Somehow I totally missed this when putting together the weekly events listing, even though I was looking for it, but there’s a special budget meeting tomorrow, Thursday, December 17th at 10am. I might have missed it because I naively thought it would be held in the evening, when working people could attend, especially after many speakers complained at the last afternoon budget meeting about the scheduling. The worst part about the scheduling is that you either need to go to City Hall to attend the meeting or you need to have Comcast to watch KTOP on TV, because KTOP’s online streaming has been down for days.
But as annoyed as I am about the timing of this meeting, I’m glad that the Council will be having a budget meeting before the end of the year because they really need to figure out some way to close the $19 million budget gap and that process can’t wait until next year.
I would have thought that this would have been an obvious conclusion, and to most councilmembers, it was obvious. Actually, three out of the four Finance Committee members pushed for a December budget meeting, yet one member argued that they should wait until January! And this wasn’t just any councilmember – it was the chair of the Finance Committee and mayoral candidate, Jean Quan.
Sounds pretty unbelievable, huh? Well watch for yourself the incredible discussion that happened at the December 1st Finance Committee meeting:
This from the mayoral candidate who’s first priority on her campaign platform is, “We Need Ethical, Open, Effective City Government.” In an email to supporters this week, she explains this further:
Oaklanders deserve a responsive city government that works for all of us and honest public officials without conflicts of interest who are not for sale. Unlike the state we must balance our budgets; this year we cut $140 million and over 400 jobs. Every employee gave back 10 percent in wages and benefits, every department was cut back…yet we did not close libraries, senior or recreation centers, or layoff safety personnel. In the next years we will have to continue to reorganize and maintain basic services by reducing costs and growing our economy…
A “responsive city government” is not one that delays essential budget meetings. And how does Quan think the Council will be able to “reorganize and maintain basic services” without even meeting to discuss these strategies?
Thankfully, Ignacio De La Fuente, Pat Kernighan, and Nancy Nadel pushed for a December budget meeting, against Quan’s wishes. But if Quan is serious about being mayor, she needs to step up and show leadership as chair of the Finance Committee and stop delaying the difficult the decisions the Council must make.