Contrary to what’s asserted in a recent anonymous East Bay Times editorial, Alamedans know that:
- Councilwoman Marilyn Ashcraft voted for the current six-year public safety contract (ending December 2021) along with Councilmen Frank Matarrese and Jim Oddie. That vote passed 3-2, with Councilman Tony Daysog and I opposing.
- Ashcraft voted for hiring sworn (versus nonsworn) firefighters to do inspections, along with Vice Mayor Malia Vella and Oddie, another 3-2 vote, with Matarrese and I opposing. If the three positions were instead filled with nonsworn firefighters, city staff estimated a $300,000 annual savings. Therefore, the positions could be paid for without dipping into the General Fund and would not have to pay higher pension costs. Other cities use nonsworn firefighters for such inspections.
- Ashcraft voted for the approximately $945,000 settlement agreement with former City Manager Jill Keimach, which also passed 3-2, with Ashcraft, Matarrese and Oddie supporting and Vella and I opposing.
- Ashcraft voted for the Modernization Utility Tax (Measure K1 of November 2016), which the Alameda council approved 4-1, with myself opposing. Alameda’s employees’ wages are based on a unique formula referred to as the Balanced Revenue Index (BRI), composed of five revenue sources — including the utility users tax. The utility tax had been a component that was decreasing over time but shifted to a growth component with the passage of this tax, thereby increasing salaries and pension liabilities.
- Ashcraft voted for the proposed 0.5 percent sales tax with no expiration date (the city’s Measure F this Nov. 6), raising Alameda’s sales tax to 9.75 percent, higher than Oakland and San Francisco, along with all the other council members except myself, a 4-1 vote. It is noteworthy that Alameda council candidates Chen, Daysog, Knox White and Matz also oppose Measure F, agreeing with me.
Alameda’s current General Fund five-year forecast projects a budget deficit by fiscal year 2019-20, increasing to a $4.7 million dollar deficit by fiscal year 2021-22. As Kevin Kennedy, our city’s treasurer, and Kevin Kearney, our city auditor, recently stated, “City staff say there is a $300 million backlog of work that needs to be done to keep our storm drains from polluting the bay; keep our water, parks and buildings safe; and maintain our streets and sidewalks.
“… Also, retiree medical benefits for city employees are underfunded by more than $100 million and continue to grow at a rate faster than the city’s revenues come in. And pension plans for city employees are underfunded by more than $200 million, resulting in pension payments consuming millions of dollars more of the city’s revenue every year for the next decade and beyond. … This is not sound fiscal management.
“The structural problems in the budget must be addressed. Not facing these issues head-on just kicks the can down the road, and asking for citizens to pay more for basic services or pass tax measures is merely a Band-Aid, not a substantial long-term fix. … You should expect better and demand that elected leaders operate in a fiduciary capacity to protect our interests and do all they can to fulfill their responsibility as fiduciaries.”
I agree with our treasurer and auditor that Alameda’s current fiscal direction, “is not sound fiscal management” and “the structural problems in the budget must be addressed,” and my votes reflect that. As shown above, I am regularly outvoted by the majority of City Council on financial issues. However, Ashcraft is regularly, if not always, in the council majority on financial decisions. Thus the anonymous editorial’s claim that a vote for Ashcraft is one for “meaningful change” is not supported by the facts (e.g. her past votes).
The anonymous editorial also criticizes me for not doing more as mayor and then argues against a strong-mayor system. The demand that I do more under our current system would violate our city charter. Thankfully, Alamedans will analyze the facts rather than relying upon baseless rhetoric.
As your mayor, I promise to continue to always vote for Alamedans’ best long-term interests, including fiscal ones. I am a dedicated, compassionate, hands-on leader who appreciates your input. Together we are leading Alameda to new opportunities. I am asking for your vote and continued support as your mayor. Let’s do it again! Contact our campaign at Trish@MayorTrish.com, 510-863-4496 or #ThePeoplesMayorTrish.
Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer is running for re-election Nov. 6.