Tag Archives: taxes

Don Perata – A Democrat using Republican talking points

9 Apr

Continuing my series on mayoral candidate blogging, today I’ll be looking at Don Perata’s blog. Before I get into the content, I have to point out that Perata is either courageous or stupid – he’s allowing comments on his blog. Kerry Hamill, who ran for Council against Rebecca Kaplan in 2008, did the same thing for a short time but soon disabled them when negative comments started flowing in. Any guesses to how long before Perata disables comments on his blog?

There have only been a handful of blog posts posted so far. The first ones were about the campaign, but the last four have been about policy issues. Two of the posts were about prison issues – recidivism and summary parole. Those are important issues, of course, but there’s much more that can be done at the state level about them. One of the two Oakland posts was about the most recent parking debacle, when the City was found to be ticketing cars in low-income areas but not ticketing them in the hills for the same violation. Can you guess where Perata stood on that?

His last policy post was the most interesting. It focused on the City budget and the proposal to place two parcel tax measures on the November ballot:

Mayor Dellums’ office threatened that this was the only way to avoid cutbacks to police and fire-services.

The only way? This response is typical of Oakland’s stagnant city government. It’s a ballot cop-out to subsidize city inefficiency. There are always other ways.

I’m not sure there are many who would disagree about city inefficiencies, and so far the Council (save for a couple of members) and Mayor Dellums have been short of ideas for how to avoid huge public safety cut backs so I’m open to hearing new ideas.

Sadly, what follows are not new ideas:

To start, the City Council could have put a measure on the June ballot asking Oakland voters to retain the half-cent tax we already pay but one that the state will rescind in July.

Sales tax in Oakland is already way too high. I’m not anti-tax, but a sales tax is a measure of last resort – it is incredibly regressive and does nothing to help struggling small businesses in Oakland. I’d prefer a parcel tax over a sales tax measure any day (and for those of you who are going to comment that I’m a renter so I wouldn’t have to pay a parcel tax, my apartment isn’t rent controlled and I’m sure my rent will be raised if any parcel taxes pass).

But worse is that Perata says the Council should have put this measure on the June ballot. Yes, that’s the June ballot that the City does not have to pay for because there are no Oakland races on it due to instant runoff voting pushing all of the City elections to November. To close the budget gap, Perata is proposing wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on paying for the June election to pass a regressive tax.

Moving on, Perata then complains about the lack of responsiveness from City Hall, which I can sympathize with:

It’s no surprise then that my office isn’t getting a straight answer from City Hall on how much the city’s 33 boards and commissions are costing Oakland’s taxpayers. The City Clerk’s office claims that the Mayor’s office is responsible. The Mayor’s office has no idea how much is being spent and is not sure that records even exist.

I’m sure there’s some waste in the boards and commissions (many of them never have quorum so I’m not sure why we keep them around, but that’s another blog post). But bringing this up in a post on the budget is at best a distraction and at worst similar to the talking points Republicans use about the state budget. Meg Whitman’s campaign for governor is centered around government waste and the idea that she can fix the state budget mess by trimming the fat, while at the same time making no cuts to education and cutting taxes.

Perata’s blog post doesn’t go that far, but it heads in that direction:

Every dollar should be accounted for before raising taxes. Oakland’s voters are among the most generous in the state. Their pockets have been tapped again and again, and they’ve been failed again and again by the city government. City Hall should be making serious political cuts before cutting city services.

Basically everyone agrees that there’s waste in Oakland government, and yes, I’d like to see that fixed, but it’s dangerous to suggest that we can fix our budget problem by making “political cuts.” We need long-term budget solutions for this City that are more about policy than politics. We need new revenue streams and, likely, some serious cuts that are beyond “political.”

After serving for so long as head of the State Senate, I would have expected more from Perata than regurgitating the Republican talking points that he fought against for so many years. We already have a Green Party Tea Partier in the mayoral race (or as a friend commented, a Green Tea Partier) – do we really need a Democrat using Republican talking points? I don’t think so.

Remember to vote, and then start thinking about the other special election

19 May

I hope you’ll join me in voting down all the state ballot initiatives today, but as soon as you do that, it will be time to start thinking about the next election. That’s right, on July 21st, Oakland will be holding its own special election to deal with our local budget crisis. (Wasn’t this supposed to be our year off from voting? Oh well.)

I’ll have endorsements out sometime before the election, but here’s a quick run down on what you’ll be asked to vote on:

  • Marijuana tax: Creates a special tax rate of 1.2% for marijuana sales.
  • Measure OO partial repeal: The passage of Measure OO last November added to the huge hole in Oakland’s General Fund so the Council voted on a repeal. After deadlocking twice on the vote, they ultimately compromised and voted for a partial repeal that would maintain part of the funding for Measure OO programs.
  • Transfer tax: Corporate real estate transfers are currently not subject to the same transfer tax that other properties are. This measure would clarify the law so that the transfer tax applies to all properties.
  • Hotel tax: Increases Oakland’s hotel tax from 11% to 13% to fund museums and arts.

If you’re ready to learn more, head to the Metropolitian Greater Oakland Democratic Club’s meeting this week that will focus on Oakland’s special election. The meeting’s on Thursday, May 21st from 7:30-9:00pm at the Dimond Library, 3565 Fruitvale Avenue. (I would have included this meeting on my weekly events listing but I still can’t figure out how to get on MGO’s email list so if anyone from the group is reading, please let me know.)

April 20-25 Oakland Political & Community Events

19 Apr

Monday, April 20th – City Visions Radio presents “What’s Next for Oakland’s Downtown – Ten Years After the 10K Project”

So the title of this show sounds pretty inacuous and interesting – I think it’s a good idea to reflect back on former plans to see how they went. But the description I received from the producer and the one on their website are a bit overboard, calling the current situation a “crisis” and ominously stating: “But now units are standing empty, with potential buyers unable to get mortgages, while other projects are in limbo as developers struggle to keep solvent.” Look, we all know that units are empty in the DTO, but they’re also empty throughout the city (and the state, and the country). We’re in the middle of an economic crisis and it seems unfair to look at the DTO in a vaccum and to blame the vacancies on the 10K plan alone. And nowhere in the description of the show did it mention the enormous success of entertainment venues, bars and restaurants in dowtown over the past few years so I hope they won’t gloss over that. Oh well, guess we’ll just have to wait and hear how it goes tomorrow. The show will run from 7-8 pm and you can call in with questions and comments to (415) 841-4134 or email questions to feedback@cityvisionsradio.com. Tune in at City Visions Radio, 91.7 FM, KALW or online at www.cityvisionsradio.com.

Monday, April 20th – Budget Town Hall

This will be the second of three budget town halls the City is hosting throughout Oakland in the next few weeks to get feedback from residents on the budget and budget cuts. V Smoothe wrote some background info on the budget, and I couldn’t agree more with her take on these town halls: “Go to the town halls and go to the budget meetings and tell them what your priorities are. If you don’t, I guarantee, somebody else will, and you can take a wild guess who’s more likely to get what they want.” This town hall will be held from 6:30-8pm at Edna Brewer Middle School (tentative location), 3745 13th Avenue (at Park).

Tuesday, April 21st – Oakland City Council Meeting

Taxes, taxes, taxes!!! That’s a pretty good summary of what the Council will be addressing this Tuesday night. They’ll be considering raising the sales tax, placing a special tax on gross revenues of cannabis sales, a creating a new parcel tax on park maintenance and landscaping, and amending the property transfer tax. And if they get through all those taxes before 2am, they also will be discussing some other issues, like the East Oakland private security pilot program. See the full meeting agenda and check out my post about how to watch and understand City Council meetings if you need some guidance on how or where to view the meeting. The non-ceremonial parts of the meeting start at 7pm, and if you’d like to see the meeting in person, head to the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Tuesday, April 21st – Walk Oakland Bike Oakland Monthly Meeting

Join WOBO as we prepare for Bike to Work Day, May 14th! We need your help to get ready for WOBO’s energizer stations, as well as to support the 1,000 participants expected throughout the O. We will be prepping materials and making plans to set up, staff, and take down our two energizer stations at 27th & Broadway and Oak and 14th St (right at the corner of Lake Merritt). We hope you can make it, and that you are ready. Check the WOBO website for information and a link to our BTWD volunteer Google doc. This meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 pm at Bay Area Wilderness Training, 2301 Broadway, Suite B – enter on 23rd Street. For more info, visit WOBO’s website.

Wednesday, April 22nd – Central Estuary Plan Community Workshop #2

Via City Homestead: “The second meeting is coming up for the Central Estuary Plan, which is designed to build a vision and provide a framework to support development and enhancement of the Estuary from Adeline Street to 66th Avenue. The project examines land use along the Estuary and the associated environmental, economic, quality of life and health-related impacts. This month you’ll have a chance to discuss the vision and the healthy development of the area, according to the website. I didn’t go to the first meeting, but luckily the folks over at Oakland Streets did, so you can read up on it there. (The CEDA website also includes meeting presentations and other materials.” For another take on the first meeting, check out Tom Thurston’s post at A Better Oakland and the extensive discussion that followed. The meeting will be held from 7-9pm at The Unity Council, Fruitvale-San Antonio Senior Center, 3301 East 12th Street, Suite 201 (Fruitvale Transit Village).

Thursday, April 23rd – Harrison Street/Oakland Avenue Community-Based Transportation Plan

Via City Homestead: “This is the second meeting for this project, too. (Future Oakland has a post about the first meeting.) The Caltrans-funded plan looks at Harrison Street and Oakland Avenue from the Piedmont border to Grand Avenue.  DC&E consultants and city staff will be presenting alternatives for the corridor to address access and safety for pedestrians, bicycle facility improvements, traffic calming, I-580 signage and modified access, and AC Transit stop improvements.” I’m very interested in this planning process but unfortunately cannot make it to this meeting so if you attend, please share how it went. The meeting will be held from 6-8pm at Westlake Middle School Gym, 2629 Harrison Street (at 27th).

Sunday, April 25th – Tribute Show for OPD Officers at the Uptown

Via Angela Woodall: “On Sunday, April 26th at 5PM, the Uptown Nightclub will be hosting a benefit/tribute event featuring live music and entertainment acts with all door proceeds benefiting the four families of the recently slain OPD officers. This event is being done with the blessing and support of the Oakland Police Officers Association.” Entertainment for the evening will include the Badmen, Charlie Roman & the Teenage Werewolves, Borstal Holiday, and Special Guests. The Uptown is located at 1928 Telegraph, and they’re asking for a $10 donation.

April 13-19 Oakland Political & Community Events

12 Apr

Monday, April 13th – East Bay Young Dems Meeting: Props to the Props?

Join the East Bay Young Dems for a discussion of the state ballot measures that we’ll be voting on in May. Help our club decide what stance to take in this critical special election. State proposition 411 will be outlined by BearFlagBlue blogger (and EBYD member!) Sean Mykael McMullen and followed up with some background and thoughts by Assemblymember Sandre Swanson. The meeting will be from 6:30-8:30pm at Spice Monkey (upstairs), 1628 Webster Street in downtown Oakland. You can find out more details and RSVP on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 14th – Budget Town Hall

This will be the first of three budget town halls the City is hosting throughout Oakland in the next few weeks to get feedback from residents on the budget and budget cuts. V Smoothe wrote some background info on the budget, and I couldn’t agree more with her take on these town halls: “Go to the town halls and go to the budget meetings and tell them what your priorities are. If you don’t, I guarantee, somebody else will, and you can take a wild guess who’s more likely to get what they want.” This town hall will be held from 6:30-8pm at East Oakland Multipurpose Senior Center, 9255 Edes Avenue (at Jones).

Wednesday, April 15th – Planning Commission Hearing on Central Business District Zoning

The Oakland Planning Commission is scheduled to make recommendations on new height limits, allowed uses, and building design criteria for downtown and surrounding neighborhoods this Wednesday.  It seems that this zoning process for the Central Business District has been going on forever, and dto510 arued a few months ago that the continuing delays have been deletirious for downtown. If you’re interested in speaking on this issue, you should take a look at the staff report and the proposed height limit map. Also, for some extensive background on this process, head over to A Better Oakland. The meeting is at 8pm at Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, in Hearing Room 1.

Saturday, April 18thEarth Day Cleanup Events Citywide

On Saturday, clean up events will be held throughout Oakland. Unfortunately, the City’s Earth Day website leaves something to be desired – you have to download an excel sheet to find all the locations! Fortunately, City Homestead has a great listing of some of the main events and Desley Brooks is promoting the event she’s hosting via Facebook. Join Oakland community members from 9am-12pm to help beautify Oakland.

Sunday, April 19thEarth Day Cleanup and Community Gathering at Mosswood Park

Can’t make it to an Earth Day event on Saturday? No problem – my friend (and Peralt Community College Trustee), Abel Guillen is hosting a cleanup and community gathering at Mosswood Park. Come on out on Sunday afternoon to clean and green Mosswood Park! There will be refreshments, food and music. Bring a frisbee to toss, gloves and gardening tools (if you have some) or a bring some beats to bump and a friend! All ages welcome. Pizza generously provided by Lanesplitter’s Pizza. The event will run from noon-5pm at Mosswood Park, at Broadway and West MacArthur Streets. You can RSVP on Facebook.

March 2-6 Oakland Political & Community Events

2 Mar

Monday, March 2nd – “Engage Her” Panel & Screening

Why do the vast majority of African American, Latina, and Asian American Pacific Islander women in the U.S. fail to vote? And why doesn’t anyone seem to care? Join us on Monday March 2, 2009 to view this powerful documentary and participate in a follow-up discussion with a panel including the producer and director Mable Yee.  The film introduces us to a diverse group of women who share very personal accounts of their histories, and reasons for avoiding the political process. Hear the voices of those busy raising families, working multiple jobs, and constrained by time, culture, family, history, language, and fear of political engagement. The panel will help us probe the reasons why, and begin formulating a discussion about how we might successfully engage these women. This event is hosted by the National Women’s Political Caucus and co-sponsored by several other East Bay groups. The screening will be held from 6-7:30pm at the Buttercup Grill, 229 Broadway at 3rd Street.

Tuesday, March 3rd – Oakland City Council Meeting

This week’s Council meeting looks like it’s going to be long and contentious. They’ll be voting on the taxes that were proposed at last week’s Finance Committee meeting, including the hotel tax and repealing Mesaure OO. The Council will also be approving several appointments to various committees, and they’ll vote on changes to recycling facility regulations. V Smoothe wrote an in-depth post about the recycling regulations back in December, and I encourage you to check out that post so you won’t be lost at this meeting. You can also refer to my post about how to watch and understand City Council meetings if you need some guidance on how or where to view the meeting. The non-ceremonial parts of the meeting start at 7pm, and if you’d like to see the meeting in person, head to the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Wednesday, March 4th – Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Meeting

Every month, the Central Committee meets to discuss party business and to make plans for the future of the Democratic Party in Alameda County. This month, the featured speakers will be State Senators Loni Hancock and Ellen Corbett. If you’re interested in getting involved with the Democratic Party, this is a great way to do so. Last month, I was appointed as an associate member for the 16th Assembly District, so you can find me at this meeting every month. The meeting will be held from 7-9pm in the San Leandro Main Library, Dave Karp Room, 300 Estudillo Ave., San Leandro, CA 94577.

Friday, March 6th – Oakland Rally for Marriage Equality

Oakland City Councilwoman and out lesbian Rebecca Kaplan, City Attorney John Russo as well as some married couples who work for the city will be speaking out in response to Ken Starr’s oral arguments the previous day. Please come and invite all your friends! This is your LOCAL government taking action and speaking out for equality and they need your support. We can’t let Ken and his ilk dominate the news after they give oral arguments to the California Supreme Court. The rally will be from noon-2pm on the steps of Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. Find more info and RSVP a the event’s Facebook page.