Tag Archives: Ignacio De La Fuente

Port Shut Down Resolution: (Dis)respect for the City Council

20 Dec

The last couple weeks have been super busy for me so I haven’t found much time for blogging. But tonight the City Council will be voting on a resolution that’s created quite a bit of controversy, and it’s made me think a lot about how Oakland citizens feel about and interact with their City representatives.

The resolution, authored by Councilmembers Ignacio De La Fuente and Libby Schaaf, opposes any purposeful upcoming or future Port of Oakland shut downs and calls on the Mayor and City Administrator to use lawful tools to prevent future shut downs.

There are, unsurprisingly, strong opinions on both sides of this resolution. And voicing opinions is incredibly important in a democracy. But much of the opposition to this resolution I’ve heard and read in the past few days has been expressed as personal attacks against the councilmembers who authored the resolution.

Reading comments on Twitter about De La Fuente and Schaaf over the past few days reminded me of a blog post I wrote almost three years ago, which seems just as apt today. So here’s that blog post, in full:

(Dis)respect for the City Council

There’s been something on my mind for the past several months that I was reminded of on Tuesday night, as I watched the Public Safety Committee meeting. I often hear Oakland residents blaming all of Oakland’s problems on one council member (the council member varies based on the person), to the point where they accuse that council member of being corrupt or not really caring about Oakland. I try not to fall into that trap anymore, but I used to harbor such feelings towards one council member, Larry Reid. Continue reading

Parking meters not just “cash cows”: City Council discusses parking demand management

7 Mar

As I mentioned in a previous post about last week’s City Council meeting, the meeting was full of important discussions and decisions. Though most attention has been paid to the zoning update and Energy and Climate Action Plan – and rightfully so considering how long the City and the Council has been working on those items – the discussion I found most interesting was the one on parking at the very end of the meeting. Continue reading

Tweeting BRT

22 Apr

Tuesday night’s Council meeting was long and contentious. I’d love to blog about many things that were discussed, but sadly don’t have the time for it. Instead, I offer you tweets on the BRT discussion.

But before I do, I want to thank everyone who spoke in support of BRT at the Council meeting. There were 45 speakers total, and most were supportive of BRT. I especially want to thank TransForm, and particularly Joel Ramos, who did a kick ass job organizing folks to attend and providing talking points. It was so inspiring to see so many people speak at a Council meeting for the first time. You all did a great job!

Thanks also to everyone who tweeted. If you’re not on Twitter yet, join already! You don’t even have to tweet. Just follow Oaklanders and you’ll see how easy it is to keep up with meetings, events, and local breaking news. Some regulars are featured below – Vsmoothe, dto510, das88, lotormatic, and me. MaxAllstadt and jawnie also regularly tweet Oakland meetings.

I’ll post some video of the discussion next week because some of the comments need to be seen and heard, as Twitter can only capture so much.

OaklandBecks OMG – Reid trying to shift items around to have BRT heard before Central Estuary Plan! Prob hoped advocates wouldn’t have arrived.

lotormatic 45 speakers on BRT – why does this worry me.

OaklandBecks Was it really worth it for Council to take off a week when it lead to this mtg from hell? We’ll be here all night at this rate.

OaklandBecks I think I’ve heard the presentation on BRT so many times now that I could probably give it with help of slides.

Vsmoothe BRT up. Crazy northgate lady speaking now. Big surprise, she’s against it. BRT is redundant b/c she can already take BART to SF.

Vsmoothe Why are Oaklanders so hell-bent on opposing any change to anything ever? Our citizenry is united against all progress. Depressing.

Vsmoothe Senior opposed to BRT: “Seniors don’t need BRT because we are not in a hurry to get anywhere.”

OaklandBecks Joel from TransForm refutes previous anti BRT arguments with map showing convenience of BRT to senior services.

Vsmoothe Joel Ramos of TransForm up now. Talks about extensive outreach, corrects inaccurate information about BRT. Great speech.

dto510 The head of the Slow Food Drive Fast association dramatically decried the possibility of putting people before cars!

lotormatic These commenters on BRT are making me reconsider a career in transportation planning

Vsmoothe Merchant: BRT will put us out of business. We blocked parking in front of our store for 30 minutes and store went completely empty.

Vsmoothe Terence Candell opposes BRT. Infringes on people’s right to walk across the street. Well, he won’t be getting my vote for Mayor.

dto510 CM Larry Reid is way pissed off about BRT and especially transit advocates. Something to do with the OAC perhaps?

Vsmoothe CM Reid repeatedly interrupts, insults, and attacks pro BRT speaker during his speech. Rudeness is shocking, even for Reid.

Vsmoothe CM Kaplan lists things she wants included in BRT project: repave entire street, pedestrian lighting, signalized crosswalks…

OaklandBecks Kaplan mentions that BRT will have service every 5 min. That is the kind of service I dream of.

Vsmoothe CM Kaplan, cont: emergency vehicle access, impact area hiring, preserve nice medians, new nice medians, etc.

Vsmoothe CM Reid: BRT will destroy East Oakland, ruin chance of retail in East Oakland ever.

OaklandBecks You know what else I dream of? Crossing Telegraph w/o fearing for my life. The BRT ped improvements will make that a reality.

OaklandBecks Reid – BRT will destoy East Oakland community. Oh, but the OAC will do no harm?

Vsmoothe CM Reid’s obnoxious self-righteousness is really off putting. Says transit advocates never take bus to his District. I do.

OaklandBecks Reid saying he wants vital retail in East Oakland. Um, BRT has increased retail vitality in every city.

dto510 I also take the bus to D7. i don’t think the enormous road capacity is good for the area.

lotormatic Reid says AC Transit should provide more frequent bus service instead of BRT. Um…

Vsmoothe Now CM Reid is just straight up making shit up. Claims AC Transit will eminent domain houses near BRT route.

OaklandBecks Reid says he’ll take us on tour of his district to prove us wrong. Strange, since he consistently refuses mtgs w transit advocates.

OaklandBecks De La Fuente thinks Oakland should look at all options, which is what staff and and advocates want.

das88 Why is CM Reid so upset? Is OAC on the agenda? Did he receive some secret tweets?

OaklandBecks Note – Reid has never attended the BRT interagency steering committee that he sits on.

OaklandBecks Staffer Bruce Williams explains that Oakland will get to weigh in again after EIR, AC Transit can’t move ahead w/o them.

Vsmoothe CM Kernighan to staff: Are you sure AC Transit does not have eminent domain power to take over our street? Answer is yes.

OaklandBecks Why does everything confuse Brunner? How does she not know what a locally preferred alternative is?

Vsmoothe Jesus. I know the Council doesn’t often deal w/transit, but it’s bizarre to watch them all be so flummoxed by the concept of an EIR.

Vsmoothe CM Kernighan: I don’t really think having buses on the main street is the same as building a freeway through your neighborhood.

Vsmoothe Jean Quan apparently did not bother to read or learn anything about BRT before the meeting. I suppose I should not be surprised.

Vsmoothe Staff tries to explain possible mitigations to CM Brunner, she talks like she didn’t hear one word.

OaklandBecks Kaplan proposed center boarding, which would save half the parking spots. Also, lost parking will be mitigated.

Vsmoothe CM Brunner: I support idea of transit, would like us to be like Portland. But transit seems to cause many problems.

OaklandBecks BRT locally preferred alternative passes unanimously. Yes, even Larry Reid voted for it.

OaklandBecks  OMG – Reid trying to shift items around to have BRT heard before Central Estuary Plan! Prob hoped advocates wouldn’t have arrived.

lotormatic 45 speakers on BRT – why does this worry me.

OaklandBecks  Was it really worth it for Council to take off a week when it lead to this mtg from hell? We’ll be here all night at this rate.

OaklandBecks  I think I’ve heard the presentation on BRT so many times now that I could probably give it with help of slides.

Vsmoothe BRT up. Crazy northgate lady speaking now. Big surprise, she’s against it. BRT is redundant b/c she can already take BART to SF.

Vsmoothe Why are Oaklanders so hell-bent on opposing any change to anything ever? Our citizenry is united against all progress. Depressing.

Vsmoothe Senior opposed to BRT: “Seniors don’t need BRT because we are not in a hurry to get anywhere.”

OaklandBecks  Joel from TransForm refutes previous anti BRT arguments with map showing convenience of BRT to senior services.

Vsmoothe Joel Ramos of TransForm up now. Talks about extensive outreach, corrects inaccurate information about BRT. Great speech.

dto510 The head of the Slow Food Drive Fast association dramatically decried the possibility of putting people before cars!

lotormatic These commenters on BRT are making me reconsider a career in transportation planning

Vsmoothe Merchant: BRT will put us out of business. We blocked parking in front of our store for 30 minutes and store went completely empty.

Vsmoothe Terence Candell opposes BRT. Infringes on people’s right to walk across the street. Well, he won’t be getting my vote for Mayor.

dto510 CM Larry Reid is way pissed off about BRT and especially transit advocates. Something to do with the OAC perhaps?

Vsmoothe CM Reid repeatedly interrupts, insults, and attacks pro BRT speaker during his speech. Rudeness is shocking, even for Reid.

Vsmoothe CM Kaplan lists things she wants included in BRT project: repave entire street, pedestrian lighting, signalized crosswalks…

OaklandBecks  Kaplan mentions that BRT will have service every 5 min. That is the kind of service I dream of.

Vsmoothe CM Kaplan, cont: emergency vehicle access, impact area hiring, preserve nice medians, new nice medians, etc.

Vsmoothe CM Reid: BRT will destroy East Oakland, ruin chance of retail in East Oakland ever.

OaklandBecks  You know what else I dream of? Crossing Telegraph w/o fearing for my life. The BRT ped improvements will make that a reality.

OaklandBecks  Reid – BRT will destoy East Oakland community. Oh, but the OAC will do no harm?

Vsmoothe CM Reid’s obnoxious self-righteousness is really off putting. Says transit advocates never take bus to his District. I do.

OaklandBecks  Reid saying he wants vital retail in East Oakland. Um, BRT has increased retail vitality in every city.

dto510 I also take the bus to D7. i don’t think the enormous road capacity is good for the area.

lotormatic Reid says AC Transit should provide more frequent bus service instead of BRT. Um…

Vsmoothe Now CM Reid is just straight up making shit up. Claims AC Transit will eminent domain houses near BRT route.

OaklandBecks  Reid says he’ll take us on tour of his district to prove us wrong. Strange, since he consistently refuses mtgs w transit advocates.

OaklandBecks  De La Fuente thinks Oakland should look at all options, which is what staff and and advocates want.

das88 Why is CM Reid so upset? Is OAC on the agenda? Did he receive some secret tweets?

OaklandBecks  Note – Reid has never attended the BRT interagency steering committee that he sits on.

OaklandBecks  Staffer Bruce Williams explains that Oakland will get to weigh in again after EIR, AC Transit can’t move ahead w/o them.

Vsmoothe CM Kernighan to staff: Are you sure AC Transit does not have eminent domain power to take over our street? Answer is yes.

OaklandBecks  Why does everything confuse Brunner? How does she not know what a locally preferred alternative is?

Vsmoothe Jesus. I know the Council doesn’t often deal w/transit, but it’s bizarre to watch them all be so flummoxed by the concept of an EIR.

Vsmoothe CM Kernighan: I don’t really think having buses on the main street is the same as building a freeway through your neighborhood.

Vsmoothe Jean Quan apparently did not bother to read or learn anything about BRT before the meeting. I suppose I should not be surprised.

Vsmoothe Staff tries to explain possible mitigations to CM Brunner, she talks like she didn’t hear one word.

OaklandBecks  Kaplan proposed center boarding, which would save half the parking spots. Also, lost parking will be mitigated.

Vsmoothe CM Brunner: I support idea of transit, would like us to be like Portland. But transit seems to cause many problems.

OaklandBecks  BRT locally preferred alternative passes unanimously. Yes, even Larry Reid voted for it.

A presentation on IRV that even the City Council could understand

18 Mar

At Tuesday night’s Council meeting, instant runoff voting (IRV) was on the agenda again. You might be wondering – haven’t they run out of IRV topics to discuss? No, not yet, and since last night’s vote was a tie, we’ll be hearing about it at least once more in the near future.

The agenda item was about a proposal put forward by Councilmembers Ignacio De La Fuente and Rebecca Kaplan to transfer funds from public financing of local campaigns to use them for IRV education. I’ll get to that vote in a minute, but before the long discussion on the merits of that proposal ensued, Alameda County Registrar of Voters Dave MacDonald gave the Council a presentation on how IRV works.

All of the councilmembers thought his presentation was the best thing ever, with every member (except Larry Reid, who didn’t speak) going on and on about how this presentation finally made sense and begging MacDonald to show this to everyone and translate it to other languages. They also wanted MacDonald to put the presentation online, and since that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, I thought I’d share it here. It’s a bit long, but if you still have any questions about IRV, this will probably answer it:

After the Council finished praising MacDonald, they jumped into the discussion of De La Fuente & Kaplan’s proposal and then the praise quickly dissipated. You can read what I wrote about it on Twitter, but in the end, after seemingly hours of back and forth, the vote tied. So you can tune in again next time to hear about IRV some more.

Special budget meetings, where good ideas go to die

16 Feb

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.

Ignacio De La Fuente still fighting IRV – call the Council NOW!

5 Jan

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: The letter I posted below has been circulating online and has been misconstrued as to be from Libby Schaaf as a candidate and formatted in a way that makes it look like Libby herself was a signer to this letter. Libby is Ignacio’s staffer and the email was sent from her City account. It was clear to me that she was acting on the direction of her boss in sending this email so I didn’t even mention her in the post below. This is Ignacio’s fight, not hers. But since I’ve received a few emails asking me what’s going on, I thought it was worth clarifying.

Yesterday, I wrote a somewhat lukewarm action alert about the IRV vote tonight because I was really hoping that the Council would just do the right thing and vote to implement. But this morning I found out that at least one Councilmember is putting up a fight.

Ignacio De La Fuente’s office is circulating the following sign-on letter to Oakland non-profits:

Ranked Choice Voting – Right Idea, Wrong Time

An Open Letter to the Oakland City Council

We represent a broad coalition of community organizations that provide vital services to citizens throughout Oakland.  We write about the City’s unprecedented fiscal crisis that threatens to reduce vital services – services your citizens need now more than ever.  For this reason, we urge you to reject the $1.5 million contract with Alameda County to implement Ranked Choice Voting (“RCV”) until the City can better afford it.  Many of us still believe RCV is a good idea, but now is the wrong time.

Only weeks ago, the City Council held a special budget session to discuss cutting another $18.9 million shortfall from this year’s budget and $25.4 million from next year’s budget.  The report warned that a cut this size “essentially means that General Purpose-Funded City services and departmental operations not outlined above [i.e., legally mandated,] would cease – an untenable proposition.”

When we supported Measure O in 2006 it was with the promise that it would “save hundreds of thousands of tax dollars each election year,” (Ballot Arguments for Measure O).  The Measure’s Title stated this system would be used “without holding a prior June election.”  But times have changed, now it looks like there won’t be any savings, since Oakland officials are planning to put revenue-generating measures on the June ballot.  And unfortunately, due to the timing of tax collections, these measures can’t wait until a November election.

Now, not only will there be no savings, Alameda County is requiring Oakland to pay up to $1.5 million to implement this new voting system. This cost wasn’t included in the City’s current budget – the same budget that is already running a $18.9 million deficit.  So, the RCV implementation costs will have to come out of vital city services – services that have already been cut to the bone and are at risk of being eliminated entirely. Clearly this means even more cuts to libraries, senior centers, parks, recreation programs, the arts, and vital services for seniors, youth and people in need.

Many of us who have signed below continue to support RCV as a best practice, but we urge you to delay its implementation to a year when we can better afford its costs.  At least let’s wait until RCV is in the City’s budget, so we know what the trade-offs are.

[This paragraph will not be submitted to the newspaper as an op-ed, but will be included in version for Councilmembers]: Finally, should RCV be implemented, we are concerned about how voter education and outreach is conducted.  Oakland’s Charter requires “The City shall conduct a voter education campaign to familiarize voters with ranked choice voting.”  We believe you cannot and should not delegate this responsibility to Alameda County.  While Alameda County has claimed to have worked with “community organizations” on an outreach plan, not one of our organizations has been contacted or consulted.  However, some of us have been contacted by the Department of Justice, which is investigating claims that Alameda County has violated voting rights for non-English speaking voters in past elections.  We urge the Council to take every precaution in voter outreach until this investigation is resolved. We urge the Oakland City Council to adopt an effective, accountable education and outreach plan that is responsive to our communities before adopting RCV.

Respectfully submitted,

Various Names

As I explained yesterday, implementing IRV should not be seen as a choice, regardless of the economic implications (which are grossly overstated in the letter above. It is the law and the City Attorney’s opinion clearly states that there is no wiggle room here – the City Charter mandates the immediate implementation of IRV. If you haven’t already, call your Councilmembers today to urge them to vote yes tonight on IRV implementation. See my previous post for contact info and further information.

Yesterday’s budget meeting via Twitter

18 Dec

I had hoped to write a real blog post yesterday or today, but yesterday flew by and today I woke up with a nasty cold and I can’t really focus. So you won’t get a super-excited post from me about City Attorney John Russo’s opinion, issued yesterday, that clearly states that the Council must implement IRV because it’s a voter mandate. (But you should read it – it’s short, easy to read, and important.)

Instead, I’m taking a page from V Smoothe’s book and will share with you Twitter coverage of yesterday’s budget meeting. Though not a lot of new ideas were proposed, I’m glad this meeting was not delayed until January because the Council did approve some staff suggestions and gave staff direction on various other proposals. Hopefully the January budget meeting will be more productive because of this.

If you’d like to see the full budget meeting, it’s only 2 hours and can be viewed online or downloaded.

OaklandBecks: Council budget mtg just started and @Vsmoothe speaking at open forum about KTOP online streaming being down.

OaklandBecks: She’s also saying it’s difficult for people to watch this budget mtg because it’s at 10am and people don’t have Comcast at work.

OaklandBecks: City Administrator Lindheim explains that server has crashed and it will cost $25K to fix. They’re trying to fix it.

OaklandBecks: Lindheim also says it will be improved – currently only allows 250 connections and will allow unlimited connections.

SeanforOakland: @OaklandBecks Someone tell Lindheim to move the server to 365 Main in JLS and this won’t happen.

OaklandBecks: Now @MaxAllstadt is speaking. Suggests taking back $182K from Chamber of Commerce for Chiodo sculpture.

OaklandBecks: Staff – most of our budget “solutions” are one time funds and fund transfers.

OaklandBecks: City Administrator doesn’t recommend spending reductions – so little time left in fiscal year that it wouldn’t make difference.

OaklandBecks: Also, these spending reductions would decimate services, like closing 6 recreation centers or elimination of all IT support.

OaklandBecks: You can see the full staff budget proposal here: http://bit.ly/75k4Ut

MaxAllstadt: Dan Lindheim: Selling assets to cover operating costs makes no sense, but we’re so screwed we might have no choice

dto510: The problem with selling assets isn’t just that prices are low, it’s that sales wouldn’t close for a long time.

OaklandBecks: Lindheim – to close budget gaps w/o one-time solutions, we need further revenue. Asks Council if they’d put rev measures on ballot.

MaxAllstadt: Why isn’t anybody discussing the possibility of selling one of our 3 golf courses?

OaklandBecks: Parks advocate – don’t dismember the already skeletal parks staff we now have. Many parks don’t even receive routine maintenance.

MaxAllstadt: Local 21 rep wants a freeze on hiring to replace early retirees. Demands in house promotion where replacement is essential.

OaklandBecks: Kernighan – we can’t put this off forever with one-time money – we’ll eventually have to make drastic cuts.

OaklandBecks: Kernighan – police/fire budgets growing as general fund shrinks. Eventually have city that’s nothing but police/fire if continues.

OaklandBecks: Kaplan again recommending more billboards on freeways and more medical cannabis facilities as way to create ongoing revenue.

OaklandBecks: Kaplan – permit more medical cannabis dispensaries & permit growers for increased revenue. Permitting growers is way overdue!

OaklandBecks: Kaplan also suggests increased local vehicle registration fee for funds for road repair (which Oakland’s streets desperately need).

OaklandBecks:
Why is Quan speaking? I thought she wanted this meeting to be held off until January: http://wp.me/p55RV-Ap

OaklandBecks: Quan – Mayor’s office, IT department, and police need to come within budget (they’re currently over budget).

OaklandBecks: Quan – should do citizen’s survey on funding & revenue priorities. Sounds like city-funded research for her mayoral campaign.

OaklandBecks: De La Fuente increasingly concerned about structural deficit that we’re not addressing. We haven’t had political will to make cuts.

OaklandBecks:
De La Fuente says we should sell golf courses. We’d get immediate cash and they’d be managed better. That was @MaxAllstadt’s idea!

MaxAllstadt: We should sell a Golf Course: lock in huge ad valorem tax, mandate subdivision + development within 10 years, create more ad valorem tax!

OaklandBecks: De La Fuente – we need to deal with pensions or the city will go bankrupt. We need union/city comm to look at pension problem.

OaklandBecks: Brooks doesn’t think public would respond well to new tax measures since city hasn’t handled Measure Y well.

OaklandBecks: Nadel agrees with Kaplan on permitting & taxing medical cannabis growers but concerned about increased billboards.

OaklandBecks:
Nadel – some neighborhoods get street cleaning weekly & could deal with less. I’ve heard this suggestion from people in her district

OaklandBecks: Why does Brunner never understand staff reports? She’s asking questions about something that was incredibly clear.

OaklandBecks: It seems so simple to understand that while $3.2 mil unspent exists, we can’t touch it because it’s committed already.

OaklandBecks: The CMs keep talking about cutting everything that is not core. But none of them have explained exactly what is core.

OaklandBecks: Many of them seem to agree that the city can’t afford to fund non-profits, outside of what’s required by ballot measures.

OaklandBecks: Brunner says we need June ballot and it should be public-safety measure. People won’t vote for this after Measure Y failure.

OaklandBecks: Also, June ballot initiatives negate potential IRV savings. We wouldn’t have to pay for June election if we don’t have initiatives.

dto510: @OaklandBecks Is that you pointing it out, or CM Brunner?

OaklandBecks: @dto510 That’s me pointing it out. It apparently either hasn’t occurred to her or she just doesn’t care.

OaklandBecks: Kernighan wants to see anticipated revenues & expenditures for next 5 years at next budget mtg to help decide about tax measures.

OaklandBecks: Kernighan – before we go for ballot measure, must cut everything public sees as a waste.

OaklandBecks: Kaplan wants to see Measure Y revision on ballot but prefers Nov ballot. Not saying this, but she’s thinking about IRV.

OaklandBecks: Kaplan – who authorizes police standing around watching peaceful protestors like lockdown of City Hall Tues due to trucker protest?

Vsmoothe: @OaklandBecks Yes, who does authorize that? I had to fight for a long time to be let in for Finance Committee on Tues. Ridiculous!

OaklandBecks: Council approves staff recommendations to close part of budget & tells departments to stay w/in budget or come in Jan to explain.