Len Raphael 
Member since Oct 22, 2011

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Recent Comments

Re: “Oakland's Sacred Wheel Cheese Shop to Permanently Close

Don't miss Genova. Will miss Sacred Wheel.

Posted by Len Raphael on 12/13/2017 at 8:24 PM

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: “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: “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: “Town Business: City Workers Plan to Strike, and Oakland's Affordable Housing Fees Slow to Raise Money

Police and Fire uniformed employees are not allowed to strike by State law, but under a special Oakland charter provision unique to police and fire , all police and fire personnel issues including compensation are subject to binding arbitration. In practice, that means that OFD and OPD uniformed employees get paid the same as other Bay Area cities.

That same binding arbitration too often results in "split the baby" decisions on discipline matters with police officers, regardless of the source of the underlying complaint.

The arbitrator's decision overrules all police department and police review board discipline decisions.

Contract renewal time is the only chance the City will have until next contract time to negotiate clear, specific conduct standards for police officers so that the arbitrators have guidelines to either uphold discipline or overrule the discipline orders.

Posted by Len Raphael on 12/05/2017 at 12:06 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

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

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