Which Community Programs Live?

Civic-minded Oaklanders typically support and vote for community programs that help kids, elderly and everyone in between.  This seems rather natural to do, but now our choices aren’t that cut and dry.

On the November ballot, there’s something called Measure OO, which ensures funding for kids’ after-school programs and more.  This measure effectively “earmarks” $26 million annually in the city budget.

Why Vote For Or Against OO:

Vote For: Advocates say the programs must be secured, since they help kids focus on their schooling and futures.  According to one supporter, “As someone who has worked for Oakland public after-school programs, if Measure OO doesn’t pass, we lose most of our funding.  If it passes, we will get 2.5% of the budget – but if it doesn’t pass, we lose even the 1% that we are getting now.”  (lucille.two27)

Vote Against: Opponents appreciate the programs, yet reject the budgeting tactics.  “The City Council already has extended the original funding for an additional 12 years.  Measure OO proposes to increase the funding beyond the current level, and to do so forever.  What other program is getting its budget doubled in this time of big budget cuts?”  (League of Women’s Voters)

From a financial perspective, the measure would require Oakland to allocate $26 million in perpetuity, before any other programs are budgeted.  It actually increases city funding from 2.5% to 5% of the budget.  Meanwhile, our City Council has to make 15% worth of cuts to the overall budget – so this doesn’t add up.

Hobson’s Choices:

There’s no question that other worthwhile social programs, for kids and adults, would get whittled away.  Here are likely candidates, along with their current budgets:  public libraries ($12.3m); parks & recreation programs ($14.7m); human services for families/elderly ($6.75m); and even the Oakland museum ($6.4m).

We have difficult trade-offs to consider here.  Who’s more worthy?  Kids who attend after-school programs versus others who visit local libraries?  I believe libraries provide a terrific oasis as well, including access to the internet, and friendly faces willing to help.  The same might be said for all the park programs, which appeal to kids too.

In more stable economic times, we would all jump at securing funding for community programs.  However it’s more important to maintain some flexibility and ensure the survival of other city resources, too.  This measure takes away our freedom to choose.

More Insights:  Please click on comments, discussing how Kids First programs are funded (!) without passage of Measure OO.

Remember That Skyline Is Closed

While it’s nearly ancient history, do you recall the mudslide in early January?  Skyline Boulevard was closed for temporary repairs, and one lane re-opened for traffic by late February.  You’ve needed a little patience since then, when waiting for the red traffic light to change there.

Yesterday, I started driving up Skyline and reached a surprising dead-end!  The mudslide section is now closed for permanent repairs, at least until December.  This closure may have publicized, but the news passed me by – and maybe you, too.

As a public service, here’s the latest scoop from Oakland Public Works.  First, the road is closed between 7257 and 7293 Skyline Blvd.  No pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles or motor vehicles may use the road.  While closed, the work scope includes drainage repairs, utility relocation and slope stabilization.

Public Works expects to complete all fixes before the winter rainy season, and permanently re-open both travel lanes.  If the work proceeds without delays, then Skyline might be accessible by early December.  I’m taking bets for sometime before the holidays, though.

In the meantime, don’t even try to sneak around the Skyline closure.  Stick to the lower roads when you head over to Berkeley.  If you want to drive to Tilden Park or Sibley Preserve, then wander up Claremont Canyon.  Any other hints, please share them here.

Free Admission Today At Chabot Space

The Chabot Space & Science Center has free admission on Saturday.  Normally general admission costs $9/kid and $13/adult, but not today!

As part of Museum Day 2008, you need to fill out this form and print out admission cards.  Each card is good for two people, and must be presented at the box office.   Please note this offer isn’t mentioned on the Chabot web site, but is available here.

Of course, a trip to Chabot Space & Science is never completely free.  Additional planetarium shows run $4/kid and $5/adult.  Plus there’s the gift shop, which is tough to leave empty-handed.

It’s a beautiful day but why not go indoors and contemplate the universe?  You can take a quick walk at Redwood Park, right outside.  Or wait until sunset, and use the cool telescopes.

The Chabot Observatory is opened from 10:00am to 10:00pm Saturday.  It’s easily reached off Highway 13, at 10000 Skyline Boulevard (map). If you have questions, please call the box office at (510) 336-7373.

More Museum Day Locales:  The Berkeley Art Center and San Francisco’s Exploratorium are free today, too. Sign up for admission cards, also on the Smithsonian Magazine web site.

Private Funds Only Way To Fix Village

Well, I feel like we were led astray about Montclair Village improvements.   Last week, Montclarions were invited to a special meeting where they could react to the landscape architect’s ideas.

Everyone seemed excited and reacted positively to Leslie Golden’s plans.  That’s all well and good, but there’s no path forward right now.  These plans are simply pipe dreams!

Oakland helped to fund the planning process.  Now it’s up to Montclair residents and businesses to cough up around $1 million, if we want to fix the Village’s public spaces.

Our only hope is that Bella, Montclair’s dog mayor, starts begging for dollars during the Sunday Farmers’ market.  Perhaps she would succeed, much like this Portland (OR) dog at his own Saturday market.

Otherwise, the Montclarion reported that financing hasn’t been secured at all.  There’s a slight possibility that some CalTrans funding would be forthcoming, said Richard Cowan, chief of staff to City Rep Jean Quan.  However those resources seem unlikely in the short term.

If we really want things to happen, then a Village campaign should be launched.  We’ll put our dog mayor and other residents to work – extending the hat and knocking on local doors.

Mapmaker Honors Oakland

Check out this Bay Area representation posted by Strange Maps, where the mapmaker honors Oakland through this two-handed perspective.  Our city appears in a position of prominence, along the right-hand index finger.

The Bay Area bridges also figure prominently because this cartoon was drawn back in 1938, only a few years after the Golden Gate and Bay spans were opened for business.   While I thought all those details meant the artist lived around here, I was mistaken.

Reginald Manning (1905-1986) drew this map, while serving as the editorial cartoonist for the Arizona Republic newspaper.  He penned cartoons there for 50 years, which were nationally syndicated.  The Pulitzer Prize-winning artist primarily focused on political cartoons.

Reg was an attentive tourist, though.  There’s a lot of scratchings around Oakland and nearby Berkeley, depicting our urban reaches really well.  We’ll accept this loving portrayal of Oakland – at least we’re not a large, blackened thumbnail like San Francisco.

(Kudos to CBS Eye on Blogs for discovering the map.)