Your Choices for Oakland Mayor, Revisited

OCTOBER 2010 UPDATE: I am endorsing Don Perata for Oakland Mayor. No one else in the race has actually produced a tangible proposal to deal with the City’s budget, nor can anyone else in the race match his tremendous record of leadership and accomplishment on environmental and social issues. Oakland desperately needs his leadership. I hope you’ll cast your vote for him too.

Tomorrow evening, Oakland voters have an opportunity to hear from a number of the Mayoral candidates at a forum on public safety issues at Lakeshore Baptist Church (3534 Lakeshore Avenue, 7PM).

A couple of new candidates have jumped into the Oakland Mayor’s race since we last examined the field, so I thought it would be an appropriate, in anticipation of tomorrow’s forum, to take another look.

Since I don’t know that much about like half of the candidates, I’m not going to try to write up little intros. Instead, I’ll share some excerpts from their websites and videos if they have them, so you can get a feel for how they’re selling themselves.

Let’s start with the candidates you may not know as much about.

Joe Tuman


Joe Tuman began his career in politics as a young man in the San Joaquin Valley, watching his parents take part in Democratic Party campaigns in the 1960s and 70s. Moving to the Bay Area for college, Joe quickly became involved in local politics as a consultant and later as a speechwriter for candidates and elected officials as well as people in business. Joe holds a B.A. in Political Science (with highest honors and great distinction, as well as Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of California, Berkeley (1980) and a Juris Doctorate from Boalt Hall (1983). In 1984 he became a television analyst for CNN during the presidential debates. Since that time, his work in television, news, and printed media has spanned two decades on both the local and national fronts.


The threat to public safety affects consideration of other issues like economic development and jobs, effective government, and improved education. Fears about crime cause businesses to leave Oakland, robbing the city of jobs and economic benefit, and also discourages migration to Oakland for those who would buy homes here and become residents. Crime is a serious contributing cause to depressed property values, which in turn affects property valuations, and property taxes-thus robbing our schools of badly needed funding. The fight against crime consumes a disproportionate share of already depleted city revenues from the general fund. Worst of all, crime-especially violent crime-claims many victims, and is usually suffered most by the poor.



Greg Harland


His first start-up business was a small chain of retail clothing stores based in Manhattan Beach. After five years, he sold that business, and started a clothing manufacturing business, which employed over 50 employees. After four years, the employees formed a cooperative and bought the company. Then Greg started a computer software/hardware company, which he eventually sold to his partner after two years so he could return to the Bay Area.

After moving back to the Bay Area, he owned and operated two restaurants over a span of ten years, both of which were eventually sold. Greg is now retired and lives with his wife of twenty years, Joan, in Oakland.


Oakland has to be a city that works for everyone. We need to build a strong economy by attracting businesses that will create enough jobs to give us full employment. We need safe streets where every citizen can feel comfortable. I want Oakland to be sought out for our great public schools. We need a city government that runs efficiently and is responsive to its residents.

All of this is possible if we decide to do it. I’m ready; so join me in my vision and let’s make Oakland the best city in the Bay Area.



Terence Candell


My name is Terence Candell. I was born and raised in Oakland and have lived here all my life, I am one of the 10 children raised by Shirley Etter, raised largely without a father in a highly dysfunctional family.

Still, I knew that if I used my God-given intelligence, I could make things better. If I loved hard enough, I could make things better. I love it here. So, I can make it better.

I have used this approach my entire adult life, with my wife, Dyra, who I love so very much. who was raised here; with the angel from heaven I am proud to call my daughter, Dyra the second, who has special needs and has taught me a different kind of love without measure; and with my genius son, the youngest in history to graduate from Cal State East Bay and the youngest African American to graduate from a university in the history of the United States at 14, and who demonstrates for me daily what love a man can be! Both of my children were born and are being raised in Oakland.


Politicians will only tell you what you want to hear in order to receive your vote. Many have and will continue to bleed the city dry monetarily. It is time to restore Oakland’s beauty. Vote for someone who is not caught-up or tied down to greedy corporations or bad business ventures.



Orlando Johnson


I learned that political campaigns are dependent on knowledgeable hard working staff and dependable volunteers. my mission is to support block-by-block organizing through logistics support, and taking the lead from the grassroots. I have worked to keep young people informed and involved. I also worked on the Oak-to-Ninth referendum petition gathering drive. This was a clear example of a favored developer receiving a public gift of land that would have ended up an environmental disaster, a public rip-off, and a total ignoring of a public input process. I learned how valuable legal input is to the development process. I have learned how the City Council works and the importance of everybody being aware and involved in the decision making process.


One way or another, I will work to build a strong grassroots network in Oakland that is capable of resisting gentrification, injustice, and oppression. I know that running for mayor of Oakland Ca can give me experience in the kind of organizing that will increase the effectiveness and the smarts that we need to build that network. I am a conscious person who is willing to learn new ways of doing things. I also have lived long enough to learn that I must accept things that I can not change. But I know that through assertive commitment that much can be done.


Orlando Johnson 2010 Mayor candidate

Orlando | MySpace Video


Don Macleay


He graduated from a machinist program in a Montreal trade school and followed that up with welding programs and CNC training. He got a GED in California and went on to graduate from Laney and then San Francisco State (Phi Beta Kappa)

Don believes in continuing adult education and still takes courses at Laney when possible. Most recently he took a course in Accounting.

Don was a machinist for 19 years, most of that time as a member of the machinist union (IAM). He was a IAM shop steward at Caral Mfg. of Albany CA. In his youth he worked to organize fellow plastic manufacturing workers at Rehau Plastics into the CNTU (the CSN of Quebec, Canada). Don believes strongly that all who work have a right to organize and be represented by the union of their choice.

Currently, Don owns and manages a small computer networking business in Oakland; East Bay Computer Services, Inc. He came to this occupation after a crippling industrial accident in a local machine shop left him unable to do the heavy lifting required of a machinist.


Our strength as a city rests in honestly addressing the crisis in which we now find ourselves. This starts with asking the right questions. Success requires we apply proven research, programs, and solutions to a number of our city’s most critical challenges and opportunities.

As Mayor I will set priorities to examine and solve some of our most pressing issues:

  • Social Issues: substance abuse, homelessness, parolee recidivism, and truancy need to be acknowledged and confronted through aggressive community involvement, sustained action, and on-going support.
  • Economic Growth: is realized when we set priorities that properly support public safety and security, encourage creative and meaningful business and employment opportunities for citizens, and develop housing for the most vulnerable members of our city.
  • Infrastructure and Development: planning and capital projects need to enhance our City’s communities and business environments in ways that best serve the majority of our citizens and businesses.
  • Fiscal Responsibility and Governance: requires being responsive—not reactive—to Oakland’s fiscal crisis by aligning resources where they are most needed, and benefit the majority of our citizens. It also requires disciplined planning and forecasting of the future growth of Oakland into a viable, sustainable, and safe city.



Don Perata


Don Perata has a distinguished record of civic engagement as a public servant and elected public official, rising from the ranks of school teacher to become president of the California State Senate.

A native and life-long resident of the East Bay, Don is the son of immigrant parents who taught him the value of hard work. As a youngster, he toiled at his father’s side, delivering milk door-to-door, and applied this grassroots approach throughout his career. Don has garnered a well deserved reputation as an elected public official who is accountable to his constituents – and gets things done.


Oakland can do better. I believe it, I know it. It is unacceptable to call 911 and get a busy signal, to wait months to fix a pothole or a street light, to cut library and recreation facilities’ hours. If city hall can’t do the little things, it will never reach heights equal to Oakland’s magnificent possibilities.

President Obama said “Yes We Can.” So we can in Oakland. It’s the mayor’s job to set the tone, provide the answers and make city hall work. A mayor doesn’t blame. He listens, assesses and assists. A mayor doesn’t offer excuses. He makes government work so there are no excuses needed.

I want to be mayor of Oakland to help get this city back on track and reach its full potential. If Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Portland and Houston can, so can Oakland, with its tremendous natural, cultural and social resources, and above all, its wonderful, generous people.



Rebecca Kaplan


Rebecca serves as Oakland’s sole at-large City Councilmember. She has been an elected official representing Oaklanders for eight years, working to solve everyday problems of mobility, affordability, and quality of life.

Rebecca earned a Bachelor of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor. She holds a Master of Arts in Urban & Environmental Policy from Tufts University and a Juris Doctorate from Stanford Law School. A dual citizen born in Toronto, Canada, Rebecca has made Oakland her home for the past two decades. Before devoting herself full-time to public service, she worked for the California State Legislature, in the Oakland City Attorney’s office, and at TransForm.


As the Council Member for the entire City I’ve taken a solutions-oriented approach to the City’s problems. I know the immediate need for a new direction of City leadership. In my time on the City Council, I have raised City revenues without increasing taxes on residents, cut red tape for small businesses, reformed outdated and discriminatory legislation, and expanded transit service. But there is much more to be done.

Oakland needs to be a City that works for us, to create jobs and economic opportunity, to assure public safety, to promote healthy and livable neighborhoods, and to have an efficient and transparent City government.

As your Mayor, I will draw on my energy, my experience, and my education to identify and adopt the best practices used by cities nationwide to deliver vital services, address community needs, and promote economic well-being.


Jean Quan


As a 30-year Oakland resident, I have dedicated my life to making government work for its residents — linking people to resources, empowering residents to make changes in their neighborhoods, and creating policy and institutions that help our youth, seniors and families thrive.

Oakland is my home. My family has been part of this city for over a century, since my great-grandfather, grandfather and his two brothers took the ferry to Oakland after the 1906 earthquake to become a part of the new Chinatown.


Oakland’s most urgent needs are Jean’s highest priorities…

  • Ethical, Transparent, Effective City Hall

    Oaklanders deserve responsive and honest public officials who work hard to make resources accessible. With the right leadership, we can end pay-to-play backroom politics in Oakland. Our city is not for sale.

  • City-Wide Leadership for Quality Education

    To strengthen communities, build our economy and reduce crime, city government must help organize support for all schools and children to set and reach their goals.

  • Comprehensive Neighborhood Safety

    Our family’s security depends on effective violence prevention and community policing, neighborhoods organized and empowered block by block, and preparedness for earthquakes and fires.

  • Community and Economic Development

    Oakland can flourish with more local business incentives and jobs, equitable opportunities, smart planning for thriving local districts, affordable housing, access to services and resourced parks, libraries and arts.

  • A Cleaner, Greener, Healthier Oakland for All

    By creating a sustainable city, we promote a green economy and healthy environment that benefits us all.



More thoughts on Friday

Okay, that seems like enough to digest for today. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on the subject after tomorrow’s forum. For those who want to attend the forum, it’s tomorrow night (Thursday, June 15th) at Lakeshore Baptist Church (3534 Lakeshore Avenue) from 7 to 9 PM.

I don’t know how many of the candidates are going to be there. Greg Harland, Rebecca Kaplan, Don Macleay, Joe Tuman, and Terence Candell have it listed on their websites, so I assume they will all be in attendance. Orlando Johnson does not, but he seems to have website problems, so I wouldn’t take that to mean he’s necessarily not going. Jean Quan isn’t listing it on her site or her Facebook, so I’m guessing that means she won’t attend. And of course, Don Perata won’t be going to any debates until after the filling deadling is closed, because he bizarrely thinks that giving voters an opportunity to ask you questions is “undemocratic”.

Oh! One more thing!

I wanted to extend my heartfelt appreciation to those of you who voted for me as “Best Blogger” in the East Bay Express Best of the East Bay Reader’s Poll. It’s extremely flattering to win the title for the third year in a row, and even more so since I have been so awful about keeping up the blog for the past few months.

But those who kept the faith and picked me anyway get a payoff for their kindness. You have succeeded in guilting me into returning to blogging. I don’t know if daily posting is in the cards for me right now, but I think that three a week is an achievable goal. I have to confess, I was really enjoying all the free time that opened up with the blog off my plate, and I had been considering abandoning it entirely. But writing about Oakland is fun too. So on the whole, I’m happy to be back.

59 thoughts on “Your Choices for Oakland Mayor, Revisited

  1. Adrian

    Welcome back, V! I never comment, but I can’t say enough how much I’ve missed your wit and insight into the crazy circus at Oakland City Hall.

  2. Sean Sullivan

    THANK GOD! In a torrent of bad news about Oakland, this has to be a bright spot on the day of thousands of Oaklanders.

  3. Aurora

    I second what everyone else said. This is truly fabulous news. There may be other places to go for news about Oakland, but there’s nobody who can pull it together in such a witty and engaging way as you, V. You’ve been sorely missed. Welcome back!

  4. Jessica T

    Oh Happy Day!! I was starting to think you’d never return V. Welcome back!! And don’t ever leave us again!!

  5. Oakland Citizen

    Second, third, fourth, or whatever to what everyone else said – welcome back! My days are always brighter when I can take my lunch with a new dose of V.

  6. Max Allstadt


    Guess who’s back
    back again
    Vsmoothe’s back
    tell a friend


    With the real Vsmoothie please stand up?!


  7. len raphael

    Looks like the latest candidate, JT, is going negative on every other candidate.

    Don’t have the fortitude to watch the DP video this soon after dinner.

  8. Stan Kiang

    V, thanks for the great service you provide to Oaklanders. I haven’t been active on this board in the past but I have followed it closely over the past few years. City hall is an absolute disaster and your (and others) insights will help us all make the right decisions come Nov. Thanks again.

  9. Daniel Schulman

    Here’s a piece from KTVU channel 2 that is actually pretty good – it has short interview snippets from RK, JT, JQ, and DP

    What a gorgeous day it was yesterday, the city backdrops look fantastic. It is worth watch just for them.

    I don’t really understand Tuman’s point about being the outsider who knows how things work. Perata was too soft on him. Commenting on politicians and political races has nothing to do with running a city. In fact, I think most of Tuman’s professional commentary was on the national and state level.

    He says he is not beholden to anyone. Which is true because he doesn’t know anyone. Does he have relationships with the faith community, the nonprofits, the unions, the developers, etc. It seems to me a lot of local policy is knowing how to bring all of the different personalities together.

  10. CitizenX

    I don’t know, Daniel S, if it is an advantage knowing all the local players. Chief Batts came in rather cold and, IMHO, appears to be doing a fine job thus far. Arguably, the Police Chief’s position has a greater day in-day out impact on the citizens of Oakland.

    I think people are rather tired of recycled career politicians and someone like Tuman, if he has what it takes to run this City, might be preferable. BTW< I am not a Tuman supporter — just keeping an open mind.

  11. Daniel Schulman

    @Dave C, thanks for the link, interesting discussion.

    @CitizenX I don’t think outsiders are necessarily bad, but we have just gone through two semi-outsiders for Mayor (not to mention Governor). Also, I don’t think your comparison with Batts – who I agree seems to be doing a good job with available resources is too fitting. Batts is a former police chief of a similar city and has basically trained for this job his entire career. If we get the former Mayor of Long Beach running, I’d be more likely to agree with you :)

    Tuman, though, is really far outside of the system and doesn’t seem to have the skill set. Of the other candidates, I think maybe Harland is the most outside of the local political system, but he is a former business CEO. He is used to meeting budgets and making decisions. Has Tuman at least chaired his academic department or lead any organization?

  12. Marleenlee

    I met with Joe last week and we had a good conversation. While I support his goals, I got the distinct sense he did not have a good understanding of labor law and how difficult it can be to modify contractual obligations. I also would prefer if he had a concrete track record of “working for Oakland”. Living here and believing in its potential is not enough.

  13. Tod Vedock

    V Smoothe, as Joe’s Campaign Director, if you would like to sit down over coffee with Joe and have a discussion about the future of Oakland, I would be more then happy to set it up. You can contact me directly.

    Tod V.

  14. Mary Hollis

    For me, the sad thing is that I don’t really think it matters who becomes Mayor.

    There is no larger-than-life candidate here who appears credibly able of turning the ship around.

    The problems of the city seem intractable and, if they are solved at all, will be through a firm and fortuitous recovery in the local economy. And not because any of these mayoral candidates can magically come up with a solution that nobody else has thought of.

    Having said that, anyone would be better than Dellums (well, maybe not JQ). Too bad we can’t vote out the entire CC at the same time.

    (By the way, notice RK touting on TV how she didn’t vote for the cop layoffs? That “no” vote was pure politics. She just lost my vote.)

  15. Max Allstadt


    That “no” vote was because Kaplan had a viable plan to prevent layoffs through an amendment to the city charter that would fix our city’s pension obligation problem.

    The “no” vote was because in the course of the budget discussions, the council wouldn’t consider that charter amendment.

    Now that the shits hit the fan and the layoffs have happened, the city council’s rules committee has allowed Kaplan’s ballot measure to amend the city charter to go through and be considered.

    Systemic pension reform is the only long term solution to out budget crisis. A ballot measure is the only way to enact that reform. Kaplan has drafted that ballot measure.

    And who the hell votes to lay off 80 cops when the Mehserle Verdict was imminent?

    Larry Reid voted no because he’s a long standing staunch ally of the police and fire departments.

    Desley Brooks voted no because she said the budget fix was “smoke and mirrors”. And she’s right.

    Rebecca Kaplan voted no because she had a viable long term solution and the council stonewalled her.

  16. Dave C.

    Ralph: I think that Oakland Seen mentioned on Twitter that they plan to post a podcast of the mayoral forum. That may imply audio-only, but I’m not sure. If anyone who attended feels like sharing their thoughts, it would be appreciated.

  17. V Smoothe

    I have an audio recording of the forum, but not video. I saw people there with video cameras, so hopefully it will get posted somewhere and I will of course link to it when and if that happens. If nothing shows up in the next day or two, I’ll post my recording.

  18. len raphael

    Zennie A. wb posting his video of last night.

    Max, link to RK’s proposed charter amendment?

    Is there an official cc term limit charter amendment at this point?


  19. V Smoothe

    There is no term limit charter amendment for the ballot this November. And as far as I’m aware, this charter amendment of Kaplan’s is not currently scheduled to come to the Council. If I’m wrong, someone please correct me.

    At Rules Committee yesterday, a proposal from her was on the agenda with the following description, but she withdrew it. I don’t know what the deal is with that:

    A Resolution Submitting On The Council’s Own Motion, To The Electors At The November 2nd 2010 Election, A Measure Amending Article IX Of The Oakland City Charter Relating To Sworn Personnel Pensions To Enact Pension Reform. Measure To Require Employees Pay Employee Share Of Pension Contribution, Providing That Future Increases In Pension Must Be Approved By Voters, Exempt Pensions From Binding Arbitration Provision And Directing The City Clerk To Fix The Date For Submission Of Arguments And Provide For Notice And Publication In Accordance With The Law And Authorizing Certain Other Election Activities; And Directing Staff To Conduct Any Necessary Negotiations In Furtherance Of This Resolution; On The July 29, 2010 City Council Agenda

  20. CitizenX

    Based on the title of Kaplan’s ballot measure, I’d guess it was withdrawn, because it is a subject of collective bargaining. But, IANAL.

  21. Dave C.

    Now that I look at OaklandSeen’s tweet again, they may have only meant that they will post a podcast about the forum, rather than the actual audio or video. I’m not sure why the sponsors of these events don’t automatically post the audio/video online, but I hope Zennie or someone else will post a video for those of us who couldn’t make it…

  22. Ralph

    OMG, thatr is pension reform I can support. I knew there was a reason I love this woman. Just thinking about pension reform makes me all moist inside.

    I thought the organizer of the last forum posted audio/video. Could be I just caught a clip somewhere. But if someone does have audio cool, I don’t need video as I am not interested in the Candell’s theatrics.

  23. Marleenlee

    That Kaplan resolution is simply ludicrous. The idea of having people vote on pension reform? What utter nonsense. Pension reform is needed desperately. That’s all we need to know. Now get out there and start negotiating with the unions, which is what the law requires. I can’t believe she witnessed the Opoa negotiations that just went down and doesn’t understand the most basic principles of government finance and labor relations. Scary.

  24. len raphael

    Ralph, hard to tell from short description, but what got you all exited about RK’s pension charter amendment.

    Max, is that described item RK’s main basis for opposing the recent budget?

    I think Michael Killian (former asst. city auditor staff) first raised the idea of repealing binding arbitration or maybe RK and he had the same idea. Regardless, my understanding is that only public safety employees are subject to that now.

    Was it in exchange for them being forbidden to strike, or just a deal?

    So it appears that RK’s pension reform is limited to reforming the pensions of public safety employees?

    In turn, it is limited to requiring them to pay their full calpers 8 or 9%. So it is strictly pension reform of opd employee portion.

    Nothing about SEIU covered employees who are free to strike, nothing about OFD. And nothing about increasing every employee’s contribution way about 8 or 9%, and nothing about changing vesting schedules for all employees.

    I could make a case for eliminating binding arbittration entirely, but then SEIU employees should be denied the right to strike also. Basically that would emasculate all the muni unions.

    Not gonna happen in my lifetime in this State.

    I’m also of the mind, that charter amendments aren’t needed for pension reform, that negotiating and playing chicken appropriately with Chapter 9.

    Pension reform is forcing all the employees to give back all of their accrued and vested medical retirement benefits; and some of their vested retiremnt by agreeing to retire later etc.

    Desley Brooks had a valid reason for voting No on that fantasy budget. RK’s usual “guess why i voted that way” vote if based on her now withdrawn charter amendment is just odd.

  25. Ralph

    The only piece I like is the employee paying the employee portion.

    Ideally I’d like to see an end of pensions for all new employees and require new and those with less than x years of service enroll in the public employee 401K equivalent.

    Scale back the health benefits of existing plans. The courts may side with the unions if we tried to clawback vested pension benefits. I feel a little more positive about getting the courts okaying health changes “should” the unions sue.

    Up the retirement age.

    Not going to be able to play chicken with bankruptcy, I do not think the reasonable man expects for it to happen. Pension reform needs to go to the people. Employees are asking for way too much and have not shown any real interest in giving.

    I think that the city will probably want to work out an overall compensation strategy, which I don’t think they have, before doing a wholesale revamp.

    This being Oakland, I have come to realize I need to take the change where I can. If I wait to get what I want it may never happen. I may not get what I want but if I chip away long enough I may just get what I need.

    RK’s “guess why I voted that way” amusing.

  26. Marleenlee

    Can somebody explain why we would need a charter amendment for pension reform? If pensions are unsustainable, our elected officials are under an obligation to address it, period. They do not need voter permission. What they do need is union agreement, generally speaking. By the way modifying vested health benefits is a frequent subject of litigation. Very complex and expensive litigation.

  27. Ralph

    I am generally opposed to doing the job of our elected officials but our officials have not shown the will to do their job.

    Generic City Union: We’d like 4% at 50 with all health paid in retirement.

    CC: Hey buddy, ol’ pal, ol’ friend of mine, you know I want to but you know it is in the charter, no can do, no sirree. But I still got your vote, right?

  28. len raphael

    Ralph, i guess considering Chapter 9 makes me an unreasonable person ;)

    ML, wouldn’t the litigation to overturn vested unfunded medical benefits get a lot cheaper when/if some of the existing litigation succeeds?

  29. Ralph

    I had the same thought re vested OPEB. The one time hit has got to be less expensive than the growing ongoing annuity

  30. zac

    Can someone explain to me what the alternative to binding arbitration is? What happens if labor and city govt reach an impasse and can’t go to arbitration? Do we just keep negotiating until one of the parties keels over dead?

  31. Marleenlee

    Len, there has been tons of litigation in the area of vested benefits. I litigated a case a few years back and won on behalf of an employer. But that’s because the language that had been negotiated actually permitted the very minor change at issue (requiring co-pays and deductibles). But if the language favors a specific set of benefits at retirement, that is a contractual obligation that cannot be changed.

  32. len raphael

    my crude understanding of the history of binding arbitration for CA muni employees starts with Senate Bill SB 402 overturned by CA Supreme Ct in 2003. For reasons i didnt dig into, it remained valid for charter type Ca cities to use it.

    Vallejo is a charter city and so is Oakland. June 2010 Vallejo voters amended their charter to forbid binding arbitration. That was needed so that the Vallejo city council had full responsibilty and full power to negotiate.,_Measure_A_%28June_2010%29

    I keep thinking that without binding arbitration law, a city has to fall back on basic federal and state labor law statutes with cooling off periods and stuff? but that public safety unions would have to be give the right to strke, just as SEIU has.

    Re Zac’s question, ML better one to reply, but would assume that if either union or city refuses to participate in the mandadory binding arbitrary, the other side can force them to do so with a court order, court appointed mediators etc.

    if my ten minute research into the effect of repealing binding arbitration is correct, ie. opoa and ofd could strike, not obvious to me that we have a big improvement over binding arbitration w a no strike rule.

    Looking at SEIU employee wages and it seems those employees came out generously over compensated just by a generously inclined cc and a somnambulent citizenry.

  33. len raphael

    More poking around, indicates that in general, public employee/employer labor relations and pensions are exempt from Federal NLRA and ERISA. State law and charters control.

    Untested is how federal Chapter 9 bankruptcy court could override state and local law re pensions.

    It is clear that Chapter 9 can wipe out preb’s (post retirement employee benefits)as they did for Vallejo.

    ML’s post pushed me into a very unpleasant hour of reading on the topic of the CA definition and implications of “vesting” in the non Chapter 9 normal situation.

    This took me away from reading a really good book about Prohibition’ name of “Last Call”. Fascinating perspective on how christian temperance, progessivism, women’s suffragism, southern white supremists, nativism combined to prohibit alcohol. one of the points is the Federal income tax became law thru the efforts of an alliance of prohibitionists and progressives. until that passed, the Federal government got a very large percentage, 40%? from alcohol taxes, and a good chunk of rest from tarrifs on imported goods. In effect, the Fed’s were addicted to alcohol tax revenue.

    My dangerously superficial non lawyers survey of the law is that it is a very unsettled area, depending how the benefits were promised and which court rules. Sometimes the benefits are inviolate for retired employees only, sometimes not.

    Sometimes the courts rule that the retirees have to accept coverage equivalent to whatever is given to current employees. As one 60 page scholarly paper described the situation in the 50 states

    “Modifications to vested PRHBs are permissible so long as retiree benefits are substantially equal to benefits for active or current employees”

    “Other courts take the absolutist position that vested PRHBs cannot be modified or terminated for retirees without their consent absent unanticipated circumstances. At the same time, these decisions make clear that modifications to PRHBs affecting current employees are permissible while evading the question whether these benefit changes apply to active employees who are eligible for retirement but choose to continue working.

    Finally, some courts rely on state constitutional, statutory or contractual language that allows for PRHBs modification so long as retiree benefits are substantially equal to benefits afforded active or current employees.”

    Orange County is litigating it.

    After a few more of the CA cities and counties go to court on this, would think the legal costs and uncertainities would drop.

    So ML, using google to learn a complex area of muni employee relations law is scary dangerous. In general, I’d say it would be like yelping to find anything other than a good cheap restaurant.

    Lindheim probably had the city’s attorney’s write up a much better summary of the law but we’ll never get to see it just because we paid for it.


  34. Marleenlee

    Public safety bargaining rights are governed by the MMBA, part of the Govt. Code. Safety employees do not have the right to strike. The charter provides that if the parties cannot agree on wages and other conditions of employment, a neutral arbitrator decides what to do. If the charter didn’t say that, then the MMBA would govern,which provides that the employer can impose it’s last best and final offer, but only after an impasse and mediation process. This does give the employer more power. However, it wouldn’t have mattered in this most recent negotiations because the police contract wasn’t even open! Moreover,switching from binding arb to unilateral imposition almost certainly would need to be bargained, so approval of the voters wouldn’t even mean much.

  35. V Smoothe

    Can you guys please try to keep your comments on-topic? This post is about the Mayor’s race, not bankruptcy.

  36. Robert

    Max, Unless you are a Kaplan partisan it is very hard to see Kaplan’s vote as principled. Even if the unseen charter amendment to reform the pension benefits passed it would do nothing to help with the current budget problem. Any modification to the charter could not overturn the existing contracts with the unions. So until the contracts are renegotiated in three years there would be no impact at all. The issue before the council was about current budget deficits. So while the charter amendment might be a start on structural problems, it would not help with this years budget.

  37. Steve Van Maren

    First, it is good to see this helpful blog back in working order. Although, I need to ask: what’s with the color scheme? I know the previous one wasn’t uniquely Town, but orange and black? That might be uniquely anti-Town, almost like those Giants hats with the A’s color schemes. But, we’ll keep complaints to a minimum here.

    Second, my general sense is that no one in this town is excited about any single one of the mayoral contenders – yet. This is worrying, and very reminiscent of the build up to the last election. Afterwards everyone says “OMG, what have we done to ourselves?” but that’s just the point – it was our fault then, and it will be our fault again.

    Personally, I’m a fan of bringing in younger blood, but even if you’re young and qualified, if you don’t have an engaged citizenry with whom you can connect, well that doesn’t seem like a constructive situation either.

    I’m not sure where that leaves us, but I guess the solution lies in building the mayoral conversation all over Oakland and find ways to lift up bright, new talent.

  38. len raphael

    Steve, you gotta be an extreme optimist to run for mayor here at this time. One could make changes that will set the stage for Oakland’s future greatness, but the short and mid term will be very painful. No matter how good a job the next mayor does, they’ll be remembered for the unpleasant times.

  39. V Smoothe

    Thanks, Steve. This theme is just temporary. I just decided I was ready to come back to the blog, even though I hadn’t finished the new design I’m working on, so I just picked an off-the-shelf theme that I thought looked nice. Now that I’m actually using it, the Halloween color scheme is kind of bugging me. Also, I think the font is too small. But just be patient. The pink will be back soon enough!

  40. Ralph

    Intersting, I thought you would have been a fan of the black. It would have been way cool if you had AC/DC’s Back in Black as the audio when you came back with this scheme. As a Bmore native and O’s fan, I would say you can never go wrong with Black and Orange.

  41. len raphael

    Max and Naomi,

    Doesn’t bother you even a little, that JQ and RK ignored the OPD lawful order to disperse for a substantial period of time?