Layoffs of Alameda city staff expected today

Michele Ellson of The Island stayed up to watch last night’s city council meeting and has this on job cuts in the city: “…the word is that we’re getting a list of the positions to be cut today, so I’m sure there will be more to come.” She also has, for your edification, a list of current city employees and their salaries and benefits. Both Alameda bloggers John Knox White and Lauren Do have other info on cuts to city staff.

Oh! For context: Oakland layoffs, Fremont layoffs, and Bay Area layoffs.


For Alameda: still no state budget

With many California employees taking one or two mandatory unpaid furlough days a month and the governor threatening to send layoff notices to the 20,000 state employees with the least seniority, there’s still no budget deal in Sacramento. The no-taxes Republican minority continues to block the Democratic majority.

And lest you think Alameda is alone in its plight to keep the city budget numbers lining up. There’s this: Ventura workers taking pay cuts to save jobs.


Alameda city budget, compare and contrast

Michele Ellson over at The Island has done a little piece on how the City of Alameda spends its money. For comparison purposes, she set out to find another city with similar demographics:

After narrowing the list down to about a dozen California cities – most of which, incidentally, are facing the same budget problems that we are – I ended up 35 miles southwest of here. What I found was a city that spends far more money on parks and libraries than we do – and less on its fire department, despite the fact that Redwood City’s fire department handles more calls than ours does.

Here’s what she found about Park and Recreation services:

Redwood City spends twice what Alameda does on its parks and recreation services, despite the fact that workers there have only 14 acres more of parkland to maintain. A lot of the amenities offered – two pools, a senior center, a teen center, a skate park, dog parks – are identical to those offered here. But Redwood City pays far more to maintain those amenities, and more to staff programs.

And firefighters:

On the flip side, there’s one department we spend more money on, and that’s fire. We spent $21.5 million to Redwood City’s $17.3 million, with $19 million for workers’ salaries, benefits and overtime to their $14.5 million. Our fire department is over 100 strong, compared to 70 in Redwood City. And our department has a lifetime health care benefit for spouses that Redwood City’s doesn’t.

You can read the whole piece here—and Ellson promises there are more details to come.


Alameda neighbors: lead paint

The column I write for the Alameda Journal (you can find all Journal articles online here), is this week about a woman who tried to get her neighbor’s illegal painting job stopped, and the trouble she had.

As you are likely aware, most paint manufactured before 1978 contains lead, which is damaging to humans, particularly developing brains. If you have your old house painted, you need to make sure that any paint that is sanded or scraped off is contained, captured and properly disposed of. Otherwise, it is dispersed in the environment, where it can cause harm to children or others. The column is called “What makes a good neighbor?

For more info on lead and lead poisoning you can visit Alameda County Lead Poisoning Prevention. Their information hotline is 567-8280.


October 20: Last day to register to vote

In case you had not noticed, country-wide (and, too, city-wide) we’re gearing up for an election on November 4th. If, for some reason, you’re still not registered to vote, you have until next Monday, October 20th, to do so. Guy Ashley, from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, sent this how-to/FYI:

Alameda County residents must be citizens, 18 years old and not in prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony to be eligible to register to vote.

Voter registration affidavits are available at the Registrar of Voters office and at libraries, fire stations and post offices. You may also download and complete the registration form on our website.

Completed affidavits must be delivered to the Registrar of Voters Office at 1225 Fallon Street, Room G-1, Oakland, CA 94612 or postmarked by October 20th in order to be valid for this election. Voters can call the Registrar of Voters Office at (510) 272-6973 or (510) 267-8683 to check their voter registration status.

It also sounds like the Registrar of Voters as well is hosting a last-minute sign-people-up-to-vote event. This also from the ROV’s Ashley:

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters office will be holding a special “Midnight Madness’’ voter registration drive outside its offices in downtown Oakland from 5 p.m. to midnight on Monday October 20th. The event will occur outside Alameda County’s Rene C. Davidson Courthouse at 1225 Fallon Street, Oakland… Staff will be on hand to distribute registration forms, answer questions and receive completed forms right up until the midnight registration deadline.

There’s no excuses, really. And I haven’t heard much of what I used to hear, back there in the 1990s, “The candidates are all the same.” I think people are seeing the differences now.


Life on the Island: Hard economic times and firefighter benefits

The column I write for Tuesday’s Alameda Journal is up online now: “Tough times, hard choices.” It was a sad one to write, because in doing the research into Alameda’s budget and the benefits the city pays, it became clear what a bind we’re in, and what a bind we’re facing in the future. But Alameda is not alone in this. Public entities across the country are facing the same squeeze from the economic downturn and rising health care costs.


Solar permits in Alameda?

There’s an article in the current East Bay Express about solar in Alameda. The headline, “Less Than Light Speed,” and much of the story takes what seems to be the greater-Bay-Area’s default stance toward Alameda: Alameda is backwards. Though, if you read the whole article, it sounds like city departments—after a solar contractor complained about turn-around times for permits at an Alameda Power & Telecom board meeting in July—are actually working hard to streamline the process: the city responded by coming up with a plan to issue solar permits within five days.

I did learn (if the Express reporter got it right) that Alameda Power & Telecom, as an independent utility, didn’t have (as other California cities have had since 2001) a state-funded consumer rebate program, until a new law, “Million Solar Roofs,” went into effect at the beginning of this year.

And for those of you interested in alternative sources of power, you might enjoy reading about this gym or this bike.


This Week’s Alamedan: Shipra Pathak

shipra sLived in Alameda: Since 2004
Age: 24
Originally from: Punjab, India
Family: Lives with mother, father and brother, Gaurav, 18
Current occupation: Full-time clerk at Walgreens; student at Laney College taking prerequisites for nursing school
Accomplishments: Earned associate’s degree from College of Alameda in 2007; won district-wide Chancellor’s Trophy Award
Career goal: Earn a master’s in nursing
Activities: Going to Hindu temple, community service

Why Alameda?
My father came first in 2001. He was looking for an apartment in a safe area. When the rest of the family came in 2004, he moved to Alameda.

Like best about Alameda?
Being new here, you get to meet new challenges every day and you and your family feel very proud when you achieve them.

Would like to change about Alameda?
Mostly I’m concerned about crime, even though we have less crime than other cities. I’m concerned about hate crime—or even saying bad words to a person of another race. Once I was working and a customer came in and said quite rude things. I was very quiet, and so surprised how anyone could talk that way to a person they don’t know anything about. I was very shocked by how people can treat others and what kind of feelings they have inside.

Word to the wise I would like everyone to be more aware of people with different cultural backgrounds and their beliefs so we could respect each other and have safe neighborhoods for everyone.