Tonight: City Budget

Oakland: Mayor Quan has negotiated 9% cuts from four major unions—police, fire, electrical, engineers.  And is about to ink the deal with a fifth union for a combined–all five unions—expected annual total savings of $40M!  Last year, Oakland police officers refused to negotiate cuts to their pension; it resulted in the layoffs of 80 officers. This year, Oakland firefighters have agreed to a 9% cut in pay/benefits that is going to result in an annual savings of $9.5M just from the firefighters alone! MOREOVER: “The union concessions will allow the city to stave off planned major cuts to city services, including proposed cuts to libaries, parks, tree maintenance, and arts funding.” Source: EBX.

Alameda: Tonight, Mayor Gilmore intends to approve a budget (Agenda Item 4A-i) with projected annual deficits “as high as $5.3 million every year from FY2011-12 through FY2015-16.”  Cuts from departments are in the very low six-figures. The Fire Department budget shows only a 3.5% reduction with no firefighter layoffs.  (<<< that’s right: no reductions in pay/benefits for the firefighters and no layoffs << but then we knew that from that last and unfreakingbelievable city council meeting, didn’t we?) The significant police budget cuts come from eliminating the Animal Shelter and staffing therefor.  Source: AAN.

PEOPLE: what to do?! This is OUR City and OUR quality of life. Hell in a handbasket anyone?!

City Hall has shown they are going to do what they damn well please regardless of what makes sense. …..  They are NOT doing enough to cut the budget. Hell! They are NOT even talking about getting real concessions from public service unions. Real union concessions are the single most important thing that all cities are doing for their residents….and unions are doing for their cities. Why? Because given today’s recession, the public service contracts are fat. Cutting pay/benefits brings them into line with today’s economy, and provides significant savings to the city that help the city both maintain public service staffing levels (fire and police jobs) and city services…like the Animal Shelter, parks, etc. Oh, and that other thing, it helps the city, you know, not going bankrupt. DUH.

THERE IS SOMETHING VERY VERY WRONG HERE. With the budget. With our Mayor.  With the city council. And the meetings…oh man, those meetings…

The “public” city council meetings are a farce; there’s no respect whatsoever for the valuable and important civic engagement of the public, of the citizens:

They (IMO: particularly Mayor Gilmore) prattle “on about civility [citizen speakers lack thereof!] while essentially telling people to shut up, sit down, stop bothering us.” (Gorelick).

“…the general tone [of the meeting] is unmistakable: Go away, leave us alone, you guys are rubes. It’s extremely offensive.” (Gordanier)

How audacious of us to be thinking citizens!

As citizens, we are supposed to directly address issues and interact with our elected representatives….the corollary to that is: we are supposed to be heard and heeded.  Why aren’t we? The mayor is simply the chairwoman of the city council and of the meetings. She’s not our city’s chief executive. City Manager Russo is.

Unlikely we’ll get anything different than the usual from GilBonTam, i.e., their self-congratulatory and self-aggrandizing talk about how wonderful their experience was getting this budget completed… Or from Johnson the Mediator. Or from deHaan the Outraged. We probably won’t hear any substantive discussion about the real financial condition of our city…but we should demand this conversation nonetheless. Perhaps CM Russo will take a more considerate tact with us and respectfully address our concerns.

I’m dying to hear a good explanation of—a substantive discussion about—-the budget sans union concessions, aren’t you?

There’s nothing like a little self-evident facts combined with deflecting, dominating, and perhaps dissembling, behavior for a failing body politic to, by default, indict itself.

Special Joint Meeting of the City Council, Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority (ARRA) and Community Improvement Commission (CIC)
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 7:00 pm


Meeting Location
Alameda City Hall, Council Chambers
2263 Santa Clara Avenue, 3rd Floor
Alameda, CA 94501

Streaming Live:


About Denise Lai

Alive. Swim (fly is the best). Walking with my dog (weims are the best). Life is good. Would prefer people understood negative externalities and prevented themselves from creating them. Feeling the love anyway. View all posts by Denise Lai

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