The Oakland City Council Finance Committee is going to take up the issue of the long-moribund police radios. Folks, Oakland’s police radio system has been a non-working mess for a few years now. Reportedly, many crimes have gone unsolved because of the broken police radio system – they just don’t work most of the time.
And several friends in the City of Oakland have personally told me that Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is working with the County of Alameda and the Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA) to have Oakland be a part of a kind of joint powers authority called “East Bay Regional Communications System” or “EBRCS” – all to get the OPOA on her side, which reportedly supports the EBRCS deal, and land the Oakland Police Union’s endorsement for her re-election bid.
Trouble is, Quan’s political game will come with a cost unless it’s blunted:
I’m going to give EBRCS my own name: “FWOT” – that means “Fucking Waste Of Time”
The reason, to save you from getting lost in a forest of detail (that you can read about via links below), first the City of Oakland has to spend $15 million to repair the police radio system; second, joining the FWOT will cost between $5 million and about $7 million more than if Oakland sticks with its current radio system.
The FWOT is something Oakland will have to pay into annually, but given the fact that Oakland would be one of a large group of East Bay cities in Alameda and Contra Costa County, it would add its total radio calls to the infrastructure for the FWOT, and combined with the other cities run the risk of taxing the FWOT’s system, and creating a whole new set of problems that Oakland could have to pay the FWOT to solve.
It’s not like Mayor Quan’s not warned about it. Deanna Santana, the City of Oakland’s Chief Administrative Officer, doesn’t want Oakland to be a part of the FWOT and privately vowed to her staff that she would fight entering it. But Deanna and her reps were outnumbered in a recent meeting that consisted of Mayor Quan, Mayor Quan’s Chief Of Staff, Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi, a representative from Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley’s Office, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, and Alameda County Under Sherriff Rich Lucia, and others.
I’m told that the Alameda County folks, who are pushing for Oakland to enter the FWOT, had Quan eating out of their hands. “Quan wants the deal (to enter the FWOT) to appease OPOA before the election,” my City of Oakland and Alameda County friends say.
In other words, Quan’s ready to spend millions more in City of Oakland money just to insure her reelection.
Oh, here’s the staff report and the consultant report on the radio problem (link) – it’s due to come before the City’s Finance Committee by December 17th.
Oakland Coliseum City Stupidity
Not even less than two months into the newly extended exclusive negotiating agreement process, and once again, we have the age-old problem: Oakland and Alameda County politicians trying to play God rather than solve a problem. If one more Oakland or Alameda County politician talks to me like a parrot about how they’re not willing to spend public money on a stadium complex for Oakland’s sports teams, I’m going to throw-up.
Because such talk shows they 1) don’t know what they’re doing and 2) are too easily lead by the opinions of greedy municipal bond deal makers, out to score a quick buck without care for the needs of the City of Oakland.
What pisses me off is the meetings held this week on Oakland Coliseum City were done without any discussion of the bond options available to both the developers and to the City of Oakland, Alameda County, and the Oakland Coliseum Joint Powers Authority.
Let me save time by saying that the one best strategy for all is to assemble the development project so that it qualifies for what’s called a “Private Activity Bond.” California and other U.S. States issue these annually, and they’re designed so that, should they default, the city or county or JPA that issues them aren’t left holding the bag; the bond buyers wind up owning whatever the bond issue was used to build – in this case, a stadium complex.
Now someone between the City, the County, and the JPA will chime in that “We can’t do that because stadiums aren’t recognized as being eligible for PABs.” My counter argument is you have to sell the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee on the idea, but that means getting the support of California Governor Jerry Brown first, and Jerry would have to be dumb as rocks not to go for this plan.
But that means making a powerful case that the stadium complex will be used primarily for private activities.
If you think about it, that’s easy: sports games and concerts are generally produced by the private sector. The trouble is that because they’re commonly held in facilities owned by the public, we think of them as public activities and not private events. See?
The reality is that we have been using taxpayer dollars to support large scale private activities. But forming Oakland Coliseum City for a PAB recognizes the private nature of the activities and says ‘Ok, we’re going to issue this bond for you, but if its goes south, you the developers and the bond holders, and not the taxpayers, are stuck with it.’
That would end all of this crap talk by Oakland and Alameda County politicians about what they’re going to do or not do. It’s like King Kong beating on his chest and showing he’s powerful – get over it. Oakland’s teetering on the brink of losing all of its sports teams. We can save them.
I’m personally sick and tired of that ‘I’m in control’ talk – just build this damn thing, because we can do it.