Ignacio De La Fuente: No More Delays!

As those who have been following the budget process are aware, I have been extremely vocal about the fact that the longer we put off balancing the budget the larger the deficit is going to grow; unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened. The Mayor is responsible for submitting a balanced budget proposal to the council, and the council must pass a balanced budget by June 30th of each calendar year. As of today, the two year 09-11 budget is not yet balanced. In November of 2009, the projected deficit for the 10-11 budget was $25.4 million (PDF), today that figure is $42.6 million (PDF).

Since last June I have very publicly urged my colleagues on the City Council and my constituents in District 5 to put a priority on maintaining core City services while we pursue long-term options to address this economic crisis. Public Safety is a core function that ought to be a priority of local governments but in order to avoid laying off police officers, very difficult decisions need to be made and everyone needs to share the pain, including police and it doesn’t necessarily need to mean laying off 200 officers.

I have already presented a series of recommendations which would help the City avoid laying off 200 police officers. Among the recommendations I have urged my colleagues take action on include:

  • Sworn employees (police) must contribute to a portion of their pensions. Today their contribution is zero; a 9% contribution from police sworn personnel would save the City approximately $7.3 million per year. This figure is equivalent to the annual cost of 36 fully loaded (salary & benefits) police officers.
  • Cuts to non-sworn personnel in the police department would also be necessary in order to avoid cutting sworn staff. Unpopular as it may be, this means Neighborhood Service Coordinators (NSC). I prefer this option as an alternative to cutting sworn police officers because NSC’s currently cost taxpayers $1.8 million annually.
  • Creating a 2-Tier Pension system for new hires. Implementation of a two tiered retirement system, one benefit plan for exiting police (3% at 50) and a less expensive plan for new police hires (2% at 50). In the case of non-sworn employees, a plan of (2.7% at 55) for current employees and for new non-sworn employees (2% at 55) would all reduce the City’s costs.

The City should NOT be in the business of operating golf courses or convention centers, as we find ourselves today. As a means to generate revenue to address the current fiscal crisis, I have recommended that we:

  • Sell our golf courses. The sale of just half of the 235 acres entitled for residential where Chabot Golf course currently sits would generate approximately $30 million in revenue. Additionally, the sale of the 10 acres entitled for residential at Montclair Golf Course would generate upwards of $5 million.
  • Sell the Henry J Kaiser Convention Center. The revenue generated from the sale of this property is projected at approximately $11 million. We simply do not have the luxury of sitting on some of our real estate assets when we are facing financial consequences such as laying off police officers.

We are in a fiscal crisis and many unpopular decisions need to be made and it all comes down to determining what our core priorities are. If we want to save in one place, we need to cut in others, it’s that simple. If sworn personnel do not contribute to their pensions, we’ll be forced to cut officers. 265 non-sworn full-time positions have already been eliminated from the City’s budget; urge the police and fire unions to give back so that we can save as many sworn personnel positions as possible.

Thank you and, as always, I look forward to your feedback and support.

Sincerely,
Ignacio

This guest blog is cross posted from District 5 Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente’s e-mail newsletter. To receive these updates regularly, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

108 thoughts on “Ignacio De La Fuente: No More Delays!

  1. David

    Why do non-sworn employees get to retire at 55 at all? at the very least, they should not collect pensions until 65 or 67 (Social Security age) or take a real penalty for collecting early (as with Social Security at 62).

  2. Christopher

    These budget proposals sound painful but rational. If other council members disagree with these cuts, what (sustainable!) alternatives have they proposed?

  3. Ralph

    IDLF is really the only one on council who has proven with any consistency that he has the financial balls to do that which is right. Almost half of council fully lets their heart make decisions that their head should make.

  4. rudy trubitt

    Thinking out loud here, but selling city-owned real estate to plug budget holes concerns me–it’s a one-time fix.

  5. Christopher

    I agree that selling city-owned real estate is a one-time fix, but what are the operating costs for owning that real estate and for how much revenue? Even if the real estate broke even, I think the city should be reducing the scope of its operations and focusing on core city services.

  6. rudy trubitt

    I agree that operating a golf course and convention center don’t seem like the place to spend scarce resources.

  7. dto510

    While most revenue from selling city property is one-time, there are ongoing benefits to returning property to the tax rolls. Furthermore the City clearly is not doing as good of a job as the private sector could running these enterprises, so jobs and business taxes would likely increase as well. There is no good reason to hang on to property that’s not being used for essential public services, even if selling the properties doesn’t completely fix the budget over the long term.

  8. Freddy

    If the City is going to sell the Henry J Kaiser Convention Center for $11 million, why is is spending $35+ million to build its new front lawn?

  9. Robert

    Golf courses are like any other recreational facility. So if we want to sell the golf courses, we should also be planning on sell the other rec facilities the city owns. Now I realize that the other facilities would probably not net the city as much, but if the argument is that the city should not be running a golf course, it should not be running other rec facilities either.

    And honestly, unlike a lot of the other rec facilities, the city should be making money on the golf courses. So are we looking at selling off a money making enterprise for a one time, short-term gain?

    Public golf courses serve a wide range of the population with an affordable exercise opportunity. And while I don’t think many of the readers of this blog golf, it is a popular sport, and before we start closing facilities we should start looking at how many people are served by the facility and at what cost to the city.

    BTW, I haven’t played golf in years, and never at any of the Oakland courses.

  10. LoveOakland

    Oakland employees do not get Social Security, and employees hired before 1986 don’t get Medicare. For those employees who had prior jobs for at least 10 years that make them eligible for Social Security, they get a smaller retirement from the City.

    Civilian employees contribute a much greater share of their retirement costs than other cities. A recent survey of 82 cities, conducted by the California Society of Municipal Fiscal Officers (CSMFO) found that fewer than half require any employee contribution. Only 20% require payment of the full employee share, as is required for Oakland civilian employees (however, Oakland Police do not make any contribution to their retirement).

    A so called 2-tier pension for civilian employees saves less than $300,000 a year for at least the first ten years. Retirement costs for non sworn is about 3% of the general fund.

    We need short term savings NOW as well as short time revenue.

    Let’s keep in mind that city employees didn’t cause the economy to crash. It was banks and Wall St.

  11. We Fight Blight

    We appreciate Ignacio’s efforts to focus on core priorities and make the tough decisions. We hope it’s not too late. Here are our suggestions for addressing the budget deficit.

    Place measures on the November ballot to repeal all voter mandated programs, including Measure OO/D Kids First, Measure Q and Measure Y (social program component). This is necessary to restore discretion in our budget process. We have enough existing revenues to provide core city services. We are just being forced to use them in ways that do not meet core objectives such as public safety and maintenance of infrastructure;

    Develop a prioritization of core city services with a focus on public safety, infrastructure, and revenue generating enterprises. A safer, cleaner and better maintained city will attract middle and higher income residents and shoppers to Oakland, thereby, generating more tax revenue. We need to increase the volume of taxes not by taxing the middle class out of Oakland, but by growing businesses and attracting new residents;

    Stop using a budget process that mandates across the board cuts equally. Not all services are equal and not all services are necessary in times of a budgetary crisis. Whole programs should be cut if they do not fall within the core services provided by local government. We cannot continue to be all things to all people during a budgetary crisis;

    Personnel expenditures are the single biggest cost in the city. City employees have some of the highest salaries in the state and country for comparable sized cities. Require all remaining staff to take a 20% furlough and eventually renegotiate 15-20% permanent reductions in pay scales and freeze any cost of living adjustments for the next four years when union contracts are due.
    Re-negotiate benefit packages when the union contracts are due to create a second tier retirement program for new staff that is no higher than 2% at 55, requires an 8 year vesting time period and requires existing staff to pay an additional 5-10% towards their retirement benefits;

    Institute pay for performance measures to ensure taxpayers actually get their money’s worth from city employees. This would include courteous and prompt service to all city residents. Fire employees who do not perform to well-defined metrics. This will create incentives for all employees to better perform their assigned job duties and ensure residents get value for their tax dollars.

    Require that all elected offices take a 20% funding cut. Yes, this even includes the City Auditor and our Mayor. Cut all elected officials pay by 20%.

    Establish strict guidelines and protocols for travel and training that applies to all city staff and all elected officials. This policy should mirror the per diems the state of California has adopted including strict controls on out of state travel.

    Require the City establish a rainy day account for future economic crises.

  12. David

    L.O.

    My point is that the argument is always made that firefighting and policework is really dangerous and that the job “requires” that they retire at 50. Why are non-sworns retiring at 55? Are they in some kind of danger or need to be relatively youthful to do their jobs? If not, why don’t we pay their pensions starting at 65 or 67 like the rest of us collect Social Security (I never stated that the non-sworns collect Soc. Sec). And 3% of the general fund is real money.

  13. Max Allstadt

    WFB:

    1. As much as I support repealing the unfunded mandates of OO, and the unbelievably poorly written measure Y (guess who wrote it?), I think those are politically non-viable, because of the popularity of youth programs and the power of the non-profit sector.

    I would, however, support a charter amendment which bans any ballot measure or future charter amendment which is an unfunded mandate (OO is 100% unfunded mandate, for example.

    2. I absolutely disagree with cutting elected officials’ pay. There are two city council members right now who are getting by on their salaries alone: Desley Brooks and Rebecca Kaplan. Reid, Brunner, De La Fuente and Nadel all have outside work. This often leads to conflict of interest. In Brunner’s case, it leads to her not doing her homework and showing up to council meeting and asking staff questions that I KNOW THE ANSWERS TO. Kernighan and Quan are married to men with very good jobs.

    So if you cut council pay even further, what you’d do is encourage moonlighting and increase the likelihood of turning the council into a club for people with rich spouses.

    As for the Mayor and the City Attorney: What do you think is a reasonable salary for the chief executive and chief legal officer of a 1 billion dollar a year organization? Russo himself has said on many occasions that the reason nobody runs against him is that they don’t want to take a pay cut.

    And lastly, what would we net out of your 20% cut? $200k? One golden handshake to a fire captain could save that much, and wouldn’t have any of the negative effects.

    Councilmembers make $70k now. Take them down to $56k? That’s crazy. You get what you pay for. I’m glad to pay more for leadership than I am now.

  14. Carlos Plazola

    Right on, Ignacio! People can debate the details of what you say, but you’re the only one in this backbone-less city with the cojones to put some real ideas on the table and call BS, BS.

    Please keep going.

  15. Livegreen

    To b accurate people should refer to OFCY/Kids First as Measure D, and not OO, since the former replaced the latter. Or better yet refer to it as OFCY since that covers whichever number of Measures have funded or are now funding it.

  16. Naomi Schiff

    My two cents:

    Should the city sell the Henry J. Kaiser at the bottom of the market? And to whom? Didn’t we read that the complexities of indebtedness for the HJK plus the downtown convention center mean that a sale doesn’t net the city much? I also agree with Councilmember Kaplan that it is weird to propose a low price for it out in public, before appraising it, and not negotiating from a position of strength. This structure will be far more viable (and potentially also more saleable) once the Meas. DD improvements are complete. Right now, its parking lot is part of the staging area for the 12th st. project.

    Cutting officeholder pay has all the disadvantages mentioned by Max above, plus wouldn’t make much of a dent in the budget shortfall.

    I agree that those police pensions do have to be looked at, as IDLF points out.

    Does selling off golf courses make sense at this low point in the market? Right now it sounds like it could be a one-shot desperation fire sale.

    There’s a lot of citizen support for the NSCs. Could those jobs be restructured to cost less and still be maintained? They seem effective in bridging the gap from police to community.

    I oppose putting Measure Q repeal on the ballot. To me, libraries are absolutely core functions of the city, and it is clear that the voters support them overwhelmingly. I think Measures Y and OO could be put on the ballot as revisions or rewrites so that they are supported properly, or at least aren’t contributing to the structural deficit.

    I wonder if the City Council is thinking about the two acre parcel quite close to the lake which will be created by the 12th Street project, and which could be sold for development? This is “new” public land–that is, it is currently under roadway, and will be empty once the roads are reconfigured. A good location, no tradition of public assembly use, no historic buildings on it, easily accessible. Please, city council and staff, don’t precipitously set the price in public. Let’s do some planning for this very valuable land and consider selling it in an intelligent fashion.

    I thank you, fellow Oaklanders, for taking the budget seriously and for pursuing a dignified discussion about it.

  17. Brian

    Actually, the land to sell is at 20th/Berkeley and Lakeside. Reconfigure that horrible triangle shaped super intersection (20th/Berkeley, Lakeside/Harrison) into two simple T intersections where Harrison ends at a T with 20th and 20th ends at a T with Lakeside.

    You can expand Snow Park on the south side of 20th and sell off a new parcel in front of the Kaiser office building on the north side of 20th. Heck you could create a large parcel on the south side of 20th at the corner with Lakeside and sell that off as well.

    The land along 20th St. would be more valuable for office/res. development than in front of the Kaiser Auditorium along 12th street. It would be a natural extension of the 20th St. corridor. The new land along 12th street should be a new public assembly area. It is exactly the wrong place to build a building.

  18. Dax

    Before we confer sainthood of Mr. De La Fuente, let us not forget he was one of the council members who back in 2004 voted to raise the pensions by a full 35% from what was then a generous and reasonable rate.

    He also voted to make that 35% increase retroactive, thereby effectively giving away “golden parachutes” of from $150,000 to $700,000 to a multitude of city workers at that time and since then, for years they worked under the old plan.

    Now, one of his main cost cutting proposals is to UNDO the damage he did back then. However the change back to the old system won’t be done in the same retroactive method. That damage is done for good and it has and will continue to cost Oakland hundreds of millions of dollars. It might total closer to a billion dollars for the one foolish action they took in 2004.

    Still, at least he is seeing reality for what it is at this point. One can only wish he had taken the citizen’s point of view 6 years ago, instead of that of the workers.
    A labor rep is hardly the one who should be voting on matters of employee benefits as grand at that ill conceived pension explosion.

    I do have to question his suggesting selling off “half” of the Chabot Golf course.
    Uh, after you sell off 9 holes, what do you do with the rest? Charge half price to play? Lets see, were going to cut out a fair chunk of Knowland Park for zoo expansion and now we’re going to further reduce recreational areas by selling off the golf course. What is next? Other parks?

    As to Love Oakland’s rendition that “We need short term savings NOW as well as short time revenue.”
    What makes you think this is a short term thing?
    With the future growth of pension fund payments from the general fund, this condition is not only going to be going on for years, but its going to be a ever larger problem. Oakland is on the hook for that foolish 2004 pension fund give-a-way, when they boosted all pensions by a gigantic 35% and made it retroactive for all prior years worked.
    That move will be seen as the gift that keeps on giving, or should I say, the give-a-way that keeps on taking.

    Also, how many times do we have to hear from Love Oakland and Mike about the following
    “Let’s keep in mind that city employees didn’t cause the economy to crash. It was banks and Wall St.”
    I get it, the banks and Wall St. were bad, thus we shouldn’t make any cuts in the bloated city compensation practices.

    Also Love Oakland, can you explain what you mean by the statement that
    “employees hired before 1986 don’t get Medicare.”

    Do you mean if they were hired prior to 1986 and then retired at that time?
    What if they worked for the city after that time? What if they did anything other than work from 18 to retirement for the city? How many workers go to work at age 18 for Oakland and never work for anyone until they retire at 55 or 60, and don’t work from 55 to 65 elsewhere ……
    Will you please explain what you mean by saying “employees hired before 1986 don’t get Medicare.”….
    Can you be very precise about the nature of the Oakland city employee you suggest is not going to get Medicare coverage?
    And I suppose you are referring to Medicare Part A when you talk about that.

  19. Ralph

    What is the point of holding onto a valuable but non-core asset? If I can obtain value for a non-core asset today to provide resources to support a core program doesn’t that make a lot more sense than holding onto a non-core asset because it may be worth more tomorrow. So while you are waiting for a non-core asset to appreciate, you cut core programs. That makes no sense. And if you wait, at what price do you sell. You can not let yesterday’s value influence today’s decision. But first thing to do is get a confidential appraisal.

    There is no harm in putting all the Measures back for a vote either complete repeal or rewrite. Those meddling kids need a repeal.

    Did not notice the proposed pay cuts – the mayor should take a 20% cut. As to council, anyone who has read this blog long enough knows that I think that council is underpaid. Some of you here would probably do well on council but just have no desire to take a 50% pay cut.

  20. Max Allstadt

    I think selling golf courses, though not necessarily exactly the ones IDLF mentioned, is a really good idea. Here’s why:

    1. We have a lot of golf course land. Golf courses can still function if we sell half of an 18 hole course. This allows a lot of room for haggling and negotiation at council. Councilmembers like haggling and negotiation over the small components of a big idea, because it lets them all feel like they have a stake in the big idea when it takes it’s final form. So this is versatile, and comfortable to negotiate.

    2. Golf courses are generally on very attractive land for residential development. They’d be easy to sell. They might even net more than we expect.

    3. Creating new residential plots where there were once golf courses creates future revenue: Building permits, school taxes, parcel taxes, transfer taxes. This isn’t a desperate sale. It’s an investment.

    4. Golf has enough of an air of elitism about it that detractors can easily be told to call a wambulance.

    ….

    In other news, I really don’t like selling the Kaiser Center. Unless it’s to Laney.

  21. oakie

    it is not a Core Function to have employee compensation at 20% higher than Bay Area averages.

    it is not a Core Function to have an overpaid mayor (based on performance) with an entourage of staffing, a fat expense account for his travels.

    it is not a Core Function to give free parking to employees.

    it is not a Core Function to give a defined benefits pension when no one in private industry gets one (at no private industry that is healthy).

    it is not a Core Function to give $25 million per year to the Raiders (let’s not forget that DLF lead that deal, without voter approval, and don’t forget that’s an expense that’s in the “non-discretionary” portion of the budget).

    it is not a Core Function to give $150,000 to a Ferrari driving owner of the Lake Merritt Bakery.

  22. Naomi Schiff

    Brian, the land at 20th/Berkeley Way is to become part of Lakeside Park upon reconfiguration of the intersection. Lakeside Park is too narrow there. There is a plan for a much improved layout there, to remove a slip-lane arrangement and to improve pedestrian crossing possibilities. No way would park advocates–and for that matter, the Swig Co.– allow sale of land over there. (The Swig Co. has a big building project in planning stages, by the way. Two high-rises, EIR, etc.) Plus there are often major legal obstacles to deacquisitioning parks.

    Just to clarify: the new land being created at 12th Street, which the city will be able to sell if it wants to, is not the lake-edge area (to be reconfigured as ideally situated new parkland, as you recommend). It is another soon-to-be-uncovered area, across the newly aligned 12th street from the lake. You can see it on the plans. I am not certain about using it for very high-rise construction, as impeding views, but it could anyhow take quite some substantial density and is well-located for transit. It is not now park: it is city-owned right-of-way that will no longer be needed for road.

    I agree with Max: HJK convention center is a prime potential arts facility, has a great theater inside that many groups would like to use, is a landmark historic building, and as stated above, is about to become more valuable, so it would be silly to sell it now. City invested about 20 million in it during the 1980s.

  23. Mike Spencer

    Don’t jerk with my golf, mate….The Council Member, who has been a part of the ongoing problems the last 20 years, omits other issues that have to be examined. Why are you only talking about cuts to police and non-sworn personnel. They should be in the plan but why not make cuts to every single department and every single item not in budget besides police. Are you telling me that we are getting our money’s worth out of every single employee in planning or parks and rec or in other support areas? Chile, please.

    The problem is not just the bottom-line but how the City is managed. We can bring in revenue from selling off the golf courses and other real estate but does not mean we will be better managed? No. There is very little trust left. Will we still give sweetheart lone deals to the politically connected and to businesses that are destined to fail?

  24. Max Allstadt

    Naomi,

    Indeed, the Kaiser Center is an exemplar of my favorite dumb-government metaphor of late: using the Hope Diamond as a doorstop.

    What about the shell game where we sell it to our own Redevelopment Agency? It’s a silly sounding plan, but wouldn’t it allow us to inject a one time shot of cash into the general fund, while still maintaining control over the property for future reuse?

  25. Ken Lupoff

    Is ‘Oakie’ correct? DO we really still pay the Raiders $25 million a year to play in Oakland?

    If so, then here is a ‘trial-balloon’ thought: Renegotiate the city’s contract with the Raiders. If we can ask unions to renegotiate singed contracts, then we can ask the Raiders to do so as well.

  26. Mry

    @mike Spencer, agreed. At the end of the day we are still left with a poorly managed city. Filled with corruption and nepotism. So you get police to give up 9% on top if what they have already, what’s the plan? To just keep chipping away?

  27. LoveOakland

    RE: Growth in retirement payments by the city, exclusion of some city employees from Medicare, why is the city in financial trouble, Raiders.

    Like a number of local governments that are older than Social Security, Oakland opted not to be part it when it began in 1935 and did not opt in to Medicare until around 1986. Back in the day, many local governments had their own retirement systems as did Oakland.

    Today, most local public employees are in CalPERS – the state retirement fund. Some places like Alameda County, San Mateo and SF still maintain their own retirement and health systems.

    When the city joined Medicare in 1986 (which began in 1965) it covered employees hired after 1986. The city and post-1986 employees each contribute equal amounts. Thus current employees hired before 1986 were not included. My guess is that it was prohibitively expensive for the city to buy in to Medicare for the pre-1986 employees. For these retirees, there is no Medicare coverage. The $425 health stipend retirees get covers a little less than half the cost of Kaiser for themselves and a dependent. The health stipend has not increased for civilian retirees in 9 years.

    Regarding ballooning retirement costs, let’s take it one retirement system at a time. The city actually has 3 retirement systems. Current city employees are covered by CalPERS. Before the City joined CalPERS, they had two systems, OMERS for civilian employees and PFERS for sworn employees. When the employees covered by those systems die, both systems will phase out.

    OMERS is in good shape and should have no problem covering retiree costs. CalPERS is in reasonably good shape and they have taken steps to reduce the impact of the downturn on the rate they charge local government. CalPERS gained about 23% in value in the past year. Rather than jack up rates to local government because of the downturn, CalPERS is smoothing it over 30 years to minimize local impact. They are also changing the way they charge local government so that in good times when the market is up, CalPERS will reduce rates by a smaller amount. This is in part because local governments generally didn’t set those savings aside for a rainy day when the market would go down and rates would go up. For example, my understanding is that the market was so good in the 1990s that Oakland paid nothing to CalPERS for 3-4 years. Instead of putting some or all of the money into reserves, it was spent on city services. This was wrong, but it will happen much less in the future due to changes in the CalPERS rules. We must all insist that this reserve take priority over all other possible city expenditures. Oakland civilian employees also picked up an additional 20% of the retirement cost.

    Unfortunately, PFERS is not in good shape, not sure why. The city plans to refinance the balloon payment, but we have to work to make sure that as the economy comes back and revenues increase, that we set aside money in a reserve for that obligation.

    Also, like a number of local governments, Oakland is not part of Social Security. That means that someone who retires after a career with the city gets their CalPERS pension and nothing more. For those who worked at another job someplace covered by Social Security for 10 years, CalPERS assesses a penalty to offset the additional income.

    While some of Oakland’s financial woes are no doubt due to poor choices by current and past elected leaders, the primary cause is the economy. This is not to say that there shouldn’t be cuts but rather than public employees are not to blame for the recession. The drop in property taxes, lower sales tax revenue and the state’s rip off of city funds has been devastating.

    I don’t know much about benefits for sworn employees other than the Police don’t pay anything towards their retirement.

    City unions renegotiated contracts to save jobs and services. The Raiders could care less.

  28. David

    No, LO. The primary cause is overspending. Again, local and state budget growth have far outstripped the private economy’s growth. There is simply no way to sustain that, unless you really want to be the slaves of our government, rather than having “civil/public servants.”

    Seriously, was the state suffering from a shortage of government in 2004? Because that’s what Arnold’s budget shrinks it to.

    Was Oakland suffering from a shortage of government in 2003? Well, that’s what we need to go back to.

  29. Brian

    @David

    I don’t know where you et your number from but state spending as a % of the economy is at mid-1970s levels and dropping. If you factor in local governments it is probably even less.

  30. Dax

    Love Oakland,

    I am very familiar with people who are covered by Medicare but who never paid into Social Security. My mother is not covered since she was a stay at home housewife of a public employee. She pays for Medicare part B and also pays for Medicare part A (which is very expensive). She also pays for Kaiser Senior Advantage. She does not get even the $425 that Oakland would give.
    In 2009 her Medicare A+B was about $560 per month. Kaiser was a extra $115.

    However, I can’t say this is a huge problem for more than a handful of Oakland retirees. First, how many never worked for any private firm from age 18 to 65 ?
    Also, are you saying those who continued to work after 1986, chose to NOT become part of Medicare for their remaining years? If you work 40 quarters, you get Medicare. That is only 10 years from age 18 to 65.
    It would seem there can’t be more than a handful of people like my mother who are Oakland retirees.
    Also very few “couples” would be in a situation where both persons were not covered.

    Only pays $425 to retirees from 55 to 65 when they get on Medicare, but they continue to pick up Kaiser after that.

    As to the costs of retirement/pensions.
    The PERS system is not fully funded. In future years, even with smoothing, Oakland will be paying money out of the general fund to cover future costs.
    The payments will likely become huge.

    You don’t seem to question how a city like Oakland can suddenly raise their pensions by a full 35%, and instantly make it retroactive for all prior years worked.
    Do you realize during all those prior years, they were NOT putting enough money in to cover the extra 35% boost?
    Individual employees who had worked perhaps 29 years under the old rate and only 1 year under the new rate, get ALL their pension years under the new rate.
    For many of them it becomes a unpaid for windfall of from $200,000 to $500,000 or more.
    You can’t suddenly do something like that and make believe it will all be “smoothed” out in the wash.

    That is why De La Fuente is in a panic……and why math dead, Quan can’t figure it out any more then she could foresee the Oakland schools essential bankruptcy and state takeover.

    The recent economic decline is NOT the reason, the long term pension math will not work. That problem was cooked into the system back in 2004 when the city council gave away a GIGANTIC 35% pension boost to everyone.
    Recent economics have only highlighted the problem earlier than expected.

    Oakland is going to be paying big time out of the general fund to cover the excessive pensions. Other programs will suffer for decades to pay fat pensions that were given out with little thought.

  31. David

    Here’s one number source. Perhaps I should have stated more precisely that real, per capita government spending, state and local, have outstripped inflation, and are consuming more residents’ incomes:

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/336.html

    1977, per capita taxes paid: $1063.

    2008: $5028

    470% increase in per capita taxes paid.

    Inflation from 1977 to 2008:

    355%

    Meaning real tax revenue per capita in California has significantly outstripped inflation. Californians are now paying about 33% more in real dollars in state & local taxes than they did in 1977. and that was 2008, before the sales tax increase, multiple local parcel tax increases etc etc.

    What have we gotten for that massive increase in real taxes? Almost the worst schools, almost the worst roads, but heck, at least we have the highest paid teachers and prison guards in the country.

    We don’t have a revenue shortage. We have an overspending problem.

  32. Ken Lupoff

    So, a friend of mine at city hall did confirm that the city is in fact still paying the Raiders $10 mill a yr.

    But if the city stops paying the Raiders, they go to court and sue. Unless the city declares bankruptcy, and then the Raiders have to line up with all the other creditors and collect pennies on the dollar.

    Without a lot of new revenue combined w/ major cuts, it does seem like Oakland is headed for a bankruptcy.

    I’m not trying to be alarmist about it, but the handwriting for a bankruptcy does seem to be on the wall. Vallejo took such a step and life does go on there.

  33. zac

    First, full disclosure: I’m an Oakland firefighter and an elected member of our Union board.

    The answer to the question of why police and firefighters retire at 50 or 55 is, in part, because you don’t want a 65 year old firefighter to be the one coming to rescue you when everything is going to hell. I know Clint Eastwood is from Oakland, but the rest of us aren’t likely to be quite so badass in our golden years. Plus, he gets stunt doubles.

    Next, I want to make clear what the firefighters have been doing to help the city out. IDLF is talking about bringing OPD’s pension contribution up from zero up to some yet-to-be-determined number; his dream would be 9%. The firefighters have been contributing THIRTEEN PERCENT of our salary to our pension for years, and we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. That’s not nothing, and we’re way out ahead of the rest of the pack. In the good years, the city contributes little or nothing towards the pension. We’ve been paying this big chunk every single year, whether the market goes up or down.

    Finally, last year we agreed to work an additional four hours per week FOR FREE. We were already working 52 hours per week. Imagine your own 52 hour/week job and then imagine the boss asking you to come in and work an eight hour day, every other Saturday. For no pay. That’s what the firefighters agreed to, over and above the 13% pension contribution we already give. And we were happy(ish) to do it because we want to do our part to help Oakland out of this crisis

    I’m not asking for applause or saying that we’re a sacred cow now, but I think it’s important that everybody understand exactly what the members of the Oakland Fire Department have already done to help out. Thank you all for your passion about Oakland, and thanks for your support of the fire department.

  34. David

    Zac, if you’ll note, I questioned why non-sworns were retiring at 55, unless that wasn’t directed at me. I understand (although I question the necessity of the amount) the philosophy behind active-duty cops/firemen retiring at 50.

    Additionally, Zac, I agree, it’s the bureaucrats’, cops’ and teachers’ turns now to get cut. However, even IF (and that’s a big IF) we were to get givebacks by all those groups, I wonder if the system would be sustainable even at that point. I am very skeptical that it would be.

    Finally, for $100K (an income level I used to make, to be honest, before the recent unpleasantness), you better believe I had a boss who’d call me in on Saturdays, Sundays, whenever the hell he felt like calling me in. I worked from 6:15 am to 6, 7, 8 pm or later 5 days a week plus those occasional weekends. I never heard the end of it when he couldn’t get me on the phone once (I was driving to my parents’ house) on a Friday evening. Seriously, he bitched me out for a week on that one. Again, have you seen how much doctors or lawyers work? And they have higher overhead, serious student loans and no pensions (unless you’re Kaiser).

    You work hard. Ok. So does everybody else at your salary level, with the exception of the Mayor and other useless appendages in the government. I don’t think anyone of us is saying that you don’t work hard. We’re saying that 1) you’re well-compensated for it, whether you believe it or not–the numbers don’t lie, and 2) the current comp structure is unaffordable. Again the money simply DOES NOT EXIST to maintain pensions etc at current levels overall. You can argue that it’s the cops’ turn (and I’d agree), etc, but that doesn’t change the fact that overall comp+benefits must be cut.

  35. Ralph

    OUSD teachers earn diddly poo. They also do not factor into the Oakland City deficit as OUSD cuts their checks.

    Zac, at $100K a year, I expect more than 40 hrs a week. Like David said, few in the private sector earning that kind of money only work 40 hr weeks. They were easily 50+, weekends, and possibly while on vacation.

    But too your point, overall, I think OFD is a team player and now that building no longer suffers from false alarms, you got my okay to jack up the fees on false alarms.

  36. Ralph

    Is it me or is the edit function not working. Too should be to. And the missing word is my.

  37. zac

    Ralph,

    You’re right that you deserve more than 40 hours a week out of us. That’s why you get 56, up from 52 a year ago, with no increase in pay.

    And David, I’m not asking for any sort of untouchable status or anything, but I just want people to understand that the Fire department has already taken the same sort of hits that people in the private sector such as yourself are justifiably upset about. When your boss asked you come in on Saturdays you clearly didn’t love it, but you did it because the company needed it and because you needed the job. But what would have been galling is, after all those free Saturdays, your boss came in one day and said, “Hey David, how come you never come in on Saturdays?”

    I guess the reason that I post on these boards is because I want Oakland Fire to become synonymous with “13% payback plus two Saturdays a month.” There is a tendency to lump all city workers into one monolithic group of intransigents. But we all have very different contracts, and Oakland Fire, at least, has done a lot to help the city out. People tell me over and over that fire hasn’t made any concessions, when I know we’ve given up 13% plus the equivalent of the two Saturdays. When I hear that kind of uninformed criticism it really diminishes my desire to help out further; if making concessions earns me the same hostility as NOT making concessions, it really makes me wonder why I should bother.

    But that sentiment is just in my darker moments…and i appreciate the folks on A Better Oakland who understand that Fire is trying hard to step up. I’ve lived in Oakland my whole life and I want this city to thrive; the Fire department has always helped the city out in times of need and we will continue to do so. Thanks for your support.

  38. Mry

    Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t police just give something back a few months ago? As I have said before, we DO need some sort of pension reform, but I just don’t think even if they give back this said 9%, it’s going to change things. The problem still exists, a city so poorly managed. I just don’t understand why we keep voting these people into office.
    As far ad what doctors and lawyers make, yes I do know what they make. I have several friends who work I’m that field, and it’s upwards of 200k.

  39. David

    Zac, I’m sure I’m not the only one on here who appreciates your posts (as opposed to Mike/OPD). I do get the picture that you have stepped up to make some concessions, and now it’s the cops’ etc turns.

    Perhaps the only substantial point where we disagree is that even if the cops cut back (as they should), that you will still be immune from another round of cutbacks. My prediction, and if I could predict the future accurately I’d be sipping margaritas on my private island right now, is that even after cops cut back, there will not be enough money to maintain the comp structure. The cops are unlikely to go all the way to 13% of their salary to pensions etc, so we will hit this crisis again in a year. The money simply is not there. Where will it come from? Sales taxes? Spending is up a earth-shattering 0.1% this month. R.E. transfer taxes? Don’t make me laugh. Property taxes? We’ve only begun the rounds of reassessments, and while there is probably enough turnover of long-held properties and step ups to current valuations to keep them from dropping through the floor, I don’t think property taxes will be growing enough to make up for shortfalls elsewhere.

    But who knows, maybe happy days will be here again soon. Just like 1930. Oh crap. never mind.

  40. Barry K

    Here are the top 25 paid employees in the Fire Department for 2009.
    Zac, can you or someone else explain why the “overtime is so excessive” for Chiefs and Lieutenants?

    How about OVERTIME reform as suggested by the Alameda Grand Jury?

    Last First Title Dept. Base OT Other Total Public Entity
    Peyton Tyehimba T Battalion Chief Fire Department $150,035 $47,970 $71,858 $269,863 Oakland
    Frediani Lorenzo S Battalion Chief Fire Department $153,536 $33,310 $57,643 $244,489 Oakland
    Simmons Demond L Lieutenant of Fire Department Fire Department $117,320 $105,729 $20,434 $243,484 Oakland
    Kilmartin IV Edward J Battalion Chief Fire Department $152,557 $68,003 $9,538 $230,098 Oakland
    Fesai Sergei Fire Fighter Paramedic Fire Department $111,761 $99,786 $15,248 $226,795 Oakland
    Oftedal Brian J Lieutenant of Fire Department Fire Department $117,320 $96,457 $8,844 $222,621 Oakland
    Miller Michael E Battalion Chief Fire Department $149,615 $62,711 $9,229 $221,555 Oakland
    Miller Earl L Lieutenant of Fire Department Fire Department $117,320 $84,130 $15,643 $217,093 Oakland
    Stark Shawn R Captain of Fire Department Fire Department $126,928 $69,464 $19,516 $215,907 Oakland
    White Darin M Battalion Chief Fire Department $155,920 $45,756 $12,799 $214,476 Oakland
    Williams James A Deputy Chief of Fire Department Fire Department $175,488 $0 $38,333 $213,821 Oakland
    Usher Emon J Battalion Chief Fire Department $152,557 $51,477 $9,514 $213,548 Oakland
    Sherman Ernest Captain of Fire Department Fire Department $126,837 $72,104 $8,006 $206,947 Oakland
    Justice Coy M Captain of Fire Department Fire Department $135,046 $65,291 $6,367 $206,704 Oakland
    Bolin-Chew Eleanor M Battalion Chief Fire Department $153,996 $43,037 $9,336 $206,368 Oakland
    Lipp Robert Battalion Chief Fire Department $152,767 $42,143 $10,903 $205,813 Oakland
    Paraskevopoulos Damien D Fire Fighter Paramedic Fire Department $110,775 $87,733 $7,067 $205,575 Oakland
    Primas Leon B Captain of Fire Department Fire Department $126,756 $70,720 $8,006 $205,482 Oakland
    Mahoney Lester J Lieutenant of Fire Department Fire Department $108,271 $75,610 $20,157 $204,039 Oakland
    Gaskin Darryl N Captain of Fire Department Fire Department $126,837 $69,149 $8,006 $203,992 Oakland
    Evans-Robinson Vicky L Captain of Fire Department Fire Department $127,023 $58,849 $16,423 $202,295 Oakland
    Pope Christopher A Fire Fighter Paramedic Fire Department $108,172 $87,267 $6,562 $202,000 Oakland
    Yi David Fire Fighter Paramedic Fire Department $111,691 $74,415 $15,387 $201,493 Oakland
    Muhammad Rahman Captain of Fire Department Fire Department $126,756 $64,987 $8,006 $199,749 Oakland
    Farrell John Lieutenant of Fire Department Fire Department $117,138 $75,329 $7,195 $199,662 Oakland

  41. David

    Mry. I posted earlier in a different thread what doctors and lawyers make. As opposed to your anecdotal information, the statistics right from the Bureau of Labor state that family doctors make ~$150-160K and lawyers around $140K, IIRC. You also have to remember that the typical doctor and lawyer graduate with $150-$250K of student debt, and that doctors in their own practices have to pay malpractice premiums (ranging from $20,000 for a family doctor to $70K+ for an OB/GYN) (and for that matter lawyers have malpractice insurance too). And then there is the incremental self-employment tax etc etc. And there is no pension or retiree health care. And of course, a doctor doesn’t actually start earning that money until after residency, which means they don’t start earning 100K+ until they’re around 30, at the youngest. Besides, if we can’t afford “health care for all,” how the hell can we afford to pay government workers doctors’ salaries???

  42. Mry

    David, I don’t go by statistics and averages from all over the country that have nothing to do with California. I just look around at my peers. Furthermore, that is the part of my statement that I care about the least.

  43. David

    Actually, those numbers are for the Bay Area metropolitan area.

    And yes, I agree as I posted, even if the police put in 9% or even 13%, I doubt it will still be able to be funded, which I assume was the “more important” part of your post.

  44. David

    It’s funny, as a financial advisor, I probably see more doctors’ and lawyers’ incomes than you do, Mry. The fact is that people, especially “professional class” people have a disturbing tendency to live well above their means. You may assume that all these lawyers make $200K+ because of your limited experience, however, most do not. Those who do not, though, do try their hardest (to the detriment of their financial stability) to maintain that image of a higher income.

    In my experience the wealthiest people (and actually often higher income to boot) I’ve met live much more prosaic lives. The guy who runs a trucking business. Started with one truck 30 years ago, now has a fleet of 30+. Normal house, drives a F-150 until it dies (200K+ miles) and has a 7-figure bank account. etc.

    But anyway, to reiterate, I agree with your “more important” point–compensation and benefits probably require a deeper cut than anyone is contemplating right now in order for the city to be solvent.

  45. zac

    A few answers…First, OPD agreed to not take a planned wage increase. So their salary and benefits stayed the same, and their hours didn’t increase. They do good work and they deserve their pay, but it’s debatable whether staying static counts as a cut along the lines of our 13% payback and our unpaid four extra hours per week.

    Barry: the reason why overtime is so excessive is because it’s cheaper than hiring full time employees. I don’t remember the exact multiplier, but with benefits, taxes, training costs, etc, a full time employee actually costs the city about 1.6x his salary. Overtime is 1.5x. So using overtime is cheaper than hiring, and it also saves the cost of giving entrance exams and paying trainees and instructors. We always end up with a bit of a Catch-22 when it comes to overtime. We hire new employees and then people scream that our ranks are bloated; so then we go years without hiring, thin our ranks through attrition, and people scream that we make too much money in overtime. You can’t have it both ways. Last year the city threatened us with 60 layoffs if we refused to make concessions. We made the concessions, but had the layoffs gone through, those of us left would have made insane amounts of money because we would have been FORCED to work overtime, whether we wanted to or not. And then you’d be seeing stories in the paper about how we make too much money in overtime. Personally, I’d like to see a lot more hiring and a lot less overtime, though not everyone in the department agrees with me.

  46. Dax

    Zac, What does it say about the “market rate” of the OFD when there are a dozen openings announced and 7,600 people show up for applications.

    Mind you, that was in 2007, before our current economic troubles began.
    Back then the unemployment rate was only 5%.
    I dare say, that even if the wages were 10% or 20% less, you’d still would of had over 5,000 applicants.

    The wage, benefit, pension, total compensation structure is out of line with the real world reality.
    Even if you bump up your hours, clearly the wage structure is not “normal”.

    I have a family full of fire fighters. A long history of OFD life time employees.
    From my earliest days, most of the folks at Christmas, and Thanksgiving were from OFD families.

    But I must say, back in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s, no one was making wages like they are today (even adjusted for inflation).
    Especially relative to the rest of society.
    The entire OFD compensation package has leaped up over the past 40 years.

    The former idea of public service has been turned on its head.
    Before, you took lower salary to get a pension, job security, and great family benefits.

    Now, benefits and especially pensions have been greatly boosted and the formerly moderate wages have gone through the roof.
    No reasonable person can view the OFD compensation package and suggest it is comparable to what firemen got in the past.

    If you froze OFD wages for 5 years, while inflation went up 15 to 20 percent, you’d only be bringing the package back in line with what was normal in the past.
    The current package is not normal.

    The highest paid person in the neighborhood should not be the fireman.
    I grew up in a neighborhood where the firemen use to be in the middle to below the mid point of income. Now, they are in the top 1 to 5 percent of that same neighborhood.

    Now, I do admit at least you are paying that 13%….
    You may be called upon to make more cuts or sacrifices if we simply run out of money.
    If there is no money you can’t expect residents making under 50K to subsidize those making over 100K by paying more fees and taxes.

  47. Sid

    Most of the City employees in Oakland make less money than their counterparts in other bay area cities. The only exception is Oakland police, whose salaries are among the highest in the nation.

  48. Dax

    Sid, would you please provide us with several examples.

    Be sure to include the 37.5 hour week as well as the benefit and pension package.

    I will be interested in seeing your comparative examples.

    (remembering of course, that it won’t make either city’s pay proper compared to what the general private market pays)

    Still, I want to see where you get your comparative data for nearly identical job titles.

    You might also include the number of city employees for those comparative cities.
    In other words, how many employees do they have for their population size.

  49. Ralph

    Sid, I believe you are offbase. The city did a study not too long ago and many if not most Oakland positions paid on average 15% more than neighboring cities. I don’t know how other cities do annual wage increases but right now Oakland is giving away 4% annuals bumps which is well in excess of CPI and substantially more than us private sector employees have seen of late.

    If Oakland wants to continue on this high wage path, I would like to see some changes. First, employees need to self fund retirement. Second, employee must accept layoffs and no use of taxes, fees, surchages etc to avoid layoffs. Third, seniority must go. Jobs are preserved based on need and contribution to core mission.

  50. Barry K

    Zac- Overtime pay to police has been studied by the AC Grand Jury. They found departments intentionally scheduled staff to get overtime, and, specific to OPD, they destroyed and/or lost scheudling records.

    We pay overtime to fire and police employees while they travel to attend conferences that have nothing to do with training. Several of the Fire Batallion Chiefs were living the high life spending thousands of dollars on travel.

    A $100,000 “donation” by the Fire Dept to support Measure Y got an annual $4M return for 20 years. Nice investment.

    Or, for those of us in the hills, we got stuck with Quan’s “fire assessment district” that taxes us $60 a year for 10 years for inspections because the Fire Dept is cash strapped and can’t pay staff for inspections.

    Please lookup the AC Grand Jury and look at their reports.
    Or, the City Administrators report on the travel abuses.

    ***Dax- Regarding the 7,600 people applying for jobs with the fire department.
    The AC Grand Jury did a report on that too. They found the Fire Dept was willing to take in candidates that were not qualified (friends…) and would pay up to $25k per candidate to get them certified instead of going with qualified candidates.

    See Pages 61-63
    http://www.acgov.org/grandjury/final2007-2008.pdf

  51. Barry K

    Sid- Do you have any documentation to back your claim?
    Ralph- You are right. This was previously discussed here.

    http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2008/tables/08s0453.pdf

    http://www.abetteroakland.com/taxes-taxes-taxes/2009-02-23#more-2339

    “A City that has the highest paid municipal workforce (PDF) of any large city in the country, and that awarded employees cost of living increases over six years that amounted to 10.1% more than CPI (PDF) has no business whatsoever asking voters to hand over anything else. The Council is in a tough position, no doubt, but they simply have to start learning to make do with what they have.”

  52. zac

    I can’t speak for the cops, but the firefighters aren’t doing a lot of swanky overtime travel. The vast majority of overtime is for us to staff firehouses in Oakland. There probably is some OT travel for the purposes of USAR training, but that’s all reimbursed by FEMA. In fact, most of the specialized training that I’ve gotten–Heavy Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, Swiftwater Rescue, Bicycle Medic–has all been on my own time and at my own expense. So, if the BC’s are donning their mink-lined helmets and going off on wine-tasting trips, I haven’t heard about it. And it’s hard to keep a secret in the firehouses. If that sort of thing is happening, you have my agreement that it should be stopped.

    And as for the last hiring process we did, all I can say is that I was thoroughly embarrassed by how ineptly it was run. The Union told the city that their plans were a looming disaster, but in the end, we don’t really have any say over how they do the initial hiring.

    Regarding the fire assessment district, we ARE collecting money, but I’d dispute the suggestion that that money just goes into the general fund. We inspect every single building in the threat area every single year. Many get two inspections a year. I’ve done many thousands of these inspections in my career and I honestly believe that this program is responsible for reducing the threat of catastrophic fire loss in the hills. It’s not wasted money, but it does pay for an absence of something (fire) and it’s hard to put a value on an absence.

  53. David

    You can put a value on the absence of a fire–insurance companies do it all the time. I don’t know how or who could do it, but a survey of the average insurance premium since that inspection fee was established could possibly rough out whether the fee is “worth it.”

  54. mry

    @Zac, I can understand why you would be upset that people think the fire department has made no concessions, but that is how the city works. It seems to me like they put that out there to the public for bargaining power. When you said police only gave up their 4% increase that was coming, it did not totally sound right to me so i did a little digging.
    They gave up the 4% that was coming, the officers that had under 5 years on (which is a lot, given it’s a young department) gave up the 8% shift differential if they were dogwatch and 6% if they were swingshift. They gave up the 5% for being training officers, they gave up the 4% for a bachelors degree and 2% for an A.A. and they all gave up half of their holidays if they were in patrol and all if they were not in patrol. All the holidays combined, close to an additional 4 to 5%. So when you add this all up, some of them have given back way more than 13%. Much more than any of the other city unions.
    My understanding is, and please correct me if I am wrong, You guys made the 13% concession a few years ago, but gained a higher raise and other benefits.

  55. Pauline

    Just a reminder, per CaliforniansForPensionReform, Oakland has 163 retired employees who are getting pensions of OVER $100,000 a year.

    And how many future retirees will be getting similar pensions?

    This is unsustainable.

  56. Barry K

    224 retirees from Oakland getting pensions more than $100,00!
    cost: $27,328,919.52 Annually just for these 224!

    In fact, more than nine thousand government employees in California are making $100,000 a year or more from their pensions (see list).

    http://www.californiapensionreform.com/database.asp?vttable=calpers%20

    Search on Oakland. Here’s an eye opener:
    EDGERLY, DEBORAH $150,602.16 OAKLAND
    EDGERLY, JEANETTE $101,465.76 OAKLAND

    http://cbs13.com/onthemoney/on.the.money.2.1675007.html

    Pauline- Thanks for the info. Here’s the website:
    http://www.californiapensionreform.com/

  57. Dax

    I have a real world example of a person who retired. They retired from a public sector job inside of Alameda County.
    While they took one of the pension “options” that were less than full, that option would have allowed the surviving spouse to maintain the equal pension after the other had died.

    Anyway, had they instead taken the “full” option and gotten the maximum, their current pension would now equal a little less than 50% of the current full salary for that identical position.

    Now some would say, “well, 50% is not bad”…. And indeed, because its a higher paying position that would be true.

    But still, remember they now (if they had taken the full pension option) would be getting only 50% of the current highest years pay.

    But here is the other side of the story. They worked over 41 years to get that pension.

    This is the hidden and unreported story. Not only have pension rates skyrocketed over the past 30 years, but the pay has also increased greatly.
    I know the person who now occupies that same position. Same title, same duties etc.
    That person also has 41 years, but could retire today with a pension that is 64% larger than the person I know.

    Same pension system. Same position. Same supposed salary, but gets paid a pension 64% larger.

    The pensions have grown larger in percentage terms per year worked.
    The salaries for the identical positions have grown much larger adjusted for inflation.
    And I’m not even counting the benefit packages (medical, dental etc) that have also jumped up in coverage, both during work and in retirement.

    Put it all together and a 64% leap has taken place over the past 31 years.

    Same is true in Oakland. Salaries have climbed. Benefits have climbed. Pensions have skyrocketed as a result. Cost to the city has become damaging.

    It sure would have helped if they hadn’t blown up the system in 2004 with a GIGANTIC 35% leap in pension payments. (retroactive for all prior years worked)

    Go back 40 years ago. What was the retirement percentage for a 30 year fireman? I know the pay was much lower relative to the rest of the working world of that day. And I don’t believe an 30 year fireman was retiring with a 90% pension at that time.

    Perhaps Zac could answer that question. 1970? Ninety percent pension after 30 years?

  58. zac

    Barry,

    I don’t know what’s up with the Edgerly’s–in fact I got a parking ticket the other day issued by an officer Edgerly–but as for the OFD, these post-retirement salaries are not being paid out of the city’s budget. Beyond the fact that our pensions are, in large part, self-funded, the current obligation accrues to PERS, not to the city. I know we’ve paid for PERS over the years, but I don’t want people to get the misimpression that the City has to come up with millions every year to pay these retirees.

  59. zac

    Dax,

    The old pension system, called PFRS, had a a maximum retirement benefit of 66% of final year’s salary. However, PFRS retirees got (and still get) raises that mirror the raises of the actives. PERS retirees get much smaller COLA raises. So the PFRS guys got a smaller percentage but bigger yearly increases. Six of one, half dozen of the other…

  60. Dax

    Barry, Perfect examples…

    Search on Oakland. Here’s an eye opener:
    EDGERLY, DEBORAH $150,602.16 OAKLAND

    A prime example of the GIGANTIC blunder the city council made when approving the new leap in pensions back in 2004.

    With the new 2.7% provision instead of the old 2.0%… lets see how Ms Edgerly would do.

    OK. She retired at age 56 in 2008.
    According to PERS, they expect her to live 22.5 years on her pension.

    Under the old plan she would have gotten $111,550
    Under the boosted plan she gets $150,602

    That is a $39,052 bonus per year.

    Over her 22.5 year pension she can expect to get a “extra” $878,670.

    That, part of her expected $3,375,000 in pension.

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that 878K bonus is the Golden Parachute, your city council approved back in 2004.
    Do ya think if they had just given the the keys to a new house in the Oakland hills, any eyebrows would have been raised?
    Yet that is exactly what they did and not a peep in the newspaper about it.

    More importantly hundreds and eventually thousands of Oakland city employees will begin collecting similar bonuses.
    Not $878,000 but from $150,000 to $750,000 of extra unfunded payments.
    Mostly for years in which they were never promised such, but which were included retroactively via the 2004 change.

    Imagine a story of such magnitude never even making it into the pages of the Chronicle or Tribune.

    A nearly MILLION DOLLAR gift to Ms Edgerly. A nice “parting gift” if you will.
    Thank you Oakland! So much nicer than gold watch.
    Heck, even Oprah don’t give out such nice stuff.

    Back in 2004 Oakland got Lotto Fever, and gave every employee a winning ticket.

    Thank you Mr. De La Fuente and pals.

  61. Barry K

    Zac- don’t forget the $1B pension obligaton for 1,100 retired Fire & Police that has to be paid by taxes. It’s a closed plan that the City has only funded by about 50%. The next payment (about $40M-$42.5M) is due in 2011. It will be an annual payment until 2026!

    All this talk about the cuts to Police, and the need for a last-minute parcel tax (dubbed, Public Safety), will buffer the the this liability. Or, is this the $42.5 liability that the Mayor and CC haven’t put a name on?

    Has this pension liability been factored into the 2010-2011 budget?

    http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet.com/attachments/14028.pdf

    see page 7

    Pension reform now!

  62. Dax

    Zac… Thanks for the reply.
    —————————————————————-
    re—->The old pension system, called PFRS, had a a maximum retirement benefit of 66% of final year’s salary. However, PFRS retirees got (and still get) raises that mirror the raises of the actives. PERS retirees get much smaller COLA raises. So the PFRS guys got a smaller percentage but bigger yearly increases. Six of one, half dozen of the other…
    —————————————————————-
    I see the difference, but unless the PERS COLA is only a small fraction of the active worker’s raise percentage, then its going to take a very long time in retirement to even come even with the “standard 90% of today”.

    If you ever caught up, you’d still have spent the vast majority of your 20 years at a much lower pension level.
    I’m sorry, but worked out on paper it is simply NOT going to be “six of one, half dozen of the other”
    Even if you made up 3% per year, it would take you nearly 12 years just to get up to the equal level. And you’d never make up those first 12 years of lower pension.

    Perhaps you have some data. I doubt the Oakland raises minus the PERS COLA averages anywhere near a net 3%.
    If its 2% difference it would take you 17 of your 20 years retired to even catch up to the current level and you’d never get back for the 17 years of lower payments.

    No doubt about it, its not “six of one, half dozen of the other”.

    Correct my thinking if I am wrong.

    That is unless OFD salaries have been going through the roof, which then would be a problem in and of its own.

    So which is it?

  63. Mry

    @Dax,
    While you are thanking city council for letting that crook (ms. Edgersly) retire with a golden parachute, please do not forget to thank them for allowing her to hire all her thug relatives, for changing the standards for OPD physical test for hiring because her daughter failed it many times, and for last but not least, interfering with an FBI investigation so her thug relative would not get caught.

  64. Barry K

    Dax, re: the FPRS, there’s more to it.

    http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet.com/attachments/14028.pdf

    Oakland City Charter established the Police and Fire Retirement System (“PFRS”) and Board to exclusively control the administration and investment of the PFRS Fund.

    In 1997, the City issued pension obligation bonds and made a contribution to the System of approximately $417 million. As a result, no employer contributions are required through the year ending June 30, 2011. In 2005, the City made a voluntary contribution of $17,709,888. On July 1, 2011, the City will again be required to make contributions to the System, based on July 1,2010 assets and liabilities.

    Table 3, Projection of Future Contributions, shows a projection of what the City will be required to contribute in 2011-2012 if the 8 percent actuarial rate of return is met in conjunction with wage growth of 4 percent, 4.50 percent or 5 percent. It is estimated that the City will need to begin contributing $37 million annually to meet their PFRS liability by 2026.

    There are currently 1,322 retirees and 3 active members. The plan had over six hundred million dollars ($600,000,000) in assets from the City report above.

    My calculator doesn’t have enough spaces to do: $42.5M x 15 years +$600M.

  65. Dax

    Barry, regarding that report you link to.

    I love to read the names of the folks who are giving their advice on the future.
    We need to realize they don’t have a shred of expertise on the subject they are talking about.

    Deborah Edgerly… don’t make me laugh.
    I have spoken to some of the others.
    I wouldn’t let them run a $100,00 401K for me.
    Seriously they don’t know any more about the future than the typical subscriber to Money Magazine.

    Still, even they suggest that pension fund is only 70% covered.
    That fund and even the regular PERS fund are all going to come knocking for more money in order to meet their legal obligations.

    Big money, big requests. Ruination for future general fund expenditures.
    While the likes of Jean Quan spend their hours doing feel good measures.
    In terms of financial matters, that mayoral candidate is simply brain dead.

  66. David

    overall, state pensions across the country are underfunded to the tune of $1 trillion. So, after we get done spending $2 trillion for “health care” with the Pelosi/Obama plan, where are we getting this money? Oh, and Social Security and Medicare too.

    Why are government workers first among equals? Soc. Sec will be cut/retirement ages raised (again), etc…Medicare will get cut. Hopefully Obamacare will get repealed…and gov’t worker pensions will get the same treatment. The money again, does not exist to pay for these things.

  67. mike spencer

    In all budget arguments I wish we had the graph posted of Oakland population size–more or less constant the last 20 years I bet–vs number of City employees on the other side. Anyone seen this visual aid lately?

  68. Dax

    And next to that graph of the number of City employees have a chart with the number of miles of streets in disrepair.

    One of the not so hidden secrets is that salaries and employees have been raised while we’ve lived off the past, in the form of a declining infrastructure.

    Street conditions are a visible reminder.
    Employees pushing paper, creating fines, and collecting them while the potholes grow and spread.
    Many streets have been let go so long, they now require a complete rebuild rather than simply a resurface.

    Don’t expect this condition to be improved in the next 10 years as it will be a distant 2nd or 12th in line compared to retaining employees, benefits, salaries and pensions.

  69. Robert

    Mike, The number of city employees per 10,000 residents has been pretty flat from 1991 to 2007. The inflation adjusted budget, however, went up 25% in that same time frame.

    The number of employees jumped 35% between 1980 (the first post Prop 13 year) and 1991.

  70. annoyed

    Funny how public employees are being held responsible for Oakland’s financial woes when the rest of the country is blaming Wall Street for the economic mess we are in. I’m not sure what public employees had to do with the collapse of the mortgage industry, or the banking mess, or the insurance mess, or the rise in health care costs. What do you geniuses know that the rest of us don’t?

    Frankly, I’m a lot more hot and bothered by the private sector taking public bailout funds then handing their employees big fat bonuses when these are the same bandits who put us in this finaical crisis.

    People say the public sector does not generate jobs but all I see are major public works projects that are developed and often designed in the public sector and that create many jobs in the very private procurement and construction world.

    The truth is, most people have no clue how their government works. They bitch about taxes when the fact is, we don’t pay our fair share in California. Gray Davis must be laughing his butt off. You all threw him out because you stupidly thought the energy crisis was his fault (and now we know it was Enron, Reliant, and others) and elected a “business man” to run things. The first thing the Governator did was cancel the vehicle registration fee increase and the rest has been history, so to speak. He has been robbing local jursisdictions of transportation funds so that everyone is scrambling to find pennies to fill pot holes and transit all over the state is cutting service. But oh no, it’s the big bad public employees.

    So complain all you want but the truth is, if you want to blame someone, go look in the mirror. The hysterical thing is that you all are about to elect another “business” person who doesn’t know jack about government and will no doubt give this state (and drag all the locals with it) the final shove off the cliff. Oakland going bankrupt? You should be fondling your rosary beads over the impending collapse of the state budget.

    You all elected the crooks who have practically eliminaated government oversight at the federal level that has led to an economic crisis that is looking worse now than even a month ago. You all elected a governor who thought you were being taxed to much so now you have raggedly streets.

    And the final toll from the Gulf leak is going to be catastrophic, and I’m talking financial, not environemental. I can’t bear to even conetmpate what the environmental toll will be. Failure to oversee deep water drilling is going to destroy an entire section of this country. Just wait ’till the first hurricane.

    Final comment. Term limits at the state level have been a disaster. It takes at least one full term in Sacramento to figure out how the budget process works. By the time they get their feet on the ground, a batch of newbies come in and we’re back to state budgeting 101. California in 2008 was the eighth largest economy in the world and it is basically run by amateurs. Talk about a recipe for disaster.

    I always love to say that people have the government they deserve. And the other thing I lilke to say is:

    Get outtta here with that nonsense.

  71. David

    If the public sector created jobs, why not go all the way and have the public sector be the entire economy? Oh, wait that was tried. It doesn’t work. Because the public sector only allocates; it does not create.

    I’m all for cutting the banks, GM, etc off of taxpayer money. Why do you think taxpayers wanting to rein in out-of-whack public sector compensation means that we support public bailouts of private companies? It’s also interesting that it’s clear (especially through recent financials) that one huge reason GM went bankrupt was…unaffordable (union-demanded) worker and retiree benefits. Why do you refuse to learn from that experience? Why would the public sector be immune from that?

    Finally, one of the biggest causes of the mortgage meltdown was a quasi (now totally) public agency–Fannie/Freddie. Of course all the recent flap about more regulations of banks totally ignore Fannie/Freddie because they were and continue to be run by the Democratic machine.

  72. annoyed

    Oh, sweet Jesus. Give it a rest, David. You are so uninformed and yet you won’t stop. Go see if you can find Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate.

  73. David

    Gee, annoyed, show me where I’m uninformed, and you might have the basis for what might be known as a “counterargument.”

    You cannot deflect from the simple fact that Oakland is not a bank. It is not Fannie or Freddie. It is not GM. It is:

    1) a municipal government where about 70-80%+ of expenses are compensation costs.
    2) a municipal government where the tax revenues do not cover these compensation costs.
    3) a municipal government that is unlikely to be able to increase tax revenues enough to cover these compensation costs.
    4) suffering from prior bad fiscal decisions (increasing pension obligations, Raiders deal, inability to cut down on public school numbers etc).
    5) only likely able to balance its budget through cutting compensation costs due to #1, #3 and #4.

    Now, which one of these statements is uninformed or untrue? And I’m sorry that Obama turned out to be another incompetent Chicago machine politician, but I have to say, “I told you so.” But don’t take out your poor shattered socialist delusions on me, nor think that your silly statements constitutes anything remotely approaching a logical argument.

  74. Dax

    Annoyed says

    “The truth is, most people have no clue how their government works. They bitch about taxes when the fact is, we don’t pay our fair share in California. ”

    Gee, I guess you’re right. If we’d only pass several more parcel taxes then finally Oakland city government would run smoothly.
    With a few more parcel taxes we could continue to keep the current pensions in place without stealing funds from other programs.

    Lets see…. The typical job, a “traffic street painter”…lines, cross walks and the like. His base pay in Oakland $68,500 before overtime etc.

    Now if he begins at age 25 he can retire from Oakland at age 62 ( 4 year earlier than Social Security) and his retirement pension will be $68,431 a year for life, with adjustments for inflation. In other words he gets 99.9% of his ‘highest” pay for life. We can expect him to receive that near 100% pension for over 20 years.

    Sure, that kind of public largess sounds fair compared to what the average citizen can expect.

    So I agree, we’ve got to keep that worker at 100% pay for life.
    If we have to pass a $500 parcel tax, so be it.

    Yes, as Annoyed says so clearly,
    ” They bitch about taxes when the fact is, we don’t pay our fair share in California.

    Here here, lets raise taxes…. Keep that Oakland street painter at his $68K for life. Its only fair. How could he expect less. And while your at it, continue the medical for life also.. Its only fair.

    Rather than lower his pay or pension, we should instead require that level of pay for everyone. Lets pass a law.
    If everyone would only pay their “fair share” we’d all live the good life.

  75. Livegreen

    The average private sector worker is no more to blame than the average public sector worker. Blame of individuals at the local level is not the issue. It’s that we’re in a downturn and we have to cut costs. The private sector has cut been cutting theirs with high unemployment the result, including among the middle class and poor.

    Now it is time for the public sector to share in a meaningful way, rather than tax more those in the private sector who have already both contributed and been suffering. That is, the private sector.

  76. Livegreen

    Is the City Counci slowly growing a spine? Is something in the water contagious? (EBMUD, don’t fix those leaks quite yet!). Is all our blabbering against another Property Tax actually doing some good? Are Council Members hearing from their constituents?

    “Oakland council president proposes $20 million in balancing measures”:

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/top-stories/ci_15214415

    I do agree the OPOA and OFD should not b the only ones giving back. I hope this means a dialog has started.

  77. Mry

    I’m not sure I would agree that they are finally growing a spine, more like they have realized that none of the unions are going to give anything back until they start making neccessary cuts. It’s just a shame that they have waited until June 1st to do it. Maybe they can start with getting the mayor to take his cut.

  78. Ralph

    We should definitely cut the mayor position and staff – dude is useless and I have little to no confidence in this new bumper crop of candidates. I wish JB and other would stop this nonsense about fair cuts. You cut unnecessary programs. Life is not always fair.

    OPD needs to pay into retirement. All employees need to give up negotiated raises.

    I suspect this would be considerably easier if the city understood what its core mission were. They really need to have a sit down with Chief Batts to learn how to write a mission statement.

  79. Naomi Schiff

    I”m against going after Parks and Rec. They have been cut disproportionately already, for many years running, and are woefully understaffed. They are a main outlet for young people and a major provider of free public exercise and recreation. And we don’t want our city to look worse and worse. This department extends its reach through the use of many volunteers; they are pretty good at maximizing their budget allowance, which is something like 3% of general fund.

  80. Ralph

    This is precisely why Oakland needs to define its core mission. For every one person who does not want to cut P&R, there is another person who doesn’t want to trim library.

    I know some cities that actual polled its residents and shaped a mission statement from that poll. They still face cuts but it is considerably easier to make and to digest cuts when there is context.

    I have not heard much talk about increasing fees to make them more cost recovery is this one the table. Or has council brought all fees inline?

  81. livegreen

    I think maintaining Parks & Rec gives kids positive things to do during the summer, and helps keep some who are on the cusp from getting into or creating trouble. But I also agree with Ralph: raise the fees! They’re really really cheap.

    Then P&R will be able to maintain more services.

  82. Mary Hollis

    Naomi and Live

    I have to agree with Ralph here. For any given program or service, there is always someone with a reason why it shouldn’t be cut. You only have to watch a CC meeting and listen to the litany of folks begging to save their pet program to know that.

    But that isn’t how we cut spending. In fact it is that mentality that has caused spending to grow out of control.

    We’ve cut everything we don’t need. Now we have to make the real cuts. Or have a bankruptcy judge do it for us.

  83. Naomi Schiff

    I think an understanding of the budget is critical here. The police and fire represent an enormous percentage of the budget. Even entirely cutting parks and rec and libraries’ general fund allocation wouldn’t solve the shortfall. It makes little sense to cut back their effectiveness while still not fixing the problem. It is evasion to go after these relatively small sectors. We need to tussle with the main issues: the police benefits, perhaps the administrative costs in a number of departments, and review and increase some fees. I think the Master Fee Schedule for what the city charges for various services, licenses, etc. is worth looking at. JB’s parking meters sound alright to me, if they would really generate income and are managed properly to avoid creating undue hardship for residents who must park on the street.

    Parks and Rec not only provides recreation for thousands and thousands of kids as well as adults–in doing this it also employs many young people, at modest rates of pay, in providing services over the summer and in after-school programs.

    I am one of those who goes down to meetings and hollers about cuts, both to parks and rec AND to libraries. I see these two as absolutely core missions, but beyond that, as ways to knit our community together and help our young people become participants in the city in which they live.

    While public safety is critical to the city’s health, it is not the only thing that is important.

  84. Livegreen

    Mary, It sounds like you’re arguing only services should b cut. Why not cut salaries in Parks & Rec, Libraries, and especially DT, and raise fees BEFORE cutting services?

    If that’s not enough then fine, cut more.

  85. Dax

    Decades ago, police and fire positions did not pay nearly as much total compensation as they now do. (compensation meaning salary, OT, health, “other”, pensions, etc)

    Decades ago, the compensation of police and fire employees were much less compared to the compensation received by the average person in society (Oakland, Alameda Co, and California).

    Slowly over decades, the compensation of police and fire employees has been altered until it is now out of line with what it ever was in the past.

    To begin to address the Oakland budget without addressing the above reality is missing the big picture.
    Police and fire will give you all kinds of data, yet it will not alter the true picture of what has happened to the compensation in these professions.

    When the data fails to bring realistic rational thinking the debate will then be brought to a grinding halt, as the “we sacrifice our lives” card is played.
    At that point all the politicians and much of the public will cower in shame for even suggesting a rational fair approach to police and fire compensation.
    As though police and fire personal of decades ago, weren’t also risking their lives.

    I really don’t think a patchwork solution is going to take care of even half the deficit and Oakland voters will not pass any more taxes under such threats, in order to keep a group averaging well over $100,000/yr in the comfort they have become accustomed to.

    Let the layoffs begin. We will suffer, but we will survive.
    So will San Jose and San Carlos.

  86. Dax

    LG, All Oakland city compensation could be cut 10 to 25 percent and only bring those positions to a normal market salary. Compensation meaning the total package of salary, wages, health care, dental, holidays, vacations, pensions, etc.

    Show me the Oakland city position that could not be reduced 10% and still remain at or above true market conditions found in a comparable job, requiring a certain production, in the private sector. And that, not even counting the job security angle which has always had some supposed value.

    Will someone please show me that job. I’m sure there must be one position.
    It might be some kind of nursing position that I am unaware of.
    There has to be one Oakland city position that is not overpaid such that a 10% or greater cut would bring them below true market rate for “total compensation”.

    Perhaps that “traffic painter”….where the base pay is $68,500.
    Tell me, out in the real world, what do people who paint lines in parking lots and streets get paid? $68,500 plus a large pension at 60, plus medical for the family, plus dental, plus 14 paid holidays, and from 2 to 5 weeks vacation ?
    Is that about right for the private sector?
    Would a 10% cut on that, all the way down to $61,500 put them well below the market rate? Would a guy in the private sector who had done that from age 23 to 60 only get a 90% pension instead of the 100% pension he gets from Oakland?

    You tell me.

  87. Mry

    @Dax
    so what do you propose? What should we do hack it back to the past? When other cities around are paying close if not more than the same it’s not going to happen. I do not take your approach of just lay them off, I happen to care about my property value.
    A friend of mine lived here about 15 plus years ago, and said Oakland was having the same money management problems back then. Are you going to say it was the pensions then?
    The safest part of Oakland does not come close to San Carlos. They will be fine, we I’m afraid will not.
    When you have a problem managing money, it does not matter how much or how little you have. I keep saying this over and over, because even if they showed up and worked for free, they would find a way to spend us into another crisis.

  88. Dax

    Mry, We can at least begin the discussion by everyone admitting the fact that the compensation levels of police and fire are now out of step with what was the situation in past decades.

    Let us at least be honest. Let the police and fire employees at least be honest to admit that. They may have us over a barrel, but lets not let all sense of reality go out the window. I am tired of hearing them say they are worth every cent, as though all police and fire personnel of Oakland’s past were some how underpaid.

    Go back to the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s…. Police and fire personnel were NOT paid to the levels we currently see today. Today they are much farther up the economic ladder relative to other members of society. Both in monthly compensation as well as pensions and benefits.
    I grew up in a family of police and fire. Grandfathers, uncles and fathers, brothers and cousins. I have seen it for decades and know the reality of then and now.

    Let us at least go to the table with everyone admitting that reality.
    Then if they force the city to make drastic cuts else where or to place burdensome taxes on beleaguered residents, then at least we can say, well we hate doing that, and we KNOW police and fire are overpaid, but they have us by the “spheres” so we just have to do it…

    Let that truth at least drop this “holy” position away reality.

    Even if you feel the city is forced to do things they should not with regard to police and fire compensation, let us stop having to anoint their stance at the very same time.

    That all cities have allowed these salaries to achieve such heights doesn’t make it right. NO more than having a “street painter” getting $68,500 as base pay for a 37.5 hour position.

    The whole damn pay scale of he city of Oakland is out of whack.
    Heck, back before the economic decline even began, you had 8,000 people fighting over applications for 20 Oakland Fire openings.
    Before even a whiff of this recession. Anger erupted because they didn’t have more applications. It made the headlines and even all the news broadcasts.
    Do you really think if compensation had been 10% less, you still wouldn’t of had 4,000 applications for those 20 positions.
    At some point can’t everyone admit the truth about Oakland city compensation.

    Instead we have folks like Brunner proposing another half percent addition to the sales tax….in a city at the very top of the nation in such taxes.
    Sales taxes are not based on inflation, they are a percentage and actually should never need to be raised unless government spending is just growing faster then the economy. Yet here in Oakland the tax has doubled over the past decades and now Brunner wants to jack it up again.

    More sales taxes in Oakland…..more parking fees and fines in Oakland.
    Why in the world would anyone want to shop in Oakland?
    Thence the downward revenue spiral continues until every dime raised is a dime lost on the other side until the ONLY point of city government becomes the raising of money to fund employee salaries and pensions.
    Is that all Oakland is? Just a vehicle for ever greater pass-throughs of money to a select group of employees?

  89. livegreen

    Dax, I agree with you in principle, but in reality we’ll be lucky if we get the necessary salary & benefit cuts to bring the budget even. We’re not talking about the real world here, we’re talking about Oakland City Government.

  90. Ralph

    Oakland has a money management problem. Our elected officials have failed to live inside their means and voters tie their hands. With the exception of city council, everyone in city government is overpaid relative to their peer group. This has been documented numerous times on these pages. I could be wrong but it seems like that back in the day council planned for the most favorable revenue picture not the most fiscally sound.

    Safety compensation in Oakland as a percentage of general fund spending is probably higher than other places due to set asides but the reality whether you are Oakland or some city in the sticks safety compensation is your highest line item. As a result, if you give them the most you will need to take the most from them. But this does not prevent us from cutting programs that do not deliver value.

    I’m telling eveyone I know to inform council that a parcel tax is a non-starter. Council needs to figure how to live within their means without overtaxing the residents.

  91. Mry

    Dear Ignacio De La Fuente,

    It has come to my attention that today at the rules committee meeting, you made a motion for city council to vote to lay off police. This is just two days after your first official meeting with council members? Is that barganing in good faith? You wait until June 1st to start meeting for a budget that is due on June 30th, and on June 3rd you make a motion for layoff notices to be sent out BEFORE any talks with the OPOA? This is not how you run a city. As a citizen I am outraged by this strongarm behavior, no good will come of it. The rest of you should be outraged as well, what do you think is going to happen to your property values when you lose a good chunk of your police force? Well, if our city officials keep acting like this, you will certainly find out.
    I’m confused, you are part of how OPD even has the contract that they have. You loved them when you were running for Mayor, what happened?

  92. Ralph

    Mry, was IDLF action just a procedural issue which had to be done now to be able to lay-off officers at the start of the fiscal year.

    But you correctly point out part of the issue has to do with council and the mayor constantly punting this issue to the next meeting thinking that this deficit would magically resolve itself. Both the mayor and council seem to think that we want to pay more taxes. While IDLF caused this problem, he is probably the only one who realizes that the residents are not going to pay more in taxes.

    I don’t think too many homeowners are concerned about their home value at this time. A homeowner who is underwater is not overly concerned about any additional lost value. The homeowner can walk away and let the bank deal with it. When the bank sells it for 40 cents on the dollar future tax revenues are going to be much lower. I don’t think a homeowner who took a pay cut is going to shell out $180/year to keep the bloated payroll. So you either get on a diet today or you get on the diet tomorrow, either way the city needs to go on a diet. And in the longrun you are much better going on the diet today.

    I can honestly say that this 2/3 approval for new taxes is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

  93. Mry

    @Ralph,
    I do not think that was the case, Brunner intervened on this and the outcome wad to wait until the 24th to vote on layoffs. He wanted to send out slips now. That screams personal to me. He loved OPD, until they arrested his son like he was anyone else that is. But, that’s just my opinion.
    So my very expensive house is not underwater, but a trickle down effect it will be. I never thought I would say this, because I had always wanted to live in Oakland, but am considering leaving. I just don’t see things changing.

  94. Ralph

    @Mry, I’ll listen to the video later. I had been following this loosely and was going to attend the mtg until I had to attend to more pressing matters.

    I don’t know how you define very expensive house, but there are probably a fair number of new owners who are underwater. I could see them walking away but more importantly I am fairly certain that they have no interest in paying additional taxes.

    Welcome to homeowner against homeowner warfare! Are you ready to rumble?

  95. Mry

    @Ralph
    I’m not clear what it is we are “rumbling” about? I never said I would vote for an increase in tax. What I’m upset about is the approach. At least bargain in good faith, don’t wait until the 11th hour then try to bend them over a barrel. The outcome for us will not be good. I have lived here for 5 years, I just don’t understand why we keep voting them in. Who waits until the 11th hour to start doing a budget???? Why do we accept this?
    Expensive to me =7 figures. Not underwater.

  96. Ralph

    @Mry, we are not rumbling! You attend enough city council mtg you will here them refer to not pitting residents against each other but it does seem at times that they do crap which would seem to pit residents against each other.

    Like I said earlier, without the full above, I have no idea why IDLF did what he did. He may just want OPD off the payroll come July 1. I don’t think his son plays into this decision, but I don’t sleep with the guy; so, like you, I could be completely wrong. Agreed, it isn’t like this issue snuck on council but it appears that the band playing in the sand was damn good. Or at least I assume it was because there is no reason on earth for why they have ignored this issue for so long.

    I know exactly why these guys are continually voted in…and so do you.

  97. Ralph

    In fairness though I don’t think you can be a member of either OPD or OFD and not anticipated layoff notices. It isn’t like Oakland is the only city that has a budget problem and needs to reduce the safety workforce. Both unions should have been more flexible in their position and DWD should not have relied on a parcel tax. That trial balloon went up and died. But with surrounding jurisdictions obtaining concessions, we may just get what we need in terms of union concessions.

  98. Mry

    @Ralph,
    Oh, I understand ;) . Although, I will admit this is all new for me. So, I really am not totally clear as to why we keep voting them in? What’s that definition of insanity again?

  99. Mry

    @Ralph,
    as far as both unions being more flexible, were they even given an opportunity? My understanding was they have not had “formal” talks yet.
    I am just speaking for myself, if they had come to me and asked for MORE money, I would not have opened my purse and said just take it. I would want to insure that the fairness was being spread around. I know I’m beating a dead horse with this but I’ll say it again, how would you feel if your top official had not given back a dime???
    Also, my understanding was that OPD met with them months ago and gave them suggestions where they could save alot, not one thing done. OFD will not be getting layoff notices, due to their minnimum staffing. So the city’s bargaining power with them will be zilch. It will be interesting.

  100. Ralph

    @Mry, I am not convinced that the people who keep voting them in are expecting different result.

    I might be the only who thinks that council is woefully underpaid and I think it prevents the best and brightest from running. The highest elected official should is a Class A Jerk. I have not known any private sector employer who has asked his employees to take a temporary pay cut without first taking the cut himself. He is a complete and utter disgrace. For that reason alone, I can understand why OPD does not want open up the contract.

    I believe you are correct OPD did offer some suggestions, but their suggested cuts would not have accounted for much. I think their cuts can best be decribed as the type of non-meaningful cuts that Kids First suggested for saving money. I don’t expect the people behind KF to understand how to run a business, but I certainly expect more from OPD.

  101. Dax

    Mry, you say “Although, I will admit this is all new for me. So, I really am not totally clear as to why we keep voting them in? What’s that definition of insanity again?”

    Tell me, how much time have you spent involved in electoral politics?

    The difficulty removing a incumbent politician is substantial.
    They have to be really, actively, bad or crooked before you can mount an effective campaign to remove them.

    They begin with a substantial money advantage from all the usual special interest groups. Especially the public employee unions. Those same groups also donate time and phone bank staff if there would ever be a real challenge.

    Normally incumbents stay in office as long as they like, or until they move on to another office.

    Be it city council, or state legislators, removal is next to impossible.

    I have lived in the same area for decades. When I first was able to vote in 1972 there was a competitive election for congress. that was 38 years ago, and I have never since then had a real vote for congress.
    The same holds true for Assemblymen or state Senators. The only competitive race in those positions has occurred when a incumbent was “termed out”.

    So, in summary, in Oakland and Alameda Co., it is a very rare event for a political office holder to be challenged. They have to rob a bank or assault a 85 year old senior citizen to be removed from office.
    Now, I’m sure someone will bring up a example, but it will be a rare exception to reality.

    Do you understand now? Why your statement about voting the same people in is “insanity”? The system is so very biased in one direction.
    Of course if you have millions to spend, you can indeed mount a challenge.
    With 1 million dollars, you might be able to replace a city council person.

    Come now, you didn’t really think you had a fairy tale democracy, did you?

  102. livegreen

    First, IDLF is one of three City Council Members (CCM) who has had some meetings with OPD.

    Second, he is not the first to speak about layoffs. Jane Brunner was, although she was using it as much to argue for a Property Tax, while IDLF is not. So one is using it as a way to negotiate with taxpayers, the other as a way to negotiated with the OPOA.

    Third, I believe IDLF likes playing bad cop sometimes. I recall when they were voting over the Army Base Redevelopment plan he was the point person pushing for Phil Tagami. Several other CCM’s had questions the first go around, & IDLF said something to the effect of “We’ve been sitting on this long enough, they have the best plan, & I intend to push for this, hard.” (paraphrasing). The 2nd & final vote went for Phil unanimously (chuckle…I would love to have seen the swing leading up to that vote in action. Phil, any comments?).

    Finally, Jean Quan is being more cautious seeking the middle ground, proposing a poll to see what voters think (which, after reading about it in her newsletter each week, is just an idea or will it ever be implemented?).

    In the meantime Jane Brunner’s Property Tax push seems to have been dropped (or decreased) from her most recent proposal, so that trial balloon must have popped.

    What is clear is that they’re now talking about concessions other unions will also have to make. What does this mean? Negotiations are ongoing and swinging towards IDLF’s original position, though somewhat diluted.

    There’s no other reason Jane Brunner’s most recent plan wouldn’t have swung in that direction, & even the noise of her drum increased, even if still not quite as heavily beaten as IDLF.

    This is the personality of politics of Oakland in action. & it’s as much about staying in power as it is about positioning for future races to come…

  103. Mry

    @Ralph, actually there is one that I thought was really good. It was getting rid of what they call the Corp yard. It is staffed by city employees and the police department pays them hundreds of dollars per car a month. This is supposed to maintain the cars and put away money for when they need to be replaced. Only guess what? They need to be replaced and the money is nowhere to be found. A lot of money could be saved by having a contract with an outside agency to maintain the cars.

  104. len raphael

    OFD needing bay area market rate salaries to attract competent employees. Makes sense until I think back over the last ten years of at least 3 or 4 20 somethings i met who were smart triathalete types with mechanical skills. Each of them tried to get into the OFD and found out that unless you were a certain color, gender, knew people on the inside, you didn’t have a chance. Never came across similar aspiring OPD candidates who got turned down.

    getting close to when we should be turning our blogging attention to how to get thru 2 or 3 years of an OPD lower by 200 cops, and staffed by older desk job, more heavily male police. at minimum, biz districts will need money to hire private security. i wouldn’t count on parking revenue going to the gf.

    get the impression that the ngo’s and the older city employees are going to be the survivors of oakland’s end of days.

  105. len raphael

    Max, FYE 6/30/09 we shelled out +15Mill to settle claims. Don’t know total cost of city attorney office, but maybe we should also pay the attorneys bonuses based on reduction in running average of claims?

  106. livegreen

    So I’m confused:

    http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet.com/attachments/25277.pdf

    shows the City already transfered to Redevelopment, but they’re listing to sell it this year to a private party.

    If Redevelopment owns it, is there still pressure to sell it, or do they have more time? If the latter, then why the hurry to sell it? It’s not on the GPF anymore…

    I did see in the previous article I posted that Peralta Community College is interested, as Max mentioned a while ago.