Tonight, the Oakland City Council will have yet another special budget meeting. Somehow, in just one hour, they’re expected to make progress on the seemingly unending and ever-growing budget gap that the City faces.
I’m getting sick of these budget meetings. They seem increasingly pointless, because not only do they keep getting delayed and then no decisions are made at them, but when councilmembers do offer substantive ideas at these meetings, they seem to be talking to themselves since their ideas are almost never incorporated into subsequent budget proposals.
The December 17th budget meeting, for example, mostly consisted of a depressing procession of public speakers explaining why one program or another shouldn’t be cut. Then the councilmembers went on and on about what a bad situation the City is and wondered how they’d ever get out of it. But there were also a couple of legitimate revenue raising ideas proposed by Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Ignacio De La Fuente.
Kaplan proposed an increase of billboards, an increase in medical cannabis dispensaries, and licensing of medical cannabis grow operations:
De La Fuente proposed selling golf courses (which Max Allstadt had proposed in his public comments earlier that morning):
Fast forward to the current budget proposal – none of these ideas are incorporated or even mentioned. So someone please tell me, what is the point of these budget meetings? Is it just a place for the public and Council to vent? Or a place where good ideas go to die?
I’ll be attending the meeting tonight to ask staff and the Council why these substantive ideas were completely ignored. If you’d like to join me, the meeting runs from 5-6pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. You can also watch online via KTOP.