During a meeting that stretched from a planned one hour to almost three hours in length, The Oakland City Council listened to numerous speakers plead for sparing cuts to various agencies and programs, then quickly passed close to $10 MM in cuts, bringing the unbalanced Oakland budget defict for 2010 down to about $4MM.

Plans to move ahead with property sales, including the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, were approved despite CC Member Desley Brooks' urging that properties be sold for sums more in line with the city's debts for them than for current market value.

The cuts include layoffs in information technology, finance and management, the Fire Department and human services. The city also will sell several city-owned properties, including the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. One time property sales were estimated to bring the city about $7.75 million.

Attendees, City Council members and City Administrator Dan Lindheim discussed the need for cuts and layoffs, with speakers pleading to save senior centers (which anticipate staying open, but with staff reductions), not cut IT and library computers, and retain Planning 4 positions in city government. During sometimes heated discussion, speakers focused on what they termed disproportionate cuts (5 positions) in City Attorney John Russo's office.

Faced with arguments that it was unfair to cut jobs  in that office but not in other elected officials' offices, Lindheim withdrew that part of the proposal.By the end, council members agreed that cuts in staffing, facilities, library computer maintenance and services could bring the city another $2.17 million, in addition to the $7.75 MM in property sales.

CC member Rebecca Kaplan urged the City Council to continue to find ways to make additional revenue, including activating her proposal for an active foreclosure registry for foreclosed and abandoned Oakland properties. Discussion of the $4MM yet to shave will resume in 2 weeks.

(For a related story, see OL's piece on the discussion process-or lack of it.)

About The Author

Susan Mernit is editor & publisher of Oakland Local (oaklandlocal.com) a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including Salon.com, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.