Did you skip the show last night? Had something better to do with your Tuesday evening than stare at KTOP for seven straight hours? Don’t worry. I watch these things so you don’t have to. Here’s what you missed:
Okay, first this Pay-Go nonsense. Desley Brooks turned out like an hour’s worth of really good speakers who listed the many tangible benefits District 6 has received from the type of spending Ignacio was trying to ban, including fields, skate parks, restored pocket parks, and play structures. Desley gave a long, probably a little too long, defense of her pay-go spending, and then started mocking everyone else’s spending, including Henry Chang’s $115,000 for signs at the zoo and “Five hundred thousand dollars for a panda cage for pandas we don’t have.” (Chang later defended the signs, but not the pandas.)
Most of the Councilmembers waited for their turn in the queue to justify the expenses Brooks highlighted, but a visibly irritated Pat Kernighan just couldn’t hold it in, interrupting Brooks’s comment about some boat restoration in District 2 with “It was a play structure!” and moments later, interrupting her again to say “You know, I might support you if you don’t attack everybody up here!” Kernighan later called Brooks “one of the most difficult people I’ve ever worked with in my entire life.”
The Council then proceeded to waste about forty-five minutes discussing the proposal, even though it was beyond obvious right off the bat that there were not five votes available for it. (This was one of three items during the meeting that made me question the ability of anyone on the Council to count.) Everyone kept saying that they’d be willing to support some kind of compromise and offering their own suggestions to make the entire situation more complicated. Ignacio De La Fuente, I suppose realizing what a complete asshole he looked like at this point, mostly kept his mouth shut and didn’t put up much of a fight for it. Eventually, he and everyone else seemed willing to just let it die, but Jane Brunner insisted on moving the item anyway, then when they went to call the roll, said they didn’t have the votes and forget about it. Of course, at that point, it was too late and they had to vote anyway. It failed.
More than anything else, the discussion just reminded me what a complete disaster my own Councilmember is. Listening to the laundry list of park improvements and community events that Brooks provides for her constituents out of her pay-go money, and thinking about how badly District 3 could use some of those things left me seething. Four more years, ugh!
Nancy Nadel tried to make it illegal to hire anyone you’ve ever met, or spoken to, or maybe just bumped into in the grocery store line. Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad. But Nadel did propose an amendment to the anti-nepotism ordinance that would prohibit “cronyism” (PDF) in City hiring, and just like everything else that woman puts forward, it was poorly planned and poorly written. For the purpose of combatting cronyism, Nadel proposed an amendment that would forbid anyone from participating in any employment decision involving “a close friend, a business partner, and/or professional, political, or commercial relationship.” You’d think that the woman who got so worked up over how is invasive it was to ask people to report to the City when they’re screwing their immediate subordinates would be disinclined to add language to make forbidden relationships even more sweeping, but I guess not. The question came up among the Councilmembers several times during the discussion – what the hell is a “political” relationship? Who decides who’s a “close friend”? No answers were ever provided.
Apparently the City Attorney’s office helped craft the language Nadel proposed, but when asked what “close personal relationship” meant, the attorney present fumbled around for a while before coming up with the loose definition of “something significant.” Not comforting. There was some talk of sending it back to Finance & Management to hammer out the details, but then Desley Brooks offered a minor language change that she thought solved some of the problems (although it did not make things any less vague), and the Council voted on the proposal with that amendment. I don’t have a freaking clue whether this passed or not. I think it did, but honestly, neither I or my viewing partner were able to tell for certain because for reasons I don’t understand, the Council has taken to just saying all together “aye” or “nay” instead of calling roll and then afterwards nobody says the final vote tally. WTF?
Oakland Post photographer Gene Hazzard threw a fit during Open Forum over a parking ticket he received on Veteran’s Day, wanting to know why every single employee in the City had the day off besides parking enforcement. (Really? I hope they at least made the firefighters work too!) Acting City Administrator Dan Lindheim, apparently unaware when Veteran’s Day is, eventually told him to bring the ticket to his office and he’d “take a look at it.”
Nancy Nadel! Ugh! Okay, so one of the items was Redevelopment Agency loan (PDF) to this company Revolution Foods who are using it to move to Oakland from Alameda. They provide healthy lunches to schools, including some public schools, but none in Oakland. Here, they serve 17 of our charter schools .
You’d think Nadel would be thrilled about creating some low-skilled jobs in Oakland and finding a use for some of that industrial land she loves so much, right? You’d be wrong. Here’s what she had to say about it all:
I’m very concerned about our allowing – actually, helping a company make our charter schools more competitive, more attractive to our residents than our regular schools…They get these kinds of assistance from us indirectly that makes them more attractive to the public than our regular public schools and that constantly has a bad effect on the kids who don’t have options outside of our public schools.
Apparently, children who dare to forsake the broken public school system for something that provides a better education don’t deserve to eat.
The Police Department finally presented their Crime Fighting Strategic Plan (PDF) to the Council. I haven’t found time to really write about this document yet, but let’s just say that it says, um, amazingly little about reducing crime.
Jane Brunner said a bunch of good things about how they need to start thinking about crime reduction, then told them to stop crying poor and just find the damn money for CompStat somewhere in their budget, because they have all the money in the City already. Jean Quan babbled endlessly trying to defend the indefensible cancellation of the December Academy, tossing out about six different excuses in the process, none of which were consistent with the others. Nancy Nadel told OPD to reformat their charts.
Pat Kernighan suggested that the Department write themselves up an “action plan” with a firm goal date for implementing CompStat, noting that they shouldn’t be too worried that they’re unlikely to meet whatever goal they might create, because at least they’ll have tried. Dan Lindheim spent what felt like an hour trying to explain how the Academy cancellation and other financial issues with OPD weren’t his or anyone from the department’s fault. It just happened because they basically had no idea what they were doing, didn’t think anything through, and had planned poorly, basing their budget projections on “a little bit of hope.” (Yes, he said that!) Anyway, no use complaining about the Academy being canceled he said, they had to do it because they had already spent all their money. Desley Brooks noted that the Council had actually funded the December Academy in the budget they just passed, and that it was disingenuous for OPD to run around blaming the cancellation on the failure of Measure NN, when the real problem is their total ineptitude.