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Re: “A's Ballpark Proposal at Laney College Abruptly Scrapped

This is great news for the people of Oakland, the poor, Laney, and Lake Merritt. It's bad news for the A's and their wealthy supporters. Suck it up boys. Oakland doesn't need your noise, traffic and drunken behavior in downtown Oakland.

Keep it at the Coliseum.

Posted by Ernest Montague on 12/14/2017 at 8:32 AM

Re: “Opinion: Keep Cuts Away From Oakland Classrooms

Here's a list I came up with a few weeks ago:

Off the top of my head I can come with $20 million dollars of savings for the school district. Instead of taking $5.6 million from schools and firing over 150 workers to save $15 million, if I was on the school board this would be the plan I'd submit and push to improve our school district's finances. I'll call it plan B.

1. Cancel the lease at 1000 Broadway. $6 million/year.
Since the administration building was (intentionally) flooded in 2013, OUSD has leased office space downtown. It's a luxury we can't afford. All of the central staff can be housed at the schools that the district says are underutilized. This will have the added bonus of making school closures unnecessary. It will also leave less schools available to be turned into charters under prop 39 which will help our enrollment numbers and thus help us get more money from the state.

2. Have the state paid off the debt that they incurred but we are still paying on. $4 million/year.
During the 2003-2009 state takeover, OUSD borrowed money from the state and one condition of the loan was that the state appointed a state administrator who had sole control over our school district. When the state was in charge they ran up our debt (to the state), which are still paying off. That debt has now been sold to Goldman Sachs and other investors. The state no longer owns the debt so they can't just forgive it, but they could pay it off, especially since they're the ones who created it. We are still under partial state oversight so the district pays over $100,000/year to a state administrator has to approve every budget. The oversight also contains triggers to put us back under full state control, one trigger is not having at least a 2% reserve. We won't regain full control of our public school system until the debt is entirely paid off.

3. Stop bussing students from Glenview to Santa Fe. $1.2 million/year.
This school is the only school that gets buses. It's unfair that such an expensive service is only given to one school.

4. Stop paying for Oakland Promise. $2.5 million/year.
Oakland Promise pledges to support our kids yet they charge our school district millions of dollars a year. Oakland Promise should do the right thing and use the money they raise to provide all services to OUSD for free.

5. Stop paying the Oakland Public Education Fund for services. $4 million/year.
The school district pays the Ed Fund to provide a variety of services. The Ed Fund also runs Oakland Promise and they should do the right thing also and use the money they raise to provide all services to OUSD for free. The Ed Fund is also closely connected to GO, they were both started by the Rogers Foundation and the Ed Fund is funded by the same groups that funded most of our school board members' elections.

6. Cancel all contracts with companies connected to the same groups that funded school board members' elections. Start with 3 companies connected to New Schools Venture Fund, Amplify, Revolution Foods, and Education Resource Strategies. $1.5 million/year.
New schools venture fund and its offshoot educate78 are one of the biggest funders of GO and have been the lead investor in many of the companies that the school board now hire to provide services. Most of these services are unnecessary and were done through a no bid process. Companies and groups that funded the election of the school board should not be given millions of dollars worth of contracts. Is this even legal? The total cost of the questionable contracts is unknown.

7. Raise the oversight fee OUSD charges charter schools to the allowable maximum. $1 million/year.
We should be charging charter schools the maximum level that we're allowed, especially since they don't even help pay on our debt from the state. Currently we charge 1%, but we could charge 3%.

8. Put a moratorium on new charter schools. Unknown millions/year.
Charter schools are the main factor creating our budget problems. Oakland has the highest rate of charters in California. For every 100 students that go to a charter school our public schools lose over $1 millions in funding. Oakland needs a moratorium on new charters so we can have time to develop a plan to create a public education system that best serves our communities. Oakland needs to join a growing number of groups like Black Lives Matter, NAACP, Journey For Justice, #WeChoose, Florida Democratic Party, and now Richmond CA, in passing a charter school moratorium resolution.

These 8 actions could create well over $20 million of savings in OUSD's budget without taking any money from schools or firing staff. It's enough to cover the school board's proposed cuts plus put extra millions back into our schools. Many of these actions will produce multi year savings and could by themselves fix any structural deficit. Add an outside audit, a school board that takes their job seriously, strong internal controls, and an authentic and transparent 2017-18 budget process and we can fix a lot of the problems. The school board is choosing to cut the funding at all of our schools and fire 150-300 central office employees, even though there are other options. Please come to the school board meeting on November 27th to let the school board and superintendent know that their plan to take money from our schools is unacceptable.
#FailureByDesign
#WeChoose
#CharterSchoolsAreNotPublicSchools

Posted by Mike Hutchinson on 12/14/2017 at 3:34 AM

Re: “Opinion: Keep Cuts Away From Oakland Classrooms

Ms. Impellizerri, there is NO money and the cuts are going to happen. What part of that don't you understand? If you want books with no missing pages, then buy some $100 textbooks and donate them. If you think a life skills class is a vital investment, then organize a fund raiser and ask parents for at least $500. That's how the richer districts keep their arts and music classes. If you think there needs to be fewer administrators, that's fine but that's not enough. That's like saying Puerto Rico would not have declared bankruptcy if they had fired a few lawmakers. If pensions are underfunded, it's because CalSTRS and CalPERS use dishonest accounting to hide the real costs of pensions, and teachers' unions want it that way. It's a little late to focus on the kids, and the time for you to complain about busted budgets was three or four years ago and not now while the bridge is collapsing. So I suggest you and your fellow parents submit your thoughtful suggestions what to cut (in addition to administrators) unless you want those decisions to be made for you with a dartboard or a magic 8-ball toy.

Posted by waverly2468 on 12/13/2017 at 2:14 PM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

I support their right to strike and use the full extent of their power to get a better working contract. But at the same time, when I see that many of the city workers complaining about their "unfair wages" are making literally twice my income, this whole affair starts to seem a little less noble and a little more selfish.

Posted by Max Chanowitz on 12/13/2017 at 11:46 AM

Re: “Opinion: Keep Cuts Away From Oakland Classrooms

Where is the BLM protest?

Posted by StashK on 12/13/2017 at 9:23 AM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

The original court case that forced CA state and local govts to open up their payroll info to the public was brought by the Contra Costa Times some years ago. Up until a couple of years ago their database maintenance was overseen by Pulitzer winning journalist Thomas Peele. It never was a perfect way to compare compensation because of differences in retirement plans and medical benefits but it was better than just listening to local govt and muni union posturing. But it looks like Transparent is the only game in town now. If anyone has proof that Transparent is manipulating the data, we need to know that.

Posted by Len Raphael on 12/11/2017 at 7:34 PM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

@ atonisson@yahoo.com

Based on family members that work for the state the salary information in Transparent California is correct.

Posted by GK on 12/11/2017 at 5:07 PM

Re: “Town Business: City of Oakland and Its Employees Enter Mediation in Effort to Resolve Impasse

Riiiiight... We don' needs no po-licemen in Jokeland... We can just keep cleaning up gunshot people on the sidewalks. That's not a problem. No sir-ee bob!

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 12/11/2017 at 3:14 PM

Re: “Town Business: City of Oakland and Its Employees Enter Mediation in Effort to Resolve Impasse

This can be fixed with a commitment to slash the OPD budget in May, so that we can pay the rest of our workers fair wages!

Posted by Jonah Strauss 1 on 12/11/2017 at 1:04 PM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

James McKenzie is dumb enough to believe "Transparent California" an out of state anti-union trump supporting organization. Their website even states: "Transparent California is provided by the Nevada Policy Research Institute(NPRI)"

NPRI's website states: "NPRI created National Employee Freedom Week to let union workers throughout the country know about their right to leave their unions."

So in terms of credibility on the strike in Oakland a bunch of anti-union people in Nevada really have none.

Posted by atonisson@yahoo.com on 12/11/2017 at 11:32 AM

Re: “Oakland Schools Supe Proposes Reducing Cuts from $15 Million to $9 Million

Deborah, The impression the Supt gave previously was that most of the HQ personnel cuts were layoffs of lower paid HQ staff. We were warned that union seniority rules would force many local school gardeners, janitors, clerks out of their jobs. So until I hear differently, I'm assuming the new plan is not laying off as many non-certificated staff from HQ. That's putting us opponents of school cuts between a rock and a hard place if we say we have to protect school budgets first then we have to replace our local support staff.

The only thing that's clear from the OUSD Board and Supt is that we don't know much about what and who they cut at HQ and what and why they didn't. We don't know if they went thru every contract looking for cancellation clauses.

As to your point about the disconnect between OUSD contracts and performance: charter schools would not have skyrocketed here if OUSD had done a better job of educating. it wasn't just that parents were fooled or charters cherry-picked, though that played a part.

Now we're in a vicious cycle with such a high proportion of kids going to charters.

Posted by Len Raphael on 12/10/2017 at 10:04 PM

Re: “Oakland Schools Supe Proposes Reducing Cuts from $15 Million to $9 Million

There are contracts that were put in place by Antwon Wilson that were three, or more years. These contracts cannot be broken UNLESS the state declares the district insolvent. Then a representative from the state has the legal right to dissolve the contracts. In my opinion about about half of the highest paid people in the district need to have the contracts cancelled. We simply do not have the money for these extra departments.

It has been years since we have have really had 50% of our funds going directly to student learning. At the School Board Meeting I attended in November there was a question about the efficacy of the programs in place at the schools. It seems as though the Board does not measure efficacy of programs but continues to grant them because, "Come on, these are people we have been doing business with for a long time. We know them." And to that program we pay the same or more than the previous year and add others.

We need lunch and after school tutors for students who cannot read or do math at grade level. Students should have science and social studies every week in every classroom.

We need to SHOW the effect the money is having on students. If we cannot see students learning more, perhaps they are not. And perhaps the money needs to go into the classrooms rather than in our bloated administration. We need to scale back administration to the 2007 levels.

We say that about 50% or so is going into the schools, but that is after we apply a portion of the administrative and special costs of social-emotional learning, special group achievement, and so on.

You can be the most socially well-adjusted person in the world, but if you cannot conduct simple math you are not able to work with money, accounting, financing, owning your own business to make a profit. If you can't read you don't know a contract you are signing, cannot write a resume, and cannot speak in complete sentences that matter in a professional setting. We have students who cannot write a paragraph in middle or high school. More than half the students in our district struggle with basic math skills.

If schools cannot do all things, and we DO NOT have the money for all things - then let the money be spent on the absolute highest quality education for every single child whose parents enroll them in OUSD schools. Education of students matters most, everything else can stand in line after that.

Posted by Debora Rinehart on 12/10/2017 at 8:26 PM

Re: “A's Ballpark Proposal at Laney College Abruptly Scrapped

Not every city has a location that is right for a downtown ballpark. This was wrong for Laney, the immediate and surrounding communities, and for the environment. Would have been nice for the team owners and investors at the expense of the rest. Grateful to the trustees who were able to see that the future reality lurking behind the magic curtain of money would have been a disservice to the college and its neighborhood.

Posted by Rita Hurault on 12/10/2017 at 12:36 PM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

Wow, really? According to public records, the author makes over 120k a year before benefits.

From transparentcalifornia:
Alison Schwarz
Oakland
Capital Improvement Project Coor
Regular pay: $120,198.01
Overtime pay: $0.00
Other pay: $6,377.60
Total pay: $126,575.61
Total benefits: $59,885.42
Total pay & benefits: $186,461.03

Posted by McKenzie James on 12/10/2017 at 5:18 AM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

With signs that the current real estate boom might be cooling combined with the certainty that Trump/Ryan/McConnell are going to slash grants to cities, cut the tax deduction for state/local taxes is it greedy of the city to get cautious on extrapolating the growth of revenue of the last three years into the next 20 years?

Besides looking at projected revenue, someone has to look at CALPERS own projected increases in the cost of paying for city baby boomer underfunded pensions and the city's completely unfunded medical retirement costs.

Unions should insist that at least the retirement medical benefits for new employees be funded each year instead of as people collect their pensions. Private sector union contracts require employers to fund future retirement benefits fully.

Of course, the city budget department is lowballing future revenue because they know there's a lot of guestimating in the projections. If they're too optimistic there will be very painful future cuts. Attacking the projections made by city budget dept employees sounds like the Republicans in Congress attacking the Congressional budget analysts for debunking trickle down voodoo economic tax cuts.

But if the union economists can show the residents how and why the city's projections are too pessimistic, they should do so with specifics.

If the unions expect the city to raise taxes, they should be upfront about that and stop acting like the city is a private sector employer which can raise prices or cut dividends to shareholders. Otherwise, the unions are blowing smoke at us just the way Mayor Schaaf did to get elected.

Posted by Len Raphael on 12/10/2017 at 12:57 AM

Re: “Oakland Schools Supe Proposes Reducing Cuts from $15 Million to $9 Million

Big surprise. When you rely on management and the consultants they've worked with or hired in the past to cut admin costs, they sure as heck aren't going to cut themselves first.

Cutting, cutting, cutting funds to local public schools instead of HQ admin creates a downwards spiral of driving parents to charter schools and private schools or just moving out of Oakland. Then later more cuts on top of cuts.

Len Raphael, CPA

Posted by Len Raphael on 12/09/2017 at 9:47 PM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

City of Oakland workers are some of the most privileged people on this planet. They need to get their butts back to working for the taxpayers who pay their salaries. Hold strong Mayor, and let the spoiled government workers realize that if they can afford to take unlimited leave, you will let them!

Posted by Michelle Blanchard on 12/09/2017 at 7:48 PM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

Services and staff salaries & benefits come out of the same budget. We need to preserve enough money to improve services for Oakland citizens.

Posted by Hugh Morrison 1 on 12/09/2017 at 5:22 PM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

It was Mayor Quan who actually paved the way for more money to come into Oakland, not Mayor Schaaf who gets the credit. It was also Quan, who cut her own salary and staff to help make ends meet at the City. That previous mayor set a better example of more fairness across the board so that Oakland City could get past the recession back then.

However, in a better economy, Mayor Schaaf is great at spending on everything else, except for the real employees who do the work that keeps the City going.

Mayor Schaaf benefited from the previous mayor's ability to fix the budget. The money flowed in as soon as Mayor Schaaf stepped in. Schaaf saw a lot of funds coming through, so she raised her own salary and increased her administrative staff with more high salaries very quickly. Regular employees did not get that benefit.

Why do lesser paid City employees and part-time staff have to be the ones to continue making sacrifices? Mayor Schaaf is following the Jerry Brown method. We know how Jerry screwed California in order to create a huge reserve that no one can touch. Mayor Schaaf appears to want to imitate his model of governing.

If Mayor Schaaf is genuinely concerned about her employees she could set a better example if she made major sacrifices too by cutting her own salary and administrative staff. She needs to feel the pain the majority of City employees are going through, but how can she when she and her administration make six figure salaries? That's way more than the average City worker makes.

She can always go home and live more than comfortably while City workers worry how they will make ends meet and continue to live in the City they serve.

Posted by Kit Vaq on 12/09/2017 at 5:20 PM

Re: “Oakland Schools Supe Proposes Reducing Cuts from $15 Million to $9 Million

Why isn't the BOE having Charters share in the costs?

Whether one supports Charters or not (or only supports successful Charters) it seems unfair to have only traditional schools be impacted.

This is going to cause more families to flee traditional OUSD schools, decreasing enrollment next year...and then the problem will become even worse.

Posted by Hugh Morrison 1 on 12/09/2017 at 4:33 PM

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