Useless as usual

Ugh. So a nasty case of ebola or something completely derailed my plans for affordable housing blog week last week. Lucky for me, the Council has decided to delay their discussion of an affordable housing strategy until December (CED meeting December 11th), so I’m going to finish up with those posts over the next couple weeks. I’m still feeling under the weather, so I’m going to try to keep things short today. Once again, tonight’s Council meeting features a plethora of examples of how completely disfunctional our City Government is.

  • In a colossal waste of time, Jane Brunner and Nancy Nadel have introduced a resolution opposing war with Iran (PDF!). Why? Really – why? What is the point of this? Look, I am no more in favor of bombing Iran than the next Bay Area resident, and I can’t say that I disagree with any of the whereas statements listed in the resolution, but…why? What do Brunner and Nadel think will be achieved when “the Oakland City Council directs City Clerk Latonda Simmons to send copies of this Resolution to the President of the United States”? If they think that their resolution will have any impact whatsoever on this administration’s actions, then they’re deluded beyond belief. If they know that their action will make no difference, but just want some positive press coverage (after all, the resolution also directs the City Clerk to send copies to “all local media outlets”), they’re pathetic. Oakland residents elect municipal representatives to deal with municipal issues, not to send letters to Bush.
  • The smoking ban is back. Again. The amount of public meeting time that has been wasted quibbling over banning smoking outside is astounding. I’ve blogged about this brain-dead ordinance about a zillion times over the past few months, to the point where I’m pretty sick of it. I don’t think I have anything new to say on the matter.
  • Extension of interim zoning controls. I wrote about this yesterday for Novometro. I’ll probably write more about it later in the week. Here’s the short version. It’s been almost ten years since we adopted the Land Use and Transportation Element (LUTE) (PDF!) of the General Plan and we still have not updated our zoning to correspond with it. The LUTE calls for throwing out the old zoning completely and creating new, simpler codes. Lately, instead of scrapping the old code and creating something new and readable, the Zoning Update has been trying to apply overlay after overlay on existing zoning, creating an even more massive mess. The interim zoning controls that allowed us to follow the General Plan’s guidelines instead of the outdated code expired in June, so tonight the Council is going to renew them for another two years. At this rate, the General Plan will expire (2015) before we update our zoning to conform with it. Everyone I talk to about this blames somebody different – it’s Jerry Brown’s fault, it’s Dellums’s fault, it’s the Council’s fault, it’s the Planning Commission’s fault, it’s staff’s fault, and so on. Honestly, I have no idea whose fault it is. It seems to me that all the aforementioned parties are culpable to some degree. Also, I don’t care. The zoning is a mess, and the Council should direct staff to come up with brand new codes as directed by the General Plan, not extend the interim controls indefinitely while they pile on endless overlays. See dto510’s series of blogs on zoning.
  • The Council will be recieving a Measure Y update (PDF!) informing them that we are currently 81 officers (74 police officers, 7 sergeants) short of our staffing goal of 803. This will be accompanied by a lengthy list of exuses (PDF!) about why we have not been able to reach our staffing goals. It’s pathetic. Just check out the conclusion of the response to the question “What can be done about the slow pace of our recruitment?”:
    • Pace of recruiting is consistent with that of other California law enforcement agencies.
    • Law enforcement recruiting shortages is a national crisis.
    • Retirement of the Baby Boom generation (PERS 3% @ 50 retirement forumla), disability retirements and the portability of a PERS retirement all have a significant negative impact on police officer retention.
    • Agencies must look towards the future in building a potential pool of qualified applicants.

    Well, that was helpful. The timeline of staffing projections in the report doesn’t provide a date when they expect a fully staff police department. It only extends to June of 2009, at which point they expect to be only 36 officers short of our current goal of 803. God, enough with the excuses. As anyone who has ever worked in the service industry will tell you, why you can’t do your job right doesn’t matter. When people go to a restaurant, they don’t care if their food comes out slow because the kitchen is understaffed, or everything’s backed up because of an unannounced 14-top, or because more people ordered the squid than normal, so somebody had to rush and clean some more in the middle of service. Nobody cares if their tangerine gelee is sour because Greenleaf sent crappy tangerines that day or if their steak is cold because they took too long to finish their appetizers, which screwed up the firing time. People just want things to be done right. So while I’m willing to accept that there are myriad reasons why recruitment is slow, and why it’s difficult to keep pace with retiring officers, I have no patience reading a report that offers nothing but excuses and proposes no solutions.

Well, that wasn’t as short as I planned, but there you go. Your government in action.