Len Raphael 
Member since Oct 22, 2011

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Recent Comments

Re: “DA O’Malley Took $10K From Fremont Police Union Before Clearing Fremont Cops in Killing of Pregnant Teen

Why stop at listing direct contributions by police and sheriffs to the DA?

What about donations to and hosted fundraisers for a slew of other elected officials?

There's a reason the room empties in Sacramento every time a vote comes up on modifying the "police officer's bill of rights"

Len Raphael, CPA

Posted by Len Raphael on 03/16/2018 at 6:39 PM

Re: “Town Business: Oakland Police 911 Comms Center Is Still Understaff and Still Doesn't Answer Calls in Time

City officials encourage cell phone users to call the direct number to OPD but don't tell users whether at high call volume hours even with the routing delay of 911 first going thru CHP, it could be that the CHP connection to OPD and OFD medical emergency has a "fatter pipe" than the direct numbers given to us.

They don't let us know if CHP automatically gets reliable caller location data but the direct OPD and OFD numbers might not. If you pass out before getting a dispatcher, that would be good to know ahead of time.

Nor has there been any consistent, concerted effort to widely publicize the direct OPD number (510) 777-3211, or any effort at all to publicize the direct OFD emergency medical number (510) 444-1616 (I have not tested this number given to me by OPD).

Visitors would assume we were a normal city with a normal 911 system.

Since City Hall has been promising us 911 cell phone compatibility for at least two years, the least it could have done was pay for a few billboards and some posters for child care and senior centers, and push out some public service announcements on the radio. As of two years ago, we were one of only two major CA cities to lack cell phone 911 compatibility.

This is the essential kind of life and death local government transparency.

Len Raphael, CPA

Posted by Len Raphael on 02/12/2018 at 8:27 PM

Re: “Oakland Police Spent $6 Million on a Computer System to Track Officer Misconduct, and It Doesn't Work

Gary, I understand your point, and it's valuable hearing it from someone who worked under both systems.

I'm tempted to say more power to a single elected mayor is usually a more accountable structure than spreading that power over an entire council. (I didn't see it that way in the police commission appointment situation.)

But plenty of much bigger cities than Oakland do fine with a very strong mayor system. Isn't there only one city bigger than Oakland that still uses a city manager system?

But no denying the reality. We've had a long run of not so good city admiinistrators. Are we paying market rate?

Posted by Len Raphael on 02/05/2018 at 9:36 PM

Re: “Oakland Police Spent $6 Million on a Computer System to Track Officer Misconduct, and It Doesn't Work

Gary, the building department would be a clearer case of what the City is doing right or wrong on big IT projects because the planning and building staff would have every incentive to support a good system. There must be tremendus push from the local real estate industry also. So why is building/planning apparently still limping along with a hodgepodge of systems?

I don't see why the City Administrator and the City's Information Technology Dept can't at least oversee the management of some of this big projects successfully. But if they can't, they'll need to co-source them out to a decent consulting firm to manage the projects to completion. I don't see how a City Manager form of government would do any better because I don't see why a City Manager would be any more responsive than a City Administror at the request of the Mayor.

The modest IT/process project that never got off the ground which our Mayor promised was a version of City Stat. In theory, that would make it easier for all of us to know what's gettnig done or not at City Hall.

Posted by Len Raphael on 02/04/2018 at 1:13 AM

Re: “Oakland Police Spent $6 Million on a Computer System to Track Officer Misconduct, and It Doesn't Work

Mary, yes there are massive IT boondoogles all the time. Mostly because govts don't have the expertise in IT infrastructure as in say building construction.

But on the flip side, government organization efficiency and transparency often could greatly benefit from appropriate, effective IT. A few years ago I waited a month for an approval from one Oakland department before going down in person to find out what the delay was. Turns out many critical documents in the city planning department were not kept in a central location but were emailed from one person to another. One of the persons in the email chain had a "broken" email account. if an application properly designed and implemented and supported (IF, IF, IF) freed up building dept clerks to be retrained for something like safety inspections, that wb a good thing.

Posted by Len Raphael on 02/03/2018 at 8:00 PM

Re: “Oakland Desperately Needs a New City Auditor

Tia Longfield's post asking where is the peer review of Ms. Robert's office (all the peer reviews on the Auditor's site were done before Ms. Roberts took office) raises the question in my mind as to the rigor of such peer reviews. They are performed at no or low cost by colleagues from other cities and government agencies and not subject to oversight the way peer reviews of external CPA firms are checked by the State Board of Accountancy, the AICPA, and other regulatory agencies.

There is another type of review, that probably costs in the range of $25,000, that is performed by an independent team from the IIA, the non-profit Institute of Internal Auditors. https://na.theiia.org/services/quality/Pag…

I would trust their certification much more than I would from a "peer review."

Len Raphael, CPA

Posted by Len Raphael on 02/01/2018 at 10:38 PM

Re: “Oakland Police Spent $6 Million on a Computer System to Track Officer Misconduct, and It Doesn't Work

Unlike many local governments, Oakland does not have standardized procedures for large IT projects that cover the initial budgeting, design, bidding, implementation, training, and maintenance.

There needs to be internal audit follow-up, independent of the contract decision-makers and independent of the Citys IT department, to make sure the procedures are followed and most importantly to evaluate if the goals are met. The (inevitable) cost overruns have to be audited to find out the causes of the overruns and learn from them.

While that work by my fellow bean counters won't guarantee that a complex new IT system will perform as promised on schedule, at least we won't be waiting for outside agents to tell us we have a problem. We wont have to wait for a whistleblower to tell us after the fact as happened a couple of years ago when a major financial software project contract was awarded defacto without Council approval.

Our current City Auditor should be the independent office that writes, implements, and audits the IT system procurement procedures, processes, and results. If the office of the City Auditor does not have the expertise and budget to develop and implement such, or cannot develop that competence internally, then Council has to increase the Auditor's budget by a modest amount. Much cheaper than waiting for massive cost overruns on failed projects.

Because of the lack of initiative and audit productivity shown by our current City Auditor, the council must monitor the City Auditor office to ensure that the Auditor either hires/ trains employees to do this work or co-sources the work out before we get any deeper into large IT projects. Co-sourcing (not out-sourcing) could be done in a way that Auditor staff learn how to do more of the less technical part of that audit function.

Len Raphael, CPA

Posted by Len Raphael on 02/01/2018 at 10:15 PM

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