Tuesday, June 28, 2011

City Of Oakland's Brenda Franzel Comes To Council to Save Her Job

If anyone had a doubt that the City of Oakland was in financial trouble, one look at tonight's Oakland City Council meeting should change their mind.

Watching via live stream from Georgia, this blogger has never seen so many Oakland workers come before the City and beg to have their jobs maintained. And these are good, long-serving, proud Oakland workers, like Brenda Franzel.

Really sad.  

Brenda Franzel,a revenue officer with the City of Oakland, just took the unusual step of coming to the Oakland City Council tonight and having her daughter speak before the Council first, and then and asking for "justice."

This as the Oakland City Council considers various budget options placed before it.

"I refused to participate in the slurs about who brings in revenue for the City, and by that, I mean money," Franzel said. "I blame the culture in which we serve for even considering cutting people who raise revenue for the city. It creates a hostile environment that makes it difficult to get our work done."

Franzel says that the "revenue division has spent five years working as a team, not against each other." She then completed her speech by offering that the "old revenue division understand the value of work that each section provides. I ask for the staff, please reconsider laying off staff in the revenue division."


Jeff Levine "These are difficult and painful concessions for those of us who have been dealing with 10 percent pay cuts." He says it's now time for the City Council to pass a budget that's fair for Oakland.

The Oakland City Council is in session as this is written. See it live here: Oakland City Council Live Feed.

Oakland City and Unions Agree, Oakland Greens Fume Over Budget

Just got an interesting email from Don Macleay, last year's Oakland Mayoral Candidate, who is urging Oaklanders to come to Tuesday night's Oakland City Council Meeting. But before we get to his, and the Oakland Greens, issues, a comment.

The City of Oakland must agree on a budget plan by July 1st, and that day is this Friday. There has been a lot of focus on and discussion over a process that, long ago, this blogger knew was insular, and because the public doesn't have all of the past budget information, and because the arguments about the budget are within the margins and not about how to extend the margins.

What do I mean by extend the margins?

One problem is that of each property tax dollar collected, the City of Oakland gets to keep just 26 percent of it.

The other problem is much of Oakland's revenue-producing land is controlled by the Redevelopment Agency, which is a good thing, because that's the only way Oakland itself can collect 100 percent of the taxes the city produces. The final problem is that overall, Oakland's property tax revenue, like that for the state, has dropped like a rock, and the question not answered to this point is, how much more will it fall?

Well, before I go to far there, let's look at what Don Macleay sent over. This is the email he sent, re-posted with his permission:

don@oaklandgreens.org to GreenNews

show details 1:28 AM (12 hours ago)

It is very hard to sum up how bad the proposed budget is and how limited and short term the council's counter proposals are in an email and still expect anyone to read it.
On the other hand, if ever there was a time to join the public at an Oakland City Council meeting, it would be this Tuesday evening. Please take a moment to stand up and be counted at this time.
Let council know that you do not appreciate their pressure tactics, the out of public eye debate and the budget crisis overall. It is also clear that we need to change the budget process and reform the whole account ledger. Council should use the short reprieve that their amended budgets offer us to call a budget convention and bring a new plan to the voters for approval before this becomes a crisis again.
I will try to at least sum up the last few episodes of this soap opera.
Our mayor proposed a budget two months ago that had three speeds:
A - With the money we got and without concessions from the unions
B - with concessions from the unions
C - with concessions from the unions and a parcel tax
For whatever reason, she included in this proposed budget, version A, the near total shutdown ofour library system. Some say that was to pressure the unions for concessions, other say it was to pressure the voters for a parcel tax and I say it was poor leadership if either is true. Even if neither is true it is not great leadership.

Option A will open up as a pdf file and can be accessed at this link:


For the same two months our City Council has not been forthcoming about their counter proposals.

The few sessions they held in public there were no amendments proposed or debated on in public by them. The public organized a save the libraries, save the film office, save whatever campaign and people spoke out against the cuts.

When asked about why they were not coming up with something else we were told that the Brown Act kept them from working in private with more than 4 of them at once. Nothing about the Brown Act keeps them from debating the budget in public in open session, but no version of that ever happened.

Now we have a 4 member, a 3 member and a 1 council member counter-proposals made public only a few days before the final deadline to vote in a new budget.

Counter proposals are:

1) Reid-Brooks-Brunner
2) Schaaf-Kaplan-Nadel-Kernighan
3) De La Fuente

All three can be accessed at this link (recommend copy - paste):


The Council convenes in open session at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 28, 2011, at City Hall Council Chambers.

The schedule details can be found here:


If necessary, a second meeting will convene at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, June 30, 2011, at City Hall Council Chambers.

To sign up for a speaker's card see


A budget must be passed by the 30th.

Writing for myself, but with the agreement of many other Oakland Greens, I have to say that all the big issues of our local government's endless budget instability have not been fixed in any way shape or form. We need to raise more taxes and raise those taxes in a more simple and fair way.

There is nothing in this budget to look at the Port as a revenue contributor, deal with the crazy taxes and fines that are hurting local employment, counterbalance the distortions that Prop 13 give us in the real estate market and so on. In the next Council Elections we should talk more about this by putting up challengers to the incumbents willing to change the way we collect taxes.

On the spending side we are not finding a balance between real estate development, police and fire and everything else. The pension formulas do not work and council has kicked that can down the road in a way that will both cost a lot and still not offer most of our public employees a secure retirement income. (that is a lose-lose deal).

Our hands are tied every which way with gimmicks inside the different important propositions we have voted. We have Prop Y but still no commitment
to the core community policing and we have Prop Q, but the Mayor can still offer to shut it down and close 14 out of 18 libraries.

Both of those propositions have some triggers in them and obligations in them that do not make any sense, except for keeping political friends. One could go on. We Greens should make these points come next election time. A progressive agenda for Oakland is one that will give us stable reliable government with stable reliable funding.

Let's keep in mind that the Redevelopment Budget is larger than our General Fund. Some Redevelopment funds have been spent to prop up the general fund in some pretty contrived manners only a lawyer could love. The Redevelopment Funds cause the state to “backfill” the county because it does not have enough income to meet the School Board allocations.

These Redevelopment Funds are somehow so sacrosanct that one is not allowed to question funding speculative real-estate projects to local developers at a time when we cannot keep all our libraries open or our community policing staffed. Because we do nothing to advocate a plan B, we may just lose Redevelopment Funds without much ado as a dictate of the State Budget. I do not know if we have a balanced City Budget if that happens.

But remember that City Council is also the Redevelopment Committee without a mayor or any other check, balance or serious oversight. So we have a council that has this kind of power on the side and just accepts the Redevelopment Rules whether they are good for Oakland or not.

If the Redevelopment Committee still exists by next election, we should consider what we really want to do with that money and how we want it governed and monitored.

A real council seat candidate debate will have the Redevelopment Committee affairs as major issues. We also have a council that just accepts some of the bad deals that the state and county hand down to us without a squeak of protest. By this I mean the way sales taxes are collected and distributed for an income example.

For an unfunded mandate example we have the state prison and parole systems which are either the worst in the nation or second worst. That system returns
offenders into our community without any reform and little help to integrate. We could probably save money and misery by reopening our own city jail and offering to keep these offenders here.

One can go on a long time on this subject and next election we plan to bring it up in a big way. In many countries the budget is what defines the government; lose a budge vote, lose the government.

How would this budget define us? Well, we love our police, fire and land developers a lot and we put our parks, libraries and public spaces on the low priority side of things.

A budget crisis like this one would cause other governments to resign.

Ours probably should, but I don't think that they will.

So we will have to vote them out by voting something better in.

Don Macleay

Oakland Green Party

Don also included this post from Sanjiv Handa, dated June 24, 2011:

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Fri, Jun 24, 2011 10:25 pm
Subject: Budget Proposals Restore Libraries and NSCs
FYI from Sanjiv Handa, East Bay News Service

There was quite a bit of excitement Friday, when City Council members finally released three separate budget proposals. They were one day too late for the normal agenda process, forcing the City Clerk's staff to stay late on Friday to make the proposals available online.

The clerk's staff often must stay until 2 a.m. or later Thursday night into Friday morning to finish agenda preparations, and then return to work as early as 8 a.m. the next morning to complete agenda distribution by noon.

City Hall was a ghost town by 4 p.m., but the clerk's staff was not alone. Desley Brooks, Libby Schaaf, Mayor Jean Quan, and half a dozen legislative aides were still working away past 6 p.m.

Council members had already sent proposals into cyberspace before they were delivered to the city clerk at 1:17 and 1:18 p.m.

There were two "gangs of four" Council members developing budgets in private. Ultimately, Ignacio De La Fuente went out on his own. Larry Reid, Desley Brooks, and Jane Brunner issued a joint proposal. Libby Schaaf, Rebecca Kaplan, Nancy Nadel, and Pat Kernighan delivered a different plan..

In essence, all three proposals accept the bulk of Quan's $887 million plan ($387 million general fund; about $500 million in other funds, give or take a few million, depending on whom you believe).

There will be a Council meeting Tuesday, June 28, 5:30 p.m. to try and hammer out a consensus. If unsuccessful, another meeting has already been scheduled for Thursday, June 30, @ 5:30 p.m.

Labor negotiations are the biggest question mark. Closed sessions of the City Council will be held 9 a.m. to Noon on Tuesday, June 28, and again on Thursday, June 30, at Noon.

A deal has been reached with the firefighters union that has been pegged at saving the city $3.5 to $9 million a year, depending on what numbers you accept. Quan's proposal to close four fire stations has been rejected. However, the fire union has agreed to rotating closures of two fire stations each day for the next two years. Minimum staffing levels of four firefighters per fire truck and three per engine (the big hook-and-ladder) would stay in place until June 30, 2017.

All proposals call for keeping all branch libraries open. The Schaaf, et al, version even restores funding to keep the Main Library open between Christmas and New Year's.

All proposals save the jobs of nine Neighborhood Services Coordinators. However, they call for elimination of the job held by Claudia Albano, head of the division.

All proposals reject Quan's dismissal of Parking Director Noel Pinto and breaking up the division.

Council members also want to eliminate the communications director for the City Attorney's Office, held by Alex Katz.

The Film Office would be retained, along with Amy Zins' job, which would be transferred to redevelopment. But her assistant's position would be eliminated.

Recent Dove, Lotte Choco Caramel With Mango Ads, Show Racist Attacks On Black Women

For all of the claims of a more advanced, enlightened, diverse, and color-blind society, we have good-old, mainstream corporate advertising to thank for reminding us that old-fashioned racism is alive and well.

Sadly, Dove and Lotte Choco Caramel With Mango are the most recent examples, and Dove - which was the champion, I thought, of the normal woman, regardless of color - should be particularly ashamed.

What Dove did was authorize the production of an ad that reads "before" on the left, and "after" on the right, with an obviously black woman posing on the "before" side, and an obviously "white" woman on the "after" side.

Who's in the middle? A woman who's skin color is between the two extremes.

The photo and the words imply that if you use Dove in the shower, you will turn white.

There's no other way to read that ad.

To this time period, Dove is still using the ad and it appears on the website for Dove Close Up, which you can see here.

What's equally disturbing is that the mainstream media, including columnists, have ignored the Dove issue, leaving bloggers to comment, and the noise hasn't been very loud at all.

But the ad is an obvious attack on black women, and it comes on the heels of a Psychology Today article that was an obvious, and down right sick, attack on black women.

And as if that weren't enough, a brand I never heard of called Lotte Choco Caramel With Mango, out of India, ran an ad photo that look like, well, Hamilton Nolan of Gawker put it pretty well...

In this ad out of India (click to enlarge) for Lotte Choco Caramel With Mango Inside, the choco-caramel-colored pregnant maid represents the Choco Caramel With Mango Inside. The happily leering mango is pleased that his mango sperm has been "inside" the choco caramel, and will be again soon, by the looks of it. Probably via rape. This scenario makes people want to purchase the candy in question.

I don't know what's going on, but this is one issue news media editors should take up their opinion columns on, and get to work. The ultimate shame is this strategy of attention-getting by racism is allowed to go without significant attack.

Why not sue Dove and Lotte Choco Caramel With Mango for defamation, and throw in Psychology Today to make the "burn the fields" legal strategy complete?

It's clear the fields do need to be burned.

Something must be done to stop this crap.
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Katy Perry Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) Music Video - John Hughes, Yes; 80s, No

The video for Katy Perry's Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) is reported to be an “80s” theme, but really there are several elements that were not from the 80s, but the 21st Century.

It's very much one tribute to the John Hughes movie Pretty In Pink, starring Molly Ringwald and members of The Brat Pack. All of whom are about the same age as this blogger. 

The video starts with Katy using a laptop and getting on the internet to check her profile page - that's so not 80s.  In the 80s, we didn't have laptops and the Internet.   We had big, heavy clunky personal computers, that cost thousands of dollars to buy.  My Apple Macintoch II cost over $7,000 back in 1989. 

Internet access?   That wasn't even in the conversation. 

Katy Perry also uses the “rock on” symbol. The "rock on" symbol is not at all 80s, and it's used far more in the late 90s and really started in wide use in the 2000s. 

 The high school setting is as much today as the 80s.  For it to be an 80s video, it needed scenes of boys and girls dancing together, and wearing watches.  In the video, boys and girls are largely separate and dance in space - that's not an 80s habit.  There's just one scene where a boy and girl dance together.

If the video reflected the 80s, it would have been as much in the style of Dick Clark's American Bandstand or Don Cornelius Soul Train, as anything else.  The part where the dancers hop up and down  and watch while Katy Perry is dancing and the other cast members dance in the middle should have been done in the form of a "Soul Train" line - that's very 80s. 

But with all that, one thing's for sure: Katy Perry's legs are timeless.

Stay tuned.