Many thanks to the guest speakers at Sunday’s event, City Council Member Ignacio de la Fuente, City Attorney John Russo and City Auditor Courtney Ruby. Thanks to everyone who gave up a Sunday afternoon to address Oakland’s critical budget issues, and a special thanks to those who were attending their first MOBN! event. We hope to see and hear from all of you in the future, and we welcome your feedback. And, particularly, we urge you to join us at the City Council’s Finance and Management Committee meeting, Tuesday, February 22, 11:00 a.m., City Hall, Dunakin Hearing Room. At that meeting, we will be presenting on two of the subjects discussed on Sunday. If you are there and want to stand with us, please see us outside the hearing room between 10:45 and 11:00 a.m.
Here is a quick recap of the decisions made, followed by a discussion of some overarching themes from the meeting and videos of the presentations.
Decisions Made / Positions Adopted By the Group
- Police and Fire Retirement System: Make Oakland Better Now! urges the City to make the actuarially-required PFRS payment in the coming fiscal year, from the tax override reserve/surplus if necessary, and to examine all charter amendment and other options for reducing the cash flow impact of this obligation.
- Rainy Day Fund: Make Oakland Better Now! supports a charter amendment instituting a rules-based Rainy Day Fund, similar to that proposed by the Budget Advisory Committee.
- Budget Reform: Make Oakland Better Now! will promote adoption of performance based budgeting and budgeting for outcomes.
Overarching Themes From the Speakers
Although stated in different ways, the three elected speakers seemed to agree on this: Change will not come from City Hall. Reform to City government requires outside pressure from organizations like MOBN! and EBYD, and will ultimately require reform to the City Charter. City Councilmember de la Fuente urged those in attendance to take a hard look at Charter changes, stating that there was no other way to accomplish reform. City Attorney Russo lauded MOBN! and EBYD for their strength on policy, but said “I urge you to become political” in doing the work to accomplish changes to the City Charter. City Auditor Ruby argued for a non-Charter-based reform, but a dramatic reform nonetheless: implementation of the City-Stat leadership strategy, with measurement of outputs and immediate departmental accountability.
Several of you approached board members after the meeting and expressed interest in working with us more closely. We thank you for that; you will be hearing from us, and we look forward to working with you. In the coming months, we will continue to urge Oakland’s leaders to go slow on the proposed PFRS pension obligation bonds, to take a Rainy Day Fund charter amendment to the voters, and to implement budget reforms. As we have in the past, we will continue to insist that Oakland and its Police Officers’ Association work together to find ways to provide us with cost-effective policing at sufficient levels. Oakland must treat public safety as its top priority.
Video From Sunday’s Meeting
City Councilmember Ignacio de la Fuente speaks on the importance of a community group’s staying power, and how change must come from outside City Hall.
MOBN! board member Nicolas Heidorn speaks on the proposed Rainy Day Fund
City Attorney John Russo speaks on City Charter reform
City Auditor Courtney Ruby speaks on budget reform