Quan Gets Serious with Budget 

Oakland's new mayor ousts two top budget officials on her first full-day in office. Jerry Brown appoints two with ties to the prison guards' union.

Jean Quan appears to be bringing the same sort of urgency and seriousness to the Oakland mayor's office as she brought to the campaign. In her first full day on the job, she ousted the city's two top budget officials and replaced one of them. Assistant City Administrator Marianna Marysheva left the city effective Friday, as did city Budget Director Cheryl Taylor. Quan, who has vowed to deliver a balanced city budget by the end of March, appointed Sabrina Landreth, an analyst in the budget office, to replace Taylor. Landreth also was a budget analyst for the city council's finance committee when Quan was the chairwoman.

By the end of the week, the new mayor also had announced the return of community policing officers to specific beats, the Oakland Tribune reported. The move was made possible by voter approval of Measure BB, the so-called Measure Y fix. The police department had transferred community policing officers to other duties in July after Measure Y was suspended following the layoff of eighty cops.

However, Quan still has her work cut out for her with the Oakland Police Officers Association. Early in the week, the new mayor attended early morning roll call with the police rank-and-file. But then union leadership criticized her for not taking questions. Union leaders apparently have yet to get over the fact that Quan beat their favored candidate, ex-state Senator Don Perata. They also still don't want to contribute 9 percent to their pensions like all other city employees do.

Brown and Prison Guards

Governor Jerry Brown, meanwhile, appeared to hit the ground running, too, but then raised some eyebrows when announcing several cabinet appointees, including two Oakland residents with ties to the California prison guards' union, the San Francisco Chronicle and Contra Costa Times reported. Brown selected Marty Morgenstern as his labor secretary. Morgenstern negotiated lucrative compensation packages for the California Correctional Peace Officers Association while working for ex-Governor Gray Davis. Brown also chose Ronald Yank as his personnel director. Yank, a veteran labor lawyer, used to represent the prison guards' union.

Brown also appointed his wife Anne Gust Brown to be his unpaid "special counsel." He also appointed PG&E exec Nancy McFadden to be one of his "executive secretaries." According to the Chron, McFadden was the brains behind last year's controversial Proposition 16, a statewide measure that tried to block cities and counties from increasing renewable energy use. Brown also chose Gil Duran to be his press secretary. Duran served in that capacity when Brown was mayor of Oakland.

Brown also announced that California will no longer have a secretary of education under his administration, the Chron reported. Brown eliminated the cabinet-level position in a cost-cutting move. The secretary of education post has long been viewed as redundant because the state also has the elected position of state superintendent of schools. Longtime Democratic legislator Tom Torlakson of the East Bay was elected state superintendent in November.

And finally, Brown unveiled his budget plan earlier this week, which calls for deep cuts in higher education and the elimination of redevelopment agencies throughout the state. Ironically, the Sacramento Bee reported that the Sacramento loft that Brown and his wife are renting was built with redevelopment funds.

San Jose and the A's

In their ongoing efforts to snatch the Oakland A's, San Jose officials announced that the city's redevelopment agency will sell five pieces of land to raise cash for a new ballpark, the San Jose Mercury News reported. San Jose plans to use the $25 million in land-sale proceeds to buy two remaining parcels needed for the stadium. The city's redevelopment agency also needs the cash because it has financial problems. However, city officials also acknowledged that the governor's plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies would throw a wrench into their ballpark plans. Brown's proposal would snuff out Oakland's plans for a new A's stadium, too.

Berkeley Pool Choked with Mud

The City of Berkeley filled in Willard Pool with mud last week. "It wasn't safe to leave it" as it was, said city spokeswoman Mary Kay Clunies-Ross. "The pool was in such bad shape it would have to be re-done." The city closed the pool in June after Measure C failed to garner the necessary two-thirds voter approval.

George Beier, president of the Willard Neighborhood Association, said refurbishing the pool could be affordable if the city did the work in stages. "But now, I think the pool's closed forever," he said. "It's a tragedy for the neighborhood."

Three-Dot Roundup

In the latest Oakland gang injunction case, an Alameda County judge indicated last week that he agrees with Oakland City Attorney John Russo that the law firm Siegel and Yee should be disqualified because of conflicts of interest. Councilwoman Jane Brunner is a partner in the firm. ... Proposition 8 is headed back to the California Supreme Court after a federal appellate panel requested help in determining whether anti-gay-marriage forces have a legal right to defend the measure. ... The Marin County Board of Supervisors approved a one-year ban on SmartMeters, but it was not clear whether PG&E would honor the moratorium. ... And the San Francisco 49ers won the Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes, signing the successful Stanford University coach to a five-year, $25 million deal.

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