Rumblings from Local Voters

After a coalition of San Francisco voters rejected a waterfront condominium project across from the ferry building last November, a battle is now brewing over the Golden State Warriors’ plan to build a new arena on the bay near the SF Giants, despite the decades of fan loyalty and the tax support of Oakland and Alameda County.

Voter rumblings were also felt from the other side of the new Bay Bridge when Oakland doused a fire prevention property tax renewal measure. City leaders in both cities blamed their losses at the polls on low voter turnout and campaigns of misinformation.

However, critics and the Oakland City Auditor pointed to the city’s mismanagement of its fire prevention programs by allowing funds to be used for other purposes than fire prevention.

Here is an idea for a municipal New Year’s resolution: instead of blaming low voter turnout, pledge to manage funds properly and ensure accountability for raising property taxes by showing the voters the tangible results of services that are actually delivered.

Measure Y, which is up for ballot renewal in 2014, has been the source of constant battles over funds, intents and purposes. In the past, it lost twice before voters approved a more modified version.

In addition, Measure Y has been a magnet for lawsuits, investigations and calls of mismanagement and misdirected spending.

Given the rumblings among voters who don’t appear to be in a charitable mood to write a blank tax increase check, city leaders would be wise to address voters’ accountability demands rather than resort to scare tactics to get Measure Y approved.

District 4 Councilwoman Libby Schaaf made it official. She is running for mayor in 2014. She vowed that public safety would be her top priority. She pointedly referred to the city’s failed leadership and lack of quality, safety services delivered by the city.

Mayor Jean Quan and most other candidates have been silent on Schaaf’s entry. But, candidate Joe Tuman says that Schaaf is part of the failed leadership that has not delivered services to the Oakland citizens. Many interest groups, particularly labor unions, have so far shown no interest in making early endorsements.

Schaaf’s run for mayor means she is giving up her first term District 4 council seat, also up in 2014, provided she stays in the mayor’s race to the end. There should be no shortage of qualified candidates who will emerge to succeed her.

At the close of 2013, there has been talk of another possible mayoral candidate – Dan Siegel, former attorney of Mayor Quan and past attorney for the Oakland Unified School District, who also served on the Oakland Board of Education.

KillianClinton Killian is an attorney for the downtown Oakland law firm Fried & Williams LLP and a former public official. He can be reached at ckillian@postnewsgroup.com.

 

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