107 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. Rasta

    I am contesting the two tickets that I received December 8th and 9th, 2010
    At the address: 1472 East 33rd street Oakland, California 94602 the Highland Hospital area.
    The area I live in is a Cull de sac; I and my neighbors park here.
    I have never received a ticket for parking in the Cull de sac UNTIL
    As of December 8th, 2010,
    I have been parking in the Cull De Sac for 6.5 years and
    never gotten a ticket here for anything including
    “Double Parking “as of the above date, I received a $75 ticket for “double parking” @ 11:42am. December 9th, 2010,
    I received yet another ticket for $75″Double Parking” @ 9:24am.
    I am disabled and on crutches pending a knee replacement. ALL of us who park here received tickets! This just started. I called the number I was given on the ticket and I never spoke to anyone the first call I was on hold for 11 minutes. The second call…, I waited more than 30 minutes I spoke to a Cheryl who told me that there was nothing she could do and that I would need to write a letter and be very detailed and include pictures. I took pictures of the area and nothing is marked here at all. It’s a Cull de sac. Also, people who work and visit Highland Hospital are getting tickets when they park here. BUT they are ticketing us at certain times of the day…b4 noon and MOST of the cars belong to people who live in the neighborhood.

  2. len raphael

    rasta, we unleashed a monster with the parking ticket increases.

    send a letter to the city attorney, John Russo and cc your council member, and the parking dept. include copy of the citation.

    -len raphael, temescal

  3. Max Allstadt

    I was just wondering if Marleen had another court to appeal to, or if we’re done with this forever.

  4. ralph

    It would be nice if the city could recoup from Ms. Sacks the money spent to fight this lawsuit. Every minute spent addressing this lawsuit could have been spent more productively.

    I am excited to be moving forward. I know that the Chief will use smart deployment strategies, OPOA will stop instilling fear and advances in technology are in the future.

  5. len raphael

    Victory. More like a TKO.

    Now we all have learned that the small print of ballot propositions sponsored by the city council has to be scrutinized by a team of independent attorneys just the way propositions by any special interest group would be.

    Other lesson, just like gietting a subprime mortgage, ignore what the officials tell you a ballot proposition means, because a literal reading of the wording always controls.

    Delllums and the council wasted a million bucks or more on marketing consultants to attract new recruits to the highest paying police force around and get away with playing lawyer with the residents.

    Victory for the officials. Defeat for transparent good government.

  6. len raphael

    Article in nyt today re impact of widened Panama Canal willl shift large amounts of shipping away from West Coast directly to the East Coast.

    No specifics as to which West Coast ports will be most affected.

  7. ralph

    Len,
    I think there was an article in the SFBT some time ago about the Panama Canal issue. From what I recall, all ports will feel some pain. However, I believe the ports are trying to fight back.

    The biggest issue is the unreliability of ground transportation. I believe the operators are working to improve the train connection.

  8. Livegreen

    Port of Oakland has been doing a lot of work with it’s Rail partners to be more efficient, like through the tunnels at Doneger pass. I understand one of the biggest exports through Oakland are crops from the Midwest.

    For shipping those to Asis I doubt those will b affected. Industrial goods going to the East Coast is a different matter.

  9. Livegreen

    I should say anything ultimately bound for or point of origin being the east coast might b different.

  10. livegreen

    Ralph, Len & any Audit types, thought this message from OPD might interest you. (Think it relates to the NSA, which we badly need to fulfill the obligations for & get OPD Investigators back from…):

    From: Toribio, Anthony
    Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2010 4:29 PM
    Subject: Volunteer Auditors

    Hello,

    I was hoping you could help me reach out to the community with this important
    request. The Department is seeking volunteers with auditing experience to
    conduct internal audits, inspections, and reviews.

    Conducting audits is critically important, not just in assessing if we are
    following our own policies and procedures, but to identify policy deficiencies
    and recommend better and more efficient ways of doing business.

    The volunteers would have to pass a background check in order to have access to
    sensitive documents and materials.

    Volunteers can contact me directly (atoribio@…/238-3958).

    Thank you in advance.

    Anthony Toribio
    Captain of Police
    Office of Inspector General
    Oakland Police Department
    Office: (510) 238-3958
    Fax: (510) 986-2887

  11. FloodedByCEDA

    Public Works and CEDA should follow OPD’s example with some Volunteer citizen audits and background checks of the public works/CEDA staff.

  12. len raphael

    Those of you who didn’t like Marleen Sack’s Measure Y lawsuit will be disappointed to hear that she’s appealing to the state supreme court.

    MS: “But for now, I’m going to focus on the few words of the decision that keep me going: “We neither intend to denigrate petitioner’s motives nor suggest that her commendable efforts failed to have any impact. We realize that petitioner’s action may have induced and compelled the City to comply with Measure Y – or at least do so with greater haste, and with audit procedures that facilitate more transparency – and for that reason the residents of the City have cause to be appreciative of her litigation.”

    http://defendingmeasurey.blogspot.com/

    Tenacious lady.

    Agree with her or not, that tenacity will make our officials think twice before feeding us misleading descriptions and interpretations of technical legislation.

    -len raphael,temescal

  13. Livegreen

    I agree with Flooded, Len and Marleen. I think AuditOaklsnd CEDA raised some pertinent questions, which were confirmed by Michael Killian’s complaint to the ethics commission and resignation of an official. There has to ba way to discover corruption which might not b systematic, since that’s the only thing Audits seem to look for.

    Re. M-Y, I do not understand how backfilling police academies can b paid for when it was not factored into either the measure or the costs. If used for these purposes the fund will get used up early and they’ll have to increase the tax or cut PSO’s as the fund runs out.

    That will happen in 2 or more years, a lifetime for a politician, but not for the problems they r supposed to address. I’m thankful we’re getting our PSO’s back, but for how long?

  14. MarleenLee

    LG – that’s an excellent point. Try posing that question to City officials and see what they say. Notably, the statement by the then City Auditor, which was published in the voter information pamphlet, stated that the money generated by Measure Y was sufficient to cover the costs of the Measure. Of course it wasn’t, but math has never been the City’s strong suit. Anyway, the bottom line is that they certified to the voters that the money was sufficient. So if it turns out to be insufficient, well, then the City is on the hook and required to subsidize Measure Y. The City Attorney’s office has publicly stated that they think there is no obligation to provide the subsidy. So typical!

  15. livegreen

    So the moral of the story is City Officials will say whatever it takes to get a measure passed, but once it’s passed it’s an entirely different matter.

    The biggest risk they are running (win or lose) is getting future new measures passed. Citizens will have to hire their own lawyers to interpret the language, and even then there’s no guaranty spending will be as advertised or even as intended (as demonstrated).

    Not being a lawyer, one thing I don’t understand about U.S. law is that intent seems to be irrelevant, while in U.K. common law (the basis for our law) intent is important. What gives?

  16. MarleenLee

    Intent is critical in interpreting California statutes as well. I certainly made the argument that the clear intent of Measure Y was not for it to take nearly 5 years and two lawsuits to get the positions filled. But the court of appeals disagrees, claiming that this amount of time was reasonable. I certainly would like to believe that citizens will have learned their lesson from this debacle, but they voted for Measure BB, so I think most of them are a bit slow on the uptake.

  17. ralph

    I think filling public safety positions is not easy. Anyone who was expecting the positions to be filled overnight was delusional especially when you consider a great number of people who may be drawn to those positions were probably posted overseas. (I may be in the minority but I just don’t think Oakland has a deep pool for OPD candidates.) As long as the city was making a good faith effort to fill the positions I am cool.

    I will say that I have seen a fair number of ballot measures with headings that are more than a little misleading. I would describe them the same way Len described RK’s campaign material describing her yrs of public service technically accurate but misleading.

  18. Livegreen

    There’s a big gap between overnight and five years.

    Marleen, how did they detail the timeline was reasonable or that yours was not? (I’m assuming they must back up their opinion with fact).

  19. MarleenLee

    The court basically bought the City’s excuses for why it took so long, e.g. difficulties recruiting, high attrition rate in the academy etc. But the bottom line is that when you bring appropriate resources to bear, those problems get addressed. The attrition rate in the academy improved. When the City spent the money on recruitment, they got the positions filled. So where there’s a will, there’s a way. But the City had a real incentive NOT to fill those positions – saving money. I believe the City’s failure to fill the positions promptly was deliberate. Only after that kid was shot on Piedmont Ave. was there political pressure put on the City to get staffing up. And when pressure was brought to bear, staffing went up. It was that simple. Nobody thinks the positions should be filled overnight. But five years? Sorry, that’s not reasonable. And as far as filling the PSO positions overnight, well, ironically, that’s happening next month, even though the City has been claiming for years that this is horribly imprudent, and offered it as an excuse for taking so long to fill the positions initially. Talking out of both sides of its mouth, as usual.

  20. Dave C.

    Interesting to notice that even after Camden lays off almost half of its police force, it will still have more officers per capita than Oakland does (196 officers for Camden’s 80,000 residents, versus fewer than 700 officers for Oakland’s 400,000 residents). Yeah, I know, apples and oranges and everything else, but just an observation.

  21. len raphael

    Time to get Oakand’s non-profits to to pay for their share of city services. For imposing any taxes it will take a change in state law.

    But other cities are trying with fees for sharing the cost of infrastructure repairs. Specifically storm drains and waste water related.

    Don’t know how/if our new state law on fees affects this.

    WSJ article today:
    “Strapped Cities Hit Nonprofits With Fees

    By IANTHE JEANNE DUGAN

    Facing budget gaps and an aversion to new debt and taxes, states and local governments are slapping residents with an array of new fees—and some are applying them to nonprofits.

    That marks a sharp departure from long-standing tax exemptions mandated by state law or adopted on the theory that churches, schools and charitable organizations work alongside governments to provide services to the community. “

  22. SF2OAK

    For Oakland, that means starting Jan. 3 the average fine for overstaying a meter will go up to $58.

    “It’s depressing, but we have no choice,” Oakland City Councilwoman Pat Kernighan said. “The state already takes $10 for every ticket.”

    The hike was part of the latest budget passed by state lawmakers. It’s up to cities whether to pass on the extra charge to drivers who receive parking fines.

    “If we don’t pay, then we have to come up with something like $900,000 a year, which would pay for about five cops,” Kernighan said.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com. It is too bad Ms. Kernighan does not understand choices at all- OAK does have a choice- CC makes them all the time and mostly to the detriment of the people they are supposed to serve. I just read that OAK CC agreed to spend $750,000 for an EIR for a Baseball stadium when the A’s have made quite clear they don’t want to be here. I gues that and the raise that CC chose to give soon to be ex mayor sleepy would add up to about $900K that they wouldn’t have to add to your way overpriced ticket.

  23. ralph

    Last year, the city issued 300,000 tickets. I had a grand total of $0. So you want me to subsidize your ticket. The only choice that made any sense was to pay this fee to the taxpayer.

    As to the $750K for the EIR, we know w/o it there was no chance of the A’s staying in Oakland if the A’s are intent on having a new stadium. Second, VC is a very developable area. The EIR is broad enough that it will cover a no A’s scenario. Thus, the money is not a waste.

  24. len raphael

    Ralph, if (and i never did look at the numbers) on parking enforcement revenue exceeds the direct costs of the magnificantly well bureau, there’s no transfer from one parker to another if the city ate the state increase. So are you refering to the resulting loss of general fund net parking enforcement revenue as a subsidy?

    Still seems to me that if you want to increase net parking revenue, you increase the meter rates but you greatly reduce the penalty for overstaying your meter to something like two to three times what a private parking lot would charge. That way you don’t scare people with cars away from Oakland stores and restaurants, plus you drastically increase the parking fine revenue when people having a good time at a restaurant say heck with the modestly extortionary fine.

    Anyone know how parking fine revenue trended after the first increase? Whatever happened to that study of the effect of raising rates and fines on retail sales?

    -len raphael, temescal

  25. Livegreen

    I concur. State is causing the problem and expect they r far enough away from the consequences that somebody else will b blamed…

  26. ralph

    Yes, the general fund loss. The increase was not an attempt to increase parking revenue. It was simply a measure to adjust the fee for a state pass-through. Frankly, I am of the mindset that city law should read that the city should passthrough any state fees upon the date it becomes effective.

    Len, I could be reading the 2nd paragraph incorrectly but as to raising revenue via rate increase, I think you have a problem – the supply in some areas far outstrips the demand and a steep increase in rates will further tip the scales in favor of shopping outside of Oakland. You will most likely have fewer shoppers and a decrease in demand.

    I think I would rather see the city issue pre-paid parking cards to use at the machines. Call it a FasTrak for parking.

    a

  27. len raphael

    Ralph, i was trying to say that it is the high fines, not the high hourly rates that scare away shoppers and restaurant goers.

    for sure in some areas rates could be raised even higher and in others they sb lowered. what is the real goal of parking fines? is to change behavior or to raise revenue?

    if its to raise revenue, lower them so more people are willing to incur the fine but not sol low that parking meter revenue suffers or so that turnover drops too much.

    where is that darn parking fee vs sales study?

  28. livegreen

    People who howled at the meter rates & tickets were upset at both. I’m not sure you’ll please them lowering either, as they still protest whenever they get a ticket even if it’s their own fault.

    Re. the fee vs. sales study, how do you factor out the decline in retail sales because of the economy? Or the increase/drop in use of free parking spots near our retail areas?

    If Oakland even has the money for such a study, getting it out of CEDA takes months.

  29. ralph

    Since the whole parking rate discussion has been done to death on this board, I will just say that the idea of looking at parking rates as just a source of revenue is the wrong approach.

    It does not matter if the fine for underpaying the meter were a $1, people would still be outraged. Last I checked there were well documented ways to avoid a parking ticket. One can pay the meter. One can read the parking restriction signs. One can park at a functional meter.

    I believe it was a parking demand study.

  30. RdwithCypress

    Does anyone know if D was actually drunk? Did he fail a breathalyser? Did he refuse to take one?

    Also, does anyone care that there was zero press on the shopkeeper who was shot last week in his Cypress Store on 10th and Mandela. Why no press? The guy almost died the suspected is known but is still on the loose!

  31. Dax

    Does anyone know the net positive revenue of the entire parking control operations.

    Meter collections and fines, minus all the costs of “parking control technicians”, supervisors, collectors, collector supervisors, meter repair, supervisors, vehicle costs, fuel, purchase of vehicles, repair of vehicles,
    Counting and accounting of monies collected.
    Administrative costs of fine collections.

    Not even counting the vehicle aspect of the operation, nor the counting and accounting of the operation, nor the administrative personnel for collecting fines….

    Even without those people, their salaries, benefits, and pensions, you still have over 100 Oakland City employees handling the parking meters and tickets.

    100 +++ employees……probably more like 125+ when all is counted and attributed.

    How much of the total revenue do you think they eat up?
    Percent? 40%, 60% ?

    And if you include revenue lost due to folks shopping elsewhere?
    Do you think the entire program actually is a positive or a negative in terms of revenue to Oakland and its residents?

    Obviously you need a bit of enforcement to keep people from using spaces for 4 or 8 hours in shopping districts, but that could probably be accomplished with half the employees and half the fines.

  32. livegreen

    Dax, I don’t disagree with you on the personnel cost side of things, but, in terms of lost revenue, do you mean losses from perception or reality?

    I mean, I still haven’t found the “free” parking in Walnut Creek. But I know where the free parking (no quotes) is in Oakland that p-o’d Oakland shoppers claim doesn’t exist unless they commute 16 miles + a traffic jam through the Tunnel…

    Not factoring in the extra quarter they save -or-, if they prefer not to pay that, $55 of additional debt that mysteriously appears when they don’t.

  33. ralph

    I don’t know how one calculates lost revenue from perception, but theoretically, if optimal vacancy is y% and the actual vacancy is 2y%, then your revenue loss number of available hours for y% meters x rate.

  34. Dax

    I was thinking more in terms of lost revenues from business rather than lost revenues from parking fees and fines.

    After all, the key purpose of parking enforcement should be to maximize our retail sector’s sales, not city income from parking in particular.

    The chief focus of the city would ideally be on prosperity of the residents and business enterprises, not the prosperity of the city coffers. If you succeed at the first one, the other takes care of itself.

  35. len raphael

    Doubt if increasing the fines another 3 bucks affected the perception that we have the highest parking fines as well as the highest crime rate. Might as well get it behind us and raise our sales tax to the highest level also.

    Now that i have a temporary one, I can appreciate the popularity of handicapped parking permits. DTO parking around city hall seemed devoid of handicapped and non handicapped vehicles yesterday.

  36. Dax

    Len,

    —Oakland, CA — “As previously announced, due to budget cutbacks, the City of Oakland will suspend administrative and other City services between Monday, December 27 and Friday, December 31, as agreed to by all civilian employee unions in order to balance the City’s 2009-2011 budget.”

    Now, I don’t want to speculate, but there have been several news stories in the past focused on the use of handicapped parking spots by city workers, many of whom had very questionable physical disabilities, but who had stickers.
    Of course, in this case, you said both handicapped and non-handicapped spots were vacant.

  37. ralph

    Dax,
    I thought you may have been talking about sales but wasn’t quite sure. From my earlier comments, I agree that parking should not be about revenue generation but rather facilitate the maximization of the retail sector. Agreed, grow the retail sector, the parking revenue will take care of itself.

    LG,
    Lost revenue from sales tax is, I think, ~$15MM. Previous studies indicate a $1B leakage. The city I believes keeps 150 basis points from the total sales tax rate.

    Len,
    Most people using Medical MJ facilities probably have questionable needs. I know not of the studies to which you refer but I know that some maladies do no present upon a visual inspection.

    As you know, the city has no say in the regulation of blue/red free parking cards. I would however like to know why does a person driving an $80K automobile get a free pass on parking while the guy driving the hooptie held together with spit and a prayer needs to find his bottom dollar to feed his meter. Cities need to ban together to have the state banish this policy.

  38. len raphael

    JQ is spinning her election as “I’m used to running really tough races,” .

    But is that true? My admittedly vague impression of her first school board election was that she ran against another neophyte and after that had no serious opposition.

    Then who was her opponent for Dick Spee’s old CC seat? Did she ever have an opponent after that?

    My impression from the Mayoral forums was that she was not used to tough criticism and got flustered instead of counter attacking.

    No never mind, but sounds like she’s puffing herself up for some kind of controversial decisions, good or bad.

  39. livegreen

    Expect Oakland liberals to take every advantage of Jean being Mayor to push their agenda of addressing inequalities before anything else can be done.

    My Word by Wilson Riles
    http://www.insidebayarea.com/opinion/ci_16959329

    I don’t disagree that inequality plays a part, but to argue that this alone must be addressed before we fund anything else is typical of lefty Oakland politics that starve funding of practical solutions and cause the Middle Class to flee.

    Oakland cannot only pander to it’s poor, to it’s valuable non-profits, and unilaterally righting historical wrongs if it wants to build a Middle Class tax base that (ironically) will help fund the equity the far-left strives for.

  40. Naomi Schiff

    I think that Jean Quan is well aware of the broader picture. She is pretty alert to the middle class voter, I’d say, many of whom participated in and contributed to her campaign. Plus, I’ve been amused to see how quickly those who backed others have been to get really chummy with the mayor-to-be. Not to worry: there is always heavy pressure to be centrist, from the Chamber of Commerce, from the people who have voted in one’s campaign, and from active development and business interests. The groups you are worrying about have never had overwhelming access at city hall. At the same time, it sounds like Jerry B. may lower the boom on social services, which is going to put quite a burden on cities and counties to deal with the aftermath. This is not a surprise; he made some pretty draconian cuts the last time he was gov, if I recall correctly.

  41. Livegreen

    I’m not sure of that at all Naomi. First because Jean is often on the side of prioritizing social justice and low income housing issues. 2nd because Oakland’s middle class is often taken for granted and it’s issues have barely begun to enter city politics. Finally because it has no vocal representation at City Hall discussions, unlike the non-profits who vehemently defend the interests of the poor, or the Chamber who defends the interests of it’s most powerful business members (which is quite seperate from being “centrist”).

    I hope u r right, but actions speak louder than assumptions. Especially in a City which emphasizes rich vs. poor, hills vs. flatlands, black vs. white and ignores those in between, while exasperating racial tensions and emphasizing the most intractable problems before anything partial or practical can b solved (or even addressed).

    Many of whom then, simply, get fed up and move. This is true, btw, for every race that makes up our diverse City.

    I am hopeful for Jean but I am not so idealistic (or naive) that I will believe before seeing what is actually done.

  42. Dax

    Regarding Wilson Riles Jr. commentary in the Tribune.

    1. What is the single most effective program operating in Oakland to help young African American men, who have no diploma, no current job, and some prior criminal record.
    That criteria would seem to make up a significant portion of those at risk.

    Is there any effective program operating in Oakland? Emphasis on “effective”…both in terms of outcome and cost.

    If there is one, how large is the program?

    2. Mr. Riles should give a little more “attribution” when he writes commentary.

  43. len raphael

    I can’t figure out the Oakland Chamber of Commerce and where it collectively thinks it’s members’ interests lay. I certainly don’t see it as as some arch conservative defender of big business because their ain’t enough big business’ left here to defend.

    As for JQ, I could see how she’d prefer to triangulate between the progressive low income non-profit advocate orgs, the bigger real estate holders, and the few big for profit and non profit orgs. She’s never been shy about her ideological position or her goals that are consistent with Brunner and Nadel’s and Dellums, and probably a solid 33 to 45% of the electorate.

    Would agree with Naomi that fiscal reality will collide head on with that ideology in the next two years.

    My bet is JQ’s election is the last hurrah of local progressive politics determining much of our city’s muni policy. I don’t see a tea party swing to the right here, but simply the necessity to limit the role of city government to providing very basic services and funding the cush retirements of its employees in perpetuity.

    -len raphael, temescal

  44. Naomi Schiff

    Let’s take a clearer look at this. Jean frequently votes with the majority on commercial development issues. For example, (to my dismay) she supported the Oak to Ninth project. I don’t remember an instance of her opposing commercial projects. Affordable housing is currently most of what is under construction, due to various funding programs, and the construction industry, among others, is darn glad to have the activity it generates. It is entirely possible (and to me sensible) to support both commercial and nonprofit-developed residential projects. There isn’t that much of a conflict between them. Second, don’t forget that our many neighborhood groups, associations, NCPCs, and informal collections of advocates tend to have strong middle-class representation, be vocal at city hall, affect policy decisions and tend to vote consistently in every election. Jean had a lot of support from neighborhood activists and local-issues folks. I think some of the above remarks overstate political polarization which may not be that marked. Local issues are often less partisan than national issues, and people ally with neighbors unlike themselves in order to get things done that they see as necessary. As to the Chamber, quite a few corporate citizens are here and remain active in it. You can find out who they are quite easily. (I used to belong, but quit because I didn’t agree with their politics.) I am no pollyanna but I do think, Len, that you occasionally exaggerate what you see as our deplorable state.

  45. Livegreen

    I c only a few safety advocates consistently present at City Hall meetings. They tend to be current or former CPAB and NW board members and chairs. These r sincere leaders who know the politics and take the time to learn how and make a difference. Everyone else rotates and gets burned out before they get that far.

    Thus the existing heads r respected, limited, and play within the existing power structure.

    If their supporters and NW burnouts ever went to City Hall 1/10th as much as they do there would b far more support for PSO’s and NCPCs as there r now. And Jose Dorado (liberal realist that he is) would have come closer to beating Desley Brooks (she should b in your list too Len. & she’s not going anywhere even with her failing schools which she deplores in open Council meetings but never gets actively engaged on).

    Naomi, other than the core group of CPAB and NW leaders, I know of only one neighborhood that got consistent City Hall attention, and that was without going to City Council meetings. So I’m curious what other neighborhood groups and NCPCs have been vocal at city hall or had an affect on policy decisions? & what current and lasting affect has that been?

  46. Livegreen

    Further I would like other examples of issues that focus on the middle class that r either central to the discussions at City Hall or r have regular, consistent support from a core group of middle class advocates (in contrast to the advocates I’ve mentioned).

  47. Naomi Schiff

    Much of what goes on at the planning commission, for one thing. It’s a little hard to answer your question because what you are calling “the middle class” (a very broad term) is the mainstream that everything else is swimming in! Some of the groups you may find overly vocal feel that without hollering loudly they won’t have any effect at all. Not all that much gets decided during a city council meeting. Most everything occurs beforehand, and it is sometimes astonishing when you see it happening. For example, I had an appt. with a city councilperson (about some other issue), was told they were delayed because a meeting was running long. It was during the (ultimately stalemated) negotiations about inclusionary zoning and the “blue ribbon” committee and all that. Settled down to wait. Who came out of the back room? A wealthy bigtime condo developer, obviously a major player in the discussions. Did he have to show up at a council meeting? No. He made his point long before that. In general, the city councilpeople know exactly where their campaign funding comes from and where votes come from, and those are the people they attempt to please, whether they show up at council meetings or not. If anything, the consistent voters are more predominantly “middle class” (whatever you mean by that) than anything else. To have greater effect, of course it helps to be organized. But that means weighing in on issues you care about long before it comes up at an official hearing, even informally by chatting with a councilperson or aide, or a key city staffer. A good example is the last few years of panning disputes in the Temescal neighborhood. It’s got dedicated responsible middle-class citizens, many homeowners, on both sides. The entire zoning update has been grounded in their debate, even though the whole city is under discussion. I would say that almost every issue that comes up in city politics is more about those “middle class” citizens than anything else, even though you won’t hear it put that way, and you may hear more loud talking from other constituencies.

  48. len raphael

    Naomi, the odd thing about Oakland power politics isn’t that real estate developers take a more active role in lobbying and supporting their political supporters than other businesses do, but with rare exceptions they limit their efforts to zoning, RDA decisions, and other land use related issues.

    Maybe because of several real estate booms in Northern Califorinia combined with the intractable “progressive” bent of local politicians and voters, developers figured it was unnecessary and a lost cause trying to fundamentally upgrade Oakland’s economy and human capital and just try to make a buck from the rising real estate tide that lifted all boats.

    So I don’t see JQ and Brunner’s cooperation with developers big and small as sign of their flexibility, or acknowledgement of the importance of encouraging business growth here.

    Seriously, if it were up to Quan and Bruner, Rockridge and Montclair would stay frozen in time and class demographics, and the rest of Oakland would fill with highest density low income housing dwellers who would receive high quality public services paid for by the hills residents and sales tax on fancy restaurants.

    If anything, the developers seem very careful not to rock the boat, not to step on progressive toes. Never heard a peep from our civic minded developers about our elected officials leading us off a fiscal cliff.

    First time I ever heard developers suggest publicly that high crime hurt their economic interest was their support for the lame Measure N? police tax.

    -len raphael, temescal

  49. Naomi Schiff

    Well, I guess the developers don’t want to have to help pay for whatever civic improvements are planned, at least in the form of property taxes of some sort, if not in some form of impact fees or other levy on their projects. JQ did question why Oak to 9th wasn’t making any plans for schooling for the children of the supposed 400 units of aff. housing they promised to allow the city to pay for and build (yes, I know). Should these units ever get built, the children in them and in all the other 3000 units there would just merrily skip across five railroad tracks to go to the uh-oh-already-fully-enrolled schools in at Lincoln or La Escuelita. I think you may misperceive Quan and Brunner’s myopia, though; much of their support has come from the flats, and they do know it.

  50. ralph

    Naomi,
    This is a bit of an aside but we may want to rethink schooling. We build these new housing communities and assume that families and communities live the same way they did 50 odd yrs ago.

    Singles are buying houses. People are either delaying or choosing not to have children. Retirees are living next to people just entering the workforce. We really need to think about how people are living.

  51. Naomi Schiff

    I was referring to the promised 400 units of affordable family housing. In addition, the other 3000 units are very likely to generate some percentage of children, though of course for the market rate units, the proportions will change as demographics change. The schools nearest this (eventual, no schedule now clear) development are all maxed out.

  52. len raphael

    Even giving free bricks and mortar to OUSD when OUSD has to pay for the admins and custodians and utils to run at part capacity is problematic. Better to impose some sort of Mello Roos type of fees on the owners’ which are banked for future flexible spending. Maybe paying for bus service to distant schools, maybe charter schools, maybe subsidy for charter or public school of your choice.

    Mello Roos fees can be very high in the burbs. So they would rightfully depress the value of the units, in turn leading to pressure to make them higher density, taller.

    Were the Oak29th developers promising to provide security, or was it all going to be on big happy diverse Oakland family.?

    -len raphael, temescal

  53. Livegreen

    I don’t see any example in your mentions of anybody representing the middle class. I agree with your summation of decisions made before they come to a vote.

    I think many middle class efforts r not on their own behalf but on individual volunteer efforts, or they r resigned to not being a player in City politics. Finally there r many who either outright believe or r resigned to accept the line that the City must cater to it’s poorest citizens first (& defacto can ignore anybody else).

    I don’t disagree that poorest citizens should have a voice at the table. However this being the primary focus of Oakland has not helped it.

    A politically more active middle would b harder to ignore and would make the City more vibrant.

  54. ralph

    My only point was we need to be cognizant of the way families are developing these days. Not all affordable housing goes to families with children, not all kids are in the same age group. Not sure 400 units produces enough kids to fill a school

    Doesn’t OUSD have surplus property?

  55. livegreen

    Naomi addresses the kids in the 400 units of affordable housing. What about the kids coming from the remaining 3000 units? Rather than just presuming that they’ll have some, they should b equal to the concerns raised.

    Especially as if they have more money, they also have more means. If they follow the existing pattern, a sizeable % will move to get away from OUSD, a sizeable % will go to private schools, and those that do go to OUSD will a) go to a school in another neighborhood; b) follow the others out of OUSD like about 50% of Proficient & Advanced students do.

    Ignore them in your concerns (as Naomi does) at Oakland’s own peril. These families will move to suburbs who want our Middle Class and the money they bring along.

    PS. What r the schools there that r maxed out?

  56. ralph

    No one is ignoring the other 3K families. But I do think we need to consider how people live not just where they live.

    When I was growing up, there was probably a child in every house. Houses were owned by couples. Adults were about the same age. Retirees were hard to find. Today you can find a 20+y.o. living next door to a 70+ y.o. Singles own homes. Adults have children later.

    Don’t want to apply yesterday’s model to the future living.

  57. len raphael

    Can’t deny that I’m pessimistic about the next 15 years for Oakland muni services and next 5 to 10 years for local employment pay and absolute numbers of positions.

    But the economic deterioration accelerated after the dot com collapse but was masked by the real estate boom here. Not a surprise that for past decade our local officials’ idea of economic development was real estate development.

    Pre real estate, pre dot bubble, we’d talk abut the service economy bubble: asking how long could we prosper in the Bay Area selling services to each other. That overlooked genuine economic value added in intellectual property, but the concerns were still valid.

  58. Naomi Schiff

    I didn’t ignore the other 3000 units, LG. I firmly believe there will be families. Too soon to know how many, as we don’t know when devel. will be built. My experience, living in an area with many apts. supposedly filled with young childless working people, is that eventually some of them are no longer childless. Therefore, we absolutely must assume that there will be children in any new development, especially as that housing gets a little less new, and the dwellers a little less young. During this recession, many people have decided to stay in apts. instead of buying houses, for obvious economic reasons. So we could end up with a substantial no. of kids downtown and in new housing at all economic levels. As to the fully-subscribed schools: Lincoln and La Escuelita are the two closest elem. schools to Oak to 9th, both overly full. Now, Oak to 9th is not anywhere near being built, so this doesn’t really tell us much about the long term. But I at present, private school enrollment is not going up; there is some migration back to public schools, and Oakland Tech and Oakland High are quite full. (Most kids in Oakland have no subsidized bus service to school.) As it fills in, the downtown area may be short of school capacity.

  59. Dax

    Len–”Can’t deny that I’m pessimistic about the —- next 5 to 10 years for local employment pay and absolute numbers of positions.”

    Thank God the City Council passed the new Oakland ID program so that ever more job applicants can feel good about locating and staying here in Oakland.

    Never mind, by city proclamation, the laws of supply and demand don’t exist here.
    The vote 8-0….

  60. Naomi Schiff

    Hey, folks, always a pleasure to argue over the prospects, but this post is just to say I wish everyone well, that you will have health and happiness in 2011, and that our city and its people, with their hopes and yearnings, will grow healthier and happier and even more beautiful as well.

  61. len raphael

    Dax,our officials have an inconsistent approach to urban economics: when it comes to compensation, they are acutely aware of what other cities pay for similar positions and quick to mention the need to compete with other cities.

    but when it comes to parking fines,business taxes, transfer taxes, crime, schools, zoning they act more like mini commissars from an old soviet central planning bureau. assumption seems to be that residents and businesses are expoxied in place here and have to accept whatever the city does.

    -len raphael, temescal

  62. Dax

    Yes Len, and they have little concern about the economic prospects of our long time, lower income, lesser educated residents.
    A class of citizens that the Oakland schools continue to add to in abundance every single year.

    At the same time, the council institutes policies that make Oakland a ever more attractive destination for more and more lower skilled, lesser educated, workers, who come and compete directly with the current mass of unemployed and underemployed residents.

    Leaving tens of thousands of young long time Oakland residents, with essentially zero job prospects.
    Any guess as to what they’ll do.
    Perhaps 4,790 of them can be trained at 319 Chester Street if that training program opens.
    And another 7,820 can get good “union” jobs at the new indoor marijuana farms in Oakland.

    Oakland economic policy, very progressive, at least on paper.

  63. Allan

    “As part of Brown’s plan to reduce the state’s $25 billion budget deficit, he wants to get rid of local redevelopment agencies altogether. That means Oakland’s proposal for a new stadium is likely finished.”

    http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/ballpark-112903174.html

    Nice to see the grown ups in charge. This fantasy that re-development funds are not real money, just a slush fund, has to end!

  64. Dax

    What is the proper way for the mayor to refer to the Oakland police officers?

    I just heard her on the radio use the same terminology as I did in her early post-election statements.

    She keep saying “my officers” when referring to those employees.
    As opposed to using “our officers”…

    I don’t know why, but I find it unnatural when I hear her use “my officers”.
    No idea what the police officers or the department thinks.

    A fairly minor issue but given her relationship with the department I find it a bit odd.

  65. livegreen

    Dax, Maybe being Mayor is making her feel like royalty. Queen Quan does have a ring to it. Not the one she might want, though, if she keeps saying “my Officers”, or expands it to “my schools”, or “my city council”.

    How about “my budget”?

  66. len raphael

    But it’s never “my deficit” .

    btw, dismantling the first good idea I’ve heard from JB this time around. But all his other proposals focus on service cuts instead of state worker pay and benefit cuts.

    Without RDA money, would a third of our muni workforce lose their jobs? Unfortunately we’ve grown addicted to that money to absorb “administrative chargbacks” from all sorts of non development functions. It would be devasting in the short run.

  67. Naomi Schiff

    I have mixed feelings about redevelopment as an approach. But in the meantime, a question: so there are huge longterm redevel. bonds to be repaid by each separate redevel. agency. The theory is that the improved tax base will generate property tax, currently retained mostly locally, and allow not only further development but ensure we can pay back, right? How would it work if they end the program? That tax increment money would go to the state (county?), not be recaptured locally, even on projects already long started or finished? Seems like a recipe for shifting huge repayment burden directly onto the same cities that are short of cash now. I don’t see how this would help the state’s economy. Would it not hasten depression and failure in many Calif. towns, and reduce employment and investment? As much as I don’t always admire the redevelopment approach, I don’t get how this helps. (Unless it is a political move connected with some tax measure JB wants to pass, which is likely.) Perhaps you accounting experts can explain.

  68. ralph

    Naomi,
    The short answer is JB’s approach does not help. And I would tend to agree that choking off development in the cities is like hopping on the express train to depression and continued high unemployment.

  69. len raphael

    Dismantling RDA as sketched in by the Sac Bee article, would have the state take the RDA tax revenue for one year, presumedly minus bond service payments. Subsequent years the RDA revenue would go the local school districts, and presumedly the state would reduce it’s contribution accordingly.

    JB is the consumate CA pol: he’d play the education supporters against the development supporters/local govts.

    At the end of the day, does anyone know if RDA were so great? Probably much better than sending the money to Sacramento where it would have dissapated into state salaries. At least locally, it disappated into local salaries and developer pockets.

  70. len raphael

    JB’s RDA demo proposal would put our mayor in (i can’t resist) a quandary.

    Caught between her avowed love of schools and her training as a city council member to balance the general fund budget by charging back overhead to the RDA and selling surplus property at inflated prices to RDA. Not to mention those loans to future bakeries that make council members look like heros.

    Anyone have a rough idea of what the hit to the general fund would be if the dubious RDA overhead chargebacks ended?

    -len raphael, temescal

  71. livegreen

    Schools or RDA, either way, it’s shifting the tax burden away from the State to the cities. Without doing anything structural to the costs of running the State. That way JB can cut costs without really cutting costs, while minimizing the costs to the State Unions (they’ll still have to take some cuts, which he’ll point to, but they’ll be lessened).

    Cities are going to have to fight against both these proposals.

    JB will try to play all sides off against the others, and whoever has the least stay, stamina, or the least political clout in Sacramento, will lose the most. The Cities & Schools have to start fighting now. You can bet the State Employees Unions already are on the inside.

  72. Naomi Schiff

    As I have stated before, I see redevel. as both good and bad, and am not necessarily enamored of it. But I don’t see how by taking control of that money JB is giving control to the locals, as claimed. In Oakland, my sense is that the smaller programs have been more successful than the bigger ones undertaken under redevelopment, but I am biased. I think that if the redevel. affordable housing funds go away we’ll see a renewal of the discussion about inclusionary zoning or other forms of affordable housing support. Right now much of our affordable housing comes through redevelopment. Some of the overly ambitious failed plans or very slow development has been associated with the RDA: depending on how you view this you may approve of or question huge expenditures on city center, Chinatown Redevelopment (Pac Renaissance), Uptown, each of which were decades in the making. Coliseum area not such great outcomes, and in abandoning it as a site for a new stadium, we may be really damaging that redev area. Very had to know what would have happened in some other scenario, though. Then (hate to say it) there is the Army Base, its own redevelopment area. Sigh.

  73. livegreen

    V and Naomi, What’s going on with the Army Base and why have CCG (Tagami) & the City not been able to agree on how to proceed?

  74. Naomi Schiff

    I don’t know much. There are two adjacent projects: one with City and one with Port. CCG team won devel. negotiating rights to each of them. There was an exclusive-right-to-negotiate period with the Port, and it ran out. CCG had AMB, a large port development company, as its partner, and to some extent I suppose they are calling the shots. I presume they have deeper pockets than CCG does. Beyond this I have no idea.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/top-stories/ci_16889540

    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/morning_call/2010/12/deadline-for-oakland-army-base.html

  75. livegreen

    Interesting also how Jane Brunner is not among the leadership of the council. Even Ignacio got something, but not Jane.

    How much of this is the normal musical chairs, and how much of this is related to results of the elections?

  76. Livegreen

    Naomi, R u going to the OHA’s presentation on Industrial Archeology? The Society for Industrial Archeology, who is presenting, might b a potential partner for the 16th St Station.

  77. Livegreen

    Dan Siegel’s position in Jean’s transition team might b a challenge for the City, the Police Chief, and the City Attorney. Especially as I understand he and Jean go way back to Berkeley.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/top-stories/ci_17080635

    First, I believe he is the same gentleman who said some derogatory remarks about the Police and their racism at one of Jean’s events (I could b wrong about this). 2nd in his public comments, as well as his son’s, he appears to b categorically against Gang Injunctions, regardless of whether the Chief or City Attorney have addressed many of the concerns from the outset. 3rd he is Jean’s personal lawyer and employs Jane Brunner. This creates at LEAST the appearance of conflict of interest, and how his personal views can impact City wide policy.

    Finally the Chief is trying to do effective policing with limited resources. If he can’t even concentrate on gang members and proven criminals without being accused of “harrasment” (without any proof behind the accusation), it will seriously undermine his effectiveness, potential success, and therefor eventually, his job.

    In turn thus will damage Jean’s record on crime and ability to appeal to the center. And her success as Mayor.

    Already the publicity around Siegel’s personal opinions r being shared with the public and impacting City policy in his lead against the Chief & gang injunctions. His direct voice and influence with both his longtime client & friend (Jean) and his employee (Jane) must b even greater behind the scenes, in the conversations they must have, than has been shared with the public.

    So, therefor, is his impact on public policy. Firewall or none.

  78. Max Allstadt

    Livegreen,

    In addition to your concerns expressed above, I’m concerned by Quan’s appointment today of Sharon Cornu to a top position.

    The theme seems to be clear: Quan is surrounding herself with close allies who have a history of ultra-left activism.

    We have a pension bomb about to go off, and Cornu is probably the most powerful union advocate in the East Bay, and has just been put in a potentially more powerful position.

    We have a crime problem, and a police problem, and Dan Siegel not only has a history of rhetoric that won’t endear him to OPD, he an his son and his colleagues have gone about telling blatantly false alarmist stories about the Gang injunction.

    Add to that the fact that Quan has openly described her plan’s for Siegel’s role as including things that are in John Russo’s job description. Then add the fact that with Quan being replaced by Libby Schaaf on the Council, we now have a centrist-dominated council, with a council President who believes in pro-growth and business friendly policies.

    I fear we may be on the road to civil war inside city hall. I hope I’m wrong.

  79. len raphael

    Max, JQ isn’t gathering volunteers to pick up trash forever. It’s machine building time when you have the patronage.

    Patronage works just as effectively with young families who remember the pol who got them a stoplight as the poor residents who’s rec center was spared the axe.

    Is this the last hurrah of the old Oakland left aka the “progressives” or a new dawn as JQ and DQ see it?

    I want to say that it depends who wins over the hearts and minds of the 30 to 40 year old voters, but flying blind here.

    Darn, wish we had exit polls or at least demographics on registered voters.

    -len raphael, temescal

  80. Dax

    Len, Jean’s volunteers and those from the Allen Temple will be out cleaning up the streets.

    I expect them to do a good job.

    My question is how many of those volunteers will be cleaning the streets on Monday or the following weekend?

    Lets say there will be 200 out this weekend.
    Then between January 15 and February 15, will there be even 5 of those 200 cleaning the same streets? Will there be even 2 ?

    I don’t know, perhaps there is a plan.

    If they don’t do such, has anything at all been accomplished this weekend?

    Does anyone know…

    There is a man who cleans Mountain Blvd from about 100 yards north of the Shell station near the zoo entrance, to about 200 yards north of the old naval hospital.
    A total distance of about .75 miles.
    He cleans it several times per week.
    That is what it takes.
    Couple times a week, minimum of once a week at the very least.
    Once every three months cleanups are never going to create a atmosphere of a cleaner Oakland.
    However they do make it into the media.

    I want the job titles of each city worker to include a provision that they are required to pick up three (3) pieces of litter each day.
    Just three, leading the citizens by example.
    I expect the city council persons and mayor to do the same.

    As long as everyone expects someone else to pick up the litter it will never be removed for more than a single day.
    Yes, that means picking up a bag, or can, or cup that someone else dropped.

    Currently litter has the power in Oakland.
    Each piece, once deposited, suddenly has the power of a 200 pound rock. No one can lift it. The litter is ALL POWERFULL.
    The litter is in charge, laughing at the passing humans, as they shake there heads at the mess. But are so weak they can’t pick up the 1 ounce cup.

    The POWER of LITTER, laughing at the Prius drivers with their Sierra Club stickers as they drive by “saving the planet”.

    LITTER knows who is really in charge.

  81. Max Allstadt

    I actually expect Quan’s push fir volunteerism to be sustained, visible and effective. I’m not doubting that aspect of her agenda.

    I’m much more concerned about an intractable conflict with OPD and OPOA, along with conflict with Russo and Larry Reid not just because they are more supportive of law enforcement than Quan, but also because they’re effectively the most powerful people at city hall other than Quan herself, and I worry that she’ll see them as a threat and not as an asset.

    I’m guardedly optimistic at the moment, but it also seems possible that Quan could veer towards an imperious path that could make a giant mess of things. I hope it doesn’t gonthat way, and I’m willing to have an open mind for now.

  82. ralph

    Dax,
    Hopefully the MLK Clean-up is coordinated with an organization that will perform regular clean-ups. Obviously, the goal of these events is to recruit new volunteers to the org; so, if you have 200 volunteers, you hope that 5% will become regular volunteers. Absent a way to stay engaged volunteers general fall by the wayside.

  83. len raphael

    Max, whatever you say, don’t use phrases like “ultra left” because that’s like a shot of geritol straight into the vein for that old guard. nothing gets their juices flowing like a bit of red baiting.

    now who else could JQ tap for her dream team? Bobby Seale seems to have moved on. There have been unconfirmed sightings of Angela Davis buying groceries in Montclair. Wilson Riles, Jr. probably isn’t interested.

    -len

  84. Dave C.

    “Is this the last hurrah of the old Oakland left aka the “progressives” or a new dawn as JQ and DQ see it?”

    DQ….DQ….I’m drawing a blank here, Len. Can you help a brother out? TIA!

  85. Naomi Schiff

    I am amazed that anyone would call Sharon Cornu ultra left. I think of her as pretty much straight down the middle left, with lots of experience in the give and take of negotiation. Yes, union jobs in her resume. Are you sure that is ultra left? Just wondering.

    Another major locus of power in city hall is usually the city administrator, a job currently held by a Lindheim as holdover. We don’t really know how things will shape up yet.

  86. len raphael

    Dave C, that was a slip.

    Meant to be DS as in Dan Siegel.

    Hope Sharon C. has more success getting us government grants than her last job “where she worked on helping Democrats try to hold Congressional seats and win key governorships”

    Overall, for JQ’s inner circle, if it walks like a strongly pro union duck.

    Be interesting if JQ makes JB’s political choice to throw poor people overboard to protect union govt jobs and pensions. That would be a big change in the standard Oakland progressive coalition.

  87. livegreen

    Chip, You reading this blog?:

    “Jean Quan off to rocky start as Oakland mayor”

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/13/BAM11H8MRT.DTL#ixzz1B26FVLJs

    Jean is not likely to listen to Chip, given her long contacts with Ron Dellums and Andre Swanson, & Chip’s criticism of Dellums. & I don’t always agree with Chip. But I do agree with this column. And as both Jean & Chip have acknowledged, compromise and bringing Oakland together are important.

    As Max has stated, the City Council is much more moderate than before (still tilting left but not as far left as before). Addressing both the needs of poorer communities, the budget, fair pay for City workers (subjective), continuing basic services, business needs, AND public safety is tricky and WILL take compromise.

    It’s tricky with Police & Fire because they DO need to give back the most, but they should not alone be held accountable for the deficit, as their current contributions were a result of negotiations with the City Council, market prices for Officers around the Bay Area (legit or not), and the greater dangers of the job in Oakland. And they, like the rest of Oakland, have suffered much from violence.

    Finally, I agree with Jean there needs to be more local Officers. But I also agree with the OPOA that many officers from outside Oakland DO care about the City.

    We need to look for areas of compromise and mutual assurance, NOT demonization. Dan Siegel’s personal feelings about the Police, and his open opposition in PRINCIPAL to the Gang Injunctions (ignoring that it’s one of the few resources OPD has, AND how the Chief & City Attorney have worked specifically to address many concerns), do NOT point to mutual assurances or compromise.

    Again, if Mr. Siegel’s feelings are being shared with the press and public, they are being shared even more liberally behind closed doors.

    This will not help negotiations with the OPOA, compromise that will lead to a safer city, or resolve the Oakland budget stalemate.

  88. livegreen

    Thanks Andrew. Under open thread I just clicked on “here” without reading that it’s for the previous thread…I’ll repost on the current one.

  89. Steve Lowe

    Sharon may be able to help lots with the various unions hereabouts when it comes to making concessions around the issue of pension reform. So she’s an excellent choice, because that’s one of the biggest problems we face today, and meanwhile, our ability to meet the pension obligations is all dependent on getting yet another loan that this City simply can’t afford, but it’s what Council will go ahead and approve anyway because otherwise we’re in BK without a paddle.

    John Flores would be great at City Administrator, and it would save us all the embarrassment of paying big bucks for the worldwide search (just to end up with another Robert Bobb / dictator type who feels constrained to kill off some key people just to show he’s in total control). It would also allow Dan Lindheim to exit early from a job just about everyone knows he never much wanted in the first place. And, best of all, we could get to work on important stuff right away instead of having to wait another six to eight months while some doofus with no understanding of Oakland whatsoever tries to catch up. Finally, John, as a longtime resident, really likes Oakland and will probably not hold out for an arm and a leg, as you damn well know Mr. Worldwide Search sure as hell will, especially given the condition Oakland is in.

    So, think about what might happen if John were to be chosen and his first order of business is to allow all those who openly supported Don, even unto the detriment of the City under the former Mayor (and presumably would do as much for Jean, too), the freedom to follow Don and work with him on other, more important issues. Maybe one or another of the mayoral candidates in the recent election would be a great choice to fill in for one or another of the vacancies that are sure to come, either from Jean or whoever gets chosen to be the new City Administrator?

    ??????

    – S

  90. len raphael

    Steve, a little more detail on how Sharon C’s union credibility is going to make it easier for her to persuade the unions to give back say 20% of their vested benefits or 50% of their retiree medical benefits when her boss and former SEIU organizer the Mayor is no more willing than Jerry Brown to go to the bankruptcy mat or file lawsuits if the unions smile and tell them they should have thought of this 10 years ago.

    Is she going to appeal to their civic spirit?

    Or just try to bluff them with “if you don’t make concessions, we’ll be forced into bankruptcy” ?

    I think by now the unions have gotten past the denial stage where across the country they were claiming that if only waste and high management salaries were cut, plus a bit of cyclical tax revenue recovery and all would be well in muni finance land.

    Unions will do the rational thing and wait to the last minutie to see if Congress plus state legislature changes bankruptcy law, and how courts’ rule on unvested benefits like medical.

    -len raphael

  91. Steve Lowe

    Len, with respect to Sharon’s credentials and new assignments yet to be, it just seems to me that we all know that getting any sort of union concessions during the upcoming negotiations with the City over pension reform will be hard-fought, and having someone on the team who can understand the motivations on both sides is a plus, as opposed to importing someone from out of town – as per our soon-to-be, ultra-costly, worldwide search for City Administrator – who hasn’t any familiarity with the personalities and hard truths of this ultra-unionized town.

    I think she’s also less than impressed by some of the more blustery personalities around here and can zero in on reality when needed, as has happened often enough in the past when she’s addressed some of Council’s less than wonderful and/or practical resolutions. I think it’s a shrewd move on Jean’s part to bring Sharon on board; now all she needs is someone from the small business community in West Oakland to really get rocking!

    All that aside, I’m waiting for the fun part to come when all the folks who screamed at Ron for daring to contemplate a trip to China (because it was to take place just eight months after his swearing in and the critics thought he needed to stay home and fix potholes or something) will also demand that Jean, too, tear up her plans to do roughly the same thing. Maybe in the intervening years since Ron was compelled to cancel that marketing junket, people are beginning to wake up to the fact that the paramount port city of our metropolitan region has historical significance in China precisely at a particular time in world history that’s already been termed the Chinese century even before its first decade was spent.

    And everyone who thought that Oakland’s Mayor should sit through the Council meetings as in the pre-Jerry era so that there might be greater accountability at City Hall are already seeing how divisive it will probably get when the turf wars begin in earnest as to who sits where. Maybe if Ignacio does actually get that long-rumored job in Sacramento and a special election is needed to fill his seat, we can also use that same election to amend the Strong Mayor exclusion provision so that the Mayor will have to face the public in the best interests of democratic process?

    Thanks,

    – S

  92. len raphael

    Steve I can appreciate that Sharon C is more moderate than our Mayor. But you don’t have to be an ex-union official to completely understand the motivations of union members without demonizing them.

    As you say the retirement fight will be tough, i’d say bare knuckles. Tactics like the state ballot proposition and litigation to force current employees to accept 50% reductions in their future vesting will be required. Daniel Borenstein discussed one the other day. http://www.contracostatimes.com/daniel-borenstein

    No way is Sharon C going to tell her boss JQ to have Dan Siegel file an amicus curae with the court supporting cuts in vesting.

    As for hiring a city admin at top dollar a la Chief Batts, as byzantine as this city’s politics are, at some level there’s nothing unique about our situation that someone with the right skills and a good memory for names couldn’t master in a few months full time.

    Bringing in someone who doesn’t owe favors to one group or another is a plus if we don’t pay zillions for them. More importantly they might dare to question some of the assumptions that help keep this town an underachiever.

    As for JQ junketing to China. The Chinese govt/army/business community would be much more likely to increase trade thru Port of Oalkland if JQ made sure the Port was the cheapest and most efficient on the west coast, than they would be by her schmoozing at banquets.

    Am interested in hearing more of what you’re suggesting re. strong mayor changes.

    -len raphael, temescal

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