It’s National Library Week! Plus, Symphony tonight!

When was the last time you visited the Oakland Public Library? I ask, because we are nearing the end of National Library Week, and as a longtime library evangelist (and library worker), I didn’t want to let the occasion pass without some sort of mention.

National Library Week often gets a lot of buzz, and I’m not sure why it didn’t around these parts this year. Maybe because there was no big event? Often a famous writer will come speak at that nice auditorium in the Oakland Museum to celebrate the week, but this year, there was nothing, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because the Museum is closed so there was nowhere to have the event? (Speaking of which, OMG, how excited are you guys for the museum re-opening? It’s only 2 weeks away, and it’s going to be awesome.)

Or maybe there was no event because the Friends of the Oakland Public Library was too busy raising money for the awesome new 81st Avenue Branch Library to put anything together.

New 81st Avenue Library

Which reminds me. If you have, like, any cash to spare, you could do a whole lot worse than sending some of it FOPL’s way. They have received two challenge grants to help them fill this beautiful new 21,000 square foot library with books. 21,000 square feet, folks! It takes a lot of books to fill that much space! But you can help. See, with these challenge grants, every $1 you give will mean $5 for the new library. The branch will serve as the library for two adjacent schools as well. Don’t let all those kids come back to school next fall and find a bunch of empty shelves! You can help out by clicking the button below and making sure you write “81st Ave Library” in the space marked “designation.”

Donate to FOPL

And if you haven’t been to your local library in a while, check it out soon. They really are amazing places.

Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra

Have you been to see the Oakland Symphony yet this season? They’ve put on four great shows (well, I can only vouch for three of them — I was out of town one weekend), and they’ve got only two left. One of which is tonight!

The Oakland Symphony is awesome, and of course any excuse to hang out at the beautiful Paramount Theater is a good one. So if you’re not doing anything tonight, why not head downtown and enjoy one of our most wonderful cultural institutions? Here’s what you can expect from tonight’s program:

The virtuosity of our orchestra will really be showcased in this concert! Strauss’ Don Quixote, based on the humorous novel by Cervantes, dramatically depicts various characters and scenes from the novel using different instruments in the orchestra. The spotlight will be on principal cellist Dan Reiter, whose cello solo represents the character Don Quixote.

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 – one of the most popular piano concertos of all time and an early favorite of Michael Morgan’s – will feature rising young star Adam Neiman, hailed as one of the premiere pianists of his generation.

Our second New Visions/New Vistas work premieres tonight. Award-winning composer and performer Benedikt Brydern, who has many film scores to his credit, will offer a vibrant, jazz-infused piece that reflects his long-standing interest in old time jazz and swing.

Okay, have a good weekend, folks. Go to the Symphony! And the Library!

Oh, and tomorrow, head over to Future Oakland and wish dto510 a happy fourth anniversary! That’s a long time to keep a blog going.

47 thoughts on “It’s National Library Week! Plus, Symphony tonight!

  1. V Smoothe Post author

    Seriously, guys?

    Not one person has a single thing to say about the Library? Or the symphony? Or me and dto510′s 4 year anniversary of blogging?

    Nothing? Not even “I love libraries so much! OPL is the best!” or “The internet and the Kindle have made libraries obsolete” or “Oh, thanks V for telling us about this awesome deal with FOPL and the 81st Avenue Library. I just donated $20. For the library, that will be like $100. I feel so happy with myself now for helping all those schoolchildren.” or “I would never go to a public library! Libraries are only for poor people. I don’t want some stranger’s nasty germs all over my books.” or “It is downright criminal the way the City Council has broken its promises to voters with Measure Q funds and cut library staffing every single year since it passed. In fact, it’s a lot like what happened with Measure Y. Somebody should sue over it.” or “I had no idea we were getting a new library. Don’t we already have kind of a lot?” or “I went to the symphony tonight and it was totally awesome. How much do you think those people paid to sit on the stage?” Nothing?

  2. Livegreen

    Well, V, you just about said it all. It IS great that we have a new library, ESP in an underserved area. Being rather cash strapped right now and having just had an operation (a good chunk paid out of pocket due to lousy insurance and the facts of life), I will try to donate something for such a good cause. & Hopefully they will have some of the good homework assistance programs that some other libraries have…

    BTW, how IS M-Q funded? Is it a Property Tax or a % of the GPF? I’ll search but if any of u know the answer off hand please post…

  3. V Smoothe Post author

    Measure Q is a parcel tax. In 2004, there was a proposal to close like 2/3 of Oakland’s branch libraries, and in order to save them, they came up with this tax. Oakland residents were already paying a parcel tax for libraries (passed in 1994 and due to expire in 2009), so they put Measure Q on the ballot which basically doubled and extended the existing tax. I think it’s like $82 a year for single family homes.

    At this point, Measure Q provides something like 60% of the library’s funding. The rest comes from the General Fund. There was a provision in the ballot measure that said the City is not allowed to collect Measure Q taxes unless the library gets a certain minimum level of funding from the General Fund (a little over $9 million).

    It passed overwhelmingly. More info about the Measure here.

  4. Livegreen

    Thanks for the summary. I’d just found some links on the library website.
    In the current Budget Crisis is this where the City paged some of it’s GPF library funds to to help “solve” the problem?

  5. len raphael

    That’s gotta be the mother of all challenge grants. Getting amplified 5x made me feel like a big shot donor.

    V, what’s your take on the comment here that the library spent most of its parcel tax revenue on raising compensation and not on maintaining/expanding hours/service?

  6. V Smoothe Post author

    The library doesn’t make decisions about compensation, budget levels, expanded/reduced hours of service, and so on. That is all done by the Council.

  7. Livegreen

    Observations about M-Q for libraries:
    –It states Library Hours MUST stay open 6 days/week for all Branches except the Main Branch which must stay open 7 days/week. It sure sounds like the recent closures violate this!
    –The Audit of ’06-’07 funding shows 74% of costs were Personnel. Not books, facilities, maintenance or computers.
    –The audit also shows over charging M-Q by $60,000 for general facilities beyond actual costs, and asks the City to refund.
    –M-Q Funds paid $170,000 of the Cesar Shavez Branch’s CAM fees to the Fruitvale Transit Village. Some of these were for charged fundamental to operations like Electricity, but others were not. The Audit asks for the library to investigate if any were not and to seek reimbursement.

    Note: These CC Branch CAM fees are $170,000 of $940,000 in M-Q’s Overhead costs for 15 branches.

    –The Library lacks formal written policies and procedures on the use of M-Q monies.
    –Recordkeeping: 10% of Invoices were not stamped “Received” and 10% of Invoices were missing from library files.
    –Drafted written procedures for purchasing were never communicated to staff.
    –Most moneys were spent appropriately. For example the amount spent on book purchased increased 144% in ’06-’07 over ’03-’04. Book collections increase by 33%.
    –The library established reserve funds but no reserve account. Especially important as the fund had a negative fund balance at the end of both periods audited, ’05-’06 and ’06-’07.

  8. Dax

    “Measure Q is a parcel tax. In 2004, there was a proposal to close like 2/3 of Oakland’s branch libraries, and in order to save them, they came up with this tax. Oakland residents were already paying a parcel tax for libraries (passed in 1994 and due to expire in 2009), so they put Measure Q on the ballot which basically doubled and extended the existing tax. I think it’s like $82 a year for single family homes.”

    The city of Oakland lied to the people of Oakland in 2004.

    The told the public that the library was in deficit could not even buy books.
    I called their chief accountant back then and asked what could be the problem since we had just passed another parcel tax that should have kept the budget sound through 2009.

    He told me that was all true and that the budget would have stayed in the black except that the library had made a major change.
    That change was to introduce a HUGE increase in salaries. Not just the normal cost of living increase, but a extra leap in salaries of 18% on top of the normal COLA.
    Why the huge, essentially 2 extra months pay, boost? His explanation was that they decided they were going to make all library personal on par with the top two or three cities in the Bay Area. Never mind that Oakland was already in deficit, unlike those other cities. To make that boost (in addition to the COLA) they suddenly need so much extra payroll funds, that they were now going into deficit and couldn’t afford books.
    Thus the ruse put to the public as Measure Q…
    First, the city drains the money away from the library so we pass the first parcel tax to fix the problem for 15 years.
    Then the library boost all staff salaries by a extra 18% leap to match wealthy Bay Area cities. Thus driving the library into deficit, so they go back to the voters and NEVER told them why they were in this new “unexpected” deficit.

    One huge lie.

    Not unlike the huge fiscal lie they put into effect when they passed the giant 35% leap in pensions back in 2003-2004.

    AS usual, all the parties involved personally benefited from the changes.

    The library personnel got the double bonus boost.
    Their $100 of salary was boosted to $118 ….
    Then their pensions were boosted retroactively by 35%…
    In just a couple of years they effectively got a 1.18 x 1.35 = 1.59 boost in pension for life. Retroactive for all years worked.

    A library employee at the time, expecting to retire from 35 years at the branch and earning $60,000 was expecting a $42,000 pension.

    Just one year later he was instead retiring at $66,900 for life.
    He had essentially added nothing more to the system, yet he stood to collect over the next 20 years, an additional $498,000.

    Half a million dollar boost for that ONE employee.
    They play the Oakland voters like a violin. They make fools of them.

    Do you think one person in a thousand is aware that the chain of events described above gave a worker, half a million dollars?

  9. Ralph

    Well, V, I wanted to say some of those things but I did not want to seem like a library geek. You know me, I think it is a crime that our main library is as it is. It should be a jewel but it is more like a porcelein throne. I could not be more pleased about the challenge grant; I hope some people make a gift.

    I think I now have a better understanding of why the bond measure to upgrade the main library failed. Seems that like all other bond measures, previous library bond measures were not followed. Thus, people became a bit skeptical of the city. It makes me think there is something wrong with the pinheads who write the measures and not the city.

  10. Livegreen

    But per DAX and V the City agreed to spend the money on Salary and Benefit increases. Yes the Measures should designate controls on spending, but the CC should b representing constituents too, not just City workers.

  11. V Smoothe Post author

    When I was campaigning for Measure N (2006 library bond), I don’t recall anyone using dissatisfaction with Measure Q as a reason they were opposed to the measure. At that time, the bookmobile was still operating and the libraries were still open 6 days a week as promised. The really significant service cuts didn’t start until 2008.

    People not supporting the Measure generally fell into one of three categories.

    1. People who just felt overtaxed in general and didn’t want to add any new burden.

    2. People who felt that they couldn’t trust the City to spend the tax as promised (these people almost all used either Measure Y, Measure DD, or both, as examples of the why they felt the City was untrustworthy. That was before there was much (maybe anything?) in the way of visible improvements from DD. Many, many people I spoke with were extremely frustrated with the lack of progress on DD and felt cheated by the City.

    3. People who were angry about the amount of money in the bond going to the proposed new Main library. The bond proposal included significant capital improvements to every branch library, as well as funding for a badly needed new Main library at the Kaiser Convention Center. There was a great deal of hostility towards the new Main from a number of very vocal Oakland residents. The phrase they kept using was “palace library.” In general, they made it out to be a downtown vs. the neighborhoods thing, and argued that we should not put any more resources into Main and build new branches all over the City instead.

  12. Livegreen

    Question: Did the City build a new library with (assuming) taxpayer $ and not include the books?

  13. Ralph

    I do recall the palace library argument. I do not like those people. Apparently, they have not lived in other cities where it is not uncommon for the city to have one kick-butt main library located downtown and some fairly respectable neighborhood libraries. Heck, they could cross the bridge and check out SF. And exactly what neighborhood library did they think the residents of JLS, Uptown, Downtown, Old Oakland, Chinatown, and LM should use?

    And where are these resources that people claimed were poured into the main library? Granted I only moved to Oakland in Fall 2006 but it does not look like anyone has put any money into the main library since 1947. Is there an island where we can ship the natives because I am convinced they just don’t get it.

  14. Naomi Schiff

    A lot of natives DID get it! We didn’t get 66 2/3 percent, but we fell only 2 percent short. It was certainly very disappointing, but I think it is notable how much support the libraries do have among Oaklanders. (At least 64% of them!)

    If the economy wasn’t so bleak I’d advocate for trying again. Or working over the present main library, which was (I think) originally constructed to accommodate some kind of expansion. The Fire Alarm building across the street holds some potential for library use, and is owned by the city. At one time there were plans to expand that building.

  15. len raphael

    Ralph, you really are a newbie. But that’s probably true for majority of the people on this site. Lifers here mostly gave up on expecting anything good from their local govt except for garbage pickup and some tree care.

    Shopped Emerybay tonight because at&t store on Lakeshore closes at 7pm on Sat while Emerybay store open till 9pm.

    Parking lot was jammed. No it was not free or cheap. But I’m not sure how many of the people were spending the big retail bucks there. Hecka lot of teenagers wandering around our version of Sun Valley. Anyone know what the sales tax revenu e per square foot are for Emerybay?

    Asked a couple of cops what the shoplifting situation was. They replied there was quite a bunch of that. Stores in emeryville generally have insurance that reimburses them for theft if the employees make citizen’s arrests of the shoplifters.

    Whew. Can you imagine an employee of an Oakland store stopping a shop lifter and holding them until the cops came?

    -len raphael

  16. East Lake Biker

    I have a confession to make: I don’t have an Oakland library card and have never been in the main library. I’m a newbie too. I know that should be no excuse. I’m putting $20 into the book fund. I need to get a card too. Hopefully when I get there it’s on a non-furlough day, I can never get the schedule down.

    Let me get this straight, there were plans to fix up the libraries, but that failed? I’m at a loss for words … libraries are the soul of a city. The idiocy of the vocal minority always amazes me. Looking forward to the anti-BRT NIMBYS when I speak at council Tuesday.

    @Len- Emeryville gets a good chunk of $ from sales taxes ($3 million in the last quarter of ’09), not sure what the sq ft of Bay Street is though. I’m sure most of the people walking around there are just strolling around. Shoplifting happens at the Ross and Sports Authority too. EPD is always dealing with groups of rowdy kids weekend nights.

  17. len raphael

    ELB, newbies are most welcome. Hope you’ll stay here long term unlike many who find it an expensive place with many positives but many negatives that weight against long term residency.

    Spending money on a new library building was never as cut and dried a good thing as it’s been made out to be by its proponents. I opposed it at the time thinking the money were be better spent on branch libraries. But mostly i suspected it would result in a great building with no funds to staff and supply it. Little did i know at the time the library proposal was a modest positive use of city funds compared to the retirement funding scam that the entire city government conspired in.

    BRT also has it pro’s and con’s, though it’s supporters seem to think it’s an unmitagated good. Positions on BRT correlate with age, and somewhat with income. But then age and income probably correlate also. Age tempers ideology, but for sure it blunts idealism also.

    When you speak at the cc, try to respect your opponents on BRT even if you think they’re completely blind to what you see as self evident.

  18. Robert

    Wow, I guess I will have to see if I can work myself into enough of a lather tomorrow over all this to make a trip down to the main library to look at the old budgets and see how city spending on the library has changed over the years. But right now, I feel more like going to sleep. What I do know is that since about 1970, the number of branch libraries in O has increased by 33%, with very small increases in population. So to fund all those new libraries, I would guess that something had to give. Maintenance on the Main?

  19. Ralph

    Len, you know most of the bigger stores have security details who will detain shoplifters. I was twice caught inside a downtown SF store as they wrestled a shoplifter inside a store. I’ve also managed to walk into an E-ville store on more than one occasion when store security was handing perps to the police. In none of these cases were the perps teens. Teens get a bad rap.

    Len, I’ve been in the Bay area for over 10 years. Having lived in EC cities with crime problems I know what a truly motivated leadership can achieve. That Oakland has been slow to move and some locals want to prohibit the very thing that can give us a boost is probably the most disturbing thing I have experienced in all my born days, but I keep hope alive.

  20. Russ

    Why do we always compare Oakland with E-ville?

    They only have 10,000 Citizens and are basically a giant commercial development. There is no way a city that actually has to take care of residential neighborhoods can be run in a similar way to a city that is basically a shopping center.

    Also, I love the library but my fiancee stole my card and now it has overdue charges…

  21. Ralph

    Russ, on the plus side, if you can keep the fine below the no books for you limit, you never need to repay it.

  22. len raphael

    Ralph, now what was the thing that’s our only hope? higher density via zoning?

    Emeryville, somehow people just envy the retail commercial there, but it’s the non retail business’s there that were our biggest loss because we had the office space, the infrastructure, decent restaurants, big industrial lots, etc. and still those developments chose Emryvll. I assume for some of the same reasons i did that had nothing to do with crime: absurdly high business tax in Oakland if you’re not a manufacturer or retailer.

    -len raphael

  23. len raphael

    Ralph, do bigger Oakland stores (hmm, not many of those) private security usually do citizen arrests of shoplifters? That would be a good sign because it means the stores get fast response from OPD.

  24. Ralph

    Len, by bigger I meant stores with a national presence. Except for WF, I have not shopped in an Oakland store that has a security detail. My experiences with security details and shoplifters have been strictly SF and E-ville.

    As it so happened my one experience with a store robbery in Oakland, I had to go out and feed the meter just before the stick-up artist entered. (Glad, I did not know that the store had its own lot in the rear. I was never so happy to feed a meter in my entire life.) Instead of re-entering the store, I opted to shop their competitor across the street.

  25. Naomi Schiff

    ELB: For clarity:
    There were two different library measures in recent history. One raised funds for the libraries to remain open and functional (Jerry Brown’s admin. had proposed many closures). It passed, 77.2%, rewrote and replaced an earlier parcel tax measure. 2004. (It requires the city to continue to allocate general fund monies to the library in order to tap the parcel tax funds, so that the city couldn’t just replace gen. fund with the new monies.)

    The second measure was the one that failed. It proposed relocating the main library to a reconfigured Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium building (also known as Oakland Auditorium) between 10th and 12th Street near the Museum, and improvements to branch libraries, and was on the 2006 ballot. It received 64% of the vote.

    While some new branches have arisen, some new structures are replacements of older ones. AAMLO occupies what was formerly the main library, at 14th and MLK.
    Certain of the new branches used funding from beyond the general fund: the Asian Library was part of a redevelopment project, for example, and does not occupy a freestanding structure. The new library discussed above is a joint project with the school district.

  26. livegreen

    To add to what Naomi has summarized, the 2nd measure would only have raised part of the funding necessary to make HJK into the new library.

  27. MarleenLee

    I had never taken the time to look at Measure Q before now. Another parcel tax swindle by the City of Oakland? Maybe. Except the “appropriation” language in Measure Q is actually quite different than for Measure Y. Measure Q states a dollar amount – just over $9 million. The language in Measure Y is tied to actual services (baseline staffing), not a specific dollar amount. That’s good for me (in my new lawsuit). The language in Measure Q is unfortunate for taxpayers.

    But the information presented to voters was certainly misleading. The “Argument for” stated:

    ” The Measure Q will:
    …Keep the main library open 7 days a week and neighborhood libraries 6 days a week
    Measure Q requires annual audits and an independent citizens oversight committee to ensure Measure Q dollars are spent as promised.”

    Who is on the Measure Q oversight committee? Have they been monitoring what a great job the City has been doing keeping the main branch open 7 days a week, and neighborhood branches 6 days a week? Have they conducted annual audits detailing how the money is being used to accomplish this goal? Are there discussions that the money went straight into a huge salary increase, and the promises to keep libraries open went straight out the window? Apparently it is the “Library Advisory Commission” that is charged with these duties. I couldn’t find any evidence on the website indicating that they have been conducting the required annual performance audits. Courtney Ruby, however, did a very thorough one in October, 2008. Every year such a thorough audit should be done on all the parcel taxes, but I know that’s never going to happen. (I’m assuming it’s accurate, but I don’t know about that).

    Jill Broadhurst is on the Library Advisory Commission. She’s running for City Council, District 4. It might be interesting to ask her some pointed Measure Q questions during the debates…..

  28. Naomi Schiff

    Yes, library advocates have questioned how the library can alter the no. of days open, but unaddressed is how many hours open? And also, frequently there occur threats that some branches will be closed. Library advocates made a conscious and deliberated and much-discussd decision to stick together and advocate for all branches, so that some neighborhoods don’t get saved at the expense of others.

    Not to mention, the library is also having to close on furlough days. Some of us have advocated to align the furlough days with branch closure days, to avoid having libraries closed for days on end. Library usage is way up; this is no time to be closing more days.

  29. Ralph

    I love the language of Measure Q. I like stated objectives. You can make a good faith effort to achieve stated objectives but still fall short and not be out of compliance.

    For all practical purposes, we only have neighborhood libraries. I wish we could convince people of the value of an impressive main library and some fairly good neighborhood ones.

    I go back to a mayor who who has vision. I would love to see a repeal of the one off measures that tie us up and proposal that has vision. I hate taxes and the natives have a high distrust factor, but I believe in my heart of hearts if an elected leader spoke honestly about the challenges and real proposal to address them, I think the people will listen and respond accordingly.

  30. J

    Yes Ralph I agree with you. Recently Seattle completed a new downtown library. Its very impressive and VERY modern. However I have been disappointed in a number of people in my generations (20-25) perception of the library. I have a number of friends and former class mates who actively, and vocally, see no value at all in public libraries. Very few of them actually find any value in books as a whole, they feel that they can read most things off the internet and feel that libraries are obsolete. I on the other hand recognize the value of libraries, mostly because i enjoy reading, but also for access to resources for the community at large. I do have to point out that most of the people I went to school with are upper middle class to upper class mostly spoiled individuals that cant comprehend that there are actually people out there that cant afford a Macbook let alone an actual affordable computer.

  31. Livegreen

    Like Ralph, I noticed the use of the word “objectives”, which allows failure without violation. A lesson for future Measures. M-Q shows that imposing a min amount of GPF funding is not enough, esp for our Union-before-Electorate CC.

    But how to do it? Impose a min % of funding on books,computers & serviced? Or a cap on salaries? Too little criteria and the OC & CC give it away in salaries. Too much criteria or categorical requirements and they’ll argue the electorate hamstrung officials or didn’t allow flexibility to meet on the ground needs…

  32. Ralph

    Personally, I would like to see all minimum funding / staffing requirement in ballot measures abolished. I don’t think any ballot measure should force the city to maintain some level of funding / staffing. Ballot measure should provide additional funding but when the well is dry the city should be able to cut as appropriate.

    Ballot measures should also make explicit services and programs that they are going to fund.

  33. Livegreen

    Then how do you keep the City from unloading GPF funding onto property taxes with no increase in services? Backfilling, I think V called it some time ago.

  34. Livegreen

    Then how do you keep the City from unloading or switching GPF funding onto property taxes with no increase in services as the measures are intended? Backfilling, I think V called it some time ago.

  35. len raphael

    re all the ballot measures shakespear put it aptly: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” (ok,except for MLee)

    are all the present cc members lawyers except for NN and DLF?

    -len raphael

  36. MarleenLee

    Ralph, I hope you were joking. Trust??? You obviously have not been following the saga of my lawsuit(s). The City lies to get your money, then wastes it, and doesn’t deliver on the promises. Most cities manage to fund libraries, police officers, fire fighters, streetlamp repairers and pothole fixers all without special parcel taxes! Only Oakland seems to have a billion dollar budget and still not enough to cover the bare basics! If the taxpayers are going to be generous enough to contribute extra money (parcel taxes), on top of the wads of (regular) taxes they already pay, they have every right to micromanage how the City spends those dollars. That’s where the language of special taxes comes in. And the drafters can be as specific as they like. The reality is is that if the money comes with no strings attached, the voters won’t approve it. And now, given the history of broken promises after broken promises, voters aren’t likely to approve anything. Not if I can help it.

  37. MarleenLee

    Oh, and Len, Jane Brunner, Rebecca Kaplan and Pat Kernighan are lawyers. The rest are not. Not that I think that it matters a whole heck of a lot when it comes to the parcel tax fiascos.

  38. Ralph

    LG, it is no secret that I think ballot box budgeting is hurting California and lord knows it is killing Oakland. The floors that the voters mandated prevent elected officials from cutting when we hit a recession. For example, the people behind Kids First essentially screwed Oakland against her will. So while every other agency must take a cut, the takeover robbers known as Kids First just jacked us for $4MM that they should have never received. Unfortunately, while we know who they are, OPD can not arrest them. Measure Q also has a floor which I think is wrong.

    It has been suggested that we need to micromanage council. If that is the case, we could save $1MM a year just by getting rid of them, proposing some ballot measures and let the city auditor perform compliance audits. But if you want to micromanage you need to be damn sure that your measure has measurable objectives. Had I been living in Oakland at the time MQ went to the voters there is no way I would have voted for it. It is to say the least vague.

    If you do not want city council to backfill then be very specific in how you want the dollars to be used. But you may also provide for some flexibility. Maybe the city can tap the fund to pay the personnel costs of a specific employee type if that persons position would have been eliminated during a recession. I just think most of the ballot measures are poorly crafted and with a little thought we could do better.

  39. Robert

    In principle I agree that ballot box budgeting makes it much more difficult for a conscientious cc to do their job of setting priorities and dealing with a recession. However, in practice, the Oakland cc has shown neither the ability or desire to manage a budget, so I quite understand why the voters have gone for approving measures that dedicate funding to favored causes. I could see removing the restrictions only as part of a comprehensive revision of the budgeting process and revisions to the charter.

  40. Born in Oakland

    While the City was paying off the unions with pay raises and pension benefits and spending my tax dollars on employees with semi-permanent disability because they fell off their office chairs and further squandering tax money on favored politico groups such Womens Economic Agenda an Yusef Bey Bakery, it seemed reasonable some of our pot (no pun intended) should go towards helping the young generation and many of their single parent families who toil harder then most of our civil servants at Frank Ogawa Plaza. And kid raising is a full time job. While watching Public Works stand 5 deep with Supervisors peering at a small sink hole for two hours, it occurred to me we should share the largess with Kids First and I went for it. Perhaps the program has its flaws, but not enough to make it the sole whipping boy for a dysfunctional and corrupt City Government.

  41. Livegreen

    Ralph, I agree with u about being against poorly crafted Measures that mostly depend on Property Taxes (OFCY being the only one of those not being funded that way). Ideally the City should b able to fund it’s budget through it’s GPF.

    However that is a pretend world in Oakland, first because voters are passing these initiatives anyway and secondly because our CC has been spending the GPF on many non-core programs AND salary increases for their Union supporters.

    Importantly, members of this same CC supported ALL of the ballot measures that you and they now say are hamstringing them. Well then they shouldn’t have supported them to begin…

  42. MarleenLee

    I don’t know who wrote Measure Q. But most of the ones I know about were written BY THE CITY ITSELF! The City wrote Measure Y. The City wrote Measure NN (rejected). And the City is currently working on yet another parcel tax proposal. I have to assume the City is largely responsible for writing Measure Q as well. Jerry Brown signed off on the “argument in favor.” So for the City to whine about all the restrictions in the parcel taxes is just incredibly disingenuous. They put them there.

  43. Ralph

    The City would do a much better job of funding its required programs if it weren’t giving away the farm to those meddling kids via Kids First.

    Our elected officials lack a spine. I was a bit surprised when I saw JB signed off on the “argument in favor” for Measure Q. I had assumed he was a reasonably bright guy but Meas Q was poorly worded but maybe the city likes vague measures because it gives them freedom to do what they want.

    I don’t know if it is a case Council supporting poor ballot Measures versus not publicly stating why they are against a measure. Measure OO is a classic example of a council avoiding a leadership position. Some on council stated that they would campaign against M2O but did not.

    How hard is it to say, “Residents of Oakland here lies a ballot measure that is bad for Oakland. I understand that the people of Oakland want x, y and z, but if we allow this measure to pass here are the implications. Instead of this ballot Measure, I propose that we do a, b and c.” It was easier to keep one’s mouth shut and not give a future opponent a reason to vote against you. The people’s attitude seems to be a direct response to the leadership. So tell me, how have they earned their salary?

    I don’t know who writes the measures but they need to require specific programs and identify desired measurable outcomes. It is a very easy to tell if something did or did not happen. Kids First is not only unfunded but has no measure of success. Children are still dealing dope after school, the students are still far from proficient, and there is no appreciable rise in students going to college. Kids First is simply a waste of a $100MM.

    One way for the city to spend money on core services is to identify a mission and define from that what is core. But neither the mayor nor council has identified what our core functions are and what we want to be when we grow up. Until that day comes, CC and the mayor will spend money on anything. I am hopeful that there is a Stanford trained lawyer that can assume a leadership position and make tough decisions. I already know who won’t and can’t.

  44. len raphael

    Ralph, JB got his law degree from yale but he probably took two seconds to read Measure Q.

    Having attended an ivy league school and alameda jc, i’d never vote or hire someone based on what name school they went to.

  45. Ralph

    Just to clarify, the Stanford reference was more descriptive of a current candidate than an absolute candidate must have. I’d be happy with an ivy leaguer who also attended an alameda jc assuming said person showed leadership qualities. Have you thought about exploring your options….

  46. len raphael

    Ralph, the ivy league school sends me a glossy monthly which i leave out on my office waiting room to impress the clients. alameda jc doesn’t even send a postcard. i’ll blame that on our former mayor, elihu. (who was a Davis law school grad)