The budget’s back, and $19 million short. Fun!

Do you guys remember back in June when the Council was putting together the budget? And they kept talking about how this is just a temporary solution, and that they would be back constantly making more cuts, and adjusting this and that. Council President Jane Brunner, a couple of times, called it a “rolling budget” and at one point suggested it just be a standing item at every meeting.

That probably would have been overkill. Still, it would be nice to see the Council take the City’s ongoing budget problem a little more seriously instead of just pretending like it doesn’t exist until they all of a sudden have to scramble to cut enormous sums of money. There’s a lot of room in the City for long-term efficiencies and money-saving measures, but getting there takes time and planning. It’s impossible to be surgical about cuts if you’re only thinking about the budget when you absolutely have to.

Anyway, to everyone’s great delight, I’m sure, they have to start looking at it again. The first quarter revenue and expenditure figures are now in (PDF), and will be presented to the Council’s Finance and Management Committee (PDF) next Tuesday. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you, but the news isn’t good:

In the General Purpose Fund (1010), a deficit of $18.9 million is projected by year end. The deficit is comprised of a revenue shortfall of $10.08 million, projected overspending of $4.29 million plus $4.5 million in projected Coliseum ticket surcharge revenue that may not be realized.

The majority of the overspending comes from the Police Department, on track to go $3 million over budget due to greater than planned for overtime costs, and the revenue shortfalls come from, well, pretty much everywhere. Property tax is looking to come in $0.36 million lower than anticipated, sales tax receipts are projected to be short $6.74 million, and then we’ve got expected shortfalls of $1.66 million in hotel tax, $0.96 million in parking tax and $0.36 in interest income. That sales tax shortfall, BTW, is based on January-March receipts, in case anyone was planning on using parking tickets as the culprit here.

The report includes updates on the status (PDF) of the budget balancing measures adopted by the Council this summer. Most have been implemented, although there are of course a few notable exceptions – nearly $300,000 was scored as savings by moving 4 Neighborhood Service Coordinators out of the General Fund so they could be paid by a grant instead, but then we didn’t end up getting the grant funding after all. And of course there’s the $800,000 of parking tax revenue at the Coliseum and aforementioned $4.5 million from the 10% Coliseum/Arena ticket fee that we haven’t been able to collect so far, and may not be able to collect at all.

A sheet illustrating projected spending by department (PDF) shows pretty much everyone except for the Police Department and, of course, the Mayor’s Office, on track to meet their currently assigned budget.

But with almost $19 million in projected shortfall already, it looks like it’s going to be another grim year in Oakland. Where are they going to find the money? We’ll get a sense of that on November 17th, when the Council meets to discuss potential budget balancing measures.

102 thoughts on “The budget’s back, and $19 million short. Fun!

  1. oakie

    Cut Mayor Sleepy’s salary to what Mayor Dopey got: $100k vs $184k. Do the same to the seven drawfs (or is it 8 or 9). Eliminate a driver and car for the mayor and let him get a bus pass (for senior citizens). Eliminate all car and parking subsidies of any kind for anyone from the city, elected or simply employees. Let them take mass transit that is already massively subsidized.

    New revenue: bump up fines to the max allowable by law for misuse of blue handicap stickers. Offer a $500 reward for anyone who captures video of individuals entering or exiting such use, if proven to be invalid, and tack that on top of the maximum fine.

    Start charging for those neighborhood parking rights stickers to the equivalent of the property tax value of the street space that they think they now own–the ultimate in NIMBYism. I figure the property tax equivalent fair market value for “owning” that space must be at least $1,000 per year.

    Lower costs: offer to contract to private enterprise any city function that can be done cheaper than what the cost of having city employees perform the function.

    This is not rocket science. The problem is having the political will to actually do something about the problem. This city spends money like a drunken sailor (actually, that’s an unfair attack on drunken sailors), and seems to do everything it can to drive business away, and customers from retailers in the city.

    We should change the city charter to mandate a return to the budget from 1978, when Prop 13 started. We should allow increases based solely on inflation and population changes. The city should not be able to spend more money than that.

    I’ve lived here since 1981, and I can tell you the city has not improved services since then (and maybe worse), and yet the inflation/population adjusted budget has tripled. There is absolutely no justification for that.

  2. SF2OAK

    Amen oakie!
    Now go round up some friends and have them vote your view – I will.

    I can hear the frustration in your voice – me too I just moved here from another corrupt gov’t across the bay.

    No telling how much those spaces in front of city hall are worth- and they ought to reserved for the special people in OAK, the taxpayers, we ought to get something for our outrageous tax $.

  3. Patrick

    It shouldn’t matter to Mayor Fluffy what his salary is – every cent will be garnished until he satifies his $239,000 tax-fraud related debt to the IRS. As humiliating as this whole debacle is, can you imagine what it would have been like if Dellums had not been a member of Congress for 29+ years?

  4. Chris Kidd

    oakie, I know you’re on a hyperbolic rant, but

    1978 budget? ….really?

    The city of Oakland had maybe 3 computers in 1978. Cell phones and the internet weren’t around. We live in a wildly different world that calls for wildly different priorities. We should be looking towards the future and what our (incredibly painful) options are for maintaining the best services possible for our city rather than imposing draconian, past-worshiping, irrelevant and harmful restrictions upon ourselves.

  5. CitizenX

    I find it icredible that the same old myth continues to be perpetuated in the discussion of Fire Department overtime (pgs. 10-11). Because fringe benefits for the fire fighters are over 50% of their salary (somewhere around 60%. last time it was reported), the Fire Department always claims that it is cheaper to pay overtime, than it is to hire additional fire fighters. (The department is consistently below their authorized strength.)

    This argument might fly, if all fire fighters were paid the same, but they aren’t — fire fighter wages go through a series of steps.It is cheaper to work new fire fighters (with benefits), than senior fire fighters at time and a half on their top step. The department perpetuates this myth, because vacancies=lots of overtime=quarter million dollar earnings. Why the Budget Office continues to make this myth part of their report is simply beyond me.

    The tragic part about this is, at a time when everyone bemoans a lack of good jobs for Oakland’s young people, these jobs, with minimal education requirements, continue to go unfilled.

  6. CitizenX

    …make that iNcredible. Curious as to why the quarterly report no longer shows first quarter actual amounts in the attachments — just budget and annual projection. Also find it curious that all the revenue initiatives that were instituted at the beginning of the year have collected exactly 25% of the budgeted amount. That’s some damn good budgeting. Or, maybe that’s why the actual first quarter amounts are no longer included?

  7. David

    Chris….computers and cells are supposed to ENHANCE productivity. Therefore, actually, you’re right. Oakland should be able to have a SMALLER budget than it did in 1978, adjusted for population growth + inflation.

    You want harmful restrictions on ourselves? What the heck do you call it when a middle class person making a solid $60ishK/year can barely live better than a college student?

    Government can’t grow faster than inflation + population growth without eventually taking everything. When I add it all up, I pay about 38% of my income to the feds, state and local gov’ts…and that’s not counting all the crap fees (seen your cell phone bill lately?.. a $75 dollar plan goes to $100 easily, thanks to all the taxes…).

    the government is supposed to SERVE the people, NOT the other way around. In fact, I do believe that America was founded on that principle.

  8. David

    Here’s also a nice analysis in City Journal on how California spends 50% more per citizen yet has worse services than Texas.

    Nice quotes:

    Forecast Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has calculated that once you adjust for population growth and inflation, the state government spent 26 percent more in 2007–08 than in 1997–98. Back then, “California had teachers. Prisoners were in jail. Health care was provided for those with the least resources.” Today, Watkins asks, “Are the roads 26 percent better? Are schools 26 percent better? What is 26 percent better?”

    Ditto for Oakland.

  9. ConcernedOakFF

    Citizen X – You are incorrect on so many levels, but I will take them one at a time.

    It IS cheaper to hire overtime than hire new firefighters. You are looking only at the salary and benefits, and not at the process that is required to (properly) hire, train, equip, and maintain them.

    A normal testing process costs somewhere around 300-500,000 dollars over the course of the 9 months or so that I takes from the beginning of the process to the actual first day of the academy. Application process, written test, physical agility test, psych exam, medical exam, background process, interview process, chief interview process, etc…

    The gear needed to equip a new firefighter is approx 6,000 dollars, with replacement needed often, especially for new firefighters, as the training wears out their gear very fast.

    Then there is the academy, which can range from 14 weeks to 7 months depending on the types of training that the current administration decides to give the recruits. The last academy that was fired 2 days before they graduated was almost 7 months long. That was because we hired totally unqualified people that were required to take a Basic EMT course, which took 3 + months all by itself.

    The academy cost about 200-300 thousand dollars for a short 3 month academy, god knows how much the last one cost….

    This is to pay for the staff to run the academy, the pay of the non-contributing students, the training materials etc….

    So, if you look PURELY at the salary for the Firefighter, then YES, it is cheaper to have a new firefighter than a top-step one (which is only 5 years later by the way), but when you add all of the costs associated with hiring, training etc AND the benefits that are paid (health, retirement, vacation etc…) it is quite a bit cheaper to use established personnel to fill vacancies.

    The Union would like nothing more than to have all positions filled, it is the CITY GOVERNMENT that is unable to fill the vacancies that we have.

    Again, I will remind our dear readers that many of the Firefighters that have the highest salaries are people that spent most of the summer out on WIldland Fires, 100% of the overtime salary is paid by the STATE, as well as the overtime that is used to fill their position. The city actually makes money when these people are out of town. Stop looking at the numbers, and look to find the MEANING that is behind them.

  10. livegreen

    ConcernedOaklandFF, does that mean the FF paid by the State still have their overtime reported in the City’s Budget? If so, why would that be? If not, then that isn’t an issue here…

  11. Robert

    Chris, 1978 is a useful year because it avoids all the claptrap about how Prop 13 has been death to ability of local governments to raise money. It is also interesting to note that over the last 30 years, the population adjusted number of employees has only gone up about 10% in Oakland, but the population and inflation adjusted cost of government has gone up 150%. As David point out, the inventions you point to were intended to make things more efficient, and in industry, that has generally been the case.

    Maybe this time the cc will actually make hard decisions. I don’t buy into the concept that making everybody share the pain, which is what they tried last time, is making a hard decision. Making hard decisions is deciding that some programs need to be eliminated in order to maintain adequate funding to those programs that are truely essential.

  12. ConcernedOakFF

    livegreen – YES, some of it is reported in the city budget because the city pays, and is reimbursed by the state later. Apparently sometimes it takes long enough that a large amount is shown as the city paying for this overtime.

    I am unsure of why it is reported in the budget without the caveat of it being a temporary payment, but the newspaper articles that consistently show guys making 200+, it is about 90% state money in there (which of course is never reported as such)….

  13. Robert

    lg, the overtime should be reported in the budget (actually the P&L statement) because the city still pays the firefighters the overtime, and is then reimbursed by the state. So it ends up not being a net expense to the city, but it is still a budget item.

  14. David

    Just glancing at the budget, the city could eliminate $2M in subsidies for miscellaneous things, i.e. the Vietnamese culture center and what not.

    It takes me exactly 15 seconds to identify $2M in savings. Remind me again, what are we paying (at rates higher than just about every other part of the country) these clowns to do?

  15. Livegreen

    From the beginning the city should have negotiated harder
    on salaries. First because they knew they might have to make
    more cuts to spending, second if adjustments had to be
    made they already locked themselves in with union contracts.

    They should have retained flexibility to adjust them if

  16. Max Allstadt


    It took you 15 seconds to find $2 million in cuts you think are appropriate, but that others, for instance a large number of Vietnamese people, think are inappropriate.

    There are probably plenty of people who could reverse that equation and come up with $2 million in cuts that you would shout from the rooftops to stop.

    The reason budgeting is hard is that we have ten thousand little mobs clamoring to keep their favorite things funded. Its an irresponsible oversimplification to say that it’s easy to find cuts.

    I would not ever want to be in the position of a Councilmember in this situation. They’ve basically been presented with a wheelbarrow full of dung, and they get to pick from among a couple dozen fans to throw it at.

    That said, there are certainly consensus cuts left to be made.

    1. Take $200 and put Dellums through a driving school, sell his Town Car and get him a Fiat 500 with a sunroof.

    2. Take all the sworn OPD officers who are guarding caltrans construction sites and replace them with non-sworn crossing guards and ambassadors. Overtime pay totals get cut in half or more, overnight.

    3. Fire William Lovan. $60k right there.

    Now that took more than 15 seconds, but it’s all non-controversial and won’t offend anybody (well OPOA might object to non-sworn jobsite guards). But its a far cry from $2 million. This is hard to do. And it will continue to be that way.

  17. David

    Yeah, there are a lot of Vietnamese. There are a lot of white folks too. and Ethiopians. Koreans, Samoans, Bosnians, Russians, Hmong, Peruvians and probably a few Mongolians, Uzbeks, Albanians, Wolof, and Frisian Islanders thrown in.

    Does everyone get a cultural center? Give me a break. This stuff never should have been in the budget in the first place. Period. These ticky-tack things add up (to $2M in this case), which is 10% of the newly projected deficit. It’s not discriminatory, let’s just cut it all.

    As they say in some Asian cultural center, a thousand mile journey begins with the first step.

  18. Max Allstadt

    Nobody’s going to issue across the board cuts for neighborhood non-profit centers.

    Politics is the art of the possible. Bloggers and activists can rant all day about what should be done. Politicians have to work with what can be done.

    If it were up to me, I’d wave a magic wand and do another salary cut, phasing it in incrementally in a progressive scheme that starts at $100k and increases the percentage of the cut as the salaries (overall takehome from the previous year) approach $250k. But guess what? We have contracts. So instead, in order to do cuts, we have to negotiate with the unions by threatening more layoffs.

    It’s just so much more complicated for a politician. You don’t just pick something you don’t like and do away with it. You have to pick something that at least 4 of your colleagues agree is wasteful or expendable, and you also have to pick something that you know one of your colleagues won’t flip on when constituent pressure mounts.

    So again, the super obvious pork comes first. The next step is city wide programs. The next step is district to district horse trading. You can’t cut a community center in District 5 without getting something precious cut in District 6 too, or vice versa, or there will be a brawl and a stalemate.

  19. gem s

    “Chris, 1978 is a useful year because it avoids all the claptrap about how Prop 13 has been death to ability of local governments to raise money.”

    It didn’t retroactively strip city coffers of property tax money the year it passed so I’m not sure how that argument can be made by using the 1978 fiscal year. The changes from prop 13 were seen the following year as property tax revenue decreased from 11bn. to 6bn. in 1979. So if you want to make a point of any sort about prop 13′s effects on revenue, 1978 is not the year to choose.

  20. livegreen

    Max, maybe but I find it interesting that they were seriously considering cutting Rec Centers which serve everyone in a community. But not one that serves just a small portion of the electorate?

    The City shouldn’t be funding narrow interest groups that just serve one ethnicity, during good times or bad, but ESPECIALLY bad. It’s not unusual for a donor fund to stop funding certain non-profits because they’ve changed their priorities, because they have limited funds, because the non-profit hasn’t performed, or because it was understood that the non-profit would have to change or broaden their donor base.

    For Non-Profits its the equivalent of the Marketplace. The Vietnamese Culture Center should not be any different, and my bet is that if they’re even a little organized they’re prepared for this. Or they should be.

    On just the political ramifications: Is the Vietnamese community in Oakland so big that they could actually unseat a City Councilperson on just 1 issue? And are they so concentrated around the Culture Center that they even fall into one Council District?

    My bet, on either case, is they aren’t.

    PS. David: –Who else is in that pot besides the VCC?
    –I read somewhere that this was an old French saying…(Maybe Franco-Vietnamese?)

  21. Naomi Schiff

    No one is asking what programs these nonprofits are carrying out? Might some of them be keeping kids off the street corners, and be a lot cheaper as crime-deterring measures than costs for enforcement? MIght some of them keep seniors in their homes so that they don’t end up on public assistance? It seems to me that some find it all too easy to go all anti-this or that group based on very little information. I don’t plan to take out after any ethnic group – not even old white guys – in this fashion, and I don’t think it helps us at all as a way to move forward.

    We need to approach the budget in a less-divisive way; otherwise it all just breaks down into squabbling and competition for crumbs. It’s easy to criticize, but as Max says above, the city council is faced with a very tough situation, and with a political no-win result the most likely.

  22. Patrick

    Funding a Vietnamese Cultural Center at the expense of rec centers which are geared towards all races and all Oaklanders is racism. If every ethnic group gets special attention, fine. Otherwise it’s indefensible, especially considering the current circumstances.

  23. Livegreen

    Naomi, Look you might be right that this culturalcenter helps
    young people and old people and if they do more power to them.
    But your questioning our motivation for going after an ethnic group?

    We’re doing no such thing. A point was brought up about ONE
    institution (not an entire ethnicity) and to claim that any question
    about that one institution is “to take out after any one ethnic
    group” is just plain demogogary.

    You might be right that this Cultural Institution carries out some
    valid community functions. If it does we should then be able to
    have a debate on the merits of those, whether they duplicate
    other City, state or Federal programs and funding. But those are all
    legitimate questions that are fair to learn about without labeling
    people as racist.

  24. MarleenLee

    Super obvious pork = Dellums’ limo driver. Right behind that is his salary. Given the recent revelations about the tax lien, and his idiotic remarks about legalizing sideshows, it is time for the Council to grow a back bone and say enough is enough!

  25. Jennifer

    I don’t think it is wise to assume that only people who are of Vietnamese descent use the Vietnamese Cultural Center. I am not Italian, but I’ve been to plenty of Italian Cultural Centers. I’ve been to the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco several times, and I’m not Basque.

  26. Patrick

    Jennifer, the very name “Vietnamese Cultural Center” is discouraging to those of other races. If even one person is discouraged, that is one too many. “Oakland Rec. Center # 142″ has no such stigma.

  27. Patrick

    I laugh every time I read that “Dellums has not decided if he will run again.” How would his parasitic staff explain his loss after years of kowtowing? Go ahead. Run, Ron. The citizens of Oakland would be delighted to comment on your performance.

    Ronnie, I have to go now. I have to go write a check for my increased ad valorem taxes. You know, “taxes”, those things you used to pay before 2005? Anyway, unlike you, I will do my civic duty. And also unlike you, I will contribute to the future of Oakland.

    I also promise that every time I drive over a pothole, I will think of you riding in your chauffeur-driven limousine – at my expense – to do…whatever it is you do. Please, Ron. Run again! Then, your humiliation will be complete. And that is something you richly deserve.

  28. Robert

    Max, everything you said, that’s why these are hard decisions, but they are decisions that have to be made, or you strip funding down for everything to a level that is below subsistence.

    gem, you totally miss the reasoning. 1978 is before the tax restrictions of Prop 13. So government had access to all the revenue that it wanted. In ’79 and ’80, the Prop 13 restrictions had some fairly major impacts on revenue. And if you listen to the ‘more taxes’ camp, it has limited raising revenue and therefore spending ever since. In ’79 and ’80, revenue, and therefore expenditures, were restricted ‘unfairly’ by Prop 13, and therefore are not reasonable base years. By going to a year before Prop 13, you provide a base year for spending that was not limited by supposed revenue restrictions. Thus providing a basis for extrapolating spending that is not subject to revenue restrictions. And yet city expenses have grown enormously since then. And you can basically look at any year before 2007, and come to the conclusion that population adjusted spending by the city of Oakland has grown faster than the rate of inflation.

  29. Chris Kidd

    David, Friesland is not an island. Being of Frisian descent, I take offense to your cultural insensitivity. Also, I want my own cultural center. Now.

    And all this bologna about “1979+inflation” is ridiculous. To make the false-choice claim that “we paid x in y year and we pay w% more in z year, so why isn’t everything w% better?” is a logically insincere argument. Yes, if *everything* from year y to year z stayed exactly the same, then maybe that argument could be made. But the simple passage of time throws that argument right out the window. *Everything* changes, and it requires changes in priorities and the way money is spent. This isn’t Never-Never Land where we all never grow older.

    Why should 1978-79 prioritize the way we allocate our money now? In 1978 8% of households owned a microwave, adult obesity was at 15%(now it’s over 32% – yikes), Pontiac was still in business, China had opened to the west only 6 year before, The Eagles won Best Album of the Year at the Gramy’s. Do you want to go back to a time when the Eagles were cool? Do you??!? To draw some line in the sand and proclaim that this is the way that we should always live is absurd.

    What’s more, there have been a number of funding sources that the city of Oakland has utilized since 1979. Were we to go back to “+inflation”, should we just ignore those funds? If you want to talk about government serving the people, that’d be a bitter pill to swallow that there are all these funds to save vital services and programs, but we’re just going to leave them alone because, hey, “+inflation”.

  30. Jennifer

    Patrick – it’s not discouraging to me, and I am not Vietnamese. I’m not making a statement on whether or not it should receive funding, I’m just saying that not everyone finds cultural centers names for different ethnicities offputting — not everything needs to be generic. I actually like it — publicly funding these centers is a separate question. Every big city historically has different cultural centers based on what groups settled the neighborhoods — it’s part of a city’s history.

  31. Izzy Ort

    What exactly is this “Vietnamese Cultural Center”?

    Doing a google search I don’t find anything by that name in the City of Oakland. If it exists, it’s doing a good job of flying below google’s radar. The closest thing I find is an Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center. That is in San Francisco. There’s also a Vietnamese Cultural Center in San Jose, but apparently none in Oakland.

    The most likely candidate I found was the Vietnamese-American Community Center of the East Bay at 106 International Blvd. It was previously called the Seton Senior Center and was funded until 2005 by the (Catholic) Daughters of Charity. As its former name suggests, it apparently serves only seniors, not the wider Vietnamese community. I find a Resolution with Deborah Edgerly’s name on it to give them “not more than $60,000.00 for 2008-2009″ — to take care of senior citizens. I also find an item in the proposed 2009-2010 budget from the Budget Office’s website, under the General Fund for $60,000.00 for “Vietnamese Senior Services” — which seems to be a correlation. That is the only instance of the word “Vietnam*” in the proposed budget I searched.

    Then there is the East Bay Vietnamese Association on Miller Avenue in the San Antonio district. I didn’t see anything in the budget for them. They offer citizenship classes, at least they did in the past, and plenty of the students were not Vietnamese.

  32. livegreen

    1. Reading through V’s links to the Budget I have questions on the following items if anybody can help me:

    –Police Services: “OT spending is associated with NSA required backfilling and special operations.” What are these?? (The NSA strikes again!)

    –”Marketing — Increase Cultural Funding Program Coordinator”?

    –”Prefund Miscellaneous Employee portion of PERS” ? ($422,288)

    Why would the City want to Prefund anybody’s PERS, when they’re trying to reduce what the City pays into those, and when moving them forwards takes a bigger hit now for future funds? (They’re asking the Port to do that too).

    –”IT – Restore City Administrator Analyst (Web Support)”? Wonder what this is and why it’s not in the City’s Tech budget (hope it’s not for the Mayor’s website);

    –”City Administrator ~ Include initial funding for “OakStat” Performance Management system.” ?

  33. livegreen

    2. David reported the Vietnamese Cultural Center but I don’t see that. Instead I see:

    –A 10% reduction of $10,000 to the Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC). That’s the Center at the Plaza in Chinatown. It’s mostly an arts & cultural organization. I believe I’ve seen many of their benefactors performing at various Chinatown events and elsewhere. Quite nice, and the cultural importance is definitely there. However I wonder how the City decides who’s cultures it should support vs. those of others. An important organization like this would be good to fund both when it was getting started and when the City didn’t have budget problems.

    Most Importantly they look like they have at least 20 other major donors all national foundations with large endowments. It looks like the OACC is well-funded enough to get along fine without us.

    –A 10% reduction of $6000 to Vietnamese Senior Services
    (a division of Vietnamese American Community Center
    The VSS is funded by both a major fund, the Asia Pacific Fund, and the Alameda Agency on Aging “the local arm of the national aging network”, mostly Federal and State Funding. This organization looks much smaller and might be less self-sufficient.

    I still have concerns about why we’re funding retirees of one ethnicity over others, and about an apparent overlap with Federal and State obligations, but I’m open to learning and understanding whether exceptional circumstances are warranted. Or not, as the case might be.

  34. Izzy Ort

    The grant to the Vietnamese American Community Center is part of the “Senior Set-Aside Program”.

    The linked report gives a great deal of demographic and other information about seniors in Oakland, and lists the facilities the City apparently runs, and other facilities serving seniors in Oakland. It states, among other things, that there are four regional Senior centers – North, East, West, and Downtown — apparently funded out of the General Fund.

    Exhibit C lists these, and also two run “by contract”– one with the Unity Council, located in Fruitvale, which one could assume is heavily Latino, and one in Chinatown — Hong Lok — which one can assume serves mainly Chinese. Then there is a category “”independent but located in Oakland” — the Vietnam Community Center, TWO Korean centers, one called “Golden Age” at the Eastmont Mall, and St. Mary’s. Whether all of these Independent centers are getting City money, or just the Vietnamese one, the report does not say, but it seems that the Senior money is getting pretty well spread around.

  35. David

    Just add up the subsidies on the OACC etc page. I’m assuming 10% reduction of $6,000 means the entire subsidy is $60,000. The city apparently put in a pretty blanket 10% cut in those types of subsidies. I’m humbly proposing a 100% cut across the board.

    Look. My income has been cut over 40% since 2006 with no adjustment for inflation. I’m looking at probably NEVER making as much money as I did, adjusted for inflation, for the rest of my natural born days.

    You know what happens when you’re making 40%+ less money? You cut the crap out of your budget. No redundant land line phone service, no cable, no dining out, no road trips, no day care for the kids, no expensive cuts of meat (last time I bought good steak for my family was probably 2007), no new TVs, furniture, etc etc etc.

    It’s time the city cut the crap out of its budget. The “art of the possible”?? Let me tell you what’s IMpossible–raising taxes. How are you going to get more taxes out of guys like me who are already down huge? What’s left, however improbable? CUTTING your G*****n spending. What’s important? Cops, roads, firemen, teachers (although they’d save a lot of money by shutting down the public schools and putting in vouchers, but that’s another story, I understand that’s not going to happen). The rest (community centers, rec centers, museum subsidies and the like) are miscellaneous items that need to be eliminated first and foremost. Period.

  36. David

    Oh, and “community centers” don’t reduce crime one iota. I challenge anyone to find a study that indicates they do.

    There are only 2 things that have repeatedly been shown to reduce crime–more cops/prisons and 2 parent families. We can only control the former, the latter we can encourage, but only in a limited way. “community centers” as a crime prevention tool is utter BS.

  37. Robert

    Chris, would that false question you refer to be yours “Why should 1978-79 prioritize the way we allocate our money now?”? No one is suggesting that priorities and programs shouldn’t change over time. Or have you forgotten that prioritize means deciding whether it is more important to fund the Frieslandic cultural center or fund street maintenance. The question being asked is why are we spending 2.5 times as much now as in ’78, and where is all that money going?

    Are those new funding sources you refer to things such as Measure Y, LLAD and the library parcel tax? That have taken services that used to be, and should be, funded by the general fund, and moved them to special revenue funds so that the Frieslandic cultural center can be funded from the general fund? This city has taken the approach that when times are flush, let’s start a new program for the cultural centers, and when times are tight, let’s plead poverty and cut everything across the board, or get the voters to approve the library measure to fund something they want so that the cc doesn’t have to cut the cultural center. And why does the library go on the ballot instead of the cultural center? Because council knows that the voters would never approve a parcel tax to fund the cultural center, but will approve one to fund the library.

    It is long past time for the city to figure out what is a “vital service” and what is a nice to have. The city’s mission statement is “The City of Oakland is committed to the delivery of effective, courteous and responsible service. Citizens and employees are treated with fairness, dignity and respect.” without a clue as to what services the city is actually trying to deliver.

  38. Livegreen

    Re. the Senior Set Aside program, some observations:

    –Four of the general fund programs appear to be ethnically
    unspecific (at least in name), as Izzy informed;

    –The two programs run under contract are one Latino & one
    Asian, as Izzy also informed;

    –The report makes a good case for the increased rate of poverty
    for these two populations and therefore, assumably, the funding
    of at least some ethnic based programs for the elderly (I can
    imagine some additional reasons);

    –Note the report is not all encompassing and therefor not enough
    in my mind to make a decision on this topic. For example it says
    what are the six City run facilities (under either General Fund or
    Contract) and independent facilities (like the Vietnamese SS)but
    it doesn’t break out City funding for either group.

    It understandably also doesn’t help understand reasons for City
    funding, possible overlap with or lack of Federal funding, etc.
    which I would need to make a decision. (Any details anyone has
    I would be interested).

    –Barring any additional info and because elder care concerns
    peoples lives and well being (not material matters) I,personally,
    am not willing to second guess the City funding these facilities,
    at this time.

    –Conversally I would like to know why the VCC was the only
    one subjected to such cuts. It only seems fare that others share
    their burden.

  39. Naomi Schiff

    Thank you, LG. And by the way, nonprofit seniors organizations may have ethnically-oriented names, but if publicly funded, they must provide services in a nondiscriminatory way. While they may have grown out of the needs of specific communities, there is wider intake among these organizations.

    I am sorry that David is unhappy about social services and other city priorities that he does not find important, but luckily he is not the only person opining: he is in good company as numerous citizens weigh in. Many of us would question living in a town where the only public endeavors are police, fire, roads and sewers. There is more to our civic life than that. And yes, it takes more than public safety salaries to make a healthy city.

    The counterexample is out there for all to see: with an incredibly high rate of incarceration, California has not defeated crime. Merely locking people up doesn’t work.

  40. Livegreen

    –I do however think City funding to the OACC should be cut substantially. This is both because they are not dealing with human welfare and basic City Services, and more importantly they have substantial and sustainable outside funding;

    –Note that the document in V’s link that we’ve
    been referencing figures from is the “Status of implementing the…amended
    budget”. As with the VSS it appears to be showing the programs the City decided to make cuts to, but not all the programs in either one category or the entire General Fund. Presumably there are other expenditures to look at there…

  41. David


    There are several issues.

    1) The city is facing a huge decline in tax revenues.
    2) This decline is so great that it WILL NOT be countered by raising taxes. The suckers, aka taxpayers, simply don’t have the money to pay increased taxes. Any tax increases will not raise the revenue they think it will (see the recent state budget tax hikes).
    3) This money is NEVER coming back. Seriously. As far out as anyone can predict, state and local tax revenues are not going to recover to the 2005-2006 peaks any time soon. We will need another stretch of job creation that we saw at the peak of the ’90′s to reduce unemployment back down to 5-6%. We’re talking 2015-2020 timeframe just to get back to 2005-2006, assuming the country’s economy turned around tomorrow and came roaring back like in 1996-1999.
    4) Because of this, the city needs to:
    4a) PRIORITIZE. This means cutting out discretionary items, like Dellums’s chauffeur, health club memberships and whatever other fringies city employees get that no one else does. It also means cutting discretionary items like these social center subsidies. Elderly people in the country have the lowest overall poverty rates. You’re already paying over 15% of your income directly to those over 65.
    4b) CUT spending. This means cutting spending even on ‘non-discretionary’ items, i.e. renegotiating contracts with bureaucrats, cops, firemen, teachers and contractors.
    4c) Adopt a PRO-GROWTH strategy. This means actually encouraging businesses to come here by cutting the red tape, taxes, zoning crap etc..

    Finally, locking up people does work. There are plenty of examples of this. There is not one example of a “community center” cutting crime. I prefer to work in the real world, where there are real examples of things, rather than the cute, liberal world of pet hypotheses that, in fact, have never been shown to work (kind of like how “diversity” makes better schools. what a crock of ****, but that’s another aside).

  42. Naomi Schiff

    David, as you will expect, I disagree with your entire last paragraph overall and in specific, and I request that you avoid implied nasty language as beneath the tone of this website. Asterisks don’t help. You are articulate enough not to need rudeness to make your point.

    I’m not cute but I am proud to be a liberal, and a realist at the same time. Imagine that. I also own an Oakland business, pay business tax, and make good use of my location here downtown. We have a lot to offer, and I agree with you that we should encourage businesses to locate here. We don’t have to bribe them to do so, but we do have to make it easy, as you say, and we have to extend the invitation.

  43. Ralph

    David, I might also add what also works is not releasing convicts. Imagine how much better off we would be if Lovelle Mixon never say freedom again. Community centers are good for kids on the margin, but only if, the centeers are staffed by adults who can actually reach and steer the children to something positive. I have been in some places where the adults mean well but are in absolutely no position to be guiding influence. Children who aren’t inclined to do bad won’t do bad.

    But first and foremost the city must cut spending on both non-essential, non-core programs and programs with limited reach. And since you can’t grow the revenue with poor people, we need to expand the middle income tax base – gentrify today, gentify tomorrow, gentrify forever!

  44. J

    I agree with you Ralph. As a young person (24) who was raised in the upper middle class in Oakland went to college and, unlike many of my middle class friends and classmates, actually returned to the city to start my business. I believe that the city needs to focus more on its middle and upper classes and growing these tax bases. The city has so much potential in this area, which is part of why I chose Oakland to start my business. The city, however, seems to show no real interest in improving or catering to theses classes nor providing the services or encouraging growth of the business these classes are attracted to.

    This is my first real post though i have been following this site sense i was in college.

  45. David

    A liberal and a realist. Then support realistic policies and budgets. I’m happy you pay your business tax. I do too. Yay us.

    Now, back to reality. In reality, you cannot (or you would have done so) argue that a large chunk of Oakland’s tax base is returning anytime soon. It simply isn’t. Plug in any realistic growth formula and you simply do not get back to 2005/06 peak for years, if not a decade. It does not pencil out.

    So, what are you going to cut? Because Oakland shall cut spending sooner or later, preferably sooner, as papering over the budget is exactly that–papering over a gaping hole that gets larger daily. Or it shall go bankrupt.

    If you’re not cutting the ‘social service’ subsidies, are you cutting cops? Firemen? Teachers? What do you propose? What gets cut in your liberal reality? Or should the city go bankrupt and finally gut the city workers’ pensions?

    I’m all ears.

  46. len raphael

    Naomi, I’d agree with you that quality of life for many residents will suffer if the city limited it’s services to providing cops, firepeople, infrastructure, regulation, and education. Question that you beg is whether David’s predictions of 7 years of famine might be correct and if maybe yes, do we proceed on the hope that the revenues will recover in a couple of years or prepare now for the worst with massive selective cutbacks that are not “across the board”.

    Robert put his finger on the method our officials use to manipulate us into accepting their budget choices and parcel taxes because they’ve (and to be sure Oakland voters) defined core services to include such a wide range and deptth of programming.

    David, i can’t find a study but heck they’re often self serving anyway, that shows how subsidizing seniors reduces crime but i still think that seniors contribute disproportionally high amount of social stability. They are the first line of defense for MIA parents. Which is why i would have supported an Old Folks First initiative over Kids First.

    Legitimate to ask why AM, Asian, Latino elderly and not Caucasian, but simple answer is that old poor white folk don’t stick around Oakland.


  47. len raphael

    Naomi, when we have to make unpleasant choices in muni spending, one doesn’t have to believe that we can “arrest our way” out of crime to believe that it is a more effective use of the city’s limited money to hire more cops than it is to fund nation building programming. The social payoffs from programming might be there, but most of them are dispersed, long term, and uncertain. Arguably nation building in Oakland after basic level of security for all residents is improved, has a better chance of succeeding.

    -len raphael

  48. David

    7 years of famine…if we’re lucky. Tax revenues are down 10, 20, 30% depending on the category. Economic growth, even in the best years rarely tops 4%. We would need 7 years of 4% annual growth to recover the 30% drop (and remember, a 30% gain after a 30% loss is on a smaller base, so you’re still down 9% from the peak even after a 7 year stretch of solid growth). So in reality, we’re probably looking at a decade, at least, until we recover the peak. And projecting out a decade of uninterrupted, above trend growth is being pretty aggressive.

    It’s simple math and economics. The peak years ain’t coming back, folks. Not for a long time. It’s best to rationalize and reduce cost structures now for everything–household, business AND government spending. We’ve had a spending binge on the government level, and it has to stop and shrink. It’s regrettable that spending binge went to pension & retiree health care benefits instead of productive assets, but no crying over spilled milk. Either cut current expenditures or renegotiate those benefits. Period. Private sector pensioners have been screwed right and left. It’s time for the privileged government class to eat it now.

  49. livegreen

    I don’t know where all the rhetoric came from today, first from the left, then from the right. The fact is we need to look at reasonable cuts closest possible to Oakland’s core services while behaving compassionately as is possible (even if it’s less possible than before).

    Re. Senior Services, the fact is Oakland’s NOT going to slash all that funding. It’s just not going to happen in Oakland (I think you conservatives are forgetting where you live). However there can be reasonable cuts, esp. for organizations that are also getting Federal, State, and National Nonprofit funds. The VCC should not have to stand alone just because they’re the smallest minority represented.

    The same is true or even more so for cultural organizations, esp. those like the OACC that has over 20 Major Foundations already contributing to it. It will be hurt minimally.

    Oakland is not going to get by without meaningful cuts, and in some areas it won’t even negatively impact the organizations in question. On the other hand Oakland will NOT slash entire segments of the budget in a callous way. We live in the Bay Area folks, get real.

    It’s important to be realistic here and not just through this me-vs-you, your either for us or your against us, liberal or conservative political Demagoguery around.
    Its both irresponsible and unrealistic (dream world type stuff).

    Blast away. All you’ll do is shoot yourself in the foot. (Just like Oakland always does, except this time from the other side…).

  50. David

    Unfortunately, livegreen, you’re right. Oakland will continue to be a complete fiscal disaster for the foreseeable future.

  51. Patrick

    The bottom line is that what Oakland is experiencing is a return to the tax revenues “before the bubble”. But during that bubble, our City Council couldn’t toss money fast enough into unionized public employee’s pockets and pensions. In order to avoid draconian cuts, public employee compensation must be adjusted to fiscal reality – they, too, must experience the effect of a bursting bubble. And if that’s not going to happen, then I agree with David – police, fire, roads and sewers. I’d rather have a city that managed to keep it’s citizen’s safe, mobile and hygienic than what we have now, which is a city that can’t afford to do anything well

    City-provided social services of the scale that some people have come to expect is a relatively recent phenomenon. Historically, the care of the old, infirm and destitute was the province of churches – which is specifically why their “businesses” and property are not subject to taxation. Perhaps if churches learned that by returning to providing spiritual guidance and social services, as opposed to worrying about influencing ballot measures, they would return to financial health. And if our City Council would worry more about influencing ballot measures (OO, for example) and less about social services, the City might return to financial health as well. Police, fire, roads and sewers have a proven benefit to all Oaklanders, very few social services can say the same, if any. And the key word there is “proven”.

  52. Naomi Schiff

    I’m not posting about this much further until I have a chance to review the budget more carefully, and any staff proposals. The very large preponderance of general budget (redevelopment is a whole other can of worms) is going to police and fire. (We do need to work with police to figure out the overtime conundrum, I think.) Maybe rather than simply going after items one doesn’t approve of, we should all go away and do some real thinking and research into what is possible and what would actually help. Excoriating the council, much as I often disapprove of things they do, is not helpful.

  53. David

    Yes, Naomi. 3/4 of the budget goes to fire & police. I, for one, wouldn’t mind an across the board 5% salary/benefit cut to them, which would balance the budget right there. If they can’t handle it, I’d love to see some 28 year old dude find another job that pays $90K/year before overtime.

  54. Ralph

    If only we could get more fiscally responsible individuals on council. There is no god given reason for why the city is in the business of using my tax dollar to fund the afterschool programs of some podunk child.

    The city’s primary responsibility should be in providing a safe environment in which business and individuals can flourish. Afterschool hiphop clubs for 14 y.o. children who can not write a simple sentence is not a good use of anyone’s money.

    Does the city still use a pension for all employees or are new hires on a 401K plan? If the new hires aren’t, they should be.

    Also we need to eliminate rent control. And at the very least, allow owners to recoup more of their cost of improvements. When bldgs fall into disrepair, neighborhood peeps fall into despair.

    And even if a 5% cut across the board in OPD and OFD solves the immediate problem, it still doesn’t address the fact that my tax dollar is being spent on non-core programs. This issue must be addressed.

  55. livegreen

    Re. cuts to city workers, as much as I agree with you, my understanding is negotiations are finished and it’s a done deal. Once again, I think they should have built flexibility into their agreement should things get worse.

    I don’t know if future hires were included in those negotiations but that would be the one area where I would think the City might be able to extract some concessions. No matter the agency or business, hiring in a recession is different from hiring at the height of the market. Anybody hiring now has the upper hand, and reduced salaries & benefits for new hires will still be at or higher than the alternatives (or unemployment). This includes OPD.

    Naomi, I still don’t know why you’re of the opinion we can’t look into individual parts of the budget. Jane Brunner is quoted in the paper today as saying she has no idea where they’re going to make additional cuts.

    Now I know that on any one or two areas we explore here there is additional information we don’t have to be considered, but it AT LEAST the exercise reveals that there’s potential savings. They can explore it further and, though they might have more information than us, her statement frankly makes me wonder about that. (And besides it might also show that her definition of funding is much much more freespending).

    On the other hand I agree that it takes longer to find and consider than the 5 minutes David originally mentioned. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    I go back to the example of the OACC: They have at least 20 major Foundations supporting them. What do they need us for? And if they’re well funded and Oakland is not, why is it Oakland & it’s taxpayers that have to suffer?

    My guess is there are other cultural and non-essential organizations like this that receive donations from the General Fund, and that did not receive any cuts at all in the Amended Budget that is the subject of the current review. (And by non-essential I mean whichever definition you choose, liberal or conservative, EVEN if Senior Care, Rec Centers ARE included).

    Spending in a recessions MUST BE different than in a boom period, ESPECIALLY for organizations like the OACC that are already self sufficient.

  56. J

    Non-core is really a point of opinion. I for one do think that the city should spend money on SOME, not all youth activities. giving youth, especially those in troubled households, something to do other than roam the streets is a good thing. these youth need somewhere to go to occupy their time. obviously the private sector isn’t doing anything about it in the city, there aren’t even arcades anymore, so it is the cities responsibility to ensure that their younger citizens have somewhere to go. I know many people would rather have a kid in a classroom after school dancing than on the street in front of 7/11 with nothing to do but get in trouble. i do however think there is a limit. the city should be encouraging more private sector business or encouraging places like churches to set up youth programs rather than trying to fund all these programs themselves. it is not only our civic duty to provide a comfortable present for ourselves but to provide a comfortable future for others and to do that does require us as citizens to provide programs for those “podunk” children.

  57. livegreen

    Conversely there are undoubtedly other cuts to programs in the original city budget.
    So the CC might have already have had to make some tough decisions, that negatively impacted some programs and the people they serve.

    I’m willing to acknowledge this, but that doesn’t absolve them from continuing to do their challenging ob during tough times.

    Did you all see the City’s unemployment rate in the 1st Quarter Revenue & Expenditure Results? Unbelievable. Makes the nationwide 10% look like an economic boom.

  58. Ralph

    it is not the city’s responsibility to ensure that generation hip-hop has something to do. that responsibility belongs to the parent. at some point the city needs to make trade-off. most people like nice parks – they add to the landscape and can be enjoyed by all but maintenance requires money. would you rather have a nice park or safe and secure streets? most opt for the latter. you look for a public private partnership to maintain the park.

    in most normal communities there are private sector businesses that provide significant resources to little leagues and neighborhood programs. Unfortunately, the ghetto fab stores and dope dispensaries either don’t follow this model or aren’t in a position to provide these resources. these churches that you want to provide afterschool programs are getting money from dick lee so they go to the city. and who can’t resist giving money to little brown and black faces. it would be against the constitution of every bleeding heart liberal. i am beginning to think that it would be easier to ship whole sections of oakland out and start fresh.

    where is the arcade mafia when you need them?

  59. J

    well generation hip-hop will become the next generation of Oakland citizens and as such the city does have to make some effort to make sure they are actively involved. yes it is the parents responsibility to deal with their children but in todays society parents spend less and less time with their kids due to various constraints both positive and negative. it takes a village to raise a kid not just a 2 parent household ( which is actually becoming a rarity even in the more affluent classes). the city should provide some activities for kids after school (or extend the school day im game ether way) to ensure the cities investment in the future pays off. Kids that are out of trouble earlier are less likely to be menaces to society latter.

  60. Ralph

    children who are never born are never a menace to society. if people having children can’t spend time with them maybe they shouldn’t be having children.

    what would propose the city provide? right now they shell out over 10MM a year to non-profit babysitters. they have been doing this for over 12 years. OUSD students are still dropping out of school at alarming rates, there are no shortage of 18 year seniors who still don’t know their 9s table. you can pick any h.s. student at random and have fairly good odds they are on a 4th grade reading and math level. so tell me, what has all of this afterschool babysitting gotten me? we need accountability and the city is in no position to do it; so, in the mean time we are throwing good money after bad.

    would you have the city start a rec league. we have already determined that the parents are absent so who do we get to coach these ne’er-do-wells? do we hire city staff?

    CA public school students rank near the bottom in the US. Oakland students rank near the bottom in CA. johnny does not need to be in afterschool playland. johnny needs to be spending more time in class and that would seem to be an OUSD problem.

    the liberal solution of throwing money at the problem has failed. the only thing i know to have really reduced crime and give today’s student a fighting chance is abortion.

  61. David


    Actually, it doesn’t take a village to raise a child. Children do best, shockingly enough, in two-parent households (where the parents get along well with each other).

    This is a standard liberal myth that has turned into orthodoxy that kids get in trouble because they “have nothing to do.” Bull. Kids get in trouble because they are in single-parent households with no supervision, mom’s a crackwhore, or their “uncles” beat the crap out of them (and/or sexually abuse them) daily. Liberals propagate this myth in order to take more of my money to fund their pet after-school programs. Similar to how they propagate the myth that schools are underfunded, teachers are underpaid, and smaller class size is the key to better performance. Or that more cops don’t reduce crime. Or we all need to go to college and get a liberal arts degree to succeed in life. All false orthodoxy, lies created to steal my money at the point of a gun and give it to themselves.

  62. Ralph

    David, I think you hit the nail on the head lack of supervision and this notion that spanking is bad. Children not only need discipline; they crave it. We are doing them a disservice when we do not give strong, firm, and effective punishment.

    Could not agree more on the liberal myths especially as it pertains to class size. I have talked to a number of educators lately and 4 out of 5 agree if ma and pa actually displayed some interest in little johnny instead the longarm of the govt to do it for them, little johnny would not be a statistic in the making.

    David, my favorite line in that article, “mothering is their responsibility.” guess what ma, fathering is the dad’s responsibility. clearly my dad and all those over dads who coached their kids little league teams were years ahead of their time

  63. Naomi Schiff

    “Naomi, I still don’t know why you’re of the opinion we can’t look into individual parts of the budget. Jane Brunner is quoted in the paper today as saying she has no idea where they’re going to make additional cuts.”—- I guess I didn’t state it clearly enough as this is not my opinion. Of course we can look at anything in the budget.

    Perhaps you thought so because I differentiated between general fund and redevelopment? They are handled separately in the budgeting process, I believe. The City Council has to deal with general fund as a separate chunk. Redevelopment money can only be used for certain things. While the city does try to shift between them where it can, the budgeting process is distinct.

  64. Livegreen

    David, You really think this is all lies to take your money? Talk about right wing demogoguery, you’ve been watching too much Limbaugh recently. The net result might be to take your money but liberals intentions are to help the kids, whether succeeding or failing, and whether it costs too much or not.

    Now I totally agree with you and J that the problems start at home and are in good part because of a lack of two parent households. But I don’t agree with your generalization that the single moms are crack whores.

    The problem with liberals continuously spending money on programs that don’t work
    is exactly that. But the problem conservatives have with ignoring any programs, those that work and those that don’t is they don’t want to do anything.

    Now can you tell me how that helps keep families together, keeps kids off the street or helps prevent crime?

    Instead I agree with J that we have to have some programs, if possible longer hours in school, and more law enforcement. Make theprograms and schools improve. But not just diss and cut everything which are prejudiced opinions not to solve problems and save lives but solely to save you money.

  65. len raphael

    When a long time cc member such as JB publicly states “she has no idea” where the cuts can be made, that’s just politician talk for “hell no, i’m not going to commit political suicide by being the first to propose unpopular cuts, let someone else do that”.

    The cc can’t do a fraction of the juggling avail to the state legislature. CC has exhausted its bag of budget tricks, fund shell games, and made the low hanging cuts.

    now you try to take as much redevelopment and port of oakland money as you possible can. when that fails, as it usually does, you tell the residents that they have to chose between approving the mother of all parcel taxes or close all libraries, rec centers and laying off a bunch of cops.

    be interesting to see if there would be enough voter support in an off election for a massive parcel tax hike. probably not, but just maybe, and worth a try for a politician to try before the massive budget cuts needed to avoid the B word.


  66. len raphael

    why are people so worried about cuts to rec centers when huge OUSD cuts are looming?

    is there a state or city law that prevents the city from shifting some of the general fund away from after school programs for kids to the OUSD ? if not, wrap that into the big parcel tax and more residents might vote for it.

  67. Ralph

    LG, so you agree “their “uncles” beat the crap out of them (and/or sexually abuse them) daily. Why are so many stmts taken out of context?

    len, a parcel tax hike, i already pay some of the highest taxes in the bay area, the city must demonstrate that they can use what i currently give them. i would be in favor of a measure that eliminates ballot box budgeting.

  68. Livegreen

    Ralph, Way to skip over the difficult questions, and way to support crude generalizations by trying to glibly dismiss those who stand up against them.

  69. Patrick

    I wouldn’t vote for one more cent in parcel taxes – for ANY reason – until the City demonstrates a little responsibility. The “average” Oakland city employee earns 3x what I do – and they have a far better retirement plan (my plan is that I hope my parents die off quickly so that all of their money is not spent on hospital bills).

    My ad valorem taxes, for what I receive, are by far the highest of anywhere I have lived in the country (even when adjusting for COLA and inflation). When an Oakland police lieutenant who lives in Walnut Creek can afford a new Maserati, it’s time to take stock. Throwing money after programs that “benefit” the few, at the expense of everyone, is the province of idealistic fools.

  70. Ralph

    LG, no one is dismissing you. I just find it terribly annoying that unless it is political correct it shouldn’t be said. I see a number of involved parents and that is cool. At the same time, their are a number of families where the involved parent seems to be absent. I see a bunch of ne’er-do-well children, most of whom have parent(s) for one reason or another that either don’t give a crap or don’t know how to give the right crap.

  71. Naomi Schiff

    LG, thank you for standing up for dignified discussion, and trying to make sense.

    Len, the OUSD budget is not within the jurisdiction of the City Council. We voters have passed measures to tax property owners within the school district; while it shows up on the same county tax bill as city measures, the money doesn’t flow through the city’s general budget. The city could probably give money to the schools, if it had any, but if what you are talking about (and I’m not quite sure) is redirecting Measure OO money to the schools, it depends on how the measure written. Perhaps OUSD could apply for money under OO some way. The council can’t just alter the purpose of the measure, without opening the whole mess up again.

  72. len raphael

    yup. redirect OO money to OUSD. Mayor and Dellums fires the current OO board and replaces them with members who go along.

    or keep this simple, divert the money to directly support school athletics and music programs before the balance goes to ngo’s. unlike Danville when OUSD runs out of money for those activities the kids’ parents aren’t going to pay fees.

    does the OO board sign binding contracts with the various NGO’s ? if so, are they usually one year deals?

    as far as opening up the whole mess again, you’d be surprised how much dutch courage cc members would develop if they had to face the library lobby, residents tired of crime, and parents with kids crammed together and all special programs cut that aren’t mandated.

  73. livegreen

    Re. OUSD, the problem is school ends in the early to mid afternoon, depending on the grades. So to have OUSD take over the programs, they’d have to change their hours. Good luck with that.

    Also a # of the OFCY (OO) programs are funded jointly by OFCY and other Foundations. So if OUSD took them over, they’d have to get approval or re-apply from each one of these foundations. Some of the funding wouldn’t come through at all.

    Finally there’s Administration. Even if you’re getting rid of Admin. from Non-Profits, you’re gaining Admin from either Teachers or OUSD’s Admin. Now teachers don’t have time and they’re entitled to MORE PAY than the Non-Profits. So they might not want to do it at all, and for those that do, you’ll actually be driving up the costs.

    Finally, do you think OUSD Administration will be any better? A lot of them don’t have any experience at running programs + they’re a really big bureaucracy.

    I think instead the solution is to implement more effective programs, based on the review of individual schools where the programs already are, the OFCY oversight process (which might need improvement), and results.

    An interim solution might be to retain only OFCY programs that are actually in the schools, as opposed to those run outside. BTW, OFCY is out with their plans for the future, if you go to their website…

  74. Max Allstadt

    OUSD music and art teachers who’ve been laid off should band together, form a 501c3, and go after OO money to simply resume their original programs under a different oversight scheme.

    If OO money can be spent on-site at schools, couldn’t homeroom teachers simply create a non-profit specializing in “classroom support and supplementary education”? They get the OO money, go right back to the school they were teaching at, and presto, problem solved? Or would the union go apeshit?

    I’m not necessarily saying this is a good idea, but could it be done legally?

  75. livegreen

    Max, It’s a good suggestion for the Music & Art teachers, let’s see if it happens, or
    if anyone will help them…By the way some schools have M&A classes but I’m not sure if this is paid by OUSD or PTA’s or either.

    Re. teachers creating non-profits, I think it’s a small group that would devote the time to it. Many already stay late doing their work. The ones that don’t aren’t the ones who will do even more. I’m not sure about the implications of this with the TU.

    BTW, Most of the good-scoring schools have PTA’s, but it was a surprise to me that many many schools don’t have any PTA at all, including schools that are improving. Like Sequoia and Bella Vista.

    I think this is something concerned residents and neighbors could help with that would make a big difference. I’ve heard, though I don’t know if it’s true, the NCPC close to Bella Vista has been assisting them with projects since no PTA exists. That sounds like a positive, neighborhood, pro-learning, long-term anti-crime activity that will help everyone…

  76. Ralph

    I believe some Measure OO money is used to support existing OUSD afterschool programs. Are these programs complete and effective, that is the million dollar question.

    My big pet pet peeve is the OFCY people talk about possible outcome versus % reduction, % increase in attendance.

    I get that you need to have a healthy child but even at an early age we need to be exposing that child to the world of opportunities. I won’t say that parents who don’t have a hgh school can’t do that because generations ago they did. But this is a different generation torn apart by drugs and splintered families, some of today’s kids are not benefitting positive and engaged parents.

    In the case of engaged parents, there is little to no drop-off in test scores during transition yrs. This is b/c EPs can provide enrichment programs during the summer months. Students with disengaged parents lose this important developmental oppty. These students need enrichment programs during the summer and at an early age. These students need to be hooked on books before they are hooked on drugs.

  77. livegreen

    Ralph, My understanding is OFCY is interested in increasing programs that support kids during both transition years and during the summer (mostly the former).

  78. Ralph

    I am beginning to wonder if I misunderstood OFCY’s transition year plan. I thought they were going to implement some type of summer program to help students. But as I understand it, OFCY has doubts as to the efficacy as to summer programs.

    If I recall correctly the actual drop-off in the transition year occurs over the summer during the transition year. If you were to test the students at the beginning of the year, you would find that the students from involved families actually do just as well if not better than they did before the summer recess. On the other hand, students whose parents do not engage them in enrichment programs actually fall behind. At the end of the year, both groups show academic improvement, but the latter group is further behind.

    Naturally, in the 9th grade when the work becomes even harder the gap widens.

    What would be ideal is to have enrichment programs in each of the early years to keep the students engaged in academic efforts during the summer months.

  79. David

    LG, you’re the one making generalizations. I didn’t say all single moms are crackwhores, I said Johnny ain’t doing well in school because his only parent at home provides no supervision, is a junkie whore, and/or beats/sexually abuses him daily. Do you disagree that these are major reasons kids do poorly?

    I like how you agree that these programs take money from me for “good intentions” that are ineffectual. So tell me again why you’re taking my money? I could do a lot more for the economy, for charity, etc with that money in my pocket.

    Yes, it is based on lies. You admit it’s ineffectual, yet these gov’t officials say they have to take my money “for the children.” Bull. They’re taking my money to line their own pockets. You don’t think people in government lie? how old are you? You’re telling me only Republicans lie? Who’s been running Oakland for, what, 60 years?

    Not one more cent. Period. Until that budget goes to inflation+population growth trend line. Period.

  80. livegreen

    Ralph, Below is the current OFCY RFP that just came out. As you can see it lumps the Summer Program in with all Out of School time (incl. After School) so it’s impossible to know the exact $ amount or how it compares with Transitions.

    If you look on the OFCY website under the Final Strategic Plan you can probably download that.

    It looks, however, like their trying to fund a broad array of programs and fill in some of the gaps you described when kids who have disengaged parents fall behind.

    EARLY CHILDHOOD (0-5 YEARS) $1,400,000 – $2,000,000
    Community Playgroups
    Mental Health and Developmental Consultation in Early Care and
    Education Settings
    See separate RFP for details

    OUT OF SCHOOL TIME (5-14 YEARS) $5,500,000 – $6,900,000
    Community-based After School Programming
    Summer Programming
    School-based After School Programming (see separate RFP)

    Transitions Programming
    Youth Leadership in Health
    Conflict Resolution Skills Programming
    See separate RFP for details

    OLDER YOUTH (15-20 YEARS) $1,400,000 – $2,000,000
    Academic and Career/Job Success
    Comprehensive Programming
    See separate RFP for details

  81. Ralph

    LG, 2 questions what is this OFCY RFP you are referring to and where is the Final 2010 – 13 OFCY Strategy Doc. When I was own their site earlier, they only had the draft doc.

    i neither perused nor skimmed the OFCY strategy doc earlier. if i didn’t pay for my own ink and paper, i would have printed out the entire 71 pgs as it is I had to “read selectively.”

    what i can’t seem to figure out is how they plan to address the transition problem when they aren’t working with the students during the summer. and i may be getting ahead of myself but we need to introduce the students to university and professions at an earlier age.

    I’ve got some students who had never been outside of Oakland. In 15 year of living here, they had never seen UC Berkeley. To put them on a level playing field with their peers, we need to expose them to the same stuff middle and upper class students are being exposed to age 5. When I started with these kids they wanted to be mechanics and own a nail salon because that is what mom or dad did. I am not saying that is wrong but the problem is one of exposure. if you don’t expose johnny to the equity analyst, the lawyer, the rocket scientist, little johnny is going to gravitate towards what he knows, which isn’t always the good stuff.

    and if someone from OFCY is reading, please quantify your outcomes. increased graduation rate means nothing, decreased drop-out rate means nothing, a 5% improvement in students passing the CAHSEE means something

  82. livegreen

    GET THIS!: OFCY plans on cutting ALL OFCY funds to schools which have less than 49% of their students on Free & Reduced lunch. So schools with OFCY programs that have successfully improved their scores, in turn attracting neighborhood kids back to the schools, will be punished for it!

    Now poor socio-economically disadvantaged kids who qualify for these OFCY programs, along with their parents, will loose their after-school programs. When these kids are cut out of after-school enrichment programs, because their parents cannot afford the paid enrichment programs, and are often working, where will they go and what will they do?

    It is understandable that the new OFCY policy targets the schools with the highest #’s of socio-disadvantaged parents. But it should not punish those poor students who have performed well enough to attract higher income families. After all, those socio-economically disadvantaged kids are STILL socio-economically disadvantaged.

    Punishing the poor kids who perform well should NOT be the goal of OFCY.

  83. Ralph

    LG, welcome to the ugly world of education. NCLB forces teachers to teach to the dumbest child in the class. So you bore the bight kids to death. As much as I want to help the exceptionally destitute, the few dollars OFCY has would be better spent on the not nearly as destitute children demonstrating progress. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a bad decision for all parties. Unfortunately, OFCY and OUSD will only find this out when test scores fall and then they will come back asking for more money at which point I may need to take them out to the shed.

  84. len raphael

    LG and R, excuse me for interrupting, but need some help understanding the acronyms. OFCY I assume this is the quasi independent mayoral and cc appointed org that spends the general fund money mandated by measure K, OO, D?

    Lg, where was the new policy announced? I can’t find a link on their site for the minutes of their meetings.

    Many of their grants seem to go to causes that would be very worthy if our normal school system wasn’t facing disaster.

    The only exception i noticed in a quickie review of their grants, (i’ll leave Youth Uprising to Charlie Pine review), was 100k to Kids First Real Hard. This appears to be giving money to Kids First to do student and community organizing to support more kids funding. Anyone familiar with Real Hard ?

  85. Livegreen

    Len, Good questions & I think R will also appreciate: this is on the RFP.
    I think I forgot to answer R the other day but you can get the RFP if you sign up for their mailing list (I think you can do this on their websight at

    Oakland Fund for Children and Youth is indeed what was funded by the measures you mention. I wonder if the electorate new it would only be for schools that have 49%+ free & reduced lunch (FRL). The 48% or less cut-off is higher than the Bush Administration set Title 1 Funding cut-off which is 35%. The OFCY oversight committee is cooold!

    I understand some schools could also loose part of their matching state after school funding, ASES, though I’m still trying to understand how that works…

  86. Ralph

    LG, think i misread your post, what i get for skimming. OFCY is doing the reverse of what they should be doing. They would get the greatest bang for their (MY) buck if they would focus their efforts on the merely poor. Focusing attn on the destitute without quantified outcomes makes the bleeding heart liberal feel good, but it is a waste of taxpayer money

  87. livegreen

    Either way OFCY does their spending they will be doing it on Free & Reduced Lunch (FRL) kids. So why they’re using the % at the school, which is irrelevant, is beyond me. It’s almost like they’re trying to say that when a poor kid goes to a school with a slowly increasing middle class, he/she’s not a poor kid anymore. ??

    OR if the poor kids goes to a middle class school, when the programs at that school for the poor get cut, somehow the middle class kids are going to pay for his/her enrichment programs? (Like 52% are going to be able to pay for the programs of 48%?).

    They’re treating the transitional schools like the schools that have already transitioned (which is stupid), or the ones that never had to transition, that have 5% FRL. (Isn’t it a lot easier for 95% to pay for 5%, than for 52% to pay for 48%?)

    The transitional schools aren’t poor and they’re not rich. That’s why they’re called Transitional! They have limited PTA funds and some don’t have ANY PTA AT ALL! (Just like the poorer schools).

    And most importantly, let me restate it, the poor FRL kids at transitional schools are still poor!

    So now they’ll be cut out of any enrichment classes, and their parents will be in a bind either losing their job to pick them up or letting them roam on the street by themselves. Gee, I wonder what that will do to their education and the school’s API scores?

  88. Patrick

    There’s going to be a loud cry from the hills on this one. It might be possible to overturn The K, OO and D disasters yet. Yet another example of people thinking it’s alright to take money from everyone to take care of the few. Do any of these measures explicitly allow OFCY to decide which of the district’s children will receive the benefits of this money and which won’t? It seems highly unlikely any of these measures would have passed if that was the case.

  89. Ralph

    LG, you and I both know OFCY has limited resources. You either spread it around and do no good for all or concentrate the funds where you can do the most good (or in the case of OFCY hope to minimize the plight of the worst off and pray to dog that the good you have done is not about to be lost by the bad you are about to do)

    OFCY is doing what the tax code does to us – benefit the rich, help those at the bottom and screw those in the middle. The 52 will not cover the 48, the 95 will not cover the 5. I happen to think that the OFCY should concentrate their dollars where they have seen the most improvement, but that is the problem when you let educators, psychologist, and social workers do the job of business people.

    Patrick, I have met people, educated people, (not out of the woods Obama voters), who voted for OO for one reason and one reason only – it was for the children. They never read the measure or the impacts. They just believe that you always give money to the children because the children can’t vote. What was the problem with a poll tax?

  90. len raphael

    P, there won’t be any outcry from hills parents because if hill people understood how this works, it will discourage poor parents from sending their kids out of district to hills schools. it’s the ultimate anti voucher program.

    i’d like to think that would just be an unintended consequence, but my sense is the kids first people are much smarter than the average oakland interest group and had their own reasons for doing this. The machiavellian paranoid possible reason was for the ngos to solidify political support in the poor areas by concentrating the assistance in most visible way. Or it was just considered cheaper to administer by concentrating in poorest schools.

    Regardless of the reason, it screws poor people who want to send their kids to schools with higher income kids.

    best chance to stop this would be for parents at organized transition schools like Peralta to yell at Brunner, Kaplan and Kerrighan. Nadel would probably not be an ally.

    btw, are charter schools denied all OFCY funds?

  91. len raphael

    LG, it wb simple to just ask one of the people on the board of OFCY except there were no email addresses given for the north oakland member. Leaving room for thinking maybe that OFCY is conspiring/cooperating w OUSD to reverse the drop in west oakland school enrollment before OUSD has to close schools there.

    When that issue was officially announced last week, my reaction was so what, that means either there are fewer school age kids in west oakland or the schools are so bad that parents send their kids out of district or to charter schools. but the OUSD official stance was that this was a crisis to be fixed.

    -len raphael

  92. Livegreen

    Len, Thanks for the link. Sounds like even though the WOBT wants to improve things they might be open to closing a school. Hard to know from such a short article
    and too early to say. Politics will play into this incl how many people vote, how many peole will be affected and what’s best for there education.

    I knew a lot of people transfer to other schools but I didn’t realize it was THAT many. Seems like Oakland has figured out it’s own voucher program except by keeping it in the public schools WITHOUT the vouchers. As long as the hills schools stay good and the slope schools continue to improve that sounds like a GOOD thing…

  93. len raphael

    Seems that even with their 100Mill rainy day reserve, and healthier revenue sources, SF will face drastic cutbacks in city staffing and programming to Oakland. I assume that’s because of SF’s ambitious public health services.

    Not sure how SF can have twice the population of Oakland, but its general fund is approx 6x Oakland’s at 2.9 Billion compared to Oakland’s 450Mill. Is it really that much wealthier?

    So if SF faces a 500Mill deficit, that’s almost 17% of their general fund budget. But Oakland currently running 20Mill deficit against a 450Mill general fund budget, would be 4%.

    I must be missing something. maybe SF is already counting the cost of all their unfunded retirement plans and benefts, but oakland isnt? or the types of expenditures in sf general fund are different from oakland’s.

    -len raphael

  94. len raphael

    LG, yes that’s a big part. but i have to put the numbers on a comparable basis for population, and then allocate some of Alameda county to Oakland. Still seems like SF’s deficit is disproportionately huge at 500Mill.

  95. len raphael

    Speaking of bankruptcy. AB 155 has a state legislative analyst’s summary of existing law that explains clearly that without the passage of AB 155, bankruptcy does abrogate union contracts. No mention of unfunded pension obligations, or of Calpers obligations. (

    And yes, CA labor unions support AB 155 while the League of CA Cities,and the various counties oppose it. Was Perata out of office when AB 155 first came up?

    -len raphael

  96. Kipper

    I’ve tried to remain off the radar as of late, but my libertarian senses have pulled me into the fold on this one. It is not government’s obligation to provide and fund “cultural centers” of any sort! This is the job and responsibility of the community – churches, groups, business owners, neighbors, etc! We complain about lack of parental and community involvement when we speak here about topics like crime, but then on the other hand expect our government to hand out “free” money and “solutions” which don’t require community support (unless you include the act of willingly throwing sheeple tax money into coffers to be wasted)!

    I realize Oakland will absolutely continue to spend and borrow itself into the ground, continuing to fund things out of a sense of moral obligation while ignoring basic economics – Bay Area polictics requires this. It will take disheartening tragedy to shock the current mindset; I hope you are prepared for the results of our current disease.

  97. Born in Oakland

    Good point Kipper. The continual drumbeat of anti-business, anti-church, anti cop, ant-nuclear family (promotion of alt- families) and anti-military has created a stew in which smug progressives (I used to be one) can push their social agenda on the young, the dumb and the hopeless. Thirty plus years of progressive Democrat pablum in Bay Area cities has distorted reality to the point where only an economic catastrophe can promise some rational solutions.Our fair City is now crying for more help while we have been subsidized by State, Fed and County for over 40 years. With all that, we have created a climate of disinvestment while other municipalities survive quite well, thank you. Wonder why that is? And I certainly don’t blame the long victimized citizens of our town who deserve decent service delivery and economic opportunity.