that the three new “budgets” are really no better than the Quanster’s “budget alternatives” of several weeks ago. No clear articulation of principles or priorities for the city as a whole. Empty of plans for dealing with the structural deficit. Devoid of backup planning. Done at the last minute in secret. Designed in large measure to quiet those who yell loudest at CC meetings.

      (sigh)

      Business as usual in Oakland.

    18. livegreen

      As I recall a couple years ago our politicians justified the raid on M-Y funds by the increase in police officers and decrease in crime. Now they’re swinging the opposite way with little discussion of the consequences?

      Re. the unions and yelling and screaming, it is hard to avoid concluding that this is what gets things done at City Hall. The result of putting libraries on the proposed chopping block is that they suffer the least amount of consequence, while those not on the chopping block didn’t see it coming, didn’t mobilize, didn’t yell and scream, and so suffer the consequences.

    19. livegreen

      I’m still confused by something. The Mayor’s Budget Scenario A says it closes most of the library branches and that would result in cuts of about $53 million. But IDLF’s budget says no layoffs to library staff and costs back in about $10 million.

      Does this mean they still close the buildings but keep the staff?

      Where did the extra $40 million in costs go to, or savings come from? (I don’t see it, if someone can help me with that).

    20. Robert Gammon

      Livegreen,
      Closing libraries does not save $53 million. Quan’s budget scenarios b and c close the budget gap and keep the libraries open, primarily through public employee concessions and the sale of the Kaiser center.

      IDLF’s does pretty much the same thing, but he uses budget scenario A like the other councilmembers’ propsoals. His budget, like the others, assumes public-employee concessions, plus even more from cops than they’ve agreed to so far. And then he balances the rest through proposed cuts that are different from what Quan and Kaplan, Kernighan, Nadel, and Schaaf.

      To understand IDLF’s budget, you have to look at Scenario A, and then compare it to what IDLF is proposing. He saying he can keep the libaries open and do other stuff, primarily through addl. employee concessions and cutting from other depts.

    21. livegreen

      Thanks Robert. Sorry, I looked at it too quickly. I was looking at FTE loss 53…

      How and where does IDLF factor in additional concessions? I see under New Revenue and New Savings concessions by Fire and Police, and different FTEs being phased out, but I don’t see other employee/labor concessions.

      The Mayor’s Scenario A factors in 15 Days of Mandatory Leave, but says nothing about additional concessions (it’s Scenario B & C that have this).

      So if IDLF doesn’t add it in, how/where are concessions factored in?

    22. Robert Gammon

      Livegreen,
      I asked IDLF a similar question yesterday, and he told me his budget calls for opoa to make $2.3 million more a year in concessions than they’ve exressed a willingness to do (or for cops to take five furlough days if they don’t).

      He also assumes that other city unions will make concessions or that the city will achieve the same savings by demanding furlough days.

      As for fire, remember, the city can’t force firefighters to take furlough days because of Measure Y and their contract. So the $3.7 million in savings from fire in his budget is what he anticipates getting at the bargaining table — although from what I hear, he’s lowballing it. The Chron reported today that fire has a tentative agreement that saves the city more.

    23. Robert Gammon

      I think it should be pointed out that IDLF’s budget also appears to assume that the city will sell the Kaiser (to itself, likely) for $28.3 million.

      His budget represents what he would do differently from Quan in her budget Scenario A. And since Quan assumed selling the Kaiser to the redevelopment agency in her scenario A and using $10 million of it to balance the budget in 2011-12, it seems pretty clear that IDLF is assuming the same thing because otherwise he would have to come up with an additional $10 million in savings.

      In fact, all three budgets from the council appear to depend on the sale of the Kaiser for $28.3 million. The only difference is that the Kaplan, Kernighan, Nadel, Schaaf budget would use $15 million from the Kaiser sale in the first year to balance the budget instead of $10 million.

    24. len raphael

      libraries reinventing. start by shedding much of the bricks and mortar for more small satellite branches with several workstations and fast internet connections. as some one above suggested, lend kindles to the residents.

    25. ralph

      i could be crazy – but it seems to me but more smaller footprints will require more people and books should still be cheaper than kindles.

      I’d be happy with a few bigger libraries and a couple of sides

    26. Ken

      +1 ralph. why do we “need to keep every existing library open at all costs” is beyond me.

      downsize ‘gubmint’ to match revenues.

      won’t happen, ergo collapse + underground black/gray market (farmers markets, roadside stands) for growing slice of our economy and society pie

    27. annalee allen

      free public access to library materials for all; I don’t call that a luxury, I call that essential for maintaining a civil society. there is nothing more important for city government to provide.

    28. Ken

      Ms. Annalee Allen:

      I beg to differ with your opinion. Libraries are actually a luxury. Let’s check out Mazlow’s pyramid of needs:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

      POP QUIZ based on chart above.

      Level 1, Physiological: air, water, food, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion.
      Question 1: Do libraries provide any of these things? (Y / N)

      Level 2, Safety: Security of: of body, employment, resources, morality, family, health, property.
      Question 2: Do libraries provide any of these things? (Y / N)

      If you answered “yes” to either question, you must explain how because everyone here is really curious.

      Libraries are not core to my daily survival. If I were homeless, maybe – a place to sit for free, a place to bathe, drink water and take a dump. But so is the park, at much less cost.

      Where does civil society arise?

      Are you saying the Polynesians, Aztecs, Mayans, Ancient Egyptians, and Native Americans did not have civil society? I’m sure they managed just fine thanks to their parents and tribal cultures – without “libraries.”

      Have you heard of parents? They are free. Parents teach their children how to be civil and participate in society. Or is the government and library supposed to raise your children for you?

      “Free…for all” – right there is a problem. I disagree. Nothing in life is free except air and death. Especially in a city, we are utterly dependent on social order and our daily bread from outside sources. We are all expected to pay money for these services.

      Libraries, sadly, are a luxury that Oakland needs to slim down. We do NOT need sixteen libraries. We need at most four to six libraries. Main, one or two in each district, and maybe one more after that. Match city expenses to city revenue. If a library is going to be shut and you want to keep it open, maybe it needs to be spun off as a non-profit to access foundation, corporate and private funding. In that case, the budget will be better managed and you will see more results.

      If you want library access, if it is so valuable to you, you might join Friends of the Oakland Library System or whatever fundraising and volunteering group they have. Will you pay $2,000 a year to OPL to support staffing costs and utilities for you, your neighbors and random homeless folks you don’t know? Everything must be paid for. We get what we pay for. American life is all about paying for service. (our greatest strength and weakness)

      Libraries seem to me to be like health insurance or police/fire. We pay for them to maintain our potential/maybe/sometimes access to them. Except that libraries are not a life or death matter, while your life while being mugged, your house catching fire, or you having a heart attack or injured kid, is.

      Are libraries necessary for daily survival? No. Thus they cannot possibly be the first or even foremost priority of any society, civilization or level of government. They are the luxury of STABLE AND GROWING societies and civilizations. Is the US in that category? California? Oakland? If you cannot answer yes unequivocally, then close some libraries down. If things change, re-open them once Oakland is “flush with cash.” (haha)

      For bad or good, the function of libraries today has been minimized in status and usefulness by:

      The Internet (we’re almost all paying for internet access from home, posting on this blog here. “social media,” blogs, news sites, topical sites, wikipedia)

      Private pulp: Amazon, kindle, nook, iphone, android phone, ipod, iPAD 2, barnes & noble, borders (oops), waldenbooks (oops), newspapers (oops), half price books, moe’s books, cody’s books (oops)

      Entertainment: cinemas, parks, Wii XBOX PS3, Netflix/Redbox

      Maps: google maps (“free” with paid internet access and ads)

      Topo maps: buy at REI or look online

      Anything that a library formerly provided, the Internet provides much better, faster, cheaper. Show me just one exception.

      Our society doesn’t value education. Thus, we need a new ball park and so forth, not more libraries and schools.

    29. Ken

      Maybe what libraries should be, are internet usage training centers. Since the Internet made libraries obselete, rebrand libraries as City of Oakland Internet Camps.

      For old people and retirees
      For former middle class
      For former military coming back to a country without jobs for them

      How to find a job on craigslist
      How to use google documents to create your resume
      How to use facebook
      How to find city/county government services such as food stamps, general assistance, tanf, etc

      Throw most of the books in warehouses and add more computer stations. Those things are damn near always booked up.

      Add a cafe.

      Libraries need to pay for themselves so find ways to do it.

      Offer paid classes. (compete with Kaplan, community colleges, etc.)
      Offer faster internet access with payment.
      Offer more DVD rentals with payment.

      Problem is, library then competes with private industry at a subsidized advantage. We know what happens with subsidies…

      It’s sort of sad walking into most libraries today. They’re little more than poverty alleviation centers. In the US it’s SHAMEFUL to be poor. And that’s one of the libraries’ core customers. “Poor(er) people.”

      free/cheap dvds for the under/unemployed
      internet ” ” ” ” ”
      bathrooms and drinking water for homeless people

      am i wrong? I’m not celebrating this. Just trying to describe it accurately.

    30. Ken

      last library comment for now.

      they’re open when most of the population is at work or in school.

      why not change up the hours. make them operate from 7am-11am. close for siesta 11am-4pm. kids get outta prison at 3 or 4pm, so open them at 4 and run until 10pm so adults can get out of their day jobs and access them too.

      what do y’all think?

    31. Livegreen

      Annalee, Libraries are more important than elected government, police and fire?

      I’m sorry but I value repesentative govt. and lives more. I agree with you they are necessary but they don’t have the same value if you’re dead or you live in a totalitarian society.

    32. Ze Fenske

      When I came back to this country a few years ago, I got a sublet. The subletor had canceled the internet, and I wasn’t about to pay for it for one month. So I found myself at the library.

      I used the library computer time to get a real apartment and a job. I used real physical books for reading. They’re nice for that. I borrowed tools and trimmed bushes.

      I always saw a bunch of kids running around in there. I never saw it not busy. Presumably it gives kids a place to go, instead of hanging out where they’ll end up joining a gang. Much cheaper and more likely to work than most things, I suspect.

    33. Ellen

      Libraries are not a luxury, they a basic city service. In the United States, public libraries are considered a fundamental function of government. My local library is the Piedmont Avenue branch, one of the libraries that was planned for closure even though it is the fourth busiest library in the system. My husband, children, and I get books and movies there on a weekly basis. Every time we visit, it is packed to the gills. When I take my youngest to library for storytime, it is the highlight of his week. When my husband decided to start his own business, the resources available at the main library were invaluable – he could not have done it without them. Recently, I attended a financial planning event at the Montclair branch which was able to answer my questions and saved me the considerable expense of an individual consultation for a relatively simple issue. We pay a large tax bill to the city every year, and do it without complaint. Yet the only area I see any return for my taxes is our local library. After our oldest entered middle school, we spent a good deal of time struggling to decide whether to send her to private school or move somewhere with a better school system. Ultimately, we decided that we would stay in our beloved neighborhood in Oakland and accept the cost. If the city were to take away the one service in Oakland I use, the calculus in that equation would change very quickly.

    34. len raphael

      ZF, in part because of library daytime hours, and in part because of amazon, ebooks, and internet, libraries here are mostly for poor people and maybe some middle class retired elderly who venture out.

      Yes there are maybe a few hundred middle class parents of young kids who take their kids to libraries almost like going to the pediatrician hoping it will counteract TV and the net.

      Middle class and some well to do use the research facilities to answer questions, borrow a tool occassionally. I do.

      They’re handy for community meetings. And could be useful after disasters if they survive.

      Another possibility is to close down all the branches except for the main, and move smaller versions with few staff to available space on high school and middle school campuses.

      That way the kids don’t have to risk getting killed going to libraries we kept open while laying off cops. Now we just have to figure out how to get the kids safely to and from homes where they don’t get killed before they might graduate high school if they hadn’t dropped out already.

      -len raphael, temescal

    35. annalee allen

      Ellen, thank you for your post because now I can save time and refer the others on this blog to read what you wrote. Just for poor people Ken? Retirees? Old people? Former Middle Class? Could you be more mistaken, ill-informed? prejudiced?
      Other readers? Help me out here. This debate has run its course.

    36. Iris

      I wonder how many of you who are claiming that library services are not essential have actually patronized a library in Oakland recently or looked at its usage stats. If you had, you would have seen that your claims and assumptions about OPL are false. The library is used by people of all ages and economic statuses. Library usage is way up in every measure, from circulation of materials, to attendance, to computer usage. Given the state of the economy almost everybody is trying to save when and where they can. Libraries help do that by offering free resources, expertise and programming. Libraries contribute to the economic vitality and health of the city in numerous ways. Libraries are vital to the education of Oakland’s children, especially given the lack of library services at OUSD schools.

      I also take exception to the characterization that library supporters were successful in their campaign because they “yelled and shouted” the loudest. Yelling and shouting would not have been successful if the underlying message being “yelled and shouted” had not been supported by a large percentage of Oakland’s residents. Measure Q in 2004 passed by more than 77% of voter approval. The groundswell of support the libraries have been receiving shows that the public has not changed its mind about whether or not they are essential.

      Finally, libraries are the bastions of free speech. I heard the speech one poster objected to and though I do not personally agree with the language that was used, the speaker had every right to say what she thought in front of Council. It’s called democracy folks and I wonder why you assume she worked for the library? A large coalition of citizens has joined together in this campaign.

    37. Antwone

      I would be for cutting libraries if they actually did a study and found it would be better to consolidate the library.

      I havent seen such a study and I dont even know how they chose the 14 libraries to get rid of.
      I cant imagine how anyone has taken strong side in the matter without at least knowing this.

    38. len raphael

      I watched the entire youtube clip and tried to keep an open mind. All i heard were testimonials from library patrons saying libraries are great because they like libraries.

      if the sample of people on the video were representative of library users, then it seems to confirm my impression about the demographics.

      Would the few middle class people interviewed be as enthusiastic if they that had to pay annual fee in addition to existing real estate taxes? Some would, many would say no thanks I thought it was free.

      Iris, show usage stats that give the demographics to show that in fact the patrons are not disproportionately the groups I described, and i’ll change my assertion that in Oakland the public library system overwhelmingly serves poor kids, the under and unemployed, and the poor elderly.

      Nothing intrinsically wrong with that. I’m not coming from the same place as TB might be. But please don’t tell me that public libraries are the crucial underpinning of civil society here. I would respond by saying civil society is in tatters in the poor parts of Oakland and far beyond the help of librarians.

      They are a worthy social/educational service that have to be evaluated and compared to other similar services and the total funds available.

      Just because legally OUSD funding is separate from the city’s general fund, when OUSD comes to us asking for more parcel tax at the same time that the city’s general fund is asking for more from me, the legal distinctions are irrelevant.

      I will bet you that 99% of the many residents who will say they support keeping the libraries really just don’t get it that the city is dead flat broke and getting broker. They really think this was just another crying wolf hyped up crisis.

      -len raphael, temescal

    39. len raphael

      The main downside of downsizing the branch system to more, smaller branches at our half empty public schools, is that would scare away the few middle class patrons. So it might serve poor kids much better, but when those very articulate middle class supporters fade away, libraries will be evaluated as they should be: another line item for youth and adult ed, plus information access for people too poor to have internet access.

      btw, anyone know what percentage of Oakland households does not have internet access?

    40. livegreen

      I agree that libraries are necessary. I agree with keeping them open and maintaining them. I also feel this was a false choice from the get-go because citizens weren’t going to allow them to be closed, and the politicians were never going to let it happen from the beginning.

      However when you say that libraries are one of the few services that work in Oakland, I see this as a false choice. The manner of service is simply different from fire and safety. Why?

      First because there is a certain amount of self-service when you go to a library. Until recently that was not the case with police or fire (only recently have “customers” been forced to fill out some kinds of police reports online. Before that Officers would personally come to take a report).

      Secondly, because some of the services given are either contracted out or done by volunteers. For example the puppet shows at the Piedmont Ave. library, and others.

      Thirdly because police and fire are called when something bad has already happened. Unlike libraries which are both a voluntary and proactive service, Safety is both involuntary and after-something horrible has already occurred.

      Fourth police and fire must be mobile and go to the area of need. They must cover anywhere and everywhere in the City, whereas libraries customers come to them.

      Also, why do you assume kids who come to a library would be in a gang?

      Finally, besides many of the excellent services at libraries, there is occasionally spotty service. On several occasions I’ve asked for an unavailable book to be reserved when available, or at another branch where it was. When told it was available I went there only to find either it wasn’t or the wrong book (by the same author) was held for me.

      I’ve also had experiences at the library in Chinatown where the caucasian librarian was berating one of the asian junior librarians.

      As a result of these instances did I or anyone else start berating all librarians, or generalize about everybody who works there?

      Yet with the Police, that’s exactly what happens. Even when most of their Senior Staff are minorities, police are racist. When they arrest gang members who commit crimes against other minorities, the cops are racist. And when officers can’t keep up with all the crimes happening on our streets because they’re short-staffed and don’t even have functioning radios (until recently) it’s THEIR fault.

      I agree we need libraries. But if you think that libraries are more important than police, if you think without police the criminals are magically going to come in and read books instead, and crime rates are going to go down, you’re at least in denial, at least comparing apples to oranges, and at most uncaring and unsympathetic to the many victims out there who are suffering or have suffered (past tense).

    41. ralph

      Q: How did rich dad get so rich?
      A: He used the library for items which he wanted but did not want to pay to own for something he would only need from time to time.

      I like the library system. I use it periodically for books, tools and some study. I have library cards for 3 different systems in the Bay Area and have used branches in Paly, Fremont, SF and the O. My observation, people of all income brackets and educational backgrounds use libraries. Have you seen the commercial where the guy is sitting in the library waiting to teach someone how to read then was a little surprised to see an older gent come to the table. It is real. I saw it in the Oakland library.

      The only thing that surprised me in the video clip above was the number of Oakland residents they were able to find at the Lakeside Farmer’s Market.

      What frustrates me the most about the library is the decrepit condition of the main library, an internet that only half works, and monitors that are suboptimized and impossible to optimize.

    42. len raphael

      Ralph, all we have are hunches and observations but no surveys of actual users.

      How about users and usage by age and zip code? is that data available?

    43. J

      A true measure of the community’s priorities and preferences would be to put Measure Y, Measure Q and Kids First all back on the Ballot for another vote. Would Oakland residents approve any of these measures in the face of a budget crisis–particularly if they were told the implications for other services and the difficulty in managing the budget and having flexibility. While ballot box budgeting has been going on for many years at both the state and local levels, it has fundamentally altered elected official’s ability to have flexibility in times of crisis. I for one would strongly advocate eliminating Measure Y, Measure Q and Kids First and any other measure that prevents the City Council and the Mayor from having flexibility during budget crises and implementing priority based budgeting. There has to be a system, other than the current budget hearings, that annually gauges the priorities of the entire community for City services. A ballot initiative passed four or five years ago may not necessarily reflect the community’s current priorities and desires for services. While libraries and parks provide certain important benefits to the City of Oakland, I agree with others they are luxuries. Public safety must come first and foremost. Particularly if we are to grow the tax base that will enable us to provide other services in the future. The current budget proposals have little to no strategic vision in growing our tax base. They are all simply intended to appease interest groups so that the politicians don’t make any one group so pissed off that they get targeted at the next election. Hardly visionary.

    44. Erica S

      The suggestion that libraries are a “luxury” is ridiculous. They are, as was said before, an essential quality of life service that a city is expected to provide. I too pay significant property taxes to the city of oakland and would not consider it acceptable to receive no quality of life services in exchange for those payments. I care about public safety as well but do not consider it acceptable for the entire budget to be spent on police and fire. The city council needs to figure out a way to provide those services and leave enough left over to provide quality of life services such as libraries. The library gets 2% of the budget. That is not excessive by any stretch of the imagination. I personally find it disturbing in its paucity. If the city gives up on quality of life services in order to give even more of the budget to obscene police salaries I expect they will quickly regret it and find their budget situation even worse, as those of us who have a choice of where to live will go elsewhere.

    45. annalee allen

      comment to livegreen – what I was trying to say is that it is local government’s obligation to provide a viable public library service to residents. I will only vote for candidates who commit to finding ways to do that.

    46. V Smoothe Post author

      Many of these posts reflect a stunning ignorance about both library services, library use, and of course, history.

      J, Measure Q was, in fact, passed during a budget crisis, after the Mayor had proposed closing one third of the libraries in the system. It is a special tax that funds libraries.

      The floor, which requires the City to allocate the same amount from the General Fund for libraries as it did in 2000, was put in place to ensure that the tax actually went to libraries. Without the floor, the Council would simply use the tax to fund libraries while cutting the allocation from the General Fund, making it, in essence, a tax for everything but libraries. This happened previously and the floor was put in place to ensure it wouldn’t happen again, as polls showed that voters (wisely) would not be willing to approve a tax that they didn’t believe would actually go to libraries.

      Measure Q passed with a higher percentage of the vote than any other tax on residents in recent memory, and polls continue to indicate that libraries are, in fact, the most popular city service.

      Despite the floor, the Council has found themselves with a great deal of flexibility in cutting library services since the budget crisis began, and in fact, the library’s allocation from the General Fund has been reduced nearly 30% since 2007. Library hours have been cut close to 20%. In spite of the reduction of service hours, visitor counts, program attendance, and circulation have continued to rise.

      Ken and Len, your comments about library use are so woefully out of touch with reality that it almost makes me embarrassed on your behalf.

      Len, your imagination’s assessment of who uses public libraries could not be further from accurate. While libraries are well used across all segments of society, the best predictor of library use as an adult is education, which, as you surely know, correlates closely with wealth. If you want to run the numbers yourself, circulation by branch is available publicly through the California State Library, and detailed demographic information for surrounding neighborhoods is available through the Census Bureau.

      Feel free to do so, but trust me when I assure you that if you do, what you will find is that libraries with a wealthier service population have higher circulation. This, of course, does not mean that libraries are not well used in poorer areas of the city. Rather, they tend to be used in different ways – less (though still significant) materials circulation, more children’s use, more computer use, and as a space place to congregate and enjoy community. Children’s programming is routinely packed throughout the system. The biggest indicator of children’s programming attendance is whether a branch has a children’s librarian (for some time, many were without).

      Ken, your suggestions that something increasing in use (by every possible metric) year after year is “obsolete” makes me wonder whether you actually understand what that word means.

    47. ralph

      Len, yes we have hunches but yours are to put it nicely a bit out in left field. I work on a basic assumption people are pretty much the same. The Palo Alto resident are a fairly well educated bunch and people in Fremont were no slouches either. If these solidly middle class folks used the library with great frequency, it would stand to reason that the solidly middle class folk of Oakland do too. If that is not the case, then someone should have closed Montclair, Rockridge, Piedmont Ave and Temescal years ago.

      It is hard to tell from your comments the frequency with which you visit the library but w/o doing the survey I feel confident in saying it is more than the homeless, poor, undereducated and lost soul who frequent the library. Besides your data is going to be incomplete as it will most likely only acount for those who used a card services at a library.

      As for public safety consuming the lion’s share of the budget, it just does. Oakland is not unique. Oakland’s biggest problem is the lack of a diversified tax base.

    48. J

      Earlier this year, in March, I was returning from my Office in Uptown. I was driving northbound down Telegraph towards North Oakland. It was a clear evening around 7:00 pm just after dark. At about 25th Street I saw a little old Asian lady crossing westerly at the cross walk pulling her cart of groceries. The car coming in the southbound direction plowed into her, never slowing down until after impact. This tiny 70 year old lady was tossed 20 feet in the air and 20 feet out of the cross walk. She was hit so hard her shoes remained in the cross walk. Even from my car I could hear the sickening thud. I was the first responder. I stopped my car in the middle of telegraph, put on the emergency lights and immediately attended to her. Her breathing was labored and her eyes were rolling the back of her head, she was critical. I put a coat on her as it was getting chilly. I yelled to bystanders to call 911. They did and got a busy signal. Not once, not twice, but three times. I tried to call 911 myself and got a busy signal. Fifteen minutes later an Oakland Police car arrived. Two minutes after that, the Oakland Fire showed up and then an EMT. It took them 17 full minutes to respond.

      In a major downtown City in the United States it took 17 minutes for help to arrive. This even though the site was 15 blocks from the Police Headquarters, 3 blocks from a fire station, and 7 blocks from the nearest emergency room. It took months for me to get the image and sickening sound of the impact of metal on flesh from looping in my brain. But mostly I was angry that residents in Oakland are so dogmatic about their particular interests they put libraries and parks above public safety. Libraries and parks are nice and warm, and fuzzy and apple pie. They make people feel good. But what about this poor little old lady sprawled out in the middle of Telegraph for 17 minutes because residents and politicians cannot seem to agree that above all else, public safety should be the number one priority In Oakland and the most important core public service.

      I think Governor Jerry Brown’s recent comments on his experience in Oakland are apropos. Governor Brown stated that “I never had such a sustained experience of mindless resistance as I experienced as mayor. What I learned is that people have these larger ideological expressions that are way, way out of whack,” he said. “What did I learn? You have to crush the opposition.”

      It’s too bad that these larger ideological expressions get in the way of priority based budgeting, targeting City services to grow the tax base and ensure residents in Oakland are safe. You cannot get to a library or park if you get whacked by a car or mugged. I can’t call a librarian or park aide when I need the police or I need an EMT.

      I find it mind boggling to say the least.

    49. annalee allen

      As someone who has also witnessed a vehicle colliding with a person (in this instance it was someone on a bike, and it was in early dawn darkness rather than early evening) I too know the sound you describe, and the feeling of helplessness waiting for emergency responders. Help did arrive (was it quick enough? I can’t say, I can say that the person did later die of his injuries). Despite this, I would not equate what happened to having too many librarians and not enough emergency personnel. It just doesn’t make sense.

    50. V Smoothe

      J, the City spends the vast majority of the General Fund on public safety. To look at the budget and draw any conclusion other than that it is patently obvious that public safety is the City’s number one priority, one must have severe reading comprehension problems.

    51. Navigator

      The city spends 75% of the General Fund on public safety. Should we spend 80%? Maybe 90%? What kind of liveable city would that make Oakland?

      Does Oakland just create a police state with dirt roads filled with litter and weeds and no parks and libraries? Do we allow our pipes to burst under our streets and sewege to run into the streets and into Lake Merritt?

      Oakland needs to curtail the amount of its General Fund which is spent on public safety. In a functioning city no more than 50% of the general fund should be spent on public safety. We have the most expensive and ineffecient cops in the nation.

      The answer is growing the economy thereby growing the general fund. Why couldn’t Oakland entice Twitter to locate downtown perhaps next to Pandora? Anyone who says “crime” needs to realize that Twitter agreed to locate to the Mid Market area of SF where 5 people including 4 bystanders and two tourists were just shot. Downtown Oakland is like Mayberry compared to what goes on in certain parts of downtown SF. Oakland has to get out there and compete for these businesses. Oakland has to promote itself and define itself so that the SF media doesn’t do it for them. That’s how you grow the General Fund.

    52. J

      Thanks V for your comment:

      “the City spends the vast majority of the General Fund on public safety. To look at the budget and draw any conclusion other than that it is patently obvious that public safety is the City’s number one priority, one must have severe reading comprehension problems.”

      I can read just fine thank you.

      I would not disagree that the largest portion of the discretionary budget is used for public safety. I would not disagree that some would therefore conclude that as a percentage of the discretionary budget it is by default the City’s number one priority. Yes, that is but one limited conclusion or viewpoint.

      When a major city like Oakland continually places in the top 5 cities in the USA as having one of the highest crime rates, when you call 911 and get a busy signal, when the City cannot respond to true emergencies within a reasonable time that is comparable to other large Cities, when a North Oakland resident calls 911 and and the officer responds from DTO, when young black men are killing young black men almost every other day and nobody seems to care, when you have one of the worst reputations in the country when it comes to violent crime, when four police officers are killed and residents respond by celebrating the killer, when people argue to keep parks and libraries open at the expense of losing more police, when the Mayor proposes to cut even more police through attrition of an already severely understaffed police force, when police tell residents it is better to own a gun than rely on the police in an emergency–I think a reasonable person could conclude that public safety is not the city’s number one priority particularly when it allows these things to happen because it continues to fund other services and programs to the detriment of public safety.

      Oakland cannot be all things to all people. Oakland must define core services and eliminate everything else. Oakland is not a safe community if you cannot rely on the police or EMTs to respond within a reasonable period of time.

      So with all due respect, I have a different viewpoint that apparently does not comport with yours. So I would have to disagree with your conclusion that I have a severe reading comprehension problem.

      Where the problem lies is with ballot box budgeting, failure to implement priority based budgeting, failure to identify core services, failure to control excessive public employee salaries and pension benefits, failure to set performance based management expectations, failure of the electorate who continually re-elect the same tired politicians who have gotten us into this crisis and then expecting something different, and failure in our political leadership to advocate rescinding Measure Y, Measure Q and Kids First so that the discretionary portion of the budget is bigger than it currently is.

      Next year we will see a rerun of this same budget crisis. The one time gimmicks and the non-structural solutions will not be available. Failing to address structural problems, failing to establish core priorities and failing to grow the tax base means that if not this year, then next year, your libraries and parks will be on the cutting block.

      In Oakland summer is the crime season. Have fun with that.

    53. zac

      I just want to respond to the issue of busy signals and 911. When you call 911 from a cell phone the call goes to CHP in Sacramento, who then route it to the appropriate local agency. The busy signals you experienced are appalling and inappropriate, but I just want everyone on this list to know that they are not an Oakland problem but a State problem. I’m not trying to make excuses, I just want to explain what most likely happened. I’m willing to bet that if you look at the call logs, OFD probably arrived within 5 minutes after getting the call from CHP.

      I know there are problems with wait times for police, but in general, fire does not follow suit. When you audit OFD respone times you will find that the vast majority of calls receive a fire engine at the scene within 7 minutes; most are quicker than that. Again, I’m sorry for what happened on your call, and I think it’s inexcusable, but since this is an Oakland-based discussion board I just want to make it clear that this is a systemic California problem, not an endemic Oakland one.

    54. V Smoothe

      J, I suggest that you do a little more research before you continue making these arguments about ballot-box budgeting. As it stands, they don’t really make sense. You keep citing Measure Y as something that should be rescinded in order to provide more funding for police. In reality, Measure Y is actually a special parcel tax that provides money for police. Rescinding it would take money away from the police department.

    55. J

      V,

      Thanks for the advice. Duly noted. However, did you ever think I might know more about Measure Y than you assumed?

      Yes I am fully aware that if you rescind Measure Y it will eliminate a parcel tax that is intended to support police. I am also aware that it would eliminate a vast array of social programs and after school programs that have few if any metrics for success, are poorly managed in terms of targeted outcomes and serve as jobs programs for a large number of non-profits. Marleen Lee has documented well the failure of our politicians to keep their promises regarding Measure Y funding.

      So yes, there is logic where you seem to assume there is none. Measure Y turned out to be a bait and switch. I think it is a highly inefficient use of a parcel tax that is intended to deal with public safety when a good portion of it is siphoned off to satisfy the ideological leanings of our decision makers when there is little to no evidence these programs can and will in fact reduce crime at any statisically significant level. While I understand and appreciate this political tradeoff, I don’t have to agree with it. Measure Y has not worked to provide the number of police that was promised. If I recall correctly, Measure Y was intended to hire 63 more police to bring the then totals to 803 police. Are we there yet?

      In my view, Measure Y needs to be rescinded and rewritten to provide for the provision of more police absent the social programs. The first step is rescinding ballot box budgeting measures. The second step is developing a priority based budget with core priorities and measurable and tangible performance measures that help us grow our tax base. The third step is identifying existing resources to support the core priorities and identifying new resources to fully meet those priorities including a new and improved Measure Y.

      There are simply too many people in Oakland that are not looking at this budget crisis with a strategic and comprehensive view. It is simply about which interest group can martial the support to maintain their slice of the pie without much understanding or without care that the current approach is not sustainable.

      Like I said, if not this year, then next year your libraries and parks will be gone.

    56. ralph

      The biggest problem with MY is it demands that we use police officers in a certain way. I don’t think civilians should be running the police department.

    57. livegreen

      J, I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Looks to me like the Politicians will cut Police, renew 2 or 3 year contracts for the Unions they’re negotiating with, and then next year when the problems renew themselves, cut police further.

      The anti-police crowd will continue to say it’s too big a portion of the budget and police (who should agree to a cut, but should not be the only ones) will become more entrenched. And they will suffer more layoffs.

      Oakland will suffer more murders, making it even less likely to broaden the tax base, and more people will move out of Oakland (of all races).

      Obviously this is not a sure thing, but given the city repeats the cycle most years, it’s quite likely it will continue.

      I personally know 5 families that have left Oakland in the last year and a half. And I know of at least 5 murders of young African American men who were trying to do the right think (going to school, leaving gangs, etc.) who got murdered anyway. Or maybe because of it.

      And yet many (if not most) Oaklanders accept this public safety crisis over structural reform that will actually pay for more services (police, library, parks & rec, fire, etc.) that would make Oakland a better place for all.

    58. len raphael

      V, over the last three hours, i have just completed a totally scientific survey of the 6 of my neighbors who happened to be standing in front of their homes .

      1. “how often do you use the oakland public library”

      2. “how often do your friends in Oakland use it”

      3. “do you expect to use it more or less frequently in the future”

      a single working undergrad mom with 4 year old:

      1. we use it often. My child care person takes my kid there every day for story time. i take my kid there to get books at least once a week” No mention of getting adult books.

      2. my friends with kids in Oakland use it similarly

      3. a. will use it much less when my child starts kindergarten.

      b. yes, my child has an Ipad with books on it. Yes my child prefers the Ipad to printed books (this said with a tinge of guilt/chagrin)

      c. don’t have a kindle but expect to be buying books and periodicals for myself via the Ipad

      —————

      a working couple with 5 year old, advanced graduate science degrees

      1. We use it very often. Our nanny takes our child there every day for the various programs. We take our child there to get kids books. We don’

      2. All of our friends in Oakland use it the exact same way. Nannys in Oakland use it as a place to hang out with colleagues that’s good for the kids too.

      3.

      a working no kid middle aged couple, grad degrees

      a working skilled blue collar guy, no kids

      a retired 64 year old govt worker

      a retired 6 year govt worker and retired spouse.

    59. ralph

      finally a scientific study, the evidence supports the high kid (not to be be confused with “high” kid) usage V noted above.

    60. len raphael

      fat fingers hit send.
      delete the above post of mine.

      here’s the unexpugated, underedited version of my diatribe:

      V, over the last three hours, i have just completed a totally scientific survey of the 6 of my neighbors who happened to be standing

      in front of their homes .

      1. “how often do you use the oakland public library”

      2. “how often do your friends in Oakland use it”

      3. “do you expect to use it more or less frequently in the future”

      4. what would you give higher priority to for the City: libraries or not allowing the number of cops to drop more?

      ==========================

      Single working undergrad mom with 4 year old:

      1. We use it often. My child care person takes my kid there every day for story time. i take my kid there to get books at least

      once a week” No mention of getting adult books.

      2. My friends with kids in Oakland use it similarly

      3. a. Will use it much less when my child starts kindergarten.

      b. My child has an Ipad with books on it. Yes my child prefers the Ipad to printed books (this said with a tinge of

      guilt/chagrin)

      c. Expect soon to be buying books and periodicals for myself via my Ipad

      4. Cops before ahead of libraries. Libraries are great but not essential. safety and schools are enough reasons to move out of

      Oakland.
      —————

      Working couple with 5 year old, advanced graduate science degrees

      1. We use it very often. Our nanny takes our child there every day for the various programs. We take our child there to get

      kids books. We don’t use it for ourselves because our non work reading time is spent reading to our child.

      A few years ago used the tool library a bunch.

      2. All of our friends in Oakland use it the exact same way. Nannys in Oakland use it as a place to hang out with the other

      nannies that’s good for the kids too.

      3. a. Once our child starts kindergarten, probably very little. Don’t use ebooks now, but expect to switch to those from paper

      for myself because spend a lot of time traveling for work.

      b. My child doesn’t have an Ipad, but the young kids of all of our friends in Silicon Valley all have Ipads that they use

      instead of books.

      c. it shouldn’t come down to libraries vs laying off cops. but if it did, would reluctantly chose cops. (this from someone

      whose car had a bullet penetrate the kiddie seat a few years ago while parked during a drive by)

      ————————-

      a working no kid middle aged couple, grad degrees

      1. Haven’t been to the library in years.

      2. Doubt if our friends use it either, but not sure.

      3. “libraries are good things for poor kids and people who can’t afford internet connection, but they won’t help if the kids get shot

      before they get to the library”.

      4. Cops are higher priority.

      His middle aged underemployed book loving friend added:

      Libraries are an amazing community resource. I go several times a week.

      Of course libraries are much more important than supporting a police state.

      =========================

      a working skilled blue collar guy, no kids

      a retired 64 year old govt worker

      haven’t been to a library in years but keep meaning to. We need libraries. We need more cops. If we didn’t spend some much on wars,

      we could afford cops and libraries.

      if it came down to chosing, I’d pay higher parcel taxes. $200/year yes. $1,000/year no.

      ================================

      a retired 60′s ousd employee.

      college degreed.

      have been to the libary in years. maybe twice.when there’s a book i want, i buy it on amazon because i want to keep it or ready and

      refer to it over long periods and don’t want to pay fines.

      I know many adults who use the library. They are mostly marginal economically and use it because they can’t afford internet

      connection or buying books, especially for periodicals. They say the armchairs at Rockridge are very comfortable.

      Then there are some elderly people who could afford internet, but don’t use it enough to bother.

      of course it’s great for young kids if someone brings them.

    61. len raphael

      V, alternate explanation of why the stats show high book borrowings in higher income zip areas:

      The relatively few people with young kids are checking out zillions of books. I don’t know the limits, but one of my neighbor’s says they might have 15 books out at any time. All kids books.

      That will end as ebooks take over for middle class kids. Poor kids will have to borrow ebook devices from the public libraries.

      Interesting, my neighbors with nanny said they and their friends would probably be ok with privatizing the libraries in the well to do areas. Not sure how it could be done.

    62. V Smoothe

      Sorry, Len. Nope. Children’s materials of course comprise a large percentage of borrowing throughout all public library systems. However, as I stated before, it tends to be in lower income communities where children’s materials account for the higher portion of circulation.

      livegreen, I think you might want to go check your budget and crime stat history before making those kinds of claims about cycles that repeat for many years. Once you look at the police budget and crime stats, come back and tell us exactly how many years this cycle you have described has repeated. I think you’ll be surprised at the number.

      J, I think you might be better able to persuade people of your position if you communicated your points using the common parlance. You seem to be using words to mean things other than what they are typically considered to mean. Case in point: repeated references to a special tax that pays for police as “ballot box budgeting” that prevents the city from funding police. It is, in fact, the opposite. You also seem to be using the phrase “top priority” to mean “only priority.”

      In any case, trying to parse the ultimate meaning of your comments through the cloudy language, the best I can figure is that what you want is for the city to spend more money on police. Given your passion on the matter, I’m assuming you must have been extremely active in the campaign for the police tax a couple years ago that would have substantially increased the size of the force and provided no money to non-police services. What was your overall sense from the voters you talked to about their feeling on more police? Why, in hindsight, do you think the tax failed? In your current advocacy with the City Council, what kind of responses have you been getting to the suggestion of trying again?

    63. len raphael

      V, is there a link to those stats of borrowings by type of material or is is just broken out by adult cards vs kids cards?

      There’s nothing unique/skewed about my little block in temescal. I think there’s something else going on with your stats.

      (I didn’t bother to ask the elderly buddy from Skyline if he used the library, or handcuffs vs books. He had just told me how he pressed the panic button on his home alarm by mistake. Took OPD 4 hours to arrive.)

      Regardless, in a surprisingly few short years, as publishers of books and periodicals stampede to eformats, the use of libraries to store paper will be n/a.

      still have a need for those day care, educational, access to unaffordable info subscriptions, and expertise in searching. But shrink the bricks and mortar and eliminate those comfortable armchairs.

    64. V Smoothe Post author

      Nope, stats are tracked by material type, not cardholder. If you tracked by cardholder type, they wouldn’t be very useful, since adults frequently check out materials for their children.

      You are welcome to ignore the usage patterns I have explained to you, as well as the reams of statistics and research produced on the subject over many years in favor of what you would prefer to think. But if you’re going to decide you’d rather make up things you would like to believe than use any data or observable evidence to support your arguments, it’s hard for me to take your comments seriously, and it’s certainly not worth my time to respond to them.

    65. Will Galeson

      There are so many options to save money but I don’t understand why the City wants to
      spend money on new developments and
      street improvements like bulbouts instead of
      making public safety and public services like
      the libraries and sr. centers a top priority.
      Oakland has become a developer driven
      economy.

    66. Whitney Garner

      Do some people not know the Oakland Public Library lends ebooks? I do roughly half of my reading on my Nook, the other half with old-fashioned books. I get most of my books for both formats from the library.

    67. Naomi Schiff

      I am a heavy internet user. Nonetheless, my business needs and uses libraries! Wealthy and impoverished, businesses, writers, journalists, researchers, lawyers, real estate agents, jobseekers, transitioning professionals, students use the library. Apparently some feel the library is only for hanging out, trivial entertainment, and fiction. But a major part of its role is access to information–including access to information on local government, history, and business–which may never make it into an Amazon-available book or online. I’m surprised at the assertions, above, that everything is available on the internet or ipad. Not at all the case. Sometimes one needs in-depth information, or to read about things that happened before the internet. It is pretty easy to get a little bit about a lot, on the Net. It is not at all easy to obtain comprehensive research and information–especially not for free or not in convenient format, or both. I have particularly been stymied in trying to find facts, statistics, research about events and people before 1995 or so. Much of it is simply not findable on the internet.

      As far as teaching people how to use computers and the internet, the library jumped right into that arena and is responsible for enabling many to learn how to use the net, and allowing them to obtain access.

      What these posts are revealing is that people who don’t use the library don’t care about it and that those who do, care a lot. We know from the numbers surrounding library usage that it is one of the most widely-used city services. They vote with their feet and library cards. We know how many of them there are. And they haven’t been shy at all about advocacy with their councilmembers. (One said to me, quietly: “It would be okay if the library folks emailed me a little less!”)

      When researching what the land titles, circumstances of bond purchases, and park dedications might be in areas around the lake (such as at the fire alarm building and at Henry J. Kaiser Bldg.), the library was the only place we could find anything. Parks Dept. records had been wiped out in a flood, city hall records extremely gappy and partial, and inaccessible before some fairly recent date, and county didn’t have much. But in the library, reports from 1912 helped us to comprehend the history, which surely will be critical should the city consider transferring any properties in that area. That is just one small example.

    68. annalee allen

      well said, Naomi. As for the councilmembers receiving too many emails…I don’t feel much sympathy. They need to hear from as many people as possible until this is resolved.

    69. J

      Livegreen,

      I totally agree with your assessment. I don’t think you and I are far apart. What I described is not what I think will actually happen, but what I think should happen to grow the tax base.

      What I don’t get is that there are a lot of really intelligent people who really care about the sustainability of the services provided by the City, yet there seem to be very few people actually looking at how you grow the tax base and even fewer actually developing policy and implementing strategic measures to do so.

      You look at any of these budgets provided by these career politicians and they are same, sad, sorry approach that has gotten us to this crisis. The party doesn’t end with this budget. Next year will be even harder and the year after as well. Far too many people are unwilling to give up their slice of the pie and invest in safety and security as a way to grow future tax revenue. I just don’t get how people are so entrenched and so willing to fight to the bitter end and save their little slice of the pie to the point the whole pie falls on the floor and nobody gets anything.

      We need people with vision and leaders who are willing to take risks with a new approach and a fresh look at how to grow the tax base rather than looking to tax the middle class. I think liberals and progressives are failing this City with their obsessive ideology and their unwillingness to acknowledge that we have a serious crime problem that affects our ability to generate tax revenues and provide the programs that everyone wants. Instead we have Mayor Quan blaming the economy for what is essentially her mismanagement at the helm of the Finance Committee.

      What I am arguing for is not a particular program (we can debate those later), but a method to generate tax revenues so that we can afford the various programs. In this budget crisis, it becomes even more important that such an approach be focused and targeted. We have to stop being all things to all people. That is not the traditional role of local government.

    70. livegreen

      I did not make a direct correlation between the budget for OPD and crime. I made a correlation between more Police layoffs and more crime.

      It’s not an instantaneous correlation. There’s a lag time. Here’s the first stat: After cutting officers by 80 last year, murders have increased by about 38% this year (as of last Thursday). Of course the % will go up or down when more are killed in one weekend or another. The question is whether they will leave an overall significant increase or not when that occurs.

    71. livegreen

      BTW, anybody have stats on the # of unsolved crimes per investigator? This is another measurement that can be used to measure the effect of staffing/understaffing.

      Nav points often to efficiency of OPD. Chief Batts points to intelligence. Comparing the crimes outstanding per investigator would be a further basis to compare us to other cities. Except OPD used to release this info. I understand the Mayor and some members of the City Council don’t want OPD to release this info because of how bad it will look.

      Besides murders, this includes assaults, rapes, and child prostitution.

      PS. When dividing the unsolved case log by # of investigators, it’s important to use only the investigators studying cases against civilians.

    72. V Smoothe Post author

      livegreen, if you’re going to try to make claims like that, you’re going to need to provide sustained evidence of a correlation. An increase in year over year murders on one particular week is not evidence to back up your argument. Let me give you an illustrative example. Murders in Oakland as of last week are down 24% year to date from the same time in 2008, at which time we had significant more officers. That’s equally as meaningful a data point as the one you have provided.

      Looking at the stats over the last few months, violent crime appears to be fluctuating at or near flat this year compared to last year. I certainly don’t want to minimize the horrific experience of having a loved one murdered – one murder is too many. Oakland has far too many.

      But until you can produce some kind of evidence based argument that giving an extra 2% of the city budget to the police department is going to make Oakland safer, I feel pretty comfortable with my position that the money is better spent on maintaining our library system.

    73. len raphael

      JB, what is the link to JBrown’s funny comment on Oakland ideologes. Takes one to know one.

      Just completed my survey of my totally atypical outlier block in temescal: retired couple in their sixties, both college degrees, one in history. retired govt workers. they use the library so infrequently that they have to renew it each time. not impressed by the collection of newer titles compared to what their midwestern hometown library carries.

      What I did get from everyone, was a sense of entitlement, that even though they don’t use the library except for the great kids’ book collection and activities, they feel that its the only halfway decent service that the city provides for their taxes. And if that got taken away, even though they wouldn’t miss it, it would just be the final proof that this town is eff’d up.

      WG, can one borrow the library ebooks online?

      -len raphael, temescal

    74. ralph

      LG, this is a family blog so I am going to refrain from calling ——–. Your statement was fewer officers would equal more murder.

      This statement shows a fundamental lack of why people murder. In your subsequent statement about an increase in crime you added rape. Again you demonstrate a clear lack of understanding of the crime. People don’t just wake up one morning and say, golly gosh darn there are fewer officers patrolling the city, I think today is a good day for murder and rape.

      More than once, I have pointed out the flaw in your argument and V has again demonstrated your flaw. Don’t bother trying to do the research to support your argument, YOUR ARGUMENT HOLDS NO WATER. For the love of dog, please stop.

    75. MarleenLee

      Wow, the City seems to have been pretty successful in pitting the public safety advocates against the library supporters. First, I’d just like to point out that the police do a lot more than just reduce reported crime numbers. They are supposed to not only deter crime, but they are also supposed to investigate crime, and help ensure that the bad guys end up being arrested, prosecuted, and sent away to prison. Actual crime rates are not the only relevant metric; closed crime rates and prosecution rates should also be examined. Right now, the police force has been so incredibly decimated that there is very little investigation actually going on. The chances of bad guys being caught is dropping as we speak. Never mind the frustration of people like me who can’t even get a human being to respond to our phone calls when we try to find out about the status of our stolen TV!

      As for Measure Y and Measure Q, they were both passed in 2004. The economy then was much better than it is now, and housing prices were significantly higher. The Council had just passed ridiculously generous increases for employee pensions. And then they were claiming they were so broke they couldn’t pay for basic services, like libraries and police officers. Give me a break!

      The focus of this discussion is completely off. The discussion should not be about which services should be cut. (Not that I would disagree with eliminating many of the positions identified in the various proposals, including the Public Ethics Executive Director and City Attorney communications officer)

      Rather, the focus should be on the salaries and benefits that should be cut. Handouts to non-essential, non-government services (e.g. non-profits) should be cut. The discussion should be on how much public employees should be contributing to their pensions and health care costs, or shaving off their salaries, in order to be equivalent to other public and private sector positions, and in order to balance the budget. I am of the belief that this entire budget deficit can and should be addressed by concessions by the unions and the non-profits, and that only in this way will the City be able to make the long-term structural adjustments to its budget for the the City to be able to avoid ultimate bankrupcy. Otherwise, we are going to have this conversation every year. Mark my words.

    76. Livegreen

      V, I didn’t make a comparison bet. library spending and police spending. I said we need both. What’s the correlation between library spending and crime?

      My biggest argument is that we need to let Chief Batts do his job, and give him the resouces he needs. Our last Chief had little inclanation towards community policing, towards customer service, or towards strategic planning. Chief Batts has been the opposite. Yet it has not afforded him much leeway from either elected officials or the populous for deferring to his openness and leadership.

      It also depends on how money is spent, and how the PD is managed. Those management questions led to the departure of the last Chief, and they cannot b managed statistically.
      Also at the time they did not have the Compstat system, and the Chief did not target some magnet crimes, or repeat offenders like Chief Batts has.

      Those differences between Chiefs and strategies would not be factored in to the differences between #s of Officers, but they would among comparisons under consistent leadership and effective strategy.

      Under a more strategic and consistant management of the same Chief, some of those variables are removed, thereby making the stats more trackable.

      The variable that would seem to me to remain is both the time it took for Chief Batts to enter the dept., evaluate it, and then implement his changes.

      BTW, what is the correlation between Library Services, literacy, computer literacy, and crime?

      My gut feeling is more libraries would equal more literacy, but whether or not it does, it seems reasonable that if we should make one dept repeatedly justify itself based on the results, we should also make others.

      Finally, it has been repeatedly stated by many that Oakland does not have the # of Officers it needs. Again, management of those Officers is also important, and to your point, it’s not just the #s. But with effective management the #s are important.

      I agree with you and librarians that the OPOA should accept cuts to their salaries and benefits. I just don’t think they should be the only ones, nor do I think that case has been made.

    77. Livegreen

      Exactly Marleen. That is also why I have been asking for the stats on the % of unsolved crimes. Deterrence is another factor that contributes to efficacy.

    78. J

      Marleen,

      There seems to be a lot of blue smoke and mirrors when it comes to the budget. The unions and some of our elected officials that rely on union support during elections seem to want to obfuscate the true picture of what City employees are really getting. I agree that salary and pension reform are two important ingredients to solving this budget crisis. When Oakland employees are some of the highest paid bureaucrats in the State, and salaries and pensions are the largest component of the City budget, one has to wonder why Jean Quan is not targeting salary and pension reform of the rank and file as one of the key structural budget issues. Jean Quan has been successful in pitting one interest group against another. I believe this was a well-planned approach to frustrate residents into paying the additional parcel tax. Jean Quan is an artful manipulator of the public. But most Oakland residents are not aware they are being played. If they were, they would never have voted Mrs. Quan into power in the first place. You get what you voted for. Have fun with the crime season.

    79. zac

      Marleen–I’m keeping my fingers crossed but I want to let you know that Local 55 (firefighter’s union) is close to a deal that I hope you’ll feel positively about. I can only speak for my union, but I hope my posts here show that we’re not trying to “obfuscate the true picture”, as you say. As the process is still ongoing it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on specifics just yet, but when it’s done, I will fill you all in. Until then, please don’t make any assumptions about what is or isn’t going to be a part of our new contract.

    80. len raphael

      Heck, libraries are one of, if not the highest functioning departments of this town.

      And since it will be at least two years before our city mothers and fathers request a 1,000/year parcel tax, I’m good with Measure Q for now.

      I pruned a city tree the other day and carefully cut the small branches into tiny pieces. Placed it on the side of the street on street sweeping day. The street sweeper just as carefully went around the cuttings.

      Nah, I’m just jealous of the popular support for libraries.

      -len raphael, temescal

    81. Naomi Schiff

      Thank you, Len, for your support of the library. I agree that street sweeping doesn’t always seem to be well carried out. But city is very good at ticketing on sweeping days!

    82. Antwone

      Just this weekend there was a dive by shooting outside of my window. It sounded like fireworks but it turns out that someone in a car sprayed an automatic weapon out the window.
      This occurred in a family friendly neighborhood
      about 1 block from the elementary school where kids walk around.
      i consider Oakland to be in somewhat of a state of emergency. So its difficult for me to see the path for how a library will address the immediate safety concern.
      My guess is the people doing the shooting will not be found in the library.

      No cuts to the police force please.

    83. gem s

      “I pruned a city tree the other day and carefully cut the small branches into tiny pieces. Placed it on the side of the street on street sweeping day. The street sweeper just as carefully went around the cuttings.”

      The machines are not designed for picking up that kind of debris. furthermore, you’re lucky you didn’t get a fine or a bill for improper disposal, which PWA will do if they find out. Residents who prune city trees must only do so with permission, and must properly dispose of waste, i.e. not leave it in the street.

    84. Naomi Schiff

      If you join “adopt-a-spot” city will provide you with large brown greenwaste bags, which Waste Mgmt will pick up, free of charge. I go through a lot of these, taking care of the road medians. Works fine!

    85. zac

      Folks–please check out my comment over on the open thread. I just laid out all of the details of the new (proposed) Oakland Fire Department contract!

    86. coconut

      i’m the mother of an about to be 1st-grader and we are continuing to be heavy users of the library: lots of books for him and quite a few books and magazines for me. we run into similar-upper-middle income friends at the library with their kids. we do have an ipad at home and dad is reading books to the boy on that but i for one, am a “turn the paper pages” kind of person. and i love the thrill of borrowing a book for 3-6 weeks for FREE that i’ve read about or, say, about an upcoming trip, checking out magazines for FREE that i like but don’t want to subscribe to, running into friends, taking FREE discarded books and magazines, and consulting with the friendly librarians on books for us. you should check it out!

    87. BarryK

      If you “adopt-a-candidate” the politician will provide you with large no-bid contracts, which Waste Management will pick up, for a price.

      Just received my WM bill today and the notice of a rate increase! Was this previously discussed?
      *************
      Quan Gives Donor $200 Million No-Bid Deal
      May 5, 2011- East Bay News Service

      The mayor’s office confirmed May 4 that Waste Management of Alameda County, which holds the exclusive franchise for garbage service in the city of Oakland, is on the list of previously undisclosed corporate donors to the $80,000 pot of money that Mayor Jean Quan tapped to fund celebrations during her first week in office.

      Without consulting either City Council or the City Attorney’s office, Quan ordered Interim City Administrator Lamont Ewell to give WMAC a 30-month extension for the $80 to $90 million annual waste hauling deal that initially began Dec. 1, 1995, for a 17-year period [see The Oakland Shadow, April 11, 2011].

      Despite repeated promises of transparency in her administration, Quan three times ducked all questions about the WMAC contract extension.
      Karen Boyd, public information officer for the city administrator, later said Ewell made the decision based on revenues that would accrue to the city, along with capping next year’s rate increase to 1.5 percent.
      More details later today in The CityWatch Report.
      EBMNS 050511 0333 PDT

    88. len raphael

      Amy, thank you for the link. First i ever heard of it. Really good to see the OL thinking ahead. When i get a chance, i’ll read how the licensing works on new books. Curious. Do they expire? Only certain publishers?

      Gem, I have no doubt the DPW is very good at fining people. That seems to be one of the functions our City employees excel at.

      They can suck my tree roots, considering they planted a bunch of trees on 51st near Bway and never watered or maintained them, even in the fat and happy years.

      Coco, not a leading question, but would you still use the library as much if your branch charged a modest annual fee of say $80 ?

      My neighbor thinks he and his cohort would, I’m skeptical.

      -len

    89. len raphael

      Culture of CEDA.

      City press release promised changes :)

      I have worked with some really competent people there with great attitudes of serving the public. I have also worked with one of the people whose name came up in the investigation and my opinion from my experience is unprintable.

      Though some CEDA people would respond to emails on weekends and furlough days, no one came close to an IRS employee who last night followed up on his promise to call me back, at 11pm.

      Unfortunately, with some notable exceptions, some of the best CEDA technical people with the most customer oriented attitude were younger ones who will get laid off when the blight fines and RDA gravy train stop.

      -len raphael, temescal

    90. len raphael

      Who’d have thunk it that Brown would succeed in efforts to dismantle the Redevelopment Districts?

      Is too late too sell the Kaiser Center to our RDA?

    91. livegreen

      The thought I’m left w/bet. our discussions here and lkg at Twitter is the way the Budget is handld is entirely Reactive, not well thought out, not at all proactive.

      If Yr 2 is not taken care of, V if u think we’ll be here again in Dec, why keep using bandaids for major invasive surgery?

      When will the Council and Mayor put in place a structural fix, combined with a strategic plan to grow the economic and tax base? For both existing residents and new residents.

    92. Ravi

      “When will the Council and Mayor put in place a structural fix, combined with a strategic plan to grow the economic and tax base? For both existing residents and new residents.”

      They won’t–they don’t believe in real problem-solving and they don’t have the skills to solve problems properly.

      The solution is to replace them, virtually all of them, with honest, competent officials.

      But this will be an enormous challenge given Oakland’s high level of lethargy, ideological limitation, lack of transparency and near-total lack of media attention. ABO of course is a notable exception, but ABO is not nearly enough.

    93. livegreen

      Question re. budget: If no tax was included, why is they Mayor still asking about increasing taxes?

      The Mayor’s Scenario A was an all-cuts budget, & I didn’t read that the Council added in any new taxes. But I understand the Mayor’s office is looking at increased tax options. Confusing…