Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 6, 2011

To the bone

Lost in the frenzy of last week’s news blitz was discussion about Alameda’s budget.   Last week the City Council had their first look of the budget cuts that would be necessary to keep the City afloat.   It turns out that the budget was even more grim than anticipated because someone forgot to account for certain expenditures for the 2011-12 budget year.

Controller Fred Marsh explains:

For those who choose not to watch, here’s the nutshell, the accounting tricks used previously to pad previous year budgets had been exhausted for 2011-12 and the budget needed to begin repaying bonds from the general fund and that was not included in the 2011-12 budget (that was an addition $827K unaccounted for).   For two special funds, Library and Fleet Maintenance, not enough was budgeted to these two operations and because they cannot carry a negative fund balance (aka reserve) City Staff needed to reallocate the difference so that they would not be in the negative, both these total another $800K+.


June 3, 2011

That one saying about pictures and words

Filed under: Alameda — Tags: , , , — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

So my decision, after a bit of soul searching, was to post the picture.  But first, a caveat, I post this not to defend the inaction of the public safety officials, but to provide a certain level of context to this scene that we all have opinions on, but very few of us actually witnessed.

For those that opt not to view the photo, don’t click “more,” for those, the photo is after the jump.


June 2, 2011

That is the question

As we all know the story of the unfortunate incident over the weekend and the less than stellar response of our public safety folks have made national headlines.   It’s obvious why this becomes a incredibly sticky story and the narrative and framing has already been cemented by repetition.

Yesterday I received a photo taken by someone via secondary source so I do not know who actually took the photo.   Just FYI, in case anyone was not clear, I did not take the photo.   The photo is from the shoreline and looks to be yet another photo of the bay.   But what the photo is actually a picture of the victim in the water.

I have struggled with the decision of whether to post the photo or not.   My gut tells me that the photo is newsworthy because it lends context to a situation that most of us have no context in which to judge the people who were on the scene.   But, my head hurts thinking about the content and the possible callousness of posting such a photo.  And so I am torn on whether or not to post or not to post.


June 1, 2011

Cutting crew

The drowning over the weekend and shocking response from Alameda’s public safety personnel has definitely thrust Alameda back into the spotlight, and as usual, not in a good way.   While the response from both Alameda’s Fire and Police Departments is frustrating and illogical on a completely human level, the knee jerk response that this incident is evidence of why Alameda should just outsource our public safety to Alameda County is also illogical.

As pointed out by MI, the outsourcing discussion should occur separate from this incident, since it is unknown if Alameda County’s Fire Department is properly certified in land-based water rescues either or if any of the Alameda County Firefighters would have risked liability, while on duty, to perform this rescue.    And, of course, it hasn’t been shown that outsourcing to Alameda County would save the City money without sacrificing response time.


May 24, 2011

Bits and pieces

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

I’m not an overly religious person, but I’ll admit it, at one point on Friday afternoon I did have a small twinge of  “um, what if Harold Camping is right?”

You see, I on the  verge of purchasing tickets to see Prince on Saturday night and while typing in that ReCaptcha code I started getting nervous.    Then I realized I was being stupid and went ahead with the purchase.  Which, by the way, the concert was awesome.

But I do find it amazing that I had a brief encounter with the “what if” and I realized that all the people out there who are considerably more religious there might have been, for some, a really inner struggle with wanting to believe but also wanting to write the guy off as a nut.   Anyway, I’m starting to feel a little bit bad for fellow Alamedan Harold Camping and his followers.   SFist decided to go and snap a photo outside his home.   People protested outside his radio station.   He’s become probably the biggest punchline for this week at least.


April 28, 2011

Dig a little deeper

Did anyone notice that the salary list compiled by City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy included compensation for elected officials as well?  No?   Yeah, me either.    I think once people got into normal salary range most people just stopped looking.

It wasn’t until a commenter on The Island mentioned the Council pay as listed in the new Bay Area News Group database.   Of course, there was also this story which mentioned that Medical/Dental/Vision benefits are a huge perk for part-time elected officials like ours.  Highlights:

Government compensation data acquired by the Bay Area News Group, which includes this newspaper, show that hundreds of part-time elected officials — and in many cases family members — received full-time health care benefits in 2010 courtesy of taxpayers, costing many cash-strapped agencies tens of thousands of dollars.

According to an annual survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in four private employers offers health benefits to part-time employees. But in local government, it’s a different story.


April 11, 2011

Anything you can do I can do better

As I mentioned on Friday, I was out for most of last week when all the interesting stuff went down. What being away without a reliable internet connection actually did was inoculate me from the public pissing match waged via editorial letters. Reading all the documents at once and then watching the additional comments from the public at the last City Council meeting made me realize that everyone needs to take a step back, stop posturing, start listening, and talk to each other instead of at each other.

The first volley was made by Mayor Marie Gilmore, actually, let me back that up a bit. I think the first signs that this was going to be a clusterfuck of the first order was when the City Council response to the presentation by Acting City Manager Lisa Goldman and Controller Fred Marsh was characterized as:

Council members first offered stunned silence and then little more, saying only that they want core services protected and that they want community guidance on what those are.


October 12, 2009

Kevin Kennedy: A Long Way To Go, And A Short Time To Get There

When Lauren asked me to write a guest blog posting, I thought about all of the subjects I have an interest in as possible topics: fly-fishing, college football, keeping raccoons out of your backyard pond…

But I’m a money guy, I’m in my third term as your City Treasurer, and I’m not one to shy away from controversy, so let’s talk City finances!

Financially, Alameda is on the “Vallejo trajectory”. While bankruptcy is not imminent, if we continue down the path we’re on today, we’ll be there soon enough.

The report issued by the Fiscal Sustainability Committee (which I co-chaired with our City Auditor, Kevin Kearney), spells it out pretty clearly. For years, maybe decades, we’ve lived way beyond our means:


July 15, 2009

Chicken or egg

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:48 am

In discussing the topic of pensions for Alameda city employees, Alameda NayTiff brings up an interesting point about who is to blame for the favorable retirement packages:

…Unions are supposed to represent the interests of their members. Firefighters have done well in that regard. The council is supposed to represent the interests of the community when negotiating with the unions. The problem is that the council has done a poor job of that when it comes to the firefighters. I wouldn’t so much blame the firefighters for their successes as I would the council for its failures.

Our City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy points out that:

…If in fact the problem is that policymakers depend on the endorsement of unions to get elected, and this is why the City has allowed these huge pensions, might voters think about this next time they cast a vote? Until voters send a message that they disagree with the way this has been handled, as long as they perpetuate the situation that got us here through the way they vote, we should expect more of the same…


March 5, 2008

Total Recall

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , , , , — Lauren Do @ 7:03 am

According to Mike McMahon, who stayed up just long enough after a marathon meeting (ended at 1:45 a.m.) to update his website about the major items.  There is no indication about whether the Board decided to move forward on the parcel tax, but it appears that the Class Size Reductions for Grade 3 have been removed from consideration and the athletics program has been reduced from an initial cut of $345K to $200K instead.   The Music Prep for elementary grades, the Board found an extra $75K to cut from that budget which brings that cut up to $200K.

The Board also approved placing the Parcel Tax on the June ballot.

If any of you have been following Eve Pearlman’s new blog — she’s blogging under the Alameda Journal masthead — you would have seen the update about a small contingent of parents and possibly community members upset about the cuts to the school athetics program.  They have proposed through emails that I have seen that if any of the Board Members approve any cuts to sports that they will begin a recall effort to have those School Board Members removed in June.   The logic is then to put up a slate of “sports supporters” to then reinstate the athletics program as soon as they are seated as board members.


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