A New Addition to the Blogoaksphere

30 Mar

A month ago, V Smoothe pointed out that the amount of bloggers blogging regularly about Oakland is a bit pathetic. I was a bit more upbeat about the situation, but agreed that we could use more voices in the community.

Well, our calls have been heard, and last week, a great Oakland blog was started. It’s called Brooklyn Avenue, and it’s self-described as “The view from one spot in Oakland, CA.”

It’s rare that I endorse a blog so quickly, but the writing this week has been consistently interesting and thought provoking. Here’s a sampling:

  • Missing the Point chides an SF Chronicle LTE for proposing that bicyclists pay fees, instead arguing, “If anything, we should be paying people to ride their bikes, not charging them for the privilege.” I agree.
  • Oakland “hot spots” for death is as depressing as it sounds, but you might be surprised that the increased death rate has less to do with violence and more to do with public health issues.
  • Take the money and run? reveals that soon to retire City Administrator Deborah Edgerly was the 7th highest paid worker in Oakland last year. I’m sure Edgerly has a tough job, but that seems pretty ridiculous to me too.

So go check it out and help me welcome Brooklyn Avenue to the blogoaksphere*!

*Thanks to Jessica from OaklandGoods for coining this term.


7 Responses to “A New Addition to the Blogoaksphere”

  1. David March 30, 2008 at 1:18 pm #

    Thanks for the shout out! I’m still trying to get the blog up and running — no blogroll to speak of yet, for example — but I hope it lives up to the high expectations you just set. 😉

    As for Edgerly, I probably should have made clearer that it’s not her being 7th on the list that really bothered me, it was the actual dollar figure. And I’m probably just naive about what going salaries are for municipal employees in general.

  2. V Smoothe March 30, 2008 at 5:40 pm #

    I don’t see what the problem is with Edgerly’s compensation. She runs the city! A position with equivalent duties in the private sector would be far more generously compensated. Working in municipal government, one will never earn a salary competitive with one’s worth in the private sector, but I don’t know how we can expect to have competent people in City Hall if we don’t pay them a respectable wage.

  3. David March 30, 2008 at 6:58 pm #

    V Smoothe — You may be right. I have to wonder, however, whether Edgerly would be in a position with equivalent duties in the private sector. If she runs the city, and if she is so competent, then why does the city seem to be run so badly? Should we actually raise city salaries to attract better people? If that would work, then I’m open to the idea, but if it simply means that the same mediocre staff would keep getting promoted into ever higher-paying positions, then it seems like a waste of money.

    As I said in my original post, I don’t know enough about Edgerly to judge her performance myself, so maybe I am not giving her enough credit. However, when I read that she was appointed to the job as a “place holder” and that she has been hurting morale in the OPD by trying to help her daughter get a job in the department, it predisposed me to think she hadn’t done anything special to deserve her high compensation. If you believe she deserves more credit, then I will defer to your knowledge about the workings of city hall.

  4. Becks March 30, 2008 at 8:59 pm #

    V Smoothe – That’s a good point. I guess I’ve just been working in the non-profit and political campaign world for so long that I’m used to much smaller salaries. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever make even half of what Edgerly makes.

    Still, like David, I haven’t been so impressed with Edgerly so I’m a bit surprised about how much she makes.

  5. V Smoothe March 31, 2008 at 8:26 am #

    I don’t think it should be a question of whether one is impressed with Edgerly or not, although I do think that many of her critics fail to grasp how demanding her job is. We don’t, as a rule, tie compensation to performance in municipal jobs – salary is attached to position, not a person (although many positions offer a pay range). So if we don’t think Edgerly is doing a good job, that’s a reason to fire her and find a new City Administrator, not a reason to reduce the salary for the position (although I really hope that she stays on long enough to do the next budget).

    Something I find interesting about city salaries is that as a rule, we pay people on the low end of the skills and experience ladder way more than they would be worth in the private sector (see $26/hr plus benefits for library aides, $87k/yr for program analysts), while people who have more skills and responsibilities earn a lot less that they could elsewhere. I don’t think that salaries for Councilmembers, City Administrator, etc. are necessarily too low – obviously one has to make some sacrifices when working in government, but I’ve never understood the insistence by many that they’re too high.

  6. Becks March 31, 2008 at 10:24 am #

    Thanks for setting me straight on this. The more I think about this, the more I think that you’re exactly right. There’s no way for Oakland to attract employees unless we pay them a reasonable amount.

    I guess the numbers (not just her pay, but the pay of several employees in Oakland and SF) just shocked me a bit at first. Again, I’m used to non-profit pay and I really don’t pay that much attention to high-paying salaries in the private sector. So $250K sounds like a LOT to me. But if that’s what we need to pay to stay competitive, I’m all for it.

    I think staff salaries are one of the most important parts of the budget and we shouldn’t be skimping to save a relatively small amount of money.

  7. jessica April 3, 2008 at 6:01 pm #

    I was pretty pleased with that myself. 🙂

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