166 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. Oakie

    Saw this from a recent Dimond list:

    “I received a parking ticket today on Piedmont Ave. for not displaying the parking receipt, which I was displaying. I went to contest it at City Hall.
    That place is not citizen friendly. They did not have the forms out or anyone to answer procedural questions–just an hour wait to see a clerk who was collecting money for tickets. So close to tears of frustration I went to my councilman’s office for help.
    I want to give Richard in Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente’s office a shout out for seeing me immediately, explaining the procedure, making me a photocopy, and promising to be a liaison with the Parking Citation Center’s manager I have read about other neighbors difficulty in contesting their tickets so I hope I will get justice.”

    This is the reply to that post:

    “I have found that the best way to deal with wrongly issued parking tickets is through a city council person’s office. I somehow got three in one week-one place didn’t exist, one was a flat out lie (no plates), and the other was for a place where I wasn’t. Someone is not doing their job.”

    And this followup comment from another:

    “While I agree that the current practical approach is to address the issue through the Council person’s office, I hope when people do so they demand that the SYSTEM be addressed. Currently our City government runs on the squeaky wheel principal. Just think about how much it costs every time a ticket error is corrected by calling a Council person.
    Staff time for the Council person, the person’s staff, and other staff in the City to correct the error in the system.”
    ====end of posts=====
    What a cluster f**k. What a dysfunctional city. It is quite apparent that the city, being the addled addict that it is for our money, will go to any length to maximize cash flow no matter what dishonest and deceptive act is required to accomplish this. The head of Parking is clearly doing EXACTLY what the politicians want them to do: give the politicians plausible deniability and yet do their dirty work and simply hope most people just pay the fines even if they know it’s unjustified with as many roadblocks in place to make appealing the ticket as inconvenient as possible.

    Personally, since their raising of parking rates and draconian fines at $58 for an expired meter, plus their willingness to ticket even when it is not a violation, I simply do not shop in Oakland anymore whenever there’s an alternative. Why risk the tickets, and who has time to fight city hall? I’ll give my business to cities that are more desiring to see me visit.

  2. len raphael

    Measure J (refi the PFRS pension 400Mill obligation)

    Understandable that at the MGO meeting last week not a single person spoke against Measure J. Most people either don’t understand the issue or are baby boomers like myself who simply prefer to have gen xyz pay for the problems that politicians of my generation created.

    Meaure J is all good with me because I’ll be in assisted living by the time Measure J’s time bomb explodes.

    Then you have the people who don’t understand the issue. Such as gen x politician Libby Schaaf.

    As Dan Borenstein put it a few weeks ago:

    “So Schaaf argued in a report to the council last month, that “front-loading of
    the city’s payment obligations to the retirement system … may not be fiscally

    The comment, however well-intentioned, displays a stunning misunderstanding of a
    key principle of pension financing. Pre-paying pensions is not “front-loading,”
    as Schaaf claims. It’s properly paying for benefits when they are earned.

    Keep in mind that pensions are just one form of compensation for labor. No one
    would suggest taking out a loan to cover salaries or health insurance premiums.
    Pensions are no different. The costs should be fully funded when the labor is
    performed, not foisted onto future generations.”



    -len raphael, temescal

  3. livegreen

    Viewing the Council mtg last night and the discussion on the Army Base, I see DBrooks knows how to load a mtg, be condescending, and push her will through. Impressive. But after the debate I’m left w/several questions:

    -What WAS that list of contractors she had, and was she right that it showed non-compliance w/local business & employment?
    -If it was just $15 mill in contracts out of $400mil+ to come, was the other side right that there’s plenty of time left to correct and enforce the local bus/employment clauses while keeping the project moving forwards?;
    -What’s with the delays in the development (that pushed things past this summer), & is it justified or not?
    -Same question for the State & Fed budget money? (Esp. the Fed money Libby Schaaf explained well);
    -Why did City Staff do such a POOR bumbling job explaining themselves last night (incl. the timeline and list of contractors);
    -Why has City Staff done such a poor job monitoring local business/job hire if they knew this was part of the City Council’s requirements?
    -What will be the effect of the City Council deciding they must approve every contract of $50K or more?

    -Why does the Council usually load some of the most important items at the end, when it’s midnight & they’re so tired they can barely talk about anything?

  4. Oakie

    A great idea for Oakland:


    Ok, this is mostly awful, but I can thing of a very few laws for which I would fully endorse maximizing the fines, and using all the money collected by the city (their share, after rewarding the citizen enforcers) to dollar-for-dollar reduce parking rates and the outrageous fines associated with it:

    Handicapped parking fraud. I read it was estimated that 1/3 of all handicapped placards are fraudulently used. This is outrageous, and nothing is being done about it. I would recommend you start the enforcement immediately around city hall and all city buildings, my guess is that that’s where the most fraud is happening.

    Violations of the sound ordinance, otherwise known as boom cars. There are now iPhone apps that cost less than a candy bar that can record decibel levels. Why not enforce this law, already on the books. If the cops would start pulling over these cars, I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts they’d soon be finding guns possessed by felons, people with active warrants, etc.

  5. ralph

    I am posting my response to your ballot Measure post on the open thread.

    I would not classify all anti-Measure I individuals as tea partiers. I am sure there are some people who simply refuse to give The City of Oakland another dime due to years of incompetent fiscal management. Others of us are not opposed to new taxes so long as we know how the money is to be used, the proposal makes sense and we can measure the outcomes. $11MM to restore services for 7 different programs does not add up.

    Thankfully, Measure I supporters agree that it is a Bill of Goods:

    Measure I includes language that would indicate that police and fire services would be a primary focus. But if you read comments by Pamela Drake, a Measure I supporter, it is clear that she recognizes that there is simply not enough money in Measure I to support additional police services. A bill of goods. Vote No on Measure I,

    Measure I
    The City will use the proceeds of the special tax imposed under this Ordinance to pay for any costs and expenses related to or arising from restoring City:
    a. Police services and police technology
    b. Fire services

    Pamela Drake:
    First, no, it (Measure I) doesn’t hire more cops. It’s not enough $ to do that, but to hire more cops we need $ to recruit and train.

    Ms Drake points out that Measure I will restore senior services. SS is listed as the last priority of Measure I. Can you say BAIT and SWITCH.

    My friend Pete Townshend had something to say about this, “We don’t get fooled again don’t wanna get fooled again, no, no Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss”

  6. len raphael

    all, i might just be getting careless, but it seems harder to see whether the post i’m replying to is under the open thread or specific item. I thought i was in the open thread.

  7. V Smoothe

    It’s you being careless, Len. Look at the top of the screen before you write something and check where you are posting it. I’m getting really tired of constantly having to lecture you about staying on topic.

  8. ralph

    The Port is a huge economic engine in the Bay Area and the mayor has for some reason nominated individuals who have absolutely no business experience to serve as commissioners. She is in over her head. I hope that the Chamber speaks out against these individuals.

  9. len raphael

    Another reason to Vote No on H (make City Attorney an appointed position): the fed crackdown on the mj industry.

    if it hadn’t been for Russo’s refusal to bless the City’s industrial growing plan, our elected leaders wolud have rushed into their latest get rich quick scheme, and announced that our budgets were balanced for the next 100 years based on projected mj tax revenue.

    Quan and Kaplan were all eager to go out and shop for another legal opinion to justify their proposed legislation.

    If they could have, our leaders would have thrown Redevelopment Money at the first mj huckster who gave a good powerpoint presentation.

    Thank you Russo.

    Vote No on H, I, and J

    ( Ralph’s thread was closed to postings)

  10. Ravi

    Right lg, we’re going to lose the only person in City Hall who thinks there’s too much violence here.

  11. len raphael

    He’s been a dead man walking ever since Quan got elected. Working for a boss who sabatoged his officers at the grant riots. A dept that knew he was a shorttimer after the :SJ thing. Then the demeaning dog and pony show he’s gone thru promoting Measure I with Fire Chief Kaufman.

    Batts must know :very little of Measure I will go to restore anything at OPD, let alone bring it up to the strength it needs to be effective.

    Resigning was the best thing he could do for Oakland. No more participating in the charade when Quan brought him out to stand next to her to show how she was tough on crime.

  12. Eye2theworld

    It is incredibly unfortunate and incredibly frustrating that a man of Chief Batts’ caliber and leadership has essentially been chained and muzzled by Mayor Quan, Councilmember Jane Brunner and others in their utter and complete lack of support for all of the tools that Chief Batts’ has requested to fight crime–gang inujuctions, anti-loitering laws, curfews, more police, better equipment, etc. Once again liberal politics, racial politics and ideologues rule the day. Once again, the residents of Oakland will continue to be subjected to unacceptably high crime rates that prevent and deter economic development and the very jobs that many think are the solution to crime. Very sad.

  13. Izzy Ort

    Great going, Oakland

    This is from PSA3:



    Chief of Police

    Oakland Police Department

    Dear Oakland Residents:

    It is with great regret that I tender this official notice of my intent to resign as Chief of Police for the City of Oakland.

    In 2009, I answered the call for a reform-minded chief; a leader with a focus on community policing and high professional standards. I was told Oakland residents were looking for a strong, visible leader to engage the community and reduce violent crime. My goal was to help rebuild a once proud, professional department, geared toward crime reduction and community services.

    With this goal in mind, rather than a chief managing a diverse department of law enforcement professionals making the streets of Oakland safe, I found myself with limited control, but full accountability. The landscape has changed radically over the past two years with new and different challenges.

    I am pleased with the fact that over the past two years, we have implemented positive changes, endeavoring to make Oakland a safer place, including:

    * Reducing violent crime by 27% in 2010;
    * Ending the 25-year public safety problem of street racing and cruising (sideshow);
    * Securing a 25 officer grant to enhance community policing, school safety and to offset officer layoffs;
    * Establishing a lapel camera program to impact compliance with consent decree requirements;
    * Improving department relations with our diverse community;
    * Securing a $1 million grant from The Kaiser Foundation for the OK police mentoring program;
    * Completing a major reorganization of the police department to reflect reduced staffing levels and better meet the policing needs of the Oakland community;
    * Creating a five-year strategic plan;
    * Re-establishing the Police Foundation and;
    * Reducing some level of compliance on all 51 tasks of the NSA, with only 12 remaining to move into full compliance.

    I have great respect for the citizens of Oakland and the good men and women of the Oakland Police Department. However, with a heavy heart, I have recognized that the conditions, under which I was hired as Chief, have changed and do not allow me to fulfill the primary mission – to provide an environment where one can live, work, play, and thrive free from crime and the fear of crime. To the men and women of the Oakland Police Department, and the residents of this city, it has been an honor and privilege to serve with you.


    Anthony W. Batts

  14. len raphael

    ravi, I was about to say you misunderstand my point of view, if you thought that I blamed our local government failures on their liberal ideology.

    But yes, to a large extend I do blame it on liberal ideological blinders our so self described liberal politicians wear.

    On the other hand, I often find common cause with the Greens who are unabashedly left wing and don’t talk out of both sides of their mouths. They are unrealistic also about the perfectability of humans, but they are very realistic about seeng the problems here and seeing that current solutions are bs.

    They are very aware that the way the “liberals” have managed Oakland, there won’t be any money left to argue about whether to spend on programs or cops because it will all go to pensions, retirement benefits, and bond service.

    We’re in complete agreement on Measures H and I. They abstained on J, but so did most organizations.

    -len rapahel, cpa
    Yes on Oakland, No on H,I,J

  15. len raphael

    What is effective date of his resignation? Does this mean that he won’t let Quan trot him out at her forthcoming public safety hand wringing circus?

  16. Eye2theworld


    We are in partial agreement. It is about incompetent people who happen to hold liberal political views. But it is also about liberal and racial politics that prevent Oakland from supporting the measures our Chief felt were necessary tools to address crime in Oakland. The mix is devestating to Oakland.

    Warmly Eyeball.

  17. Born in Oakland

    what was most telling during the press conference, not a word of thanks or regret from our Mayor. None of this is good news for us, the citizens of Oakland.

  18. len raphael

    He’s been a figurehead for months now: the OPD seems to be run by the OPOA and Quan abuses him by making him appear at newsconferences with her like a trophy crime fighting date.

    His capacity for eating sh_ was impressive.

    But in the end it wasn’t worth that 250k ? a year when he looked in the mirror each morning.

  19. Oakland Space Academy

    This is a sad day for Oakland to be sure. But I’ve got to say, I have lost a bit of respect for Mr. Batts in this, especially reading his letter. He certainly didn’t have limited control and full accountability. He had as much control as police chiefs ever have, which is to say, he doesn’t make laws or decide on the size of the force – this is the fate of all martial leaders in good democracies.

    And nobody was holding him fully accountable for all the mistakes our elected leaders were making, everybody knew he was doing extremely well serving under people whose vision differed from his. If his primary mission was to “provide an environment…free from crime and the fear of crime,” he never should have taken the job. It wasn’t possible in Oakland, nor in any city for that matter. As much as I’m disappointed by his departure, I think less of him now.

  20. Mry

    No Len OPD is run by the monitors, who are making a boatload of money. Who wants to bet that when the monitor’s contract is up that they will suddenly be in compliance? My understanding is that no other departments come close to complying to the standards. The problem was they agreed to it, or somebody did. Was it Russo?

  21. Mry

    @Oakland Space Academy, I respectfully disagree with your statement. He did not have as much control or maybe a better word would be cooperation as other police chiefs. Every tool he would try to implement would get shot down.

  22. len raphael

    Mry, a couple of years ago I met Russo for first time and harangued him for caving on the NSA. He had a defense ready: that when two of the defendents went awol, he lost all bargaining power.

    Story I heard was how one of the monitors bought a house here because she was confident she’d be here for years making bank.

  23. len raphael

    Drummond is showing genuine signs of waking up and not drinking the oakland kool-aide that Quan and most of the CC hand out on crime. Now if TD will check out the fiscal situation she’ll see crime and fiscal policies are interconnected by the same incompetence masked by ideology.

    You need a Rahm Emmanuel liberal to tell Oakland pols to get real.

  24. len raphael

    In their own way, the Quans and Barbara Lees are like Harold Camping.

    In their heart of hearts they believe that the Federal government is going to change it’s evil ways and shower Oakland with Federal grants that will magically lift the poor out of poverty, end crime, and we’ll all live happily ever after.

    I have no problem with liberals like John Hickenlooper, or Cuomo. But we get the dreamy, spacey ones left over from the Johnson Humphrey era. Unfortunately, we have plenty of residents who feel the same way.

    So it’s encouraging to see Drummond has moved from her early adoration of Dellums to calling Oakland government, a “head case”.

    -len raphael, temescal
    Yes on Oakland, No on H,I,J

  25. Mry

    As usual Len you are a wealth of knowledge ;) thank you, I did not know the rest of that story. Once again I am in full agreement with you on your position.

  26. Ravi

    lenster: Again an astute observation! With local, state and federal finances shrinking, Oakland’s electeds’ expectations of pennies from heaven is even nuttier than usual.

    If they only could understand that small business is the heart of the American (and Oakland’s, too, potentially) economy, then they might make the connection between our high crime rate and our lack of jobs.

    But that’s assuming that their eyes are capable of opening.

  27. Jonathan C. Breault

    Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts was left with no choice. He had to resign to preserve a modicum of self respect and dignity. Working for the cabal of fools who run Oakland is a no win proposition. Mayor Jean Quan clearly has no use for police work and has no interest in supporting a strong, independent, professionally run Police Department. I consider Quan to be incompetent, perverse and abnormally narcissistic and the naive fools in Oakland who support her deserve all of the hell which is heading in their direction. The City Council meeting of October 4, 2011, a world class circus and embarrassment, was the final nail driven into the proverbial coffin. A bombastic mob of self centered, profoundly ignorant fools took over the meeting and demeaned, degraded, threatened and insulted the police much to the delight of the assemblage of lunatics in the audience and they succeeded in intimidating the gullible, cowardly, compliant and weak City Council and Mayor Quan into doing their bidding to the detriment of the Police Dept and Chief Batts. Only hopelessly juvenile, uneducated, ideological, veritable children could possibly associated themselves with the insipid prattling of this mob of unaccomplished, uneducated, puerile, quasi civilized brats but in Oakland this precisely the modus operandi of the pubic policy process. Which herd of bellowing buffoons yells the loudest wins the day in this truly pathetic and ridiculous town. Batts was way too good for Oakland. He probably realized very early on that he made a big mistake coming here as the local political scene is waist deep in bile of their own making and the principal work product of our City Council is more the same bile. Autocratic, domineering fools like Quan, Nancy Nadel, Rebecca Kaplan, Desley Brooks and Jane Brunner are complicit with the rampant thuggery and savagery that is destroying much of Oakland day-by-day. These laughably foolish political hacks collectively know absolutely nothing about law enforcement or police work but are nevertheless belligerent, officious, domineering, clueless, stridently opinionated notwithstanding an abiding, overwhelming ignorance. They are stupid task masters who only countenance sycophants and weaklings who are reliably obedient and subservient. No back talk or original thinking tolerated. Batts is obviously not a weakling and is 25 times smarter than any of these pathetic, ridiculous busy bodies. Batts will move on with no regrets as he did the best job possible under ridiculous stewardship. He is a true professional who is actually educated in his field and highly trained with real experience. In short, absolutely qualified to do the job. Contrast him with the bratty, childish, clueless, ignorant, aimless, unaccomplished, fools running Oakland and one can quickly surmise that we will continue our descent into dysfunction, penury, chaos, crisis and endless, mindless violence and societal degradation. Quans latest attempt at extortion via the cynical, dishonest use of the parcel tax should be rejected by the electorate. The administration will squander the money and lie with impunity as to where it went. Their track record is appalling, inept and they ought not to be trusted by any rational, discerning taxpayer.

  28. ken o

    +1 jonathan b, Len, eye, rav. Oakland city leaders and top bcrats are as rotten as john Paulson, Jamie dimon, ken lay, general betrayus, boener, Cain, cantor, Pelosi, brown, Bernanke, Obama, Clinton, bush, Reagan and all their buddies,layers of lobbyists, firms… Time to toss out all dem rotten apples.

  29. Oakland Space Academy

    Mry, Wow, “Every tool he would try to implement would get shot down,” is a strong statement, care to back that up?

    Len, Strange that you admire John Hinckenlooper? As mayor of Denver he was primarily focused on transit and urban development issues, precisely those which you admonish Oakland’s younger activists from focusing on.

  30. Mry

    @space, okay maybe every tool is an exaggeration, but the gang injunction, the curfew,blocking his officers at the Oscar Grant riots. Batt’s was not her “choice” and she said so at the press conference. She is a spiteful, defensive person and if you think she was supportive of him, then let’s just agree to disagree.

  31. len raphael

    OSA, i’m not anti public transit or smarter growth. it’s a matter of priorities.

    Hick can turn his attention to those matters because Denver’s muni finances, crime situation, and schools are in better shape than Oakland’s.

    i haven’t followed his career that closely to know how much is a result of his efforts and how much Denver has benefited from say the energy industry boom.

    (also helps that i’ve known him for 40 years)

  32. len raphael

    MSA, i shouldn’t be such an ingrate about activists who at the extreme seem like they’d perfectly content to live in a town without cars but got mugged waiting for an electric bus at every highest density urban village, just as long as the muggers didn’t have to drive cars to get away.

    Because compared to the urban farming fanatics or the food truck activists, transit/density activists are effective revolutionaries. Wasn’t it 500 urban farming supporters showed up at the CC session a short time ago.

    That’s more than the sum of the gang banger supporters plus the anti gang bangers at the CC heariings.

  33. Born in Oakland

    Go to the KPIX website for the survey results about our Mayor. Popularity and citizen confidence about her ability to handle crime plummeted over 4/2011. Survey was completed yesterday.

  34. MarleenLee

    Apparently OPD has been given a directive to leave the Occupy Oakland protesters alone. This, despite the obvious violation of a city ordinance banning camping; the pot smoking; the public urination and all that. As a public forum, the City is required to remain “viewpoint neutral” with respect to First Amendment exercise of free speech issues. So what that means is that the City will be required to leave alone Neo Nazi protesters, Tea Party protesters, Impeach Jean Quan protesters, and a bunch of other protesters whose views they might not agree with. They might want to consult with the ACLU, and then they’ll find out I’m right….Just another example of City Hall supporting lawlessness in Oakland.

  35. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Mayor Quan should look on the bright side. Although only 25% of Oaklanders wanted her to be Mayor, she’s managed to sway another 3% (it was closer to 4% before the furloughs).

  36. Ravi

    Jon C. Breault–my man!

    Lovely word, “narcissism”, so very apt for Quan et al, who are actually far more destructive than their 18 year-old gangbanger peers with guns.

  37. Oakland Space Academy


    I understand you aren’t anti-transit or smart growth (until your tomatoes are affected), it is that your priorities lay elsewhere. The problem is that you seem to think these issues are mutually exclusive. Your stupid caricature of urban design activists belie this view.

    I’m no fan of urban farming, but perhaps the reason 500 people showed up is because urban land use is important. Whether gang injunctions are implemented is not. They wouldn’t make a dime’s worth of difference, and are only useful as a signal as to which side someone is on in the increasingly dumb police/social programs debate.

    I know Hickenlooper because he hired the city planning director (and my former professor) from Milwaukee after Mayor Norquist left to run the CNU. Good mayors understand that first and foremost, cities need to learn how to be cities again. If they get their urban form right, people will flow in because that is the environment many people prefer to live in. And when people flow in, money flows in, schools get better, and crime flows out.

    But instead of getting the urban form right, Oakland gets residential zoning along Shattuck and MLK in the most recent update that will be with us for what, another 50 years?

    Your cart and horse need to be switched around.

  38. Oakland Space Academy


    I don’t understand. Are you saying that City should NOT allow neo-nazi, tea party, or impeach Quan protesters? You also imply that protesting should only be done during regular business hours, or something.

    I like this quote:

    “American citizens have a right to assemble in public in order to communicate with one another and with their elected leaders. The right to public assembly is not a right to assemble for a second, or an hour, or a day. As Americans, we have a right to assemble until we are satisfied that our voices have been heard, and that our leaders are sustaining, not destroying, our safety and our livelihoods.”

    It is from this letter to the NYC police department.


    If people are smoking pot, they should be stopped. If people are urinating on trees, services should be brought in. If people are protesting overnight, they should be exemplified for their engagement with democracy.

    You are being fascist.

  39. MarleenLee

    Name calling does not enhance your arguments. There is a law against camping in front of City Hall. Are you not aware of that? Of course the “Occupiers” have a right to demonstrate and exercise their right of free speech, as long as they do so legally. Right now, they are not doing so legally. My point has to do with the First Amendment and the fact that government entities must enforce rights to free speech in a “viewpoint neutral” manner. So if they are intentionally not enforcing the law against the “occupiers,” what that means is that when another protest group (e.g. neo Nazis) wants to break the law by camping out, the City cannot legally force them to leave, because this would not be “viewpoint neutral” enforcement. Call me a fascist if you like, but the ACLU and U.S. Supreme Court agree with me on this one.

  40. Oakland Space Academy


    They aren’t camping, they are protesting. Of course people shouldn’t be allowed to camp in front of City Hall, or in parks or other public spaces. This is clearly different. When other groups protest overnight in front of City Hall, they should be allowed to do so as well.

    I didn’t mean to call you a fascist, only that you were acting like one in this particular instance. I wasn’t clear, I apologize.

  41. Izzy Ort

    “As a public forum, the City is required to remain “viewpoint neutral” with respect to First Amendment exercise of free speech issues.”

    Actually, ML, don’t they have to be “content neutral”, not just “viewpoint neutral”? “Viewpoint neutral” only comes in where the State is in fact permitted to limit the subject matter of the speech to a range of topics.

    The author of this statement:

    “The right to public assembly is not a right to assemble for a second, or an hour, or a day. As Americans, we have a right to assemble until we are satisfied that our voices have been heard”

    is basically wrong.

    If has always been permissible within the bounds the First Amendment for the State to enact and enforce reasonable content-neutral time, place and manner restrictions on speech, even in a pure public forum, within certain guidelines.

    Even union strikers on a picket line have to keep it moving.

    The State’s interest in protecting public health is a significant interest which is jeopardized by having people camp out, even if they call it protesting, in places without adequate facilities. That is probably a strong enough interest to enforce the anti-camping ordinance without running afoul of the First Amendment.

    Our City leaders are going to let this go on out of preference, not compulsion. They like this kind of stuff.

  42. Matt C

    Something to consider…

    Take two comparable homes, one in Oakland and one in Berkeley. All things are equal, home size, lot size, neighborhood safety and amenities, as well as fit and finishes. You’ll likely pay about a 7% premium to buy the Berkeley property. A $600k home in Oakland will cost you $642K in Berkeley.

    As for secured property taxes while Berkeley has a much lower property tax rate it has much, much higher fixed charges and special assessments. Taking two equally tax -valued- homes, one in Oakland and one in Berkeley I found the one in Berkeley to have about a 7% higher secured property tax bill (I’m hoping for one more 7).

    To me this means that living in Oakland you’ll save ~7% on the one time purchase price and ~15% on your secured property tax bill year after year over a comparable property in Berkeley.

    I’m not sure I’m against Measure I even if the money doesn’t all go to hiring cops, because living here is apparently a bargain. Perhaps we’ll get a few more cops, a few less potholes, and brighter streets?

    Pick this apart -I did the research in less than an hour, but I think it’s good to know what it is we’re talking about here.

  43. Patrick M. Mitchell

    In 2010, there were 6 murders in Berkeley, a city of ~170,000. Oakland, with a population of ~395,000, had 92 murders. With a population that was 43% of Oakland’s, Berkeley’s murder rate was 6.5% that of Oakland. Stated another way, you’re 36 times more likely to be killed in Oakland vs. Berkeley. So, the savings is real only if you don’t get killed – and can ignore the very real fear of being a victim.

  44. Matt C

    My point is perhaps there -is- room for a property tax increase.

    The city is broke. Thanks to furloughs and layoffs street light outages take weeks to repair, OPD only shows up for life or limb situations, and our libraries are less accessible. It all kinda sucks.

    What would our budget look like using Berkeley’s rate of property taxation?

  45. Patrick M. Mitchell


    Berkeley’s median income is 20% higher than Oakland’s.

    Berkeley’s Ad Valorem Tax Rate is 1.0471%. Oakland’s is 1.4112% – a 26% premium.

    Berkeley’s public employees work a 40 hour week; Oakland’s work a 37.5 hour week. Over the course of a year, this equals over 3 FULL WEEKS less work (not including furloughs, paid holidays and vacation which add nearly 8 weeks extra time off for Oakland’s employees). Imagine having 11 weeks off per year while earning, on average, more than twice the average income of the people who employ you. In addition, Oakland’s employees earn more than Berkeley’s employees.

    Berkeley’s employees pension accrues at a rate of 2.7% for each year employed. At 30 years, a Berkeley employee will receive 81% of their highest year’s salary for the rest of their life. Oakland’s employee’s pension accrues at a rate of 3.0% per year employed. At 30 years, they will receive 90% of their salary for the rest of their life. Let’s assume a modest salary of $60,000 per year (remembering that Deborah Edgerley’s nephew, a meter repairman, made $72K per year). Let’s also assume that $60,000 was the highest year’s salary. The difference is $5,600 per year. The average Oakland employee makes far more than that, and there are currently ~5000 employees. 5000 x $5600 per year = $2 MILLION 800 THOUSAND more per year than Berkeley – just for pensions!

    If I blindfolded you and drove down Telegraph, you would be able to tell, within seconds, when we transitioned from Oakland into Berkeley. Because Berkeley’s roads are maintained while Oakland’s aren’t. Berkeley’s residents also have every right to feel safe on the streets at night – do you while in Oakland?

    Berkeley is a freaking bargain compared to Oakland – even at twice the price.

  46. Patrick M. Mitchell

    And let’s not forget our unfunded $450 million (best case scenario) pension obligation. That’s $1200 for every man, woman, and child in Oakland.

  47. Patrick M. Mitchell

    And let’s not forget our unfunded $450 million (best case scenario) pension obligation. That’s $1200 for every man, woman, and child in Oakland. $80 doesn’t – quoting what they said in the South when I lived there – amount to a hill of beans. Until changes are made to the very structure of Oakland’s government, more money will just feed the pig.


  48. Patrick M. Mitchell

    And furthermore (!), my house, if it were located in Berkeley, would probably be worth twice as much. And that’s because of Oakland’s taxes, crime and politics, pure and simple.

  49. len raphael

    Matt, i agree with you that parcel taxes in Berkeley are much higher than Oakland parcel taxes. But as Patrick noted the ad valorem rate is much higher in Oakland.

    I’m surprised you came up with only a 7% premium for houses in Berekley over Oakland.
    Hard to generalize but would say that for a 650k house in Baja Rockridge, you would have to 785 in North Berkeley for same size and condition house. Say 20% more?

    When you consider that most of the schools in Berkeley are much better than most of the schools in Oakland (a dangerous thing to generalize about for many reasons), just saving the cost of private school by moving to Berkeley is worth doing if you have more than one child.

    Those higher Berkeley parcel taxes seem to get earmarked for very specific services such as libraries and schools. The very high ad valorem taxes here go for bond service. As Patrick described the biggest piece of that bond service is to pay for the pension obligation bonds re the amazing dumb combo of dumb investment decisions compounded by the city council deciding twice ? to essentially borrow on margin via the bonds to double down on their bets. They lost even more that way.

    I have no doubt we will have to raise parcel taxes to retire the monstrously large PFRS obligation and the totally unfunded medical retirement benefits.

    When the full brunt of the Calpers investments losses combined with the longer lives of retirees and the retroactive increases mentioned here many times all come home to roost, it will be god awful to run this town very basic services with very big cost reductions.

    if only an 80/year parcel tax would prevent that, I’d be out campaigning for it.

    But ignoring PFRS etc, just look at the recent so called balanced budget “fair share” labor concessions. Most of those concessions were in the form of temporary furloughs and two/three delays in raises. After two or three years, the police costs alone will eat up most of the annual Meaure I tax increase.

    When we opponents of Measure I, including the Greens, say the city has NO PLAN, we don’t just mean that the parcel tax is not dedicated explicitly.

    We mean that the City has no long term fiscal plan for how to sustain essential services in light of declining real estate values, mediocre business tax collections, and escalating retirement and personnel costs.

    -len raphael, cpa
    Yes on Oakland

  50. len raphael

    Matt, the City doesn’t even have a short term fiscal plan. That “balanced budget” of last summer? You won’t find it online because it hasn’t been “finalized”.

    So if you wanted to know what PFRS was going to cost the City with or without Measure J, and how our officials were planning to fund it, not easy to find the simple answer.

  51. len raphael

    Matt, leave my $5/apiece heirloom tomatoes out of this, even though I must admit they did really enjoy the unimpeded few sunny days we had this summer.

    Curious how Hickenlooper changed the zoning in Denver? Did he concentrate on encouraging density in the downtown areas or along all transit corridors including the residental neighborhoods?

    if yes in the residential neigborhoods, how did he handle the transition from low to high density?

  52. ralph

    Giving the city $11 million a yr to waste is not going to get you street lights and it is not going to make the libraries any more accessible. The city is trying to do too much with too little. The city needs to focus on one thing – reducing crime and individual’s fear of crime. You do that (as well as staff the MTC appropriately) and just maybe we will retain and draw business. Will this require a tax from the people probably but if you tell me that 100% of my tax is going to pay for public safety the probability of me saying yes goes from 0 to 100% in less than .43 seconds. In due time the additional taxes from new business and increased property values will fund lights and libraries and maybe just maybe I will be able to do a border crossing without noticing I have either left or entered Oakland.

    No on Measure I

  53. livegreen

    Where is the final Policy Budget for 2011-13? I think this highlights a problem V pointed to a while ago: the Mayor proposed budget options, but not real, complete budgets.

    In years past we had comprehensive documents to review & give feedback to the City council on. Then they would make changes to those based on both the politics of what was necessary to pass it in City Council AND public feedback.

    Without a comprehensive proposed budget that hasn’t even been done yet, AFTER the City Council already voted on it.

    If it has been finished then it should be released. &/or if it has been released it should be on the City website. Am I wrong? If so, please help me find the budget the City voted on about 4 months ago. City website:


  54. livegreen

    V or anybody else, Do you know in past years about how long did it took the City to release the Adopted Budget after the CC approved it?

    Separately, is there anything in govt. standards the law, or the City Charter that:
    –Defines what a Budget or Proposed Budget is (as opposed to outlines like we got this year) & –How long it should take the City to release the final budget after it has been Adopted by Council?

  55. len raphael

    it’s the mandatory revised 5 year projected budget that we have to see asap. They can’t expect voters to make decisions about I and J (which would remove any PFRS funding deadline) without providing such basic data as projected 5 year budget.

    Sure, that budget is almost useless without 3 versions of its assumptions: pessimistic, mildly pessimistic, and optimistic, becasue the assumptions it’s basde on are critical. But at least it would give us a starting port of analysis.

    -len raphael, 4922 desmond

    Yes on Oakland
    by Voting NO on Measures H, I, J

  56. Marleen

    Berkeley has higher assessments for its schools. Not for City services. Oakland is not a bargain because you have to tack on $40,000 a YEAR to send 2 kids to private school. In Berkeley they can go to the public schools which are way better than Oakland. I am a proud graduate.

  57. Livegreen

    There r more and more good schools in Oakland. But it’s true sometimes the good r next to the mediocre or bad. This only exagerates the affects, as motivated parents often vacate the latter for the former.

    Take as an example Redwood Heights vs. Laurel. The schools aren’t far away from each other but ar Redwood Heights you can go to a school on par with Lamorinda or Piedmont.

    Laurel is a program improvement school many of the families live nearby bail on, either to private, to other nearby better OUSD schools, or seek safety outside of Oakland altogether…

  58. len raphael

    NYT’s article on Greek bureaucracy today sounds familiar:

    “Bureaucracy in Greece Defies Efforts to Cut It”

    “Greece’s bureaucracy has been growing steadily since democracy was reinstated in 1974, with each new administration adding its supporters to the payroll — and wages rising steeply in the past decade, experts say.

    “There was really a party going on,” said Yannis Stournaras, an economist and the director of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research in Athens. “The government kept adding bonuses and benefits and pensions. At election time there was a boom cycle as they handed out jobs.”

    “Now they need to cut,” he added. “But they have already lost precious time.”

  59. ralph

    I think it is time for Marleen to file another suit against the city. The council’s discussion on Measure I amounts to city officials electioneering on the taxpayer’s dime. This discussion should have taken place well before I voted no on Measure I.

    The vote tonight is nonbinding and does not adequately address the issues of safety, which is the single most critical issue facing the city.

    Vote no on Measure I.

  60. len raphael

    Measure J, the ballot measure no one talks about

    Jane Brunner’s newsletter describes Measure J

    as “a technical fix” “that would allow the City to lower it’s annual payments’ for the old pre Calpers pension plan for fire and cops.

    It is not correct to describe it as a “technical fix”. Nowhere in the City Attorney’s or the City Auditor’s ballot opinions is it described as such.

    A technical fix commonly means curing a drafting error in the original law that has no important effect. To the contrary, the prior charter amendment explicitly set the year 2026 as the final deadline for fully funding the PFRS.

    J completely removes any fixed deadline for full funding and leaves it up the PFRS board and their chosen actuary.

    What might be best for PFRS beneficiaries is not necessarily best for the residents.

    The City Auditor opinion states the effect of J would be to stretch out the funding payments past 2026.

    As Jane’s newsletter states, extending the deadline might reduce the annual payments and very possibly not increase the annual taxes that we all pay directly or indirectly now. (a very substantial sum)

    But what her newsletter and the ballot measure fails to mention, is that stretching out the payments would probably increase the total amount of taxes we pay over the entire extended funding period.

    A longer term gives more flexibility but also exposes the residents to investment risks over a longer number of years than 2026 that could more than wipe out the benefits of the flexibility.

    But more importantly an unlimited funding extension shifts the burden of the funding to yet even younger future Oakland residents who never benefited from employees who were hired pre 1976.

    Those young and future residents are the ones who should be allowed to vote on J.

    No, this is just a “technical fix”.

    This is “the fix is in” for generation x,y,z.

    -Len Raphael, CPA

    Yes on Oakland
    by Voting NO on H,I,J

  61. livegreen

    When is a good, credible candidate going to run against Jane Brunner? Tons of people focussed on the Mayor’s race last year who were, quite frankly, not going to win. But some might have had a chance to replace Council members.

    It’s time to find moderates willing to do the job…

  62. len raphael

    Actually, I think Brunner has become much more responsive to her constituents concerns about crime and bad development.

    She recently criticized a posting by someone who opined that adding more cops would create a “police state”. The old Jane would not have publicly disagreed.

    She was not present for the vote on the Nik Nak, but I have the sense she would have opposed giving them a variance if forced to choose.

    Yes we have to keep pushing her on public security but the hardest issue to move her on would be cutting compensation costs so that we can afford to fund effective anti violence program and hire more cops.

    She’s a die hard labor union attorney by profession and belief. All we can do is hope she’ll wake up one day like IDLF, the old union organizer and current union business manager, and realize that we can’t tax our way out of the approaching fiscal tsunami.

    -len raphael, cpa

    Yes on Oakland
    by VOTING NO on H, I, J

  63. livegreen

    Len, She still voted with Desley Brooks not to give an understaffed PD the tools it needs via the injunctions. She also didn’t engage Ms. Brooks in any way that we can Social Program our way out of the crime problem.

    Finally, she’s employed by Dan Siegel who dislikes the police and is suing the City over the gang injunctions from inside the Mayor’s office.

    She might have come a long way on law enforcement issues, but that’s not saying much.

  64. livegreen

    Len & Ralph, Another reason to vote NO on Measure I: the other day on KQED they had a good discussion on Greek debt. One of the economists mentioned that there’s a fundamental distinction on how Greece and the Government can spend money. Productive government spending and investment is on education, infrastructure, technology & other ROI.

    Greece (and Oakland) have been spending their money on maintaining Government jobs and salaries.

  65. livegreen

    To Ralph’s point about electioneering, what about:
    -Jane Brunner putting it in her newsletter?;
    -Jean Quan promoting it at the Neighborhood Safety conference? That should be on KTOP, unless it gets pulled.

  66. len raphael

    Big part of the problem is not JB’s but us, her constituents.

    If the only time she hears from constituents like me is when asking for higher density on the Pleasant Valley Safeway site, lower density on upper Bway when abutting single family and my heirloom tomatoes, and design changes to mickyd’s, then shame on me

    -len raphael
    Vote yes on Oakland
    on H, I, J

  67. len raphael

    Brunner had the sense to vote against Kaplan, Kernighan, Reid, and Schaaf the other night. Brunner is definitely improving.

    I like Kaplan’s line in response to the speaker’s accusing her side of electioneering on City Council time.

    Kaplan shows she has the makings of a politician destined for great things when she defended the resolution as budgeting:

    “It’s within our moral responsibility to do,” Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said.

    That’s a hoot because the budget that was passed months ago still hasn’t been released to the council members or the residents. Now the Council is “budgeting” for a tax that is probably going to be defeated by the voters.

  68. ralph

    The moral responsibility was by far my favorite line of the night. I love it that the politicians are finally beginning to understand we voters are not in the business of handing out blank checks, but where was this moral responsibility before this DOA Measure was placed on the ballot.

    Vote Yes for Oakland – No on Measure I

  69. len raphael

    Hear Joe Tuman, that very model of a modern political candidate, with expertise in Oakland matters fiscal, in addition to his proven social media competence, has posted his support for Measure J on facebook.

    How would a luddite like myself find that?


  70. len raphael

    Dave C, thank you.

    Did I go to the right place? His entire justification for supporting J was that it could save 3Million dollars.

    -len raphael
    Vote Yes on Oakland
    by VOTING NO on H,I,J

  71. gregory mcconnell

    I attend City Hall meetings that last into the wee hours. Sometimes, I go out front and look across at the plaza and it virtually looks like it is moving as large rats scurry about. That was true long before the occupancy of the tent protesters. I cannot imagine how unhealthy and unsanitary the conditions must be now and I certainly don’t think tent city is any place for children. I like SF Mayor Lee’s position – support the right to assemble and protest, but do not turn the city’s plaza into a dump, with drugs, sex, fights and extremely unsanitary conditions. What is the point of this anyway? Who in Oakland supports Wall Street greed? This protest is not creating jobs. It is not improving lives. So what is it that they want? What do they propose? Just yesterday, I brought some people to Oakland hoping to attract new businesses that will create jobs and when they saw the encampment, they asked me why we tolerate this. I had no answer, so I will ask you. Why do we?

  72. Dave C.


    Yes, that’s pretty much it. If you only saw the first paragraph of his endorsement, then you have to click the “See More” button to read the additional half-dozen or so paragraphs, but his argument amounts to: We can save $3m in 2012-2013, we can have more flexibility in future repayments, and opponents who want to repay the full $492 now are being unrealistic.

  73. PRE

    This protest is not creating jobs. It is not improving lives. So what is it that they want? What do they propose?

    Yeah, everyone just go back home, nothing to see here. Maybe write your congressperson and be sure to vote for Obama again. That’ll sure change things.

  74. PRE

    Oh, and the reason we “tolerate this” as you put it:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  75. gregory mcconnell

    I respect each and everyone of the rights mentioned by PRE and have exercised them many times. But the question remains for me, and I really would like to know, what is the speech? What do the people in tent city want? What do they advocate? The right to assemble does not equal the right to create an encampment. If it did, we would never need permits or permission from the city, we could all just hang out in the park and say we are “assembling.” This will come to an end because all things do. When it is done, what will have been the point? I am not some right wing nut that opposes the people’s right to seek redress, but what exactly are they seeking in the form of redress? With all due respect, I just don’t get this “protest.”

    Marleen, I don’t think I will be considered a fascist for asking the questions that so many are pondering. But if I am wrong, so what, I know who I am.

  76. Ravi

    Lenster: “Did I go to the right place? His entire justification for supporting J was that it could save 3Million dollars.”

    That’s $3 million per year, Lenster. Measure J simply extends the amortization period for the PFRS obigation, for which there is no legal way to disobligate. The idea of J is to allow the impoverished city of Oakland to have an additional $3 million each year to spend on whatever. Potholes maybe, or a dozen extra cops.

  77. livegreen

    I agree with Greg. They’ve strayed from their message. If it’s about the banks & 99% they should piggy back on the anti-Wall Street issue & start moving accounts to one of Oakland’s good Community Banks.

    Instead it’s becoming an anti-everything movement.

  78. MarleenLee

    PRE, you need to bone up on your constitutional law. You can’t exercise your First Amendment rights if doing so violates other laws, such as prohibitions on camping in front of city hall, prohibitions on smoking pot, prohibitions on public urination etc. Ask some of those people what they’re protesting about. Then ask them if they’ve ever written a letter to the editor; if they’ve ever written to their congressperson, or city council person; ask them if they’ve ever spoken at a city council meeting, or otherwise tried to mobilize support for their “cause.” Ask them if they read the newspaper, or other media; ask them what they actually know about the situation; ask them who are the perpetrators of the offenses they are claiming, and the evidence against them. I seriously doubt most of them will have coherent responses, particularly since a huge contingent are simply homeless, mentally ill, or otherwise camping out for reasons that having nothing to do with protesting government or corporate wrongdoing.

  79. MarleenLee

    Fortunately, it appears that the campers have finally been given an eviction notice and need to vacate by 10 p.m. tonight. My prediction: lack of cooperation, ensuing melee, numerous arrests, allegations of personal injury and police brutality, another black eye for Oakland’s reputation. Cost to taxpayers: over $1 million that we don’t have. Thanks, City officials, who should never have let them camp there to began with and could have avoided the whole fiasco. No on Measure I.

  80. len raphael

    Dave C, thank you for helping me navigate Joe T’s fb page.

    Yes the expanded section explains that it’s 3mill more for an undefined number of years.
    How many years?

    Joe repeats Jane’s mantra that it just makes “technical corrections”. That’s an insult to the intelligence of the voters.

    Ravi, yes i understand how longer amortization terms reduce annual payments.

    Depending on the underlying financing, that might or might not increase the cumulative total cost to the taxpayers. That is ignored by Joe and the sponsor of J, Libby Schaaf.

    What i can guarantee is that stretching out the funding period shift even more of the burden to residents who weren’t even born when many of the pensioners retired.

    THe current residents were the ones who supposedly benefited from the services of those retired residents. It is the current residents who should bear the costs of those services, which includes retirement costs.

    Surely a 2026 deadline is long enough. if it isn’t, then we have to cut current expenditures on other services so we can make that deadline.

    Joe wants to set up a strawman opponent who supposedly wants to pay off the +450Mill now, he can go right ahead.

    I’ve talked to David Mix and Ken Platt who wrote the election pamphlet argument against J. (Ken is the guy who also showed the slides of Quan’s house at the cc meeting). I just reread their arguments in the election pamphlet.

    Neither in the pamphlet nor in my conversations has either of them mentioned any such idea of immediate funding.

    In my several conversations with Mix, I’d say Mix has a much better grasp of matter’s fiscal and the details of PFRS than Joe demonstrates on his facebook.

    (Mix has a separate issue with the term of the existing tax overrides: he is sure they do not expire in 2026 and Schaaf and Parker are convinced they do. That’s a separate issue because J completely avoids the crucial issue of how to pay for an extended funding period.)

    No mention anywhere by Joe what the true obligation would be if a realistic investment rate of say 4% were used and ceterus paribus other actuarial assumptions. Might add another 200Mlil to the balance we’ll have to come up with.

    one of the reasons the PFRS debt is so large, is that the retiree benefits are indexed to current OPD compensation including, i believe, holiday and vacation pay. i don’t see any sign that Joe understands that.

    Much like the rest of our obligation mountain for vested Calpers and medical retirement benes, we can’t legally walk away from the bond or the FPFR’s funding obligation. On the other hand, you can’t get blood out of a stone.

    We can talk about moral obligations to future generations vs obligations to retirees, but i cannot feel sorry if we played hardball and told the pfrs retirees that either the voluntarily rollback their benefits to what they would have been at time of retirement like a normal retirement plan, or see you in bankruptcy court.

  81. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Greg might be called a fascist by others, but he wouldn’t by me. Why? Because he asks interesting questions that demand thoughtfulness, and he doesn’t claim to have all the answers. His mention of SF Mayor Lee’s approach is a good one, that the city “should support the right to assemble and protest, but do not turn the city’s plaza into a dump, with drugs, sex, fights and extremely unsanitary conditions.” I agree!

    Contrast this to the approach by MarleenLee, who seems to know exactly what is wrong, what should be done, and who should be doing it, and is outraged, just outraged, that they have not done it yet. Apparently now, according to her, one loses one’s right to peaceably assembly unless she has first written a letter to the editor or representative, spoken at a public meeting, or read a newspaper. Remember people, assembly and protest is your last and final option. Marleen, would you post the complete list of all the things (preferably in order) one must first do before one can assemble and protest, so I can cut it out and post it on my fridge for easy reference?


    I myself think the notion of having to receive a permit to assemble is a violation of first amendment. And of course people shouldn’t be smoking pot or urinating in public, but then you deal with those issues and those people directly. Greg is right, this will come to an end; I think Max mentioned when the rains come in a couple weeks.

    One final thing, which I’m hoping the informed readers of this blog can help with. Does anyone know how this meme that the protesters must have specific demands got started? It seems a really odd idea that I haven’t heard demanded of prior movements, and I’m guessing it was started by some right-wing outfit to discredit the protesters and now has infiltrated even sober-minded, middle of the road folks. I’m just surprised I have not seen this critiqued anywhere?

  82. len raphael

    ravi, as i think about, of course stretching out the funding period without reducing the annual tax overrides wil certainly increase the cumulation tax burden on resident.

    because the tax overrides somehow go into the general fund before coming out again to PFRS, the annual “savings’ would be the general fund keeping the tax. Sounds to me like another bait and switch Oakland tax tactic.

    Joe will fit right in with the other oakland politicians.

  83. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Greg, Why would you bring potential job creators to Oakland City Hall?

    Frank Ogawa Plaza and City Center are just terrible places, on par with Jack London Square, which is the neighborhood of the future, and always will be, at least until someone hires an urban designer with a degree).

    Next time, take them to Lake Merritt, or Uptown (just avoid the Chido sculpture) or Rockridge Market Hall, or Piedmont Avenue, or the bustling Dimond. If you want to woo job creators, show off the best of Oakland, not the worst.

  84. len raphael

    if, if, Oakland got the UC lab deal, what would happen to the Oak to 9th residential plans? Totally gone or just moved?

  85. OaklandSpaceAcademy


    I put in an email to my old professor but haven’t heard back. I’m not sure how Denver handled the transition from commercial high streets to single-family neighborhoods. I do know that they concentrated on producing form-based codes, rather than zone-based codes, but I’m not sure how far they got with it.

    More generally, if they did anything like Milwaukee, it was more about creating a culture of good design, basically making it harder for developers to do bad things, and easier to do good things. For instance, it would have been tough for the developers of Uptown to get that stupid suburban-style row of plantings between the sidewalk and the buildings, and the whole transition at the sidewalk level would have been handled much more thoughtfully. Oakland pays a steep price for it’s beggar attitude, one it doesn’t need in the least.

  86. len raphael

    OSA, “beggar attitude” ? meaning we’re so glad anyone wants to develope anything here we fall overselves to make it happen?

    then the only counterforce is nimbyism?

  87. gregory mcconnell

    OaklandSpaceAcademy, My group had a meeting with city officials, hence, Frank Ogawa Plaza that day. More to the point, I hope one day we can take people all over Oakland and be proud of the city. From the East to the West and Downtown, Oakland is such a beautiful place. A lot of people, in all walks of life, are working hard every day to make it a gem. Let’s not stop and let’s not surrender any part of the city to failure.

    Thank you for your comments.

  88. Izzy Ort

    “Of course the “Occupiers” have a right to demonstrate and exercise their right of free speech, as long as they do so legally. ”

    “You can’t exercise your First Amendment rights if doing so violates other laws”

    ML, you have it backwards. You are working from a starting point where the Government makes all the laws it wants, and the protestors have to figure out how to get their protesting done so as not to offend any of them.

    That’s the way Freedom of Speech worked in the Soviet Union. And hey, guess what? There was ALWAYS a law in the way. The police would point to some law against littering, and use it to gag the citizenry — all with only the highest and best interests of the public in mind, of course.

    The First Amendment says the opposite. – Congress (now including any Federal or State entity at any level) shall make NO LAW.

    This is the correct starting point — that that people can say whatever they want (in a public forum), and there is nothing the government can do about it.

    However, recognizing that an absolute complete unfettered right to free speech is unworkable, the courts have permitted the government to restrict this right, in public forums, only in a limited way, by narrowly tailored, reasonable, content neutral time place and manner restrictions.

    My guess is that the City has the power to prevent overnight camping under these limits, but to say “You can’t protest if it violates “other laws”, or is “illegal” is, well, chilling.

  89. Ravi

    Lenster: “because the tax overrides somehow go into the general fund before coming out again to PFRS, the annual “savings’ would be the general fund keeping the tax. Sounds to me like another bait and switch Oakland tax tactic.”

    You point out the great difficulty in Oakland of instituting any fiscal reform through ballot measures. It all gets back to the problems of leadership and management among the electeds, and the resulting challenge to public trust in City Hall.

    I have to agree with your fundamental assumption here. It looks to me like all the ballot measures are very likely to fail because the public trust problem cannot be overcome.

  90. Livegreen

    Izzy: The government has other obligations besides free speech. And they are NOT impeding on the rights of the protesters to protest – elsewhere. In fact the Mayor and City Officials have encouraged the protestors to continue doing so. Only during the day, not at night.

    It’s interesting the protestors/homeless have created their own Police force. And how they’ve already beaten one homeless man cold. Apparently it’s ok for protesters’ police to crack heads every once in awhile…

  91. MarleenLee

    Izzy – in general, if your exercise of free speech is violating some other law, the government is in all likelihood going to have the authority to restrict your speech. The Supreme Court has held on more than one occasion that no one may “insist upon a street meeting in the middle of Times Square at the rush hour as a form of freedom of speech” (Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 85 S. Ct. 453, 13 L. Ed. 2d 471 [1965]). In most instances a commuter’s interest in getting to and from work outweighs an individual’s right to tie up traffic through political expression.
    The rule against camping in front of City Hall would actually be considered an “incidental” restriction on free speech, and as long as the rule/law furthers a “substantial governmental interest,” (as hopefully most laws would) the rule/law trumps the First Amendment. The camping vs. speech issue was settled years ago by the Supreme Court in Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence (1984) 468 U.S. 288.

  92. ralph

    The big benefit to extending the PFRS payment is immediate relief to the general fund. This is akin to having a five year car note, running into some financial difficulties in year 3 and refinancing your note to 7 years. Do you pay more over the long term? Yes. But your immediate problem is cash today and stretching out your note allows you to solve the immediate problem.

  93. len raphael

    At the Trib endorsement interview yesterday the question was raised about seeming contradiction between our opposition to ballot box budgeting (which the No on I Committee shares with most “good government” activists) and our criticism of Mesure I’s blank check nature.

    For one thing, I is a parcel tax and those are required to be specific. Another is that our elected officials are exploiting the vagueness to promise all things to all voters.

    But the biggest problem is that the lack of a legally binding plan to allocate Measure I tax revenue reflects the lack of the Mayor and council majority to do what you describe: lead and manage in matters fiscal.

    We shouldn’t have to “send a message” or use the “power of the purse” to force our Mayor and City Council to perform their jobs properly. But this is Oakland and other than disrupt City Council meetings and intimidate speakers we disagree with, what choice do we have but

    on H, I, J

    -len raphael, temescal
    (contact if willing to distribute
    lawn and window signs. len.raphael@gmail.com)

  94. Patrick M. Mitchell

    But Ralph, solving the “immediate problem” is all our City ever does! If the City had a defined plan – who, what, when, where and how – re: paying this obligation, then the citizens can decide whether or not deferment is in our best interest. But all this does is defer – a la Scarlett O’Hara. Fiddle dee dee! After all, tomorrow is another day!

  95. Ravi

    Lenster: “We shouldn’t have to “send a message” or use the “power of the purse” to force our Mayor and City Council to perform their jobs properly.”

    Right. But the difficulty is trying to come up with an ethical and effective method to change things. Some voters will think that until change somehow comes we should agree to pay more taxes simply because the city is so short on funds. Others, like you, say we need to use every opportunity to let them know they must shape up.

    I’m afraid the problem is very deep and isn’t going to resolve because there is right now only a small sense among the public generally that Oakland has essentially a failed government. Crime is truly out-of-control and has been for a very long time. Oakland cannot grow until crime is addressed fully.

    The awareness of Oakland’s essential failure must increase a lot between now and November of 2012 when much of the worst of the Council can be sent on their way.

  96. livegreen

    Sort of like Prop 13 making our State Legislature become more effective. It hasn’t. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are still simply protecting their respective cash flow.

    Meanwhile its education that keeps getting cut, cut, cut. Because kids don’t have PACs or Lobbyists.

  97. len raphael

    The ballot envelopes are badly laid out. There is so too much busy text and a confusion of font sizes and bad use of red color.

    The all important “Failure to SIGN the declaration will invalidate your ballot” warning is useless because nothing to show you or label the “declaration”.

    A fitting ballot for a Rube Goldberg jerry rigged election from a Mayor and Council that rush from crisis to crisis ineffectively.

    Measure I where they lamely tried to make it specify how money wb spent after they omitted that little point from the ballot measure.

    Or Measure J, where Libby S thinks she put a 5 year cap on the extension, but oops she forgot to do that.

    The desktop publishing manager responsible for approving this ballot envelope should be promoted to drafting misleading ballot Measures for the City Council. They’d fit right in at a normal City Council meeting.


  98. Patrick M. Mitchell

    I second that, Len. Very poorly designed – it’s as if they wanted people to make mistakes.

    After the election, I’m planning on requesting information on the total number and percentage of total ballots returned that were rejected for failure to follow the confusing procedures.

  99. ralph

    The envelope is a complete mess. The first thing I thought – it might be a good idea to produce mail-in ballots in different languages and send accordingly. It might cost more, but if it turns out a significant number of people had invalidated ballots I would think it would be worth it for democracy.

  100. len raphael

    The response from my query on this to the LWV is that the mail ballots were the same as they’ve always been. So PM, when you find out the rejection rates, find out what they were in prior elections.

    I would bet the rejection rates in poor hoods is much higher. Hanging chad city or worse, this gives SEIU the cover to go door to door “helping”voters read the ballot. What a cf.

  101. len raphael

    Interesting article by Michael Lewis on CA muni finances. Veers between insightful and superficial as Vanity Fair articles can.

    Interview w financial analyst Meredith Whitney is tantalizing; his Chuck Reed interview dead on relevant to Oakland.


    the last paragraph doesn’t make sense, but Chuck Reed says about SJ exactly what I’ve been saying for two years now:

    that in a just a few years there will not be enough money in the general fund to pay for anything more than pensions and retirement benefits.

    My twist on it for this town is the social program advocates and the more cop factions have to temporarily put aside differences long enough to make sure there is money left over to fight about.


  102. len raphael

    Re. Vanity Fair interview of SJ Mayor Chuck Reed.

    Reed apparently is an urban policy wonk.

    Why do we have to get Ellihu’s, Dellums, and Quan’s?

    Now makes sense that Reed pushed SJ to proactively deal with pension and cop/fire issues.

    if Reed says that stuff about SJ in bad shape with retirement costs, wonder what someone like him would say about Oakland? Probably: ABANDON SHIP

  103. Eye2theworld

    When did the ballots get mailed. A significant number of my neighbors including myself have yet to see the ballots?

  104. Eye2theworld

    Finally got the ballot today along with a Yes on Measure J and the news that Mayor Quan is being targeted for recall. Quite an exciting day.

  105. livegreen

    Interesting how quick the City is to release the list of names of people who signed the petition when they think it’s in their best interests…

  106. livegreen

    If Mayor Quan’s recalled, who becomes Mayor – the Vice Mayor? That’s Desley Brooks. Yuck.

  107. Ravi

    LG: Brooks, yuck, yeah! Then a second recall. After two recalls, maybe City Hall would get the message.

  108. Max Allstadt

    I thought recall elections were done like special elections, but that you voted in two boxes: one on whether to recall or not, the second on who to replace the recalled incumbent with, if you voted yes.

    Is that right?

  109. ralph

    from the charter:
    Section 1104. Initiative, Referendum and Recall. The People of the City reserve to themselves the powers of initiative and referendum and the recall of elected officials, to be exercised in the manner prescribed by general law of the State.

  110. len raphael

    Quan and several on the CC truly are stuck in the 60′s.

    Up until Friday night, they thought it was still the Summer of Love down there at FO Plaza.

    -len raphael
    Vote Yes on Oakland
    by VOTING NO on H, I, J

    Recall Quan!

  111. Tab

    The recall is a silly distraction; unless some entity drops serious coin, no one’s collecting 20,000 sigs from Oakland voters.

  112. Born in Oakland

    It might be a “silly distraction” but the fact that both the City Attorney and the Chief of Police left during her short term make one wonder what really is going on downtown and what plans for our future (besides this election) are being planned. We have serious issues in this town.

  113. len raphael

    Tab, a really silly distraction and waste of time and money is the effort to ‘limit” Council terms to 3. The rainy day fund is ok, but since we’ll be facing fiscal hurricanes for the next decade, it won’t make no never mind.

    Quan is really really bad for Oakland. The next few years will be critical to our city’s future health. I don’t like to over personify our city’s problems, but it’s a case of “anyone but Quan” asap.

    Recall Quan.

    -len raphael, temescal
    No on H, I, J

  114. MarleenLee

    Even if the recall doesn’t succeed, it is a legal and effective way for citizens to communicate their dissatisfaction with the mayor’s performance. Oh, and it doesn’t involve killing the lawn, rat and cockroach infestations, interference with freedom of the press, threats of violence, illegal drug use, sexual assault or other tactics that have recently been used to “communicate,” that you are no doubt aware of.

  115. len raphael

    Would be rich if rumor correct that Quan delegated to Jordan and then split for DC. Nothing like “plausible deniability”

    Hope Chief Jordan negotiated for a particularly big pre retirement pay bump for taking the heat on this for her.

    -len raphael

  116. len raphael

    Remember that Mona Lisa smile on Batts face at his resignation announcement, a day or so after O/O started?

    That was a smile of relief knowing that Quan and Council were going to screw up during O/O and try to blame it on OPD. Plus the comfort of knowing that suffering the humilations of working for this City Council and Quan were offset by the 40k or 50k turbo charge to his lifetime pension he got for the big jump in pay from Longbeach.

    Vote NO on H, I, J
    Recall Quan

  117. len raphael

    Signs are that Kaplan using Quan’s screwup as her opening to get the Mayor’s title. Her CNA backers are warming up their p/r machine again like they did in the past election when they bankrolled Kaplan.


    I’d campaign for Desley Brooks rather than see Kaplan become Mayor. Brooks is as much of an opportunist as Kaplan, but at least she’s not a naive opportunist.

    -len raphael
    No on H,I,J
    Recall Quan and the entire City Council

  118. livegreen

    I see the CNA has added shotguns to the list of things OPD used on protestors (I guess shotguns fire rubber bullets now).

    Kaplan will attack the Mayor from the left, Ignacio from the (perceived) right, and who will be left standing?

  119. len raphael

    LG, the question is whether the residents will come out any better for it, or it will just be a reshuffling of the same old deck.

    what are normal residents in different sections of town saying? are they just shaking their heads in disgust at all the pols here or just Quan’s mishandling, did they support o/l continuing encampment, did that support include O/L goals anti-injunction and anti-curfew?

  120. len raphael

    Big surprise dept: Quan denies ordering raid.

    from Oakland Local today:

    (Wednesday 7:30 p.m.)


    During a Q&A session, Quan, who was out of town at the time, revealed that she didn’t know when the camp was going to be raided. She later admitted that she did not make the decision to raid the camp, which was the result of Jordan and Santana assessing factors such as public safety, health and fire hazards, and anti-police graffiti. …..

  121. Eye2theworld

    Quan looked so out of her element and so not like a leader in that press conference Q&A. One has to wonder whether Jean Quan is really suited to be a big City Mayor. I am not sure what is worse, that she did make the call and then blamed it on her City Administrator and Police Chief because the outcome appeared in the news to be so horrible or that she truly did not know what was going on. A true leader would have stood up and supported her City Administrator and Police Chief by saying that it was her call and her responsibility as Mayor. Instead she essentially threw her staff under the bus by making a 180 degree turn on the issue. What is ironic is that the City of Oakland would break up these demonstrations, which are largely comprised of white twenty-something hipsters/hippies/homeless, with riot police and tear gas, yet cannot fathom the idea of implementing anti-gang injunctions, curfews and anti-loitering laws to deal with the abhorrent violence in some of our most troubled neighborhoods that disproportionately affects young black men.

  122. ralph

    I am beginning to wonder about the Occupiers. All I know is what I hear in the news but what is the purpose of a general strike – boycott businesses and pull students out of school. Exactly who do they think they are hurting with these actions. Well over 90% of the downtown businesses are locally owned and a fair number of Oakland business are locally owned. Pulling kids out school hurts a school district that could use the money. I guess this is what happens when you have a bunch of out-of-towners running the show.

  123. len raphael

    George, I worked for Don Perata also, but he had several glaring weaknesses. Besides the cloud over his past which yes had been totally cleared legally, he had 0 ideas on how to deal with Oakland’s fiscal problems. He shared that flaw with Quan, Kaplan, and Tuman.

  124. Izzy Ort

    “Pulling kids out school hurts a school district that could use the money. ”

    By arguing against this idea on the merits, you give it way more credence than it deserves. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that any significant number of parents is going to pull their kid out of Oakland schools.

    It appears from the latest communiques emanating from Camp Rodent that the Occupy group is being reduced to the hard-core professional protestariat. In calling for a city-wide school and business boycott, and a city-wide strike, these folks imagine themselves as the vanguard of a constituency that exists primarily in their imaginations. The “99%” they are championing are the abstraction which gives the illusion a laudable purpose to what appears to be turning into “The Revolution – Retreaded.”

    The real, live, actual Oakland residents who may suffer collateral damage in the grand march to the radiant future are of no concern. They are just the eggs you need to break to make the omellete.

  125. len raphael

    Gotta love Libby Schaaf’s contempt for the intelligence of Oakland voters.

    Her Measure J got a full press mailer endorsing J from the two of the very same unions whose pensions her measure claims to “reform”, SEIU and Fire Fighters.

    Next she’ll be telling us to support a review of the police O/O actions performed by the police union.

    len raphael, cpa
    Vote No on H, I, J
    Recall Quan and most of the City Council

  126. Livegreen

    OO is making Oakland into Riot Central, and canabalizing a good cause so they can “decolonize property”. Wall St isn’t even in the picture anymore.

    The tents are coming back, again protestors say they won’t interact with City Officials unless it’s on their terms. So Lord of the Flies worked out so well the first time, the City is going to give it another try and expect a different result.

  127. len raphael

    no surprise on the denial of service attack or the outing of cops personal info.

    what is more interesting is moveon’s move.

    you figure they want to take down Quan as surrogate whipping “boy” for Obama and other progressive pols they feel have sold them out?


  128. MarleenLee

    I’m boycotting all downtown businesses until they get a real spine and demand that the City show some leadership and works to defend their businesses, employees and property. Who wants to go downtown and walk by a refugee camp? Who wants to work in an area plagued by riots and endless demonstrations? I think this whole debacle could have been prevented if the City laid down the law from the get go, but no, they delayed unnecessarily, and set the stage for the showdown. Allowing them to set up camp again, after spending $1 million to clear them out, is just the final insult. Pathetic leadership! Pathetic!

    But until local businesses start getting as loud and obnoxious as the occupiers/campers themselves, I guess the City won’t listen. And until then, I’m staying away.

  129. Oakland Space Academy

    I think it’s fine if MarleenLee wants to boycott downtown, but it is simply concern trolling to suggest that downtown business owners wouldn’t be defending their businesses. Perhaps downtown business owners believe that coming out against Occupy Oakland (OO) would hurt their businesses. And you know what, they might be right. Or they might be wrong. But the person who is in the best position to make that determination isn’t named MarleenLee.

    I think Becks (Living in the O) approach of giving extra support to these businesses during this crucial time is a much better idea that comes from a much bigger place.

    I too am frustrated by the City’s lack of leadership. There weren’t riots until the other night when the City went in without a plan, or if they did a terrible plan. Which absolutely isn’t to say isn’t the blame lies solely with the City either, OO seems to not have had a plan as well.

    Len, I believe you are over thinking this. MoveOn likely wants to take down Quan because she is a terrible leader who unleashed a riot. And that riot was simply awful for the Occupy movement, and for liberal politics in general. I actually think it is time for the Occupy movement to disown OO. Livegreen is correct. In New York they are targeting Wall Street, in Oakland they are targeting Main Street.

  130. len raphael

    Oakland Tribune editorial: Oakland voters should reject Measures I and J

    © Copyright 2011, Bay Area News Group
    Posted: 10/27/2011 04:00:00 PM PDT
    Updated: 10/27/2011 04:43:07 PM PDT

    Oakland’s financial situation is serious: After irresponsibly rapidly ramping up spending a decade ago, city officials have repeatedly failed to make tough choices about budget priorities. At the same time, they gambled on the market and lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Then the real estate collapse of the Great Recession badly eroded property tax revenues, leaving the city struggling to fund critical public services.

    No reasonable person wants more killings and less law enforcement. But Measures I and J in the Nov. 15 vote-by-mail election are symptoms of the problem, not solutions to it. For more than a decade, officials have managed city finances as if they had a limitless credit card. They have gone back to voters repeatedly for more funds while running up astronomical debt.


  131. George

    Barry K.,

    Pamela Drake and Aimee Allison will want one too. Maybe we can start a fund to have them delivered to all JQ endorsers?

  132. Naomi Schiff

    I oppose impeaching Jean. She isn’t always right, but she works hard, has a good staff, and there is no wonderful replacement standing in the wings. You may remember that many other mayoral candidates were big supporters of more draconian police enforcement, not known for their concern for civil rights. Whom are the would-be impeachers supporting as a replacement, I wonder?

    We would be a lot better off if we could pull together instead of fighting each other. My modest proposal: Could OccupyO and City Council and Mayor work together to move the city’s bank accounts to responsible, insured, local smaller banks wherever possible, and push on the bigger banks to get better support for jobs, development, and mortgage renegotiations? These are concrete measures that would be well worth applying as much political and citizen power as possible, all in the same general direction. We are stronger together than we are when we succumb to being fragmented. We do need to work towards specific goals so that we aren’t just blowing off steam.

  133. Ravi

    “Could OccupyO and City Council and Mayor work together to move the city’s bank accounts to responsible, insured, local smaller banks wherever possible, and push on the bigger banks to get better support for jobs, development, and mortgage renegotiations?”

    Please let us know how you think this might be accomplished.

    “We are stronger together than we are when we succumb to being fragmented.”

    Jean Quan is the very mistress of fragmentation–cops vs social services for youth-at-risk and perps, for one poignant example of how she’s kept the violent crime rate up there.

  134. V Smoothe Post author

    Hi folks, I am not the Mayor’s biggest fan either, but let’s keep things civil here. It is not okay to be nasty to other commenters because you disagree with them.

    Sorry to be MIA during all this commotion, things in my life are crazy. Hope to be back and blogging again in the near future. Meanwhile, I’ve started a new open thread here.