Oakland, Consider Four-Day Week

Here’s a bright idea!  To deliver additional budget savings, the City of Oakland might consider Monday-Thursday office hours.  Stay with us, because the idea’s not that original or far-fetched.

We just read about Utah state government workers, who clock ten-hour days and get paid for their 40-hour weeks.  The difference is their offices are shuttered and they don’t work on Fridays.  In return, the state saves money.

Employee Punch Card

How has this experiment worked for Utah?  Swimmingly, but not for the reasons that were originally envisioned about energy savings.  Instead, the major benefit has been overtime pay!  Apparently when workers complete their ten hours shifts, they feel like going home.

All told, Utah has saved $500k in energy bills, $200k in janitorial services and a whopping $4.1 million in overtime payments.  We don’t know the overall percentage of the state budget saved, but this still sounds like a decent option to us.  Other states are trying this out as well, such as Washington and Hawaii.

The City of Oakland has already mandated one day/month closures, and that’s one way to save bucks.  It wouldn’t be hard to imagine having Friday closures beyond the current schedule.  Also the extended hours on other weekdays would likely be viewed as a convenience and welcomed by Oaklanders.

We know that some city jobs already follow longer-shift patterns, and that police, fire and other emergency services must be available after-hours.  But this four-day week would be different and more widespread.  The hours for many city services are truly fungible.

So let’s continue to get creative with our budgeting efforts.  We’re not sure if this scheduling option was ever tossed around during earlier discussions, but think it’s worthy of City Council time and consideration.

Outside Mag: Brown, Not Dellums

Oakland has now been called a “bright idea” by Outside Magazine, which gives credit to former Mayor Jerry Brown for buffing up the downtown.   Is our current Oakland Mayor, Ron Dellums, just some metaphorical chopped liver?

In its August issue, Outside touts our urban renewal progress.  The article points to the housing units and restaurants built.  If you build it, then they will come.  (Yes, this doesn’t just apply to baseball diamonds built in cornfields.)  In Oakland, folks are starting to be drawn back to the urban core.

Mayor Dellums is attempting to take a little credit.  His chief of staff, David Chai, tried to attribute the city’s progress to the mayor during KQED’s Forum program last week.  After getting challenged by local journalists, this spokesman backed down quickly.  While Dellums may have supported additional development, results are a long-term proposition.

Of course, Dellums still needs to improve his public relations and communications.  On the local front, he did emerge recently to dismiss the city administrator and show who’s in charge at City Hall.  Most of the time, he avoids press conferences, individual interviews or, ultimately, the general public.

Until reading Outside, I didn’t consider how Dellums would be seen in the national press.  This magazine is far from a political centerpiece, appealing to active or armchair nature enthusiasts.  However it’s telling that the current mayor isn’t mentioned at all.

Non-existent press is probably the reason Mayor Dellums got ignored here.  Try this:  google “development” and “Dellums” together, and you see a few irrelevant results.  So if journalists or researchers tried to find out what’s happening lately, they would come up empty-handed.

There’s no question the quiet mayor needs to pull his communications act together soon – whether that’s putting more effectively flacks out there OR just deciding to engage with media more actively.