A budget blog worth following

28 May

In April, Jean Quan unveiled her Oakland budget blog, and I must admit that I was pretty excited about it. In the past, the only way I’ve been able to follow the budget is via A Better Oakland, which is great, but there’s no way V Smoothe can cover everything. So I hoped that Oakland’s budget blog would aid me in following the rest of the budget process.

And for a few days in mid-April, I was mostly satisfied. There were announcements about meetings and hearings, a graph showing where Oakland’s money came from, and of course the Oakland budget challenge.

But days went by, and then weeks, and nothing has been posted. The last update was on April 16th and clearly a lot has happened since then. Maybe Quan could have posted a link to the Mayor’s proposed budget (HUGE PDF). Or maybe she could have created some more graphs so V Smoothe wouldn’t have had to. At the least, she really should have updated the listing of hearings, which still says that the budget workshop today starts at 4pm, when it really started at 1pm.

Oh well, I’ve given up on my high hopes for the Oakland budget blog, but I thought I could find some information about today’s budget workshop somewhere on the City website. So I checked the agenda, which tells me absolutely nothing! Really, don’t bother clicking through because there’s nothing there.

Apparently, the only way to keep up with the budget is by attending or watching the budget hearings, or by reading A Better Oakland’s coverage. Luckily though, the state’s budget process may be more transparent, thanks to Assemblymember Norreen Evans, who chairs the Legislature’s Budget Conference Committee. She’s started an excellent blog that has been updated daily, which provides substantive and up-to-date information bout the California budget process.

Oakland and California are embarking on budget processes that will effect every resident of this city and state. While both processes will be extremely difficult and will likely lead to deep cuts on services we depend on, at least there’s a way to easily follow what’s happening on the state level, while at the city level, we’ll be left in the dark.

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