Budget meeting this Thursday, no thanks to Jean Quan

16 Dec

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.

6 Responses to “Budget meeting this Thursday, no thanks to Jean Quan”

  1. G December 18, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    This entire post is an example of a citizen gone dumb.

    The difference between Dec and Jan? A few weeks, not a decade. Maybe Quan felt like no one can muster real energy. Maybe she needed to spend the holidays with her family. Maybe she knew the holidays would take away everyone’s attention.

    Whatever the reason, Quan isn’t guilty of being irresponsible. I have no doubt that the council will take up the budget either this month or next.

    I’m not a Quan supporter, but if you have nothing to add other than fake outrage, revert to the constant and real problem in Oakland: young thugs killing innocents like animals. Gangs, especially black and hispanic. Armed robbery.Young black kids who pull the trigger. If you despise Quan, do a better investigate job to unearth a real smoking gun.

    • Becks December 18, 2009 at 11:18 am #

      Maybe I wasn’t clear enough, but the budget gap they’re facing is for the current fiscal year. That means that the longer they wait, the harder it will be to solve this problem. And if Quan had a problem with having it this late in December (which isn’t all that close to the holidays), she could have asked for it to be scheduled earlier in the month.

      I’m so glad that they had the budget meeting yesterday because they voted on about $8 million in solutions that staff had recommended and asked staff to come back in January with further research on other proposals. I understand that a lot gets done in the background, but meetings like these are the only time the Council gets to vote on giving staff direction. Also, it’s the only time that the public gets a sense of the direction the Council is headed in.

      I stand by my argument that a real leader would not have tried to postpone this incredibly important budget meeting.

    • len raphael December 20, 2009 at 5:59 pm #

      Wasn’t it JQ who a few years ago told residents to stop complaining about crime because Oakland isn’t Orinda?

  2. Naomi Schiff December 18, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    Kinda OT but perhaps of interest: John Russo office has issued an opinion saying Council must go forward with IRV voting, under the Charter.

    I believe that there is probably quite a lively discussion about what to do re budget. While the City Council has to meet to take action, or to have a general discussion legal under the Brown Act, a lot of things happen in interactions with the staff and in small conversations. I imagine that people are going back and forth about what combo of service cuts, layoffs, and revenue measures voters will find palatable. It is unlikely that proposals will be crafted in full view. I may not love this, but that is how it works.

    • Becks December 18, 2009 at 11:14 am #

      I’m super excited about Russo’s opinion and I hope it puts all discussion of not implementing IRV to rest.

      • Naomi Schiff December 18, 2009 at 11:05 pm #

        Me too, and I appreciate that the opinion was clear and didn’t mince words at all. I often disagree with Mr. Russo but he did a good thing here.

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