What Happened At the MOBN! / EBYD Meeting — The Short Version

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.

Next Steps

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

With many thanks to A Better Oakland’s V Smoothe, here are video excerpts of the speakers.  The entire program is available here, and other excerpts are available here.

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

Make Oakland Better Now!

OakTalk Here is the blog of Make Oakland Better Now!, an Oakland community grassroots group of a grass-roots group of voters, volunteers, and policy advocates committed to improving the City of Oakland by focusing on public safety, public works, and responsible budgets. Founded in 2003, we’ve researched, lobbied, and successfully campaigned for a number of new, impactful policies, including the city’s Rainy Day Fund, Measure Z and Operation Ceasefire.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Jim Zig

    Wait ! the city used to have a rainy day fund . Where did it go? many of the current council members were in office then

  2. Nancy Thompson

    What is MOBN’s relationship with Mayor Quan? Given the speakers at the meeting, my hope is that political factions can be avoided.

  3. Bruce Nye

    Jim, One of the things we’ve discovered in the last years is a very limited amount of institutional memory for this sort of thing. We’ve spent a lot of time talking to folks who have been in the city for a long time, and nobody has told us about an existing RDF. A search of the city’s web site doesn’t reveal anything. Perhaps the best way to ensure an institutional memory is to have a RDF required by city charter amendment. If you have more on history, we’d really appreciate whatever you have.

    Nancy, if you look at the videos of the presentations on Sunday, I don’t think you will see anybody taking a shot at Mayor Quan. MOBN! believes that all city leadership, and all community organizations, need to be pulling together. We have taken great pains not to attack Mayor Quan or anybody else, and we want to work together with her to help Oakland succeed.

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