Make Oakland Better Now Visits Montclair

Last year, concerned Oaklanders got together to discuss city priorities and raise questions for the mayoral candidates.  Since the election, this Make Oakland Better Now group has evolved and now focuses on the city’s fiscal situation and 2011-2012 budgeting progress — for the rest of us.

Make Oakland Better Now, or MOBN! for short, plans to make a special visit to Montclair this week.  MOBN’s Bruce Nye, a local lawyer, will describe the city’s budget options along with the latest activities in City Hall.  We like that Nye and other volunteers have taken time to understand and clarify options, as independent citizens with neither special interests nor axes to grind.

“Pencil in” this Thursday evening, to hear about the our budgeting progress and ask a couple questions if you’re so inclined.  Nye will meet with Montclarions on Thursday, from 8-9pm — at Montclair Presbyterian Church, 5701 Thornhill Drive (map).

Many thanks to our local safety group, Montclair Safety and Improvement Council, which invited MOBN! to their monthly meeting.  Their regular safety meeting starts at 7pm, for those who are neighborhood watchers.

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Across The Board Cuts, Except Cops

After Make Oakland Better Now! asked locals what steps should be taken to close the City of Oakland’s budget gap, we wondered what would happen next.  Finding another $9 million-plus this fiscal year isn’t an easy task for novices or experts, but our opinions do matter.

Well, the people have spoken:  at least 140 survey-takers shared their opinions.  According to Bruce Nye, who heads MOBN!, the results boiled down to making cuts as equally as possible.  However police and public safety were functions that needed protection, in the short term.

MOBN! intended to share Oaklanders’ priorities with the City Council before they met on budget decisions.  Thus a recommendations letter was emailed to Council members yesterday, which first acknowledged constraints in the short-term and then provided specific direction signals.

Don’t touch public safety:

  • The topic of reducing sworn law enforcement personnel should be off the table.
  • The minimal savings that could be achieved through reducing civilian personnel in the Oakland Police Department constitute a false economy.
  • The city’s immediate fiscal problems cannot, for the most part, be solved by eliminating programs.

Do share the pain elsewhere:

  • Oakland must balance its budget with significant, across-the-board reductions in personnel costs in every non-public safety function in the city.
  • Combined salary and benefit costs are far out of line with the market, and far exceed what the city can afford.
  • Accomplish [cuts] through a very wrenching combination of lay-offs, salary reductions, more early retirements, and a major restructuring of benefits.
  • While even severe cuts to the council’s and mayor’s offices (and to employee parking) would provide only minimal benefit…it is a representative message to deliver.

Next up?  We suggest you mark your calendars for February 16th, when the City Council will meet and wrestle with gap-closure choices.  If you tune into KTOP (Comcast Channel 10) at 5pm, then you’ll see this cliffhanger play out all night.

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MOBN Announces 90-Day Plan And General Assembly

We’re pleased to publish a guest post from Bruce Nye, our concerned neighbor who initiated Make Oakland Better Now!   This grassroots, city-wide effort seeks to “shine a light on mayoral and city council candidates’ positions” in the coming year.  Take it away, Bruce…

Make Oakland Better Now! Announces Its 90-Day Plan And February 21, 2010 General Assembly

by Bruce Nye

Last August, more than 100 Oaklanders met at St. Theresa’s Church to form Make Oakland Better Now!, a grassroots issues and advocacy organization devoted to improving public safety, public works, transparency and accountability in the City of Oakland.

Make Oakland Better Now! was formed by Oakland residents, many of whom hadn’t been activists for a long time and many of whom admitted they hadn’t paid as much attention to Oakland politics as they should have.  But they believed Oakland was a wonderful city that urgently needed to change.  And they were determined to build an organization that would be a force in these three critical areas in the 2010 mayor’s race and beyond.  More specifically, Make Oakland Better Now! is determined to shine a light on mayoral and city council candidates’ positions in these three areas and to monitor improvement after the election.

At our kick-off meeting and in the months afterward, Make Oakland Better Now! assembled a leadership group determined to move this city forward.  This group has been asking questions, listening, reading and developing a sense of Oakland’s recent political history.  They’ve met with this city’s opinion leaders, city officials and knowledgeable people outside of government, trying to cast as wide a net as they can.  The process isn’t over yet, and will, we anticipate, be an ongoing one.  But we are finally ready to move.

The most important thing for you to know right now is this:  our next general assembly will be on Sunday, February 21, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. Please mark your calendars now, and do everything you can to hold the date.  This will be the meeting when our membership adopts positions and sets priorities in the three areas most important to Oakland:  public safety; government transparency/accountability; and public works.  We are working on selecting a centrally located, easily accessible venue, and will be announcing the “where” information very soon.

The leaders of the three committees are in the process of finishing a list of proposed MOBNow! positions and priorities in their areas of interest. That process will be finished by December 28th.  In January, each committee will hold a study group meeting and a committee meeting; we’ll also be announcing the dates, times and places for those meetings before year’s end.  At the study group meetings, we’ll have experts prepared to answer the committee’s questions.  At the committee meeting, we’ll make the final decision on the positions and priorities to recommend to the general assembly.

The next ninety days are going to be important, busy and exciting.  We need as many folks as possible to pitch in and help.  If you’d like to be more involved in any of the three areas (public safety, government transparency/accountability or public works), or in support (events, outreach, publicity, etc.), then e-mail: Oaklanders@makeoaklandbetternow.org.  And there’s always more information available at www.makeoaklandbetternow.org.  Please join us – Oakland needs you.

This guest post from Bruce Nye, one of the founders of Make Oakland Better Now! has been cross-posted at A Better Oakland, our city’s government and politics blog of record.

December 4th Update:  Positions are now getting posted at MOBN! and Oakland Local, and your comments are most welcome there.  (To commune with Montclarions, you may join our social network anytime.)

What Does MOBN Mean?

MOBN is a brand-new Oakland acronym making the rounds, which stands for Make Oakland Better Now.  It’s no mystery about what MOBN seeks to do, though:   identify the key issues Oakland mayoral candidates should address next year.

Make Oakland Better Now

Oaklander Bruce Nye (in the left photo, above) came up with the idea, and organized a kick-off meeting last week.  He gathered some of his friends to wrangle opinionated meeting-goers.  There was surprisingly civil discourse, as the wranglers had no axes to grind and focused on gathering as many issues as possible.

At least 100+ people came to this evening meeting, held at St. Theresa’s Church in the hills.  There were bloggers, a couple city workers, a city council member, and concerned citizens who had read about the meeting online.  The first issue emerged instantly, namely to hold future gatherings a little closer to public transportation.

After we were told the rules, the crowd split into three groups covering public safety, public works and infrastructure, and accountability/budgeting.  In under two hours, the attendees had created a tsunami of important issues – and it was a very good beginning!

What’s kind of challenging?  Getting down to pointed issues that really could or should be addressed, or else we’ll be trying to solve world hunger.  On the other hand, if those great Bakesale Betty gingersnaps were distributed beyond this first meeting…hhmm.