161 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. Max Allstadt

    Did anybody else see this? http://www.baycitizen.org/politics/story/quan-questions-need-elected-city/

    Maybe the spat that Quan is having with Russo isn’t about personality conflicts at all.

    If Jean Quan is saying she doesn’t want the people to elect a City Attorney, it’s reasonable to infer that all the hubbub is really just a power grab.

    And if Quan doesn’t want an elected City Attorney, how does she think Oakland should select a City Attorney? Does she think the Mayor should appoint one? And who would she appoint?

    It really looks like she’s overestimating her mandate. Basically, she seems calling for undemocratic charter reform that would give her more power. Not cool.

  2. Naomi Schiff

    The City Attorney position only became an elected position when Jerry Brown came in along with Measure X, a charter revision measure so sloppily written and contradictory that it had to be patched up a couple of years later. I was on the Measure X revision committee, along with Zack Wasserman, Henry Gardner, Helen Hutchison, a municipal law expert, and a bunch of other knowledgeable appointees, designated by Jerry Brown (a majority) and the Council (a minority). At that time it seemed a little unclear what the city atty’s proper responsibilities and atty-client relationships should be, and Mr. Russo came to the committee to argue that his position should remain elected, and defined as it was. However, he is the first elected city atty we have ever had, and I personally don’t feel that the position is yet well-defined. I have asked before, who does the city atty represent, exactly? The citizens? Mayor? Council? What? Formerly, the city attorney was hired in the same way as the city manager was, and city administrator is now: mayor would hire, subject to confirmation by the city council. For more information, one might look to Richard Winnie, now the county counsel, but long the City Attorney. One interesting thing: the city atty. used to attend the city council meetings in person. He or she would give an instant read on parliamentary and legal issues, on occasion. I think the working relationship was a lot better then than it is now. There was less a sense of an independent fiefdom, and the city attorney had a lower profile as a politician. Not entirely a bad thing.There are various ways to look at it, but Len, I don’t think it is laughable at all to consider other ways to arrange it. They certainly are wasting energy taking potshots in the press at each other, and I don’t think much of the city attorney maintaining a fulltime press person of his own on my tax dollar. That’s a salary that could go to a police position, for example, instead of serving to promote an ambitious politician.

  3. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Mayor 24% has anything BUT a mandate. She would serve herself – and her constituents – well if she reminds herself that she was NOT the first choice of 76% of the electorate. Even Dellums had a better “approval rating”.

  4. Max Allstadt


    I still don’t know why Mayor Quan wants to take away the people’s right to vote for a City Attorney.

    It’s confusing to me that she would bring the issue up at a press conference without fully thinking it through and articulating a fully thought out alternative. It seems like she just wants more control and more power.

    I think that there should be some clarification in the charter that provides for when the City Attorney can block dangerous legislation. It should be limited, but it should be enumerated. Because the City Attorney is elected, it’s natural that the City Attorney acts to represent the electorate.

    I think the reason we need the post to be elected is that it needs to be somewhat independent. Quan said something about not wanting a third branch of government. I think, given a council that has created a number of disasters, and a previous mayor who created nothing at all, we have a strong argument for a third branch.

    Legal analysis should be independent because if it isn’t it will become disingenuous and contrived analysis, created to serve the council or mayor’s pet agendas, rather than serving the best interests of the electorate.

    It’s just really messed up for Quan, in the middle of a spat with Russo, to go out and say that her solution is to take away the people’s right to chose, and imply that she should have the right instead.

    It’s bad enough that Mayor Quan doesn’t realize that barely winning a ranked choice election does not give her a broad mandate. She’s acting like she won in a landslide, and that’s why she’s getting so much negative pushback. She needs to start acting like she’s leading by seeking consensus, ’cause her victory was as narrow as it possibly could have been.

    Making imperious remarks about taking away voters rights to select a City Attorney? That’s not consensus-based leadership, it’s flat out imperious.

  5. Naomi Schiff

    No worries, she can’t do it by herself. It would require a charter revision, and that is not within the mayor’s sole power.

    I think that the current city attorney has been unclear about whom he represents, but of course the way it stands now, he is elected by the electorate. Whom he actually represents as the city’s attorney is different, though; I was asking about the definition of his legal representation, not about how he got there. I understand that you are a supporter of Mr. Russo’s, and that’s fine, but there is a larger structural issue that is worth thinking about, aside from the current occupancy of any of these positions.

  6. Max Allstadt

    And I understand that you are a supporter of Ms. Quan’s and are likely to join her in taking pot shots at Mr. Russo.

    My take is: the actions that he’s taken that have ruffled the Mayor’s feathers have been taken in good faith in an effort to serve the people who elected him.

    I think the charter should be amended to clarify that public objections to illegal legislation and unlawful appointments and actions by the mayor are perfectly appropriate things for the City Attorney to do.

    And I think that if Mayor Quan wants the right to appoint Dan Siegel to be City Attorney by fiat, she should put it to the voters, so she can lose, and we can move on. If she wants Siegel to be City Attorney, he should run in 2012 and lose to John Russo or Doug Boxer (if John chooses not to run, I’m going to beg Doug to run, ’cause he’s rad), so we can move on.

    Democracy is great!

  7. ralph

    I have two questions…

    If a lawyer knows, his or her client is pursuing a course of action which is illegal are they obligated to help or can they walk away?

    And if city council can not clearly define the action they want to pursue, should the city atty craft the law? It seems to me that the city atty could draft a law that is more in line with his or her beliefs and not the council’s intent in this case.

  8. Naomi Schiff

    Say, folks. The remarks above don’t seem to relate to how charter revisions get made and what they are for. While I supported Mayor Quan in her most recent campaign, I don’t necessarily agree with everything she does or says. Actually, I also supported Russo when he ran as our first elected city attorney. My involvement in the city charter and in questions about atty’s role long predate Ms. Quan’s candidacy, but began as stated above when we reviewed the measure x charter changes when Brown was mayor. The charter does not list the many thousands of things people can or cannot do. It is a structural document. As to Ralph’s question, of course Russo should advise his clients. What isn’t clear here is exactly who his clients are. It is not the city attorney’s role to come up with policy by writing legislation, but it is rather to assist the council to craft it such that it is legal, enforceable, and clear. I agree that the last couple of weeks have been intensely silly in a number of respects. But silly behavior is not really what the charter amendment process is about. As to Mr. Siegel, I get that you don’t like him but being an unpaid advisor is a far cry from usurping the city attorney’s position, with its spelled-out functions, various responsibilites, large staff and budget.

  9. Max Allstadt


    There are absolutely circumstances when an attorney can and should stop advising his clients.

    I also don’t know Mr. Siegel, so I can’t dislike him. I disagree with some of his rhetoric, particularly when he has suggested that Mr. Russo is “right wing”, which is preposterous. I also believe that his direct quotes in the press which stated that he would be advising Ms. Quan on legal issues and advising Chief Batts on policing issues, if acted upon, would be in direct contradiction to the city charter.


    I’m not a lawyer, but I think I can still answer your questions reasonably accurately.

    1. Yes. There is a professional code of conduct that spells out when a lawyer can terminate a relationship with a client. The scenario you describe is one of several reasons that would allow termination.

    Others include: if the attorney believes their services are being used to commit or facilitate civil fraud, an uncooperative client, a threat to the physical well being of the attorney, or persistent non-payment.

    2. We have no idea what Russo and his office provided to the council because it’s all confidential until the council releases it. However, it would seem completely untenable to me for a licensed attorney who is also an elected official to participate in writing any legislation that is illegal, even if it’s only illegal on a federal level. I’m pretty sure you can get disbarred for that.

  10. livegreen

    I agree with most, if not all, Max has said above. I’m not sure of all the legal implications, but I note that at the Federal level there’s a distinction drawn between ensuring government follows the law, and defends individual choices the President has decided to make outside of those recommendations.

    The former is the responsibility of the Attorney General, the latter the President’s personal lawyer.

    The City Attorney is more similar to the former, not the latter. If the Mayor chooses to disregard the City Attorney and continue on a course regardless, while criticizing the City Attorney publicly, I don’t understand why the City Attorney should not be allowed to publicly respond.

    It is to the public’s benefit to hear both sides. And from what I’ve heard so far the City Attorney is winning the argument.

  11. ralph

    Thanks. That is what I thought. It is annoying, at least as it is being reported in the press, that council is pursuing avenues that is both contrary to state and federal law. And if the city atty has advised them of this, then I don’t see any reason why the city atty should continue to support their efforts.

    On writing legislation, I was thinking more along the lines that council should be responsible for the writing and the city atty should serve in an advisory capacity. It seems to me that council should be doing the legislation.

    I agree with you on Mr. Siegel’s comments in the press.

    Naomi, I would say that the charter does spell out the CA clients but the duties seem somewhat murky.

  12. Naomi Schiff

    I can’t really judge the state of the relationship between council and city attorney, but I have noticed for some time now that at least the part one can see–such as the way city council meetings are conducted–doesn’t inspire confidence. Just to put out something really simple: it drives me crazy when they don’t clearly state the motion before the discussion and/or public comment. Now this is so basic, and ought to be standard procedure, enforced if nec. by city attorney. Yet quite a number of times I’ve been there, and no one in the audience actually ever heard the item clearly stated. You end up commenting and it turns out they’ve changed something or passed around some new language, and no one knows. Wastes time and energy, and leads not only to confusion but to the potential for staff rewrite of legislation after the fact.

  13. MarleenLee

    Just to clarify, the duty of the City Attorney is to represent the City as an entity, not the electorate. So, for example, when the City takes a course of action that is blatantly illegal and defeats the will of the voters (e.g. Measure Y violations), and the City insists on taking a position that they are right, and want to litigate, then the City Attorney must provide them with a defense. The City Attorney can’t really figure out what the “electorate” would want him to do in such a situation; it is easy for him to get direction from the Council. Don’t fool yourself; the City Attorney does not represent your interests, except to the extent that you voted for the Council members in office.

    An attorney owes his/her client a duty to “zealously advocate” for the client’s interests. Of course, that is hard to do if you think your client is crazy or embarking on some ridiculous course of action that you can’t support (or think is illegal). You can advise your client of the risks they are taking, and if they dont’ listen to you, and you don’t think you can fulfill your obligation of “zealous advocacy,” then it would be appropriate to withdraw. Sometimes you need court permission to do so, if your client won’t release you voluntarily. That gets complicated.

    As far as who should draft legislation, keep in mind that most of the City Council members are lawyers themselves. But most of them have little or no experience in public sector law, other than what they have learned on the job. And I doubt they have the time or expertise to draft things like pot ordinances, or even parcel tax measures, for that matter. I think that is much better left to the City Attorney’s office, with the Council providing direction.

  14. ralph

    Thanks Marleen,
    Recently, it seems as if some on council are throwing out some wild ideas without a clear direction. Absent direction, it would seem like the city atty is free to do as he/she pleases.

  15. Max Allstadt

    Marleen, am I correct or am I incorrect about the reasons an attorney can terminate a client or withdraw from a case?

    And do those rules not apply for some reason with regard to a City Attorney? I see nothing in the charter that says that they do not.

    If the council provides direction to create legislation that cannot be created without breaking the law, does the City Attorney have a right to withdraw? If he needs court permission, what court has jurisdiction? Because there is no court case, it seems like there’s no court that could make that determination, and since he’s only operating in an advisory capacity, he has more discretion.

  16. MarleenLee

    That’s an interesting question, Max. The relationship between a City Attorney and his “client” is quite different than a typical attorney-client relationship, particularly when the City Attorney is elected. Ordinarily, a client can fire their attorney. But here, the attorney is elected, so they can’t fire him. As noted above, if the client doesn’t want to let the attorney go, the attorney must sometimes go to court to extract himself from the relationship. Failure to pay fees is a common reason; don’t think that applies here….I have to say I have found Russo’s unedited comments over the years kind of shocking. Like that “My Word” piece he did a while back accusing Oakland officials of incompetence in not adopting a records management system. And today’s quote that they’re “rude” to him in closed session meetings. Wow. That’s pretty radical, and not really in keeping with the duty of “zealous advocacy.”

  17. Naomi Schiff

    Thank you, Marleen, for the clarity. I actually have discussed the issue, over the years, with John, and he did clearly say that he doesn’t represent the citizens. His job is to represent the city as an entity. The question becomes what that entails, I guess.

  18. Max Allstadt

    So essentially, Jerry Brown made a mess by advocating for the adoption of a charter where the City Attorney represents one entity, but can only be fired by another entity, and may or may not be entitled to withdraw from an issue, but we don’t know because there’s no judge who’s been empowered to answer the question?

    Seems like the thing to do is repair the charter.

    But seriously, how many revisions of the pot ordinance have their been? We don’t know. Has the City Attorney been clear about what would be legal in his opinion? We don’t know. Was his advice heeded? We don’t know.

    Drafting legislation entirely in closed session seems like a minefield that we shouldn’t be letting ourselves get into.

  19. MarleenLee

    Nobody said anything about drafting legislation in closed session. That would be a clear violation of the Brown Act. No, what should happen is the Council should say, in open session, “we’re interested in drafting a pot ordinance. It should contain elements X, Y and Z. And it has to be legal.” Then they take a vote, agree on the terms, and ask the City Attorney to draft something that meets those criteria. I suppose the City Attorney could get away with providing advice in closed session under “potential litigation” if he thought the legislation ran afoul of the law. But other than that, the discussions should take place in open session.

  20. Max Allstadt

    But they haven’t.

    Also, what happens if the Council says, in open session, “we’re interested in drafting a pot ordinance. It should contain elements X, Y and Z. And it has to be legal,” and the City Attorney thinks that X and Y are inherently illegal?

    Per the logic I’ve heard and per the procedure that appears to be underway, the City Attorney would have to tell the council about the illegality behind closed doors. If they don’t listen and publicly demand that the Attorney continue to work on integrating X and Y, the Attorney would still have to continue work and keep his mouth shut.

    That’s the basic logic I’ve heard out of Brunner and Brooks. When the issue of the code of conduct is raised, they don’t have an answer, or they answer without addressing the particular section of the code that allows an attorney to quit. In essence, they change the subject.

    Frankly, knowing the political climate at City Hall and knowing that Brunner and Brooks have no love for Russo, I’m pretty sure that if he was doing something that was actionable, they’d take action. Instead, they’re just making comments to the press. That tells me they don’t have any viable action to pursue against him. That in turn tells me he isn’t breaking any rules. If he is, lets see it proven and pronounced, or stop talking trash about it.

    Meanwhile, Quan attacked Russo in the press after decrying him for attacking her in the press.

    It’s a ridiculous mess. And yeah, I’m taking a side, and I think I’m on the right side.

  21. Livegreen

    If the Council is debating & drawing up ordinances behind closed doors, and if that’s a violation of the Brown Act:
    -Has the City Attorney or anybody advised them of this?;
    -Who is enforcing, or supposed to enforce, the Brown Act?

  22. Max Allstadt

    Here are a couple of links to other folks with opinions on this topic:


    Over at KALW, Ali Winston has listed the way that California’s biggest 10 cities select their city attorneys. To a degree, it seems that more right wingers in a city makes it more likely to have an appointed city attorney.


  23. RdwithCypress

    Does anyone know what the emergency meeting was about?
    Subject: FWD — Breaking News — Illegal City Council Meeting in Progress

    The Oakland City Council convened into an illegal closed-door session at 5:16 p.m. Wednesday. Seven of the eight Council members, Mayor Jean Quan, and about a dozen city staff members were in attendance. Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente is absent.
    According to the notice posted on the meeting room door, the closed session had just one agenda item:
    “Anticipated Litigation in One Matter . . . pursuant to Government Code Section 54956 (b) (1)


  24. RdwithCypress

    This is Nancy Nadel’s trail of tears. Everyone knows, that when a council member makes a complaint the city employees take it to the next level.

    What is really interesting is if you ask a council member for help, they state that they are hands off the day to day operations and only deal with policy. This is where I call BULL SHIT


    Here is a list of complaints called in by elected official Nancy Nadel. More to come…
    1003381 – DETERIORATED SIDING (AOC notes, in the State of California, only a licensed structural pest inspector is qualified to assess deteriorated siding.)
    1003372, 1002271, 1003355
    0607313 – MAN LIVING IN A CAMPER
    0300560, 0300561, 0300562, 0300563, 0300565 – All in one day! RECYCLING FACILITY ALLEGEDLY USING THE PUBLIC ROW
    0301786 – ILLEGAL/UNDOCUMENTED DWELLING UNIT AT LOWER LEVEL:LACK MINIMUM CLNG. HGTS.;ALTERATIONS-ELEC.,PLUMB.;3 BDRMS.,KITCHEN,BATHROOM,SHOWER STALL – COMMENTS: 3/27/03 Notice to Abate>>> 04/02/2003 08:20:07 FIELD#RA – 4/2/03 Owner, came into office. Has given tenants 30 days to vacate, promise to obtain permit to restore to original use and restore altered plumbing and electric systems as necessary (based upon field-check instructions). Agreed due date for vacate and permit application as 5/1/03.>>> 04/02/2003 08:23:47 FIELD#RA; 4/30/03 Office visit by owner : stated that dwelling has been vacated (upper legal unit, and downstairs undoc. unit); permit application for restoration of lower level usage and remodel (garage to storage?,etc.) to be made with field-check to determine scope and valuation. Code case suspended and monitor of blight at yards to be done with monitoring of permit progress.>>> 04/30/2003 09:46:56 FIELD#RA ;10/1/03 spoke with owner via phone, promises to have all permits finaled not later than 10/3/03. >>> 10/01/2003 11:37:49 FIELD#RA
    And a little Brunner input…
    1002638 – APPROXIMATELY TWO WEEKS AGO PROPERTY OWNER CUT A BUNCH OF TREES AROUNDA CREEK, BECAUSE THEY WERE AFRAID OF TREES FALLING. SLOPE STABILITY MAY BE COMPROMISED. (AOC notes – Jane Brunner does not appear to be a licensed geotechnical engineer or soils expert.)
    A little Reid…

  25. len raphael

    Didn’t realize that Indianna had dismantled collective bargaining for public unions 6 years ago, pre teaparty. NYT’s article today.

    When California has more serious fiscal problems than WI, and a much lower unionized percentage of total population, it’s not a question of if but when. Post Brown.

    “The experience of a nearby state, Indiana, where Gov. Mitch Daniels eliminated bargaining for state employees six years ago, shows just how much is at stake, both for the government and for workers. His 2005 executive order has had a sweeping impact: no raises for state employees in some years, a weakening of seniority preferences and a far greater freedom to consolidate state operations or outsource them to private companies.

    Evaluating the success of the policy depends on where you sit.

    “It’s helped us in a thousand ways. It was absolutely central to our turnaround here,” Mr. Daniels said in an interview. Without union contracts to slow him down, he said, it has been easy for him to merge the procurement operations of numerous state agencies, saving millions of dollars. One move alone — outsourcing and consolidating food service operations for Indiana’s 28 prisons — has saved the state $100 million since 2005, he said. Such moves led to hundreds losing their jobs.

    For state workers in Indiana, the end of collective bargaining also meant a pay freeze in 2009 and 2010 and higher health insurance payments. Several state employees said they now paid $5,200 a year in premiums, $3,400 more than when Mr. Daniels took office, though there are cheaper plans available. Earlier in his tenure, Mr. Daniels adopted a merit pay system, with some employees receiving no raises and those deemed to be top performers getting up to 10 percent.

    Andrea Helm, an employee at a children’s home in Knightstown, Ind., said that soon after collective bargaining was ended and the union contract expired, coveted seniority preferences disappeared. “I saw a lot of employees who had 20, 30 years on the job fired,” she said. “I think they were trying to cut the more expensive people on top to make their budget smaller.”

    Mr. Walker is trying to persuade Wisconsin lawmakers not only to emulate Indiana at the state level, but also to extend the bargaining restrictions to local governments. He would allow bargaining on only wages, and he argues that, by banning negotiations on subjects like outsourcing, health coverage, workloads and seniority, his plan will be a boon for taxpayers at every level of government. “

  26. livegreen

    In response to my question the OEA explains it’s opposition to the Anti-Gang Injunctions:


    “Gang injunction opponents came to Representative Council and the majority voted to support the argument that the issue is a civil rights issue and targeting “gang members” is part of a slippery slope that reduces the rights of all in our society and puts too much trust in the government not to abuse its power to cast too wide a net in profiling and defining “gang members. Viewed as a civil rights issue, supporters of distrust of government on this issue are taking a position of supporting limited government that would not be a position unfamiliar to members of the Tea Party.”

    The “left” is simply not liberal enough. Long live the Oakland uber-left! Facts don’t matter, principles do. Familiar to the Tea Party indeed.

  27. Ravi Olla

    “The ‘left’ is simply not liberal enough. Long live the Oakland uber-left! Facts don’t matter, principles do. Familiar to the Tea Party indeed.”

    Sad but true. It’s the ideology- rather than the reality-based consciousness. Perfect visions of places that can never be. Lots easier than actually opening your eyes, but not nearly as interesting, IMHO.

  28. Dax

    Mayor Quan asking for $80 more from every homeowner… A new parcel tax.
    She is reaching for the “more money” solution first.

    Sorry, but NO. There is no way Oakland will pass a $80 parcel tax by 66.67%.
    Why even try?

  29. MarleenLee

    Some members of the council have already said they won’t approve another parcel tax going on the ballot. Let’s hope enough of them stick to their guns to stop this folly. Otherwise, it should be titled the “Let Police Officers Retire in Style” tax of 2011. Or how about the “You Give Us More Money, We’ll Give You Fewer Officers” tax of 2011. Or maybe the “7.7% Property Tax Increase Last Year Wasn’t Enough” tax of 2011.

  30. ralph

    Going to send a public shout out to V for mentioning the Alameda County Leadership program. I just completed it and found it to be an incredibly rich and rewarding experience.

    I will add that our final session was a budget session. We had the governor’s proposals and concerned citizens spoke to the board on different topics. People were highly engaged and very passionate about their subject despite having only a half hour to review the materials.

    If any of you have the chance to do it; I highly recommend it. Application process opens up in August – get it in early as the academy fills up.

  31. Daniel


    Would you happen to know where I can get a copy of the agreement between Oakland and Emeryville to share sales tax revenue from the Bay Bridge Mall (or whatever it is called, the one with Home Depot, Pack & Save… along 40th Street)? I cannot find this anywhere on the city’s website.

    Thanks, this really is the best news source for all things Oakland!

  32. Dax

    Interesting quote in today’s Tribune article about Mayor Quan’s Town Hall meeting.


    “XXXXXX, 16, a member of the mayor’s youth caucus, said the narrow focus on youth who are in trouble can also shortchange kids who are doing well.

    “I don’t feel it’s fair or right that if you do bad, or if you are in the juvenile justice system, that there are so many opportunities for you, but if you are a youth on the right path or doing the right thing, there is nothing for you,” XXXXX said. “I heard there was a program that pays you for (good grades on) your report card. The lady asked if I was in foster care. I said no. She asked if I had been in juvenile hall. I said no … I felt bad and I felt discriminated against. Right there I felt the system was made for us to fail.”

    While there is more emphasis on the “troubled” youth in Oakland, how has Oakland leadership and the community allowed this young man to reach the conclusion that because he doesn’t get paid for his good grades, “the system was made for us to fail” or that he is “discriminated against” or that there is “nothing for you” ?

    The multitude of places in the world where students and parents would beg for the right to be allowed to just attend school.

    I wouldn’t leave this “attitude” to the younger set.
    How many folks feel denied because the city isn’t keeping their street clean enough or cleaning up a certain stretch of feeder road to their neighborhood?
    Have they spent even 1 hour per month in doing it themselves?

    It may be in Oakland that the attitude of the “good” people, young and old, needs as much attention as that of those who do bad.

    I don’t think the mindset of Oakland occurs in a vacuum. What is the message that Oakland leadership has sent forth the past 20 years? Relax, the city is responsible for that….and that….and that.

    Oh, that piece of paper, that’s been sitting in the gutter for 3 weeks, must weigh 100 pounds, better wait for a safety trained city employee in proper protective gear to pick it up and dispose of it in a approved dump site.
    Yes just place a call to our call-center, and we’ll schedule a crew to attend to it.

  33. Naomi Schiff

    Dax, I read the comment another way. It has always seemed clear to me that reasonably well-behaved middle-of-the-road kids do get the least attention in school. The geniuses and the troublemakers do take up more energy. Not that folks should ignore the needier kids, but it is quite noticeable that students must often find a way to clamor for assistance, advice, and time from overburdened school personnel. It even happens in families, sometimes, that the most troubled kid takes the lion’s share of parental focus. I think it is a fair remark. I don’t believe it has anything at all to do with picking up litter.

  34. Dax

    Naomi, I’m sure the student quoted isn’t going to just give up and will reconcile with the reality that the problem youth will always get more attention and resources.

    However, both with that student and in a broader sense much of Oakland, too many people are counting on the city to do something.
    At the same time, with every passing day, it becomes clearer and clearer that the city and even the schools will be helping less and less.

    Rightly or wrongly, who ever is to blame, the city of Oakland will be doing less for years to come.
    I think for many of us, it may be helpful and even invigorating to say, “OK how are we going to still do xyz with far less help from the city?”

    You have obviously taken efforts to do things the city hasn’t done.

    If even 1 person in 20 were to do the same, the change would be enormous.

    It would be healthy for Jean Quan to often ask residents “OK, what are you going to do about that, and… is there low cost way, in our current budget, the city can assist you?”

  35. ralph

    The 16 year old is getting a good dose of reality at a young age. If she thinks she is getting the short-end of the stick now, then she will really be annoyed when she starts paying her middle class taxes. She will watch as the well to-do receive another tax break which is paid for by a perceived abuse by the middle class. Welcome to America, youngster!

  36. len raphael

    Ralph, you ain’t kidding about Target being on target. At 7pm tonight Sunday, that huge parking lot was crammed with carbonmobiles that had delivered consuming oaklanders.

    there is no way that any section of upper Bway could handle that volume of automobiles for several stores like that.

    Until DTO fills up with affluent consumers or Temescal post earthquake is rebuilt with high rises, we better go for plan B to grow Oakland’s retail sector.

  37. len raphael

    What does Target pay employees? Benefits?

    How many typical foodie restaurants does it take to bring in the same business and sales tax revenue as a busy Target?

    Shouldn’t be that hard to guestimate if we knew typical Target sales.

  38. len raphael

    Ralph, what does that work out to per sq ft after the first year?

    glancing at restaurants for sale in oakland, looks like a 1,500 sft place with beer and wine license, might gross 600k to 800k? http://www.restaurantrealty.com/alllistings.html

    -len raphael

    if an experienced restauranteur would please correct?

    seems kinda low, but then if a lot of the business is cash…

  39. Livegreen

    I agree with Naomi about the young woman’s comments. I almost posted that here to (thanks DAX) and have often observed how the Mayor and others on the far left want to focus on kids already in trouble (or advocating in defense of gangs) but at least vocally few are being vocal for the majority of inner city youth trying really hard (often against the odds) to do the right thing.

    That’s where our Measure Y money should b going (and focussing on the jobs once they graduate). Not always and mostly reaching out to those who’ve already failed.

    It’s simply more cost effective plus more obvious positive reward to set an example by hilighting the inner city kids who are doing the right thing. (Not that the Press would know how to accentuate that).

  40. ralph

    Target Store Data
    sale/sf (a) $287
    sf (a) 231,941,000
    store (a) 1,740
    sf/store, (calc) 133,299
    sales/st (calc) $38,256,935

    (a) per fin stmts
    est 2-3% annual increase in same store sales

  41. ralph

    I am going to say that the allocation of dollars to the kids in trouble is not a far left, ultra left issue. It is a political issue. There are other cities and other programs far less lefty than Oakland that also allocate more dollars to the troubled kids.

    Long story short, you can’t parade a middle of the road kid around as a success story. If a middle of the road kid does well, people say well the kid would have done well. It is hard to prove that you made a difference. Because you can’t claim success with the kid, you have a hard time attracting private dollars.

    There is also some thought that if you can get the troubled child to be less troubled there is more time devoted to actual teaching and improving the outcomes for all.

    I don’t think it is the ultra-liberal politics of the bay area.

  42. len raphael

    Ralph, so on a sq footage basis, an average Target generates less than an average oakland restaurant? say 1,500 foot restaurant x 237 = $355,000/year

    Must be the sq footage be including parking lot?

    Hello, are there any restaurant owner/managers out there?

  43. Naomi Schiff

    I agree with both of you, Livegreen and Ralph. What it all points to is a nuanced program to help students of all kinds. When my younger daughter was at Tech, I was worried to see–just for one example–how high school counselors had barely any time and insufficient resources to ensure that qualified students were applying to and getting into appropriate colleges, and getting adequate financial advice. It is something that parent groups and PTSAs could support more strongly. Especially for students whose parents don’t already know a lot about college entrance processes, this is a critical area, connecting school performance, taking the right classes, signing up for tests and being prepared for them, understanding what to do to apply and when, and figuring out money. An enormous challenge for a young person.

  44. len raphael

    MacArthur Bart Transit Villlage. Went to meeting tonight in Temescal re mitigating parking impact. (yeah, i know, selfish nimbys sb grateful they’re allowed to still own cars)

    Got to ask questions of the non-profit joint developer managers. Phase 1 wb 90 units affordable rental housing (30 to 60 % median income). 40% will be 3 bedroom; and the rest studios and 1 to 2 brs.

    Affordable housing wb built out first because the only financing available is for (guess what) low income housing. Something less than 50% comes from Federal grants, a similar amount from our own RDA, and the balance from tax credit funded private investors.

    When and if all the phases of the project are completed, all except for 18 units of affordable housing will all be clumped together with other affordable housing.

    When one of my fellow temescalians protested denying the market rate residents the pleasures of living next to poor people, the non profit developers explained they had to build the affordable housing in one clump because that’s where the money was.

    There wb a 5,000 sf child care facility.

    So now is the time to tell people to get their applications in. I don’t know what happens if you qualify initially, but two years later your income goes up.


  45. livegreen

    Interesting article linked on the left: “Geoffrey’s Inner Circle operator loses federal suit against police”.

    Young troublemakers bring guns to a club or the parking lot near a club, the cops respond, and the owner/promoter blames the cops.

    The owner’s in a tough spot, I don’t know how they can prevent young thugs from bringing guns to the outside of their parties. On the other hand the cops have to take action to protect the public’s safety.

    But the root cause is the young gangsters bringing guns to the outside of clubs, and it’s negative impact on some members of the African American business community…

  46. len raphael

    any reason to think that the oakland trib isn’t in dire financial straits?

    as much as i ridicule it, i’d miss the rag.

    question is would i pay for online access?

    Hmm, nope.

    I pay for online wsj now. But the Trib or the Chron? Feels like paying more parcel taxes in return for bupkes.

    nyt went to pay for content today.

    ““This is practically a do-or-die year,” said Ken Doctor, an analyst who studies the economics of the newspaper business. “The financial pressures on newspapers is steady or increasing. They’re in an industry that is still receding. Newspapers are trying to pay down their debt, but they have fewer resources to do it.”

    The debate consuming the newspaper business now centers on the question that The Times hopes to answer: Can you reverse 15 years of consumer behavior and build a business around online subscriptions? “

  47. len raphael

    can’t happen here dept.

    would like to see some disaster models for a higher density oakland.

    at my office in the private emeryville marina on tsunami day, the water rose several feet for a short time. good thing it was low tide or the first floors of some of the buildings would have been messed up.

    btw, whatever happened to funding for OFD fire boat?

  48. len raphael

    Not a peep out of our own Rep Barbara Lee opposing waging war in Libya. What was her position on Serbia?

  49. livegreen

    Check out the link to the “Questions about donations to Oakland politicians” articles on the left. It really raises questions about JBrunner. They attribute fault to the Political Donor for violating the City Charter’s policies on donations.

    a) Does this open anybody up to prosecution?;
    b) Is there no requirement to cross check political donations with Bidders for City Contracts?

  50. Max Allstadt


    I actually think that Jane Brunner has the law on her side on this one. The burden is on the donor. In cases where the donation limit is exceeded, or in cases of illegal in-kind donations not being accounted for, the politician is at fault, I think (not positive).

    Donation envelopes and websites often have clear language that asks the donor to affirm that the aren’t a contractor for city work.

    Of course, enforcement is an issue. What are the consequences for breaking the rules? Clearly the recipient should pay back the money, as Brunner has promised to do. But the donor?

    If we want to keep this behavior from happening, all we need to do is punish the donor by barring them from bidding for a few years.

    Another thing that could be done is to further automate the campaign finance procedures. If the city has a list o donors on their server, shouldn’t it be able to be cross referenced on campaign databases, so the moment anyone tries to process an illegal transaction, an alarm goes off and the transaction is flagged or blocked. Totally feasible, technology wise.

  51. livegreen

    Exactly, on both enforcement & cross-checking.
    Legal or illegal, why did Jane Brunner and the City Council bump up this donor from #6 in the ranking (of Staff’s recommendations) to make their own recommendation of who should be awarded the contract?

    Jane just gave the woman & local-owned explanation on NPR, but since Oakland already has a local-preference policy, didn’t Staff already include that in how they made their ranking?

    There’s usually already a formula or formal accounting of that in the ranking, for example a 5% or 10% preference for local or woman/minority ownership.

    Even if the contribution is on the back of the contractor (which is a questionable policy), Ms. Brunner’s timing overruling city staff is questionable…

  52. ralph

    Not really a fan of the teachers striking as a sign of union support. Why were they silent on the NFL? Don’t like it one bit.

  53. livegreen

    In the Tribune article today about the new interim City Manager, it says that in 2004 he resigned from a similar job in San Diego “after voters there passed a strong mayor form of government that would have altered the role of the city’s city manager.”

    Would be interesting to know how San Diego’s strong mayor form is similar or differs from ours…


  54. James

    At least this new interim city administrator has some experience both with Oakland and with city administrator/manager duties.

  55. Dax

    Livegreen, regarding a OEA strike.

    It is now fashionable for all unions to now identify with the Wisconsin struggle regardless of any local similarity.

    No public employee union in the SF Bay Area, and probably not in the entire state is at risk of losing its right to collective bargaining.
    That issue is the entire issue in Wisconsin.

    The other items such as pensions and pay were already accepted by the union as justified during the difficult economic adjustment.

  56. Colin

    On the Brunner donation thing, it feels like the question of the legality of the donation is a distraction from the real issue. I don’t think any politician anywhere would throw their vote for a mere $350 donation. That would be pathetic. The bigger question is why the council committee would overrule the staff’s recommendation and go with a higher priced service provider, especially in the current budget climate. Either the committee members are in denial about the need to be budget conscious at this time, or the staff did a poor job in its evaluation, or something else went wrong in the process. Maybe all of the above. For me the important issue is less the allegation of vote-buying (which frankly isn’t credible) and more the evidene of a really poor decision making process (in the disconnect between the staff and the committee). How often does this happen when the absence of a donation-gone-wrong fails to draw our attention to it?

  57. livegreen

    Colin, You might be right, but the $350 was a one-off contribution. There might have been others over the life-time of the period they had the contract…that part has not been released.

  58. len raphael

    Dax, if oakland removed it’s charter prohibition on outsourcing, collective bargaining rights would be irrelevant. Walnut Creek has collective bargaining, but still outsourced it’s entire street sweeping dept. Concord or WC outsource some social programs that Oakland does inhouse.

    San Jose is or did consider outsourcing airport policing. etc.

    Costa Mesa just made the news when it laid off half it’s employees for outsourcing.

  59. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Outsourcing? Allowing the free market to operate in a bid to achieve a higher level of service at a lower and sustainable price for a City’s citizens? BLASPHEMY. At least in Oakland.

  60. Livegreen

    I appreciate Len’s examples because it shows what happens when the unions refuse compromise. I am sure there was a process to find an in-house solution at these other (also pro-union) CA cities before they were forced to consider outsourcing.

    Either the Unions compromise or layoffs will happen. Whether that then leads to outsourcing or cuts to services is a secondary step and result of the first part of the process.

    Whatever happens, and even though it is the fault of the bankers, both the employees and citizens (taxpayers) are in the same boat: we have to pay our bills.

  61. Max Allstadt

    There is a charter amendment on the outsourcing issue that has been floating around lately, and which I think could actually pass.

    Basically, it removes the ban on outside contracting, but only with volunteers, business districts, and non-profits.

    That would remove the specter of inappropriate influence on the bidding process by politically connected corporations. As long as we have things like this recent security contract scandal that’s been floating around in the press, it will be difficult to pass a complete legalization of outsourcing.

    I don’t think the city leadership has earned the trust they need to go all the way with this. Also, politically, eliminating private business from the equation removes a lot of potential points of concern in a city with a decidedly anti-corporate mentality.

    But a less extreme amendment can pass. I know there are folks on this board with major libertarian tendencies. I know you’ll disagree in substance with excluding private business from this reform, but I also think you’ve lived here long enough to know that your views are in the minority in this town, so please, consider what CAN pass vs. what you think should pass. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.

  62. Livegreen

    Well stated. Especially in our diverse city (with a political emphasis here), balance is important.

  63. Dax

    Looks like our new “interim” city administrator will be a very highly paid individual.

    He’ll be receiving #40,000 per month plus any potential benefits.
    That is a annualized rate of $480,000 per year.

    You see, Oakland will be giving him $21,000 per month and he already is getting $18,770 per month on his CalPERS pension.

    Did I mention he is only 58 years old?
    Ah, public service, where you make less while working, but have job security and good benefits.

    Now, having said the above, his background would seem to indicate he can come in with a fresh look and some competence, yet not tied into the click like Edgerly.
    Who knows.

  64. Colin

    @Livegreen, you may be right about there being other contributions over the life of the contract. If that’s true, I imagine some enterprising journalist or blogger will dig it out, since this has potential to be a juicy story. In general, though, a quid pro quo model of “campaign contribution for public contracts” seems almost too crude to believe; instead, I would assume the influencing of decision making would take other, more subtle and pernicious forms which are harder to detect.

    @Max, I worry that your pragmatism about what’s possible in Oakland is actually correct. I think it’s true that “the specter of inappropriate influence on the bidding process by politically connected corporations” is a real concern for many people here. It’s also notable that the alternative of “inappropriate influence on the decision process by public sector unions” somehow doesn’t get reflected when it comes to outsourcing bans.

    In both cases, we don’t get good value for our public funds. It would be great to get a better deal — better quality, lower cost — through a more transparent and competitive process. I don’t think that necessarily makes me anti-union or libertarian, as much as a pragamtist looking for cost-effective public services.

    But politics is the art of the possible. One step at a time, I guess, and hopefully forward….

  65. Livegreen

    Colin, One can call campaign donations crude or the American political system. Perhaps it’s both. But it exists and has been validated by the Supreme Court (money=free speech). The key is for politicians to do it without obvious Quid Pro Quo. So they simply have an understanding.

    Think about it from the other sides terms. Let’s say a campaign contributor gives a significant amount of money but DOESN’T get anything in return. Unless this doesn’t cross some other obvious line, if a politician doesn’t return favors, what word do you think will get around among campain donors?

    Jean Quan said something petinent to this after the election: when asked about campaign donations, she said the smart donors also gave to her campaign.

    Finally, why were developers like Forest City called “friends” of Jerry Brown, and why do some blame him for it? You think that means they were social friends?

    It’s part of the system, the differences are only who they choose to receive money from and where they draw the line.

  66. Max Allstadt

    Colin’s dead right on this. The contributions are a distraction. The real issue is that a company with long standing political connections got the job, despite presenting a higher bid and scoring lower on staff’s evaluation.

    Brunner is correct that the contribution violation is the contributor’s fault in this case. She’s right that $350 isn’t enough to influence a vote.

    But those aren’t the most relevant issues. They’re the simplest issues, and therefore calling attention to them is a wise defensive tactic.

    The issue of influence guiding contracting is much more thorny. For instance: it’s clear that one security company has a lot of pull with politicians, but that leverage is hard to document and quantify. We also don’t know what level of influence any of the other companies have, and we don’t know about influence over staff.

  67. Colin

    I’d always heard companies claim that political contributions provide “access” to politicians rather than guarantee any specific influence over policy or a contract deal. Describing it that way helps oth sides. For pols it makes it table stakes that everyone has to pay, lest they worry about getting shut out (and why major companies contribute to both parties). And for companies for some reason this comes across as “cleaner” to many because it separates donations from any explicit quid pro quo expectation.

    I still think the bigger issues here are value for money, which applies to private and public providers, and the ability of our municipal leaders to deliver that.

  68. Livegreen

    Sorry Max but, legal or illegal, I don’t think “a quid pro quo model of “campaign contribution for public contracts” seems almost too crude to believe”. That’s Colin’s point I was disagreeing with.

    I agree that it’s not simple, and I also agree with Ignacio that staff doesn’t always make the best decisions. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a factor.

    The other is to DAX’s budget points: City Councilmembers should count local and woman owned more important than 15-20% lower cost of doing business DURING A BUDGET CRISIS.

    Especially as the Staff recommendation ALSO has a local Preference.

    I don’t know how many contracts our Budget-conscious political leaders have done this with, and in some cases maybe it was a close call so didn’t make much of a difference. But it IS worth looking into because it MIGHT be a big deal.

  69. Max Allstadt

    Yeah, I agree about Dax’s point too.

    The quid-pro-quo issue is fuzzy to me. I need more data. If we have a law against campaign contributions by bidders and Ruby didn’t find very many, we need a broader criterion to use for evaluation.

  70. len raphael

    a couple of years a local meth kid called me a republican when he was reaching for the worst epithet in his bay area vocabulary.

    it’s not a matter of the good driving anything out, or what a good first step wb for charter amendment, but whether allowing outsourcing for only nonprofits, volunteers, and biz districts wouldn’t give voters a false sense of security and not achieve much.

    if such an amendment were combined with requirement that nonprofit grants be subject to the same bidding process as for profits, I could see it was worth doing. I would guess that the waste caused by non competitive bidding by nonprofits is up there with businesses.

    Alternatively, if we’re setting our sights on the acheivable, start with allowing outsourcing to volunteers and biz districts. That way I could have my plumber buddy put in a spigot at the Grove Shafter dog park, and residents could pay for their own speed bumps (city has no money to install).

    Phase II, float an amendment to allow outsourcing to private and non profits. Wait until the city is a few months away from insolvency and residents have suffered from severe service cuts for a year.

    Voter survival instincts will temper political sentiments.

    -len raphael, temescal

  71. len raphael

    I have to see to believe that a double dipping acting city manager would have any credibility telling city employees that they have to chose between massive cuts in pay and retirement benefits or massive layoffs.


  72. len raphael

    if you separate the non profit outsourcing from for profit, you have made it much harder to get approval of the for profits. if i were a union leader, i’d say heck yes throw the residents a bone and buy off the non profits the same time.

    I’m not so sure that Oakland residents’ support of unions is a world apart from Wisconsin or Indianna. At least the urban and suburbs of those states had much higher percentages of union employee families than Oakland until the rust belt industries collapsed.

    I’d guess that collapse killed voter faith in union power to resist worldwide economic forces, also killed their support of public unions.

    A couple more years of job losses and job compensation declines here, combined with the state and city drastically cutting services instead of compensation/benefits, and residents here will act just like people in WI and Indianna.

    As there, people here will support union rights up to the point where people start feeling economic pain of their principles.

    SEIU and tho OEA can blame the gnomes of Wall Street endlessly, but in the end residents don’t care who or what caused the situation.

    They won’t suffer so that public union members get paid much better and can retire at multiples of what most citizens do.

  73. len raphael

    Did i miss part of the discussion, but wouldn’t the city’s prohibition of campaign contributions by vendors be a violation of that Supreme Ct ruling of last year or so?

  74. len raphael

    correction: you have made it much harder to get approval later for a charter amendment allowing outsourcing to for profits.

    without such an amendment, all you can do is some of JQ’s volunteerism stuff, and save some bucks on the social service side.

    petty ante stuff compared to private co outsourcing of say the city’s payroll dept. or street sweeping.

    if by non profits, you include other governments such as county fire dept. That might be worth considering.

  75. len raphael

    if North Oakland residents’ survival instincts can overcome their civil liberties concerns, I have no doubt that given a choice between taking care of vital city services and protecting the livelihoods of city workers, residents will tell the city workers so sorry.

  76. Dax

    Paging Ms. Marcie Hodge…

    Its been nearly 5 months since the mayoral election.

    We’re still waiting to see who paid for all your billboards.

    Does someone, or some agency/department have to file a complaint or a lawsuit to get your campaign spending records completed?

    Just wondering, or have I missed the filing?
    Shouldn’t the Tribune or the East Bay Express be following up on this story?
    After all, she is still a current Peralta College Board member.
    A public official.

    Can we just allow a public official to ignore the law?
    If so, can we just ignore the city when we get parking ticket?

  77. Livegreen

    Who’s charged with enforcing this?

    As I’ve said before, one of the biggest problems facing the City, State and Country is Enforcement. Laws are meaningless if time, money and resources are not spent enforcing them.

    Part of the road to becoming a paper dragon or banana republic?

  78. len raphael

    Does Target Emeryville have a much higher percentage of floor space devoted to fresh food than Oakland Walmart because Oakland restricted Walmart but Emeryville did not?

    -len raphael, temescal

  79. len raphael

    The new Target seems to have both a higher quantity and % of space devoted to fresh food than the Oakland Walmart.

    Every other Walmart I’ve ever shopped at has very large fresh food sections compared to Oakland’s Walmart.

    My recollection is that the Walmart was not allowed by the city to compete with Safeway and Lucky on food because Walmart was non-union.

    -len raphael, temescal

  80. ddock

    Oakland Adult School has been essentially shut down. A few years back (pre-recession) it served somewhere around 30,000 adult student per year. From what I understand the few adult school teachers remaining have been pink-slipped. I haven’t seen much coverage or any discussion of the issue.

  81. len raphael

    adult ed was one of the first casualties of the state fiscal situation. it went noticed but i think everyone knew that it’s constituents had no power and funding it meant taking money away from kids.

    did anyone even try to see if fees could be charged to make it semi self sustaining or was that a violation of ousd policy?

  82. gregory mcconnell

    Need Help

    Every time I click on a story in the Tribune I get a Tweet page and not the story. Has anyone else had this problem and solved it?

  83. Dax

    Update on Marcie Hodge’s campaign spending filing for the mayors race.
    I’m not going to apologize because I was told twice by the Clerks office that they had nothing on file.
    As it turns out they were wrong for some unknown reason.

    At the end of January I called and asked if she had filed. I was told she had not.
    I called again after the 1/31 deadline and was told that again.

    So today I was calling to see who was going to enforce the filing requirement.
    Initially today I waited for several minutes while they searched and was again told they had no filing from Marcie Hodge and that I would get a call from someone who could help get the process in place to mandate her statement be filed.

    Several hours later I got a call from a helpful person saying that in fact they had found Marcie Hodge’s filing and that she had filed it on January 10th.
    Why it was in a separate file such that more than once, they couldn’t find it, I don’t know.

    So it is there, but they can’t tell you anything over the phone.
    So you have to go in and get the 10 pages.
    5 cents each to copy.

    I don’t expect to be down there any time soon.
    If anyone else is, you might take a look at it and see where her money for those expensive billboards came from.
    It would be in the Clerks office in City Hall

    Could be a loan? If so, from who?
    How much total money was spent, especially on those huge billboards?
    I am curious why I wasn’t told it was there months ago but now it is, so what can you say.

    I would apologize for having a suspicious attitude about Ms Hodge not filing, but what more can a citizen do than repeatedly ask if they have the report on file.
    I assumed what they told me was correct.
    Someone was mistaken.

  84. Dax

    I think its easier if someone just walks into the clerks office next time they are near.
    50 cents for 10 pages. Done

  85. Dax

    Article “Labor boos Oakland Mayor”

    Take a look at the article in The Bay Citizen


    You really need to read the quotes of the workers there.

    Mayor Quan was trying to say anything to please them. They being more important than the residents of Oakland who are not city employees.

    Then she restated her support for an $80 million parcel tax “to reduce the necessary levels of cuts.”

    Quan and nearly every worker quoted, worked in all the usual blame on Wall Street, stock options, CEOs and derivative money mangers ….yada yada yada….as though those folks being blamed should make it OK to now avoid laying off public sector workers at all costs.
    Better to raise taxes and fees on the rest of the public.
    You know, the general public, who have suffered far more in this recession than the government sector.

    How about everyone in the public sector takes a 15%-20% pay cut and we make NO layoffs for 2 years?

  86. Dax

    Hodge campaign filing report is a iceberg.

    Missing information not visible. Continuing search.

  87. ralph

    Some of you may be interested in IC Berkeley’s Visiting Scholar Program “Infilling California: Tools and Strategies for Infill Development.” Six nights – Thursday night through end of April and 2 nights in May.

    Program held in Wurster Hall, which is near Bancroft and College. Whatever you do, do not ask a student for directions. When asked for the directions, the student said around this corner, up the hill behind the field. He could have said follow me I am going there. Heck, he could have even pointed to the building. But those options would have been stupid simple.


  88. livegreen

    The Open Thread disappeared from the Homepage too (though you can find it once on a specific topic).

    More importantly, topic searches to V’s wonderful past posts are also gone (at least I don’t see…).

  89. ralph

    Woohoo open thread is back!

    V, I like how you run the site; however, until today, I was not able to access Open Thread. The page came to a dead end with no typing window. I and others commented on this some time ago. I don’t know what is different but I am glad it is back as other threads did take unnecessary tangents.

  90. livegreen

    V, Thanks for the “leave a reply” window back. I also like how you run your site and I think it was important for people to view my comment #98 and how well some Oakland schools are doing (even if they still need the whole community’s support).

  91. len raphael

    Anyone know how far the federal loan guarantee limit will drop this fall for Alameda County? dropping to low 600′s won’t hurt Oakland much, but the high 400′s would think would impact both transfer taxes and real estate tax revenue.

    Do you think someone in the City’s budget office has a sensitivity analysis for real estate market changes?

    -len raphael

  92. Rust Belt Refugee

    Alameda county will drop to $625K: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/05/11/business/20110511housingCounties.html

    As someone currently shopping for homes, it’s interesting to see that nice places under $450K are still getting snatched by investors with lots of cash on hand, which makes it harder for first-time buyers looking for housing rather than an investment. The difference between $450K places and $550K places in terms of quality/location is huge. Will this create an even steeper demographic gradient between the “cheap” places in the transitional neighborhoods and the houses in the “good areas?”

  93. Dax

    Rust Belt Refugee…

    Are you currently looking in Oakland?
    Oakland hills…

    I may know of a place nearby that might become available (before a agent and commissions becomes involved).
    Just a thought.

  94. Livegreen

    I have to say there r some nice “foothill” neighborhoods. Not as expensive as Montclair and more liveable in that you can actually get to know your neighbors (not as steep), next door and through the garden…

  95. Rust Belt Refugee

    Looking around downtown, Grand Lake, Cleveland Heights (i.e., I’m betting on continued market weakness!).

    To comment on another post: I’ve looked in Montclair, Oakmore, upper Laurel, etc., and felt that they lack a lot of what make Oakland enjoyable. Having never lived in suburbia, I’m not sure if I could handle the sense of self-imposed isolation.

  96. len raphael

    Time to put the squeeze on non-profits.

    “Squeezed Cities Ask Nonprofits for More Money
    Published: May 11, 2011

    As recession-racked cities struggle to balance their budgets with everything short of feeling behind sofa cushions for loose change, a growing number are seeking more money — just don’t use the word taxes — from nonprofit institutions that occupy valuable land but by law do not pay property taxes.”


  97. Born in Oakland

    The OPD helicopter is back and is flying above our neighborhood right now….it is a kind of soothing sound.

  98. Dax

    Ken O, Marcie Hodge officially filed a report in January prior to the deadline.
    Thus technically complying with the reporting laws.

    However the filing is apparently incomplete and doesn’t include the all important sources of money used to pay for all her expensive billboards.

    The city says there is nothing they can do and that it will require a citizen to file a complaint with the FPPC (Fair Political Practices Committee) to force her to fully divulge.

    The FPPC says they require something detailed to open a investigation.
    For example, if you tell them there were billboards, they need a photo of such.
    If the billboards were paid by some other independent party, then 5% of the surface area has to be used to indicate who that independent party is, and if over $1,000 was spent, that independent party needs to have filed a report.

    Etc. etc..’

    Now, everyone knows Marcie Hodge had expensive billboards. Does anyone have a photo of such? Large enough so we can see if any independent committee is named?
    If that cannot be seen, then the photo without other attribution may be sufficient to be used as a starter for the FPPC to initiate a investigation as to who paid for them.

    Of course, the newspaper, by making the issue public would make this all much easier.
    A nice who-done-it article would perhaps force a public disclosure from Marcie Hodge.

    As it now stands, she is apparently just thumbing her nose at the citizens and Oakland.
    Saying in effect, “I don’t have to comply”.

    Now I include a caveat here.
    Such that she may have done nothing wrong, IF someone else filed a independent report listing the billboard money.

    Or, if the person who looked at her January report, passed on inaccurate information, when he said, there is nothing in her report covering the billboard expenditures.
    ( he is a reputable reporter….and gave me his reading, thus saving me from running down to city hall to look at her January report. He said he had seen it, and there was nothing in it about billboards)

    So, it appears that everyone in Oakland politics is just willing to roll over and not ruffle any feathers.
    Thus allowing the political laws to be broken and hidden money to influence our elections.

    Any thoughts from anyone here?
    Or can people just get away with it..
    Rewarding lawbreaking (IF it actually was spent by someone who did NOT report it)

    I don’t have all the facts in hand to make specific charges at this time, but I hate to think whoever did this simply gets away with it because no one cares.

  99. Navigator

    Joel or Naomi,

    Would it be possible to reconsider the light colored sidewalks in the improvements to Lake Merritt? I walked around the Lake today and the amount of dark gum stains on those paths is ruining the improvements. Before we go ahead and invest more money and time in the remaining improvement areas from the 18th Street Pier to Lake Chalet along with the next phase from 19th Street to Grand Ave., we should consider making the sidewalks and paths darker so that all the gum stains and spilled drinks don’t show up so prominently.

    The City of Oakland should aslo consider a no gum ordinance around the Lake Merritt improvements. Signs urging people to dispose of their gum properly should also be included.

    Something needs to be done or the new sidewalks and paths will be a mess. We can’t continue with another mile and a half of the same sidewalks and paths and pretend that the ugly blight caused by discarded gum, spilled drinks, and goose poop will not have a detrimental effect on the investment. We need to address this problem and have viable alternatives at hand before we proceed with the next mile and a half of sidewalks and paths.

    What do you all think?

  100. len raphael

    North Oakland and the Fruitvale Gang Injunction coming up for a critical vote at City Council this Tuesday, May 17th .

    Your online support of the Gang Injunctions is

    If you’re like most of us, you don’t have the time or energy to go to city council meetings and sit for hours waiting to speak. So check the box on the online card “wish to speak” as No unless you might be able to come.

    If you do come and decide not to speak, you should give your time to either Max or Don Link, or any other speaker you chose to so verbally at the council meeting.

    http://www.oaklandnet.com/cityclerk/speakerupdate.asp to go right to the card.

    See the agenda at
    http://oakland.legistar.com/calendar.aspx, “concurrent meeting of Redevelopment and City Council”, May 17th,

    Meeting Details
    go to:

    On the left hand side of the page, you can identify your councilmember and contact them with your opinion on this before the meeting.

    It is especially important to contact Rebecca Kaplan, the at large member, and Pat
    Kernighan, because they are considered to be the “swing votes” on the GI item. Many of these votes are decided before the meetings. so please contact those council members and cc your own member.

    Fill out the online card


    Agenda item = 11 Gang Injunction.

    Comm/Council Name = your council member’s name (if you do not know it, go to
    http://gismaps.oaklandnet.com/councils/ )

    Comm/council date = Tuesday 5/17/2011.


    Chose Speak or Do Not wish to speak.

    Then hit “select”. You will get a confirmation. Print that out or copy and paste it where you can find it if you go to the meeting to prove you registered.

    North Oakland and Fruitvale Gang Injunctions.

    Council members Nadel and Brooks want to derail the Gang Injunctions by requesting levels of cost benefit accounting that they have never demanded of any youth
    violence prevention programs in the past. In addition they want an investigation into whether implementing a Gang Injuction will reduce property values in the affected areas.
    (I read that and had to laugh. As if
    the shootings and the cop cars racing
    around there are currently ignored by home buyers.) Much of the
    cost of implementing the Gang Injunctions have been defending the City from the pro bono opposition of a few lawyers and youth groups. There has been a GangInjunction successfully in place in North Oakland for
    about a year. No reported civil rights lawsuits have resulted. Significant violence drops in the same time period. Not proof of causality, but suggestive.

    No one believes this is a panacea for crime. No one believes it can solve long term causes of crime. The Gang Injunction includes safeguards for civil liberties that will have to be vigorously monitored. It is designed as triage to reduce violence in the short and midterm, making those areas less dangerous for people
    going about their daily lives. It is carefully aimed at gangbangers.

    There are many causes of crime and many of them are outside of local control. We need to try many techniques.

    We need to give them time to work, and we
    need to collect and evaluate stats on their
    effectiveness over time.

    For background info



    If you’re fed up with the perpetual violence of this City, and its effect on all of us and economic development, please consider speaking at the council.

    Unfortunately, it will be packed by opponents f the Gang Injunction, who have misled young people into believing it will abridge their civil rights.

    -len raphael, temescal

  101. ralph

    The Civil Gang Injunction does have objectives:

    Chief Batts and the City Attorney as they seek measures to enjoin a limited number of violent and dangerous adult gang members from a) engaging in criminal behavior including carrying a gun, menacing or assaulting witnesses, selling drugs and trespassing, b) recruiting young people, and
    c) associating with each other in public or be on the street during late night hours.

    Examining pre and post crime statistics can be a measure of effectiveness, but they should be evaluated in the totality, not isolation, and definitely not as a substitute to the objectives of the injunction. Also important to keep in mind that the objective is to reduce the named individuals activity in the injunction area not the entire state.

    We must give the injunction a chance to work. If council does opt to defund the CGI then the outside observation would be irrelevant. The studies which were performed in Southern California covered a much longer period. IDLF is on the right path – so long as we continue to implement the injunctions.

  102. ralph

    If we are going to have a conversation on honesty and truth then I ask Councilmember Brooks to stick to to what has happened in North Oakland. Are the named individuals intimidating individuals in the neighborhood, are the residents beginning to enjoy their public space, are they recruiting neighborhood youth into the gangs? In this regard, the gang injunction works.

    When we suppress the activity of named gang members we must then provide support for these individuals to change their ways.

  103. Livegreen

    I don’t think the GIs r a Budget issue so I’m switching this to Open Thread. Clarification about the finacial issue PK brought up: She said most of the legal costs were for salary to OPD’s internal lawyer, who is staff, and therefor costs that r paid anyway (as opposed to how the Siegal’s, Mayor, BRooks and Kaplan seem to think the cost accounting should b done).

    Brooks did admit the lawyers are staff but said they r working on the GIs instead of the Riders NSA and other issues.

    If this is all correct, can the City Council instruct the Mayor, City Manager, Chief, &/or City Attorney how to allocate their staff workload? Since all employees r paid money, can the City Council (per Ms. Brooks & Ms. Kaplan’s apparent wishes) control workload allocation and administrative decisions by telling the other branches how to spend their money?

    I’m genuinely confused about the “separation of powers” if the City Council can control all the other branches by micro-managing spending. On the other hand they must have some jurisdiction since they’re responsible for passing the budget. Where does this start and end?

  104. Dax

    Back to the GI and possible “undocumented” members of said gang.

    Can I assume the GI is not naming any “undocumented” members of the gang?
    I mean, how can you, if they don’t have any valid ID suitable for such purposes.

    Or are they the unspecified John Doe’s?

    Or do we have a rather bizarre situation where “undocumented” gang members are the only ones excluded from the GI., and thus can congregate anywhere, with anyone, at any time.

    Preferential treatment due to lack of official documentation. Is that possible?

  105. Chris Kidd

    A recently decided ACLU case in Orange County may impact how Oakland can pursue their injunction in the future:

    The OC case ruled that obtaining a blanket injunction against a gang (and naming members to be enjoined later) is unconstitutional because it denies them individual court hearings.
    From what I understand about Oakland’s CGI, members are enjoined individually (thus, the painfully long civil hearings), leaving the City in the clear.

    What I do wonder about is how it might impact the proposed ‘John Doe’ injunctions. Yes, they’ll still get a hearing once named, but I wonder if the OC ruling leaves the door open for challenges pre-emptively naming enjoined members.

  106. len raphael

    The CC thinks they had the power to remove the John Does. My understanding is that is standard procedure for injunctions to use John Does, but this is not a standard situation when the primarily Latino youth community doesn’t trust the system to apply the stated procedures to select future gang members.

    My understanding is that the Fruitvale GI was 100% aimed at one Latino umbrella gang. Max?

    -len raphael

  107. livegreen

    Sean Maher’s article in the Trib says “The [John] Does were not actual people, but placeholders the city attorney put into the suit to allow for additional defendants to be added to the case later.”

    So does this mean the City can’t add names without a new injunction? With 200+ Nortenos members in the City, there’s no way it can be effective without a way to add active gang-bangers to the list…(with a review & hearing if appropriate).

  108. ralph

    I am not even sure why the OC tried to blanket approach. They failed back in the day and the evidence suggest that if you enjoin all members they tend to circle the wagons. Whereas, if you enjoin the heads, the less violent parts tend to go on to other pursuits and the heads look for real work.

  109. Max Allstadt


    The use of Doe is a common practice in lawsuits. If a plaintiff can show that they have been wronged, but they can’t determine by whom without using the subpoena powers of the discovery process, “Doe” is named until the identity of the defendant can be discovered.

    In this case the defendant is an organization, the Norteno gang. First, the city proves the gang exists and that it’s wronging the city. Then they prove that the gang has members, and as they discover who the members are, they add them to the suit.

    I believe that in OC case, the federal judge objected to was that there were no hearings of the individuals affected by the injunction before the injunction sanctions were imposed upon them.

    In Oakland’s model, anyone added to the suit gets a hearing. So Federal overruling of the OC case is, in a way, telling the OC they messed up and that they to be more like Oakland!

    It was also a narrow ruling, applying only to the specific case, and not striking any other cases down. There have been over 150 gang injunctions in California so far. The OC ruling is the first time the federal judiciary has intervened.

  110. len raphael

    max, if either the City or the Segal Jr team doesn’t like the Judge’s ruling, what are the appeal avenues and approximate legal costs?

  111. Max Allstadt

    Got me. Did Julia Sherwin appeal Yancey Young’s placement under the North Oakland injunction?

    I mean, a higher court has to agree to hear your appeal. Russo asked the ACLU early on what their objections were to the SF injunction, and then he made adjustments accordingly. One would think that has a good chance of closing multiple grounds for appeal that have been cited in past injunctions.

    Maybe they’ll appeal. That could be interesting. One has to wonder how long the attention span of the public can last on this issue. I’m burnt out, frankly.

  112. Livegreen

    Maybe they’re counting on that. I mean, everybody else gets political fall-out, the Chief is tired, and the Mayor scates through with seemingly no political fallout, even though her advisor is acting City Attorney and opposing Chief Batts in court.

    The Mayor is the only one not expending energy, political capital, while hiding behind her legal “advisor”. At least that’s what she’s trying…

  113. Livegreen

    Max, How will the elimination of the Jon Doe’s affect the Fruitvale GI and additions to it?

  114. Max Allstadt

    I don’t know about the elimination of the “does.” I’m guessing it means that the Fruitvale injunction ends with the 40 people who are already on the list.

    Of course in arguing against the injunction, some people pointed out that the Surenos and Border Brothers would be empowered by the Norteno injunction. Which, of course, actually highlights why it was a terrible idea to stall the injunctions before they could be placed against the competing gangs too.

    Regarding the “does” again: I don’t even know if the council can actually uphold a directive so specific to the City Attorney regarding a case that’s already in process. How does that even work? The judge already accepted the case.

  115. livegreen

    And so it leads to questions of separation of powers, both in the City/City Charter and the State…

  116. len raphael

    Nav, where the heck are you? Gotta counter the latest bad publicity about Oakland: the Rapture ground central at Family Radio HQ’s in Oakland.

    I always assumed Family Radio HQ was in OK, but no they’re ours.

  117. len raphael

    Oakland to Nav, please come in. We better send up the bat signal. Make that the MJ leaf signal.

    The NYT got into Oakland bashing with that quote about “no there there”

  118. Dax

    Len, don’t knock Harold Camping, he is my hero. Harold, (Hank to his pals), turns 90 in less than two months, and here he has the entire world media dancing to his tune once again. We should all age so well.

    All this done by a man who has zero charisma, zero looks, and as flat a voice as exists anywhere on the globe.
    That he can gain a huge following in a media that relies on “voice” is just another in his long line of miracles.

    Yes, Harold Camping is my hero.
    Right up there with Jamarcus Russell and his fleecing of Al Davis for 31 million dollars.

    Imagine if those two were on the city council. Why, we’d have to watch their every step with the finances… Wait a minute, that’s what we have to do with the current crew!

  119. Izzy Ort

    Once again Oakland gets a bad rap. The office may be in Oakland, but Harold Camping lives in Alameda, and runs the Alameda Bible Fellowship in Alameda.

    Coincidentally Family Radio had a 50kW short wave “antenna farm” in my home town on the East Coast in the mid 70s for broadcast overseas. They had their call letters WYFR on the smokestack of the power plant.

    They had no other local presence, but once in a while during unusual weather it would come in over the AM band. A friend of mine who lived very close to it would even get it over the phonograph input on his stereo if nothing was playing.

    It was inspiring back then as it is today. Harold Camping has been turning 90 for the past forty years.

  120. len raphael

    Nav, i’m starting to get paranoid. How come the Feds stuck us with a decade of court monitoring for the alleged deeds of 3 cops, but SF gets nada for several cops and over 120 falsified arrests, planted evidence etc.

  121. Navigator

    Len, Izzy,

    Oakland doesn’t play on a level playing field. Oakland is being inumdated with horrible press and slanted media coverage. I’m amazed that this town can even survive considering the constant slanted press coming from across the Bay.

    We have the media onslaught about the “Sixth most dangerous city,” We have the recent spike in killings despite the over three week homicide free period whic preceeded the latest spike. We have the killing of a high school student. We have the recent sexual assault in the Oakland hills. All of these crimes get huge media coverage because they’re in Oakland and not San Francisco.

    On April 1st a woman was sexually asualted in broad daylight at Croker Amazon Park in SF. The Chronicle ddidn’t even run aa article until AFTER a suspect was apprehended. On Sunday four different stabbings occurred in SF, one in Cow Hollow. Nothing in the SF media about this. Thursday morning two people were shot South of Market. There’s nothing in the regional SF media about this. There are dozens of heinous crimes reported in the local Examiner’s “Law and Disorder” page which never make it out to the Bay Area via the Chronicle and the rest of the SF electronic media. http://www.sfexaminer.com/taxonomy/term/6604

    The SF media (I’ll include KTVU because they have to please their SF advertisers and much of management is from SF) is here to promote SF and SF events, while using crime in Oakland for rattings and as entertainment for their audiences. KRON was running their “Oakland 6th most dangerous city” banner constantly as they reported on the recent spike in killings along with the sexual assault in the hills. KRON even had a reporter on the streets to get experiences of violence from residents. They interviewed “Oakland residents” all African Americans who had stories of seeing people shot and stabbed. Can you imagine some guy in the SF editing room putting this nice little piece together? Can you imagine someone in the SF media putting something together which broadbrushes and taints the entire city of SF?

    As i said, I have no idea how this city is even able to attract ANY businesses or residents with this constant SF propaganda and manipulated media. I’m amazed at how people still come to Oakland to go to shows and eat at restaurants. I can tell you that where I live in Contra Costa County people listen to the constant “Oakland” fearmongering and are scarred to death to step foot in Oakland. They have no problem going to SF to mid Market to watch a show or traverse the Tenderloin on the way to Union Square or park near Sixth Street to go shopping.

    Oakland needs some sort of media public relations campaign to cmbat this constant negative drumbeat from across the Bay.. Reducing crime alone is not going to solve a problem which has been going on for decades.

  122. Navigator

    BTW, Did anyone see the “you think you can dance” auditions on TV coming to you from the beautiful Paramount Theater in “San Francisco.”

    Oakland can’t win. SF will burry Oakland given a chance. Anyone who says that having SF across the Bay is a “plus” for Oakland doesn’t know what they’re talking about. SF stagnates Oakland’s growth as a city while marginalizing it to the regional audience. Being across the Bay from SF is Oakland’s curse.

  123. len raphael

    Hard to match the free PR that SF has recvd over the years from novelists, film makers, tv show producers, and composers.

    Other than Jack London who could have lived in Alaska for all I knew before I moved here; and Gertrude Stein who did more harm than good with her Oakland references, do we have any media star besides Huey Newton? (I’m not counting the first chinese american female mayor as a media star, though she was for a for a few weeks).

    Didn’t Phillip Dick place a few scenes in the Oakland hills?

    Topic came up in conversation with a Ca native who asked why Brooklyn NY has always held it’s own reasonably well against Manhattan.


  124. Navigator

    Oakland has had many films shot here. Some of them credit as “San Francisco.” That’s not the reason for Oakland’s horrible image.

  125. len raphael

    AA, tom hanks counts. So would Clint Eastwood if he’d only acknowledge attending Oakland Tech. It would even give him some street cred.

    I’ll take the 5th on names of Oakland rap and hip hop stars. Where do we stand in that universe?

  126. BarryK

    Could Oakland be next? Arizona town in disarray; mayor alleges corruption.

    “He said since being in office, he has discovered that every pay period, eight to 10 paychecks go to unnamed people and that he has been denied access to financial records to find out where the money goes at every turn. He said that’s been happening since 1991 and amounts to $250,000 every year. “That’s literally millions of dollars,” he said.

    Here’s the link to the Council Meeting where the Council President made a motion and was supported to stop a speaker and ordered her to be removed during the open forum; and she was arrested! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPY3BIsVQq8

    ***** (Ring a bell?)
    Oakland’s Hiring Practices Performance Audit
    http://www.oaklandauditor.com/images/oakland/auditreports/hp_final_10.09.pdf (see Page 37)
    • Fictitious or real individuals receive a paycheck but do not work for the City (“Ghost employees”);
    • Individuals are inappropriately appointed to positions and added to the City’s payroll;
    • Inappropriate changes are made to employee pay rates; and,
    • Former employees are not removed from the system and kept on payroll.

  127. Ravi

    The Hercules story is indeed instructive, but I don’t think Hercules can be worse off than Oakland. The situations here and there are the same in that the electeds, for the most part, are incompetent managers. On the other hand, much of the the old gang in Hercules has been voted out; in Oakland the old gang still reigns.

  128. len raphael

    Ravii, a few years ago, one of the council members expressed regret that much more of Oakland wasn’t covered by a Redevolpment District. Imagine an alternative history.

  129. Dax

    Beware of “average salaries” mentioned in the Tribune’s article about the newly released Oakland Data base.

    They report —”Employees earned an average of $55,092.92 in 2010 gross pay before taxes.”

    What is left out of that, is the fact that of the 5,964 employees used to calculate that “average salary”, a minimum of 2,362 or roughly 40%, are NOT full time employees.

    I simply put in a low ball figure of $25,000 gross salary (which includes overtime), and found that those earning from $1 to $25K are numbering 2,362.

    As you can imagine, that 40% group hugely pulls down the average for all those earning above $25,000 gross.

    In fact a more accurate exclusion of those who are less than full time would probably be at least $30,000 and below.
    I’m hard pressed to think of any Oakland city position that pays below $30,000 per year for full time work.

    Thus the true Oakland “average gross pay”
    for the other full time employees would be over $100,000 per year.

    Now don’t confuse this with “median” gross pay for full time employees.
    That figure might be somewhere around $75,000+ and of course all police and fire would be well above that.

    Interesting in the group below $25,000 of gross pay.
    Example… A public works employee who made less than $11,000, but who received over $14,000 in medical/dental/vision as well as another $2,000 in pension contributions.
    I suppose there may be some explanation of such figures. Perhaps a person out injured or something.

    OK, just a warning the next time some Oakland city group tries to suggest the “average salary” is only $55,000

  130. len raphael

    Dax, any tips or tricks to using the database? I input a couple of different employee names and got no hits.

  131. BarryK

    Hi Len,
    I too had a problem accessing the Oakland data. I spent the time navigating the URL until I hit the gold.

    Here’s a url that will start with Oakland’s $300,000 earners; several pages!


    Or, start here: http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area/2010
    Oakland records start on page 13561.

    Looks like many, many high earners for the $300,000 club.

    -Say No to Quan’s next parcel tax!

  132. Dax

    Len, I don’t seem to have any problem with putting names into the data base.

    A few examples.

    1. Jean Quan (as a council member)

    Base pay $71,826
    Medical, dental, vision $14,247
    Pension $14,453 (20.1% of base)
    Other $857
    Total Cost Of Employment $101,383

    I’m curious. Her medical/dental/vision would seem to cover both her and her husband. Is he self employed? Another reason why government costs so much, when we pay for the full medical of a also employed spouse, who in the real world would cover his own medical costs.

    2. John Russo

    Base pay, $207,349
    “other” $6,600
    M/D/V $18,081 (must have some children covered, along with a spouse?)
    Pension $42,544 (20.5% of base)
    Total cost of employment $274,574

    3. Ignacio De La Fuente

    Essentially identical to Jean Quan
    Searched De La Fuente by only first name.

    Interesting example of other Ignacio’s numbers.

    Ignacio, a public works maintenance worker.
    I assume this is a basic laborer?

    Base pay $48,521
    OT $5,495
    Medical/dental/vision $18,081 ($1,500/mth
    Pension $10,471
    Total cost to employe $82,839

    Under public works, one of the lower paying jobs, custodian.

    Custodian (not supervisor)
    Base pay, $40,508 (37.5 hour work week)
    Medical/dental/vision $19,588 (common)
    Pension $8,800
    Total cost of employment $72,000
    Oakland is paying that custodian $10 per hour just for his medical/dental/vision package. More, if you don’t count the vacation, holidays, and sick leave days.
    About $11.50 per hour if you count only actual days and hours worked.

    Compare that to many custodians out in the private sector making (for better or worse) about that $11.50 in wages, and not getting any medical, vision, or dental, let alone a pension beyond Soc Sec.

    But hey, that’s just chump change.

    Take a look at the first six Fire Department Battalion Chiefs on the list.

    Their TCOE (Total cost of employment) to Oakland, averages $335,000 each.
    Yes, working for the City of Oakland, can be very lucrative indeed.

    Puts all the gnashing of teeth during these contract negotiations into perspective.
    Cutbacks, givebacks….to be sure, but from what prior levels of compensation?

    Hardly the cutbacks the typical person in the private sector has endured over the past 3 years.

  133. len raphael

    Do employees contribute anything for dependent medical/dental?

    What are the plan co-pays, if any?


  134. Dax

    Len, I don’t know all those details.

    For example, if you choose Kaiser, I imagine there is some co-pay when you see the doctor.
    Whether it is $10 or $25, I don’t know.
    It could be zero, but that is unusual these days. I do not think there is any deductible in Oakland’s medical plans.

    Regardless, the figure shown for MDV is from what I understand, the total amount the city itself is paying out.

    Is there a amount per month that the employee pays? Perhaps.
    What ever it might be, if any, it would only be a fraction of the total bill.

    Of course, that might be medical, while the plans for dental may require more of a co-pay. Perhaps if you get a $1,000 crown, you may have to pay 20% of that charge, or more. I don’t know.
    Often times the basic preventative visits are free and you pay 20% for procedures.

    Someone who works for the city may give us the details.

    The city site says—

    Medical care

    “Eligible dependents include a spouse, a domestic partner, financially dependent children under age 26 for medical benefits; under age 25 for dental and vision benefits.”

    Note, I do understand the way in which “domestic partners” got included, because gay people couldn’t get married, however I have several friends who could get married, but instead don’t and just get the benefits anyway. Something about that bothers me, when another person can be in the same situation but not working for the city, and have to shell out $400 or $500 per month.


    The City offers two dental plans for non-sworn full-time employees, permanent part-time employees and their eligible dependents.

    The HMO dental plan allows for flat-rate service with no deductibles when visiting an authorized dentist. This plan is administered by DeltaCare.
    The PPO plan gives members flexibility and coverages a percentage of costs. This plan is administered by Delta Dental.

    Vision— no facts on the site.

    BTW, if you happen to be married to person who works for another government agency etc, you can use their medical/dental/vision, not use Oaklands, and Oakland will pay you some amount for NOT using their plans.

    Unsure of what that amounts to.
    However I don’t think it is anywhere near the $7,000 to $19,000 that it costs the city if they pay your way.

  135. Mkilian

    I am posting a link to the blog, Living in the O, as a think piece rather than a polemic. In my opinion the CEDA debacle might be one of the biggest political events of the year, except for the budget stuff.

    So look at the link and form your own conclusions, and yes, this (the Grand Jury Report) impacts the Master Fee Schedule big time, something that seems that our Council has yet to realize.

    By the way the second and final reading of a really deformed, assigned revenue target set of changes to the Master Fee Schedule, a set of changes (think bad, really bad limited access to Libraries and Parks) is slated to happen on Tuesday. It really bugs me that the Library and Parks coalitions have not acted on this.


    Thanks. Michael Kilian

  136. len raphael

    The Mayor should act in the next several days to withdraw all new city code enforcement liens as painful as that will be financially to the City and as harmful as that will be for truly blighted properties with appropriate lien amounts and due process.

    Similar to the way the SF DA dropped all charges recently that were based on crime lab tests by drug addict employee; or the way Oakland dropped charges against virtually anyone arrested by the Rider’s, it is more important to protect the innocent than punish the guilty and reduce our deficit.

    Someone will have to file for an injunction from a judge if the Mayor does not voluntarily do that.

    Our Mayor has more important things to do.

    -len raphael, temescal

  137. BarryK

    Len- If only you were in charge!
    Main difference in the OAK/SFO comparison is money.
    SFO= no revenue generated on drug charges.
    OAK= Lots of revenue from liens and backroom deals with RDA/CEDA.

    Quan listen the Grand Jury? Huh??
    She didn’t with the credit card audit (initiated by former Auditor Smith). He lost staff and funding for his department and she kept her card.
    When Oakland’s Travel Gate was exposed, the Grand Jury said most travel by City officials and employees was social networking. Quan said she defends her travel because it’s for Oakland.
    Then, there was the Grand Jury report on the Pay-Go (pork-go) scandal. The Grand Jury asked the Council to return their banked $11M back to the general fund and stop using the money for their personal and political gain. Quan kept spending; it was an election year after all.

    (By “more important things to do” I assume you mean planning her travel and media tours.)

  138. Ravi

    “Perhaps some other media people will wake up to the fact that they were scooped by Oakland Local, and will do a little reporting on the various aspects of this story. There is plenty of material for more solid local investigative pieces.”

    “The Mayor should act in the next several days to withdraw all new city code enforcement liens as painful as that will be financially to the City and as harmful as that will be for truly blighted properties with appropriate lien amounts and due process.”

    Both of you are pouring martinis that are much too stiff. And the volume of the cocktail piano in your backgrounds is much too high.

  139. len raphael

    Ravi, unlikely on such short notice, but there might just be enough developers around who paid big enough permit fees, that would anonymously chip in 15k or so to pay for the legal work if they stood to gain hundreds of thousand of fees refunded eventually.

    even if they dont get normal permit fees refunded, it would have a salutory effect on CEDA attitude.

    Problem is
    a. persuading them this is good tactic to show the city that if it doesn’t voluntarily and retroactively reduce its fees and fines, people will sue for courts to do so.

    b. overcome their concerns of retailiation. Michelle is way past that point, but not so developers.

  140. Naomi Schiff

    Building permit fees and related development fees are handled separately from the blight fees. Not the same crew of people, except at the tippy-top of CEDA.

  141. Naomi Schiff

    I should say, more properly, code enforcement fines, liens, and fees.

    Martini sounds great. I think I’ll go see what I have in the kitchen.

  142. Max Allstadt


    The code enforcement officers have the authority to require an owner, even a recent buyer, to remediate conditions that are not up to code.

    In some cases, it is alleged that they’ve required that structures that should be considered grandfathered be brought up to code.

    Bringing something up to code requires an owner to get permits. That gets pricey fast.