City of Oakland 101
City Charter is at the core of the city's legal operations and governance structure.
The mayor is the CEO, appoints City Administrator, is able to resolve a tying vote with the City Council, and also appoints folks to boards and comissions. There are lots of opportunities there and is a great way to get involved.
Districts review, . Lynett Macelhaney (spelling?) new for District 3 (sudo's district). Rebecca Kaplan is the member at large. City's Attorney Office -- advice and representation for the whole organization (Advice unit and Litigation unit). Protect the city's interest, defend the city in lawsuits (litigation), pursue lawsuits, and deal with liability
City auditor is the watchdog of the city, look for evidence of fraud and that the city follows the letter of the law. The audit both day-to-day performance and financial information.
Office of the City Administrator, Deanna Santana, manages all day-to-day functions--she is the buffer between the Council and city staff (if there's a problem on either side). She's totally excited about "innovation" and will be talking later.
With respect to education, the city does work with the School District, but it's an independently elected board. Jean Quan was on the school board, as well as the new city council rep for the Fruitvale district.
Planning, permitting, zoning, housing, housing projects. However there is a HOusing Authority which is independent from the city.
Most of the human services are delivered by Alameda County, but there is a department in the City of Oakland. Most federal money comes through the county for these purposes.
Economic development, business attraction, army bases, and also around the port of Oakland. The port under a charter is a department of the city, but the board of port comissioners is appointed by the Mayor, and there will be a new president of this board coming in soon.
Infrastructure. By and large all the infrastructure is managed by the city (lights, traffic control, streets, sewers, all of that).
Who are the city's customers anyway? Quotes someone else: "You have to really love public service to do this job. And if you don't like service and you don't like the people, this might not be the right job for you." Oakland is an outward-focusing
Residents, businesses, agencies (counties, state, fed), but the city itself is a customer--they provide each other services.
What is good customer service? Genuine desire to help other folks, values-oriented, working hard.
Notion of what it is to be a public servant-- "we are the guardians of the public trust" if you don't like something--you can't go to Walmart, the city has a monopoly on public services. City employees should be ambassadors in their communities. Oakland residents are very generous with tax dollars, and when they feel like they are not benefiting from their city's services, they don't feel trust with the city.
Most civil servants are put through a competitive hiring process--many of them are organized in labor unions: police, fire fighters, professional employees, service employees (street sweepers, administrative staff, etc). Labor negotiations are coming up. Employees are incredibly generous in maintaining staff in the face of cuts. Every few years "Memoranda of Understanding" are re-negotiated.
Q: How do we change the city charter? A:
Q: What are the different ways measures can be put on the ballot, and what are the thresholds? (a) for city council and (b) up to the voters A: Demystify the measures: Money requires 2/3, rank choice? simple majority, and taxes have to go to the voters. (More details). Fees can be imposed by the city council (things that recoup costs, administrative and operational). 2-year budget, but every year the city re-evaluates its master fee schedule and may increase or decrease fees, etc.
Q: Top two or three opportunities (what's needed?) A: Just launched "MindMixer" engageoakland.com -- looking for feedback. It's brand new, Nicole reads it, and different staff read it as relevant. They think it's a great place.
Q: Outstanding issues or day-to-day problems of the city government. A: Compliance with Oakland Police Department potential federal take-over. Also, downsizing with no adjustment in expectation for service delivery. Council expects as much if not more with city staff. Have not interface with the public about not being able to maintain the same capacity. Thinks that Code for America can provide an opportunity to increase efficiency be eliminating complex, paper-based processes. But it becomes very calcified and not able to move as nimbly, with fewer staff today. Most are administrative processes w/o having to change the City Charter. Public Records system is not working well. Further, contracting needs some improvement. Comparative to other cities, IT staff is extremely limited. We need technology, we need training, and we need new systems. Some examples from Public Works -- only 2 people on the help desk (8 to 5), longer than 6 months to get a new hire. 20% salary cut in furlough days. Lots of thoughts and feelings.
Q: What kind of data do department heads get on a regular basis? A: It's not good. It's getting better, even over the current year. Professional and trained staff are open to improving this. Internal technology systems are really limited.
Q: What are the avenues for citizens to be heard? (Any particular stories?) A:
Q: What roles does the city see as its lack of core competency and thus ripe for reaching for outside contractors? A: