Oakland City Council Budget Hearing Brings Out Nasty Divisions

Zennie Abraham / Zennie62
Zennie Abraham / Zennie62

The City of Oakland has a fast approaching deadline of 12 AM, Friday July 1st to pass a budget, then go out and spend money on the artists involved with Oakland Art Murmur. And a number of Councilmembers wanted to pass a budget on Tuesday, but here we are. And it’s not clear, yet, that Oakland will get the union concessions that appear to be on the table as reported.

The main overall problem is the really crazy perception that, at its root, keeps America’s economy moving even in the worst of times: the idea that “someone else out there” is hording money. That idea was expressed in an Indy Bay blog post by Richard Mellor, that, I fear, may reflect the sentiments of a number of Oakland labor union representatives: that money is out there, and someone has it.

I wonder if people will wake up and realize that we have a Worldwide economic crisis that has been created by too many goods, made by too many people, chasing not enough consumers with the money or desire to buy them. We’ve off-shored jobs, falied to grow incomes, grew incomes in other countries that don’t need to buy from us, and now, the industrialized World is being brought to its knees, without the balls to print its monetary way out of it.

And all that impacts the State Of California, Alameda County, and our city of Oakland.

At this unprecedented time, to think that the money’s just going to appear is plain silly. Moreover, this band-aide approach is not going to help – just wait until 2012.

Where we are in Oakland is, instead of smoothly and quickly adjusting our budget where, as Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb put it, all hands, are making sacrifices, we have a situation where a City of Oakland Revenue Department head openly says that he can’t train other older revenue department officers, and expresses himself in a way that looked for all the World like he had a race problem.

The scene was set: older, African American City of Oakland revenue officers coming to Oakland City Council to cry to save their jobs, and a person, not older and not black, saying to council, in effect “I can’t train these people.”

That was shameful. Made me sick to my stomach.

It was Oakland at its worst, and makes me happy I’m here in Georgia for a spell.

Fortunately, Oakland City Council President Larry Reid stepped in to, calmly, give the department head the questions that made him understand just how bad he sounded.

But this is what a shrinking base does to people: pits young and old, black and white, against each other. And at the very time all need to pull together.

Look, whatever budget direction the Council takes, its important that all sides go into Thursday’s talks not just with the idea that they’re going to give up something to maintain this City’s basic services, but that they realize all of them are in it together.

Stay tuned.

About the Author

Zennie Abraham
Zennie Abraham | Zennie Abraham or "Zennie62" is the founder of Zennie62Media which consists of zennie62blog.com and a multimedia blog news aggregator and video network, and 78-blog network, with social media and content development services and consulting. Zennie is a pioneer video blogger, YouTube Partner, social media practitioner, game developer, and pundit. Note: news aggregator content does not reflect the personal views of Mr. Abraham.

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