LIVE Coverage of Council Meeting 7.28.09
on July 28, 2009
By STEVE SALDIVAR
Reporting from the Chambers. LIVE!
5:34 p.m. – Agenda lists Nancy Nadel is currently in Jamaica. She will speak via teleconference all the way from Blue Harbour Castle Gardens in Port Maria, Jamaica, West Indies. This will be interesting.
5:47 p.m. -Council members are in! Ignacio De La Fuente walks in with Animal, the drummer from Sesame Street. I’m reserving judgment. We are now being asked to rise for The Pledge of Allegiance.
5:55 p.m. – “Efficiency, transparency and accountability. We will be repeating these 3 words throughout our efforts to keep our libraries open,” said Patrick Camacho. “You were efficient about getting these budget cuts done. It is transparent that you made it difficult to see the library closing. I can’t even see the item on the agenda. Explain to children why story times are no longer needed. You shouldn’t have to pay people to stand beside you. You should have the support of people in your district.” Many of Oakland residents are holding orange signs in support of Oakland Libraries.
6:04 p.m. – August 4 will now be known officially as National Night Out in Oakland! “We should all be out on the streets getting to know our neighbors,” said Brunner. 400 residents offiicially registered on the web site, spokesperson just announced.
6:23 p.m. Council adopts a resolution to expand the boundaries of The Oakland Enterprise Zone into parts of West Berkeley and Emeryville. “It would allow business to get tax credits from California Franchise Tax Credits,” said City Hall staff member. This will include an incentive to hire Oakland residents.
8 AYES. resolution passes unanimously.
6:34 – Oakland Army Base item comes up. 76 speakers on the item!
6:40 Gregory Hunter, from the Community and Economic Development Agency, breaks down the issue. FOA and AMB/CCG are the two teams that are competing to be the master developer. FOA proposal wants 600,000 square feet of outlet retail, 85,000 square feet of entertainment center, hotel and conference center. AMB/CCG, on the other hand, wants 506,00 square feet of industrial and port serving uses. Also want Produce Market wholesale distribution facility. Oakland leaning towards AMB/CCG. because it creates family sustaining jobs, mixed use of development, including green tech jobs. Council listens to Hunter and flip through proposals.
6:50 p.m. – Council asks both teams to come up and pitch them their plan. They each have five minutes. Let’s get ready to rumble!
6:55 p.m. – Dave Gazek from the Federal Oakland Associates takes the stage. “You seem to be on the verge of selecting CCG/AMB. Initally, there was no land use preference,” said Gazek. “We would generate more money to Oakland. 12 million by 2019 instead of 7.5 million by CCG/AMB,” said Gazek. “This is an apples to apples compairons. If you still prefer their industrial approach, consider including our team as a co-developer.”
7:01 p.m. – CCG/AMB representative comes up. Within a minute, he finishes his presentation. “We are not prepared to modify or change our proposal.”
7:03 p.m. – The first of 76 speakers come up.
7:12 p.m. – Speakers show a strong support AGAINST having CCG/AMB as main developer . “We are entertainment. We are media,” said a speaker on the importance of small business’ ability to use the land. Oh, he says that the Paramount Theater is currently shooting a commercial for California tourism. Can anyone confirm?
7:25 p.m. – Several PCC Logistics employees come up to speak on the matter. They are currently working at the Army Base. “What are you guys going to do for us?” said Adi Tillman, a PCC Logistics employee. “You never included us in the converstion. I want to know for my family, what are you doing for us?” His supervisor speaks after him. “We voted for you,” she said. “We trust in you. Do the right thing.”
7:43 p.m. – Council meeting loses connection with Nancy Nadel. The meeting comes to a stop.
7:45 p.m. – We are back in business! Nadel is connected.
7:50 p.m. – Hugh Morrison is one of the few CCG/AMB supporters. “This developer will bring in the type of jobs that will be the best paying blue collar jobs,” Morrison said. “Retail only brings introductory level jobs. Mass retail at the Army Base will turn the port into a parking lot and bring it to a stand still.”
7:56 pm. – “I ride my bike by the Army Base every day,” said a speaker. “It smells bad. You don’t want retail there.”
8:12 p.m. Speakers are done. De La Fuente adds his two cents. “We are going to ENA to death. Every year it becomes more difficult to be competitive and maximize the number of jobs. The Army Base should generate good paying jobs you can feed a family on. This is just an ENA (Exclusive Negotiating Agreement). This is not a final agreement. This is just the beginning. Industrial jobs versus retail. I want to continue to support and expand light industrial jobs.”
8:18 p.m. – Nancy Nadel, sounding like she’s under water, comes through. “I do not support squeezing major retail into an industrial project.” The council members are not hiding their choice for developer very well.
8:35 p.m. – “We need to look after our local small businesses in the way we haven’t before,” said Larry Reid. “Can we have language in the ENA to have local businesses have an opportunity to compete?” Before he hears answers from colleagues he gets up from his chair, pulls his cell phone from his pocket and leaves the room.
8:41 p.m. – “Oakland is founded on big dreams,” said Jean Quan. “This isn’t going to be easy. We should get quarterly reviews so we don’t come back a year from now and find out that we hate the project.” Quan shares Nadel’s view on this.
8:50 p.m. – Oakland Port is well balanced in terms of import and export ratio, says Rebecca Kaplan. (Any of our readers would like to fact check this one?) Kaplan does stress that local hiring requirements is essential in this plan. (Whatever that plan will be.)
8:53 p.m. – “I am enthusiastic about AMB/CCG,” said Patricia Kernighan. “There has been a lot of speaking and people made good points. But I’m ready to move forward with the staff’s recommendation.” Things are looking up for Tagami’s team.
8:56 p.m. – “It’s easy to promise people the world when they have nothing,” said Desley Brooks, referring to developers promising other entities deals when they haven’t been selected. “No structures will go up. This is just for us to get together and see if we can strike a deal.”
9:01 p.m. – “Mr. Tagami is good at getting money. He’s also good at coming to this city for that money,” said Jane Brunner.
9:03 p.m. – Jean Quan is always on her laptop. What is she looking at?
9:07 p.m. – AMB/CCG gets the gig. 7 Ayes.
9:09 p.m. – “I couldn’t have said it with a better accent,” said Nadel, referring to De La Fuente reading the final resolution.
9:17 p.m. – Jean Quan is the bearer of bad news. She is going through additional job cuts to balance the budget. “A little less dreaming and a little more reality,” Quan said.
9:20 p.m. – Quan is reading off some proposed balancing measures in the next two years: Raise Police Department special events permit fee, Ground a police helicopter, eliminate 2 painters in Public Works, Freeze a number of vacant positions with the Fire Department, Eliminate traveling with Library positions (No more American Library Association Conferences to go to). If these measures are passed, Quan believes no Police Officers will be laid off.
9:32 p.m. – Jonathan Bair, a speaker, discusses the library situation. “Literally, hundreds of people came to the main library yesterday for assistance and access to housing services,” said Bair, referring to Oakland residents who applied for Affordable Housing Units, an application that is now solely online. “The library is the gateway for services and must be opened everyday.”
9:41 p.m. – Lea Rubio is the only spanish speaking PST (Police Service Technician.) “I was the last one hired, so I’d be the first one fired,” said Rubio. “If there is no safe place to talk about molestation, they’ll have to go somewhere else for guidance. They need a positive police role model.” Rubio went down the responsibilities of a PST and it could all be done in Spanish if she were there.
9:53 p.m. – Council member Brunner looks like an undergraduate pulling an all nighter. Hands behind the head, tired and sleepy. Desley Brooks has kept her distance from this item agenda. Patricia Kernighan gets up for an extra cup of coffee.
9:58 p.m. The council wakes up when Michael Ferraro, Oakland resident with a ZZ Top- like beard, discusses misappropriation of money in the city. “Run this city like the business it is and not like the charity it has become,” said Ferraro. “Theft is theft and embezzlement is embezzlement no matter how you change the name to make it sound better.”
10:00 p.m. Delia Rodriguez speaks to the council in Spanish. She was beaten by her husband but since police didn’t speak Spanish they actually arrested her. Assistants were able to translate, said Rodriguez. If these community assistant positions are cut, people like her would not get the help they need. “Now I help out the community,” said Rodriguez who works with Casa Del Sol, a place where women look for help after they have been victims of domestic violence. After her minute is up, she walks next to Sanjiv Handa, having never met him and hands him a sheet of paper: Rodriguez had waited 5 hours to speak she used that time to draw an illustration of Honda as he busily types “I worried” on his computer screen.
10:33 p.m. All the speakers have made their case. It’s decision time! To make extra cuts or to not make extra cuts. That is the question.
10:36 p.m. – “We need to make one central library open all the time, everyday. And it makes sense for that to be the central library. Members of public don’t know about first time home buyers because of cuts to technology jobs. We are here with a proposal that is all cuts. We need to have revenue strategies, not just cuts. If this seems too big tonight, we can address this in the fall.” Oh no!
10:48 – council discusses how painful these cuts are “and unfortunately it’s not over yet” said De La Fuente. “Some citizens understand an some don’t.” And some, De La Fuente says, are Like Honda who don’t “have the courage to run for council.”
10:49 – “Every position is precious but at some point, we just don’t have a choice.” – De la Fuente
10:51 – Council asks if Nancy Nadel is still connected. Uhm. No answer.
10:52 – Ah! Nadel has made contact all the way from Jamaica. “I want to thank Quan for fighting for cuts that were originally proposed.” Yes, folks. More cuts are being made but council is pleased that “entire programs and staff” were spared.
10:54 – There’s a motion on the floor! 8 Ayes, resolution is adopted. More cuts are coming this way, folks. Strap on your seatbelts.
10:55 p.m. – “Okay Sabrina you can go have a baby now!” (Brunner to Sabrina Landreth, the financial analyst is expecting.)
11:11 p.m. – Council would like to discuss reducing parking fines that involve sidewalk Access Ramp within three feet from $320 to$ 275. The chambers have cleared out like a Savage Garden concert.
11:13 p.m. -“I hope people realize this is a decrease in fines,” said Nadel. How did she know? Does she have a monitor in Jamaica?
11:14 p.m. – It passes! Council decreases certain parking fees.
11:30 p.m. – Council raises prices of some city garages, including parking at The Grand Avenue, Piedmont Avenue, Parkway, Harrison Street and Montclair Parking Lots, to $4. 7 Ayes. (let the record show Kernighan voted no.) It passes anyway.
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