Rebecca Kaplan: My solution to police pension stalemate

There is a win-win solution to Oakland’s stalemate over police layoffs. There is an alternative to layoffs and to the impasse over pensions that is financially responsible. We must act to preserve the time, money and effort that has gone into recruiting and training our new officers, avoid layoffs, and get them back on the beat. As Chief Batts has recently pointed out, crime tends to peak in August and September, we need to act now to break this impasse.

The stalemate centers around the police officers’ union (OPOA) request for a three year no layoff pledge in exchange for the Officers paying their “employee share” pension contribution of 9%. This pension contribution would be an important part of helping to build a long-term financially sustainable system.

I think we should accept and I have a proposal that allows us to do so. My proposal avoids the need for police layoffs, gets the 9% pension contribution from the OPOA and does not require our residents to pay a new $360 parcel tax.

We were asked to refrain from publicly discussing our proposals, until negotiations ended, but given the lack of a resolution and the urgency for Oakland to resolve this logjam I am putting it forward now.

My proposal is during the next three years (the duration of the OPOA’s current contract) as long as the City honors its no lay off guarantee the police continue to pay the 9% toward their pension. We can avoid layoffs both by agreeing to a retirement program and by taking other steps to improve our financial situation. In order to protect all parties to the agreement, I would propose a provision that if layoffs took place during the contract, the pension contribution would be reduced to 4%.

A combination of normal attrition and the savings from the 9% would allow us to avoid police layoffs, while also giving us the opportunity and time to reach agreement on other cost-saving/non-layoff solutions for our police force. This would meet the police union’s demands of no layoffs and take a much-needed step toward necessary structural change.

Many of the recently laid off officers are some of our youngest and most diverse. They also cost less than older officers. Taxpayers have made a significant investment in their recruitment and training. This is an investment that cannot be wasted. We save much more money by allowing more senior officers to leave the force through a retirement program like the one requested by OPOA, rather than laying-off the most junior officers.

We must include other ways to reduce costs while assuring public safety. These include achieving full compliance with the Riders settlement so that we can move sworn officers from Internal Affairs to community policing, and civilianizing certain tasks, such as intake of civilian complaints and clerical tasks, to lower costs and increase efficiencies.

Other cities are using civilians to do routine clerical tasks previously done by police officers. The civilians cost about half what a police officer costs. This frees up more cops for patrol and community policing efforts.  Here in Oakland we need to work together in a way that everybody contributes and shares in providing for the public safety and the fiscal sustainability of our city.

Rebecca Kaplan is Oakland’s City Councilmember at-Large and a candidate for Mayor. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and at

345 thoughts on “Rebecca Kaplan: My solution to police pension stalemate

  1. VivekB

    promising no layoffs for 3 years in a time of highly volatile budgets? Reducing contributions if there are layoffs?

    Take it from someone who has to manage $5M->$15M/year budgets based on the challenge i’ve been asked to take on: that is naive thinking at its best, negligence/dereliction of duty at its worst.

  2. MarleenLee

    From the public’s perspective, allowing the police force to be reduced by attrition is essentially the same thing as a layoff. A reduced police force is a reduced police force. The only people who care about layoffs are the people being laid off. Even the police union doesn’t really care. What the public cares about is the size of the police force. Right now, its at around 686. With natural attrition of 50 officers a year, it will be down to 486 in four years. Tax or no tax, this is simply unacceptable.
    As horrendous as layoffs are, they are the only negotiating tool the City really has given that the City made the tremendous mistake of giving OPOA such a lengthy contract in such bad economic times. We know that the 9% pension contributions aren’t actually enough to keep the City financially stable. In fact, the concessions need to be far more significant. Concessions need to be obtained from every sector of City government. I don’t see how this proposal will address the City’s long-term financial problems, or address the need to have a police force that is AT LEAST 800 officers.

  3. Frank Castro

    You can’t seriously discuss the overall situation regarding the police layoffs without also discussing the proposed Measure Y “fix” the City Council voted to place on the November ballot. The City Council is out of touch with reality if they believe the residents of the City of Oakland are going to allow them to collect $20 million dollars per year under Measure Y without any restrictions on the number of sworn police officers required. If you really wanted the voters in the upcoming election to take you seriously as one who is trying to offer real solutions to this problem, you would have taken seriously the proposal made by Make Oakland Better Now! on how to fix Measure Y. That proposal would have minimized the number of police officers losing their jobs AND would not have required a parcel tax AND would have made the City Council accountable to providing at least a floor of sworn officers they could not go below. To say, “We don’t need a floor. Just give us the $20 million and trust us to do the right thing” is to fly in the face the sentiments of the residents of our fair city.

  4. Jack B Dazzle

    Oakland has a 2 billion dollar unfunded pension liability. That is about 5K for every Oakland resident. Even the 9% payment towards retirement is not enough. We cannot tie our hands with a no layoff clause.

    I doubt many Oakland residents have a pension that is over 90% paid by their employer. I surely don’t.

  5. Dave C.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but a no-layoff “guarantee” which includes a provision for a reduced 4% contribution in the event that the city breaks its side of the bargain doesn’t sound like much of a guarantee. It sounds more like a way for the city to get a temporary 9% contribution for a few months, then keep getting a 4% contribution after layoffs occur. Not sure the OPOA would find that a particularly enticing offer, since they are currently contributing 0%.

    Don’t get me wrong—if I had my druthers, the OPOA would have agreed to a 9% contribution in exchange for a 1-year no-layoff guarantee, but since they rejected that deal, it’s hard for me to see why they would find this offer any more appealing. Or would this 3-year no-layoff pledge somehow be more robust than I am giving it credit for?

    Kudos to Kaplan for trying to find a creative way to resolve this, but I’m pretty pessimistic. I don’t see the city being able to offer any real guarantees to anyone, given the bleak fiscal situation for the next few years (and beyond), and I don’t see the OPOA having much incentive to make concessions when the city can’t offer them any real guarantees in return.

  6. Ken

    I agree w/ Dave C, kudos to R. Kaplan for putting forward a proposal.

    I don’t agree with everything she’s proposed, but at least it represents fresh thinking. We really need a force of 1,200 police officers. But, if we have to lose officers, better that it be older ones through attrition, than our youngest and newest ones. (and just to be clear, I personally don’t want any shrinkage in the force)

    A new $360 parcel tax will never pass. I’m also one who is not a big fan of the measure Y fix (and that’s putting it mildly).

  7. About to be LOC

    Well I have to at least give Kaplan some kudos for posting.

    However, all I see in her post is police and 9%. I’m sorry but that mantra is just about worn out. How much longer will the CC keep blowing this smoke to the citizens of Oakland that 7.8 million (9%) is going to solve your budge problems. They already don’t believe you and they know you couldn’t balance a check book if it was only in whole numbers. Plenty of smoke here. Just wait the mirrors are on order. (paid for by your tax dollars)

    Just keep up that 9% chant without saying anything about the fact you don’t pay into your pension either. Oops did I just let the cat out of the bag. How about you come up with some solutions that have been mentioned on this site, such as freeing up those parking spots from you and your entourage (+$400,000). How about you get rid of the Citizens Police Review Board who could not investigate there way out of a paper bag and cost the citizens of Oakland 1.5 million dollars a year.

    “My proposal is during the next three years (the duration of the OPOA’s current contract) as long as the City honors its no lay off guarantee the police continue to pay the 9% toward their pension.” So let me get this right after you fail to stand behind any of your contractual obligation to the unions or citizens you expect them to trust you now. So when the time comes that you don’t honor your commitments these officers still get the swift kick saying hey we know we didn’t hold up to our end we will still take 4%.

    Oh and since we are on the topic of “We were asked to refrain from publicly discussing our proposals”, a collective bargaining tenet and one the OPOA seems to abide by why not mention the fact that after giving back $34,000,000 in concessions the previous year that the OPOA offered this year a $15,000,000 give back and the CC turned it down. That’s right the OPOA doubled what you would save with the 9% and you and the others turned it down.

    This is not about pensions or money and quite frankly with you guys no one knows what

  8. Charles Pine

    Kaplan gets credit for a bit of self-awareness. Last night there was a Police Appreciation event at the Rotunda building. It was open to the public, and officers were especially invited.

    Councilmember Quan, after all she has done to destroy our police force, had the nerve to attend. Councilmember Kaplan, so far as I know, did not attend. Apparently, she has a bit more social sense than Quan.

    In the past three months two Chinese middle-aged men have been killed on the streets of Oakland. Yu Tian Sheng and Jing Hong Kang should be alive and continuing to contribute to society today. The streets of Oakland are becoming off-limits to more people at more times of the day.

    Perhaps Kaplan spent part of yesterday evening touching up her proposal that Oakland should stay its course toward a police force of 500 while the Alameda County civil grand jury report just reiterated that Oakland needs at least 1200 officers.

  9. oakie

    If we really want to do something more than rearrange the chairs on the Titanic, how about a City Charter Amendment that limits compensation for any city employee to parity with the average in the Bay Area. I would prefer 90% of parity, but that’s just me.

    Our politicians have demonstrated not only how dysfunctional they are, but how irresponsible. They are paid for by the unions that will negotiate contracts with the city. The ONLY way to break the impasse is to do an end-run around what goes for democracy in our city (I prefer to call it an idiotacracy).

    Put limits on the ability of the politicians to give money away (and contractually obligates us to lifetime benefits on in to the future). Deborah Edgerly is the perfect poster child for pushing this Amendment.

  10. Frank Castro

    Don’t be fooled. All Kaplan is doing is posturing for the mayoral election. Just like she postured during the post verdict riots. (she should have been arrested for that stunt). She is trying to come across as the “voice of reason” with her proposal that does nothing more than amount to another accounting gimmick. I wouldn’t be so quick to pat her on the back just yet. Rebecca, show some real leadership by seriously fixing Measure Y.

  11. Caspian C.

    Well if she’s posturing it’s a pretty good one given her competition. Quan votes for every tax increase she sees and Perata is in bed with the police union so he’s completely useless when it comes to police spending or reform. I don’t know if this is the answer or not but I do know that’s it’s a lot more than I hear from anyone else.

  12. Robert

    Well, since we are talking about proposals that have little chance of success, how about this. One of the justifications of Mike and other OPD who have posted here is that they deserve their high base salaries due to the under staffing in Oakland. So what about we cut base pay by 25% in exchange for an increase in the police force by 25% (to 1000)? I think I might actually agree to a temporary parcel tax in exchange.

  13. Naomi Schiff

    Robert that seems like the first fresh idea on this string (not that I expect anyone to consider it very seriously). We are going to need much more out-of-the-box thinking, and both less anti-city government and less anti-police rhetoric.

  14. livegreen

    I agree Naomi. & yes, I would seriously consider Robert’s proposal. The only way I’m going to give up more (vote myself another tax) is if a) City employees give up more too; b) I get something more for it, like more Officers for our understaffed force.

    The concern I have with Robert’s proposal is can this take care of the deficit at the same time? Or, if it’s supplemented by concessions by other City Unions, can it?

    If we can increase the # of Officers & take care of the deficit then I would seriously consider another parcel tax. But ONLY if it does both.

    PS. Note that Robert mentions temporary. I still have to consider this.

    Also, there has to be significant pass through to renters. As Byron Williams pointed out in the Tribune today, referring to M-Y, “a coalition of homeowners and non-homeowners voted for a parcel tax for which only a portion of the city bears the direct burden for the perceived overall benefit of the whole.” It’s time for all the beneficiaries share.

  15. Mary Hollis

    Isn’t part of the reason the police are being hit up so hard for layoffs right now because the fire service guys already have a no-layoff clause?

    So if we now go and ring-fence the cops and agree not to lay any of them off, then who do we lay off if next year’s budget is even worse than we expect it to be?

    Moreover, it was only the threat of layoffs that got the police union to the table offering concessions. Take away your one weapon and what do you have left in terms of negotiating power? Nothing.

    Nobody’s job is sacred. And I want the City and the voters to have the maximum flexibility to deal with whatever happens.

    RK already lost my vote with her stunt at the riots. But this proposal seems to miss the real issue.

    And of course Marleen’s point about the Prop Y fiasco remains valid.

  16. DogJB

    Like LOC said, what if we stop talking about the police? They are not responsible for the budget mess, the CC is. They agreed to the contracts, they gave Fire a 15% raise to cover the 9% pension contribution and agreed to no layoffs. The police opened their contract twice, fire never has and nobody is upset about that. The CC knew this was coming for two years and did nothing. They have no plans for the future, they dont care. If the measure doesnt pass they will blame the police, citizens, dead relatives, but they won’t take responsibility. They will say and do anything to deflect the blame from themselves. God forbid we force them to tell us in real terms what the heck they are going to do, aside from blaming the police, to stop fraud, waste, and abuse of the citizens of Oakland. Lead by example CC, what will you contribute?, give back?, give up?, and sacrafice? set the standard we can all follow.

  17. We Fight Blight

    I appreciate any effort in figuring out ways to keep Oakland Police without digging into the pockets of Oakland residents. We are overtaxed and underserved.

    However, one of the major issues that has been left out of the debate over retaining police is reining in the bloated salaries of non-police and other non-emergency personnel at the City. When an Assistant Public Works Director makes $165,000, which is only $10,000 less than the governor of one the largest states in the country and the same as the statewide Director for Caltrans, who is responsible for billions upon billions in infrastructure, we have a problem. Every dollar counts.

    The only way the City can realistically grow revenues is to make Oakland safer so that people will want to live, shop and recreate in Oakland and spend money in Oakland; thereby allowing us to capture unrealized and foregone sales taxes, transfer taxes, property taxes, and hotel taxes, and by creating jobs through the growth of small businesses.

    We do that by having more police, not fewer, to act as a strong deterrent, to ensure a police response time of 5 minutes not 15 minutes so we can arrest criminals and lock them up. We do that by ensuring the District Attorney has the resources to try and convict criminals rather than pleading them out with a catch and release program. We can never be competitive with other communities until we solve our crime problem.

    Throwing lots of money at crime prevention programs that have no metrics to measure success and that have, at best, dubious cost/benefit ratios for lowering crime are not the answer. You pay for those programs after you ensure the basic safety of the public by maintaining a sufficient sized police force and you measure crime prevention programs for success and fund only those that have demonstrable benefits. Not those that make people feel good and that are politically correct or garner votes because you satisfied a particular constituency. Crime prevention programs are not job programs.

    This city is screwed up, City Council has their priorities screwed up, city employees have a sense of entitlement that is screwed up, and too many people are unwilling to admit the fact that we have a serious crime problem that demands a serious police presence because it is politically incorrect to support the police–or else we might have a police state–and that without a serious police presence this city will never, ever, attract the development it deserves that can support the social programs the city needs and will be left rotting under the weight of perceived and real crime and the middle class will continue to flee this city.

    Go to Oakland get mugged, get shot, get killed, have your car stolen, have your house broken into while City Council dicks around playing chicken with the the police unions. Is there any reason why people go to SF, Marin, or Walnut Creek to shop? Duh! Is there any reason why people who have disposable income flee Oakland and move to safer communities? Duh! The tax leakage is like the blood that pours from people who get shot every weekend. You can’t stop it and people die.

    Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan will never get my vote for Mayor. Jean Quan has helped bring this City to the brink of bankruptcy with her poor financial acumen and Rebecca Kaplan is a political opportunist. She thinks voting to approve more liquor stores, which are crime magnets, is a good economic development policy for Oakland but is really just a way to garner votes for her mayoral run from Geoffrey Pete and company.

    Oakland police put their lives on the line every day for us in one of the most dangerous cities in the country. They deserve more than an Assistant Public Works Director or any other non-emergency personnel. Yeah they need to pay for some of their pension, but retaining them must be the city’s number one priority.

  18. mry

    @We Fight Blight,

    BRAVO! I could not have said that better if I tried, my sentiments exactly.

  19. ken o

    Agree fully with We Fight Blight.

    I’m sick of Oakland city councilmembers talking about the Police needing to pay 9% toward funding their own pensions, when the City Council members and our Dear Mayor pay 0% (ZERO) for their own pensions!

    Talk about hypocrisy!!!

    Yes, ALL city employees need to share in the pain.

    Stop scapegoating the police because it is so politically acceptable in certain oral minority circles to do so.

    Why are you going after the police? Because some Oaklanders are anti “pig” so it’s the “cool” thing to do, even though things would be way worse without them here. You know that.

    You’re going after the police because you don’t have the willpower or independence (aka balls) to go after ALL THE CITY’S UNIONS… SEIU, etc. Every Oakland city worker at this point is rather over-compensated compared to the rest of us in private sector jobs with NO pensions.

    Pensions are history.

    Well-paid US jobs are history.

    City issued “bonds” aka debt/payday loans should be history too.

    Rebecca quit lying to the public. There is no “win-win” solution. Everyone must cut their fat, tighten their belts, spend less each yeara from here on out. I don’t hear this truth coming from you. Yet it is day to day reality for residents and businesses in this fine city and country.

    All city council members and the mayor who have done little to beef up public security should be recalled immediately.

    The entire city council should be recalled especially for cynically cutting police staff, knowing it will lead to more crime, and therefore getting ignorant citizens to vote themselves yet another property tax, so you can save all your sacred city union cows (fat pensions, fat salaries) and not have to ask your political supporters to get on a diet like the rest of us already are.

    Thanks a lot. And say hello to being recalled.

  20. Ralph

    As out of the box as Robert’s thinking may be, it is not new. But I am a fan, might want to throw them a bone like housing subsidy.

  21. Naomi Schiff

    I believe that there is nothing to be gained from ranting at the city council, the police, or the citizens. Ken, a little civility would help people arrive at solutions instead of just fighting uselessly and playing games with threatened recalls, threatened crime waves, threatened layoffs, and apocalyptic predictions. While I don’t think the proposal in the original posting here is the complete solution, without a civil dialogue people will hesitate to bring forth their ideas.

  22. livegreen

    True, politics & taxes in Oakland are more like frogs slowly being boiled in water.

  23. Ralph

    V, in addition to your character minimum, can you add a character limit to cut down on rants?

  24. Daniel Schulman

    I agree with Naomi that there is nothing to be gained by ranting at one party or another. We can either curse the darkness or light a candle.

    Aside from the rants, I do think this comment thread has had a lot of great analysis of what the problems are. Everybody wants more public safety and without paying a fortune in new taxes. The question is how to get there from here when we’re in a catch-22. Being an Oakland police officer is a hard and dangerous job which deserves appropriate compensation. A big part of the reason it is such a hard and danger job is that there are not enough police officers. There are not enough police officers because we run out of money paying the ones we have.

    Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that can immediately allow us to add 25% more officers by reducing the overall compensation by 25%. Even if there was, a 25% increase in officers isn’t enough.

    There are no easy answers. All I can see is a ratcheting — we do partial reform, pay a little more in taxes, more reform, more taxes. If we do this smart, at some point the more taxes can start coming from an improved tax base instead of higher rates.

    So while I agree with the majority of folks that Kaplan’s proposal is not a full solution, it does get us moving in the right direction.

  25. Come On Now

    Listening to police assaulter, liquor store supporting Rebecca Kaplan on working with the police is like taking dieting tips from Deborah Edgerly while she holds a donut.

    Come On Now

  26. Brad

    Again, Rebecca Kaplan shows she is not a serious candidate for mayor.

    Not that any of the other candidates are serious candidates either.

    I will not be voting for any of them. This November will be the first election I sit out, at least for the mayor’s race.

  27. Naomi Schiff

    By the way, got a condescending postcard solicitation from Don P. telling ME to join HIM in cleaning up my neighborhood. In the 25 or 30 years I have been cleaning up three medians, two walkways, and a freeway onramp in my neighborhood, I have seen him exactly zero times.

  28. Caspian C.

    When did this comment section turn into the kind of place where people make dieting “jokes” about other people?

    Come On Now.

  29. MarleenLee

    Kaplan likely knew there were enough votes to approve the officer layoff, so she could say she voted no. She likely knew there were enough votes to approve putting the parcel tax on the ballot, so she voted no. Now, she can say she did’t support these unpopular things while she runs for mayor. When people critcize her for not having an alternative plan, she can now say, “oh, but I have a plan.” This identical post appears on her own website, by the way.

    As noted above, the plan does not appear to make mathematical sense. Without some other dramatic changes, the City is not in a place where it can offer a no layoff promise. Therefore, what this plan will ultimately mean, if it were to be approved, would be that OPOA would basically volunteer to pay 4% in exchange for a couple of months of no layoffs. The City would in turn lose all credibility in negotiations in exchange for a 4% contribution by OPOA, which won’t even make a dent in the budget problems. Sounds like lose-lose, not win win. So who would go for that?

    I know there are plenty of people who post here who are formally supporting Kaplan in her campaign. If they can stump, others should be permitted to criticize.

    There are far better solutions to the budget crisis/public safety dilemma than the one proposed. How about revising Measure Y to redirect violence prevention money to police, in exchange for a 9% pension concession? How about a “temporary suspension” of the Kids First set aside? How much money would this generate for the City? Nearly $30 million annually!

  30. Ralph

    Temporarily suspending Kids First will result in a $10 – $12M annual savings not including any adjustments for proposed tax measures. That said, I am fully supportive of it and have made council aware of my thoughts on more than once. They (at least the one’s who have “responded”) aren’t rushing to support this idea.

  31. livegreen

    I would not support temporarily killing OFCY, as I do believe there are good after school programs that they support. And I do believe putting those kids on the streets (not in school) will have negative impact for the kids, their families, AND citizens & safety.

    On the other hand, I would be willing to consider a compromise & a temporary REDUCTION in OFCY funding.

    However to do either a measure would have to be put on the ballot. & I believe it’s too late for the City Council to do that
    IF they even want to.

    Everybody needs to chip in, & I agree, Kids First / OFCY should too.

  32. Caspian C.

    -Eliminate Kids First!

    -Cut Cops pay 25%!

    -Oakland needs 1200 cops!

    -Get rid of the violence prevention programs in Measure Y!

    Yeah. Right.

    When folks get back from Fantasy Island with some realistic solutions let me know.

  33. Ralph

    Have you contacted council re a temporary rollback?

    As you know, I hate BB budgeting, but recognizing that this Oakland, the poster boy for government giveaways, I did suggest a temporary rollback of Kids First to 2.5% would make me more agreeable to a parcel tax. I would even support gradual increases provided certain revenue targets were met.

    Personally, I just don’t think it made any sense to give the kids a raise even as you knew the economy was tanking.

  34. Rebecca Kaplan Post author

    It is important that we deal with the immediate problem, which is getting the recently laid off cops back on the beat. This will give us an opportunity to work on other strategies to avoid the need for layoffs in the future. These include retirement incentives and hiring additional civilians to perform clerical duties so cops can be freed up to do more community policing.

    Some are asking how getting 9% can make up for 80 layoffs so I’d like to take this opportunity to further explain how this works.

    Here’s the breakdown:

    • A 9% pension contribution isn’t enough to cover the money it would take to keep 80 officers.

    • Because of the way Measure Y was originally written, the actual budget savings achieved by laying off 80 cops is only the equivalent of laying off 25 cops.

    • And, the amount of money brought in by the 9% pension contribution (roughly $8 million) exceeds the actual costs saved by the 80 layoffs.

    Others also have asked, what if we make a deal this year, but it gets worse next year and we have no choice but to reduce force?

    I’d like to answer this question with a few statements:

    • Let’s work to make that not happen, but with normal attrition, in a year, the force would end up reduced without layoffs.

    • Anytime there’s a need for force reduction, it’s better to give departure bonuses for higher salary people, instead of laying off the recently hired and trained and thus lower paid officers.

    And to address the issue of council members not paying into our pensions.

    • Rather than paying a 9 percent contribution we took a 10 percent salary cut. If the police union would like us to make more concessions in exchange for their concessions to save the force I would support that.

  35. Ralph

    Ms. Kaplan,
    I am cool with balancing short and long term needs. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for a 4 year parcel tax.

    I am not cool with JB suggesting that we taxpayers cough up the ducats for 4 years. (I did not catch if that is a calendar 4 or DL 4.) PK was spot on when she said that taxpayers would like to see us move with a bit of urgency to address the spend problem.

  36. livegreen

    The Police would argue that the reason they don’t pay the 9% like others is they gave up salary increases in the past. In fact that’s why we’re in this boat now: Only OPD is being focussed on.

    & I’m sorry but your 1st & 3rd bullets seem contradictory:

    • A 9% pension contribution isn’t enough to cover the money it would take to keep 80 officers.
    • And, the amount of money brought in by the 9% pension contribution (roughly $8 million) exceeds the actual costs saved by the 80 layoffs.

    Please explain using different words? Thank You.

  37. Ralph

    Thank you. Bullets 1 and 3 had me doing double takes, then I just let it go? So can someone HABO? thnx

  38. Barry K

    And what new parcel taxes will be created to resume paying the $1,000,000,000 pension obligation for 1,300 retired police and fire?
    Oakland City Charter established the Police and Fire Retirement System (“PFRS”) and Board to exclusively control the administration and investment of the PFRS Fund.

    In 1997, the City issued pension obligation bonds and made a contribution to the System of approximately $417 million. As a result, no employer contributions are required through the year ending June 30, 2011. In 2005, the City made a voluntary contribution of $17,709,888. On July 1, 2011, the City will again be required to make contributions to the System, based on July 1,2010 assets and liabilities.

    Table 3, Projection of Future Contributions, shows a projection of what the City will be required to contribute in 2011-2012 if the 8 percent actuarial rate of return is met in conjunction with wage growth of 4 percent, 4.50 percent or 5 percent. It is estimated that the City will need to begin contributing $37 million annually to meet their PFRS liability by 2026.

    There are currently 1,322 retirees and 3 active members. The plan currently has over six hundred million dollars ($600,000,000) in assets.

  39. MarleenLee

    I don’t understand Kaplan’s explanation either. Also, it doesn’t address the fact that allowing the force to be reduced is simply not acceptable – either by layoffs or by attrition. Yes, attrition allows somewhat more expensive employees to go instead of somewhat cheaper ones. But then you have to pay their pensions anyway, so I’m not sure that saves a lot of money. Moreover, attrition will cause the force to drop by 200 officers over the next four years. We’ll have a force of 486 officers – are you kidding? How can we survive with that? Even if you promise to bring the laid off officers – keep in mind that 12 have already found new jobs. I just don’t see how any of this is remotely acceptable to the public.

  40. Dave C.

    I thought Kaplan’s first three bullet points were saying that because measure Y funding pays the salaries of 55 cops, you only need to find the money to pay for 25 offficers, and the city can then continue to collect measure Y taxes to pay for the other 55. But if Marleen didn’t think it made sense, then maybe I’m the one who is confused.

  41. MarleenLee

    Measure Y generated $20 million annually. About $9 million of that went to cops. Assuming $188,000 per cop (salaries plus benefits), yes, that is around 50 cops. But in order to continue collecting Measure Y, the City needs to appropriate sufficient funding for the full contingent of 739 non-Measure Y cops. Right now, the City is refusing to do that. Even if they were to rehire all of the laid off cops, they couldn’t bring back Measure Y, because 12 of those cops have already found new jobs! And by implementing the layoffs, the City automatically lost half a year’s Measure Y funding ($10 million), at a bare minimum. In order to just break even for the loss of Measure Y funds, the City would need to lay off 106 officers ($20 million divided by $188,000) which is why the decision to lay off 80 officers never made any sense to me. Of course, the Council was never great at basic math – if they had been, they would have realized five years ago that the funding under Measure Y was not enough to pay for 63 additional cops, plus recruiting and training, for 10 years.

  42. Anita

    Maybe one of you lawyers can read through the CC proposed changes in the Measure Y fix.

    It looks like the change to Section 8 will let the city collect the full tax for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

    “The tax for fiscal year 2010-2011 shall be levied and imposed at the full annual rate. ….”

    It that is what this amendment means, that will give them about another 10 million for social programs.

    In Section 3 they added “up to” before 25 engine companies and 7 truck companies for the Fire Department. Does this mean they can close fire houses and still spend the 4 million for the Fire Department?

  43. Livegreen

    Well, the CC Safety Committee was told that it wouldn’t be enough by the then head of the MYOC when they were starting the Mayor’s recruitment drive. I know because I was at that CC meeting & remember it distinctly.

    Oh Marleen, you’re so negative when all you have to do is think outside the box. In this case the box that M-Y is printed on. For example, if a solution is found to rehire the officers, it doesn’t matter that 12 of them have jobs because all the CC has to do is appropriate funding for them, whether they’re working or not. & if a solution is found there’s nothing in M-Y to prevent funds from being collected for only part of the year.

    Pouf! Problems gone. & if u have a problem with moving #’s around, so sue me.


  44. Livegreen

    Seriously, I wouldn’t mind if RK explains her last post again, along with $’s, to better understand. Also remember that some here have criticized her for not offering an alternative solution, when she was saying the problems are structural. Well now that she has those who did shouldn’t criticize her for offering a short-term bandaid, like JQ, JB, etc did. (Of course it is fine to criticique the plan itself).

    My problem is the plan itself: I’m not voting for a Property Tax unless it fixes the deficit, all City employees chip in (not just the Officers), AND we get more Officers for it (Robert’s plan).

    Now I’m just one voter so I could b wrong. But I don’t think I am. I think most voters are worried than unless a solution is comprehensive & structural the CC will come back again asking for more money. So as it stands they’re not going to vote for it.

    This is yet another reason why the CC should have been working on a comprehensive, structural solution involving all City employees from the beginning. & if the CC agrees with me they should start working on that now.

    If they disagree then sit and wait for the results in November. But even then they better start working on a back-up plan that IS structural & comprehensive. Because doing nothing when there’s at least a good chance of this happening is taking their responsibilities to a new low.

  45. Ralph

    What you have touched upon is the credibility problem. No one is convinced that the actions council takes today will not prevent them from coming back tomorrow to ask for more.

  46. We Fight Blight

    The structural problem with the budget is that crime prevents us from growing the tax base, the City tries to be all things to all people, and fails to prioritize its needs and only pay for that which it can afford.

    I would like RK to answer the basic question as to why the City Council is scapegoating the police and fails to even address more givebacks from non-emergency personnel. I would also like her to answer why the City Council refused to put any other voter-mandated programs, such as Kids First, on the ballot except the Measure Y fix.

    Don’t be fooled, the City Council will be looking at more revenue measures next year as it is unlikely the economy will turn around and generate enough additional revenues any time soon.

  47. Ryan

    I guess this is a leadership test for Rebecca Kaplan: can she build the coalition necessary to enact her proposal? I mean, she’s currently a city councilperson, so she could theoretically get these policies enacted now. But she doesn’t seem able to do so. So why should we make her mayor, if she can’t accomplish anything as at-large councilperson?

  48. Max Allstadt

    OK, so here’s a summary of the three mayoral candidate’s actions around police layoffs:

    Don Perata:

    Didn’t get to vote on it. But he did say that the cops shouldn’t be laid off, and also that they shouldn’t take any pay cut what so ever, nor should they contribute to their pensions.

    Where would the money come from to keep them? First he said we should eliminate some of the City’s boards and commissions, which wouldn’t have closed the funding gap. After the press points out that his first plan wouldn’t work, he proposes a 0.5% sales tax, in a recession, in a city that’s been bleeding retail to it’s neighbors for a decade already.

    Also, by portraying himself as the inevitable winner (he’s not) and by taking epic amounts of money from cops and prison guards, Perata positioned himself to be trusted to rescue OPD later. He practically goaded them into negotiating too aggressively and getting 80 of their brothers laid off. I even wonder if he did so on purpose to create a campaign wedge issue.

    Jean Quan:

    Votes to lay off 80 cops, and does so knowing full well that the Mehserle verdict is imminent, and that crime spikes in late summer. Then, during the public safety forum, she says we need 1000 cops to make Oakland safe, but proposes no way to achieve that number.

    Rebecca Kaplan:

    First she proposed a ballot measure that would address the entire city’s pension funding problem by stepping up contributions and barring the Council from signing unsustainable contracts.

    That proposal languished and didn’t make it to the floor in time for the election. I don’t know if it got tied up at rules committee or what, but I suspect that the proposal was stalled because other councilmembers didn’t want Kaplan to look good. She saved the budget last year with ballot measures, but this year, an election year? I don’t think any of her colleagues would want to let her outshine them like that again.

    Then she wrote the proposal above, which is imperfect for everyone, because that’s what a good compromise looks like. John Russo once told me that the best deals in politics are those that nobody likes but that everybody can live with. That’s exactly what Rebecca is proposing here. It’s not perfect for the cops, but they get something. It’s not perfect for the city, but they get something.

    I think Kaplan’s genuinely trying to find a solution here, and whether or not it was accepted, I’m not sure the other candidates were even trying.

  49. V Smoothe

    Max –

    Rebecca Kaplan never brought forth any ballot measure.

    She said she was going to, and at the public safety mayoral forum she told the audience that she had put forward a proposal, but as far as I am aware, Rules Committee never even had a chance to vote on whether it should come to Council at all. She voluntarily withdrew her scheduling request before anyone could even discuss it.

    If Kaplan is so confident that her ballot measure would solve many of Oakland’s problems, then she should share it with the public. I’ve never seen any language for it, except for the summary she submitted to Rules Committee. That’s been discussed at length here before, and I think the general consensus was that everyone was seriously underwhelmed.

  50. Max Allstadt

    The tough question on the ballott measure is how far it could go and still have a shot of winning.

    I’d like to see one that enjoined the council from signing a contract with pension contribution obligations that can’t be funded with real money. I’d also like to see one that mandated that the city use accounting practices that aren’t bullshit.

    But the bottom line on the Mayoral candidates, and on Kaplan’s proposed compromises above, is that she’s the only one trying to make a good faith deal.

    I mean, one of Perata’s solutions was literally to eliminate the Citizen’s Police Review Board and the Public Ethics Commission in order to raise money. How transparent is that? The candidate who can’t get through a single month without his ethics problems being exposed in the press wants the Ethics Commission gone? The candidate who’s sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars of prison guard and cop money wants to eliminate oversight of police? And he wants to do it to save money? Yeah right.

    And Quan got us into this financial mess in the first place by voting to spend our city’s reserve funds when there was no need to do so.

    I support Rebecca because I think she’s the candidate who’s most likely to negotiate in good faith, and because she’s the candidate most likely to really do her homework and understand policy before she implements it. She isn’t perfect. No politician is. But seriously, look at the competition for a minute.

  51. V Smoothe

    I’m looking for something more inspiring than “better than the other choices” in a Mayor.

    But honestly, I don’t get this “solution” of Kaplan’s at all. I don’t understand how it solves any problems. It just doesn’t make any sense to me and seems really fiscally irresponsible. It’s surprising coming from her because I agree that her proposals are usually based in sound reasoning and research. But this one seems like a total miss. I may not like Jean Quan’s layoff & tax plan, but at least it is a plan that would actually solve the budget problem.

  52. MarleenLee

    Don Perata never said that the cops shouldn’t contribute to their pensions. At least he didn’t when I asked him that question point blank, in a public meeting. What he said was that he didn’t think that thc cops should have to make concessions unless the City was willing to make serious additional cuts to non-police programs. I wish he had been more specific in his answer, but he certainly didn’t say the cops shouldn’t make concessions. And he has publicly come out against the new parcel tax, which OPOA will be campaigning for.

    As for the ethics commission and the Police Review Board – I don’t know much about the latter. But as for the ethics commission, I’d be happy getting rid of it. In the last 10 years or so, they have apparently only held one or two actual hearings. Mostly they throw out complaints from two or three people in the entire city who submit one or two complaints a month. The press pays no attention to what they do. Members of the public generally don’t show up. The Commission has no real power anyway. Even with the commission, our existing city government lacks ethics, so the results are not impressive.

  53. Max Allstadt


    Kaplan is more inspiring than that, by a long shot. And you’re reducing my argument to the last sentence I wrote, which is kind of silly.

    The last time I saw Kaplan do something really inspiring was only a few days ago. She was meeting with a group of activists and truckers about port pollution and working conditions, and she not only understood every issue they raised, she showed serious depth of knowledge about the history of the issue. She knew problems on the ground, and she knew the city, state and federal landscapes on port pollution issues. And she knew it cold.

    She also really connected with a room of hard working Oaklanders who were at their wits end trying to solve a seemingly intractable problem. She shared their frustration with the cruel absurdities they faced, and at the same time was able to offer support, strategy, and a wealth of knowledge to the discussion.

    That’s inspiring. Speeches and debates and council meetings show you a little clue. But if you want to see a politician’s real potential, watch them working with a few dozen people on a real issue. Watch them focus. That’s where Rebecca shows me that she’s inspiring.

  54. Max Allstadt


    The solution to the Ethics Commission isn’t to kill it, it’s to give it teeth and balls.

    And the solution to our ethics problems at city hall is sure as shit NOT to eliminate an ethical oversight body if there’s any chance of Don Perata becoming Mayor.

  55. Max Allstadt

    V, how does Quan’s layoff and tax plan work when we all know the parcel tax is polling in the 30% range and won’t ever pass?

  56. V Smoothe

    I completely agree that Kaplan routinely demonstrates a depth of knowledge about a wide variety of policy issues that is unmatched by any of her peers on the Council. It’s one of the reasons I like her so much. But knowledge, on it’s own, doesn’t make you an effective leader. You have to be able to translate that knowledge into action. There are some areas where Kaplan has done this very well, but from my perspective, dealing with the City’s budget shortfall is not one of them.

  57. We Fight Blight

    So Max, where does RK stand on getting control over bloated non-police salaries and how is that tied to her campaign strategy? She seems to be silent on that end of things. Does she need the City employee union and is she unwilling to piss them off by advocating their salaries be cut?

  58. Stan K

    How about change the parameters around measure Y so that the $20 mn kitty funds armed private security. That would put an additional 200 cops on the streets of Oakland instead of just keeping or detracting from our current force. Is that allowed in our city charter?

    This would put more pressure on the OPOA to negotiate in good faith and give our moronic city council less incentive to create stupid tax proposals to support the unsustainable train wreck that is Oakland. All these new tax proposals are absurd and do nothing to address the long term structural issue at hand.

  59. ralph

    I don’t know if council has been attempting to freeze out RK but I am not convinced that council always acts in the best interest of Oakland. One can serve their district and still do what is best for them and for Oakland.

    I do not disagree with you regarding speeches, debates and council meetings. But to hear how they really think it often requires dollars for access. One wonders if more people would be engaged if politicians just spent more time speaking with average citizens as opposed to dialing / digging / begging / whoring for dollars.

  60. livegreen

    The budget & tax measures will be part of the Mayor’s race, but that doesn’t mean they should be framed by the Mayor’s race. All the proposals so far are based on concessions by the OPOA that are not enough (by themselves) to solve the problem, and by tax measures that will leave us with the same amount of Officers or less, won’t address the following year’s budget crisis, and most importantly, won’t pass.

    The only solutions has got to be comprehensive. Then at least the budget measures stand a chance.

    It would be better for the CC, the City & it’s residents if the CC started working on this now. Not sit around waiting for them to fail to address 2010-2011, and wait for the winter and spring of 2011 to address the 2011-12 deficit.

    Based on history the CC will chose inaction over action like they did for the current year (we’ve been discussing this since at least June of last year). INSTEAD, it is time for the CC to address the whole problem. If they do then the budget measures might actually stand a chance of passing (a la Robert’s plan).

    Time to bring in the SEIU and get down to business. Not procrastinate and vote for the CC member who procrastinates the least, or who comes up with the least bad plans of a group of bad plans, none of which will work.

  61. Greg Harland

    Rebecca’s solution won’t solve the problem. The numbers are not sufficient to even solve our short-term financial problems, let alone provide a long-term solution. In addition, we will be making more promises we can’t keep.
    There is a solution, but it will require a transition time. I’m talking about a legal financial reorganization, which can secure the financial integrity of the city. It will allow the city to dismiss collective bargaining agreements as well as retiree benefits. Then the city can restructure these agreements to levels that will be healthy and sustainable into the future. Part of the plan will require the police to contribute 9% to their pension. Then both fire and police will need to take a 10% cut in pay. It will also necessitate bringing in new officers at a lower starting pay of $50,000 plus benefits. New officers will, of course, be required to contribute their share to the benefits. Once these steps have been taken, the police can begin a long-term process of rebuilding the force to 1100 sworn officers. This plan should produce a budget surplus of $20 million plus, but we must keep in mind that each of the next five years is forecasted to have progressively larger deficit.
    In addition to making the general fund sustainable, the city is facing a still more vexing problem: a $2 billion unfunded liability for employee pensions and retiree health care costs. Solving this will require a serious commitment on the part of both the City Council and next Mayor.
    Immediately after initiating the financial reorganization, the city should reaffirm all debts to creditors and bondholders. This, along with a balanced budget, will secure the city’s ability to continue to access credit markets.
    There should also be a careful assessment of each department in City Hall to determine where money can be saved and more money should be spent. Some departments are inefficiently overstaffed, while others are woefully understaffed. In my visits to City Hall and CEDA I’ve observed both.
    Using financial reorganization, we can restore the city to a sustainable future without additional taxes. Then, the leaders should begin the process of dismantling many of the measures that were put into place to support the unsustainable budget. Among these are fees and fines, including parking and traffic enforcement.
    In addition to all of the above, the process of addressing long-term deferred maintenance should begin. This should include streets, sidewalks and sewer systems but these projects should not be paid for from the general fund.

  62. len raphael

    Max, the test of whether a mayoral candidate will be independent of the various unions, would be asking them to support a charter amendment allowing outsourcing of any and all non-safety employee positions; and forbiding binding arbitration in public safety negotiations.

    Just don’t see Q, K, or P supporting both of the above.

    If they can’t support both of those changes to the charter, no way they have the integrity to put residents above city unions as the clock is running out on deciding whether to pay retirement benefits and high wages or provide decent services.

    -len raphael

  63. Dave M

    The way I see it,the city will have to layoff more workers,cut programs,increase efficency,get concessions from all the unions and raise taxes or face bankruptcy. Anybody who says otherwise is not being honest. The only reason this might actually happen is that all of us are in the same boat and everyone is worse off if the city does go bankrupt.If we don’t change course soon we will look back on these as the good old days.

  64. len raphael

    remarkable numerical gobbledy gook from RK.

    What is clear is her Plan is attrition followed by hiring at lower cost. No problem with that if we had the time and people’s safety wasn’t affected.

    -len raphael

  65. We Fight Bligh

    Politicians in Oakland do not put residents and the City as a whole above their own interests: election and/or re-election. They cobble together whatever coalition and voting blocs that are necessary for them to get into office and stay in office.

    A comprehensive solution to this budget crisis, which involves dealing with all unions head on and getting salary and pension give-backs, is a politicians nightmare for election/re-election. They are more willing to ask the electorate to pay more out of our own pockets than to address head on non-emergency staff salaries and pensions.

    So, we are really going to approve a $360 parcel tax and pay more in other sundry tax hikes so that SEIU can maintain bloated salaries and we can still lose police through attrition –because that is the trade-off. On top of that we are going to approve a $195 parcel tax for teacher salaries. Sounds highly unlikely since most of the public get poor service from City employees already.

    Like I said, the structural problem with our budget is crime. The amount of revenues we lose from crime is astounding and is likely to be in the millions if not hundreds of millions. Anyone figuring out how laying off more police helps to stem that loss?

    City Council cannot even get past this year’s deficit problem, forget looking to the future. If this were a boat with a hole in it, we all should be looking for our life preserve and abandoning ship cause it’s going down.

    If we can’t arrest our way out of crime, as some like to say, can we tax our way out of this deficit? We can’t arrest our way out crime since there are not enough police, and we can’t tax our way out of this crisis since you have an uwilling electorate. Sounds like CC better start looking at bloated salaries, further reducing city services, and figuring out what programs need to be cut. No more sacred cows. Focusing only on unrealistic revenue generation seems sadly misguided. But isn’t that how we got into this problem in the first place with Ms. Edgerly.

  66. Daniel Schulman

    Len if you are going to give a short characterization of her plan, you should also include growing the tax base. By easing zoning requirements, reaching out to business, and licensing cannabis, etc., Kaplan is working to bring more money into the system.

    I am not really sure what the alternatives are to a reduced force if people don’t want to pay more taxes and the OPOA doesn’t want to make concessions. Sure there are non-police funds that should be repurposed, but despite singling out individual employee compensation there is not a huge pot of funds. In addition, reducing Kids First!, non-police pay, etc. also all take time.

    Unfortunately decades of mis-management have lead to such intractable problems that we need to do all of these things. If we tried to do everything at once, nothing would happen.

  67. MarleenLee

    If the council had different priorities, it could have voted to rewrite Measure Y and Kids First for change on the November ballot, in exchange for concessions from the police union. This would have given us an additional $30 million a year by November. And, it would have been more likely to get passed than the current proposals. The reality is that the Council doesn’t want to hear the noise from all the angry non-profits who would would lose their handouts. They’d rather listen to the wimpering of the poor taxpayers. So who gets served? The unions and the non-profits. The residents get screwed.

  68. len raphael

    Daniel, i’m basically with Blight on this. RK tries at the margin to make Oakland more biz friendly, which is more than most CC even think about. But it’s the crime and the schools that’s the biggest obstacle to business’s and well to do residents decision to passover Oakland for other CA locations.

    There is perhaps an even bigger problem that many of the clean light industry jobs we need to employ our most likey to commit crime residents, wouldn’t even chose California because of very high regulatory costs and delays.That is not tea party bs. Approvals that takes weeks and months in other states, take two years in California.

    Daniel, attrition into a two tier hiring system is not an option because it will take years, and as ML pointed out we will have to devote most of our budget to paying for retirement costs of current employees for next 20 years.

    Outline of the solution: make a credible threat to declare Chapt 9, give current employees a choice between drastic pay cuts and layoffs if they don’t agree to changes to their retirement benefits.

    Concurrently, we should join with other CA muni govts to bring a test case to see if the medical benefits for currently retired employees can be lowered to the benefit levels we negotiate with current employees.

    Also find a CA govt in Chapt 9 and join as amicus whatchamecallit to try to get the fed courts to override state legal protection of muni pensions. long shot, but worth it.

    Help pass a charter amendment allowing outsourcing of all non elected positions except (maybe) public safety.

    Impractical? of course without credible threat to recall every one of our cc and a cooperative mayor, it will not happen until we can’t make payroll.

    If we do nothing and stumble along, with a patchwork of increased taxes and decreased/deferred services, we’ll drift into maybe a Cleveland situaton, maybe even Detroit. Or simply a Richmond CA.

  69. Max Allstadt

    It’s a circle of trouble, Len.

    You can’t bring down crime without more cops, you can’t get more cops without more businesses and residences to contribute to the tax pool, and you cant get more businesses and residences without bringing down crime, and you can’t bring down crime without more cops, you can’t get more cops without more businesses and residences to contribute to the tax pool, and you cant get more businesses and residences without bringing down crime….

    As for the Schools, I blame the voters! There’s nothing the council or the Mayor can do directly. Our problem is voter apathy and ignorance. Christ, we have a guy on the school board who got caught having a tryst with a student, and it looks like he’s running unopposed to keep his seat.

    The Tribune and every other schoolboard member called for Chris Dobbins’ resignation. And the voters in district 6 couldn’t get it together to find another candidate. And then Jean Quan accepts his endorsement for Mayor, and nobody but me gives her any flak for it.

    Voter apathy. I really hope Great Oakland Public Schools can cure this problem before we go back into state receivership.

  70. Max Allstadt


    As an aside, which councilmembers voted to violate measure Y? I’m interested in the committee vote and the full council vote.

  71. ralph

    I somewhat agree with you in principle on the vicious circle, but I do think that despite the “crime” people continue to flock to Oakland. The downtown rentals are at capacity and buyers are flocking to The Ellington. This indicates to me that when the market returns and if the city can gets its act together to let developers build quality market rate homes we will have buyers.

    This will also help with the schools by increasing the tax base and lets face it these parents will be engaged. And the city needs to acknowledge how their mismanagement harms the schools. If a man only has a buck he can not give that buck to both the city and the schools. Tis a shame no one is looking at running for that seat you referenced. There was a story not to long ago about school boards being the easiest way to get involved in electoral politics.

    We need a real business expansion plan. While I like taxing the dope fiends, I am not a fan of hanging our hopes on the future of dope revenue. Hard to know which businesses who avoid the city because of its dope accepatance. Also not sure what problems you invite but going after the dope money.
    The judge in the Vallejo bankruptcy allowed the city to adjust OPEB. Would love to be able to do the same w/o going the bankruptcy route.

  72. MarleenLee

    Max – did I say the Council voted to violate Measure Y? I don’t recall saying that. But it is true nonetheless. They voted unanimously to approve Dellums’ $7.7 million recruitment plan – a clear violation of Measure Y. (They did so even after receiving my letter and an opinion by the City Attorney’s office). They then approved canceling the 2009 police academy – a deliberate effort to reduce the size of the police force, knowing that this meant that they weren’t even “appropriating” anough money for the required baseline staffing. They also all voted to appeal the decision in my first court case (except for Brunner, who voted against). Oh, and they all violated the Brown Act on that vote too, since they failed to report out the vote after closed session, until I advised them of the mistake. There are a ton more violations, but don’t want to get the conversation too off track.

  73. Greg Harland

    Rebecca’s solution won’t solve the problem. The numbers are not sufficient to even solve our short-term financial problems, let alone provide a long-term solution. In addition, we will be making more promises we can’t keep.
    There is a solution, but it will require a transition time. I’m talking about a legal financial reorganization, which can secure the financial integrity of the city. It will allow the city to dismiss collective bargaining agreements as well as retiree benefits. Then the city can restructure these agreements to levels that will be healthy and sustainable into the future. Part of the plan will require the police to contribute 9% to their pension. Then both fire and police will need to take a 10% cut in pay. It will also necessitate bringing in new officers at a lower starting pay of $50,000 plus benefits. New officers will, of course, be required to contribute their share to the benefits. Once these steps have been taken, the police can begin a long-term process of rebuilding the force to 1100 sworn officers. This plan should produce a budget surplus of $20 million plus, but we must keep in mind that each of the next five years is forecasted to have progressively larger deficit.
    I also think there should be some charter amendments made to level the playing field between the city and the unions. The first is to remove binding arbitration because the opportunity for appeal is limited and bad decisions are difficult to correct. The next is the ability of the city to outsource, and my initial suggestion would be to outsource the payroll. This would provide better oversight, especially tracking overtime on a real-time basis.
    In addition to making the general fund sustainable, the city is facing a still more vexing problem: a $2 billion unfunded liability for employee pensions and retiree health care costs. Solving this will require a serious commitment on the part of both the City Council and next Mayor.
    Immediately after initiating the financial reorganization, the city should reaffirm all debts to creditors and bondholders. This, along with a balanced budget, will secure the city’s ability to continue to access credit markets.
    There should also be a careful assessment of each department in City Hall to determine where money can be saved and more money should be spent. Some departments are inefficiently overstaffed, while others are woefully understaffed. In my visits to City Hall and CEDA I’ve observed both.
    Using financial reorganization, we can restore the city to a sustainable future without additional taxes. Then, the leaders should begin the process of dismantling many of the measures that were put into place to support the unsustainable budget. Among these are fees and fines, including parking and traffic enforcement.
    In addition to all of the above, the process of addressing long-term deferred maintenance should begin. This should include streets, sidewalks and sewer systems but these projects should not be paid for from the general fund.
    I’ve posted a link on my web site on the left side, to down load an excel spreadsheet to play with the city budget. If you’re familiar with excel you should be able figure it out.

  74. ralph

    Generally speaking you have a very hard time convincing people to accept a wage that is 75 – 80% of their fellow worker for the same job. Also going back to my favorite example Baltimore, if Baltimore pays its officers $47K and we know there is a bay area differential, which even private employers recognize, how do you expect to hire any officers @ $50K/yr?

    Outsourcing the non-core stuff is a must. I would make your first order of business defining the core responsibilities of the city. Anything not part of the core needs to go. Budgeting should be outcomes based.

    Since I believe that producing an environment that is core to a city’s purpose eliminiating parking and traffic fines seems like a bad idea.

  75. len raphael

    GH, i take it that by “legal financial reorganization” you’re using a politic euphemism for Chapter 9.

    I’d like to see the citation and actual court case where a Fed bankruptcy court overrode state laws on muni pensions, because i thought that was the situation in CA?

    My reading of the current legal envoirment, was that it was likely that Chapter 9 or maybe even just contract negotiations with current employees could override unfunded post retirement medical benefits.

    When you say “serious commitment.. 2Billion” without raising taxes. ignoring interest costs, funding the obligations/deferred maintenance with the 20Mill/year surplus, 100 years?

    Nope, i wouldn’t rush into promising affirming obligations to anyone.

    Implementing Donald Shoup’s parking charge the way he supposedly recommended with the fines going to improve the local district, seems like a good use of the fining/taxing power to communicate the true costs of private vehicles to users of same.

    Marleen would say it’s not kosher to charge more for a fine than the cost of collection plus civic damage, but one can rationalize around that.

    Wonder how many of our current council members besides RK would know how to edit a spreadsheet? It would be beneath Dellums dignity to dirty his hands with such detail.

  76. len raphael

    No doubt muni bond underwriters are still in see no evil hear none mode, so if a serious contender or an elected official kept using the b word, there’d be a temporary increase in borrowing costs.

    but then why should there be except on the general obligation stuff? which is relatively small. if anything, bankruptcy could allow us to pay off debt that otherwise we’d need to rework.

    but wouldn’t you think that the risks of B are already taken into account by the market?

    then a bunch of muni borrowing is done using those federally guranteed loans now.
    if our fearful leader don’t start talking about bankruptcy, we’re even more likely to go into it without any planning.

  77. Max Allstadt

    George, last year Rebecca was instrumental in getting unanimous support of the council for four ballot measures. Those four ballot measures passed by overwhelming margins. You may remember the campaign signs for those measures, they were in Kaplan’s colors, ’cause she ran the campaign. Result? Millions in new revenue, without parcel taxes or sales taxes.

    Don Perata tried to get consensus out of the City Council this year. He tried to get them to vote against instant runoff voting. He essentially asked them to look at a law passed by the voters and void it by decree. I believe the only people who took his side were his good friend Ignacio De La Fuente and his ex-girlfriend Jane Brunner. Does a man who makes a miscalculation and overreach such as that look like a good Mayor to anybody?

  78. ralph

    “Labor laws that make it easier to organize unions.” That alone is reason enough not to vote for an individual.

    Can you identify the four ballot measure to which you refer?

  79. George

    Max, we were discussing leadership during the recent budget crisis. Cherry-picking other events to back up your unlimited (blind?) support for Councilor Kaplan doesn’t make your argument more persuasive, it makes it less persuasive.

    And “ex-girlfriend?” Keep it classy, Max. We don’t have a politics of personal destruction in Oakland, and we should keep it that way.

  80. Daniel Schulman

    George, before you link to your blog, it might be fair to point out that you censor comments that do not agree with your position.

    Oh, and also, that you’ve known Don Perata your entire life and that he is a close family friend. Pretending that you’re using your powers of being a trained Political Scientist and having evaluated all of the candidates to determine that Don is the only logical choice goes beyond being merely deceptive.

  81. Greg Harland

    First, as to the starting pay for new officers, I start with the premise of what we can afford, not with what they would like to earn. Right now police are being laid off in many cities and unless they return to active duty with in 60 days they have to go through more than 130 hours of training to get re-certified with California P.O.S.T. (Peace Officer Standards and Training).
    To answer your question about the parking, I was not clear in what I wrote. I meant reducing fines and fees to tolerable levels – not eliminating them. I also think we should have strong enforcement to eliminate the use of illegal disable placards. Last week while walking downtown, I noticed that every car on the two blocks that I checked was either a city vehicle or had a placard hanging from the mirror.
    About the outsourcing, I agree that it could save a lot of money putting much of the non-core work out to bid. Other cities are already doing this and realizing substantial savings.

  82. George

    Wow Daniel, that’s not why I deleted your comments at all. They were ageist and personal. Like this attack. Can I publish our email chain? Nowhere do I claim that my training as a political scientist solely leads to my support for DP. My disclaimer on my website is clear.

    I think your posts are textbook definition of trolling, but thanks for contributing to raising the level of political debate in Oakland. Our community is stronger for it.

  83. George

    Daniel, as I noted, you are welcome to publish dissenting opinions on my blog that meet my comments policy, as, for instance, our blog host, V-Smoothe has done.

  84. Daniel Schulman

    My comments were no more ageist than Don Perata is progressive. The problem is your unlimited (blind?) support for your family friend leads you to distort the meaning of these words.

    I am personally deeply offended that someone who is running for mayor of Oakland has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Prison Guards Union. That someone can call such a person ‘progressive’ is absurd. When I point this out I get called a troll. Who’s keeping it classy now, George?

  85. ralph

    Thanks for the clarification. So based on what you are saying when revenues go up (or savings realized from outsourcing) we can pay officers more. Aside, you may want to remove the list of officers from your page.

    Personally, I think the fines are too low. The city should not be setting fines in accordance with what people can pay. You assess the fine because someone is doing something that is not for the good of society – running a red light, hogging a time limited parking space. Children should be able to cross the street safely a $10 fine may not discourage one from running a redlight but a $400 fine (such as it is in Palo Alto) will. Businesses need customers. A $10 fine for not moving one’s car may not motivate one to move, but a $65 fine will.

    I would agree that the political science training on GW’s site is more prominent than any disclaimer. I had to search before I found the disclaimer. But it certainly seems less than forthcoming if the family history is correct.

  86. Max Allstadt

    George, the reason I mention the long standing personal relationships between Brunner, De La Fuente and Perata is simple. It illustrates that the only people Don could get support from on IRV were people who had decades of loyalty to him. The law said “up”. Don wanted the council to say “up” meant “down”. Only two of them capitulated.

  87. George

    And, Daniel, you are welcome to make those comments on my blog, just not make generalizations based on peoples ages, races, gender identifications, and other obvious stuff. I think misrepresenting my decision and our subsequent discussion says a lot more about you than it does about my blog. You were actually civil in your emails!

    For those interested, internet trolling is a common behavior in blog threads. Making outlandish, often factually inaccurate, claims in order to provoke a response. The default policy is “not to feed the trolls;” that is, don’t reply to them, in the hopes that they get bored and leave. Obviously I didn’t follow that policy here, but it’s hard not to when strangers call you a liar.

    From wikipedia:

    a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response[1] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

    Daniel, can I publish our email thread?

  88. Max Allstadt

    Ralph, the port workers I was referring to are 1099ed, breathe toxic air, and were duped into accepting grants for upgraded trucks that were not enough money, forcing them to go into debt to cover the difference. That’s not a union-run-amok issue. That’s a human rights issue. Those truckers don’t even have bathrooms accessible to them while they wait for loading.

    As for the ballot measures, remember the Yes4oakland campaign?

  89. Daniel Schulman

    George, your intimations that I am somehow bigoted are just not going to fly. You might want to supplement your PoliSci training with a Sociology course when you get back.

    Of course I am not willing to let you publish my emails while censoring my blog comments. That’s crazy.

    We’ve gone too far astray on V’s blog, if you want to discuss further you have my email address.

  90. David

    Unfortunately, the fundamental problem with Ms. Kaplan’s suggestion is that when Oakland violates the “no lay-off” pledge, it will presumably do so because of continued economic stagnation/ decline. Therefore, restoring some of the benefits to fewer officers will simply worsen the budget problem, and lead to even more layoffs and yet another budget crisis.

  91. Max Allstadt

    Regarding censorship, by the way, I think I know Vsmoothe’s policy pretty well, and I support it. Outright hate speech and spam get deleted, but she doesn’t even delete hate speech if her readers have responded to it and deletion would confuse the meaning of the thread.

    Censorship for the sake of quashing dissent is cowardice. It implies that you fear Dan’s views so much that you’re afraid to have an exchange with him.

  92. ralph

    Forgive me my age but I don’t recall discussing the port issue. I don’t know if I would call it a human rights issue but from what I know there were indeed some issues with the grant process. They definitely should have at least a honey bucket. If anyone is getting screwed it is the people living over there and breathing the dirty air.

    As to the Yes4Oakland campaign, before I posted it took me 5 minutes to recall that we even voted last year. I am firm believer if the accomplishment is worthy of trumpeting, then trumpet it in its entirety so people know exactly what the individual did. I still can not recall what measures RK proposed and if others can’t it may lead them to believe that the measures weren’t that noteworthy.

  93. Greg Harland


    Yes, I’m talking about chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy. My experience has been that when I mention the word bankruptcy people immediately stop listening. I know it is controversial to talk about, but it’s a reality we have to face considering our growing deficits. I think of it in positive terms as a way to reboot the city and start anew. Chapter 9 is quite different from the type of bankruptcy people are normally familiar with. Below I’ve included a few excerpts from a description on the U.S. Court’s website.

    “Although similar to other chapters in some respects, chapter 9 is significantly different in that there is no provision in the law for liquidation of the assets of the municipality and distribution of the proceeds to creditors.”

    “Municipalities may also reject collective bargaining agreements and retiree benefit plans without going through the usual procedures required in chapter 11 cases.”

    I’ll post the entire document on my website and link so you can download it. The link will on the first page left side below the spreadsheet link.

    Regarding the $2 billion unfunded liability for employee pensions and retiree health care costs. This is will be a difficult problem and I think that will take a combination of payments and investment strategies with a close eye to business cycles. Fortunately we’re at the beginning of a new cycle and with careful investment we can make up some lost ground. I also think we really have to think carefully before we make overly generous promises. Another problem I believe is offering “defined benefit plans”. These are also unreasonable promises that have left us in an untenable position. I think the only reasonable plan is a “defined contribution plan”, but that’s another discussion.

  94. Daniel Schulman

    Back to the topic of the post, I want to respond to MarleenLee’s comment:

    “If the council had different priorities, it could have voted to rewrite Measure Y and Kids First for change on the November ballot, in exchange for concessions from the police union. This would have given us an additional $30 million a year by November.”

    I completely agree that this would have been a much better policy. I am no fan of Kids First!, though, I would probably recommend a multi-year phase out so as not to completely kill-off programs that might be working that we’ve invested millions in.

    I am just not sure Oakland’s inability to further such a policy was simply a lack of political will on the part of the council. Certainly that was a big part of it, but we also had the continuing absence of the mayor. More importantly, OPOA has a contract and needs to agree with any concessions. They seem to be pretty set on their demand of no concessions without a three year moratorium on layoffs. I do not see anyway council could agree to such a condition.

  95. George

    So the Kaplan supporters have now said in this thread that I am a liar *and* a coward. Max, I thought I knew you better. Rest assured that Dan’s deleted comments were in bad faith, and my invitation for Dan to post appropriate comments was also in good faith. As I invite him to publish those appropriate comments now. Like the other opposing comments that are currently on my blog. I fear Dan and his arguments so much that I WANT HIM TO POST THEM.

    My comments policy is here, and is also very standard:

    Dan, I don’t know you, but I guess publishing the emails would contradict the lies you are now spreading about me. I can understand your hesitation, as our conversation about the problems with your comments was pretty mundane.

    Outstanding work fellas. I look forward to ignoring such top notch political commentary for years to come. I just wonder if your candidate thinks these tactics are worthy of her presumably good political future. If the tone, and disingenuousness, of this pushback is any indication, the fall election is going to be a GREAT political season.

    With friends like these, Oakland doesn’t need enemies.

  96. len raphael

    George, every politician in the Bay Area calls her/himself a “progressive” to the point where it’s a meaningless label.

    i’m venturing into your professional territory, but my understanding of the Progressive movement of the 1880′s to 1920′s as embodied by the expulsion of Tammany Hall in NYC, and the enabling of ballot propositions and recall election through out the country and in CA culminating by election of Hiram Johnson?, would disqualify almost every politician in the Bay Area on lack of independence from vested interest groups alone.

    Btw, the Citizens Union of NYC, a non partisan group founded during the Progressive era, came out (reluctantly) in favor of term limits for city council members.

    I can’t ask you to speak for Don P, but what’s your opinion on term limits for Oakland city council members?

    -len raphael

  97. George

    Len, I encourage you to post a reply on my blog if you want. I love substantive feedback, just not feedback that fails the comments policy I laid out.

    Maybe I can post something about the modern definition of a progressive, and term limits, in the future.

    Also, I don’t speak for any campaign, if that’s not obvious.

  98. George

    And, V, sorry this thread was jacked. I apologize for my involvement with that, but I think most of the blame lies elsewhere.

  99. len raphael


    Maybe it takes a euphemism to fix a euphemism. “legal reorganization” meet “structural deficit”.

    No matter what the candidates and our city council members call it, they are working with one hand and one foot tied behind their backs if they try to find a way to fund the retirement and infrastructure liabilities thru borrowing, taxing, or revenue growth.

    When i read that sentence from the Bankruptcy Court site re “Municipalities may also reject collective bargaining agreements and retiree benefit plans”, I assume that applies to our 600Mill medical retirement obligation, but NOT any of our pension obligations.

    For even discussing outsourcing,if the SEIU decided you had any chance of becoming the next mayor, they would make Don’s robo calls look like a polite social call.

    When will the SEIU and the Alameda Labor Council be calling you up with their endorsement of your candidacy?


  100. Greg Harland


    The Alameda Labor Council did invite me for an interview, but it required that I fill out a six-page affidavit committing me to the union. I thanked them for their invitation, but respectfully declined saying that I would always try to treat everyone fairly, but I could not do the interview because it required that I sign and attest to the affidavit. All the other candidates did go but Rebecca will probably get the endorsement because she already had it from the last race.

    I believe the problems we are experiencing now are partly due to the political obligations to the unions. As a candidate for Mayor I cannot make any commitment that would compromise my fidelity to the city. I know this will mean that I won’t have the support of the unions and probably worse they’ll work against me but I won’t compromise.

  101. len raphael

    George, i’m taking a break from posting for a few weeks to work with some other residents considering feasibility of running a nonpartisan menu of charter amendments and minimal ballot propositions.

    Apart from the problem of raising money to collect signatures, the problem of getting of getting consensus, there is the problem of how to get voters’ attention. The temptation is to try to fix muni problems by ballot measure instead of by voting for competent officials.

    Re. which candidate(s) are entitled to wrap themselves in the “progressive” or “Progressive” mantle, I would have to see your face as you placed Don on the continuom that has Seth Low (the NYC non partisan candidate who beat the Tammany Hall machine in 1900) at one end, and Boss Tweed at the other.

    No, I’m not suggesting Don is Boss Tweed, but he’s no Seth Low either.

    -len raphael

  102. Liad Off Cop

    Greg Harland
    Let me set you straight

    1. Your statement about police officers needing 132 hours of retraining if they haven’t worked for 60 days is false. It’s 132 hours of retraining if they haven’t worked for 3 YEARS or more.
    You must have gotten the 60 days from the false news article I believe was from the Tribune (no surprise).

    2. Your suggestion that new officers in Oakland be paid only 50K a year is ludicrous for several reasons.

    A. Oakland won’t be able to retain any employees at that rate. OPD would simply be a revolving door of people looking to get their feet wet in law enforcement, put the minimum 1 year in required to achieve their Basic law enforcement certificate, and then lateral to other depts that pay better – which would be basically every other dept in the entire Bay Area.

    B. Law enforcement like any other field is competitive, with depts competing to hire qualified applicants. Those depts that offer the best pay and benefits packages, naturally get the highest number of applicants and thus can select the “cream of the crop” when it comes to choosing who to hire. People are always wanting to lateral to your dept.

    Those depts who paw on the low end of the scale typically get the “left over” candidates – people who have had difficulty being hired in other depts because of background issues that have made them not the most desireable people to hire. When you pay poorly, people are always leaving your dept to go work elsewhere, and you are more desperate so to speak, to hire people. In order to satisfy those hiring needs and get people on board, depts that are in great need of officers typically lower their hiring standards in order to pass more recruits that in other agencies may not have passed background checks and been hired.
    The end result is a dept that ends up hiring lower quality employees, much more succeptible to corruption, theft, high turnover, who are looking to leave as soon as possible to a better paying agency, etc.
    As an example, there was a Bay Area dept years ago that was the lowest paid by far in a local county. That dept needed people so badly that many of the officers it hired were fired from other depts. The FBI investigated the dept and the citizens were considereing disbanding the dept altogether. Once pay, benefits and working conditions improved, the dept began to attract and hire quality employees and has since cleaned up its image.

    Remember folks, Police Work is a PROFESSION folks – not some uneducated meathead security job. If you want to start paying cops just above sercuity job wages then that’s what you’ll end up having as a police force – nothing but armed unprofessional security guards.

    Let’s at LEAST try an be realistic Mr Harland!!

  103. David

    Getting back to the old argument of, gee, if pay correlated to police performance, why’s crime so high in Oakland?

    I’d agree that $50K/year would be problematic, but the current comp structure is again too high, and has far outpaced private sector incomes.

    If a cop is a PROFESSIONAL, let’s compare some Bay Area PROFESSIONAL salaries…from the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), not counting benefits:

    “Management Occupations”: $126,700
    So every cop is a manager?

    “Computer and Mathematical Science”: $91,440

    “Life, Physical, Social Science”: $81,880

    “Legal Occupations”: $123,200

    “General Dentists”: $133,480

    “Family Doctors”: $147,940

    No matter how you slice it, cops here make more in total comp (and often don’t have the excessive student loans) than PROFESSIONALS. You may think that’s appropriate. I believe you’re in the minority, but we’ll see this fall.

  104. V Smoothe

    OMG, this is ridiculous. George, Max, Dan – you are all better than this petty bickering, and you all need a time out. I will deal with this nonsense fight about George’s blog tomorrow when I return from my vacation. Until then, I don’t want to see any more comments from any of you.

  105. Max Allstadt

    Darn it, V. I totally respect your request for civility, but the timing is unfortunate. I was about to take advantage of the fact that George is in Uganda to write a retort that he couldn’t address until the timezones were in his favor again. Sigh.

  106. Laid Off Cop

    Yes David, that’s exactly what I am saying. We ARE managers.

    We manage people 24/7.

    We manage husbands and wives who have been married for decades and are in the middle of a fight – an extremely volatile and dangerous situation, we manage people at the side of a highway at 3AM with traffic zooming by at 75mph, a bar fight with bottles being thrown at us. We are the ultimate multi-taskers: Driving at high speeds, talking on the radio, watching and typing on the computer screen, listening to radio traffic and knowing and remembering where all your other units are, watching for the suspect, broadcasting his location and description panting into the radio microphone while holding your gun in the other hand – all at the same time. We should all be given the manager of the year ward!

    We manage doctors, lawyers, unattended children, criminals, murderers, gang members, people the average person would be terrified of. We manage all manner of evil and good and everything in between – people just like you David.

    We make more critical decisions in split seconds or at least very short time periods than ANY of the above mentioned professionals in your statement and our decisions have the ability to have a tremendous impact on people’s lives. We are in essence, the ULTIMATE managers.

    Speaking of family doctors, it’s funny. I just saw my family doc and he told me we were underpaid and we should get 200K a year because we risk our live’s for other and he wouldn’t do our job for anything! That was his opinion not mine.

    Nov my friend isn’t about whether people think we are paid too much. Rather, it’s about whether people can afford and/or are willing to yet again pay another tax thanks to the incompetence of the Oakland City Council. I don’t blame them if they don’t, but it would be by no means a reflection on the value of my services. It would be about distrust of the CC.

  107. ralph

    I am already against a $50K officer and LOC has added a number of reasons why it makes no sense. And I would like to follow-up on LOC’s “profession” remark. A number of police departments are moving to a model that values the college graduate and individuals with graduate degrees. Apparently, reasoning and pyschology are good skills to have if you are the officer on the street. So, if a mechanical engineer earns $50K out of undergrad, then doesn’t it make sense for the individuals who protect and serve you and who may pay the ultimate sacrifice in service to you to earn more?

    I do love this new expandable box!

    And V, the V stands for Vacation not viewing the blog

  108. Max Allstadt

    The fundamental problem with the Parcel Tax is that it won’t get us our cops back. The notion that the council could fire and rehire four months later is just stupid.

    @LOC, don’t a lot of your laid off brothers already have job offers? By November, how many laid off Oakland cops are going to be sitting around at home, waiting to get rehired? My guess is next to none.

    That means we’ll have to do new hires and laterals in order to fill the positions, and that’s so much more expensive than rehiring. I don’t believe the parcel tax will provide enough money, even if it passes, which it won’t.

    We should have done retirement incentives. That’s a one time cost. It clears out the oldest and highest paid cops, which means a lower total number we have to lose in order to save the same amount of money. Plus, the newest cops on the force were the most diverse subgroup on the force, and the most likely to live in Oakland.

    I think, incidentally that all of these reasons are fine justification for Larry Reid, Desley Brooks, and Rebecca Kaplan to vote against the layoff.

  109. MarleenLee

    There is NO legitimate justification for reducing the police force when the force was understaffed to begin with. Any action to reduce the force, be it layoffs or retirement incentives or attrition, is unacceptable! Already the politicians are gearing up the misinformation machinery to try to con the unsuspecting and unsophisticated citizenry into thinking that if they approve the Measure Y castration, or the new parcel tax, the City is going to hire back the laid off cops, or it will prevent future layoffs. Lies, lies and more lies. (Check out Quan’s latest newsletter – made me want to barf!)

    Yes, a lot of the cops will have already found other jobs. The City has no interest in replacing them, and has no interest in maintaining the force at an acceptable level. They would rather make cuts to our police force that will result in Oakland becoming even more of a war zone than it already is, when what they should be doing is taking on the unions and non-profits.

  110. len raphael

    Just lurking, but
    LOC ask your friend the family doc what his pay is. also ask number of years in school, and cost of schooling. i’m guestimating that typical hmo/kaiser family doc makes about 150k/year.

    back to lurking.

  111. Livegreen

    Marleen, I agree we have an understaffed force & we need more Officers. But how do we get the OPOA to agree to reduced costs without the threat of layoffs?

    I know my solution is to also reduce pay to other City workers, but I don’t know how much that would have to be.

    LOC, The OPOA has mentioned they offered the CC significant cost saving proposals but were turned down flat. Could you or somebody from the OPOA give us some detail?

  112. Dax

    A question for anyone here.

    In Jean Quan’s most recent news letter she says the following.
    “Currently, Oakland officers can retire at age 50 years at 97% of pay after 30 years duty–more than 100% if they work longer.”
    Now, I’d like that explained.

    By 97% at 30 years, does she mean, the highest years pay, (say 100k) and then using the 9% city paid employee share, as added income, you end up with
    100k + 9k = 109k x 90% or $98,100.

    However if she is doing that, it comes to 98.1%

    I don’t understand how she gets 97% after 30 years.
    Does anyone here know?

    Additionally she indicates that a police officer may end up with a pension of “more than 100% if they work longer”

    I don’t know where she gets that 100% plus.

    I thought police officers could not go beyond 90% of their final years pay, except that under the current system they could actually get 90% of 109%, or 98.1% as I mentioned earlier.

    Now, I understand the regular, non-safety, city employees can go over 100%, if for example they serve more than 37 years. (37 x 2.7% equals 99.9%)

    So, can anyone here explain to me what Jean Quan is talking about.

    You’d think she’d be fully informed.

  113. David

    I rest my case. In no other area of the country do cops regularly make as much as these other highly trained professionals, yet somehow here, where crime is terrible, clearance rates are low and other measures of success indicate a poorly run police force, the police regularly make more than doctors, CEOs, graduate-school educated engineers, etc.

    I’m sorry, but your pay scale is ridiculous. Besides ridiculous, it’s unaffordable. By definition something that is unsustainable shall not be sustained, and that’s the definition of your comp.

    Again, good luck with the cop musical chairs, but again, I don’t think the Bay Area comp structure is going to last in other cities either.

  114. Greg Harland

    Laid Off Cop,

    First, I’m sorry to hear you are laid off. I know that it is a tough spot to be in and hope it won’t last too long for you. My suggestion of bringing new officers on at 50K is based economics. There is only a limited amount of money to spend on police, so the question is do we hire fewer police at a higher rate or more police at a lower rate. Since we are woefully understaffed, we have to pay less. Your being laid off is a perfect example of why we need to make these kinds of adjustments. I know it’s difficult to be a part of that contraction, but it is a fact of life.

    The country went through a severe economic bubble and now we’re in a correction. People all over are finding that their houses are worth less, their incomes are lower, and police salaries are a part of the correction. I’m trying to offer a solution that will minimize the loss to those officers that remain, while giving those who have no job an opportunity to have one. I want more police, not less, and I know there are qualified people who would be happy to have the opportunity to earn 50K plus benefits as a starting point.

    I also want to point out that there are other items on the budget besides police, like libraries, museums, schools, parks etc. A city needs more than a police force; it needs all the amenities that make a good life.

    I mentioned in my earlier post that I had a spreadsheet to download on my website You can use it to model the city budget and test your own ideas. You can add or subtract officers, you can change the rate of pay, or test what effect the tax measures might have. It gives you the ability to look for your own answers in a complex problem.

    One more thing before I go, when Mayor Dellums proposed the police layoffs I spoke out against it before the council, but the majority of the council voted for it.

    Best regards,

    Greg Harland

  115. Greg Harland

    Laid Off Cop,

    First, I’m sorry to hear you are laid off. I know that it is a tough spot to be in and hope it won’t last too long for you. My suggestion of bringing new officers on at 50K is based economics. There is only a limited amount of money to spend on police, so the question is do we hire fewer police at a higher rate or more police at a lower rate. Since we are woefully understaffed, we have to pay less. Your being laid off is a perfect example of why we need to make these kinds of adjustments. I know it’s difficult to be a part of that contraction, but it is a fact of life.

    The country went through a severe economic bubble and now we’re in a correction. People all over are finding that their houses are worth less, their incomes are lower, and police salaries are a part of the correction. I’m trying to offer a solution that will minimize the loss to those officers that remain, while giving those who have no job an opportunity to have one. I want more police, not less, and I know there are qualified people who would be happy to have the opportunity to earn 50K plus benefits as a starting point.

    I also want to point out that there are other items on the budget besides police, like libraries, museums, schools, parks etc. A city needs more than a police force; it needs all the amenities that make a good life.

    I mentioned in my earlier post that I had a spreadsheet to download on my website You can use it to model the city budget and test your own ideas. You can add or subtract officers, you can change the rate of pay, or test what effect the tax measures might have. It gives you the ability to look for your own answers in a complex problem.

    One more thing before I go, when Mayor Dellums proposed the police layoffs I spoke out against it before the council, but the majority of the council voted for it.

    Best regards,

    Greg Harland

  116. MarleenLee

    LG – there are plenty of negotiating strategies that don’t involve layoffs. The City is trying two of them right now. They are asking OPOA to foot the bill for the parcel tax campgaigns, in exchange for a deal. Which is a lousy deal for the City and a lousy deal for us. Instead, the City could have offered to put forth ballot measures repealing Kids First and modifying Measure Y to allocate the violence prevention money to police. In exchange, OPOA would agree to campaign for the measures, and would agree to a 9% pension contribution. But these proposals are….God forbid…too politically incorrect in “progressive” Oakland.

  117. Barry K

    Dax, you’re asking about JQ’s calculations.

    When you’ve led OUSD to nearly $80M bankruptcy (JQ) you’re the Chair of the Finance & Management Committee (JQ), and, sit on the Budget Committe (JQ) and come up with Measure Y (JQ) and support nearly every tax (JQ), you’d assume she has the ability to count.

    From the campaign website:

    Jean Quan for Oakland Mayor 2010
    “Jean works 10 days a week improving Oakland, always for the people. … for by Jean Quan for Oakland Mayor 2010 FPPC #1320283 2181 Braemar Road, Oakland, … – Cached – Similar

    A “10 day work week.” Maybe that’s why we have the highest paid and compensated municipal workforce in the US for any large city. Oh, and $2B in unfunded pension obligations.

  118. Naomi Schiff

    It is quite an overstatement to claim that JQ led the OUSD into bankruptcy. She did not.

  119. Max Allstadt


    I have reviewed the language around your time out, and the only clear end time it sets is “tomorrow”. So, I’m back, seeing as it’s 12:00:01am on Tuesday, and you issued your edict on Monday.


    It’s as much of an overstatement to flatly say “she did not”. She was the chair for years of unsustainable budgets that eventually, shortly after her departure, led to OUSD’s takeover by the state.

    And she’s been the chair of the City Council Finance Committee for quite some time now. Last time you looked, how were our finances?


    The single dumbest thing the council did was try to use the layoffs as leverage. This council, as a collective body, is pathetic at negotiation. I’m actually quite curious as to how the negotiation process works in closed session. Does somebody take the lead, or was Dom Arotzarena trying to make a deal with 8 people who disagreed with each other openly in front of him?

    @ Marleen, yeah, that might actually have helped close the budget gap, but would you really have helped with a campaign called “screw the kids”?

    oh, and V, your time stamp on the blog is an hour off. It really was midnight when I posted this.

  120. DontBotherDelores


    Here’s further proof that your candidate can’t count, she takes credit for being on the school board and all the experience it afforded her. When the state takeover is brought up, something that happened mere weeks after she made the transition from school board finance chair to council, she says blame Perata. Sorry you can’t have it both ways, that simply doesn’t add up.

  121. Mry

    It is not more than 90%, and for somebody to retire with that at 50, they would have had to start working there at 20. I have not seen many 20 year old officers. Another exaggeration by our CC.

  122. Dax

    Mry says:

    “It is not more than 90%”, (for the police officer’s retirement)

    Uh, actually it is.

    You see, someone retiring this year, when the 9% employee share of the PERS contribution is being paid by the city, ends up pushing that 9% on top of their year’s pay.

    Thus instead of their pension being based on 100% of their salary, it is based on 109% of their salary.

    Thus their 30 years at 3%, or 90% is multiplied times the 109%.

    Effectively allowing them to receive a 98.1% pension for life.

    One wonders when the council was “negotiating” that contract if the council was aware of that feature.

    I can assure you the OPOA was keenly aware of it and found it to be more valuable that whatever little they gave up to get it.

    For them, they’d get 9% greater pension for a average of 25 future years.
    From age 57 to 82 in a typical case.

    That one clause gives that retired officer over $210,000 over his retirement based on a common $105,000 highest years pay. (for a average retiree of all ranks. I’m guessing at 105k, it is probably higher for the final year on average)
    I’m guessing the CC members never bothered to take out a $5 calculator and figure it out. Would take about 3 minutes to do so.

    Assuming you have 400-500 retired officers at any given time in the future, that would amount to about $4,250,000 extra per year in pension payments.
    All from that little clause of paying the 9% employee contribution.

  123. ralph

    Taxpayers shell out dollars to KF; yet, KF is not accountable to the people, and we have no idea if they actually achieve any results. With that context, don’t you think that council could have picked up some additional support for an unfavorable parcel tax if they had at least temporarily rolled back the set aside. (I certainly can not be the only one who suggested this idea to council.)

  124. Max Allstadt

    Ralph, I support the removal of kids first myself, but I think it’s a non-starter with the voters. We’ve rolled it back once, with negotiated consent of those who pushed it. Another roll back would be fought tooth and nail with all sorts of “you hate children and love cops” rhetoric.

    If I had my way, the city charter would be revised to ban ballot measures that create unfunded mandates. If we want to dedicate funding to anything long term, we should dedicate a revenue stream too.

  125. Barry K

    Rebecca- What is your plan for the $1 billion pension obligation for the PFRS?
    An annual minimum $27M is due for 2011-2012; for 15 years!
    This is a closed retirement plan that is not being discussed by anyone on the CC.

    Ralph/Max- I agree the City should not be in the private NGO agency. Robert Bobb should never have implemented Pay-Go either. The same goes for the Priority Project funds the CC had access too.

    The CC will not back away from these groups or projects. Afterall, these very groups lend their names to the Candidates running for office and support them with their endorsements and poster kids. They feed off each other.

    Check out the City Auditors reports on some of the funding. Better still, did you see MarleenLee’s own audit of MY benefactors?

  126. ralph

    True. Since the kids never got the benefit of their money grab, I don’t think a rollback from 3% to a council approved 2.5% with a gradual increase back to 3% as revenues meet certain levels is unreasonable.

    More than a few people at one the more recent budget/tax measure mtgs highlighted the council’s spend problem. Council should be looking for ways to bring people into the camp. There are no sacred cows.

  127. Laid Off Cop

    Ok lots of responses here. First of all:

    Again your post reeks of ignorance. To claim that OPD is run poorly because it has “low clearance rates” and “other measures” of success is most asinine on your part. I think it is well known that OPD was already understaffed by 50% for modern policing standards according to a recent Grand Jury report. How you expect us to accomplish goals and clear crimes with an extreme shortgae of people beyond miralces is beyond me.

    Most people on this forum are here because they are genuinely concerned about the issues at hand. They may disagree with me vehemetly on whether my wages are proper or not, however, YOU are the only individual here who seems to continually make personal insults at officers in general and subtle jabs at me about losing my job. One must assume that you just don’t like police officers. I am very familiar with your type. If wages weren’t a concern, you would find yet another reason to attack the police. Perhaps you have received numerous tickets, maybe you just don’t like that there are others who have authority over you, you feel diminshed and powerless in your own life and a sense of jealousy over people who have a badge, maybe your girlfriend left you for a cop – who knows. It’s obvious that you have some deep seated anger towards the police. I suggest you seek therapy because we are not going away. I choose to no longer engage you on this forum and your pettiness. I’d rather deal with the mature grown-ups here.

    Greg Harland:
    Thanks for your response. I appreciate your concerns, however, not in this lifetime will 50K ever happen. Better to concentrate on reasonable concessions than ultra-extreme measures which will be laughed at. If people who collect money from parking meters can make 70K a year than the Popo ain’t gonna start at 50K period.

    The cap on pensions is 90% – period. The 9% the city pays is considered income. Just because it doesn’t go into your hand and pocket but bypasses you and goes directly to the pension fund FOR you doesn’t mean it is not income. It is money paid on your behalf into an account FOR you. You’re arguing semantics. And let me remind you and everyone else, extremely few cops work 30 years till retirement. We just don’t last that long in this job. It’s a meat grinder emotionally and physically.

    The parcel tax does get our officers back. First of all in four short months, it’s likely (I’m guessing here) the percentage of officers hired would be 25% to 60%. I would bet that more than half, maybe 3/4 would jump ship and return to Oakland. We’re very loyal to OPD and Oakland.

    Someone asked what the OPOA offered the CC during negotiations. As an alternative to the 9%, the OPOA ofered a 15% wage cut. The CC refused even that.

    Len Raphael:
    Yes, the doctor went to school for a long time and has big loans BUT he CHOSE to take those loans upon him/herself. No one forced anyone who went to medical school to take on big loans. That’s the price he paid to go to medical school. It cannot be used as leverage to devalue someone elses wage.
    As far as the fact that he has a college degree, I say “so what??!!”. Where does it say that having a college degree and/or going to school for several years entitles you to a fat paycheck? Is education the only yardstick upon we measure worth and value in this country? What about courage, bravery, loyalty, being in charge of other’s lives on a daily basis, sacrifice, the ULTIMATE sacrifice? How much monetary value can you place on this??!!:

    So being a cop is a special type of job. I think we have wee bit more responsibility than a “CEO”. A CEO – big friggin deal! So you run a company. We make life and death decisions every single day people. Just like being a surgeon is a special type of doctor whose decisons and skills hold your future in his immediate hands – not your “family doc” whose paid much lower. That’s why they are paid more than the average.

    I dare say, that having a college degree does NOT automatically entitle you to the good life!!

    Good day.

  128. Dax

    Per Laid Off Cop,

    “The cap on pensions is 90% – period. The 9% the city pays is considered income. Just because it doesn’t go into your hand and pocket but bypasses you and goes directly to the pension fund FOR you doesn’t mean it is not income. It is money paid on your behalf into an account FOR you. You’re arguing semantics.”

    No, no, NO, not so fast. Half the time here we have people telling us that officers only make such and such.
    They give out the lower “step” numbers, failing to add on shift allowances, education allowances, and length of service etc.

    NOW, you want the 9% as “income” but you and others never talk about that 9% when it comes to being forth right about true “full” officer salary.

    You can’t have it both ways, low-balling the typical salary in one discussion then saying the hidden 9% boost is only fair to be included as income for pensions.

    We, the public deserve to be given the true picture at all times, not just when its convenient for the discussion at hand.

    As such, according to what the citizens are told is salary, the true pension for 30 years in Oakland is really 98.1% of published salary.

    Something not even most folks on this board were even aware of.

    Next point…

    “And let me remind you and everyone else, extremely few cops work 30 years till retirement. We just don’t last that long in this job. It’s a meat grinder emotionally and physically.”

    I’d like to know what the average OPD retiree has in years of service.
    I don’t doubt not every officer goes the full 30 all with Oakland or even when combined with another agency.

    I’m not sure where I would get that data.
    However, if a officer begins at 27 and only works until age 52, he would still get 75% or using the 9% boost 81.75%.
    Remembering he would then get to collect that 75% to 81.75% for 30 years before reaching the average of 82 years old.

    So, in another sense you almost as much from the pension in either case.

    Example #1 25 yrs retired x .90 = 22.5 years of full salary equiv.

    Example #2 30 year retired x .75 = 22.5 years of full salary equiv.

    Explain to me, how the guy who only works for 25 years instead of 30 gains any less from the pension system.

    It actually seem like the guy who retires after 25 years gets equal total pension having worked 5 fewer years.

    What is wrong with my math?

    (note, I did not include the extra 9% in my examples)

    I’m thinking the ideal career would be to enter the force at 25 and retire at 50, collecting the 75% pension for 32 years.

    I welcome your response as I’m always trying to understand the true numbers.
    It would seem very few citizens or even council members understand the true numbers involved in city salaries, benefits and pensions.

  129. Max Allstadt

    Laid Off Cop,

    I was under the impression that a parcel tax can’t be collected until the end of the calendar year it’s enacted. Where do we get the money to hire back you and your brothers in the mean time? More debt? Great for Oakland!

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to hire you all back. It just seems like the mechanics of how we’d have to hire you back and when we’d hire you back are so messy. Firing you guys in the first place wasn’t just dumb because we need you, it was dumb because it looks difficult to undo.

  130. MarleenLee

    Max, I wouldn’t have called the campaign, “Screw the kids.” I would have called it, “Restore Public Safety and Financial Integrity” or some such. As for whether it would pass, I don’t know. But I think if it had been packaged correctly, a repeal/suspension of Kids First would have had a much better shot than the current proposal. Who’s going to support a campaign called, “Castrate Measure Y” or “Money for Nothing” or “Tax Yourself Into Oblivion?”

  131. ralph

    I could be completely wrong but it seems like the mechanics of collecting the first $180 of the parcel tax is as easy as re-issuing us taxpayers a new tax bill. The assessor regularly reissues tax bills for changed assessment.

    From what I recall of the measure, PK wanted 3 yrs beginning 01/01/11 and ending 12/31/13, which us taxpayers know is only 2.5 tax years. In any event, since the assessor routinely reissues tax bill when they redo the assessment after the due date, I was expecting a new bill with an additional request for $180.

    I hate you DL even if you are correct.

    (Extra: I like Restore Public Safety and Financial Integrity. But can one really use the words city council and Financial Integrity in the same sentence?)

  132. ralph

    A) You can’t include a pension spking factor because people are going to question your analysis, and

    B) How many times do we need to say that pension spiking is not a huge issue with the police department?

    Heck, I am not even sure it is that huge a problem in Oakland. You need a bank of cushy jobs for people to land, and as far I can tell, unlike county and state govt., Oakland doesn’t have the breadth and depth of positions you need to do this.

  133. Dax

    Pension spiking, in all its various forms is a separate matter.

    However, I would think that many people would deem to include the 9% boost that comes from the city paying the employee’s portion as essentially another form of spiking.

    I think it is in a different category.
    Hidden in its own way, from public attention, but not in a sneaky way or in a irregular “boosting” way.

    To me it is different than boosting done by including “unused vacation pay” unused sick leave, uniform allowances, and the grand-daddy, final year promotions to higher pay levels.

    I would guess however that, as with many compensation items, that not one citizen in 100 knows it is going on.

    They would assume the most talked about 90% pension is only based on official salary, not on a extra 9% payment that under normal circumstances would be paid by the employee and NOT counted towards a higher pension.

    You not only get the 9% paid, but you get the 9% added to your pension.
    A double win if you are the officer.

  134. Dax

    Ralph, I never said typical pension “spiking” was a big issue in Oakland.

    The 9% contribution issue is separate.

    However, I have had some difficulty in finding out exactly what is included in the “base” pay shown in the Tribune, Chronicle data base information.

    I’ve tried to clear up the reason why what is shown might be different than what some employees posting here claim they made.
    No definitive answer yet.

  135. ralph

    The “typical pension spiking” comment was for Barry and others who continue to insist that “typical pension spiking” is the norm in Oakland.

    I think your calcs tend to be free of that and rely on normal supportable data. Yes, the 9% while not what I call “typical pension spiking” is most likely not something that the everyday joe knows.

    My pet peeves of “typical pension spiking” are unused vacation and sick leave and the cushy job. I am not bothered by the premium for night, language and education because these same skills can command a premium in the private sector. I am not going to go into all of them other items.

    As to the difference b/w actual and reported wages, at least one person has stated that he made a calculation error when comparing the two items. It could be timing difference. It could be one of the non-cash items. I normally look at the base and if it is within the salary range for a given position and step, I don’t worry to much about it. Too much work for very little return.

  136. zac

    If OPD’s pensions operate anything like OFD’s, then there’s no way they’re getting more than 100% upon retirement, no matter whether the city pays the full amount of their pension contribution.

    Here’s the way it works for OFD. I make 100k a year, and contribute 13% of that towards my pension. If I work thirty years under the 3@50 scenario, I get 90% of my base salary, which would be 90k. The 13k I pay in every year does not have any bearing on the final pension compensation amount.

    Now take a cop making 100k a year and paying in nothing annually to his pension. After 30 years at 3@50 he makes 90% of his final salary, which would be 90k. The difference between us is how much we help the city out, not how we calculate the final salary.

    It doesn’t matter whether a safety worker is paying in zero, 13, or 100% of his salary towards his pension. Retirement income is a function of the BASE salary, not OT, not base salary multiplied by or added to or squared by the percentage of your retirement contribution that the city pays. That’s how it works in the OFD at least; maybe the cops have a different deal, but I wouldn’t guess so.

  137. Dax

    Zac, the cops do indeed have a different deal.

    When their 9% employee contribution is payed for by the city, that 9% is added onto the 100% of their regular pay and IS used to calculate their highest years pay.

    Thus, a Oakland police officer, say, a sergeant, retiring after 30 years, who has a typical $113,000 base pay will get his 90% pension based on $113,000 x 1.09 or $123,170.

    Thus his pension will be $110,853.

    The $110,853 is 98.1% of what you would call his “base” pay. I only include the 98.1% for comparative purposes. The 98.1% actually has not part in this calculation. It is just interesting.

    BTW, my authority on what I have written comes directly from the Oakland city employee in charge of the CalPERS program.
    I asked that person specifically and clearly about this particular issue.
    That person made it absolutely clear that the 9% contribution would be added on top of the 100% regular pay for purposes of calculating the pension.

    To make it clear, it would be 90% x 109%

    Now you might get a inkling as to why the police were so willing to accept this provision in lieu of a pay raise.
    This 9% deal is the gift that keeps giving. A typical officer retiring under this provision will keep getting that 8.1% higher pension for the next 25 years, regardless of how future contracts handle salary or pension contributions.

    I consider the OPOA got a real hidden gem when they negotiated for that plum.

    You have to wonder if the city council or staff were even aware of what they were doing.

    Like I’ve said, officers retiring under this provision have gotten themselves a $200,000 bonus.

    Perhaps fire fighters should have tried for the same sweet deal.

    (Of course, had the police taken, say, a 4.5% raise instead, that would offset half of the $200,000 bonus. Still, the net-difference bonus under the 9% contribution is over $100,000. Hardly chump change)

  138. Mary Hollis

    Zac, Dax etc.

    Does it really matter whether cops are getting 90% or 100% or 110% of their final salary as a pension? Whichever it is, it’s outrageous and unaffordable.

    Also, Dax, I believe that that 9% pension contribution that is being discussing is not the entire pension contribution. I read recently that the total contribution was 29% of annual pay. So even if the cops agree to the 9%, they are still paying less than one third of the actual costs to taxpayers.

    Greg’s idea of 50K officers seems about right to me. With all the benefits that’s approaching 100k per annum which isn’t bad for a job that doesn’t require college. And maybe at that rate we could afford the 1,200 or so officers that Batts says this city really needs, rather than half that number making an exhorbitant amount.

  139. ralph

    The total contribution for each municipal employee (member) is somewhere in the range of high 20% to low 30%, depends on the plan. There is a member portion and a municipality paid portion. The municipality typically pays a significantly higher portion in exchange for being able to offer workers lower wages today. The member may, as the OPOA has, bargain to have the municipality pay the member contribution. When the municipality pays the member contribution, it becomes a taxable salary benefit and is used for the final pension calculation. So using Dax’s example, an ‘ee who earns $100K but the municipality pays the 9% member contribution has an effective salary for pension calculations of $109K.

    Hmm a $50K officer will either result in no officers or a bunch of Joe Meatheads, that should not be officers. LOC explained why this will not fly.

    San Jose officers, who earn about as much as Oakland officers, just took a 4% cut and contribute 12% to their pension. They also have 90 unfilled positions which I think are going to stay unfilled.

  140. Naomi Schiff

    Ralph is correct and I’d add that many police officers do have some, sometimes much college education, degrees, training, aside from police academy and high school. While I am not a big fan of OPOA’s negotiating stance I don’t want to understate our need for an intelligent and well-educated force. We have had too many precipitous actions, which lead to expensive court proceedings. An well-trained, informed police force can help us mend the distrust that ensues from unwise actions.

  141. David

    The San Jose example is precisely why I don’t take the “we’re all going to quit” comments from cops seriously. Where are they going to move? San Jose? It’s not like every other municipality in the Bay Area is swimming in tax revenues they’re going to lavish on ex-Oakland cops.

    Just to remind OPD what’s happening in the real world:

    Local and state governments, as well as some companies, are squeezing their employees to work the same amount for less money in cost-saving measures that are often described as a last-ditch effort to avoid layoffs….

    Pay cuts are appearing most frequently among state and local governments,…

    At the University of Hawaii, professors have accepted a 6.7 percent cut. Albuquerque has trimmed pay for its 6,000 employees by 1.8 percent on average, and New York’s governor, David A. Paterson, has sought a 4 percent wage rollback for most state employees. State troopers in Vermont agreed to a 3 percent cut….

    As for your PROFESSIONAL counterparts:

    Reed Smith, a firm with 1,500 lawyers, has cut salaries for first-year associates in major cities to $130,000 from $160,000. (that’s a solid ~20% cut)

    It goes on and on. Yet somehow OPD thinks they’re going to avoid this Depression. Good luck. Maybe go on the reverse Okies route. Oklahoma’s economy is still pretty strong…

  142. ken o

    sounds like consensus is:

    * keep officer salaries sort of high where they are

    * increase pension contributions (move from “defined benefit” to “defined contribution” pension plan more in line with private sector) from 0% to 9% or higher. (why not up to 20%)

    * this lowers future costs

    * gradually phase this in for all existing retirees so they get 5% fewer every 5 years. it won’t hardly hurt them at all to go from 120k to 114k/yr not working at all, being an old horse in a green pasture. that’s a tiny clawback and everyone should share the pain. compared to the private sector worker who loses his/her job and has NO pension that is actually damn generous! (a more harsh version would be 10% reduction every 5 years for 10-15 years cap, and across ALL city departments, not just OPOA)

    * it allows the ponzi scheme pension game/charade to go on longer, allows the city to retain MORE police which it needs, and doesn’t completely break the promise/contract it made to older employees – they still get a majority of their retirement “steak and eggs.”

    It’s either this option, or enjoy the “whole hog” at 90% “forever” for maybe 8-10 years until the city goes BK, loses too many police to remain viable, etc… at which points the retirees get ZERO.

    anyone here still have a copy of “Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust” by David Lereah? (published 2006)

    anyone believe RE will turn upward back to fake inflated levels by 2012? 2025?

  143. ralph

    I mostly agree with your wrap-up.

    + there needs to be across the board lowering of salaries, some need to take bigger cuts than others (but in no world should a person who protects and serves have a lower base than one who collects coins from a meter)

    I still see a huge gap that is not being addressed. How does the city plan to make up for lost real estate tax revenues. I think council somewhat anticipates better days ahead 4 – 5 years out; however, places which sold for $400K a few years ago can go for less than half of that today in foreclosure, an annual loss of $2000/unit. There are problems in river city.

  144. David

    Or maybe OPD will move to LA….whoops:,0,5060130.story

    By 2015, nearly 20% of the city’s general fund budget is expected to go toward the retirement costs of police officers and firefighters, who now have an average retirement age of 51. The figure was 8% last year.

    Once civilian employees are factored in, nearly a third of the city’s general fund could be consumed by retirement costs by 2015, Santana said.

    Think pensions will survive in their current form? Nope.

  145. Dax

    The basic flaw in the law, which may not be correctable is that the retroactive feature only goes in one direction. Meaning it only goes in a direction that favors the employee.

    Take the 2004 action by the Oakland City Council, where they booted all regular city employee pensions from 2.0 to 2.7 percent for each year worked.

    That has been in place only 6 years.
    Most now consider it to have been a huge mistake. Including IDLF who voted for it.

    But the unfairness is, they made it apply to all prior years of service and for all FUTURE years of service according to most experts.
    Totally unfair to lock a mistake in stone.

    Take a employee who had 15 year of service prior to 2004. The got all those years boosted up the full 35% (2.0 to 2.7) Retroactive.
    Then they get the subsequent 6 years boosted up as well.
    And now, EVEN if we take the rate back down to a sane 2.0%, they say we still must continue to give that current employee the 2.7 for the next 9 or 19 years until they retire.

    How come, retroactive is fair looking backwards when a change is made, benefiting the employee, but when a change in made into the future, they don’t get placed at the new 2.0% rate.

    Its like they get the unfair bonus at both ends of the insane policy screw up.
    They got a small window of 6 years, and then expanded it in both directions.

    I don’t care what they say, or even what the law will dictate, this is a immoral and unfair outcome. Unfair to the public. Unfair to future employees who will be second class citizens. Unfair to the citizens of the city who will still have to continue the unfair policy for 20 to 30 years to come for some employees hired between 2004 and 2010.
    Under the law, a person entering city service, at the current unsustainable will be able to keep that 2.7% rate for the next 35 years, even if all the other employees hired after a change is made will only get 2.0%.

    AS I have stated several times, the fair policy would have been to keep all prior 2.0% years at that rate, pay 2.7% from 2004 until the policy is changed, and then back to 2.0% until retirement.

    That the citizen should be forced to pay endlessly for a obvious blunder is shameful. Bad enough that the workers were given all prior years at 2.7 when they had only agreed over all those years to get 2.0%…

    Some workers worked 34.5 years at a happy and agreed upon 2.0%…
    Then they waited a few months, and retired after 35 years, getting 2.7% for all years.

    Their pension went from a expected 70% to a 94.5%. Over a expected retirement a $80,000 employee stands to unfairly gain a undeserved bonus of over $400,000.
    Like getting a free house instead of a gold watch at your retirement dinner.

    All the while, the public was NEVER told about this fiscal blunder and give-a-way.

    One, Ms Edgerly, of dubious fame, stands to gain over $700,000 from this feature, perhaps much more.
    All city council member stand to benefit from the terrible policy they voted for.

    The magnitude of this fiscal disaster is far greater than anything coming out of Bell, California, where only a tiny few employees benefited. In Oakland’s mess they gave it to thousands of workers.
    Thousands of workers, tens of thousands of “prior years” worked, all boosted up with no extra money put away for all those “prior years” benefited.

    A near theft from the future of Oakland as it will require decades of extra taxes to cover that 35% boost for prior years that were worked under a different agreement.

    A clear wrong.

  146. len raphael

    Which is why Oakland along with some other cities in CA has to push the limits of Chapter 9 or after amending the charter, use the threat of outsourcing to extract retro pension givebacks.

    just lurking

  147. len raphael

    Bankruptcy is precisely for those situations when no amount of cost cutting and short term revenue raising will ever dig us out of our hole unless we elminate most city services just to pay for retirement benefits and the worst of the infrastructure repairs.

    Ask our Mayor as his swan song to use his vaunted congressional influence to start Congress on modifying Chapter 9 to clearly cover pensions, in case the Federal courts hold against such use of the law.

    I’m not holding my breath.

  148. livegreen

    An across the board cut, regardless of previous years negotiations, is the fairest system. A calculation is made based on the money we have, and that’s the end of the story. The Unions can yell to their blue in the face, but it’s fair and the City Council can be comfortable (& endure the uncompromising yelling of the Unions) knowing that, and giving that simple, clear explanation to the public.

    Setting one Union up against the others combined with a property tax, as the City Council has done, all for a solution which is not a solution (next year & the year after all of this resumes) is simply ridiculous.

  149. livegreen

    BTW, my understanding is IDLF is opposing most or all of the tax measures the City Council has proposed. While I agree & appreciate his position, weren’t these part of the budget compromise he put together with 3 other City Council Members? Isn’t that contradictory, if not hypocritical?

    Many have criticized RK for not supporting this compromise worked out by the CC, &/or not proposing her own alternative. But is that worse than voting for a compromise that one then publicly opposes? (Or opposes key elements of).

  150. ralph

    Per the agreements I read, the longer you had your position, the safer your position. The greener your ears the closer you are to the door when people get cut.

    This is where I think it would be great to have some prioritization and objective setting in government. You do not keep because they have been with you the longest. You keep people because they have a skillset that is needed and valued and they are working on projects the unit deems core to its mission.

  151. len raphael

    Ralph, you are proposing dismantling the civil service system.

    would think that the risks of that exceed the benefits.

    implementing truly objective (probably dreaming) performance standards from the top down, and punishing/rewarding within the seniority system, as is being pushed on public school teachers, is worthwhile.

    wb funny to see city workers try to “teach to the test”.

    does City Stat try to generate that info or is it “higher level”?


  152. ralph

    Government is a business and should operate as such. In reality, protection laws make it difficult for large employers to dismiss ‘ees at will.

    I would like to see an HR manager who does more than pay and address organizational development. I want to get rid of the grade – step pay and really start rewarding performance. I think it will go a long way to shedding the image of government workers as loafers. Tell me, in the current system, what is the incentive for your best employee to stand out from the crowd.

    I want to see changes to way teachers are compensated as well. And if it weren’t clear already, I am not a fan of the union pay protection scam.

  153. len raphael

    Govt and private enterprise certainly share what my old biz school prof described as need to collect resources to survive and grow.

    Agree that the external legal constraints on private enterprise firing and maybe demoting without just cause, are good enough for govt also.

    It’s promotions and initial hire decisions that are more problematic.

    Governments are more like highly regulated industries and private enterprise monopolies. No competitive pressure for performance to drive promotions.

    Maybe something like City Stat would bring enough usable transparency to change that.

    just lurking

  154. Naomi Schiff


    There once was a lurker named Len
    Who liked to speak up now and then
    He bid us farewell
    But you never can tell
    He’ll burst forth again and again!

  155. Naomi Schiff

    Irrelevant question: Does the Alameda County Taxpayer Assn have any members aside from Arthur Geen? Just wondering.

  156. len raphael

    v, i assume that your ban on discussing pay of specific city employees does not extend to former or retired employees?

    My wild guess is that Deborah Edgerly was highly competent at doing what her bosses requested and making herself indispensable.

    If not for her alleged protection of her nephew, she’d still be at her position.

    Her alleged cover up of inter fund borrowing to “cover up” the general fund deficit was just serving her bosses, the mayor and city council.

    Main flaw with my theory is that i never read the charges of her fired colleague. Where would those be posted?

    -just lurking

  157. len raphael

    Does anyone else think it’s weird that the whole Edgerly scandal quietly went away into the Oakland night?

    All that noise from was it Dullums or Russo that they’d deny her a pension or somesuch. Then she countered with something to the effect that she’d sing like a canary if …

    Was Russo bluffing and she had played in the rules? Can’t believe that her alleged interfering with the cops arresting her nephew wasn’t just cause for firing. Maybe it wasn’t enough to deny her pension.

    And what did happen with the ancillary whistleblower lawsuit by her former colleague?

  158. len raphael

    Forgot that the most likely 2 year solution to our financial survival will be a new wall street debt product unanimously approved by our city council and future mayor. 0 interest, no payments and a balloon at the end. secured by entire city owned assets.

    for a good background on the approaching savior financial product, this nyt’s article is useful about Denver’s Bd of Ed sexy pension bonds.

    The moral of that story, is that if you don’t completely understand an investment, you shouldn’t go into it.

    I can picture our cc getting desperate to be sold so they still have a budget to spend.

    This article describes some pension alternatives. In particular, having Oakland withdrew from calpers (or calpers changed)and did a defined benefit pension that integrated w social security.

    Per article, the states and cities that opted out of social security integration, were betting they could provide better/checaper benefits than the Feds.

  159. Naomi Schiff

    I am learning a lot about retirement benefits.

    Thank you, Ralph, for your research. That’s what I thought. Closer to the low end of the range, too, I bet.

  160. V Smoothe

    I believe Michael Kilian, former deputy city auditor, is running against the incumbent auditor.

  161. livegreen

    Here’s a link to a website Michael Killian maintains that includes previous audits that Courtney Ruby removed from the City Auditors website when she assumed office. (I’m kind of surprised that she did this).

    Looks like a wealth of info on various ballot measures and their implementation & oversight.

  162. Naomi Schiff

    Michael Killian has been keeping tabs on things, I think, since he left after the Roland Smith era. I’ll be interested to see what Len the Lurker and others who know more than I do about audit will have to say.

  163. Max Allstadt

    Wow, livegreen. If that’s true about Ruby taking down information from the site, that’s very very not cool.

    If there is real competition in this race, I’m keenly interested.

  164. livegreen

    That info is from the linked website. BTW, he states there was only 1 audit by Ruby in 2007. I recall this figure being mentioned previously on ABO. However on the City Auditors website there’s a number of reports.

    So is there something about these reports that’s different from a complete audit, or is it just that audit’s have been released 2008-2010 going forwards? Any insights about Ruby’s term would be appreciated.

  165. ralph

    As a former auditor, I frequent the audit site regularly. While I am no fan of the site’s organization, I do know that you can find current audit reports. You may be able to google to obtain prior year’s reports. Granted the reports should be easier to find, and I believe better cities have a history of audit reports easily accessible.

    I have no idea if she initially removed reports and then restored reports after a site update. But I have a hard time trusting someone who is trying to make points with information that is hard to verify even if he does have a valid point about history.

  166. livegreen

    I think the website has been there for some time & was initiated after they were removed. Not as a campaign issue. If that’s the case the intentions of public availability and access are good, not bad.

    I look forward to a future post or info about the merits of both candidates…

  167. ralph

    To clarify, I don’t think it is a campaign issue. I don’t like his tone. The information to which he refers was easily accessible and normally available prior to its removal. The reports should still be normally available but because they are not on the website they are not easily accessible.

    As I write more on this topic, I seem to recall this being an issue then the reports were removed. My recollection is Ruby removed the repots because they were not completed during her tenure. Again, I think they should be easily accessible, and Ruby’s “not on my watch” doesn’t hold water.

  168. Barry K

    Type: City Resolution Status: Passed 4/20/2010

    Subject: Budget Advisory Committee Appointment From: Vice Mayor Quan Recommendation: Adopt A Resolution Authorizing Appointing Michael Kilian As A Member Of The Budget Advisory Committee

    Connect the dots to KidsFirst. Their campaign HQ was next door to his office.

  169. Barry K

    Len, re: “Does anyone else think it’s weird that the whole Edgerly scandal quietly went away into the Oakland night?
    All that noise from was it Dullums or Russo that they’d deny her a pension or somesuch.”

    Pension search on “Edgerly:

    224 retirees from Oakland getting $100,000+ pensions.
    cost: $27,328,919.52 Annually just for these 224!

  170. ralph

    In and of itself, a $100K pension is not a problem. I am however disgusted by public figures who do everything possible to destroy the public trust and who still manage to collect a pension. If you steal from the people, if you impede a criminal investigation, if you hinder the police from carrying out their responsibilities, if you simply fail to carry out the responsibilities of either elected or appointed office you should not be entitled to a generous pension.

  171. len raphael

    ok, you forced me to read several and skim several other audits on the city auditor’s site.

    Before reading, I was all set to complain that Ruby uses outside consultants to conduct important performance audits that she has the staff to perform more efficiently in house.

    But after reading the Measure Y Violence Prevention performance audit which she and her staff prepared, and then the staffing and Public Works audits prepared by outside consultants,

    it’s very clear the outsiders do a much job than our own auditor’s office.

    Ruby’s measure Y performance audit, by her own disclaimer is an audit of how well the paperwork was pushed around.

    “In our audit we did not assess the program effectiveness of the Measure Y
    Violence Prevention grants, nor did we evaluate the performance of individual Measure Y Programs.”

    Read the public works audit and the hiring/personnel audits prepared by outside consultants.

    The public works audit starts with remarking how happy the employees are with their jobs, and then gets to how badly managed the department is to get anything done efficiently.

    btw, it notes that only 2% of Public Works funding comes from the General Fund. Combined with happy worker stats, makes me think it’s another case of the City taking great care of its employees but not its residents.

    The hiring/personel started out gently and developed damming conclusions about fire dept hiring, temp and parttime hiring, and promotions that violate the spirit the Civil Service rules.

    I looked over her staff roster. She has a bunch of professionals. These are not complicated audits.

    To be fair, I can’t blame the auditor for the city council ignoring her audit findings.

    However, for someone who wasn’t shy about going directly to the residents lobbying for her budget, why doesn’t she do the same for getting action on the Public Works or Personnel Practices audit findings?

    Agreed, you need to do an audit of paperwork compliance for Measure Y anti violence grants. But the most critical need is for a true performance audit of effectiveness, similar to what the Public Work’s consultants did.

    Why did she put that on her “recommended list” instead of just getting it done?

    -len raphael

  172. len raphael

    Ruby’s staff includes 3 people with solid government audit experience, and one with on the job experience only in the auditor’s office.

    the other 3 staff have government policy related experience but not obviously heavy government audit experience.

    it was hard to hire experienced auditors in the years after Sabanes Oxley became law. Even big cpa firms were hiring English lit majors to prepare audits.

    which raises the question as to what Ruby’s government auditing experience was before she was elected.

    her bio lists experience at a big accounting firm, but no details about her responsibilities there.

    contrary to popular opinion, most cpas are terrible auditors, myself included.

    to manage audits, you have to know how to perform them.

    -len raphael

  173. Dax

    Actually, the plethora of $100,000 pensions is a problem as we head into the future.

    Think about this:

    Do you know how much less Ms Edgerly would be getting if the terrible 2004 pension boost had not been enacted?

    $39,000 per year less. $111K not $150K

    She began collecting it at age 57 and if she lives the typical CalPERS longevity for a female, she will collect it for 28 years.

    Because of the foolish 2004 35% boost in Oakland pensions, Ms Edgerly will get an additional $1,092,000 compared to what she would otherwise have received.

    Over a MILLION dollars extra.
    Where do you think that MILLION dollars will come from?

    Of those 224 pensions over $100,000 totaling some 27 million dollars.

    Upwards of $7,000,000 of that is due to the 2004 pension boost since the great majority of those over $100k would be retirees who got the 35% boost.

    I know the level of pension that the head of a entire county department is receiving having retired in the early 1980′s
    Right at 100K pension now… In charge of over 200 employees with over 40 years of service on the job.

    I also saw one OFD firefighter who I went to Jr. High School with.
    A nice guy, but there is no way this guy was ever going to college. ( I do realize that many current Oakland firefighters are well educated) His father was in the Oakland Fire Department so he joined up and worked into the current era of raises in salary and pensions.
    I’m sure he was a good fireman, not one of the upper positions, but a engineer with some other training as well.

    I’m sure he did a excellent job for probably 30 years, and I know he was injured at least once in a very risky situation where others were more seriously injured.

    So I don’t mean to under mind the fact that he not only risked his life, but could easily have lost it were he a few feet further in a building.
    Anyway, I see he is over 100K in pension…
    Knowing him through school, for many years, I seriously don’t think he could have held any private sector job paying more than 60k, if that. Perhaps if he became a plumber or something he might have made more than 60k in just the right position. That’s a stretch.
    Now he has a pension of over 100K.

    That is really stunning even in light of the risks involved.

    Knowing him, it is simply stunning.
    I seriously dare say that in any other situation he wouldn’t have a pension of anywhere near half of that. Mostly likely not even a salary of half of that.

    Now, it may be that the caliber and education of more recent hires of the last decade is much higher than my former school mate, but apparently he was more than capable of doing the job all those years.
    Could it be that we really don’t need to only select 20 in 8,000 applications.
    Might we offer a salary and pension plan that is only 80% of the current levels and still get loads of capable candidates.
    Perhaps only 4,000 applications, but more than enough to get well qualified candidates.

    Again, my grandfather, and a couple uncles, as well as another close relative and loads of friend’s fathers and a few friends were all OFD members.
    I think the current compensation package, including pension is above what is needed to attract and retain well qualified candidates.

  174. len raphael

    Dax, read the outside consultants’ report about ofd hiring practices on city auditor’s site. adds insult to the injury to the body politic.

  175. ralph

    Speak for yourself. There was heavenly rejoicing when I became an auditor. Let me see, must’ve been 90 or 91, degree in hand still hadn’t done my 2.5 days of testing yet but I knew I was god’s gift to auditing. So there I was on my first audit and wouldn’t you know I find someone who had been misappropriating funds. Remember that question, your teacher tells you to ask of all finance/accounting personnel, “when was your last vacation?” Well, I asked and she had not been on vacation in 7 years. Ding. Ding. Ding.

    My own experience with municipal audit staffs is they call in the outside people to do the heavy lifting. As for Oakland, I could be wrong but per my review of of ballot measures, the people are not asking for the right audits. And then complain when the legislated audit doesn’t address specific issues.
    On pensions, the 35% bump is a different issue than people receiving $100K pensions. Are some people receiving $100K+ pensions because of yes.

    Going back to earlier arguments, not having a college degree does not mean one can not have a position that results in substantial pay and a decent retirement. College is not for everyone just the sexy people. I am sure Bill Gates and Michael Dell may have a thing or two to say about a college degree.

    30 years and retirement is a holdover from when people died at 62. Considering I need to work until I am 67 before I see full SS benefits, I see no reason for why 45 should not be the new 30.

  176. Dax

    If I might just say one thing about going to college, regarding the FF retiree I knew from Jr. High School.

    I was not suggesting he needed a college degree or not to become a FF as I also knew a couple college friends who subsequently became Oakland firefighters.

    Perhaps what I was trying to say is that this fellow wasn’t the sharpest guy going, even in a junior high not known for academics. A nice enough guy, just not a standout in any way. Not even remotely athletic, or academic, or socially adept, or notable in any leadership capacity.
    I’d say he was in the lower middle, or perhaps upper lower portion of the student body. Just there going through the motions, or so it seemed.
    I guess that is what is so stunning when I see his 100K pension.

    Like I said, I have every reason to believe he was a excellent firefighter and risked his life several times.

    Now, most of the other firefighters I personally know either as friends or relatives or fathers of friends, were almost all fairly capable. Some very sharp, and but for the earlier times, would certainly have gone much further in their education.
    As I said some others of my age had gone to various NorCal colleges.

    So I don’t want to get too much into this college versus no college thing.
    I’m just thinking that a whole lot of candidates could make excellent firefighters. A lot more than 20 in 8,000 applicants.
    Probably easily 20 of 2,000 or 4,000 applicants who would still be applying if the compensation was only 80% of what it currently is. (and not just because of the current economic times) After all that 8,000 person application episode took place before the current. economic downturn.

    BTW, on the 35% bump being a separate matter from the $100K pension issue.
    Obviously the safety employees are not part of the 35% bump that took place in 2004.
    However of those “miscellaneous” employees who are Oakland members of the 100K pension club, I would suggest that a fair portion of them are over the 100K threshold precisely because of the 2004 pension boost.
    It would be interesting to see how many of the 224 that are not “safety”, are from prior to 2004 and how many are from 2004 forward.

  177. len raphael

    Ralph, you have to be a good auditor to run audits, but you don’t have to be an auditor to ask why in a city with a 1Bill budget and +3,000 employees, the city’s internal audit dept hasn’t come up with a whole bunch more serious findings than it has. Last time i checked our nickname isn’t the City of Angels.

    eg. did Ruby’s office ever open an investigation into the charges brought up by a poster here that a building inspector purchased a building for which she/he had red tagged?

    The poster seemed a bit paranoid, but the documents she/he posted were worthy of preliminary official investigation.

    In a collapsing real estate economy, city layoffs, exactly the environment that would encourage such abuses in a building dept.

  178. Dax

    On the subject of pensions and overall compensation of public employees in Oakland and all over the Bay Area.
    From San Jose firefighters, to bankrupt Vallejo, to AC Transit and MUNI, there is an unreality with the real world that is only slowly beginning to creep into the interchange.

    I was reminded of it last night while watching Charlie Rose. He had on Sylvie Kauffmann, senior writer at the French newspaper “Le Monde”, the major French newspaper.
    In the conversation they were talking about the current troubles of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
    She commented on the major move he is trying to institute in France in adjusting the pension system.

    In the discussion she went on to explain that in all of central Europe France is recognized as the nation with the “easy life”, the most benefits, and the famous early retirement at only age 60.

    Mind you, this is the “easy” nation in Europe, the one that is resisting the changes everyone else is making.
    The huge sticking point he is running into is trying to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 over a few years.
    The often thought to be “lazy” French are squabbling over being boosted from 60 to 62…

    I was struck by this.
    Goodness sakes alive, the widely recognized LOW retirement age of France, is FIVE years older than the age 55 pension of Oakland’s regular employees.

    How crazy is that? How out of step with reality is that. Yet we see in recent negotiations of public employee unions in California, members screaming about losing their hard earned benefits.

    Its like a Alice in Wonderland world, completely out of step with world reality.
    Obviously fire and police, have some case to be made for physical considerations for a lower retirement age, though I’m not sure 50 is appropriate.

    The world has changed. Everyone, finally public employees are being confronted with reality.
    WE, the others in society, all over the world, are not going to work until 70 just so public employees can get a pension at 55. A pension far in excess of what those others get even at age 70.

    There is a huge gap in what the world is saying and what the public employee mindset is still trying to hang onto.

    We see it in the news every night. This resetting of reality is only now beginning. If I were cities and other agencies, I would only make short term contracts with public employees.
    One or two years max. No guarantees of “no layoff”.

    The insanity of us paying “regular” public employees pensions at 55 has got to change quickly. They should be no different than those on Social Security.
    Long gone are the days of lower wages for the same work.
    Today, total compensation packages, wages, benefits, pensions, holidays, easily total 50% more than the private sector for the same work production.
    In many cases double.

    Time to stop compromising to avoid strikes or work interruptions such as at AC Transit.
    NO more “binding arbitration” where absurd claims are taken as a starting point for “splitting the difference”.

    And enough of new parcel taxes to keep out-of-step compensation packages in place.
    Even in situations where employees are paid less than local counterparts, such as Oakland teachers, there is no room for new parcel taxes to “raise” salaries towards local averages.
    That is what is put forth as the reason for a new OUSD parcel tax. To raise teacher salaries.
    This year, this recession, new taxes for “raises”? You’ve got to be kidding.
    You are just lucky to keep your job.

    By this time next year, there will be more and more pressure to hold the line or even cut back.
    The new reality is unfolding, all over the nation, even all over the world.
    It seems the public employee unions are only beginning to wake up.

    France is heading to a age 62 pension system, far lower than Germany who is changing to 67.

    Oakland….55 for regular workers and 50 for safety workers.
    So we need new parcel taxes to make ends meet? yeah sure!
    Fat chance.

    What is, and what has been, are no longer the valid points from which to meet the future. The Oakland city council should stop using current compensation as any framework for future agreements.
    If reality calls for 20% cuts in employee compensation then get on with it. If there are strikes, lets get it over with now rather then 3 years from now.

    You know, I’d say, one hard hitting candidate could do wonders with that message.
    Do any of the mayoral candidates dare take such a stance?
    In ranked voting, he/she could be everyone’s #2 choice.

  179. Max Allstadt

    I agree that radical cuts in city employee compensation and pensions are needed.

    In this election, I suggest watching to see which candidates get the endorsement of the Labor Council and Local 1021 (the city employees’ union). Then vote for someone other than that if you want real change.

    There was a time when a government employee was expected to get long term job security in exchange for accepting a lower wage than in the private sector. Decades of candidates selling out has changed that. Nationwide, the average hourly wage for a government employee is now almost twice the average hourly wage in the private sector. This is insane and a recipe for disaster. Oakland is meeting that disaster first because we were poorer than most cities to begin with.

    In many places, the way the game works is that candidates are effectively secretly blackmailed by the unions. Unions conduct private, confidential interviews with candidates, in which candidates are free to make promises to the unions without disclosing those promises to the general public.

    This year, pensions and salary cuts are such a hot topic that you can bet your ass that the unions are pushing candidates to promise not to touch any part of their compensation. If a candidate gets the endorsement at the end of that interview process, you can bet your ass that they secretly promised to maintain the unsustainable pension regime that is bankrupting Oakland.

    As a proponent of radical transparency in government, I deplore this secretive backroom endorsement process. Unfortunately it appears we’re stuck with it. The best we can do is try to understand how it works, and watch this like hawks.

  180. Stan K

    “In this election, I suggest watching to see which candidates get the endorsement of the Labor Council and Local 1021 (the city employees’ union). Then vote for someone other than that if you want real change.”

    Max, this is precisely the approach I plan on taking. It came to mind when I started seeing an increasing number of union ads denouncing Meg Whitman. I thought to myself, if the unions have a problem with her, that’s who I want!

    Structural change is needed at many levels and the more we support the same cast of characters the more of the same BS we’ll get.

  181. len raphael

    Max, if i were the SEIU or the Alameda County Labor Council, i would not issue any formal endorsement, no pac money, no free use of office space, because all of that has to be disclosed.

    Instead, i would just “coordinate” the “voluntary” free labor of my members to support both Quan and Kaplan because they have said NADA about further cutting pensions or pay of any department other than cops.

    No disclosure needed.

    With IRVoting, that should greatly improve the odds of getting either Quan or Kaplan as mayor. SEIU doesn’t give a hoot about the fine points or stlyistic differences distinguishing Q from K.

  182. David

    Even the NYTimes is waking up to it.

    The haves are retirees who were once state or municipal workers. Their seemingly guaranteed and ever-escalating monthly pension benefits are breaking budgets nationwide.

    The have-nots are taxpayers who don’t have generous pensions.

    Pew estimated a $1 trillion gap as of fiscal 2008 between what states had promised workers in the way of retiree pension, health care and other benefits and the money they currently had to pay for it all.

    And the kicker, as I’VE POINTED OUT NUMEROUS TIMES–and I’ve yet to see a public sector employee “get it”:

    The average retiree in the fund stopped working at the sprightly age of 58 and deposits a check for $2,883 each month. Many of them also got a 3.5 percent annual raise, no matter what inflation was, until the rules changed this year.

    Private sector retirees who want their own monthly $2,883 check for life, complete with inflation adjustments, would need an immediate fixed annuity if they don’t have a pension. A 58-year-old male shopping for one from an A-rated insurance company would have to hand over a minimum of $860,000… A woman would need at least $928,000, because of her longer life expectancy. …

    DO you get it? And this is “only” a ~$3,000/month check–a $36K/year pension=$1M in savings at age 58. If you have a $6K/month or $9K/month pension, you have to have $2M or $3M saved in the private sector. So, not only are these government workers sitting in the top 10-20% of earners, but they’re retiring EARLY with essentially $2-$3M nest eggs, TAXPAYER BACKED.

    Sorry, but when the average wage is roughly $50K, it is mathematically IMPOSSIBLE to tax people enough to pay for government workers’ (about 20% of the population) salary + benefits. Period. The. Math. Does. Not. Work. Even in California public schools, 2+2=4, despite what Big Brother wants it to equal.

  183. Dax

    If you want to read a shocking report, take a look at the recent report of AC Transit on their “benefit” costs…

    Most of the public will only read or understand their “base” pay without overtime, which the union will tout to the press.

    LOOK>……LOOK at the benefits.
    Check out the health care costs for the driver with a family.
    Health and dental alone of over $2,000 per month.

    Add to that all the pension, vacation, sick time, and you’ll see benefits as a percent of salary/wages climbing over 100% as the years progress.

    Fiscal year 2009/2010
    Salary and wages 120 million
    Benefits 123 million

    Read this report, and think about it the next time you see the surely union leadership on the news.

    You will be shocked

    So many public agencies have benefit packages from 60% to 70% of salary.
    AC Transit is just one of the worst at a even higher percentage.

    Next time you think about that Oakland employee only making $55,000 “base” pay for fixing parking meters, realize you may also be paying $2,000 for his family’s health & dental care and also more for his pension.
    ( btw, I don’t know how Oakland handles a family regarding health benefits.
    Do they pay for a full family and if so, what portion if any does the employee pay?) Perhaps Oakland handles it differently.
    Anyone know?
    I’m talking about regular Oakland city employees.

  184. Max Allstadt

    Len and everybody:

    I don’t think Perata has openly advocated for pay cuts or pension contribution increases either. This is part of the game. All the commitments are done behind closed doors.

    I do know that Don Perata wrote a screed against the city council a few months ago, because they were proposing tax measures. And then at the OBA candidate’s meet and greet, he told a room with about 100 people in it that we needed to raise taxes.

    One thing that’s important for folks like the insiders at the Labor Council and other endorsing organizations: TALK TO EACH OTHER. Because your interviews are confidential, you set up a situation where a candidate can make opposite promises to different organizations. So the insiders at these organizations need to consult with their peers at competing organizations, in order to catch candidates who try these kinds of shenanigans.

    If a candidate gets caught playin that game in controversial interviews, they need to be outed and shamed.

  185. ralph

    You and both know why the auditor’s office doesn’t have more findings. I also want to add that I suspect one of the problems is just a simple resource constraint. The mandated audits don’t ask the tough questions and there are problably limited resources to address areas which need to be audited.

    Can’t recall where I wrote the following but even DP’s supporters can not tell you what he plans to do. They all parrot the lines, “I will meet with my department heads daily and I will figure out which 5 council members I need to get stuff done.” (I assume he only needs to find 4 more.)

  186. len raphael

    Ralph, what is it we both know about why Ruby’s own audits are so gentle; and her outside consultants’ reports are hard hitting but get none of Ruby’s impressive promotional efforts.

    Is it what ex council member Danny Wong posted here? something to the effect that there’s a conspiracy of silence among all Oakland elected officials?

    btw, is Ms Edgerly’s nephew still hard at work fixing the parking meters that collect the increased parking fees that help pay for his and his auntie’s retirements?

    -len raphael
    -len raphael

  187. len raphael

    Reading those outside consultant audit reports, and applying the rule that the consultants didn’t want to bite the City’s hand that feeds them, my conclusion is that the Public Works management is a shambles, and City promotion and hiring blatantly violates Civil Service rules.

    But the reports were submitted to City Council and disappeared off the public’s 10 second radar screen.

  188. len raphael

    Max, sounds like biz as usual for a politician to promise all things to all people. I kinda like the idea. Gives the pols a bit of independence, even if they can only do that one time.

    But then the unions are going to be so desperate in a few years, they won’t be in a position to hold grudges.

    Has the OBA endorsed anyone yet?

    -len raphael

  189. len raphael

    Is Oakland the real City of Angels or does Russo and the City Council sweep all of the public dirt under the rug by settling whistle blower suits in closed session?

    Remember a couple of years ago Quan and Dellums blaming interfund borrowing on Edgerly. I recall something to the effect of negative balances in a few accounts, nothing earthshaking.

    Something about they thought we had a surplus but really had a small but controllable deficit?

    Larae Brown was the city controller under Edgerly for about 2.5 years. In 2008 Burris filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Edgerly her boss.

    There was one Chip Johnson piece on it, and then nothing in the media that i can find. There is one redacted mention in the city council agenda of a closed session meeting which I assume was to settle the lawsuit?

    The charges were much much much more serious than any hanky panky with interfund transfers. Allegations of 170 Mill unreconciled discrepancies in multiple city bank accounts for years (where were the outside auditors?), 356 “missing” vehicles without police reports, overpaid employees and underpaid employees (interesting) for possible city liability of back wages.

    How do we force Russo and the Council to release the terms of that out of court settlements or at least submit it to closed review by the Alameda Grand Jury?

    chip johnson: (

    Alameda County lawsuit filing by Burris:


    Use this link to get to “DomainWeb” Then inside their system click on CASE SUMMARY and then enter the case number RG08376987

    city council agenda closed session: you have to search “RG08376987 oakland” for the July 15 2008 meeting to discuss “Jane Doe RG08376987″

    -len raphael

  190. Greg Harland

    Good work Len! I read Chip Johnson’s article and I’ve always wondered what the legal outcome was. This is at least a direct look into the case through the court records. I’m on page 8 and still reading.

  191. len raphael

    Anyone know what Burris’ success rate is with suing Oakland?

    Somehow i don’t think he would have taken a case with this detailed a list of allegations if there hadn’t been fire with the smoke.

    Not like the cop lawsuits he files, where Russo automatically folds on most of them because Russo is convinced that juries think all Oakland cops are monsters.

    But we need to open the records to evaluate what happened. I don’t see how there’s any need for privacy after all the details in the filing.

  192. Marleenlee

    Settlement agreements must generally be disclosed pursuant to the California Public Records Act. Make a formal request and see what you get.

  193. len raphael

    Campaign speaking styles of Perata and Quan share similar disregard for truly listening to the voters:

    Perata strides in and delivers his take no prisoner (oops, bad metaphor) I’m the combo Godfather/Clint Eastwood coming to whip this town into shape speech.

    Quan sails in a la Queen Victoria and sails out again, ignoring pesky questions.

  194. livegreen

    Len and Greg, Can somebody get with V & do a blog topic about that settlement? Not all of us can make the time to go through all of it, + several of us do it individually all at the same time to get to the meat, and then move on to something else.

    In a passing blog post it gets lost & this seems important.

    Then I can put a link to it on a couple of list serves (as can others) & get the word out much easier than if it’s just one fleeting post in the middle of 200 others.

  195. len raphael

    I will ask the master of FOI requests, Sanjiv H, if he already put in that request. If not, then I will.

    Meanwhile, can’t some of you email Chip Johnson and ask him why he dropped the story.

    What this town needs is a good political cartoonist.

    -len Raphael

  196. len raphael

    Greg Harland may be the only mayoral candidate (other than the misc last minute people) who did not apply for union endorsements. That would be SEIU, Labor Council, OPOA, OFA.

    Someone should ask each candidate and post the responses here.

    -len raphael

  197. livegreen

    Len, I think it’s fine to get Union endorsements. However as Greg pointed out, candidates shouldn’t have to fill out an affidavit committing themselves to the Union.

    Max, earlier you said we should look at who the Unions endorse and then endorse somebody else. Does that apply if they endorse Kaplan?

  198. Max Allstadt

    Livegreen, I’m particularly talking about the city employees unions. And I’d be very surprised if they endorsed Rebecca, because she’s been so vocal about pension reform, and local 1021 in particular doesn’t want pension reform. They want the unsustainable status quo.

    It boggles my mind that the city employees unions are so short sighted that they don’t realize they’re slowly bankrupting the city, and that if they keep on the path they’re taking, all of their jobs will be on the line.

  199. V Smoothe

    Max, you and I must live on different planets. When has Rebecca been “vocal” about pension reform? I don’t think I’ve ever once heard her raise the issue.

  200. livegreen

    They’ll cross that bridge when they have too. First they’ll push to a max the Property Taxes. If that doesn’t work, they’ll throw their younger workers under the bus. Or MAYBE ask for more furloughs.

    Either alternative would preserve Sr. jobs & continuation of new hiring at existing levels once the economy picks up…

    Remember, preserve seniors, fight youth. -or-
    “After me comes the flood.” & that’s somebody else’s problem.

  201. ralph

    Regarding audits, the final findings and recommendations tend to come about by some give and take. If you are implying that our city should have more findings given its size, I disaagree. Now, I do think that given the looseness of city mgmt there should more substantive findings.

    If I have some free time, I may reread some of her reports. I stopped reading the reports a couple years ago because I thought they lacked any meat.
    Now Max, you know people are motivated by their own self interest. City ‘ee needs a dollar today; he may not make it to retirement. And isn’t “vocal” about pension reform just a little overreaching? She does support it, but vocal does seem like a stretch.

  202. len raphael

    The only retirements RK was vocal about was those of cops 9% contribution.

    Otherwise she’s made some vague reference to attrition of older higher paid employees. I filled in the blanks and assume she’s thinking two tier comp and retirement systems.

    But that’s typical RK: she leaves us guessing and if you like her, you fill in the blanks one way; if you don’t then another.

    -len raphael

  203. We Fight Blight

    So why on earth would anyone vote for RK when she tends to be silent and uncommittal on such important issues to the City? Reminds me of her campaign staff this weekend at the Grand Lake farmers’ market. When directly asked about RK’s position on bloated staff salaries and pension reform they slinked away. When asked about RK’s position on approving more liquor stores in North Oakland, they ran away. While I would never support Jean Quan, at least her campaign staffer was engaged and informed and vowed to bring the question back to Jean and told me to attend Jean’s forums to ask the question directly of Jean.

  204. Max Allstadt


    I find it very hard to believe that anybody actually “ran away”. The campaign has a bunch of new volunteers who’ve signed up recently, and you may have run into someone who is an enthusiastic supporter, but may not have learned yet how to handle hostile questions.

    I invite you to come back to the Temescal or Grand Lake Markets this week, I’ll be there both days.

    But as far as Nik Nak goes, what’s the point, really? You know Rebecca’s answer to why she voted to preserve Nik Nak from being shut down, you just don’t like the answer. If you want to vote based on that issue, that’s your right, but I think most people in this city are voting on much bigger and broader issues.

    I will gladly talk to Rebecca and ask her about pensions and salaries, and if you come by the table this weekend, I’ll gladly give you her take and my personal take on the issue, even If I differ from her.

    I’ve chosen to back Rebecca because I agree with her on policy about 75% of the time. Nobody agrees with everything a politician does, frankly, 75% is a wildly high average. I probably disagree with Quan about the same amount.

    Anyway, we all know that nobody who’s done their homework extensively is going to agree with the candidate they vote for 100%. On the big things, though, Rebecca looks very strong to me.

    And she also looks strong in terms of her ability to do business without creating bitter enemies, a trait that sets her out from most of her peers. Civil disagreement and a talent for not holding grudges is a rare combination in Oakland politics, and Rebecca’s lucky to have that going for her.

  205. ken o

    so Q and K differ only in style?

    well, least according to that one photo i saw, which famously has them both running in front of/blocking cops from rioters at our June riots downtown, it might appear so. i can’t remember who had a more amusing facial expression

    i think they differ in more than style. but i may be idealistic, full of naive bushy-tailed hope.

  206. ralph

    I agree with you RK’s decision on Nic Nak was wrong. I am sorry that a decent guy got a raw deal, but he had every opportunity to make different decisions along the way and no councilmember should ignore the law to attempt to make it right for one person. You can almost expect that LR and DB would vote for Nic Nak because they are of that generation. Someone like RK should rise above all of that because as far as I am concerned it looks like pandering. I disagree with her assertion that had she voted to deny the license it would have been pandering the other way. It would have been applying the law.

    That being said, Max is right. You are never going to fully agree with any candidate. I can tell you that not all RK supporters agree with her positions.

    In other news, by 2013 the police will be paying 9% towards their pension. What part of 9% today, 9% tomorrow, minimum 9% forever do they not understand. Now it comes down to nose or face.

    ken, yours is not a bushy tail, you probably have pancake tail hope

  207. livegreen

    I believe the 2nd lawyer for Nic Nak was Clinton Killian, correct? He is running for City Council for District 4.

  208. len raphael

    BK, thank you.

    Have submitted online. Will post the response to my request of Russo’s Office:

    “1. Terms of any settlement of RG08376987 re LaRay Brown.

    2. Terms of any settlement of Deborah Edgerly lawsuit”

  209. CitizenX

    Len — It appears the LaRae Brown case #RG08376987 was dismissed by Burris. He has filed a new lawsuit:

    The City’s outside auditors have audited the books 3-4 time since Brown made claims of millions in missing money and assets and, from what I can see, they have made no adjustments for missing dollars or assets or made any mention in the auditor’s (management letter) report to Council. The City Auditor hasn’t released any findings that would confirm Brown’s claims. Makes one wonder about Brown’s claims.

  210. Max Allstadt

    Yes, Len, I’m pretty sure that William Lovan, Deborah Edgerly’s nephew who was caught with an illegal firearm during a gang sting, is still employed by the City of Oakland as a parking meter repair man making over $60K a year.

    This is the same William Lovan who was revealed on wiretaps to have tipped of gang members that they were about to be raided. He appears to have received a tip from Edgerly herself and passed it on. Then, during the raid, when Lovan’s car was being towed because cops had found a gun in it, Edgerly tried to intervene and stop them from towing it.

    Now, my information could be old, but again, last time I checked, this thug still had a 60K a year gross compensated job. Anybody have any up to date info? ‘Cause if this guy does still have a job, we should start mass emailing Dan Lindheim and Noel Pinto and demand that they throw him out on his ass.

  211. Jonathan C. Breault

    The problem we confront today with a substandard police department might be of paramount interest to Oakland citizens right now but the predicament has been long in the making. Oakland is an extraordinarily mismanaged town and those entrusted with the responsibility of making intelligent, mature and prudent decisions regarding our local economy are ill equipped and unsuited for the job. Rebecca Kaplan included. There is no rational, coherent or realistic economic plan for the town. The place is run in a haphazard, practically schizoid manner with all sorts of odd and irrelevant issues and interests served by the politicians to the detrement of the town. How Kaplan, just for example, can justify or rationalize the absurd, indefensible loan of $150k to a business that is clearly failing and devoid of reasonable business practices is beyond me. The Merritt Bakery loan is just a metaphor for the dysfunctionality of the Oakland municipal government. There is no one down there who knows what they are doing. The absurd escalation of salaries and benefits to municipal employees which began when Jerry Brown was Mayor and continued until economic reality hit these fools in the face head on was simply idiotic and unconscionable. Quan and Kaplan are economic neophytes who know practically nothing but assert competency when there is none to be found. Oakland will either enter into a bankruptcy of some sort of preferrably dramatically alter the scope of government authority and privatize public works, parks, libraries, and other heretofore muncipal functions so that qualified, experienced and responsible adults can manage these necessary services in a responsible and economically viable manner. Those of us who spent decades in business are able to quickly see how out-of-their-depth these people are. We are in this mess precisely because of the political hacks who have taken over the town. Most smart people are revulsed by the insipid nonsense and lunacy that passes for public discourse in Oakland. The place is a complete and unmitigated disaster precisely because of the ineffectual, convoluted and ignorant policies implemented by the fools who run the town.

  212. Matt C.

    Rants are so Craigslist.

    What are some solutions and who’s willing to work on them?

    If we can amass a list of demands for our City Council we’ll be one step closer to the government we want. Here are mine:

    -Eliminate free parking for city employees.
    -Eliminate raises and bonus (or anything that even looks like it) until the budget is balanced without the loss of services.
    -Cut all city pay to parity with area governments.
    -Make transparency of city contracts a top priority.
    -Get the OPD and OFD unions to look really bad for choosing indefensible wages over the safety of their own members and the people of Oakland.

    I’m not the most informed, so maybe those aren’t demands that will work. All I care is we start a consensus for solutions to then bombard the Council with.

    I’m freaking sick of the sky high property taxes and bottom of the barrel city services, too.

  213. Barry K

    Press Release from Oakland City Hall today:

    “If you think the problems we create are bad, just wait until you see our solutions.”

  214. Livegreen

    Wasn’t the Free Parking eliminated as part of the recent budget “compromise”? & Is a salary freeze in place?

    The problem is it needs to b more than a freeze. The budget has been reduced, so should salaries & benefits, or the City will still b in deficit. This seems pretty basic.

    & It has to b more than just OPD & OFD, it has to b all departments.

  215. livegreen

    Wonder how much money Oakland will get for Teachers & Police, after the bill signed into law today?

  216. ralph

    On the interfund issue, per the last CAFR it is getting worse, not better. Thanks to our trusty friend GAAP everything is still clean if you have a plan.

  217. len raphael

    Ralph, trying to read this black on black text is very frustrating.

    If i read the text correctly, you referred to our city financials as prepared in conformity with GAAP, instead of GASB?

  218. len raphael

    Max, could be the alleged gang banger nephew has not yet been convicted of a felony, the city probably can’t fire him. But then if Dellums had had his way, felony convictions wouldn’t be held against you in hiring if outside the scope of your job description.

    What’s the rule here on misdemenors and felonies?

  219. len raphael

    Citizen X, agree w you that it’s all very odd, and yes unlikely that the outside auditors would have signed off on the finanical statements if it were brought to their attention.

    But then the charges in the first lawsuit were very specific. If she was just filing a typical City of Oakland caching lawsuit, why would Burris have put in such easily verifiable charges?

    I’ve heard Burris called a lot of things, but never stupid.

    Quick response from on the FOI request:

    “Dear Mr. Leonard –

    To respond to your public records request #2186, there has been no settlements approved for the LaRae Brown and Deborah Edgerly matters.

    Thank you,

    Rowena Quindiagan
    Executive Assistant to Oakland City Attorney John Russo
    One Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 6th floor
    Oakland, CA 94612
    (510) 238-3812
    (510) 238-7367 fax

    So, did i ask the wrong question or ?

  220. len raphael


    you have more faith in financial audits and auditors than i do.

    hard to imagine overlooking that much understated cash, but easy to see how 300 cars could disappear without auditors noticing.

  221. ralph

    Correction,the Internal Service Fund information is in the SAR. (pg 130)

    Comment No. 2009-1 – Material Weakness
    Internal Service Fund Deficits
    Governments often use internal service funds to centralize certain services and then allocate the costs of those
    services within the government. U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) permit the use of internal service funds to report any activity that provides goods or services to the government on a costreimbursement
    basis. That is, the goal of an internal service fund should be to measure the full cost (including cost of capital assets) of providing goods or services for the purpose of fully recovering that cost through fees or charges. Accumulating significant deficits or excess net assets are indicative of the internal service activity not being operated on a cost-reimbursement basis. Under such circumstances, it may no longer be appropriate to report the activity in an internal service fund under GAAP.

    As for the accounting basis, here is the line from the auditor’s opinion, “in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”

  222. len raphael

    LG, i don’t think Clinton K. was ever an attorney for the Nik Nak. I attened one of those cc meetings, and watched another. I usually disagree with CK on Oakland public policy issues, but from my experience working with him years ago on a mutual client, I’d say he’s a very bright guy who would have done a much better job than the NN’s attorneys.

  223. len raphael

    Surprisingly JQ, seems to be the only candidate at the previous candidate shows to “relatively” unequivocably support the North Oakland Gang Injunction.

    My guy Greg Harldand, unequivocably doesn’t like them. That’s half of the 20% that I dislike in his platform. 80% I like.

    repost from yahoo opd by kendall
    “Re: Has Rebecca Kaplan been “upfront and open about her support of the gang

    I found this article recapping the July 16 mayoral forum, on\

    Question from the ACLU: Why do you believe the mayor’s office and the city
    council have remained silent about the gang injunction in North Oakland? What
    specific actions would you take as mayor to ensure that the gang injunction is
    being implemented without violating the civil liberties of our residents?

    Harland: This is about law enforcement, and to have proper law enforcement, you
    have to have a fully staffed police force. You can’t arrest people for normal,
    legal behavior. If you want a rule of law, this won’t work.

    Kaplan: We need to make sure that the promised civil liberties protections are
    fully implemented. That means no injunctions against a named gang. You have to
    name the specific individuals by name and have a hearing with the opportunity to
    be heard and respond.

    Macleay: I’m opposed to this gang injunction for two reasons. I’m opposed to
    taking a person into a civil court…where we don’t really have to prove guilt
    beyond a reasonable doubt. The other crime that the gang injunction commits is
    it divides us. We need to stick together to work on the things we can agree
    with, and this is just not one of them.

    Quan: The current Oakland injunction is against 15 individuals who have mostly
    been involved in violent crimes in the North Oakland area. I told the chief…that
    I would not support it being used as a way to just pick up anyone who’s wearing
    colors, or looks a different way. If I’m mayor, I plan to monitor [the gang
    injunction] and to see if it’s working or not working. I’m not sure. I’ve been
    walking North and West Oakland and people are worried about some of the gangs
    and this is another tool.

    Tuman: There are some parts of this [injunction] that make sense. For example,
    there is an injunction against carrying firearms. There’s an injunction against
    carrying graffiti-making equipment. The problem that I have with this injunction
    is that there are two parts of it that do involve violating someone’s rights.
    One has to do with recruitment; the other has to do with association. There may
    be a potential for racial profiling. We have to be very careful when talking
    about association where that’s concerned.

    Candell: How is it that this gang injunction only has African Americans and
    Latinos on it? Oh…and guess what? [Candell takes off his black jacket to reveal
    a bright, salmon-colored button-down shirt and matching tie.] This is red. You
    gonna arrest me too? Get the criminals off the street and charge them

    NCPC 10x”

  224. ralph

    I think some are expecting too much from the audit. If someone is stealing from the city that could go on for years before it is detected. Heck, I have been on audits where the an individual had been stealing for years until I detected it on my first audit. I was on another audit where by all accounts the client should have been shutdown from receiving federal funds but the company had support in Congress.

    If someone is stealing from the city, I am not surprised it does not show up in the audit. Further, if it is not material, it is not likely to change the opinion if you are able to conduct test to obtain assurances that the balances are fairly stated.

    The grand jury reports and internal control reports are more helpful than the audit opns.

  225. len raphael

    100% agree with Ralph.

    But again, it wb very wierd if the outside auditors were notified of the allegations and did not perform additional work to make sure the charges were baseless. But the first lawsuit only says the plaintiff was scheduled to meet with Ruby and the outside auditors the day she was fired.

  226. ralph

    I see you read the same article I did. My take:

    Harland: doesn’t get it.

    Macleay: should probably familiarize himself with restraining orders

    Tuman: trying to appeal to black folk afraid of racial profiling, grow a pair

    Quan: has a grasp of the problem

    Kaplan: understands the problem, but I would prefer her just say that she has the chief’s back

    Candell: might want to take a look at the name individuals, at least before the 4 were removed, the list contained more than black and brown. as for the 4 they were removed because they were already in police custody. so no matter how you cut it – it isn’t about brown and black

  227. ralph

    The auditors are not going to investigate the charges as it is not part of their testwork. That being said, the auditor, if aware of such allegations, would probably not rely on the internal control structure and increase testing.

  228. Max Allstadt


    My understanding was that Lovan was convicted on a felony gun charge, but that they dropped the gang enhancement in a plea deal, and the lack of a gang conviction kept him employed. It’s been a while, though.

    Civil service rules need to be amended: gun crime = you’re fucking fired.

  229. livegreen

    -Just amazing about Lovan. Wonder if there was some influence in the plea deal? I know the system’s under stress, so I guess the DA didn’t press because they had bigger fish to fry, ie. bigger crimes to worry about. But come on…

    -Why wouldn’t internal controls & violations of those be part of the Auditors review?

    -Max, link ti Congressional legislation to help State budgets retain Teachers, Cops & Civil Servants:

    (1 day later couldn’t find any quick links through the Tribune & Chronicle. News cycles speeding up, decreasing attention spans).

  230. ralph

    When one conducts a financial audit one assesses the internal control structure for the purpose of determining the amount of test work, not for expressing an opinion on its effectiveness. In other words, if the auditor is not going to place any reliance on the internal control structure, then the auditor will conduct more testwork to obtain reasonable assurances that the financial statements are not materially misstated.

    In evaluating the internal control structure, auditors may identify deficiencies, significant deficiencies and material weaknesses, but there are no assurances that they will identify all. Still, the purpose is not to express an opinion on the internal control structure.

  231. livegreen

    But doesn’t Labrae Brown’s information about what the City/Edgerley did fall under “materially misstated”? Wouldn’t the balance sheets & other accounting documents be specific enough to be “stated”, or would they have been so general that a truck (load of money) could have passed through without being “misstated”?

    (The language being important to how bureaucracies can mismanage the intentions if not the letter of the law or Measure).

    So Grand Jury reports are the only way to get an outside opinion on internal control structures? I’m beginning to wonder about the impact of a City Auditor (even a good one)…

  232. ralph

    Without knowing the detail of Ms. Brown’s claims, I am not able to make a call one way or the other as to whether the financial stmts are materially misstated. But my gut tells me that a million on a hundred million balance sheet is a rounding error. I am not sure what you are getting at in your second sentence.

    Also, with materially misstated, you need to consider that it is the financial statements taken as a whole not one account.

  233. CitizenX

    Guys, Brown claimed the City’s cash and investments were overstated by over 170 million dollars. According to the 2009 audited statements, general fund assets were just over 400 million dollars. Brown’s 170 million would be way, way, way over the materiality threshold.

    The auditors would very much pay attention to such an allegation coming from the City’s Controller. They made NO subsequent adjustments and no audit comments, ergo Brown appears to be blowing smoke.

  234. ralph

    I would tend to agree that Brown’s assertions lack merit.

    For cash and investments, auditors generally obtain positive confirmations to obtain assurances that the balances are fairly stated. Unless a host of others were involved, I have a hard time believing that cash and investments are overstated by $170MM.

  235. Dax

    Just heard Chief Batts on the radio.

    Saying that he is not sure if the people of Oakland realize how serious the situation is.
    Meaning if the citizens don’t pass the parcel taxes, things will get serious.

    What we have here is yet another example of the OPD leaders and union, placing the blame and responsibility on the voters and residents.
    Like WE are to blame if there isn’t enough money to keep officers in place.
    Never mind that the average officer requires a $188,000 compensation package.

    Never is it said, that the entire department could lower their compensation.
    Rather, we, the people are suppose to give ourselves yet another cut in income via a tax.

    I ask those in the department with their $188,000 comp package, just how much you want the guy who is making $30,000 a year to pay, so you can keep your $188,000 comp package in place?

    How much?

    This whole thing is really beginning to anger me.
    OPD, OFD, SJFD, AC Transit…

    Did you see the surly leaders of the AC Transit union on the news? Do they even realize how they come off?
    Drivers, $53,400 before any overtime or shift additions, plus $45,400 in their benefit and pension package.
    That is $98,800 in comp without any overtime.
    Do they even realize how the general looks at that during these ever more difficult times?

    The thinking of public employee unions is way behind that of the public at large.
    I’d offer only 1 year contracts. Lets see how everyone is feeling next year before guaranteeing any solid pacts.

    BTW, thank you Ralph, for mentioning that opening in Oakland. I don’t think my official history would satisfy their specified “accounting” requirements.
    While they only require a associates degree, I’m thinking they’ll get quite a few folks applying with a 4 year accounting degree. Perhaps even a MBA or two.

    My only accounting was the minimum requirements for a business degree.
    Of course I do have a penchant for looking into anything numbers related, as you have seen here.
    But I doubt they want anyone looking into every dark corner of waste and abuse.
    Ruffling feathers is not the norm for city departments, at least not up til now.

  236. Anita

    If i’m not mistaken Roland Smith did several audits of city departments and at least one of those audits resulted in criminal charges against a city employee. A few years back we changed the city charter to give the City Auditor more authority and responsibility to not only audit the city finances, but to audit departments to make sure the city is being run efficiently.

    Didn’t the city council cut the auditors staff when he started looking into things they didn’t want looked into??

    And he sued the city council and they had to restore the staff required to do the charter mandated duties?

  237. len raphael


    don’t have access to the original court filing, but no list of allegations in the latest filing. (can someone explain why that might be)

    I don’t have access right now to the earlier filing, but wasn’t there enough wiggle room for Burris to say that the maximum overstatement in those accounts was 170Mill, but the net overstatement of cash in all bank accounts could be much less or even no over/understatement?

    ie some were wildly overstated and others wildly understated.

    Question: in this type of lawsuit, would Brown have to pay the legal costs of the city if she lost? or is it assured that no matter what the city will waive those costs?

    Dax, look at the bio’s of the staff on Ruby’s staff. 3 of 7 have the same or less accounting background than you do. And similarly 0 government audit experience.

    Anita, i have come around to the conclusion that staffing is not the cause of the paucity of hard hitting productive audits coming from Ruby’s office.

    -len raphael

  238. Barry K

    Anita- re: Roland Smith and Audits and the “payback”

    Here’s the Alameda Grand Jury Report:
    In 2005 the Oakland city auditor prepared an interim report expressing concern about the use of the credit cards and the potential for abuse and liability for the city, and recommended that the program be suspended for a period of time until certain controls could be implemented. The Finance and Management Agency (FMA) for the city of Oakland prepared a response to the interim report stating that while there had been some missing documentation, overall the program had been successful in facilitating certain city purchases, saving processing costs and improving purchase tracking and analysis. The city manager approved the response and forwarded it to the city council. The program therefore continued.

    see pages 16-32

    A small sampling of credit card expenses by city elected officials and employees
    for the 2006-2007 fiscal year follows.

    (Since it’s dinner time now, I’ll just repost a few of the dining charges)

    Verbena restaurant. Multiple lunches. No indication of
    number of guests or reasons for lunches.
    Max’s restaurant. Multiple lunches. No indication of
    number of guests or reasons for lunches.
    $6.52 Coffee for one, at the airport.
    $75.03 Lunch meeting “to prepare for training.” Included $10.00
    Lunch expenses “to take employee who conducted staff
    training to lunch.”
    $16.40 Starbucks. Receipts lists items purchased as: 1 tall cider, 1
    morning bun, and 1 travel mug (costing $12.00) Reason for
    purchase: “Meeting.”
    $75.61 Marriott restaurant. Lunch. No receipt. Reason listed:
    “Staff debriefing.”
    $28.81 Beach Chalet Restaurant & Brewery, San Francisco. Lunch.
    “Board meeting.”
    $43.33 Verbena restaurant. Lunch with two city employees.
    Included a 30% tip.
    $338.48 Lake Merritt Pizza. Hospitality for volunteers.
    $65.55 Bay Wolf restaurant. “Lunch with mayor’s staff.”
    $81.26 Piedmont Grocery. Hospitality. No receipt.
    $228.00 Lucky & Lucky Restaurant. “PR Committee dinner.” No
    $83.11 Verbena restaurant. “Lunch for new budget director.”
    $223.75 Nellie’s Soul Food restaurant. “Hospitality.”
    $2,796.00 Catered Holiday Lunch. Included crab cakes and chicken
    $31.00 Smart & Final store. Wine purchase.
    $23.54 Trader Joe’s grocery store. Reported as “snacks for council
    hearing.” Items purchased were: one chicken enchilada,
    grapefruit, nuts and cookies.
    $100.00 Max’s restaurant. Staff training luncheon.
    $252.38 Jack’s Bistro. Lunch meeting.
    $30.72 Max’s restaurant. “Managers Lunch Meeting.” Receipt
    showed two people, nachos with chicken, soda and seafood
    $434.00 Thanh Phat restaurant. Food for “Intimate Evening Event.”
    (no details).
    $153.49 Max’s restaurant. Reported as “Refreshments for
    volunteers.” Receipt shows: sirloin steak, corn beef Reuben,
    fettuccini with meatballs.
    Genova Deli & Safeway. “All Hands” meeting expenses.
    (Two receipts).
    $400.00 Chen’s restaurant. “Holiday Gala.”
    $226.48 Joann’s Soul Food Café. Staff Appreciation dinner.
    $620.96 Max’s restaurant. Staff appreciation lunch (combined with
    holiday party).
    $291.93 Jack’s Bistro. Holiday staff retreat. Items ordered included
    prawns, crème brule, salmon.
    $277.58 Max’s restaurant. Staff lunch meeting. Items ordered
    included Caesar salad with shrimp.
    $384.62 Max’s restaurant. Recognition meal for parking meter
    collection staff. Items included salmon, calamari, and sirloin
    steak, prawns (14 people Avg. $27.47 per person).
    Ribs on the Run restaurant. “All staff meeting/employee
    recognition event.” (Two receipts).

    see pages 16-32

  239. ralph

    The credit card abuse is a clear example of a program that sounds good in theory but was so poorly implemented that it looks awful in practice. Worse yet, nothing about it would lead an auditor to conclude that the financial stmts are materially misstated.

    My chief complaint is with the city’s CFO. It is this person’s responsibility to ensure that the accounting policies make sense and have teeth.

  240. CitizenX

    Len, th City’s financial statements are based on fund groups This is the level at which the auditors base their opinion — so each fund group is separately audited. I don’t believe Brown specified where she believed the cash was overstated, but were it a matter of being overstated in one fund group and understated in another, the auditors wouldn’t let that slide.

    IANAL, but I believe the City would need to countersue to recover attorney’s fees.

  241. CitizenX

    Ralph, if I remember correctly, a good portion of the questioned credit card charges were related to elected officials — especially the City Attorney (many expensive lunches) and, of course, the Mayor.

    The City’s CFO is appointed — hired by the City Manager. If you have had any dealings with public agencies, you’d know that whenever appointed officials take on elected officials, they invariably lose. At the State and County level, the CFO is also an elected official. San Francisco does a long term appointment (10 years, I believe) for their CFO. This is not a problem unique to Oakland. Most cities have appointed CFO’s and most have elected officials that behave badly.

  242. Barry K

    Back on subject. I didn’t see anyone bring this up.

    As MarleenLee has said, the castration of MY provides 0 police staffing and the proposed ballot “MYx4″ (MY = $90 and MYx4 =$360)tax, also no staffing minimums.

    Oakland police officers agree to pay into pension plan.
    Angela Woodall, Oakland Tribune, Posted: 08/09/2010 01:26:10 PM PDT

    The three-year deal gives the City Council the green light to place a $360 parcel tax measure on the November ballot.
    He (Arotzarena)said there is no minimum staffing language in either the parcel tax measure or another one that would modify Measure Y that calls for 63 problem-solving officers and supervisors.

  243. Naomi Schiff

    Note that an audit of lunch and dinner expenses from 2005 would mean the mayor of the time: Jerry Brown, not Dellums, if these expenses were mayoral. I do seem to recall that city atty. has or had a fondness for Max’s.
    I do think it would be wise to cut back or kill the city hall food budget. People can pay for their own food without suffering.

  244. Barry K

    Naomi- You’ve got it wrong. The City Auditor (Roland Smith) went to the AC Grand Jury in 2005. The report covers 2006-2007. Please refer to my post and the link.

    It’s not just dining expenses, but, also travel expenses, office expenses, employee expenses. Go look at how many televisions were purchased with credit cards. Or Christmas cards, employee gifts…

    I’d like to see this discussion get back to pensions, if possible.

    Also, who will lead the effort to fight these two ballot measures?

  245. Naomi Schiff

    Oh, okay, K, almost half wrong, anyhow. Dellums took office January 2007. Jerry B was in there the first half of the fiscal year, I guess. I agree there’s no need to feed everyone on the city’s dime.Probably healthier not to, as well.

  246. Barry K

    Naomi- The AC Grand Jury Audit on travel by Oakland’s elected officials and Manager is much worse. Even Quan defended her travel at our expense because it benefits Oakland; actually her. The Grand Jury said most of the travel by Oakland officials was nothing more than “social networking.”

    Now, back to the Parcel Taxes and Pensions.

  247. len raphael

    BK, looking like the city council is better at negotiating than i gave them credit for: aren’t they close to manipulating the OPOA into agreeing to put in their 9% over several years and campaigning for both the parcel tax and the No Cops Left Around MY, in return for job security and high likelihood that at best the 80 cops will get rehired, and most likely the size of the department will fall by attrition below 600?

    Shouldn’t have surprised me, because it is just a variation of same deal the cops took around 2003 when the city council raised the cops’ compensation, but shut down the police academy.

    plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

  248. ralph

    I would argue that the council’s ability to negotiate stinks. Per the reported press, the actual agreement that council and OPOA struck is a “4% contribution in 2011, 3% in 2012 and 2% in 2013.” OPOA agreed to campaign for the parcel tax and MY.

    Council must think we are fools. Fact, the likelihood of a laid off officer being able to join a PD where they don’t pay at least 9% into their pension immediately slim to nil and slim just left town. So, tell me why I or anyone agree to this deal. I might as well email them now to work on a Plan B.

    Fact, in a few years, a whole bunch of officers are going to be retiring. Why not just pay them to go now and keep the younger workers,who are worth 20 to 25 years. Council has spent far too much time in Oaksterdam.

  249. Barry K

    Ralph & Len:

    80 fewer officers now means OT costs go up. Montly attrition avg 4.5 officers a month means OT costs go up. More Grant protests means OT goes up.

    2009 top 25 paid OPD officers (mostly sergeants) rec’d a total pay (base+OT+other):
    Total: $5,556,000
    That’s an avg: $222,000 per officer.

    Strange that OPOA would support the castration of MY in exchange for the $360 (MY x 4) but still no police staffing minimums. And, they’re going to campaign for them?
    I guess Batts will be holding more “meetings” for pushing the taxes.
    Where’s the real pension reform?

  250. ralph

    Not overly worried about OT. First, it standard balancing act used in both the private and public sector. It is less expensive than paying for an actual person. Second, there is a theoretical cap on OT.

    What I am not going to do is fork over 360 of my hard earned ducats because our city council can not find one pair among them.

  251. Barry K

    Ralph- $30M+ doesn’t worry you?

    Last I heard, Oakland voting demographics (from IDLF): 60% renters, 40% home owners

    Because the MY ($90) castration will provide for “outreach to youth” to 20%, that’s $4M a year for Oakland NGOs.
    We’ll be out-campaigned and out-voted.(Because no “KidsFist” should be left behind.)

    The $360 Extortion Tax (MY X 4)will feed the General Fund. Not police minimum staffing.

    I’m still waiting to hear from RK (not her handler) on my two posts above about how the City is going to pay $400,000,000 to the 1300 retirees in the PFRS (closed plan) starting in 2011 for 15 years. Funding requires $1B by 2026. What new tax for this pension plan?

  252. len raphael


    It’s not strange at all. OPOA’s moral imperative (i’m probably misusing that term), raison d’etre is to serve and protect the compensation and working conditions of it’s current members.

    Ideally, it would keep their total compensation unchanged, and reduce hours worked. But it sure as heck ain’t gonna support lowering hourly total compensation unless it absolutely has to, as in the 9%, just so we can have more cops on the street.

    back to your question as to who will organize the opposition to MYIII and the parcel tax, its a classic case where the supporters of MYIII see clear benefits from supporting it and can easily get away with telling an easily understood half truth.

    They will get a well oiled PR machine, Kids First, to get what was stolen from them years ago.

    The opponents are a diffuse group of leaderless bloggers who are going to have a hard time explaining their side to normal voters, even if they had a way of reaching normal voters.

    News media, Dellums, and the entire City Council, will support the castration. They might even get the firefighters knocking on doors too.

    The CC will pay for mailings, the SEIU will pay for mailings and bill boards and their volunteers will staff the phone banks. Much more effective than robo calls.

    The parcel tax is a different creature. 360/year is a lot of money to a lot of oakland home and property owners. PK’s 50% pass thru will hurt it’s success to some extent.

    A parcel tax is very easy to understand and very unambiguous.

  253. Dax

    Take a look at another “brain dead” deal involving another California entity.
    The Sacramento sheriffs employees…

    Read some of it. Parts make no sense at all. Its like they’re paying huge give-a-way bonus money just so they don’t have to pay other money.
    What a insult to the public.
    On another point, look at the pension for the non safety personnel in the department.
    2%…just like it use to be in Oakland before 6 of the current 8 city council persons jacked it up 35% in 2004.

    Looks like the deal is going ahead.

    Take a look at this editorial on the matter.

    It is really shocking what the county supervisors are going to pass.
    Its like extortion of the public.

    Similarities to Oakland’s current dealings.
    Spineless politicians. Makes the prospect of Perata becoming mayor very scary since he has already signed off to support the police in full.

  254. len raphael

    BK, there will be no debate other than some hand wringing at the city council, and among every one of the mayoral candidates when it is announced that the pension bonds including 400M shortfall have been refi’d for 5 years at a low interest rate. Whether the Federal urban loan program is used, or some kind of muni bond is used, makes no never mind.

    the amount is so large that it is political suicide to even propose making the cuts in city services or raise taxes enough to deal with the shortfall, let alone funding the 600M retirement med benefits.

    Luckily for this ostrich strategy, interest rates are low. For security, we’ll probably have to pledge ever unencumbered revenue source we have.

    As real estate tax base drops, those bond tax adjustments will rise. A disguised parcel tax.

    Everyone except JQ realizes that the stock market isn’t about to come roaring back soon enough to restore the lost 400Mill.

    But everyone is counting on some combo of a Fed bailout of muni retirement obligations; and a change in Chapter 9 bankruptcy rules or court decisions allowing cram downs of retirement obligations.

    Its insane to count on a total bailout, but if we could hold on long enough, it’s very likely Congress will pass a law putting state and muni retirement plans under something like the PGBC.

    In which case pensions wb capped at 50k, limits on medical etc.

    You gloomy gus’s might say it’s ok to hope but stupid to count on things like the Feds coming to our rescue.

    If the parcel tax passes, there is nothing in it to make the city council put a big chunk into a rainy day fund.

    THe cc will budget based on bank balances, just like many people do with debit cards.

    -len raphael

  255. len raphael

    Dax, please follow up on the Sac County sheriffs deal, to see if they have the chutzpah to pass it.

    But i can see the attraction of an early retirement program that is financed out of future retirement benefits. We didn’t learn anything from the real estate bubble. Borrow now and refi in five years…

  256. Anita

    I see the mayor is going to set the property tax rates for the city’s bond repayment. They will be collecting about $60 mil next year to pay the PFRS bond payment plus another $24 mil for measure G and DD bond payments. That is an average of about $500 for each residential property for ‘voter approved’ bond payments.

    That is in addition to the paramedic taxes, the fire district tax, the library tax, measure Y, and the proposed new parcel tax.

    The average city residential property will be paying about $1000 extra in property taxes for the City of Oakland each year.

    I for one will not vote for a 33% increase in extra taxes for the City of Oakland.

  257. Mary Hollis

    Has anyone quantified the effect there has been upon property tax revenues due to the fall in home prices in Oakland? It seems to me that properties are changing hands for far less than most of the last 5 years and, for each sale, the property tax gets reset at that lower level.

    Moreover, homeowners who stay can appeal their valuation, and certainly should if they bought in the last 5 years, again depressing values. Is that happening in numbers?

    Finally, with all the homes under foreclosure, short sale or simply in default, chances are that at least some of them are in default of their taxes too.

    So if there really is a $1,000 rise in property taxes, can homeowners then appeal their valuations and maybe get that $1,000 knocked right off again? Net result – zero?

  258. 94610BizMan

    “You gloomy gus’s might say it’s ok to hope but stupid to count on things like the Feds coming to our rescue.”

    Len it’s getting harder for me to believe that I am really an unrealistic gloomster when the IMF just released a report analyzing the USA just like the IMF would analyze the economy of any other Banana Republic and comes the the stomach churning conclusion:

    “The U.S. fiscal gap associated with today’s federal fiscal policy is huge for
    plausible discount rates…closing the fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 percent of U.S. GDP”

    That number is before any additional bailouts (like for Oakland, CA IL, etc.)and 14% of GDP is just slightly less than what the Feds took in total taxes last year. Anyone up for doubling everyone’s taxes?

  259. 94610BizMan

    The other option is to issue even more debt, the Feds print more money and try for a reply of the ’70s with 100% inflation.

    Then all dollar denominated pensions get cut in half

  260. len raphael


    it wb a two step process. First off balance sheet Fanie Mae/FDIC/PGBA kinda deal where the Feds just guarantees a max retirement benefit the same as the PGBC does, with premiums paid in by cities and states. Followed a couple of elections later by the inevitable bailout of the newly formed Muni-PGBC with a bunch of debt.

    btw, currently is there a cola or infation adjustment in Oakland pensons?

  261. CitizenX

    Len, if you are asking about the pension obligation bonds related to the PFRS retirement liability, the tax collected is a fixed rate of .1575% of assessed value. The tax runs through 2026.

    In the case of the general obligation bonds, the voters approve an amount to be borrowed and a maximum allowable interest rate. Each year, the City computes how much tax is needed to pay the coming year’s debt service, divides it by the total assessed value of Oakland properties to develop the tax rate. Rate on this debt can vary, depending upon actual tax collections.

  262. CitizenX

    len, CalPERS has a cost of living provision — search for “COLA” on their website. I can’t remember what percentage applies to Oakland. I think I once read 3%, but won’t guarntee that.

    I believe the OMERS board can grant a COLA. PFRS retirees get increases based on the increases granted active police and fire employees. If the cops get a 4% raise, PFRS retirees get a 4% COLA. Sweet, huh?

  263. Barry K

    CitizenX, re: PFRS “the tax collected is a fixed rate of .1575% of assessed value.”

    On July 1, 2011, the City will again be required to make contributions to the System, based on July 1,2010 assets and liabilities.

    Table 3, Projection of Future Contributions, shows a projection of what the City will be required to contribute in 2011-2012 if the 8 percent actuarial rate of return is met in conjunction with wage growth of 4 percent, 4.50 percent or 5 percent. It is estimated that the City will need to begin contributing $37 million annually to meet their PFRS liability by 2026.

    Do you know where we can find out the current value of the plan as of July 1st 2010?

    If the fund value is below “plan” does that mean the fixed .1575% of assessed value could be increased, or, supplemented with another source?

  264. Dax

    Len, the follow up on the Sac County sheriffs contract deal.

    UGLY…very UGLY
    Simply amazing the kind of deals some elected officials cave-in on.

    Read the following article. Look at the details. Crazed economics all done under the guise of “saving” 85 officers.

    I think this shows just how stupid elected officials can be when dealing with taxpayers money and future obligations.

    Here in Oakland, the only thing we can do is to vote no on all the parcel taxes, thus crushing the current plan.

    In Sac, in Oakland, during these terrible fiscal times, the reality is that safety employees are feeling almost zero pain relative to the normal citizen.
    Then they want us to dig deeper to keep them essentially whole.

    That elected officials buy into these foolish deals show how out of step they are with current reality.
    Times have changed, but city councils and boards of supervisors keep negotiating like it was 5 years ago.
    All they have the guts to do is a little nipping around the edges.
    The public safety employees are playing them and the public like fools.
    Although I do admit some of those employees are just as clueless as the officials regarding the new economic times.

    How often have we seen them here talking about this downturn like it was just another dip?

    So when the parcel tax fails, as it surely will, think Sacramento Supervisors when you wonder what the city council will cook up next.
    These groups of elected officials seem to have little economic sense.
    Little wonder almost none of them have ever run a business.

    I can just imagine one of them being a store owner and trying to charge his customers higher parking fees to raise his profits. Or perhaps installing pay toilets in his restroom.

  265. len raphael

    Dax, don’t get lulled into assuming that the parcel tax will fail. SEIU, city council members, ngo’s will not make the mistake of assuming it will fail.

  266. len raphael

    CX, that is useful info. I actually meant what interest rate we currently pay. I think pension bond interest is fully taxable to taxable bondholders.

    Anyone know a muni bond broker who can tell you what our pension bonds are currently trading for and their effective interest rate. also what they are rated.

    Barry, ask Cheryl Taylor, Director, Budget Office

    250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 6302
     ext. 2907
     ext. 6564

    Wouldn’t think the actuarial firm has computed that info yet, but maybe.

    -len raphael

  267. David

    The bonds due in 2016 are trading around 5-5 1/8% for the pension obligation bonds, the bonds due in 2022 are trading a hair over 6%. Latest trades reported today.

  268. Dax

    Did anyone realize that Jerry Brown was getting a $20,000 per year pension while he was serving as mayor of Oakland?

    Take a look at this article

    The more you look into state and local governments, the more you see dollars squirting through the cracks all over the place.

    What the public sees on the surface is hardly the true picture.

    Like a AC Transit bus driver getting $1,940 of Kaiser for his family without any contribution. I’m guessing most citizens would be surprised.

    Squirt, squirt, squirt…there goes some more money. Better raise fares, cut service and lay on another parcel tax cuz we’re running short again.

  269. CitizenX

    Len, the bonds are fully taxable and the City pays between 6.09 and 7.31% interest. As David mentioned, the bonds are trading on the open market at a lower rate, but that has no impact on the City’s debt service cost.

    The bonds were all issued with triple A ratings, as they were insured. The underlying ratings mirrored the City’s single A.

  270. Anita

    The city staff report does not give the outstanding amount or the interest rate the city is paying on the PFRS bonds. It only shows that they have set the amount at .1575% of your assessed valuation.

    The total city bond tax rate will be .22068% up from .2189%. For me that amounts to about $208.00 up from 206.00 almost the same as last year.

    The total PFRS bond payment paid on our tax bill for this year will be about $60,612,519.76.

    I’m not sure, but I don’t think these PFRS bonds include the projected underfunding of PFRS.

  271. David

    Citizen is right, what matters is the interest rate the city pays, not where it’s trading right now, unless the city were to issue more bonds, which would be issued likely closer to today’s market rate.

    The fundamental problem is that issuing pension bonds is like using your credit card to pay the mortgage. You pay a higher rate short-term loan to fund a longer-term obligation, and that does not work for too long, of course.

    Additionally, despite idiot political-appointee pension managers’ assertions that they can make 8%/year, we know they can’t, and won’t, and even if they could, a 1-2% ‘spread’ is not a sufficiently wide margin of safety. So, again, I know I’m preaching to the choir, but pension bonds in general are a stupid idea in the major leagues of political idiocy.

  272. len raphael

    I need the idiot’s guide to pension bonds.

    btw, one reason i was asking about interest rates was to figure out if we be paying more in annual debt service if we refi’d or about the same. i’d have to understand better what we’d be refing. Wouldn’t it be a 400Mill bigger loan, against less security? interest rates are generally low but then our credit rating has dropped to you say to single A ?

    Does insurance make much less of a diffence now because the insurers are shakey or just expensive?

    What are credit ratings and market rates for after market or recent issued pension bonds for other comparable sized CA cities?

    Again, are these insured general obligation bonds? ie. affected by expectations of chapter 9 (or at least the insurance premiums would be)?

  273. livegreen

    It would be really helpful Len if you did a Subject Post, summarizing all of this. First because I haven’t been able to tune in to follow everybody’s research/info contributions, secondly because it takes time to absorb all this info, and finally so some of us can post links to friends who are new to these issues with a Subject Post but can’t do it when this subject is in the middle of 295 posts under the heading “RK: My Solution to police pension stalemate”.

    Also, V has a post entitled “What Should Oakland Do About Pensions”:

    With this as groundwork, could you do a Guest Post with supplemental info & what it means for taxpayers. Seriously!
    (You can leave the future effect of bonds & funding delays to a 2nd post if it becomes too long).

    V’s post as groundwork will save you time from having to explain the backdrop. Just throw a link in.

  274. len raphael

    I’ll defer to Dax, Barry, CitX, David, Anita and the rest of you on that.

    One of ask V to send an email to the five of you, plus anyone else who emails v directly. Each of you can write a section of an FAQ on say City retirement plans. another on Post Retirement Health Benefits.

    Maybe V could restrict posts and edits to that FAQ thread to your group.

    I have painful work Sept 15 deadlines, and I’m working with a dedicated non partisan bunch on possible charter amendments, initiatives etc. When i get a spare few minutes I kibbutz Greg Harland who I think is so sensible and even tempered person he comes across as boring and bland.

  275. Livegreen

    –Barry’s link above in 2006 says the PFRS’s unfunded liability is $268.7 million. But V’s post this year (I linked to above) says it’s $435.3 million. Her links on that post doesn’t work any more, so I can’t tell if hers are more updated. But assuming they are, if the Unfunded Liability increased by about $166.6 million in roughly 4 years, not good.

    V, if there’s another explanation please advise.

    -Along the same lines I note Barry K’s comment about this all being based on the actuarial rate of return of 8%. His link shows we weren’t able to meet that from ’02-’05 (which increased the unfunded liability then by the $268.7 mill). What are the chances of meeting that 8% now in this economy?

    -Anita’s link lists the taxes that pay the bond interests. It does not include the Unfunded Liability. That is what Barry & his link say the City will have to pay $37 million for next year (V’s post says $40 mill so roughly the same).

    Also V said the City is looking at more bonds (again, link no linger works).

    The current bonds paid the unfunded liability of 1997-2011, and our property tax of .1575% to pay that lasts through 2026 (per Citizen X above), right?

    So if the City issues more bonds we’ll have a 2nd set of taxes to pay the interest on those two. Does the City have to ask us to approve those?

    Somebody correct me if I’m wrong on this summary of where we stand with just PFRS…

  276. ralph

    I suspect part of your change in the unfunded liability from back in the day to today has something to do with the market.

    As to the 8% market return, hitting that number today, tomorrow or the next few years appears to be highly unlikely, but over the long-term 25-30 years, I have to assume that the market will be better than flat.

    I believe we taxpayers need to approve the fat. I propose a new rule, if you don’t own property and pay real estate taxes in Oakland, you can not vote on measures that will impact property owners.

  277. livegreen

    Dax, Marleen or somebody said they were told by someone at City Hall that there’s no pass through because otherwise renters wouldn’t vote for it. If this was one of you, I’d love that quote again.

    Here’s mine: No taxation for 40% representation.
    (Homeowners being 40% of Oakland residents. Don’t know the % of eligible voters).

    Oakland’s War on Homeowners joins Oakland’s War on the Middle Class.

  278. Naomi Schiff

    It is an unfounded assumption that you can predict people’s votes by whether they are owners or renters. Self-righteousness among owners is unwarranted. It isn’t going to help Oakland to assume that political dichotomy. In this economic time, a lot of would-be owners and former owners are renters. A lot of condo dwellers have feet in both camps. Many current owners may wonder how to judge when the city is in better shape or worse; for them the question will be what would these additional taxes purchase, and does it help their property value? I understand what your answer may be, but it may not be the only answer. I do not assume that property owners are more virtuous or more public-spirited than renters. I was interested in city affairs when I rented, and I understood owner issues even when I wasn’t yet an owner. Have you thought about the renters’ point of view even if you are an owner? Middle class people can certainly be renters, and very responsible citizens. They are paying large sums for rent, and they are not obtaining equity. They have a stake as large as yours.

  279. David

    The 8% return assumption won’t hold for at least a decade. The stock market is valued for a 6% forward 10 year return, and bonds of course are yielding 2.6% over 10 years, corporates are 3%-4%, only junk bonds yield 8%.

  280. ralph

    In theory, I agree that predicting how one might vote based on ownership v. renter status is about as informative as predicting how one may vote based on the color of their skin. Property owners have more skin in the game so the logical assumption would be a few ducats to protect their investment seems reasonable.

    But good governance people might say the city has done nothing but waste my tax dollar and given me bupkis in return, so I want to give them even more because I like the NYPD love? Reasonable people have a foot in each camp.

    My gut tells me that had the police contributed 9% today and the city reduced the parcel tax a little, they could get the needed dollars but with all the tax initiatives on the ballot, someone is going to lose. I could be wrong; so, I hope the city either read the right tea leaves or read the tea leaves correctly.

  281. ralph

    Regarding pension reform, it is not right to tease people like that unless one is prepared to go all the way.

    I think that idea has been floated around these parts, more than once.

  282. Livegreen

    Ralph, BTW, I would not consider ’02-’05 to b “back in the day”. The stock market did well during that period and PFRS was not able to get 8% annualized returns…

  283. Livegreen

    The new $369 parcel tax is the only recent tax that has a 50% or any kind of pass through. & it’s only because a property owner representative made an argument at the CC meeting about some owners forfeiting their property (or something to that effect) that it got added this time.

    Naomi, Nobody said anything demeaning about renters or that they’re not engaged citizens. You shouldn’t imply that this was thought or said when it wasn’t. But the fact is that renters are an overwhelming population in Oakland that don’t have to pay most property taxes, but can vote for others to pay for them.

    It is much different when you are on the edge of keeping up with mortgage payments (as it is for many in this economy), and then get hit for $8000 in property taxes.

    What renter has to deal with that? Yes, we chose to own and so should have to deal with that, as renters are more than willing to tell us. Well I’m sorry, but it is also permissable to say that it is not fair for a majority to vote for a minority to pay for services that benefit everyone.

    Especially when many homeowners are no better off financially than renters, especially in this market.

    I will not even begin to discuss homeowners equity vs renters, especially in this market, as that falls into the private sector financial arguments about buying vs renting, has nothing to do with this discussion, and is not part of my complaint.

    But how the City deters homeownership and people setting down roots and paying taxes in Oakland is.

  284. ralph

    Correct me if I am wrong but prior to 2006, the charter placed severe restrictions on the management and investment activities of PFRS. This being the case I am not surprised that PFRS did not do as well as the market.

  285. Livegreen

    It’s not that it didn’t do as well as the market. It’s that it didn’t meet it’s 8%, which is set regardless of the market.

  286. ralph

    Allow me to rephrase, the restrictions in place at PFRS made it difficult to achieve 8% hence the change in the charter to allow it to join 20th century investment philosophy.

  287. Livegreen

    That’s what they say, but it MIGHT just be an excuse for not being able to reach the 8% with a 50/50 mix of stocks & bonds, even when the stock market was on fire. But this is a seperate discussion.

    As pertains to benefits, and as we’ve discussed before, the problem with a defined benefit plan is it’s guaranteed no matter what investments are yielding. & the markets are not yielding 8%, a sputtering economy, and tepid growth at best.

    Yet the actuarial rate of growth for the PFRS is 8%.

    Question here: I assume the actuarial rate is the amount to keep up with contributions. Is the defined benefit the same, or what amount is it? Does the actuarial amount change/increase with the unfunded liability?

  288. CitizenX

    LG, the assumed rate of return of 8% is an long term assumption. Actuaries, with the blessing of plan administrators, make a number of assumptions — investment returns, salary increases, life expectancy, inflation, retirement ages, etc. These assumptions are used in determining whether the plan is sufficiently funded and what contributions need to made to pay the defined benefits for future and current retirees. These assumptions should be reviewed from time to time, but should stay fairly constant, so that valuations are comparable through time.

    In the case of the investment rate of return, there is a tendency to want to change it depending upon how the market is doing at the current time. If the market is down, one thinks the return is too optimistic and, if the market is up, too pessimistic. But remember, this is a long term assumption. If it were changed everytime the market moved, it would tend to amplify the swings.

    IMO, 8% is probably a rather optimistic long term rate assumption. CalPERS dropped their assumption from 8% to 7.75% a few years back.

  289. David

    The problem is that CalPERS needs to drop their assumption to 5-6%, max. Or the government needs to develop a plan for what happens when returns over the next 10 years are 5-6%.

    What was the real rate of return of a stock/bond mix from 1929-1949? oh, 0%. From 1968-1982? about 0%. Well, crap. The fact is that we’ve had three periods of 10-20 years in just the past 80 years where returns were 0% to very low single digits. It’s not uncommon. This is part of the issue where a cop or fireman says, well, it’s no problem for us private sector folks to accumulate a $2M nest egg over 30 years, because if we save & invest our smaller salaries, we should get to that point. EXCEPT what if we have the bad luck of having started our working career in, say, 1929 and ending in 1959. Stock market returns over that time were negligible. Or if someone started working in 1979 and retired in 2009, and saw their nest egg drop 25% in that last year. They get backstopped by us taxpayers. We get screwed.


  290. CitizenX

    Table below shows historical returns for various asset classes. Even a 50/50 equity/fixed income would have resulted in an average annual return over 8%.

    1925-2004 Average annual rates of return

    Small Stocks 12.7%
    Large Stocks 10.4%
    Bonds 5.4%
    T-Bills 3.7%
    Inflation 3.0%

    S&P 500 annual return from 1950-2009 was 11%.

    So, historically, the 8% assumed return was not all that unrealistic. The problem with PFRS is that it is a closed plan and there is a Charter-defined deadline (2026) to fund the plan. The Charter could be changed by the voters, but that doesn’t change the plan requirement to pay a defined benefit to retirees/survivors — in other words, the money must be there to make the payments. Every year that goes by without funding the plan makes the period to make it whole one year shorter and increases the burden each year in the now-shortened time frame.

  291. David

    Yeah, the return assumptions work, except when they don’t, like the past 12 years. Or 1929-1954. Or 1968-1982.

  292. Robin

    As a regional Operations Officer for a national organization whose personnel costs equaled millions annually; we cut 5% across the board for three years, senior level management took no increase for the same period and we successfully averted layoffs. Over the three years through attrition and continued line item cost containment in other cost centers we maintained the level of service we provided the public. We were among the very few major organizations to maintain our employee base while a myriad of organizations in our industrial sector lost thousands of employees. In so doing, they also lost the ability to provide adequate service at the level required and subsequently had to shut down operations in many locations, further reducing their ability to serve the public. Kaplan’s plan has worked for other sectors, it is innovative, it had promise, to create a win for the police force, and more importantly the City of Oakland. This point is mute now, however, the one thing the City of Oakland needs, is a change in the think tank.

  293. Al

    …ere’s an inside perspective. for 30 years I have been neighbors with a city employee whose 2 sons also work for the city. this man still uses terms like “ni**er” and only recently stopped blurting his usual innuendos and taunting my son with the phrase “get a job.”

    This is the culture that Oakland has to overcome. It’s already too late for the new police officers, now what about the trees, the streets, the schools.

    The whole city needs to be revamped with a new vision. Cutting around the edges will never get this beast under control.

    We’re still wearing our affirmative action and civil rights capes from the 60′s and 70′s, and yes, those folks like the recently resigned city administrator have to make us wonder what the real story has become; What makes anyone think that because Ms. Kaplan is LBGT styled she will be able to do much more than put a new face on the same old bi***/pig?

    Where’s my sign, no-U-turn, no-left-turn at 9th ave? What back door deals have prevented this from being made a priority?

    So again, how many workers does it take to screw in a light bulb? The question is still out there.

    And yes, local script or it’s hopeless.

  294. len raphael

    Robin, look at the retirement liabilities and deferred maintenance of Oakland compared to your company’s.

    Show me how 3 years of 5% cuts and attritition in 500Mill general fund total budget (not all wages) could make a dent in what’s optimistically figured to be a 1 Bill obligation and could be much greater when Calpers gets realistic. Have to check, but don’t the city provided estimates assume that the obligations are funded now? ie. will grow if not funded?

    Did your company have defined benefit plans and post retirement medical covering most employees? Were many of them already vested?

    Cops and fire could maybe take a 15% hit in their compensation. Plus 9% for ension. 25% cut. Needed but will be very costly in lost young cops training, continuity.

    You think SEIU is going to take another 15% cut also? LOL.


  295. Robin

    We are just into the 32 month of the three year plan, admittedly it takes fiscal responsibility across all cost centers, but, keeping employees has paid off. Yes we had vested employees, defined benefit and retirement plans and a huge projected deficit; as I said a major organization with 400 cost centers. My favorable opinion of the plan Kaplan puts forth is based on my most recent experience in doing exactly what was purposed and on a much larger scale. Finally, making prospective assumptions based on real numbers and a very close look at retrospective data [at least 36 months] including attrition and other demographic issues of course is paramount to the discussion. I will not belabor my posture on the proposal further, as stated it is now a mute point.


  296. len raphael

    Robin, i’m not sure why you say it’s a mute point? It would be very helpful for all of us, if you posted a simple excel sheet to show your assumptions and where you project us coming out at the end of several years.

    Do you see doing this without issuing mid or long bonds?

  297. livegreen

    What major organizations in an industrial sector still issue defined benefit retirement pensions? I thought most had cut back on even their defined contribution pensions, much less EVER having a defined benefit plan…

  298. len raphael

    Robin, you do understand that unlike the deficits reported by private sector companies, Oakland’s audited financials and budget projections do not record any accrual for the expense of it’s post retirement medical benefits or the underfunding of its old PERS retirement fund?

    ie. your company’s financial statement loss is substantially close to economic reality. Our statements are legal but misleading.

    Our financials and projections would be fraudulent if we were a private sector enterprise subject to GAAP reporting requirements.

    In the private sector ceos, boards, cpas, and actuaries get sued if they assume an investment rate of return that is unreasonable. In the public sector your pension board can chose any rate they want and escape all legal responsibility.

    If Oakland and Calpers used the investment assumptions your company is required to use, our deficit would be much worse.

    -len raphael

  299. Naomi Schiff

    Grammar alert:

    Mute means soundless, nonspeaking.

    Moot means the issue can no longer be decided because the facts have changed or a subsequent action taken has made the initial question meaningless.

  300. Robin

    Thanks for the correction…mute, moot the proposal is off the table. I think many would like to see an excel on the real net savings achieved as a result of the lay offs…will that be posted?

  301. len raphael

    We’ve all seen the city council in lockstep repeating how the biggest share of the general fund goes to cops and firefighters, though firefighters are glossed over. Like the joke about if the only tool you know is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail, the council including Q and K keep lecturing us about how obviously cutting cops (and fire) costs are what has to be done to save Oakland. And they really get into that pie chart.

    What they neglect to point out, is that they are going to run out of cops to chop even ignoring the looming retirement and infrastructure disaster.

    When the starbucks parcel tax fails and if Meausure Y II fails, they will have to cut all employees wages drastically, plus make drastic layoffs in many areas.

    Amazing how the council members all agree that the tax will fail, but act as if it it will pass.

    Very possible tax revenues will continue to drop also. I sure don’t see any signs of recovery around the corner in the East Bay.

    -len raphael

  302. Naomi Schiff

    I don’t know, anecdotal only, but my business is much brisker than last year’s, and two new tenants have moved into my building, one an apparently busy architect (!). It may not be recovery, but maybe not getting worse either.

    (I’m supporting Jean Quan, but you knew that.) I find the graphics on the new Perata sign positively creepy. See the big paternal shadowy guy who will make everything okay for little girlish Oaktown? It certainly does confirm my desire for a woman in the mayor’s office.

  303. len raphael

    Naomi, tell me you’re kidding about gender preferences?

    Kerry Hammil must have used the same graphics person as her mentor DP, because her posters were very noir.

    Jane Brunner had a mailer which implied she was batwoman come to save gotham.

    Quan’s mailer was positively insulting to the intelligence of the voters.

    Mostly her smiling benevolently, surrounded by a not so diverse group of kids. She seems to be using the graphics person for Kids First.

    She thinks asking the cops for a 9% pension contribution and offering to take a 25% cut in her own salary is proof that she “has the courage to make the tough decisions”

    My idea of tough is telling the SEIU, the firefighters, the cops, and the non-profits to take a 25% cut in pay and current benefits, and a 40% cut in their retirements or else.

    I’ll take creepy visuals any day over another career politician who wants us to keep doing business as usual at city hall.

    -len raphael

  304. Naomi Schiff

    Well, I am kidding and I am also not. I think the meme of the big tough guy come to “get stuff done” (what stuff?) is useless. Testosterone has not proven all that helpful at City Hall. We could use some collaborative impulses in combination with a tough approach. Any of these candidates is going to be faced with a bad budgetary situation, bad enough to make one wonder why they want the job, and will have to make draconian cuts, yes. However, that will all have to be negotiated. There is no other way.

  305. ralph

    I don’t know if women operate by a different set of rules but I do know that JQ’s get tough is too little too late. I point you to JQ’s Kids First compromise, of which IDLF likes to ask compromise with whom? I am not pleased that RK went along with it. If that is not enough, let’s move along to OPOA pension, JQ couldn’t get the 9% earlier this year and now I am suppose to believe she has some magic beans which will allow her to get it now.

    And the last straw, you don’t PIMP the children. I am my mother’s son and rule number one don’t PIMP the children for political gain. And even if you the candidate don’t think you are PIMPING the children for political gain, you need to look at it through another person’s lens. There is one way and one way only that a non-black person can surround themselves with that many black faces w/o looking like they are pimping the children – you are Angelina Jolie.

  306. len raphael

    Naomi, you had me worried for a while. The last thing this town needs is more “wedge politics”, be they race, gender, income, wealth, neighborhood.

    but it got me thinking that what drives me nuts about the three viables is that P is paternalistic; Q is maternalistic; and RK would you guess is a bit of both :)

    P doesn’t bother going to forums. Q goes but doesn’t bother responding to specific questions. K does better, but seems like she’s been coached to stay on point and avoid spontaneous answers. (good political advice in this situation if you’re a viable)

  307. Livegreen

    So, Len, sounds like out of the big 3, you’re leaning towards K now?

    I have to say after watching the City Council postpone hard decisions until after Property Tax they know are likely to fail, thereby making the problem worse, I am NOT impressed. And it is perhaps the biggest single obstacle JQ has in getting my vote (the other being her lack of support for the middle class).

    On the other hand there are two political reasons I can think of (probably more I cannot) for punting the ball down the road in this campaign season:

    –It’s quieter than a big messy fight with all the Unions;
    –They don’t risk their union support.

    Of course good politics is not necessarily good governance.
    Maybe somebody might point that out? Then the media would pick that ball up and run with it. Oh, never mind. The media doesn’t see the relationship.

  308. len raphael

    LG, it took a while but T Drummond of the Trib gets it.

    Boornstein has much greater depth but doesn’t count because he ignores the political context of the budget.

    Our king and queens have no clothes. The three viables have no plan. Winging it. As long as they hold tight to that mass delusion, they’re viable.

    -len raphael

  309. len raphael

    Ralph, I think P can teach Q a few things about pimping kids.

    The way he played Christopher Rodriguez tragedy puting the parents on the stage in that grandstandingly ineffective gun buyback still makes me gag.

    Call me a redneck, but i still think the best thing Perata could have done was shoot the sob when the perp jacked his candy red state car.

    Don’t forget Perata was first in line at the gun buyback, and actually got cash for his guns.

    Where can I find the mother of all clothespins for my schnaz when i make my second choice pick?

    I’m talking myself into making Tumin my protest second choice.

    -len raphael

  310. ralph

    In my pimp offense catalog, “Big Poppa P” is still not as bad as “Big Queen Q.” And I don’t believe gun buybacks are the least bit effective. A gaggle of colored kids will always be more offensive than using parents.

  311. Dax

    Any idea if different mayoral campaign brochures go to different neighborhoods?

    Using different issues and different photos?

    Are certain neighborhoods sent more or fewer individual brochures?

    I would think, at the very least, that some neighborhoods might get less emphasis given their voting history.

    I have received two mailers from Jean Quan and a couple post cards from Perata.
    Quan’s main one was her at the lake, with photo of kids with drums as you open to the center pages.
    Perata’s were announcing a clean up day in East Oakland, inviting us to join him.

    So far, only Jean Quan’s brochures have come to the front door…via her husband walking my area.

    I asked him a few questions about guess what? Pensions. Felt sorry for him as he had no idea he was talking to someone a little bit obsessed on that issue.
    I was kind.

  312. V Smoothe

    Dax –

    How mailers go out is really all a question of how much money a candidate has. If you have tons of money, you can send more mail and may choose to just send stuff to every registered voter. If you have less money, you have to be more strategic about it.

    So you might choose to send mail citywide, but only to people who have voted in, say, all of the last 6 elections. Or 4 out of the last 6 elections, or whatever. Or you might choose to send stuff to only high turnout precincts.

    High frequency voters in high turnout precincts will get the most mail. Someone who lives in a low turnout precinct and doesn’t vote every time or is newly registered will probably get very little mail. I always vote, but I do not live in a high turnout area, so I tend not to get very much mail from candidates. (In the last at-large election, I think I got a grand total of two mailers for the primary, and one for the runoff.)

    Sometimes people target mail with different issues for different neighborhoods, although this is not as common because of the expense of designing a bunch of different mailers. More common is for people to have one piece they’ll use repeatedly, but send it out to different neighborhoods at different times. For example, those postcards that Perata sent out about the Community Conversations and then again about the Cleanups – the design is the same, but the back of the cards are customized for each neighborhood to say when the event closest to them is taking place, and they’re sent out at different times to coincide with the event.

    Theoretically, one could use the large amount of consumer information available, combine that with voter rolls, and send out highly targeted mailers based on specific interests. For example, if people subscribe to a bunch of outdoorsy magazines, you could send those people mailers about your policies on open space. But that would involve a significant amount of time and money, and the payoff would likely not be worth it for a local candidate.

    Volunteers who do precinct walking are generally trained to present the candidate’s platform and answer the most common questions. On the rare occasion you get someone who has a lot of specific things to ask, the typical response from the volunteer should be to offer to take down a phone number for the person with the questions and have the candidate call them personally to talk about their concerns. Not all campaigns do that, though – it just depends on what kind of time the candidate has for those type of interactions. You’ll see that approach more often in District races where there are fewer voters to contact than in a Citywide election.

  313. len raphael

    Two years ago a 6×9 double sided postcard in full color cost 32/cents each. Postage has gone up since then.

    These full size folded mailer are some multiple of 32 cents.

    A mailer to each household in District One and Four might be say 50,000 households? Say a full size mailer costs 70 cents x 50,000 = $35,000

    You have to do several of these to get likely voters attention even in this day of twittering facebooks.

    Encouraging voters to provide email address to registrar in return for opt out from junk political mail should be done.

    Robocalls are cheaper though far more offensive.

    Anyone know what Q and P spent on printing and mailing costs for hers?

    Bill boards are several thou a month in low traffic areas and much higher in better locations.

    All of which is to say that candidates who have not raised or have a couple of hundred thou are screwed and tattooed.

    I find it especially amusing that Nancy Nadel has personally made it her mission to stop Greg Harland’s volunteers from placing signage on public property, since she has in the past expressed concern (or was that JQ?) about how was so expensive for newbies to challenge incumbents.

    Berkeley allows non commercial signage, including political campaign ones. My impression is that they require candidates to remove the signs quickly after election day.

    Oakland selectively enforces it’s anti signage policy in exactly the wrong way:

    It allows realtors, restaurants, and garage sales to place signs on public areas but not political candidates.

    -len raphael

  314. Livegreen

    PensionFraud by NJ is Sighted by SEC:

    How to Cheat a [State] Retirement Fund:

    Conclusion: Meeting pension obligations will result in cuts to schools, social services and other government services.

    Of course it’s the subprime lending that caused the economy to tank in the first place, ruining the investments of pension funds, and leading to higher payments by states and cities to meet obligations. But the pension obligations were still being over-committed and under-funded (witness the bonds Oakland used to cover PFRS).

    Either way the cuts of services dear to liberals in order to fund Unions that support them will pose a real dilemma to Democrats and tilt the middle in one direction or the other. Depending on whether Dems side for delivering money to services, or to the Unions…

  315. Dax


    “A mailer to each household in District One and Four might be say 50,000 households? ”

    Not that many. Oakland divided by 7 districts leaves you about 57,000 people per district although some are larger and some are smaller.

    Say, 60,000. Divide by 3 residents per household and you’d have about 20,000 houses per district.
    Further, only mail to registered voters and you’d be down to perhaps 15,000 per district.
    Lets round it off to 1/3 of that 50,000 to about 17,000.

    17,000 x 70 cents = $11,900

    Votes altered or inspired?

    170 to 510. (1% to 3%)

    Cost for each extra vote– $23 to $70

    Now, compare that to giving out free toasters to people you find on the fence.

    Much cheaper to give out toasters once you identify wobblers.
    (oh, to be legal, and not be bribes, they have to have a “Vote for Jean” emblem on the side, kind of like my many Perata pot holders I’ve gotten over the years)

    Here it is, from my utility drawer,

    State Senator
    Don Perata
    Here to serve you!

    Whenever I discover a meal that is over-cooked, I know its time to grab my Perata pot holder.

    Is Oakland over-cooked?

    Should we therefore grab Perata?

    Or how about a Write-In campaign for Sylvester Hodges? After all, I have a pot holder from him also?

    He says,

    Don’t Get Burned
    Vote For
    Sylvester Hodges
    Oakland City Council
    Proven Leadership.

    I’m thinking, whoever gives me the best new pot holder, gets my vote?

    Wonder what Candell is handing out?

  316. livegreen

    Kaplan says above “We save much more money by allowing more senior officers to leave the force through a retirement program like the one requested by OPOA, rather than laying-off the most junior officers.”

    What retirement program did the OPOA request? Is this similar to Joe Tuman’s proposal (which wouldn’t be so new then), or different?

  317. Naomi Schiff

    Postage calculation: likely not first class, but bulk rate. So slightly less expensive. Probably around 21-25 cents.