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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 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: “Watch Oakland Chefs Tanya Holland and Tu David Phu Compete on Top Chef

EB Pride Most chefs are this way as I have had the displeasure of working alongside the ever charming and talented Tu David Phu and find him to be very similiar as your comments. I think most chefs are horrible and mean behind closed doors. It is simply the nature of the game and their egos so suck it up and move on. They are on the show because of their cooking talents and if you think they are the first chefs competing on the show because someone does not like them you should watch The Kardashians

Posted by toomanycooksinthekitchen on 12/10/2017 at 6:24 AM

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
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: “Marcus Books Is Making a Comeback

Its called gentrification, not black flight.

Posted by Michie on 12/09/2017 at 8:07 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

Re: “Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf Says: The Remedy is More Women in Power Now

To Kathleen Richards, who apparently requested this piece by Mayor Libby Schaaf:

Whatever the inspiration for this piece of writing, the writer remains, in my view, an exploiter of a current media trend rather than a contributor of insight to a discussion which can certainly benefit from thoughtful and incisive reflection.

As an example, Schaaf says that women need to occupy more powerful positions. I would suggest that a more useful perspective would be to say that women need to occupy more responsible positions and that characteristics of such responsibility be explored.

Thus I wrote that rather than merely appointing a woman as Oakland's Police Chief, our Police Department might work toward having more like 50% female officers. That could indeed introduce a new level of female responsibility, as well as power, which would benefit all Oaklanders by having cops who are less violently macho, more able to listen to community concerns and more compassionate while still being capable of enforcing the law.

In the case of Mayor Schaaf herself I would suggest that she has abundant power of all sorts in her office but she has largely failed to adequately shoulder the responsibilities that her office requires.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 12/09/2017 at 3:22 PM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

I support these courageous Oakland workers for standing up for their families and whats left of the middle class! Public please dont be fooled by Libby Schaff. She is only serving herself and the powerful special interests who fund her campaigns. She wants those who provide the services and can no longer afford to live in the City they serve to continue to sacrifice so she can give City taxpayers money to developers and tax breaks to huge businesses who give nothing back to the City. Stay strong Oakland workers!! Weve got your backs!!

Posted by sstalbaum on 12/09/2017 at 1:34 PM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

There is money in implementing prop 64. I know this for a fact since I used to work for a collective with my ex husband who decided he didn't want to make things the right way by paying for government taxes along with getting a seller's permit for a marijuana grow operation we had in the Oakland Hills. Now, I left him because of this and there is still money going through that house.

Posted by Crystle Dean on 12/09/2017 at 11:05 AM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

I support these workers and their struggle for a fair wage. As to the mayor, she has slowly turned Oakland into a trash heap.

Posted by Patrick Beadle on 12/09/2017 at 11:03 AM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

Union workers are fighting for their families. They don't want to "fit in" and join the race to the bottom. And the Oakland workers are definitely not "under skilled" and "under educated." They have to do well in very competitive civil service exams to be hired. Their performances are evaluated annually. They have to pass a probation period. Unions are the best hope of maintaining a middle class, despite attempts to diminish and break them.

Support these folks. The decent salaries and benefits they have struggled for may one day belong to your kids.

Posted by Margaret Cunningham on 12/09/2017 at 5:35 AM

Re: “Opinion: Getting the Shaft From Schaaf

I agree with Ali that workers were misled by the Mayor when times were hard. As she has shown over and over again, Mayor Schaaf, wearing her phony "I'm so concerned" face, says things in a moment of crisis that she has no way of delivering. That my friends is not leadership. With that being said, the unions and all public employees need to take a look at what is happening in the labor force in the entire economy. To only consider comparable salaries in other local agencies is naive, short sighted and negligent on the part of the union. Here is the reality of where we are in 2017. It has been much celebrated that we are in the "new economy", with the bay area leading the movement. Look at how Uber and AirbnB position themselves in regards to labor. NOT having employees is a part of their business model. Everybody is an independent contractor, responsible for their own insurance and benefits. AirbnB claims to be a short term transient occupancy or hotel option, but they own no hotels. Uber and Lyft are car services that own no cars. Nobody is paying the kinds of wages and benefits that public employees are historically used to receiving. That is already a dying 20th century labor relationship that the private sector and increasingly the public sector are moving away from. Rising health care costs and pension obligations are making that kind of employment increasingly unsustainable for cities. Look at how the City budget is carved up.The majority of the money goes to Police and Fire costs. The two places where frankly, their unions have over time, milked the City for extremely generous lifetime benefit packages. Don't ever forget that to some extent, unions are about their own existence and ability to survive. Part time and contract employees are the only way that many cities can provide services and combat the unsustainable position they are in. Responsible union leadership should be honest with employees about the reality of labor in the current economic context and form a realistic strategy moving forward that serves the workers and allows them to go back to work. Nobody should be out of work at Christmas. That is especially true for many of these strikers who are under skilled and under educated when compared overall to the bay area workforce. This is not 1965, it is almost 2018 and union workers need to look around and be realistic about where they fit in.

Posted by Gary Patton on 12/09/2017 at 4:51 AM

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