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Comment Archives: Last 30 Days

Re: “Oakland Schools Grapple with Another Financial Crisis

Vernon Hal the Chief Business Officer's job description makes him responsible for keeping the District fiscally solvent. He didn't. So why is his job as the Chief Financial Officer not vacant?

There is a consultant filling in for the Interim Chief Financial Officer that just left.

And, the District webpage lists Office of Accountability Officer as vacant.

Not a pretty picture.

Posted by Jim Mordecai on 11/28/2017 at 11:17 PM

Re: “East Bay Organizations on the Front Lines of Immigrant Rights

...I'd add to your list: Social Justice Collaborative.

Posted by kmdsolo on 11/28/2017 at 9:23 PM

Re: “Evictions After Ghost Ship

"Hey left hand."

"Yeah right hand."

"I can't tell what you're doing."

"Hey, I can't tell what you're doing either. Why is that?"

"It's Oakland, pal. Mayor Libby. See you around someday I hope."

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 11/28/2017 at 8:47 PM

Re: “Alameda County Superior Court Reverses License Suspensions for Nearly 54,000 Drivers Who Couldn't Afford to Pay Traffic Fines

On the other hand, how many of these 54,000 drivers with traffic tickets are super crazy drivers who shouldn't be out on the road causing more wrecks?

Judging from what I see when I can't avoid using the freeway, there's a lot of really bad driving out there and I almost never see a cop writing out a ticket.
To get a traffic ticket I think you have to be a really bonkers driver.

Oh yeah, a traffic ticket isn't a parking ticket.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 11/28/2017 at 8:42 PM

Re: “Evictions After Ghost Ship

The basic problem is that once again, in trying to appease the arts community, Mayor Schaaf wrote a check that she was never going to be able to cash. She has no technical expertise whatsoever to even make a statement like that.To focus on life safety upgrades to illegal residential uses of industrial buildings without displacing tenants, either by eviction or by rent increases by owners to pay for upgrades was never a realistic goal. First of all, at work here is a series of regulations that are not always consistent with each other. The zoning regulations are local and regulate use of the building.The Building and Fire codes are both State and local and many issues, especially in the area of life safety (corridors, sprinklers, exits), are not negotiable and cannot be waived by the local jurisdiction. To suggest that 50-100 year old warehouse buildings are "green" and therefore should be exempt from regulations is ridiculous. Many of those buildings can't even meet the minimum residential requirements like heat, fire safety and plumbing. The live work regulations adopted in the early 2000's were an attempt to meet artists half way by setting up some basic standards.However, the housing bubble that came later created an opportunity for an underground windfall by owners of these old buildings. The City's combined negligence and incompetence later translated into a defacto don't ask don't tell policy that led to the deaths in the Ghost Ship fire. The City will learn the cost of that incompetence and lack of leadership when the law suits and criminal claims are settled. At the end of the day, no matter how unpopular it is, the fact that there is a a housing shortage should not translate to any public policy that allows artists to live in spaces not intended for residential uses and dangerous to themselves and the community at large. The Mayors confusing and unrealistic goal is why the staff is all over the place both in their understanding of the rules and how to apply them. Of course, in Oakland, when you don't have an answer or the answer does not meet the political agenda you hire an expensive consultant to tell you what you already know so that you don't have to take the blame for telling the people what the truth is.

Posted by Gary Patton on 11/28/2017 at 7:26 PM

Re: “Oakland School Board Members Apologize for Mid-Year Budget Cuts at Packed Board Meeting

Good to hear at least one board member truly apologize for the board's collective negligence. The question now is why should we trust them and the OUSD administrators to make any cuts effectively and equitably?

This is not a very detail oriented board. They are relying on advice from current administrators and consultants on where and how much to cut. The current administrators are expected to ax themselves or their colleagues. The consultants are expected to objectively decide to cut some of the same administrators who hired them.

Hire a chief financial officer from outside OUSD even before they hire any more consultants. CFO's are cheaper and have to live with the results of their recommendations.

Delegate the cut decisions and the hiring of any budget consultants to an outside blue ribbon panel. Maybe use the existing Blue Print commission that was tasked with looking at school closures.

One of the consultants at a recent budget meeting touted "zero-based budgeting" where you start by assuming 0 expenditures and then increase it. That's exactly what needs to be used to evaluate all of the OUSD HQ costs in a totally transparent way. Only after that start looking at local school budgets and closings.

Len Raphael, CPA
Temescal

Posted by Len Raphael on 11/28/2017 at 7:13 PM

Re: “Tuesday’s Briefing: San Leandro Cop Charged With Statutory Rape; 333-Unit Housing Project in Downtown Oakland Gets Financial Boost

OK, don't get me wrong here. 333 new housing units is a good thing in my book... But there is no cry of "gentrification"... No howling about damaging chinatown for this? No screams for "more affordable units"?

Why is this OK and others not? Inquiring minds want to know why DBG/EBX is NOT howling for blood?

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 11/28/2017 at 6:48 PM

Re: “Highland Hospital Surveillance Stirs Concerns

Got news for ya Tracy Rosenberg, Alta bates and Kaiser have 'em too... And a security officer too.

As I pointed out, these TEND to be standard "features" this type of facilities... But most especially in places owned/operated by bookies... Oops, "insurance companies".

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 11/28/2017 at 6:40 PM

Re: “Sideshows Spin Donuts Around Police Over Thanksgiving Weekend in Oakland

The difference between Survival Research Laboratories and street sideshows is that SRL events while spectacular and potentially dangerous are/were conducted under carefully controlled circumstances/venues... NOT on public streets with zero attempt at public safety.

Sideshows aren't art nor are they culture. And no, we don't need to facilitate any of it in the parking lot(s) of the Coliseum.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 11/28/2017 at 6:28 PM

Re: “Oakland School Board Members Apologize for Mid-Year Budget Cuts at Packed Board Meeting

10 Facts about OUSD's Budget:
#1- In 2013/14, the OUSD board depleted the reserve by 1% to pay its bills, taking the reserve to 2%- the state required amount and giving the district no room for spending error. Those funds were never replaced.
#2- Special Education Services in OUSD have been almost $14 million over budget for the last three years in a row.
#3- OUSD Food services have been over budget by about 4 million over the same time period.
#4- The board, nor the state trustee, or the Alameda county office prioritized or authorized replenishing the reserve when increased funding came in through LCFF.
#5 - New programs created to support underresourced schools during lcff cannot be supported in their current form and have suffered severe cuts.
#6 - Retirement benefits have increased about $25 million over the last three years and will increase 15 to 20 million over the next four years.
#7 - The State charges OUSD $6 million/ year to pay back a state loan taken out during state receivership. This loan still has about a 30 million dollar balance.
#8 - The board must cut expenditures and close the books with a positive fund balance. If the board does not, it will be taken over by the state.
#9 - Charter schools do not have to cut any money from their budgets to support these reductions.
#10 - In Oakland we are fighting over crumbs to educate our children. California is funded at about half the per student rate of some of the high performing states in the US.

Posted by john howard on 11/28/2017 at 6:13 PM

Re: “Mama's Royal Cafe Reopens Under New Ownership

They best have made some SERIOUS improvements. I hated the grunge vibe the staff had there, many of whom didn't appear to have bathed, and my observation of dirty fingernails of wait staff on multiple occasions was such a turn-off, I stopped going there YEARS ago. For the hipsters of Oakland, I'm sure they just LOVE a spot like this. Like I said - there better be some serious improvements in CLEANLINESS!

Posted by EB Pride on 11/28/2017 at 6:08 PM

Re: “Cheeseboard Alumni Launch Dimond Slice Pizza

Cheeseboard offers alternatives to the traditional pizza spots. There used to be a ROUND TABLE down the street (might still be there) but that is low-grade pizza for the masses. Dimond Slice will be a huge hit, as people love the artisan pizza, and for many of us with sensitivity to the acid in tomatoes - it's great to have a sauce-less alternative. All hail the Cheeseboard Clones!

Posted by EB Pride on 11/28/2017 at 6:02 PM

Re: “Highland Hospital Surveillance Stirs Concerns

Oakland has a crime epidemic. A LPR at a hospital is great, now let's put them on the getaway routes around town and put a dent in crime in Oakland.

Posted by Jeff Diver on 11/28/2017 at 5:30 PM

Re: “Oakland School Board Members Apologize for Mid-Year Budget Cuts at Packed Board Meeting

Thanks for this coverage. Harris is exposing himself when he talks about structural deficits. I would like to point out that their fiscal guy is Vernon Hal..He was there when I retired in 2005. Ok that is part of the problem but still even under Mr. Hal they were making progress in terms of paying the state debt. That all stopped with Wilson. There is no defending him , nor Harris

Posted by Earl Marty Price on 11/28/2017 at 5:23 PM

Re: “Peralta Faculty and Laney Students Vote to Oppose New A's Stadium Plan

We Oaklanders choose sports over college any day. And we choose money above all. That's exactly why we have our act totally together.

Thank you for the greed! It's Oaklandish and All-American.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 11/28/2017 at 3:15 PM

Re: “Oakland School Board Members Apologize for Mid-Year Budget Cuts at Packed Board Meeting

Thanks to Darwin & the East Bay Express for covering this issue. Up until a couple weeks ago it looked like the cuts to schools were a done deal. The No Cuts to Schools petition helped change the momentum.

Until the Board votes to change plans to cut schools they're still at great risk. Please sign the No Cuts to Schools petition here:

https://campaigns.organizefor.org/petition…

Please share with your friends & neighbors.

Posted by Hugh Morrison 1 on 11/28/2017 at 12:50 PM

Re: “Cheeseboard Alumni Launch Dimond Slice Pizza

I like Cheeseboard and their spin -offs... but I see no threat to Oakland Staple Cybelle's across the street :)

Posted by Anthony Moore on 11/28/2017 at 12:05 PM

Re: “Peralta Faculty and Laney Students Vote to Oppose New A's Stadium Plan

YES! Don't bow to billionaire corporate land grabs!

Posted by Vincent Blafard on 11/28/2017 at 11:48 AM

Re: “Peralta Faculty and Laney Students Vote to Oppose New A's Stadium Plan

Build it now!!! Not sure what the union's fuzz is all about. It's not even up to them to decide. The Peralta board is pro stadium.

Posted by Jay78 on 11/28/2017 at 11:48 AM

Re: “Monday’s Briefing: At Least Seven Dead in East Bay Freeway Crashes; Number of Starving UC Berkeley Students Soars

With seven killed in crashes, someone's drivers license may be suspended for a month or two.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 11/28/2017 at 9:37 AM

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