Tom Cieszynski 
Member since Sep 3, 2014


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Recent Comments

Re: “Oakland Zoo Expansion Passes City Council, Knowland Park Project to Move Forward

Thanks East Bay Express. Having been there in person last night, it was amazing how few people that did not work or benefit from the zoo were in support of this. I counted less than 5 people of the community.

As I got called to the speaker's line, I could not help but notice a sleeping mayor elect. I guess if you already know how you are going to vote, you might as well sleep through the public comments.

Thanks to Dan Kalb and Rebecca Kaplan!…

15 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Tom Cieszynski on 11/19/2014 at 5:08 PM

Re: “Save Knowland Park Releases Poll Showing Strong Voter Opposition to Oakland Zoo Expansion

How is the zoo planning to pay for the expansion and ongoing operations?

The EZS has taken out a $10million dollar bridge loan to begin the expansion. The money will run out, and it will have to be paid back. They will have to ask for more revenue.

Where is this bridge loan taking us? A bridge to nowhere or a bridge to somewhere?

Every budget and plan is only as good as its assumptions. What are the revenue assumptions the Oakland Zoo has built into their plan? There are only so many ways in which the EZS can pay for the development and operations of the ridgeline, the ongoing operations of the current footprint as well as their proposed mitigation land.

They can do some of the following:

1) Increase private donors: will not be enough

2) Raise admission fees: current price for a family of four with parking is $63. For every dollar the zoo raises the admission fees, it will exclude the same families that the Oakland Zoo says it is for. There is no way for them to not substantially increase admission fees.

If the zoo plans to charge a fee for the gondola, they will be creating a two tier pricing system for the zoo. Those who can afford the gondola ride to an area that is now free to all, and those who cannot afford the ride and must remain at the base.

3) Ask local city governments and agencies for more money: If this is the plan, then you, the city, and most importantly, the people need to know.

4) 2016 ballot measure for property taxes: Property taxes hurt the low income and fixed income more than anyone. What if this does not pass? Who will pay? EZS was confident in 2012. The people of Oakland need more than EZS self-proclaimed confidence. We need unbiased facts:

From 2012:
Dr. Joel Parrott, the executive director of the Oakland Zoo, told the board he is confident the measure will be successful this fall after polling revealed 75 percent of respondents to a survey about the tax said they backed the measure or were “likely yes.”…

My proposal is that before any agreement is made on the mitigation easement, the EZS to hire a third party auditor to conduct an audit of the EZS finances to see the proposed financing mechanisms for the proposed development and ongoing operations of the ridgeline, ongoing operations of their current footprint, and the maintenance of the proposed mitigation easement.

The Oakland Zoo needs to prove to the people and to the city that it is living within its means. It cannot move forward with an expansion without transparency to the great people of Oakland.

10 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Tom Cieszynski on 10/17/2014 at 12:02 PM

Re: “Zoo Gone Wild

Mary Eisenhart, let's not let little facts like that get in the way of the zoo's version of the historic Bay Area.

23 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Tom Cieszynski on 09/03/2014 at 4:22 PM

Re: “Zoo Gone Wild

Great article, well written. The ironic thing is I tell people the same thing about Knowland Park, but I am talking about how it looks today, and not how it will look as a zoo....

Parrott, president and CEO of the East Bay Zoological Society, the nonprofit that runs the publicly owned Oakland Zoo, told me to imagine bison roaming the land as he talked about the zoo's planned expansion into Knowland Park. "What did the Bay Area look like before there was all this development? ... What did it look like back when the Native Americans were here before the Gold Rush? That's what it's all about."

37 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Tom Cieszynski on 09/03/2014 at 12:37 PM

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