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Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice 2010: first day of summer roundup

Today is Summer Solstice 2010, the first day of summer. According to Wikipedia, Summer Solstice, or the "first day of summer," is "when the Earth's axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23° 26'." It's the longest day of the year, with the shortest night, and thus the best reason to have a round up of what's happening. So, picking through the national and local issues and trends...

Oakland, CA

Oakland Police, who have gone without a cost-of-living adjustment for four years, are bracing for job cuts as the Oakland City Council sends signals that it is considering eliminating up to 200 jobs. Some officers say that they've given quite enough in adjustments and feel like they're being used as political footballs while the Oakland City Council tries to look like it can make tough decisions.

The best move for the Oakland City Council is to cut pay temporarily rather than jobs, as many officers would rather have a brief pay hit than a job elimination. Whatever the decision, the City Council should do it and communicate to police that they're more than valued, as many officers don't get that message.

Alameda, CA

Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant is under heavy fire for a consistent practice of hiring out of town contractors for work. According to The Island, Gallant ignored a local black financial advisor, Lonnie Odom, president of Stinson Securities LLC, and selected a firm, Westhoff, Cone & Holmstedt, that includes a person Gallant worked with when that person was with another firm, Westhoff-Martin and Associates, and Gallant worked in another city. Gallant selected Westhoff, Cone & Holmstedt without a competitive bid. The job is to have an underwriter for public infrastructure refinancing bonds.

From my experience in the Oakland Mayor's Office, that work is commonly subject to competitive bid because the bond dollar amounts are so large, generally in the millions and in some cases billions, no one in city government wants to be accused of favoritism or racism. Gallant is dealing with both perceptions. Given her years of experience, it's shocking for Gallant to take such a brazen action and doesn't say much good about her style or intent. If Gallant's not careful, the Summer Solstice could mark the beginning of the end of her employment with the City of Alameda.

Atlanta, GA

The sad top story at The Atlanta Journal Constitution is of Christa Scott, a 26-year old Midtown club employee, who left work with a blood-alcohol level of .229, three times the legal limit and up there in Chris Klein-territory, and smashed into a car driven by Jordan Griner, an intern for Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. Scott ran a red light and hit Griner's driver's side door. He died at Grady Memorial Hospital.

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, portrayed as Godzilla on The Wall SF Forum, has floated a proposal to merge the San Francisco Police Department with the Sheriff's Department and placing control in the hands of the elected sheriff, thus eliminating the position of Chief of Police, and with it George Gasćon. Chris Daly needs six votes from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to get the proposal on the November ballot. Let's see if he gets them this summer.

More later...stay tuned.

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