Thanks so much to all the Oaklanders who contributed their thoughts about questions to ask Oakland’s mayoral candidates. Your ideas came in as blog comments, as e-mails and as Facebook…
As we have done for the last two election cycles, Make Oakland Better Now! is getting ready to send candidate questionnaires to all Mayoral and City Council Candidates. We will…
MOBN! SUPPORTS THE PROPOSED PUBLIC SAFETY MEASURE – IF THE CITY GUARANTEES A THRESHOLD NUMBER OF OFFICERS
Tuesday night, Oakland’s City Council has a very big agenda (and will be holding a very long meeting). But the most critical item on that agenda is a resolution to place a public safety and services ballot on this November’s election, to take effect in January when Measure Y expires.
As most readers of Oaktalk know, Measure Y was passed ten years ago, and provides for a parcel tax and parking tax that provide $22 million for “problem solving officers,” violence prevention programs and fire funding. We could provide a litany of issues and problems with Measure Y, but will save this for another day. Our questions have been (1) what would happen without the $22 million?, (2) what would the voters be willing to do?, and (3) what politically acceptable solutions were there to solve the biggest problems with Measure Y.
Last week, Oaklanders who live in the hills received their mail-in ballots for Measure A. This measure, which creates and funds the Oakland Wildlife Prevention District, replaces the expiring Wildfire Prevention Assessment District. For the past ten years, the WPAD has successfully provided funding for prudent fire-reduction measures in the hills-based wild lands interface. The previous district has been supported by a parcel tax of $65, which expires at the end of this year. With the new district, this tax will increase by $13… While we are critical of many things Oakland’s city government does, MOBN! supports this initiative.
We are concerned that the campaign against Measure A is based on half-truths, innuendo and irrelevancies. We believe that when voters within the district know the facts, they will join us in voting to maintain the effective public safety efforts previously supported by the Assessment District, and now supported by the WPD.
Oakland has 25 candidates running for city council in this November’s election. Seventeen are competing for open seats in District 1, 3 and 5, two are challenging the incumbent in District 7 and four are challenging the incumbent at large. (If you aren’t sure which district you live in or who your council member is you can find out here.)
One of MOBN!’s missions has always been to empower Oakland voters, and nothing is more powerful than knowledge. So with the help of many MOBN! members and blog readers, we’ve developed a candidate questionnaire designed to gauge city council candidates’ views on some of the critical issues facing our city. We’ve asked the candidates to respond by September 12, and will post the answers as quickly as we can. Once posted, the MOBN! board will ask for your thoughts as it considers endorsements.
The questions we are asking appear right after the jump.
The MOBN! board is proud to endorse City Attorney Barbara Parker. We strongly encourage Oaklanders to vote for her in November. The factors that contribute to our endorsement include her record both as City Attorney and Chief Deputy City Attorney, her broad range of experience in the practice of law and in law office management, and her strong performance in the past year in reducing outside counsel costs by millions of dollars. We were also strongly influenced by the candidate’s responses to the MOBN! questionnaire, which we reviewed and compared to some of our own observations of the two candidates.
In her approximately ten years as Chief Deputy City Attorney during John Russo’s years as City Attorney, and in her first year as City Attorney after her appointment to complete Russo’s term, Barbara Parker has demonstrated unwavering professionalism, integrity and competence. While she was Chief Deputy, she was the most frequent representative of the City Attorney’s office at City Council meetings, where we often had cause to observe her even-handedness and professionalism in advising Council on both procedural and substantive matters.
Barbara Parker is a Harvard Law School graduate and a lawyer with experience in a broad range of public and private sector practices for more than thirty years. She has the depth of experience it takes to lead the City’s representation in these challenging times. The City Attorney’s office provides a broad range of legal representation to a municipal corporation with nearly a one billion dollar budget. The City Attorney is essentially the managing attorney of this mid-sized law office. Someone with Barbara Parker’s experience can best serve in this role.
In her first year in office, City Attorney Parker’s fiscal management of her department has been impressive. In the previous nine years, the City Attorney’s Office lost more than a third of its staff (19 attorneys and 14 support staff) to City budget cuts. As the need for legal services increased and the number of in-house lawyers declined, the cost of outside law firms had increased every year because of the loss of in-house resources.
But that pattern reversed when Barbara Parker became City Attorney. In the fiscal year that just ended (FY11/12), the cost of outside counsel is down almost 40 percent from the prior year, from about $6.4 million to about $4 million. This may be the most significant recent cost reduction by any still-operating department in City government.
We carefully reviewed the questionnaire responses we received from both candidates, and appreciate the time and effort they devoted to these. Some of the key responses and our reactions to them appear after the jump.