Len Raphael 
Member since Oct 22, 2011


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Re: “Oakland Firefighters Say Their Department Is So Badly Managed, Ghost Ship Warehouse Wasn't Even In Its Inspection Database

Useful information to pass on to readers, no matter how contradictory, conflicting, self-serving, and chaotic it may be. This isn't yet another straightforward Oakland budget fight, pitting department against department, neighborhood against neighborhood for gaining more city funding and resources, politician jockeying for position against other politicians. This also involves defending reputation that one or one's fellow staffers bore any responsibility for those deaths.

This kind of infighting is often seen in both the public and private sector organizations when leaders are ineffectual, ignorant, inexperienced, or just not capable of gaining the respect of the people under their responsibility.

I think both MS Kaplan and Mr. Patton are correct that mismanagement starts in the Mayors office, extends thru the City Administrator, and is reflected in incompetent, ineffectual department heads and upper management.

An Oakland mayor does not need to personally have the management skills of ex NYC Mayor Bloomberg, but they have to know how to find a City Administrator who does.. And we don't have to go back to the City Manager form of government that we had before Measure X. Few cities of our size or bigger kept the City Manager structure as they grew.

Regardless of why Mayor Schaaf chose Sabrina Landreth as City Administrator, it is time for Landreth to move on and for Schaaf to break the pattern set by Dellums and Quan of selecting unexperienced or inexperienced City Administrators. Find someone with solid line management experience in a much bigger city, either at the top or just below the chain of command. Not a manager or administrator from a tiny city who you hope will grow into the job. We might well have to offer a much longer, sweeter contract than normal to get that City Administrator. We might have to recruit form the non-profit or the for-profit sectors.

We can't afford to keep stumbling on from one departmental disaster to another.

Posted by Len Raphael on 12/10/2016 at 8:39 PM

Re: “Oakland Officials Order Staff to Withhold Public Records Related to Ghost Ship Fire

Patton is correct again when he says that the acting director at the Building Dept is a conscientious guy and a competent planner, who was put into a position that requires a management skill set that he wouldn't have acquired in his previous position. So many problems in Oakland government are caused by poor management.

The current and previous City Administrators were number crunchers not line managers of big departments. Dan Lindheim, Dellums' City Administrator had never managed anything bigger than Dellums' Washington office. Much of his background was policy and global economics. But Dellums twisted his arm to become City Administrator because he wanted someone he could trust.

With weak management in the upper layers of crucial city departments, our city government is no more prepared to handle the growth we face now than it was to handle the recession of a few years ago.

Posted by Len Raphael on 12/07/2016 at 10:11 AM

Re: “Oakland Officials Order Staff to Withhold Public Records Related to Ghost Ship Fire

Agree with both of the comments above. This appears to be the deadly result of the systemic disfunctions of at two city departments, Fire and Building, and probably Police as well, to set up efficient systems to share information and to manage staff to make sure the systems are used properly and staff perform efficiently and timely. Along with that, there seems to be a remarkable failure of management to prioritize responses to complaints based on even number of people at risk and potential worst case harm.

Nothing new about these operating problems at City Hall. Been like that for many years, even decades. Normally the only damage is economic or discomfort to tenants getting screwed by landlords for substandard living conditions, builders and developers delayed for months over minor items and inconsistent inspectors and charged huge fees for the privilege, or residents forced to live with blight. Construction inspection and plan review failures of the growing building boom here probably won't even be discovered until the big one hits.

Ever since the Feds came in to oversee OPD, there was much talk about changing the "culture" at OPD. Far too many of Oakland municipal government need cultural change as well as house cleaning of many layers of their management.

Instead we'll get mass grief counseling, legal lynching of the dumshit master tenant, and an inspector and maybe an asst fire marshal taking early retirement.

Since the is after all, one of the most deadly building fires in CA history and made headlines across the country for several days, something more dramatic might be done to give the illusion of change. That's shaping up to be big cutbacks in allowable number of artist live/work units along with requirements for putting in good stuff like sprinkler systems which are so expensive that most artists won't be able to afford the rents.

Just as we overhauled the City Ethics Commission, and voters overwhelmingly approved an independent civilian Police Commission this past November, it's time to establish an independent Commission of residents and business people to oversee rehabbing of the Building and inspection department. After that task, another commission to examine the Fire Department.

Posted by Len Raphael on 12/07/2016 at 1:57 AM

Re: “Vote With Us! The East Bay Express' Endorsements for Election Day 2016

You should have endorsed Macleay for OSD School Boord

I understand you have a ton of races to cover, little time insufficient staff.
And Don can be a frustrating mix of visionary and nuts /bolts kinda guy which is hard to catagorize for an enorsement.

I have spoken to Jody briefly several times over the years since before she was first elected and followed closely some of the issues she voted on. Last fall I attended two OUSD board meetings for the first time in my life and spoke at one of them pleading for OUSD to issue retroactive parcel tax exemption refunds to seniors and low income homeowners. Last fall I exchanged emails with Jody on the parcel issues and possibly spoke with her on the phone once.

I have talked much more with Don Macleay because we were often found ourselves sitting next to each other at forum during the District 1 Council Member election of 2014. Much to my surprise (and his) we found many things Oakland public policy issues we either agreed on or could agree to disagree on. Consistently, I was impressed by his intellect and focus on local public policy issues. We'd probably have come to blows if we were discussing US economic policy but he's a surprising thinker and we might find ourselves agreeing.

Executive summary: Support Don because we need smart new blood overseeing the cush bureaucracy at OUSD. Dont vote for him if you think his posting are too long. (this one of mine is way way too long, and too late also.)

Beneath those rough edges and "aw shucks" demeanor, is a public policy wonk that is in touch with the needs and desires of the underclass of Oakland that constitutes most of its students and dropouts. He's also led a varied life and career that included supporting Sandinistas in the Nicaraguan civil war and working as a machinist as well as computer repair services business owner, and picking up a phi beta kappa key as an older undergrad at SF State. It's a background that helps explain why he's more in touch with training and ed needs of working and underemployed families here than Jody. of graduating from a UC and going on or back to UC grad school.

I don't think Jody is in the pockets of anyone, though law I know from firsthand experience how expensive even a local district race can be. Just by the number nicely produced mail pieces alone, it is clear she has some deep pocket supporters. And she is going to have be very sure she doesn't want to run for higher office or rerun for this one if she crosses too many of them.

So I was surprised to go to http://www.opendisclosure.io/#!/city/2/oak… that she had only spent 8k as of the reporting period ending in late October. Since printers and mailing houses require payment up front from politicians :), I don't see how her own committee could have produced even one of those mailing pieces unless she targeted an extremely low percentage of highly likely voting households. That number used to be about 40k in D1. Using a cost of mailing/processing and printing, it costs at least 35 cents per normal sized full color union bug mailer. This is the only time I wished I hadn't thrown the entire 3lbs of political mailers I kept from this election so I could read the disclaimer saying 'Paid for by XXXX" on Jody's pieces. Someone or some group paid at least 14k for each of those mailers unless the mailing was extraordinarily restricted (such our LL's which could only afford to send out 8k mailers twice to the entire city highly likely unique 80K households.




But most likely many of the (no recycled) mailing pieces singing Jody's praises were "slate mailer" subsidized by organizations for which a supported candidate only has to pay equivalent of a time share fee to get sent to every voter in the district.


The biggest advantage to Jody was the endorsement of the Alameda Democratic Party because she could stamp "endorsed by the Democratic Party on everything mailed out for her. Plus, she gets on the restricted City Dem Party slate mailer. All of a sudden her cost of mailing to entire D1 Dems, drops well below 1,000 (Our LL paid 950 to go out to entire city)


Does it mean jodi is in GO" pockets (if you assume as I do now, that's not a good thing) even if their pac spent 14k on a mailing for her? Probably not, but something to think about.


if you're still with me, this gets down to why I signed his original petition and took one of his signs.


OUSD has several much much worse directors than Jody. She's even one of the better ones.


But that ain't saying much compared to the quality of the candidates we've been going for Council and Mayor in recent years.


I asked a colleague on LL why Wellstone (the self-described left wing Oakland Democratic club choice Jody over Don. 'Jody spoke better.' Someone else attended the LWV session and said Don referred the financial questions to Jody.


My response to the above is that Jody's profession as an energy consultant to public orgs involves tons of public speaking practice. Don's business as computer services business owner involve discussions one on one with business owners and the boards of small nonprofits.


Re Don referring fiscal questions to Jody. When she first ran I went up to here or her to me and asked her how much money the state gave OUSD each year for attending. She was absolutely clueless. Now it rolls off her like what's the weather today. She learned and so could Don.


As for Jody's command of the fiscal situation there. Sure they now have a clean audit opinion which allows OUSD reduce borrowing costs by millions each. But what about all those years they were overpaying those millions? She (and all the other directors) never told them constitutes to yell at Jerry Brown to stop the audit power games.




Back to my interactions with Jodi last fall around the parcel tax refunds as I grew frustrated with ousd admin stonewalling. A savvy OUSD gadfly tutored me how I could exercise my right under the Brown Act to get my issue to be placed on the board agenda. Jodi's response:


From: Jody London [mailto:jody.london@ousd.org]
Sent: Wednesday, November 4, 2015 2:33 PM
To: cpas
Subject: Re: Jody, at tonight's Nov 4th session would you be willing to put this on the agenda?

Len,
I believe we can address your concerns administratively and do not want to introduce this as a new legislative matter. If you are proposing amendments to the previously approved parcel taxes, I believe that would have to somehow go back to the voters. I will share these concerns, as I have your other concerns, with our staff and work with them to ensure we are doing what we told the voters we would do.


Jody London
Vice President and Director, District 1
Board of Education
Oakland Unified School District
510-459-0667

On Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 2:16 PM, cpas wrote:
for future full Board consideration and discussion after Brown Act etc notification





I even publicly thanked her for helping on this. Then I waited and waited . No response from the admin or board re my questions. After about two weeks I gave up on Jody. One member from far side of town, Shanti Gonzalves took less than half a day to get OUSD to start translating their refunds into languages besides English.

Dozens of seniors and some low income home owners contacted me in response to my posts and op-eds asking what they could do. They were the one who shamed OUSD into allowing retroactive refund clams. They were the ones who threatened OUSD that if a mailing didn't go out to every property owner, they vote no on all future ones.


Vote for Don Macleay at this late date because we need a change at the top of OUSD. We need someone who will be resistant to the Kool aid they all drink and give the overpaid, overstaffed admin way too much discretion.


Len Raphael, CPA










.

Posted by Len Raphael on 11/08/2016 at 4:28 AM

Re: “How a Handful of Pro-Charter Billionaires Flooded Oakland's School Board Elections With Cash

When we go to bed with Republican ex NY Mayor Bloomberg because we like his massive financial support of our HH soda tax and his support of gun control, he's bought our silence over his financial domination of our school board elections. That's why NYC voters got sick of his after 3 terms. They were tired of him of his elitist bs. Maybe it take a wealthy elitist to counter big money food and gun lobbies. But maybe it's not worth the Faustian price.

Posted by Len Raphael on 10/26/2016 at 9:24 AM

Re: “Cop Facing Felony Charges in Oakland PD Sex-Abuse Case Says He 'Never Met' Celeste Guap

OPD has been a mess for years. Even though it is improving, without structural improvement in the oversight of OPD, it could easily slide backwards once the Federal monitors leave sometime in the next year or two.

Measure LL was crafted to make sure OPD gets better and stays better.

LL moves the current civilian police review board out from under the control of the City Administrator and renames it the Police Commission. Under the current system, the same City Administrator who oversees OPD, also oversees the current civilian review board.

LL gives the new Commission and its investigatory arm, the authority to investigate and discipline police officers, participate in the hiring and firing of police chiefs, and make recommendations to improve OPD policies and procedures.

The Commission members are selected by a combination of methods. But all will get tenure and have staggered terms so they will be insulated from political influence. Similar to the new City Ethics Commission.

Over the years and many different mayors, the City Administrators have often rejected the decisions of the civilian review board. They get too close to the police they oversee and they take civilian review board decisions as criticisms of their own oversight of OPD. The current system also allows the Oakland police union, OPOA, to exert their political influence over the City Administrator. Measure LL eliminates the inherent conflict of interest having the same City Administrator both run OPD and have veto power over the civilian review board. It removes much of the opportunity for OPOA to influence discipline decisions.

The only organized opposition to LL has been the Oakland Police Officers Association PAC paid for attacks on two early sponsors of LL: Council Members Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo.

There is no opposing argument in the election booklet.

LL is endorsed by a broad spectrum of elected officials and former officials including Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mayor Libby Schaaf, State Assemblyman Rob Bonta, and former State Assembly members Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson, 6 out of 8 Oakland City Council Members.

Organizations supporting LL include the League of Women's Voters, the Democratic Party of Alameda County, California Nurses Association, MOBN, ACLU, NAACP, SEIU 1021, and the Oakland Teachers Association

On Sunday Oct 230 930am to noon at the Temescal Farmers Market come by for a free balloon and ask your questions about LL .

Len Raphael
www.YesOnLL.com

Posted by Len Raphael on 10/23/2016 at 2:21 AM

Re: “Months Later, Still No Charges Against Oakland Cops Who Sexually Exploited Celeste Guap

Council Member Noel Gallo's early support for an independent Police Commission charter amendment is not surprising considering that he has consistently listened to his constituents telling him they want police officers whom they can trust to treat all residents fairly.

What is surprising are the elected officials who almost succeeded in preventing a strong Police Commission charter amendment getting on the November ballot. But then few of their constituents realized what was going on in the backrooms of City Hall.

Len Raphael, CPA
Temescal

Posted by Len Raphael on 09/02/2016 at 8:00 PM

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