You Spoke: Thumbs Down For Pay-Go

The people have spoken, and it’s thumbs-down for Pay-Go.  Some 82 percent of voters wanted these funds to be red-lined from Oakland’s budget.  The rest of you split evenly between keeping them or not being sure what to do, yet still wanted to reduce the $125k allotment per City Council representative.

Thumbs Down

These results came from our non-scientific survey, launched yesterday and still open.  Thus far, respondents were 46 percent male and 54 percent female.  Over 30 percent said they lived in Rep Nadel’s district 3, while others lived in districts repped by Brooks, Brunner, De La Fuente and Quan.  Interestingly, no one cast ballots from Reid or Kernighan’s districts.

What else did Oaklanders say?  They offered varied opinions about how Pay-Go funds are or should be used by different Council reps – and all demanded better accountability.  Check out these comments left by survey-takers:

When times are good, pay-go would be o. k.  Now, no.  Pay-go should have some “rules” attached to it.  Ideally, it should be used to leverage other community $.

I agree with Ms. Brunner that Pay-Go is valuable in a City that seems to perennially pay attention to certain areas while completely ignoring others.  However, I think that more stringent rules should be placed on use – none of this “neighborhood party” business like in Brook’s district.  That is nothing short of vote buying.  Capital improvements only, with cursory permission via vote by other council members.  In that event, I support raising the amount.

Council members should admit and mea culpa their role in blowing the surplus we had a few years back, due to the house-flipping that jacked up transfer tax revenue.  Of course, the council had a feeding frenzy on that, and saved not one dime for a rainy day.  Not learning a thing, at least one council member continues to beat an old dead horse to rifle its saddlebags for money.  Money to buy his own glory to build a boondoggle which he probably wants to name after himself, while his district crumbles apart with no grocery stores or drugstores or youth centers, but lots of murders.

A majority of council members use these funds on projects that don’t get other funds because they are poor uses of money.  It is used to reward cronies.  Get rid of it.

Beyond Pay-Go, many respondents felt the need to suggest other Council budget changes.  Several of you wanted to reduce headcounts in staff offices or else make substantial cuts to the elected reps’ salaries.  One respondent went straight to the stomach, noting meals budgeted by the city clerk:  “The Council should pay for their own meals, not the tax payers.”  I guess every morsel counts during the 2009 recession.

June 20th Update: Still want to weigh in?  Please feel free to take this quick survey and share your thoughts.  Living in the O, which is an active Oakland-wide blog, has asked for survey takers and we’re wondering if these preliminary results will hold or change as survey takers pile on.

Our Council Rep, Jean Quan, also offered her take today on how Pay-Go gets used in our district.  These funds help “prime the pump” on city funding or else fill gaps when there are simply no resources available.

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