Remember about a month and a half ago when I asked you if you wanted more City Council coverage and promised I would provide it? Well, things got busy for me after that, and then I took a couple week break from blogging, so I’ve yet to follow through on my promise to cover some Council items in-depth before the Council meeting.
I’ve thought about it a lot and last night started working on a post for tonight’s Council meeting, and I realized that this is going to be harder than I thought, especially since I haven’t watched most of the committee meetings for the past month. I looked at the agenda and realized that I didn’t even know where to begin, since few of the items stood out as particularly controversial and many of them are very important.
I slept on it, and this morning I woke up and decided that I was just going to dive in. I’m picking a few agenda items and will cover them in some detail. If I don’t pick the most important items, oh well. If I miss some nuances of an item, hopefully a reader will catch that and weigh in. So as you read this, remember that it is a work in progress, and as I do these more regularly, they’ll get better with your input.
Council meetings have been overall pretty depressing this year, as the budget crisis has hung over so many decisions. But sometimes the Council discusses exciting new projects, and tonight is one of those times. The City is applying to be one of the US cities to host the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022.
I’m not going to cover this item in too much detail because V Smoothe already did such a thorough job of it at In Oakland, and you should really read her post. But the short story is that Oakland is one of the 27 finalists chose by the USA Bid Committee, and the committee will ultimately choose 18 host cities. Even if Oakland is chosen as one of the 18 though, the US would still need to be chosen over several other countries to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. V Smoothe thinks that’s likely, “based on our large stadium capacities and the tremendous success of the US-hosted 1994 World Cup, which set financial and attendance records for the event that still stand today.”
The great thing about this opportunity is that it costs the City very little to apply (about $20,000) and we could reap huge benefits if chosen. The staff report, citing another study, states that “the total economic impact projected for any one Host City range from approximately $300-$500 million using 2009 dollars. It is also expected that between 5,000 and 8,000 new jobs would be created by the preparation and operation of the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup.”
Oakland, if chosen, would also have to host a “Fanfest” event to show all 64 World Cup games on large screens. This would be done at Jack London Square or Lake Merritt and could be incredibly fun. I was lucky enough to be in Salvador, Brazil in 2002 when Brazil won the World Cup, and the City showed the game on large screens in the center of the city. It was a phenomenal experience that I will never forget, and the thought of having a similar experience here in Oakland is enough to convince me that Oakland should do whatever it can to become a Host City.
Tonight, the Council will be voting on entering into a Host City Agreement. Assuming that vote passes, the USA Bid Committee will choose the 18 cities in December 2009, and FIFA will decide on Host Nations for 2018 and 2022 in December 2010.
Normally this item wouldn’t be of much interest to me, but I looked into it because at first I thought it was the billboard agreement that had been proposed to close the budget gap that was opened up by rolling the meter times back from 8pm to 6pm. At the time, it had been proposed that nearly half a million in revenue, which was half of the missing revenue left by the meter roll back, would be gained through future billboard agreements, and if I remember correctly, a billboard was supposed to be built on our side of the Bay Bridge.
Well, this item does involve a billboard at the toll plaza, but it’s a different billboard and doesn’t bring the City of Oakland any revenue. But it does bring revenue to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), and it doesn’t hurt Oakland financially. In exchange for approving this agreement, Clear Channel will remove 16 billboards throughout the city (the full list can be found in the staff report). Apparently, it is fairly common for Clear Channel to get new billboard space in exchange for getting rid of other billboards, as this was done in 2003 and 2007, though the City did receive revenue out of both of those agreements.
If only the City could make its approval of this agreement contingent upon EBMUD not building a new dam and instead forcing suburban customers to conserve water or pay their fair share…
I think we can all agree that the City, overall, could do better. The City could improve on its interactions with constituents, on communication between departments, on data collection… ugh, the City could do better on pretty much everything. Tonight, the Council will not discuss how to improve on actual performance but how to improve the tracking of performance because it’s pretty difficult to know what or how to improve if you don’t know how you’re doing in the first place.
Via the staff report, here are some of the ideas for improving performance measure tracking that will be presented tonight:
- Strengthening the focus on continuous improvement by following the cycle of planning, measuring, monitoring/managing and reporting on progress internally and externally;
- Convening a Task Force representing departments and elected offices to review and further define departmental performance measures and select indicators for Council and community reporting;
- Re-launching systematic citywide data gathering and reporting of the performance measures in an online system;
- Implementing OakStat, a performance-based leadership strategy that involves monthly reviews of departmental performance by management to focus attention on improving operational effectiveness and efficiency and delivering outcomes of importance to policy makers and the public; and
- Re-launching an annual citizen survey to assess resident satisfaction with government service provision and provide input for program and process improvement.
These improvements, if fully implemented, sound like they could make a difference, and the price tag on them, at less than $20,000 is already included in the 2009-11 budget. But some of the stuff in the staff report sounds so basic that it’s frightening that it hasn’t already been implemented, like a monthly meeting between department heads to review performance data.
I guess it’s better late than never though and data from the internal reviews and the citizen survey could make the City much more effective and efficient if changes are made based on this data. Unfortunately, I’m a bit skeptical of that, though I hope for the best.
If I was on the task force, my first recommendation would be to stop printing out every damn staff report and then scanning it in to put on the website! It’s a huge waste of time and paper and makes the files less useful because you can’t search them or copy and paste (which made writing this blog post take nearly twice as long). I’m sure there are many other simple inefficiencies like this that could be easily fixed and the above plans could be a good start for finding them.
The Rest of the Agenda…
There’s no way I can get to everything else, but the rest of the agenda includes park improvement projects, the Oakland Community Land Trust, and amending the CalPERS firefighter contract. Watch the Council meeting tonight to see what happens. And for the next Council meeting, email me at oaklandbecks at gmail dot com if you have an input on what I should cover.