179 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. We Fight Blight

    Nic Nak appeal denying liquor sales was upheld by City Council by a 5-3 vote tonight. Councilmember Brooks was off the hook in supporting the liquor sales. Looks like the ball is in the Pannell’s court…or at least the Superior Court should they choose that venue.

  2. We Fight Blight

    Brunner, IDLF, Quan, Kernighan, Nadel for the appeal (to deny alcohol sales). Brooks, Reid, and Kaplan to deny the appeal (to allow alcohol sales). Brooks seemed intent on creating as much uncertainty as possible in the decision to give the applicants some legal foothold should they go to court to contest City Council’s decision.

  3. livegreen

    I look forward to Desley Brooks support of Liquor Stores as a key platform issue in her re-election campaign.

  4. Ralph

    It is really becoming harder and harder to understand Ms. Kaplan’s decisions. I’ve got some thoughts and not one of them is good.

  5. gregory mcconnell

    Please consider running the following.

    Stop the Fear Mongering – Oakland will be Just Fine

    Soon we will all know the fate of Johannes Mehserle. He will be convicted or acquitted as the jury sees fit. We will also know whether this prompts people to lawfully and peacefully protest the verdict, as they have the right to do under our constitution. Or, if they engage in unlawful riots, harm innocent people, and destroy private property. If it is the latter, our police department will handle it because that is what they do.

    One thing for sure is that Oakland’s 420,000 residents will go on with their lives in the days following the trial, the verdict, and whatever protests that may occur. They will continue to live peaceful and productive lives, working, playing, raising their families, and enjoying one of the most beautiful cities on the planet.

    Even if the dire forecasts of violence prove true, will that be the story of Oakland? No, that will be the story of a small segment of our population who commit crimes and engage in unlawful conduct whether it is hot or cold, sunny or raining, night or day, with or without an excuse or justification. If violence occurs, like before, it will also be the story of outside anarchists from our neighboring professional protestor incubation cities. And again, our police department and the other 99.95% of the residents and business people of this city will handle it because that is what we do.

    It is always wise to acknowledge potential danger and take steps to protect ourselves. But the frenzy of reports about chaos and lawlessness has risen to the point where it seems to encourage the trouble we all hope will not occur.

    The killing of Oscar Grant was a tragedy to be sure, so too is the apparent surrender to the inevitability of violence and lawlessness in our city. I am sick and tired of non-stop stories that suggest that everyone in the city is afraid. It is not true.

    It is time for all of us to stand together and show leadership. We are grown-ups and we are in charge. Here is the message:

    “We will honor the right of people to express their support or displeasure with whatever verdict comes out of the jury. At the same time, we will protect the residents and businesses of this great city. Violence will not be tolerated and if it occurs, those who are responsible will face stiff consequences.”

    The sun will rise tomorrow and all the days that follow. Oakland’s 420,000 residents and the businesses that invest in this city will be fine. We have resources and the will to make sure that public safety is maintained.

    It is one thing to be on guard and prepare for problems. It is quite another to run scared. Stop the fear mongering – Oakland will be just fine.

    Peace!

    Gregory McConnell
    President and CEO
    Jobs and Housing Coalition

  6. len raphael

    Greg, less fear mongering on Grant but more fear mongering on Oakland’s devastating retirement and compensation obligations for ALL of it’s employees would be a more balanced message to hear from our business community.

    You know the cc and the likely mayoral prospects are playing a dangerous game mumbling “structural deficit” as they incite residents anger over police compensation.

    -len raphael

  7. len raphael

    How much of Youth Uprising’s budget comes from the city? Is it all Kid’s First funding?

    Yeah, sure, a video with Kamela and Sean and a bunch of older farts really speaks to the young people most likely to break windows. But it positions Youth Uprising as the responsible org worthy of funding when it gets down to feeding them or cops or street sweepers etc.

  8. 94610BizMan

    “Or, if they engage in unlawful riots, harm innocent people, and destroy private property.”

    I’m pretty sure that those people harmed will not consider it “fear mongering” not to mention their friends and family.

    The amount of denial of the long term impact of crime and violence on the productive tax paying population is breathtaking.

    Len is right that the retirement and compensation fiasco will devastate Oakland but the attitudes towards violence and crime are still mind boggling.

  9. len raphael

    a little late in the mongering dept. to fix our city’s reputaton.

    talking to a comcast tech support guy today located in Denver. He asked me when the verdict in that trial was coming out. All his friends watched the original videos on youtube.

  10. len raphael

    confirmed by an eye witness that JQ and RK remained locked arm in arm with demonstrators blocking the cops from dispersing the crowd for some time (i believe it was 10 to 20 minutes but didn’t take notes) after cops gave the unlawful assembly announcement.

    the decision to disperse the crowd was made because a small number of demonstrators were raining a large number of bottles and pint size red paint metal cans at the cops. The throwers were interspersed in the crowd of peaceful demonstrators and on some of the upper floors of adjacent buildings making it impossible to arrest the throwers.

    And no it is not accurate to say most of the looters and throwers were from out of town.

  11. len raphael

    lots of resdents bitch that opd cops live in danville, castro valley etc.

    I went over to the Rotunda building tonight to try the food (excellent by Picone) Only Jerry Brown knows how much that beautifil rehab cost us taxpayers, but it is another stunning dto restoration.

    Lots of opd so i thought i’d flag one down at random and ask the question about why do so few opd live here.

    His response was that several years ago he did live here for several years.

    Very often when he shopped at local stores his path crossed with people he dad arrested while on duty. it would be very easy for a pissed off arrestee to follow him home. wouldn’t do much good to call opd and hope they got there in time.

    This is particularly true for the many female cops on opd.

    btw, unlike NYC cops, opd cops are discouraged from carrying their service revolvers off duty.

    As long as i was there, asked a different cop why there was any need to shoot the guy brandishing a knive at fruitvale bart last week. why couldn’t two cops tasers disable the guy?

    Answer is that tasers have limited effectiveness. thickness of clothing, wet weather, too big or too small a distance, which muscle group is hit, what drug the person is on.

    -len raphael

  12. Ralph

    Len,
    It is for the reason identified by the officer for why I am against any efforts to require OPD officers to live within Oakland. If the crime weren’t so violent and frequent, then officers might be able to live here w/o being worried about their families. As it is, no one needs this additional stress.

    Ah the curse of the Taser, individuals think that the T should be able to take down the citizen but it has its limitations.

  13. Naomi Schiff

    Rotunda: I think it was mostly 50 million loan to Phil et al. Used fed historic tax credits (20% of const cost) and perhaps some other incentive moneys.

    Living in Oakland: better to incentivize it by making it a pleasant option than to require it, I think. And: try to hire local candidates where possible, of course. But it does create a suburban/urban split that is unfortunate when most live in the far beyond.

  14. Ralph

    If anyone ever needs a happiness pill in their day, then stop by The Paramount on Citizen Day.

    Yesterday, was the first time I walked Broadway after the ceremony. Normally, I walk by as people are preparing to enter. You have never seen a happier bunch of people, posing with their certificate, snapping pictures, smiles from ear to ear.

    Whatever the reason that brought them here, it is clear that they want to be here. And it makes you think that this must be one special place.

  15. livegreen

    Why does the media always talk about “growing crime concerns” in Oakland? They used that phrase 5 years ago? Have our concerns been “growing” each year, and how do they measure that?

    My concerns haven’t been growing. They’ve just never gone away. Why can’t they just say “concerns over crime continue”.

  16. Laid Off Cop

    Len
    your reason why some officers choose not to live in Oakland is spot on for the most part. I would be very easily recognizable. My daily routines and patterns, where I live, the gym I go to, where I shop, the vehicle that I drive, etc.

    Of course, it’s not hard to find me anywhere in any city if you really want to look for me and have a grudge (but there are ways to even hide home ownership if you rrally want hide your residence form the general public), but it’s more about a crime of opportunity, suddenly being recognized by someone and it has happened on more than one occasion. Even more so, I would be more concerned about my family than myself.

    It is important for me to mention that not living in the city that you work in has no bearing on your committmant to that city as far as law enforcement. There seems to be this pervasive belief that if an officer doesn’t live in the same city he works in that somehow he or she will not care about the comunity he is serving. It is simply not true. People are people. If I see someone hurt or victimized, as a human being, I have empathy for that person. It matters not where they live. I want to help them. But I wouldn’t live in ANY town I worked – not even the suburbs.

    One thing incorrect in your post however, there is absolutely no discouragement for OPD officers to carry their weapons off duty. I have no idea why that information was given to you. It’s a matter of personal choice.

  17. ralph

    For anyone who wonders if Oakland employees are overpaid, I offer you this job, description and requirements

    ASSISTANT BUDGET ANALYST
    $4,452 – $5,466/month, 37.5 hour work week

    What does our Assistant Budget Analyst do?…Provide general assistance in reviewing/analyzing budget documents and reports. (Not even take ownership responsibility – just general assistance in reviewing and analyzing)

    What kind of training does one need to be an ABA? Turns out not much…
    Minimum requirements include education equivalent to an Associate degree with major coursework in accounting, finance, business administration or related field and 2 years of increasingly responsible experience in municipal government budget development. (I seriously doubt one can even have major course work in accounting in a 2 year program.)

  18. V Smoothe

    This particular position does not immediately strike me as overpaid compared to the private sector. I think you would have to learn more about the specific responsibilities of the job in order to make that call.

    It is, indeed, possible to do major coursework in accounting in a two year degree. A relative of mine just finished one. Upon completion of the degree, they had a number of job offers. The one they accepted (with a large corporation) pays $1200 a week in a part of the country with a much lower cost of living than the Bay Area. Additionally, they recieved a substantial signing bonus and gets pretty incredible benefits.

  19. len raphael

    Now i’m getting wierd word wrap/right hand side is black text on black background in firefox ie 8. not on Open Thread, but on maybe all of the other threads.

  20. Marleenlee

    Finally, some good news. Bristol Palin’s baby daddy is running for mayor of Wasilla. Makes all the candidates here look great by comparison.

  21. Max Allstadt

    Here’s a must read, everybody.

    ‎”if Perata tells you he needs a contribution to help him get elected this November, he’s lying.”

    Follow this link for the full scoop. http://bit.ly/915jkQ

    If you’re a union leader, or if you run a PAC, you really should read this. Perata will be asking you for money. Don’t give him any, he’s going to be over the spending cap in a matter of days. He can’t legally spend any more on campaigning, so your contribution will be worthless.

  22. Max Allstadt

    Barry, everybody in higher office in the city of Oakland is a Democrat. We have no viable green party. That change was critical, and it wasn’t a sell out, because Rebecca also formed alliances with people who had directly contradicting views to those supporters. She got support because people thought she was smart, not because she promised to do their bidding.

    That’s hardly the same as Perata taking $409,000 in Prison Guard money and then lobbying to keep non-violent drug offenders in jail for long sentences.

    Nor is it the same as him taking huge amounts of money from out of town interests, hitting the spending cap, and still asking for donations.

    Here’s the link again, folks: http://bit.ly/915jkQ

    Perata is asking donors for money he can’t use to run, but that he can use, if elected, to pay for first class plane tickets and prosciutto.

  23. len raphael

    The unchanging rule in Oakland muni politics is if a union offers you support, you accept it. That’s probably changed with the demonization of the OPOA, to where it’s more valuable to dump on the OPOA then to embrace them.

    The true test of whether a politician puts voters interests above those of the unions will be whether the pol supports a charter amendment to allow outsourcing of most non elected positions, with the exception of core public safety functions. (and i don’t include EMT)

    Ask your candidate whether she/he would support such a charter amendment and post their response here.

    -len raphael

  24. len raphael

    Legal liability and command/control. Same reason I oppose the huge expansion of private military contractors such as blackwater/xe. plus there’s something wrong with delegating the power to take someone’s life to a contractor.

    There’s also the issue of providing adequate retirement and medical benefits for service providers in hazardous work.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  25. V Smoothe Post author

    Well, those may be reasons not to approve outsourcing police or fire services to private companies, but I don’t see why that should be written into the charter? You could save a lot of money by contracting public safety services to the County.

  26. Naomi Schiff

    As a longtime sojourner in the private sector, I’m not sure I have any more faith in it than in the public. I know you’ll give me trouble for this, Len, but it just isn’t always the best way. It may seem to save money, and perhaps sometimes it does. But there’s no guarantee of that either, nor of where the profits are going. Things tend toward monopoly and increasing costs.

  27. ralph

    Naomi,
    What is the concern with profits when work is outsourced? As long as it is less expensive, I am happy.

  28. Naomi Schiff

    It’s that it can get pretty expensive that way, too, and no guarantee of good performance, really! Cf: Blackwater, Halliburton, and dare I say it: Waste Management. My experience in bidding is that cut-rate outfits may come in with a low bid but sometimes they find a way to cut costs by providing lesser service, and in any case the costs often creep up in various ways. It requires as much savvy administration as anything. I’m just saying it is not a one-size-fits-all solution for all functions.

  29. Naomi Schiff

    Oh, and one more thing: if we can keep the profits local, not going to out-of-state corporate shareholders, the expenditure will have more power to improve our local economy.

  30. Barry K

    Max-

    So you’re saying both Perata and Kaplan are ethically challenged when it comes to Union support (demands), but, Perata is worse because he’s raised more funds through a more powerful union?
    And, it’s okay that Kaplan is a turncoat?

    Why We Run
    by Rebecca Kaplan,
    Green Party At-large Candidate for Oakland, Calif., City Council

    “to alleviate fears that I don’t “have what it takes” to serve on the council. I don’t think that people should need such education and experience to run for city council—but it certainly has helped me, and it helps build the credibility of the Green Party as capable and competent.”

    “People are ready to vote for “third party” candidates—dissatisfaction with the RepubliCrats is at an all-time high.

    “…everyone knows I am running as a “Green”—and this is building the visibility of the party. Also, my strong connection with issues such as public transit and tenants’ rights is helping to build support for the Green Party among low-income communities and communities of color—many of whom previously thought that Greens just cared about protecting remote ecosystems. If we are to continue to grow, we must make our commitment to social justice clear and powerful.

    read the rest here.

    http://www.greens.org/s-r/22/22-06.html

  31. ralph

    I have always hated the corporate chain v. local argument because each corporation has a HQs office located in some city and I am sure they do right by that city and in cities where they operate. And as a corporate shareholder I like my benefits. Those benefits allow me to shop in SAN FRANCISCO. (Hear that Mayoral Candidates – bring retail to Oakland.) That said, I can see that the argument has some merit but it isn’t b/w.

    But I digress. I was thinking about outsourcing activities which could easily be picked up by local businesses. For example, why not outsource some maintenance type activities, such as landscaping / park maintenance or cleaning / janitorial.

  32. livegreen

    It’s not just that it’s cheaper, it’s also that it functions, and there are checks in place if it doesn’t. It has to be EFFICIENT & WORK, whether it is public or private.

    & if it doesn’t, what are the checks in place to make sure the system is corrected.

    That question remains the same. Just switching from one to the other is no panacea. But it’s not a reason why it shouldn’t be done either.

    The key is to build in both the checks & the accountability.

  33. Max Allstadt

    Barry,

    First of all, it’s very telling that the only attack lines you can find to go after Rebecca with are from mining stuff that’s way out of date. I think that’s ten years old.

    Second, what does it say about Perata’s financial responsibility that he hit the 85% of campaign spending limit over a month ago, and there’s still 90 days left before the election? Do we want our broke ass city in the hands of a guy who spends like that?

    Incidentally, who are you? I’ve got my name up here, people know who I am, what I’m for, and that I’ve chosen to support Kaplan in this campaign. People who know me well also know that I was supporting Perata until Rebecca entered the race.

    Are you a Perata supporter?

  34. Brad

    Max, if folks want to use a handle or a pseudonym, they are welcome to. This is the blogosphere after all. A little loose, a little relaxed. It’s the ideas that count.

  35. len raphael

    Naomi, I don’t go for favoring oakland vendors over sf vendors over nj vendors nor over chinese vendors strictly because of where their hq or their office happens to be.

    i have oakland business clients who make most of the profits outside of oakland. in some cases by selling services or product to state and local govts.

    they pay business tax to oakland. their landlords pay business tax to oakland on the gross rents.
    their oakland employees buy stuff in oakland.

    if all the cities with deficits adopted a local contracting/vendor policy my clients would get screwed, and in turn oakland would get screwed.

    its the same old free trade/protectionist arguement played out at a local level.

    taken to the ultimate level of nutiness, you get Wilson Riles’ Jr’s ACORN oaklandish currency.

  36. len raphael

    I could see an argument for not privatizing garbage collection and power generation. Not obvious to me that publicly regulated utilities are any better/cheaper for the residents than government run versions of the same.

    Try complaining to Waste Management about a missed pickup. I gave up after calling twice on separate days.

    if it were owned by city, at least I had a chance of voting out the officials. (ok, can’t blame me for dreaming)

    So i’m talking about outsouncing functions that don’t need a highly capitalized, 100% market share or 10 year contract for it to be profitable for the vendor. ie. doesn’t require a monopoly or put us at the mercy of the vendor.

    addendum: it might well be best for fire and police to be run by a consortium/coop consisting of San Leandro, Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville.

  37. Max Allstadt

    Brad, I just wanted to be clear that I’m being transparent about who I support and who I’ve supported in the past.

    I’m not particularly concerned about denying anybody else the right to use a pseudonym. Nor am I interested in having the pseudonym debate again.

    My point is that I identified who I support and who I’ve supported. Barry hasn’t explicitly done that.

    Either way, if somebody wants to have a mudslinging contest and the person they’re defending is Don Perata, I’m game, but only for a while. Shooting fish in a barrel gets boring eventually.

  38. len raphael

    Don’t know why i don’t have high regard for the Alameda County sheriff’s dept. Probably because they once gave me a $300 ticket for (ahem, ahem) idling in a bus zone. this was about 15 years ago, in a not great part of town, where my young son decided he had to go to a certain video game parlor. ok, bad reason to dislike Alameda Sheriffs Dept.

    They seem to mostly guard prisons, and cruise unincorporated areas like Castro Valley and Cherryland. They shoot three legged pitballs and gave us Chief Tucker. The chief got to double dip retirements from both the County and the City. (or did he depart before vesting here? Dax?).

    Probably unfair, but i consider their quality of selection, training, and management to be in between BART and OPD, but closer to BART.

    On the other hand, Plummer who was/is the Sheriff for a zillion years, never had a whiff of financial scandal or civilian abuse about his department. That’s impressive.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  39. Naomi Schiff

    Len, Ralph, I was thinking mostly about out-of-state contractors, not out-of-city. I don’t think there is any point in restricting to just Oakland businesses. But my experience with waste management and other huge conglomerates is not inspiring. Other examples: Federated Dept. stores closed down Emporium Capwell when it was making money locally, based on its national economics, not local conditions–an example of why I don’t love chains. Or what about Sears? An example of terrible out-of-town mgmt.

  40. len raphael

    Naomi, without getting into the merits of favoring small vs big; privately owned vs publicly traded businesses, I’d say that many small (under 10 million in sales) service and product business today have to be multi state and often multi national.

  41. Barry K

    Max- I was pointing out the similarities between DP and RK; driven by unions.
    I am not supporting DP for Mayor; wasn’t that obvious?

    You’ve clearly demonstrated over and over your support of RK on ABO. But, you of all people should know that when you make claims or attacks on behalf of someone, you should be aware that things can surface; especially statements made 10 years ago that are quite timely.

    *******
    Len, OMG! Three years ago, I had a $250 ticket from AC Sherrif’s when I picked up my 75 yeard Old Dad from MacArthur BART at 9PM at night. The curb is a van and/or disabled zone. I was told by the Sherrif to use the parking lot next time.
    It was dark out, I couldn’t read the “zone” signs. Also, I told him that having my Father wait in the dark parking lot was unsafe.
    I tried to appeal this, but, the clerk at AC County would not make my appointment. I gave up.

  42. V Smoothe Post author

    I actually had the Fire Department in mind when I asked the question, because lots of cities in Alameda County have moved to contracting fire services with them in recent years. But since you mention the Sheriff, the City of Dublin contracts with them for police services. They have their own special Dublin officers and the Sheriff picks an officer to have the role of their police chief. Not that I’m saying Dublin and Oakland are the same at all – I just wanted to note that in such a situation, it’s not like Oakland would be so much sharing officers with Castro Valley, but more that they would have functionally their own Department, just not run by the City.

  43. V Smoothe Post author

    Also, I wanted to add that I’m not advocating for outsourcing police and fire to the County here.

    I just think that it one were to craft a charter amendment to allow outsourcing (which I think you would have an exceedingly hard time getting to pass), it wouldn’t make any sense at all to exclude public safety. Those are the two services that we spend the vast majority of our budget on, and they also happen to be the two services that we have a competent, responsible to voters (though at farther reach than the City), and readily available contracting option for.

  44. Naomi Schiff

    I see the insides of a lot of companies and corporations in my work. I am not at all sure that they are any more efficient than governments, nor that they necessarily do a better job. Some yes, some no. Some oh my goodness.

  45. ralph

    I am not a fan of the oft-cited Emporium story. Consolidation in the department store business was a long time in the making. Even a blind man could see what was happening. When consolidation creates efficiencies and improves my capital appreciation, I am a huge fan.

    As for Sears (and Kmart), isn’t the whole value of this company based on its real estate holdings. Sears had been failing for years before Eddie took a gamble. I think they spoke about similar clients and supply chain efficiencies when the deal was announced. But I think it was really about the real estate. Doesn’t matter if you are in Oakland or Timbuktu, Eddie just doesn’t care for you. (Eddie is my exception to prove the rule.)

  46. len raphael

    V, curious how cities transitioned from having their own fire depts to paying the county to do the work. based on oakland’s fire fighter union, i’d have thought the union would have successfully fought tooth and nail UNLESS, they kept their local city compensation and only higher levels of management were cut.

    Do you know the cost savings realized?

    Until I had a conversation today, I’d have said that getting the council to place outsourcing on the ballot was an opium dream, but getting the voters to approve was tough but feasible. Making the voters comfortable is another reason I hesitate to include public safety.

    After the conversation, I had a glimmer of hope that if enough residents demanded outsourcing, reid, brooks, kaplan, kerighan and a new mayor might be convinced to put on the ballot, especially if the parcel tax fails and they’re really really desperate to cut costs.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  47. len raphael

    Naomi, under no illusions about private contractors. Different set of problems than public employees. (similar to the joke about sending your kids to private school vs public school)

    Let SEIU compete with the private contractors for quality and price, and rat each other out.

    V, how about modify the wording of a charter amendment re outsourcing to allow outsourcing any non public safety services to any service provider; and public safety services to any other county, municipality, or state agency.

    -len raphael
    temesacl

  48. len raphael

    On the topic of charter amendments, Oakland still has not posted the rules and filing guidelines to voter initiated charter amendments, recalls, referendums, propositions etc.

    LA and SF have done so.

    http://cityclerk.lacity.org/election/electioncode.pdf
    http://www.sfgov2.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/elections/candidates/Nov2010_InitiativeOrdinancesGuide3.pdf
    http://www.sfgov2.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/elections/candidates/Nov2010_CharterAmendment5.pdf

    Supposedly charter type cities like Oakland, SF, and LA default to State of CA rules if not specified in city charter.

    Since our charter is silent, all Russo’s office has to do is copy, search and replace the word Oakland for SF or LA, and post on City website.

    Then any resident can rely on that published set of rules without paying the big bucks for legal advice up front.

    It will still very expensive to meet the time requirements for getting something on a ballot without either paying professional signature collectors or shaming the city council into putting it on the ballot.

    Think on the order of 200k for a city wild item such as charter amendment. That might include mailings and a full time campaign coordinator.

    ——————

    Mark Morodomi, is the Supervising Deputy for the City Attorney’s Open Government Program.

    “Mark worked for 10 years in Sacramento for the State of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, where he served as chief prosecutor investigating and prosecuting cases of political corruption.”

    Please email Mark and ask him to copy and paste either SF or LA’s handbook (not copywrited)on to Oakland’s Open Government site.

    mmorodomi@oaklandcityattorney.org

    That site currently only has a link to now where on the CA Secretary of State site. If that’s Mark’s idea of Open Government we’re in trouble.

    http://www.oaklandcityattorney.org/Resources/OpenGovernment.html

    Until Mark takes that small but crucial step, it is very risky and expensive to pay attorneys to second guess what Russo’s office will do when residents file initiatves, referendums, recalls, charter amendments.

    Hard to believe, but it really is that simple. Ask Mark M. what’s taking him so long.

    -len raphael

  49. V Smoothe Post author

    Len, why on earth wouldn’t you just ask the City Attorney’s Office what the rules were? That seems like a much simpler way to do it than get yourself expensive legal advice.

  50. livegreen

    I think you’re fine making the amendment general. You can list your intentions separately. The key is a) The outsourcing be a viable threat; b) If the Unions don’t become reasonably flexible, they have to pay the piper. But without the threat they won’t do it, they’ll keep asking private citizens for more. (In good times privately employed citizens get taxed, in bad times they get taxed. The Public Sector Unions never voluntarily agree to meaningfully contribute).

    It might be difficult. Backup amendment: eliminate Collective Bargaining. Pat Kernighan’s step towards Leadership.

  51. len raphael

    LG, eliminating binding arbitration is one thing. eliminating collective bargaining is considered un-american.

    but was govt employee collective bargaining allowed before Jerry Brown’s time as governor?

  52. V Smoothe Post author

    I guess I just don’t see the point of doing that. “provided, that no such contract for service shall result in the loss of employment or salary by any person having permanent status in the competitive service as a sworn public safety employee unless the service is being provided by any other county, municipality, or state agency” just seems to create additional complication. Also, it doesn’t sound rational.

  53. len raphael

    Now that i’ve come around to supporting term limits of say 2 4 year terms (maybe not for life) for city council members, how come everyone i talk to, (including people who want to recall every sitting member), opposes term limits.

    they all bring up the same two reasons:

    1. we already have term limits. they’re called elections.

    2. look at the Calif legislature. Term limits increased the influence of lobbyists, decreased the quality of complex legislation and decimated technical staffs.

    I’d prefer informed active electorate, and high voter turnout. But since we’re not going to get that in my lifetime in Oakland, I’d settle for more chances for voters to correct their past mistakes and start again.

    Because of the power of incumbents (union support, Pay Go and patronage, media coverage, inertia, take the devil we know over the devil we don’t, etc) once you’re voted into the cc here, you have to die to get kicked out.

    Sure, i’d rather we found and elected better candidates and kept them around to learn the intricacies of zoning, ecomic development, labor law, etc.

    But Oakland is no way as complex as Sacramento legislation. And a four year term is not the same as a two year term. You spend hecka less time running for office here than in Sac.

    If you can’t learn the issues here in 2 years, you’re not spending enough time at City Hall or you’re not gonna learn it in 10 terms either.

    I’m thinking the many opponents of term limits all think they know the perfect candidate for city council. the person who should get it for as long as they want to do the work.

  54. V Smoothe Post author

    Len, if that’s your argument, then it doesn’t surprise me you’re not getting anywhere. You’re essentially saying that you agree term limits are bad, but that we need them in Oakland because Oakland sucks so much that we have to have different rules. If you want to persuade people to come over to the side of term limits, then 1) you need to believe in them yourself 2) you need to make an argument for why they’re good (stasis is unhealthy for the progress of the city, for example).

  55. ralph

    Having gone down this charter amendment process, I have found the city to border on useless.

    Instead of emailing, I called the City Clerk’s office. They knew nothing. I do not recall where I read if the city’s charter is silent on amendments then you default to the state. And since it is that easy why can’t someone in Oakland just breakdown and put it on the web or make a packet available to the residents. To paraphrase Kanye West, Oakland hates her residents.

    I am firm believer that Oakland government operates in the Stone Ages. it would be nice if our next mayor could actually make our government work for us.

  56. V Smoothe Post author

    I’m all for Oakland making it easier for people to find information, but I do think you guys are making a much bigger deal out of the lack of this particular information prominently displayed on the City’s website than it really merits. When I wanted to learn how to put a charter amendment on the ballot, I figured out that it was the State rules and found the State rules just via internet searching in like under 2 minutes. Then we checked with the City Attorney’s office to make sure I understood them correctly. They quickly confirmed that we had. It was all very simple. Another simple option would have been to simply ask the Reference Librarians at the Oakland Public Library.

  57. ralph

    Between typing what I typed above here and on some other forum, I can honestly say that I spent more time typing than I did googling and printing after I found the clerk’s office to be well meaning but useless. Now, that I have spilled spaghetti on it I need to do it all over again.

    I think the bigger issue, and RK has made it clear, stuff that the city should and can do to make it easier to interact with the city should be done yesterday. Another example, trying to find the person to contact regarding pedestrian signals takes forever. The ped signal on the southside of the Grand / Harrison intersection is too short to allow peds to safely cross.

  58. len raphael

    What i didn’t realize, is that the “records management policy implementation” is much more than making it easier to find a copy of some ceda inspection.

    it means greatly increasing transparency of city operations including all city emails and calendars, as well making sure that all memo’s, filings, reports etc. are kept and quickly available and searchable/findable by normal people.

    it encompasses much of the financial reports we need to see on a timely basis, but not confidential personnel files.

    very possible the city as a whole would actually save a bunch of bucks if this was implemented. hours spent waiting and calling, emailing wasted. City lawsuits lost because of poor documentation.

  59. len raphael

    V, if it’s so easy, why hasn’t Mark M. simply copied and pasted the SF or LA handbook online.

    Heck, he didn’t bother to even give a good link to the CA site page with the info.

    Russo has Mark M and a gal dedicated to Open Government. What do they spend their time on?

  60. len raphael

    V, heck most of the time I never get to my reasons for term limits. People look at me with the like don’t you know that “everyone knows term limits are bad”.

    Maybe the problem isn’t that i don’t have pure motives for advocating term limits, but that i’ve been trying to convince my fellow nattering nabobs instead of the oakland silent majority.

    if there is a silent majority here, i suspect they would prefor to throw all the bums out and keep throwing them out every 4 years.

  61. len raphael

    Ultimately, isn’t Perata’s strategy an appeal to the silent majority?

    I first saw it as a appeal to middle class scared of crime, but it’s broader based than that.

  62. Max Allstadt

    Len,

    I think you’re moving in the wrong circles if you thinknthe general public is against term limits.

    Most major cities in America have term limits. We also have a city council in Oakland that is wildly unpopular, an the least popular among them seem to be the longest serving.

  63. len raphael

    Max, i agree that the silent majority of likely Oakland voters would support term limits of say two 4 year terms for city council.

    The conundrum is that the good government activists who would need to help on this are either skeptical or flat out opposed to term limits; the likely $ donors are maybe 50/50 with liberals against and less liberal (ain’t too many conservatives around here) in favor.

    take a sample straw poll of your fellow RK volunteers and post the results. i’ll bet you a BB chicken sandwich you won’t find more than two supporters of term limits for cc.

  64. Naomi Schiff

    To get on ballot through petition, make an appt. with city atty’s staff, bring an attorney of your own to a face-to-face meeting, and either a recording device openly used, or a court reporter to write down what is said. A hugely expensive referendum petition with maybe 23,000 sigs was rejected on technicalities by Russo’s office even though the petitioners met with Mark and with city clerk staff. You MUST have a better documentary trail than they had, to stand up in court. There are law firms that specialize in killing off petitions. The rules are stacked against petitioners, and the city atty. is not on their side. It’s easier when city council puts on a measure, but even that is not foolproof, cf LLAD fiasco. I oppose term limits. But I strongly support transparency in govt. Russo was supposed to post the petitioning rules years ago. My hero in all things is Barbara Newcombe, the supreme advocate for the free flow of information.

  65. ralph

    Why we need more corporate businesses in Oakland….

    Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake thanked a major Baltimore City individual and the T. Rowe Price Foundation for their unsolicited donations, $300,000 and $117,000 respectively, to the Baltimore Community Foundation to fund continued operations of all City park pools through Labor Day. With these generous donations, pools at Cherry Hill, Roosevelt, Patterson Park, Riverside, and Clifton Park will be open today.

    Corporations and corporate foundations can be a great asset.

  66. Naomi Schiff

    I am part of a corporate business, Ralph, and of course corporations can be an asset. But far-distant ownership means that some companies do not have much feel for or interest in our community.

  67. livegreen

    Len, Sorry, I meant Binding Arbitration. Tired when I wrote that.

    Re. Term Limits, once again I must say: IT IS NOT ALL OR NOTHING.

    No term limits leaves incumbents with a HUGE advantage even when they’re doing poorly. All they need is a few special interests to result in a significant turnout (which in local or midterm elections does not have to be big). In turn this induces working for Special Interests.

    Term limits bring in more new leaders but phase out good, knowledgeable leaders just like they do bad, & diminishes both experience AND institutional knowledge. They also increases the upfront need for more money to campaign, which speeds up & overtly induces the money spending of Special Interests.

    Both have good & bad. So how can one be entirely for or against Term Limits, and what are we to do?

    To address both we go in between: Term Limits, but reasonable, say 3 Terms, to let good legislators stay in office for a reasonable amount of time.

  68. Naomi Schiff

    I agree. T. Rowe Price is an example of a local corp. For us, Clorox or Kaiser Family Fdn or Swig could be examples. I do believe in the idea of corporate good citizenship. To your point about the petitioning: long before the court battle about petition gatherers–a whole subject unto itself–the petitioners got caught up in whether they had circulated a correct petition. They had received wrong and contradictory advice from the city clerk and the city attorney; one only had 30 days to collect sigs, and they lost a lot of time with lack of clarity on acceptable procedures. Competent legal counsel at the outset, and good recordation of all meetings and communications, is a must.

  69. Dax

    Just reading the long list of mayoral candidates in the Chronicle.

    Went down the list until I hit one that stunned me.

    Marcie Hodge, the Peralta College board member.

    What? There is only one thing that comes to mind when I think about her, and it isn’t anything that would recommend one for leadership of a city in fiscal trouble.

    Am I the only one who remembers her abuse of the credit card she was given as part of her position on the Peralta
    Board.

    Look at this image from 2005

    http://imgs.sfgate.com/c/pictures/2005/11/14/ba_marciehodge.jpg

    Then a couple years later we found out she had charged $4,460 on the district credit card for personal items in Las Vegas, and Manhattan.
    Fancy clothes etc.

    Eventually pleading “ignorance”, she paid the district back for the charges.
    Just a simple mix up, right, once it was discovered and put into the newspapers.
    Sounds like exactly the wrong kind of person Oakland needs.

    Now, to be sure, she hasn’t got a chance so one just wonders what the purpose is for her filing.
    Why remind the people of your past financial abuse of the public trust?

  70. Barry K

    Dax, suggested endorsements for Marcie Hodge:

    Mr. & Mrs. Ron Dellums, Mr. & Mrs. Elihu Harris, Willaim Jeffords (Cong. from LA), Charles Rengel, Maxine Waters, Deborah Edgerly, Barbara Lee, Sandre Swanson…

  71. ralph

    LG, thanks.

    Large corporations with HQs in one’s city can do things that smaller businesses may not be able to do. I like that Kaiser partners with OUSD to provide healthcare services to some of the neediest students. But Oakland needs more corporations to set up shop and become part of the fabric of the community. We need to stop driving them out to Pleasanton.

  72. 94610BizMan

    Re Kaiser
    Just finishing up their plan to relocate all the Northern California IT jobs to Pleasanton (those that haven’t been outsourced to India).

  73. Dax

    Well, I don’t know about “stomach-shrinking” surgery for Oakland’s salaries, benefitsa and pensions, but I would like to know, or have a clear picture of the health and dental benefits that regular Oakland employees get.

    In other words, how much do they pay for their coverage, or do they contribute zero and we pick up 100%.
    Does anyone know.

    By way of example, AC Transit apparently picks up 100% of health and dental while other major transit agencies such as Sacramento and Fresno, pay only 80 to 90% of the premium.
    How much does Oakland pay?

    Just so you understand how huge this cost can be, think about the AC Transit example

    For a worker and his family, AC Transit pays from $1,613 per month for Kaiser to $1,895 per month for United Health Care.

    In addition to that they also pay $242 per month for dental coverage.

    So lets see, a bus driver, working there just 5 years, with a family, gets as much as $2,137 a month for health care alone (tax free).

    Can I repeat that. $2,137 per month just for health care.
    That comes to about $12.50 per hour (tax free) for just their health care.

    Again, what does Oakland’s health care look like.
    What percent if anything does the worker contribute.

    Oh yeah, and look at the paid time off for a AC Transit bus driver.

    If you’ve worked there 25 years or more, like a local driver I know, you get the following.

    6 Weeks paid vacation.
    12 paid holidays
    12 paid sick days

    That comes to 54 paid days off per year.
    Average more than 1 day a week.
    Thus the true work week is only 4 days.

    4 days x 4.3 weeks per month, equals about 17.2 working days a month.

    Now, take that $2,137 per month family coverage for health and dental and divide it by 17.2 days to get the true benefit value of just the health and dental per shift worked.

    AC Transit is pay its normal bus driver, with a family, $124.24 per shift (tax free) just for his medical care.

    If he works 8 hours, he gets $15.53 per hour just for medical and dental coverage.

    So I ask again, how much is Oakland paying for these things.

    Do you think the taxpayers, rate payers and riders KNOW or have any idea of such data.
    OR do they just hear union reps on the TV telling about the unfairness of the AC Transit board.

    You see, its just not Bell California that has stuff hidden from the public eye.

    OK, mini rant over.

    Take a look and bookmark the AC Transit Report.

    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:OwfdaCJ-drwJ:www.actransit.org/aboutac/bod/memos/5a0bb9.pdf%3FPHPSESSID%3Ded3827876f0e68dcd70f5a83e292e5c6+%22AC+TRANSIT%22+benefits+pensions&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESijefu7RRdaK42yvJAeNqfTCEeYMaPYjThh9TiaiYC_t78EthdB60mQgpwlKrcv01eI6Jf_x2qY8jYkRvtiz5nzLmiGQVAYGIo9W6ovrR7qlIp3b3jxvcP5_KguoBtAzxDr0dv4&sig=AHIEtbRUMZ0VKYkzLvk91y8sIccfrgcXmw

    Don’t you wish Oakland’s staff would put out such a graphic detailed and readable report so the citizens and city council could see a truer picture?

  74. Barry K

    Dax, I was looking at the $100,000 PERS pension club for AC County. AC Transit isn’t listed, but, AC County employees are>
    http://database.californiapensionreform.com/?vttable=calpers%20

    How about the $1,514,599 paid annually to 13 former OUSD board members and teachers.

    This is probably why OUSD wants another parcel tax. They need to feed off us to feed those pensions.
    CalStrs (CalteachersRetirementSys)

    http://database.californiapensionreform.com/database.asp?vttable=calstrs

  75. Barry K

    Dax, I think I posted this info last year.

    AC Transit Full Time Union and Management Employees Benefits

    http://www.actransit.org/careers/fulltime.wu

    100% paid by the District: Healthcare, Dental Care, Vision Plan, Life Insurance, Free transportation…

    Retirement Plan-
    The District pays all contributions to the pension plan. The amount of an employee’s pension is based upon years of service, age at retirement and average salary calculated over the last 60 months of employment or five years of highest salary.

    (How soon before another parcel tax for AC Transit?) Do we thank the previous Board of Directors at AC Transit for this too? Which “labor activists” from the giveaway AC Board are running for election this year?

  76. Dax

    I think AC Transit has their own retirement system, and as such it would not show up in the CalPERS data.

    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:HB8XxqstN_8J:www.actransit.org/aboutac/bod/memos/99b140.pdf%3FPHPSESSID%3D+%22AC+Transit+Employees+Retirement+System%22&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjzKB22Gks4Lb19vScdcu2EwjCBLEtKYAcMJM_lJUy4DoJYFGKs3ys7J082rpkNCClqJwSe8yc35V9aGRJvIK9bUGVDcjtlMK0AEhYrLchR5XQOXy0UgKttCBceld9qhjuZinLf&sig=AHIEtbQYjwr3Ojn1GWIGcp-Pt8FNVzRwHA

    They do have one nice point.
    They apparently use the final FIVE years as the average to calculate the pension.

    Oakland uses only the final year which is subject to abuse if a person is given a promotion for the final year.

  77. Dax

    Open Thread,
    Interesting article in the paper regarding Lafayette city manager salary + extras.

    His $211K turns into $310k (+47%)
    A surprise to some, but compared to the percentage benefits make up for the typical Oakland employee, not all that high. Oakland’s average is ?
    I wish I knew. My guess is benefits/pension etc amount to over 60% of stated base salary in the average employee.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_15772903

    —————————————–

    Anyone interested in the OUSD might like to read this extensive article in the Los Angeles Times about rating teachers.
    A very major article the newspaper spent a lot of time producing.

    Worth a read.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teachers-value-20100815,0,258862,full.story

    Too bad, OUSD can’t have some similar evaluation.
    Too bad the City of Oakland can’t have some evaluation method for its regular employees.

    TOO BAD, the Oakland City Council can’t be evaluated. Or perhaps we already know what they would rank.

    A short review I did indicated that 6 of the 8 have been there more than 6 years, many much more.
    Yet look at the record since then.
    I picked 2004 because I was curious who voted for the 35% pension hike back in 2004. I’m guessing all 6 of them.
    Only Kaplan and Kernnigan can claim no responsibility for that financial fiasco that is now a noose around the neck of city finances.

  78. len raphael

    Dax, I’ve been saying that people who like JQ’s priorities should vote for RK because RK doesn’t have JQ’s baggage and history of bungling but never admitting her role in the bungling, but share very similar prioritized lists of core services.

    So please tell me that those impressive benefits to ACT employees were granted before RK’s tenure on the ACT board.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  79. Barry K

    When was Raul Godinez II replaced as Dir of PWA? And why? Vitaly Troyan is Interim Dir now. What happened?

  80. Barry K

    When was Raul Godinez II replaced as Dir of PWA? And why? Vitaly Troyan is Interim Dir now.
    What happened to them and what’s going on at PWA?

  81. Max Allstadt

    Len,

    The insanity that is the AC Transit Union Contract goes back to the seventies, I believe.

    I was told by a sitting member of the Board of Directors that there’s a clause that completely bars AC Transit from imposing a contract under any circumstances. That has a lot to do with why they’re in the mess they’re in right now.

    I really want the Directors to play hardball. They should be on TV and in print, writing editorials detailing the rampant featherbedding, excessive pay, and ridiculous overtime rules that AC Transit workers get. The public needs to know that their friendly neighborhood bus driver’s refusal to compromise is the reason we’re about to get service cuts.

  82. Naomi Schiff

    Raul Godinez is now the “executive director of public works” of Santa Ana, CA. hired late 2009.

  83. len raphael

    Bay Area unions figured out a long time ago that fringe benefits and sweet retirement deals fly under the public radar.

    The unions did what any saavy in demand employee would do: decide on total “present value” of after tax compensation, and then shift as much of it as possible away from gross taxable wages into less obvious and less taxable forms.

    Which is why the OPOA is still shocked that the city council and the SEIU has turned on them ostensibly for not contributing anything to their retirement. In OPOA’s minds, cops did what every other employee would do if they could.

    Didn’t we also collectively overlook the gargantuan benefits of ACT employees when people on abo were digging into cost structure of ACT a year or two ago.

    If you asked Killian, Peeples, Kaplan et al they’d probably say they were powerless to rock the boat.

    Will that change at ACT or in the Oakland city hall. It won’t change by just changing the faces.

  84. Barry K

    Thanks Naomi. I wonder if Godinez decided to flee before or after Ruby’s Performance Audit on PWA? That was issued April 2009.

    Interesting to note that his name does not show up in the Public Employee Salaries database for Oakland.
    http://www.insidebayarea.com/public-employee-salaries

    “I am told that Godinez was supported by former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who is now the California Attorney General. Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido is a Brown supporter, according to city hall insiders. Perhaps Brown recommended Godinez to Pulido?”

    http://newsantaana.com/2009/10/18/new-santa-ana-public-works-director-an-oakland-import/

  85. Naomi Schiff

    There is such a disconnect. Here we are rezoning the city to get density on transit corridors at the same time we are removing transit. Are we doomed to car-oriented sprawl, with the present deficiencies of funding, and the pathetic gaps in multiagency planning? BART doesn’t count for much, with its widely separated stations that don’t serve many of the residents. We need a solid bus network that is pleasant to use, not too costly, and responsible to its patrons.

  86. V Smoothe

    Naomi –

    I certainly agree that the AC Transit reduction are painful, but I don’t think they are so at odds with the zoning for transit corridors as you suggest. It is the trunk line service that has been most protected from cuts. That’s because these are the lines where it makes the most sense for AC Transit to run buses, because the most people ride them there. Increased density along these lines further improves the agency’s ability to continue this service.

  87. Daniel Schulman

    The City of Oakland was just awarded Bronze-Level Bicycle Friendly Community status from the League of American Bicyclists. The full press release (PDF) is here http://www.oaklandpw.com/AssetFactory.aspx?did=3899

    This is great recognition of the extensive effort that several nonprofits, many individuals, and some dedicated staff have put in over the years to make Oakland a more livable city.

    We often get down on city staff for failing to do one thing or another, but in the case of bicycle and pedestrian issues, we have some great people working for us. In particular, Jennifer Stanley (Bicycle & Pedestrian Facilities Coordinator) and Jason Jason Patton (Bicycle & Pedestrian Program Manager) really deliver for us citizens.

  88. livegreen

    Thanks for this Daniel. Jason Patton is indeed excellent, and a real communicator (with detail) on top of it.

    Each of the times I’ve dealt with him (about bike lanes in our neighborhood and their itinerary), whether he could be of assistance or not , he was very forthright, detailed & nice about all the reasons going into the decisions at hand.

    Robert Raburn was also very involved with some of those details. Wherever there’s bike paths & transit corridors coalescing you’ll find these two are too!

  89. ralph

    Congrats to Jennifer and Jason Jason (sounds so nice mother named him twice).

    We love some bike lanes. Would love to see some bike lanes on Grand and W. Grand so I can bike on over to the Bay Bridge. (Hint, Hint)

  90. Livegreen

    Yesterday, two young 20-somethings, toking it up right outside of YEP, two blocks from Dutch hydroponics, all by 23rd & International.

    YEP= Youth Employment Partnership, which my understand is a good program. And I don’t know if these kids/young adults are part of it or not.

    Either way, there’s our workforce of tomorrow.

    If we get legalization, the problems and challenges are not going away.

  91. ralph

    LG,
    Legalization is a case of trading one set of issues for another set. Most people see dollar signs. Personally, I think the devil I know is better than the devil I don’t.

    BK,
    danke

  92. Dax

    I have always favored legalizing many drugs such as marijuana and heroine.

    However I would make them unpleasant to acquire. Not expensive, just unpleasant.

    I would make them available in small amounts at a facilities similar to older DMV offices. Lines, windows, hard plastic chairs and forms to fill out each time you come. (no pre-filled out forms and the required forms would be new each day, signified by serial numbers and dates.)

    So you go to the office, get in a fairly long line and get to the window where you turn in your form. You are then called back to that window later where you pick up your drug slip.

    That slip is then taken to another line where the drugs are dispensed (after waiting) and where you pay a price that changes according to conditions that are decided.

    That gets you a supply of from 1 to 3 days. Then you return when you run out.
    So you are doing this two times a week.
    The prices charged cover all costs to run the program as well as other costs to run drug rehab.

    The prices fluctuate as still present illegal street market prices fluctuate.
    Making it just worth the trouble to go to the government outlet rather than paying more on the street. It also enables the government store to do several weeks of basement pricing from time to time to drive illegal dealers crazy or into losing money.

    Thus the whole idea is to make taking the drugs cheap enough to limit crimes for money, but miserable enough to make the whole process a awful experience.

    Two or three trips each week to the DMV with intentionally long lines and complexed forms.

    The offices.. Tile floors, harsh bright fluorescent lighting, little temperature control, 1970′s style hard plastic seating,
    no cell phones allowed in main room (if legally possible), lines, lines lines.
    NO food allowed in office.
    Perhaps poorly performing loud speakers saying “number 149, number 149…”

    A horrible office, filled with miserable people who hate being there, all there for only one reason, to acquire legal cheap drugs.

    All self funding from official sales.

    Thats my plan… Meg2010 should think about it. Or big thinking Jerry.

  93. CitizenX

    I don’t know, Dax. Though people complain about DMV regularly, don’t think I know anyone who quit driving, based solely on their “bad trips” to DMV.

  94. Dax

    CitizenX, True, but they don’t have to go there two times per week.

    You don’t think drug users might curtail their usage if they had to endure what I proposed?

    Not all, but a certain percentage would probably give it up.
    Also note, I said it would be self funding and would include some of the proceeds to fund drug rehab programs.
    A WIN-WIN…
    It would also greatly undercut street drug dealers with the concept of flexible pricing.
    Drug dealer pays X for a few kilos and suddenly the state operated is selling it for below that price. He can’t even turn a profit. Flexible pricing, destroying the profits in the street market.

  95. Dax

    Now, another topic. Oakland’s and local use of the stimulus dollars.

    We get a very few “show case” union jobs at the Caldecott Tunnel type projects, while most construction workers out in the real world find themselves displaced by cheaper illegal workers. (visit any Oakland hills construction site)

    Look at what happened in the Los Angeles area.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-stimulus-audit-20100917,0,3706864.story

    111 million dollars, 55 jobs.

    Did Oakland do any better?

    Or did we just get already working public employees retained for a couple years at extremely high pay.
    In other words, did Oakland just use its money to keep $100,000+ total compensation jobs in place while creating no $15 to $20 per hour jobs for the general public?

    Any ideas on what happened?

  96. ralph

    Stimulus dollars is not the job creating bonanza that was promised, Federal govt own version of MY.

    I don’t think Oakland was much different than LA. When huge chunks of dollars are going towards construction projects with huge material costs, how many jobs can one really expect. I also think, but have no proof, the Federal govt counts food service providers at construction sites, who otherwise would have been out of work, as job saved.

  97. John G

    I’m not sure why the news agencies haven’t picked up on this yet, but LA did not literally spend 111M on 55 jobs as some are assuming. LA has only spent 13% of the total funds allocated to it for the stimulus.

  98. Livegreen

    IDLF has been complaining for a while about the effectiveness of the WIB and running all job creation through PIC. & when even Dellums threatened PIC that made news.

    The challenge is, how to create jobs that don’t exist, in a City where businesses aren’t hiring and CEDA isn’t getting new businesses in, especially the kind that hire the hard to employ.

  99. Dax

    John G, That is even worse, that they have only spent 13% of the money during the most critical time for “stimulating” the economy. The the whole idea of stimulus is to get the system going sooner than it would otherwise take.
    Their delay is near criminal.

    Livegreen, I have no idea what or who WIB or PIC are?
    There is something strange about this board where these assumptions seem much more prevalent then elsewhere.

    Many of us, simply don’t know what these acronyms stand for.

  100. ralph

    We must end these TLAs. What are WIB (women in business) and PIC (partner in charge)?

    So nearly a 1/3 of the electorate is undecided. Good to know I am not alone. I didn’t think I had a third pick but Joe Tuman seems like a good man. I flip Cand A and flop Cand B. This late in the came I should have clear favorite; yet, I don’t.

  101. Livegreen

    Both of these have been in the news lately, and a quick google gives your answer: http://www.google.com/search?q=Oakland+WIB&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari

    The Workforce Investment Board (WIB) decides how to spend public money to help create jobs in Oakland, including workforce development & training: http://www.oaklandwib.org/about_oaklandwib.htm

    Much of it has been done through a contract with the Private Industry Council (PIC): http://www.oaklandpic.org/

  102. Dax

    While I appreciate the links, we shouldn’t have to Google our way through posts.

    Let us not forget, it isn’t only regular visitors here who don’t know what these things stand for, but I would suggest all that extra effort might certainly drive away new folks who happen upon the site.

  103. Barry K

    http://tinyurl.com/2crsona
    See page 18

    Jan 12, 2009
    City of Oakland Budget:
    Five-Year Financial Forecast, Attachment A

    Subsidy/Grant Recipient
    Annual GPF
    Amount
    Chabot Space & Science Center $595,000
    Zoo & Fairyland (including Zookeeper) $1,302,000
    Scotlan Convention Center $720,000
    Vietnamese Senior Services $60,000
    Cypress-Mandela Training Center $280,000
    Hacienda Peralta $180,000
    Oakland Asian Cultural Center $100,000
    School of the Arts $350,000
    Symphony in the Schools Program $100,000
    Women’s Business Initiative $150,000
    Total $3,837,000

  104. livegreen

    Barry K, Link didn’t go through, at least for me. These groups have all been cut 2x since Jan. 09, so budgets are being reduced. This from reviewing budget updates V has provided.

    Look under V/ABO’s budget posts & links for further reading…

  105. livegreen

    Dax, I understand about using the acronyms as I’ve had the same difficulty sometimes in posts. So I answered your question with the info you requested.

    One of the reasons I didn’t think of spelling these out is these group names are written in the press & on blogs, as opposed to acronyms that are made up on this blog. So I thought readers would know them.

    However I take your point about there these two not being used here much before, and about there being many visitors here.

    I think the trickiest part with the Acronyms is once a poster actually HAS spelled them out (& especially if they are frequently or semi-frequently used) re-spelling them each time vs. never spelling them out again. I favor an in between approach, which is to periodically spell them out but also periodically use them.

    It seems courteous for both poster and reader to actively participate in this matter. I don’t know whether there’s any “netiquette” that addresses this…

  106. len raphael

    Today’s news that Judge Henderson will be imposing further monitoring requirements on OPD. So much for how much better OPD is doing to comply.

    Didn’t think there is a mandatory retirement age for Fed judges.

    Since Judge Henderson will probably be around for the tenth anniversay of our coming bankruptcy filing, we’ll have to be creative.

    How about cutting the salaries of all of Russo’s staff, raising their retirement age to 67 and tranferring them to Internal Affairs for doing the NSA paperwork. Put the IA cops out in East, West, and North O.

    Don’t forget to award John Russo the Perata Prize for Meritorious Service to Oakland. Russo’s plea bargain on the Rider’s case was even worse than Perata’s Raider’s PSL deal.

    Russo’s achievement not only costs us millions of dollars for monitors and cop OT, but costs lives lost from all those cops taken off the street and put behind desks.

    I wish I could say this was political humor.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  107. len raphael

    Rather than put all egg throwing into one basket opposing the Airport Connector, some of us should be trying to make the best out of a bad situation.

    ie. improve the design of the stupid thing.

  108. Naomi Schiff

    A human-powered bicycle-type hand-car shuttle running on a track, with jobs for strong young workers who like to stay fit. Inexpensive, innovative in a slightly charming retro way, and very very green. Plus could be a tourist attraction.

  109. len raphael

    Naomi, I always suspected 24 hour fitness secretly resells electricity generated on it’s exercise machines. But that’s on the order of heating your house with junk mail.

  110. ralph

    I am not sure I like this human-powered contraption with jobs for strong young workers. Why can’t older workers get these jobs? I believe there are laws that prevent employers from discriminating against the over 40 set. Don’t older folks need exercise to stay fit? Before you go forward with this idea, I want to know that jobs will be available for all age groups and fitness levels. I am sick of these jobs being sourced to Berkeley and peninsula people who are known for their riding ability.

  111. len raphael

    Gotta be someone on this site with a covername that can provide Jean Quan with a pc non racially profiling generic description for her to use to help the cops find the person (hmm, is it ok to specify gender?) who stole her purse.

    btw, i keep getting senior moments when it comes time to recall whether it was JQ or Dellums who declared “we can’t police our way” out of our crime problems?

    -len raphael
    temescal

  112. Naomi Schiff

    Okay, Ralph, jobs available for anybody who can pedal from Coliseum BART to airport terminal without stopping. Since it could be run on track, less friction than on the road, and a smooth ride (better for those aging knees). Why expend a maximal amount of construction expense and ongoing energy use when the distance is relatively short? Other possibilities include dog or donkey carts, solar powered carts, or surface transit with low-emissions buses.

  113. Naomi Schiff

    When I see open thread the text lurches into a dark black zone, still. Artistically advanced but hard to read.

  114. len raphael

    yeah naomi, that black text on black background is very hip, but really a disguised attack on over 55 readers.

    it was gone for a while. is on macs too or just pc’s ?

    -len r

  115. Born in Oakland

    Despite Dellums’faith in criminals, I would say “yes we can…arrest our way out of our crime problems.” As for Jean Quan’s comments about employment as a solution, the guy that ripped her off is never going to get a job….he already has one. Let’s not forget, Character is fate.

  116. Dax

    Regarding Jean Quan” comments about employment as a solution, to curb those mugging customers in Safeway parking lots.

    Do you think Oakland public policies encouraging and welcoming ever more lower skilled labor to the city has any impact at all on the job prospects of the 50% of young men who leave school without even a simple HS diploma?

    We know for a fact, that in 75% of the city, less than half the young men graduate from high school.
    They are then forced to compete in a very limited job market with thousands and thousands of new laborers, welcomed into the city by our current policies.

    Does anyone really think this vast amount of available labor is not having a impact on the employment and wages of long time Oakland residents in the lower skilled job categories.

    I find the inability of our leaders in facing up to this issue, similar to that story about “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

    No one… no one at all in Oakland politics will even speak about how city policies have made finding viable employment for Oakland citizens even harder than it would otherwise be.

    The city leadership has placed the economic well being of its long time lower income residents on a lower priority than its fancy new clothes (politically correct policies).

    They act as though the laws of supply and demand don’t exist in Oakland’s labor markets.
    They turn a blind eye when passing job site after job site where exclusionary employment practices are obviously in place.

    Of course, in city hiring, they don’t practice what they preach.
    There, they expect a strict adherence to the rules and laws.
    For others in Oakland, “let them eat cake”

  117. Dax

    Charles, A classic link.

    BTW, I have only seen one armed robbery in all my years in Oakland.
    At Wells Fargo’s ATMs on Fruitvale, a few feet from the MacArthur Blvd. intersection.
    Heart of the Diamond District. Late at night.

  118. livegreen

    Dax, Re. unemployment, why listen to you when I can just call you a racist? Whether the economics of what you point out is true or not.

    On top of the under-the-table jobs don’t pay tax $ and the businesses who hire them aren’t paying payroll -or- in many cases, even business licenses. Now I wonder which employee is cheaper to hire, and which business has the lower costs?

    It’s only if you file your paperwork that somebody bothers to show up at your door. Otherwise you get a free ride. I’d love to know the size of the underground economy in this City. This is how many third world countries function and why their tax $ don’t amount to much.

  119. Naomi Schiff

    Len: Right side type in the dark on macs too.

    Here’s some good news for those who like good news. Heard tonight that feds are granting 2 million dollars toward reconstruction of the 10th St. crossing over the Lake Merritt Channel. Public Works has been recently been doing well in leveraging our Measure DD funds. Yes, we will be getting some construction jobs out of this.

  120. Naomi Schiff

    I don’t know details about Mandela Parkway contract. However I do know that Oakland Parks Coalition is helping set up and maintain volunteer groups to try to assist Parks and Rec in preserving our parks, including the Measure DD Lake improvements, the Rose Garden, and Mandela Parkway, among many many others. For those int’d in lake cleanup, weeding and maintenance, there’s a gathering 1-3 Saturday afternoon at Lakeside Park. Garden Center, Ebell Room. 9/25/2010. Oakland Parks Coalition is a good resource for further information.

  121. Dax

    I heard something strange tonight on KGO radio.

    A caller said that Oakland was spending 12 million dollars to adjust all their traffic signals to add on 2 seconds to the walk phase.
    He said it was going to cost $15,000 to $20,000 per light or per intersection.

    Now, I realize anyone can call in and say anything, so I assumed the caller was a nut or just mixed up.

    Then, a few minutes later after a break, the host said it was true, although he did not go into any details.
    It still sounded very strange to me.

    So I go on the computer, look all around and can find nothing anywhere.

    Anyone heard about this so-called expenditure of 12 million dollars for traffic light adjustments?

  122. Livegreen

    Ask your City Councilperson to check it out. Give em a link to the program. C what they can find out.

    Naomi, That is good news.

  123. ralph

    Dax,
    A number of items come to mind. First the 25 year traffic plan that included efforts to decrease congestion and wait times by improving light timing. Second, it is possible that the caller was referring to the proposed $10 vehicle fee that is suppose to net about $12MM for Alameda County. A portion of the total will be used for signalling. Finally,maybe the caller was referring to work on Telegraph Road in Oakland County, which is in Michigan.

  124. ralph

    Naomi,
    Thanks. (Text deleted)

    This is good to know. On San Pablo in Berkeley, I have watched as some older folk have struggled to cross during the time allowed. Heck, I am a sub 3hr marathoner, who can walk the lake in about 36 minutes, but can not cross Harrison from the lake to the other side of Grand without getting the hand.

  125. Dax

    Naomi, thank you. I think some variation of that article is probably what got the caller thinking about this.

    However he seems to have gotten the details mixed up. First extending it to Oakland, which will no doubt have to make some changes, but not necessarily the expensive ones, costing 12K to 20k per intersection. That system is being tried in Santa Clara County.

    More like the $500 per light that El Cerrito is spending.
    Although I can imagine its not impossible that someone in Oakland might choose the 20K version for compliance.

    Seems there is a federal mandate involved. Unfunded.

    Still, nothing about Oakland spending 12 million dollars to upgrade.

    BTW, the last time I felt really at risk crossing a street was trying to get from the south end of Lake Merritt over to the south steps of the county court house.

    IF you aren’t willing to walk all the way to the intersection, dashing across through the barriers is very risky.
    I took a long hard look at it before going on a dash. I was probably more worried about getting cited than getting killed.

    However it seems that the orange barriers were conveniently separated as to accommodate pedestrians willing to give it a go. Almost inviting people to make a dash.
    On my way back to my car, I went up to the light and crosswalks for safety.
    I suppose all that area is what will be made better during construction.
    I didn’t look into the tunnels, but would be hesitant to use them. Have not been walking in that end of the lake for 20 years.

  126. ralph

    So my first thought, which was confirmed by the article, was R&D jobs. Since I have been in Oakland, Clorox has had an R&D facility in P-ton. This move is not surprising.

    As long as Clorox does not pull a Bob Irsay, then I say all is good in the hood. I think the doom and gloom scenario is a bit overstated.

  127. Naomi Schiff

    Dax, the tunnels will disappear altogether. The reconstruction of 12th Street includes signalized at-grade pedestrian crossings and the substantial narrowing (12 lanes to 6!) of 12th St. Museum, courthouse, and auditorium will all be far more accessible from the lake, and there will be a pedestrian/bike bridge across the L. M. channel so you can walk around the lake without going up on the road. I can’t wait!

  128. livegreen

    Ralph, It’s not so much a Bob Irsay as a Lew Wolf except with a smile. 500 jobs leaving IS a big deal for the adjacent businesses.

    Oakland should be going after R&D jobs, not just resigned that they’ll move elsewhere.

  129. ralph

    True, 500 jobs leaving hurts surrounding businesses. I never said it didn’t.

    I don’t think I would describe this as a case of Oakland not fighting for these jobs. But I also don’t have all the facts. Oakland should, if it doesn’t, appoint someone to oversee business attraction and retention.

  130. Dax

    I don’t think this is happening in Oakland, but with 4,000 employees you never know.

    Anyone know of a Oakland example?

    http://www.sacbee.com/2010/09/22/3047162/laid-off-california-state-retirees.html
    ———————————–
    Across California, retired state and local government workers are drawing taxpayer-funded unemployment benefits on top of their pensions.

    These are workers who voluntarily retired, went back to work part time in their old jobs – collecting both a government pension and a government paycheck – then lost that second job during government budget cuts. Under state law, many of those pensioners now qualify for unemployment benefits.
    ————————————–

    I’m telling you, whether in Oakland, Alameda Co., Sacramento, Federal Govt, AC Transit, or any other entity, IF there is a crack in the system, water will find its way to get at the money.

    Little Bell, California types all over the place.

  131. CitizenX

    Time to buy some votes from the Pay Go slush fund. Today’s Rules Committee items:

    Adopt A Resolution Authorizing A Grant Of $10,000 From Councilmember Jean Quan’s Pay-Go Funds To Artists Deborah Koppman And Amanda Locksood For A Mural To Be Installed On Farmer
    Joe’s Market InThe Dimond District

    Adopt A Resolution Awarding $10,000 of Council Member Jean Quan’s Pay-Go Funds To The Laurel District Association For
    Upgrading Of Street Lights

    and that all-important asian-american vote:

    Adopt A Resolution Awarding $5,003.41 Of Council Member Jean Quan’s Pay-Go Funds To The Oakland Asian Cultural Center
    For Capital Improvements

  132. Karen Bishop

    So I have a question for people. The City is advertising free daffodil bulbs. The article I read stated a person can put them in the median and other areas of city property.

    Here is my question: I live on Harrison Street near the entrance to 580. There is overgrown brush and bushes around that area. Is it ok for me to get a group of people together, start maintaining the area and plant bulbs? Or do I need to get city permission? I know this question probably sounds naive but I was hoping others have some experience around this as our neighborhood needs sprucing up!

  133. Art

    @Karen, are you on the Harrioak listserv? Over the years, there have periodically been people interested in maintaining that area and others along the Harrison/Oakland corridor. Bounce the list an email and you will almost certainly hear back from folks who did some of that work in the past and/or want to help in the future. I think that’s actually Caltrans property, but they generally haven’t been averse to it being maintained provided people get approval for plants bigger than the daffodils.

  134. len raphael

    Regardless of who becomes our next mayior or council member, and whom you think is best suited, they are going to quickly face budget decisions that will make Sacramento situation look easy.

    Regardless of priorities and definitions of core services, there are going to be a whole bunch of angry residents and interest groups.

    U

  135. len raphael

    Regardless of who becomes our next mayior or council member, and whom you think is best suited, they are going to quickly face budget decisions that will make Sacramento situation look easy.

    A december surprise kind of thing.

    Regardless of priorities and definitions of core services, there are going to be a whole bunch of angry residents and interest groups.

    Maybe we can start going back to the policy questions before we know the results and put aside the necessary partisanship of an election.

    (Dax, you can tell us after the election how you voted, or i can drop a six pack off at your doorstep tomorrow with a slip of paper.)

    -len raphael, oakland

  136. Karen Bishop

    Who would be the most likely to run for Kaplan’s seat if she becomes mayor? Any scoop on anyone taking on Jane Brunner when she comes up for re-election in a couple of years?

  137. livegreen

    Get ready for protests. 2 year sentence. With time served? Tribune says Mehserle will get 1 year…

  138. ken o

    Naomi: Oakland’s future is Bicycle City. Since we’re in collapse unless everyone suddenly gave up their personal cars, we won’t have money/energy to built out streetcars.
    Would be the better investment in my uneducated opinion since roads take continual repaving after each rainy season while rail seems less energy and material intensive.

    Say hello to the 100 year repaving cycle.

  139. Karen Bishop

    What do people think of the ID Card and Local Currency Idea that comes up at the City Council tonight? I don’t know much about it but would like to hear what some people see as the pros/cons, do you think it will work?

  140. len raphael

    ACORNS local currency best advocate is Wilson Riles, Jr.

    there was a lengthy exchange of posts between him, myself, and rbt wiles on a rockridge yahoo group a few months ago.

    my conclusion is that it has zero chance of succeeding in this town because any currency backed by the full faith and credit of Oakland’s city government will have the hyperinflation problems of the German Weimar Republic of the 1920′s.

    Not to mention the royal pita it will be for small businesses to do multi currency accounting.

    if oakland were say SF and was an incredibly attractive place for spending compared to surrounding areas and the internet, then maybe.

    eg. Riles cited success stories in modern Germany. I interpreted those stories differently: some Germans are so pissed off that they’re tied to the Euro, they’ll do anything to avoid using the euro.

    His approach to jump start the use of ACORNS is to require the city workers back to work on the furlough days but pay them in ACORNS. I like that but somehow I don’t see SEIU getting behind it :)

    Some of his comments:

    “As with the beginning of any currency, it will be “made up” and spent into circulation on the basis of sufficient agreements to accept it and exchange it. When businesses agree to accept coupons, it is the same thing. So many paper coupons are printed up and distributed; then as consumers come in to “spend” those coupons, merchants accept them for goods and services or for partial payment for goods and services. The financial institution that is tied to the vendor that is chosen by the Council would work with participating merchants, the City, and potential or committed card users to estimate what the initial volume of the currency released would be and what any future release rate would be. Once the idea catches on sufficiently, users would convert their $US into ACORNs to get the discount.”

    ” According to Federal Law on local currencies there has to be a set exchange rate with the $US. This is so that local currencies are not used as a means to avoid paying taxes. The vendors/their financial institution will have all that data in digital form to quickly provide it for all card holders. The City could agree to accept its fees and tax payments in local currency but the State and the Feds will want $US. Two things: (1) businesses and individuals will be able to make contributions in local currency to Oakland non-profits to reduce those State and Federal taxes and continue the circulation in Oakland, and (2) when the financial institution exchanges $US for ACORNs, they will have $US. [The greater the discounts, the more will folks be willing to exchange $US for ACORNs.] As part of the participation of the financial institution, they would be required by agreement to make those $US that were gotten in exchange available to participating merchants in the form of no-interest merchants’ loans; the would only charge a set “handling” fee. All of this will assist the Oakland participating merchants in their competitiveness with the Big stores and assist them in paying their taxes. I have spoken the the Alameda County Treasurer/Tax Collector, Don White, and their seem to be some opportunities to work toward including property taxes being paid with local currency, also.”

    Riles has certainly spent much effort on this. My impression is that he has understandably become so frustrated with problems of Oakland that he went for this as a desperate worth a try kinda thing.

    I’m sure it would appeal to Nancy Nadel.

    Heck ACORNS would fit right in with a city that is looking to solve it’s problems thru industrial pot, sky high parcel taxes.

    -len raphael, temescal

  141. len raphael

    When you step back, it’s amazing that a city council that can’t manage our financial problems to even consider expanding into establishing and managing our own currency system.

    Riles would call it innovative. I’d call it grasping at straws.

  142. CitizenX

    “Heck ACORNS would fit right in with a city that is looking to solve it’s problems thru industrial pot…”

    When pot dealers are willing to accept ACORNs, then we can all take the idea seriously. LOL.

  143. Dax

    Was just wondering, is Pay-Go dead or still in effect going into 2011?

    If still operational, is there a set annual amount/limit per council member?

    Where, if anywhere, is the criteria required to utilize such funds spelled out.

  144. Dax

    In my mind, this is one of the most important stories in the news today.
    All done without controversy, commissions, city council deliberation (unless I missed something)

    The ProducePro grocery store opened Nov. 15 on 2314 San Pablo Ave.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/top-stories/ci_16738324

    How many premature diabetes deaths, lost limbs, and costly dialysis cases might be avoided by having stores such as this available.

    How many excellent produce stores could be opened for the cost of a BART to Airport extension. What would that do to the health and quality of life for those 100,000+ Oakland residents who don’t have easy access to such basic healthy elements of life.

    I can’t think of any better priority the city council could have than to promote healthy eating in the lower income areas of Oakland. I dare say that more lives are lost in Oakland every year due to poor access to healthy food than from gun violence.

    The rate of diabetes in some Oakland populations over age 55 is as high as 25%.
    Imagine 1 out of 4 having a single deadly and disabling disease.

  145. Max Allstadt

    Dax,

    It’s true. Ed Hemmat opened ProducePro without a City grant or loan. He didn’t need a planning commission hearing.

    He just did it. And he did it because people convinced him that it would work. A little market research and then he just did it.

    The thing that’s inspiring to me about it is that Ed represents the value of local knowledge. He’s been developing in West Oakland for years, and he has his ears open. That’s all it took.

  146. livegreen

    On the left V posted a link to a story about a West Oakland Grocery Store with Fresh Produce in the Food Desert. It is both satisfying & gratifying to read how one person (with a team) & one small business can make a positive impact on the broader community.

    Now I would say that is Socially Responsible…