On Monday, September 20, 2010, the Measure Y Oversight Committee will consider taking a formal position on parcel tax measures X and BB. I encourage any of you who care about this issue to come and speak. I never ask you guys for anything, but this, I would really appreciate. I hope that after reading the following, you are as mad as I am, and have something to say about it. The meeting starts at 6:30.
Unfortunately, I missed the August 16 meeting, where City Administrator Dan Lindheim gave his spiel on these measures. Now, I should mention that a California Supreme Court decision, and the Government Code, formally prohibit public officials from using public resources to advocate for or against a ballot measure (or candidate). I had no problem with him showing up at last weekend’s Alameda County Central Democratic Committee endorsement meeting, because how he chooses to spend his Saturday afternoons is his business. But if he shows up at City Hall (a “City resource”) to provide “information” to the MYOC as a City Representative, it darn well better be neutral and “informational only,” as the law requires. In reviewing the verbatim speech he gave, it was hardly that, and here I’m going to take him royally to task:
* Most Taxpayers Will Pay Zero to $10, not $360: Lindheim claimed that even though the tax is $360 per parcel, “the reality is for most citizens in Oakland the cost would be between $0-$10; the only persons subject to $360 would be single family homeowners who did not itemize their taxes since property taxes are deductible.” Excuse me? Who does Lindheim’s tax return? The same guy who does the Mayor’s? Why am I not surprised? I’d love to see some documentation to back up this ludicrous claim. Come to think of it, I think I’ll do a public records request….
* Rehire of police officers: Lindheim claimed the money raised would be sufficient to rehire the 80 laid off officers. Yes, but he neglected to mention that a lot of them would have already found new jobs, and wouldn’t be available for rehire. And he didn’t mention that with attrition at 50 officers a year, the force is still going to sink like a rock.
* The City Will Be Able To Do Whatever It Wants With The Money: Okay, this is honest. Lindheim said that Measure X “was written in a reasonably open manner to allow funds to go where needed and where City Council would designate.” Fair enough - but after Measure Y, do you trust the City with your money? Do you want your money to continue supporting bloated police pensions?
* Lindheim Doesn’t Know Anything About the Phrase “Rigorous Oversight” Lindheim stated the City Attorney’s office drafted Measure X. However, he wouldn’t say who was responsible for including the language that it provided for “rigorous oversight” in the ballot title.
* There’s Only One Change: Lindheim claims the “fix” makes only one change to Measure Y - i.e. eliminates the “appropriate” for 739 officer language. Not true. It makes numerous changes. It allows the City to borrow against the money in the hopes that this measure passes. It eliminates the restrictions on the types of violence prevention programs that can be funded. I guess Lindheim didn’t take the time to read the ballot measure that closely….
* The City Doesn’t Care About Police - Just Violence Prevention: Lindheim said: “Given the financial situation of the City, the view of City Council is the overriding need to provide resources for violence prevention functions, thus the Measure to suspend the 739 police officer appropriation for three years.” Well, at least that’s honest! The City is pretty much saying screw the police, and hand over all the money for violence prevention. Guess it’s more important to let those non-profit directors continue collecting their $180,000/year salaries than have the police actually respond to calls for service.
* The City Losing My Lawsuit Was No Big Deal: Lindheim said that the audit standards “have already been met and the judge has dismissed the issue.” No, not exactly. The judge ruled that the City failed to conduct the mandatory audits. The City decided not to appeal this issue, subsequently did the audits. I thought they were crappy, but the judge said it wasn’t his job to evaluate their quality, so we’re stuck with them.
Next, Lindheim totally glossed over why the City has been ordered to repay the Measure Y fund $15 million. He said “only some of the new officers were charged to Measure Y funds but not subsequently placed in Measure Y positions.” Not true! No new officers were EVER placed into Measure Y positions. He concluded by saying: “The consequence of the ruling is to move money from the General Fund to Measure Y - thus, net-to-net, it probably does not make much difference.” Oh puh-leez! If it doesn’t make much difference, then why is the City appealing the ruling? Where is the City going to find another $15 million in the general fund? This type of argument is just sad, and indicative of why the City is in the mess it’s in.
* Lindheim Doesn’t Know What The Word “Substantive” Means: Lindheim kept claiming that the modifications in Measure BB were not “substantive.” Okay, totally eliminating the purpose of increasing the size of the force isn’t “substantive?” Eliminating all the requirements for the fire department isn’t “substantive?” Time to brush up on your vocabulary, Dan.
I’ll be there on Monday evening to vociferously encourage the MYOC to formally not endorse these measures, and to help keep the focus on the facts. I hope you’ll join me.