In a word, yes.
The other day, Oakland Mayor Dellums sent out a note bragging about how many dollars Oakland received from Federal stimulus grants – and he thanked everyone who worked on the aid requests.
While we believe that Oakland did well in the handouts, it’s really hard to tell: (1) exactly how much; (2) what was specifically funded; and (3) how all the grants compare to other cities. The note ended up obfuscating the good news, at least for non-policy wonks.
The Mayor says “the City has brought in, to date, over $65 million in stimulus funds, including over $35 million from competitive grants.” That’s great, so where’s the $35 million in the competitive grant comparisons to other cities?
There’s no question that we have received more money than all other cities shown, magnified in the per-person and index data. However it’s not clear what programs are included in or excluded from these city comparisons.
Last February, we had the full list of what was getting requested. How did the City of Oakland do? What was requested versus rejected? What’s still getting approved by Uncle Sam?
We’re not trying to rain on the parade, and are grateful for external funds in our budget time-of-need. It might be nice to know as much as we did last winter, when the request process began for Oakland and all cities nationally.
President Barack Obama called Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums “an old friend” yesterday, but will this mean we get over $2.6 billion worth of federal assistance? Maybe we deserve this much investment, but many requested items seem like they will get scratched from the list.
Like all cities, our requests were first submitted through the 2008 U.S. Conference of Mayors. We made 75 requests for streets/roads (16), water (10), airport (5), community federal block grants (14), energy (7), housing (1), and public safety (22).
Without help from Uncle Sam, there are some breathtaking infrastructure projects that would never see the light of day. Here are the largest ticket items, which each run more than $100 million and add up to $1.75 billion alone:
- New police administration building – $450 mm
- New airport parking garage – $300 mm
- Library upgrades – $270 mm
- New municipal service center – $220 mm
- Clean water, safe parks – $150 mm
- Wharf reconstruction – $130 mm
- Sanitary sewer system upgrades – $130 mm
- Oakland army base upgrades – $100 mm
The project list also includes familiar, budget-gap items that Oaklanders have discussed over the past year. Many deferred public works are shown, even sidewalk repairs. The public safety wish list runs from new patrol cars to sophisticated surveillance, and goes far beyond the minor systems rejected in Measure NN.
Are all these projects actually eligible for Recovery Act funds? See the complete list of Oakland requests below, and draw your own conclusions.