Category: Politics

Lynette McElhaney Has the Backing to Become Next Council President

By Ken Epstein

District 3 Councilmember Lynette McElhaney appears to have the necessary votes to become the next president of the Oakland City Council.

Lynette McElhaney

Lynette McElhaney

Councilmembers will elect the new president and vice mayor at the swearing in ceremony for new Oakland elected officials Monday at the Paramount Theater.

The president chairs council meetings, hands out committee assignments and has considerable control over the council’s agenda.

Former Council President Pat Kernighan, who is retiring from public office, told the Post she believes McElhaney has sufficient votes to be elected and is the best person for the job.

“I would predict that Lynette will be elected president,” Kernighan said. . “If I were still on the council, I would vote for her.”

“Of all the councilmembers, she’s best able to pull people together in a team,” said Kernighan. “She has great leadership skills, and she knows how to be inclusive. She has vision – she looks ahead to where the council is going, seeing what issues are important to the city.

District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb also backed McElhaney- “I think she will be the next president of the council. I support that. I think she’ll do a fine job.”

“I think she’s been very thoughtful on the range of the issues that the council has dealt with during the last couple of years,” he said. “She’s willing to listen to a range of perspectives on key issues. I think she cares very much about the city.”

Most councilmembers did not seem to be swayed by recent criticisms that have surfaced against McElhaney but emphasized what she has accomplished during the two years she has been on the council and her willingness to seek unity in the interests of the city and its residents.

McElhaney said she and staff are resolving the issues raised in the media concerning her reporting of her financial statements.

“I’m supporting Lynette,” said District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid, adding that he was the one who encouraged her to run to become president of the council.

“When we went through the budget process, she led the effort to put together the ‘all-in budget,” he said. “She exhibited incredible leadership in getting the budget through the council.”

New Councilmembers, Abel Guillen representing District 2, and Anne Campbell Washington representing District 4, are also reportedly supporting McElhaney.

In addition to the backing of council members, McElhaney has earned the respect of community members. Her herculean efforts were largely responsible for the passage of Measure Z, the publicity safety tax that pays for police and youth services.

She also led the council in its fight over the Waste Management contract renewal by standing up to the national corporation to secure lower rates for homeowners, jobs for Oakland residents and opportunities for a small local business.

District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo told the Post that he respected McElhaney but did not support her for president.

 Courtesy of the Oakland Post,  January 2, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)

Coliseum City Proposal Remains in Play; Community Raises Questions

A artist's iew of the Colisuem City might look like

A artist’s iew of the Colisuem City might look like

By Ken Epstein

Many people are furiously committed to a plan to knock down the Oakland Coliseum and replace it with a glitzy Coliseum City complex – which could include up to three sports arenas as well as hotels, entertainment, housing, retail and restaurants.

The Coliseum City plan, according to the City of Oakland’s website, “seeks to transform the underutilized land around the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and Arena into a world-class sports, entertainment and science & technology district that boasts a dynamic and active urban setting with retail, entertainment, arts, culture, live and work uses.”

Probing questions about the plan are being raised by city leaders, mostly focusing on how to put together the financing and the costs that will have to be borne by Oakland taxpayers.

The value of the massive project is generally taken for granted. More or less unexamined are concerns about the value and impact of the project on the people who live in the city.

Yet Oakland residents and business owners are pressing forward with their own questions. How many and what quality jobs would there be for local residents? Would the proposed housing be only for the affluent?coliseum_city_rendering.0_standard_709.0

Who will be able to afford to go to the expensive venues and restaurants? How would a colossal development parachuted into the middle of the city impact surrounding neighborhoods and companies in East Oakland?

Some community members are saying they would like to see new stadiums built but question the purpose of the massive complex, which they say could negatively impact East Oakland residents and would effectively destroy the city’s only business park, pushing small businesses out of the city.

The city is already moving ahead with the Coliseum Area Specific Plan, which if passed would change zoning requirements and make other permit amendments, putting into place the legal basis for the project if and when financing and other issues are resolved.

Speakers at recent public hearings have questioned why community input was not sought before the draft specific plan was released and why the city allowed such a short period for public comments on the voluminous plan.

There were complaints that the plan’s proposed Environmental Impact Report only deals with Coliseum area property, ignoring impacts on nearby residents and neighborhoods.

Before final approval, the project would have to be passed by the Coliseum’s Joint Powers Authority, as well as the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

The project also has designs on what is presently the Oakland Airport Business Park, which contains property owned by the Port of Oakland, therefore requiring the Port Commission to weigh in.

Libby Schaaf Starts Search for City Administrator, Reaches Out to Councilmembers

“I have been very clear that I will be unbending about not putting public money into stadium projects,” Schaaf said.

By Ken Epstein

A week after winning an intense race to become mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf is busy preparing for her term of office, which will start when she is sworn at the beginning of January

Libby Schaff

Libby Schaff

At the top of her “to do” list is the hiring a first-rate permanent city administrator to replace Henry Gardner, who is currently serving in that position on an interim basis.

“The recruiter is already on board, and I am meeting with them tomorrow to finalize the job description,” said Schaaf in an interview Thursday with the Post.

“They will do a national search to find someone who has the background and the track record, who can deliver great services for Oakland residents,” she said.

Schaaf emphasized that she had broad experience working in all parts of Oakland, including stints running a citywide school volunteer program, operating a homework center in West Oakland and initiating the school district’s Parenting University, which for years was a project of the Marcus Foster Educational Institute.

Pledging to work collaborative with the City Council, she said she has already contacted councilmembers, requesting to do a “driving tour” of their districts with them. She says she wants to see their districts and priorities through the councilmembers’ eyes.

“Nobody gets anything done alone,” said Schaaf. “I have so much respect for councilmembers – I’ve worked with them for decades. They know their communities best.”

A major issue that the new mayor will have on her plate will be “Coliseum City,” a proposal to build new sports arenas and an entertainment, housing and hotel complex on the property surrounding where the current Coliseum is located.

“I want to keep my teams in Oakland,” said Schaaf, adding that she has already called the owners of the Raiders and the A’s.

“(But) I have been very clear that I will be unbending about not putting public money into stadium projects,” she said.

The project can be done with private money, as has been done in other cities, she said.

“It’s is appropriate to for the city to look at investments into infrastructure and transportation, which will be owned by the city in perpetuity.”

In addition, she said, the city has committed to an open process in which residents would be able to have a say on the project.

“The directive was to get a lot of public input on the different development scenarios for the entire area, going down to the waterfront,” she said. “The public process should be including robust community participation.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, November 15, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

 

Mayor-elect Tom Butt, Richmond Progressive Alliance Celebrate Victory

Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles and Eduardo Martinez

Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles and Eduardo Martinez

By Post Staff and press reports

Tom Butt was elected Richmond Mayor Tuesday despite a multimillion-dollar campaign by the Chevron Corporation that failed to defeat him or elect the candidates the oil company had supported.

Butt won with 51.43 percent of votes, beating Nat Bates – backed by Chevron – who received 35.46 percent of the votes and Uche Justin Uwahemu, who came in third with 12.73 percent.

“I’ve never had such a bunch of people who are dedicated and worked so hard. It’s far away above anything that I’ve ever experienced,” said Butt quoted in the SF Chronicle

Mayor-elect Tom Butt

Mayor-elect Tom Butt

Also winning three members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance who ran for City Council: Jovanka Beckles, Gayle McLaughlin and Eduardo Martinez.

By winning both the campaigns for mayor and city council, the progressives will probably be able to fill Butt’s vacated council seat.

A number of observers said that Chevron’s aggressive campaign turned off voters.

“The election was a referendum on Chevron, and the people obviously made it clear they did not appreciate the unnecessary spending by Chevron – so they took it out on the rest of the candidates,” said mayoral candidate Uwahemu.

Butt’s campaign spent about $58,00 while Chevron spending totaled over $3 million and attracted national attention to Richmond, a city of 107,000 people.

Speaking at his campaign headquarters, Bates told his supporters, “It looks like the campaign is over, and Butt is your new mayor. “Everyone that Chevron supported was unsuccessful.”

Quoted in the Richmond Confidential, Bates, “I’m still in love with this city. There was just too much mail, and people became resentful. They turned against Chevron.”

In the campaign for a short-term City Council member, Jael Myrick won with 50.96 percent of the vote, defeating Corky Booze, who received 32.30 percent.

In a press release, Richmond Progressive Alliance said the winning three council members have “pledged to stand strong for Richmond residents in the city’s dealings with the Chevron Corporation, demanding safety, transparency and accountability from the oil giant.”

According to the press release, “The newly-elected City Council will preside over the refinery’s massive retooling project, as well as oversee the City’s lawsuit against Chevron, a result of the horrific 2012 refinery fire that sent 15,000 residents to seek medical treatment and caused property values to plunge.”

In Congressional races, Mark DeSaulnier won with 66.17 percent of the vote, and Jerry McNerney won with 55.32 percent.

Courtesy of the Post News Group, November 7, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Mayoral Candidates Call for Task Forces for Greater Community Voice in Making Policy

By Ken Epstein

Some of Oakland’s mayoral candidates – from the highly visible frontrunners to the grassroots community activists who are running more low-budget campaigns – are backing a post-election plan to create progress in the city through community involvement in developing and implementing new policies and laws in Oakland

Libby Schaaf

Libby Schaaf

“I’m committed to reinvigorating the community process for crafting sensible policy solutions for moving Oakland forward. In fact, the recommendations for policymaking that were generated through active community input in the past have often been fruitful and innovative,” said Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

“I am very passionate about community involvement. People support what they create,” said Councilmember Libby Schaaf.

“It is these efforts that allow the community voice, which are the only thing that will bring progress and unity to Oakland,” she said.

“I enthusiastically support the creation of a strategic planning process and the development of task forces to involve members of the community in the development of city policy, including creating the city budget, public safety, economic development, education, housing, and the arts,” said attorney Dan Siegel “Similar efforts during the Elihu Harris and Ron Dellums administrations had a positive impact on both community engagement and city policy.”

Dan Siegel

Dan Siegel

“I am a big fan of more community involvement,” said Bryan Parker. “I think we can use ‘crowdsourcing’ technology to ‘source’ ideas and create further engagement.  As mayor, I will be creating an office of innovation with a Chief Innovation Officer.”

The proposal is to create communitywide action task forces that could potentially involve hundreds of Oakland residents in developing, passing and implementing policies that will affect the future of the city.

The goal of this process would be to take residents out of their traditional role as passive observers of city decisions or participants who try to intervene at the eleventh hour to halt or modify policies and ordinances they do not support that are advocated by city staff, the mayor or city council.

Community involvement in task forces or community councils “is already in action in the more affluent areas of Oakland, “said Jason “Shake” Anderson, pointing to organizations that have had input on Measure Z and developing spending priorities.

“The next mayor needs to ensure that the entire city is represented, not just the hills (in efforts) to engage in policy creation,” he said.

Ken Houston

Ken Houston

East Oakland community leader Ken Houston has been involved in task forces in the past.

“I agree with having task forces on the arts, jobs, economic development, youth and education, police accountability and public safety, housing and tenant rights, protections and encouragement of small businesses, increased transparency and public involvement in city government and creating opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.”

Houston emphasized the need for city action to support the formerly incarcerated.

“My company is already doing this through construction jobs,” he said. “In the last

Jason "Shake" Anderson

Jason “Shake” Anderson

24 months, we hired 60 ex-felons.  Because of the construction boom in Oakland, we need to take construction as the tool to lift Oakland out of its economic, crime, and public safety problems.”

A community involvement task force process was pioneered during the administration of Mayor Ron Dellums, involving 900 residents for a number of months, leading to about 150 policies and programs being proposed and about 80 being implemented.

Participants would volunteer for a task force in which they have interest and expertise.

Anyone interested in participating in a task force can send their name and area of interest to oaktaskforce@gmail.com

 Courtesy of the Oakland Post, November 1, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

UN Officials “Shocked” by Detroit’s Continuing Water Shut-offs

Detroit residents address members of the United Nations during a UN Fact-Finding Town Hall Meeting, Sunday, Oct. 19 at Wayne County Community College (photo courtesy of the Washington Post

Detroit residents address members of the United Nations during a UN Fact-Finding Town Hall Meeting, Sunday, Oct. 19 at Wayne County Community College. Photo courtesy of the Washington Post.

By Post Staff and news reports

Two United Nations rapporteurs who visited Detroit, Michigan on an informal fact-finding mission this recently were “shocked” to learn that city has shut-off water to at least 27,000 households this year, with as many as10,000 currently without running water.

Charity Hicks, a beloved Detroit community leader and commons advocate, died July 8 from injuries sustained after being struck by a hit-and-run driver in New York City. She was a founder of the Detroit People's Water Board.

Charity Hicks, a beloved Detroit community leader and commons advocate, died July 8 from injuries sustained after being struck by a hit-and-run driver in New York City. She was a founder of the Detroit People’s Water Board.

Hundreds of thousands of additional households are at risk of having their water turned off.

“We were shocked, impressed by the proportions of the disconnections and by the way that it is affecting the weakest, the poorest and the most vulnerable,” said Catarina de Albuquerque, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, at a press conference in Detroit on Monday last week.

“I’ve been to rich countries like Japan and Slovenia where basically 99 percent of population have access to water, and I’ve been to poor countries where half the population doesn’t have access to water … but this large-scale retrogression or backwards steps is new for me,” she said.

“From a human rights perspective, any retrogression should be seen as a human right violation,” she added. “I heard testimonies from poor, African American residents of Detroit who were forced to make impossible choices – to pay the water bill or to pay their rent.”

Rapporteur de Albuquerque and Leilani Farha, U.N., special rapporteur on adequate housing, went to Detroit Oct. 18 to look the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s water shut-offs.

Contractors are proceeding from block to block turning off the water of households that are behind in their monthly bill. Monthly bills have risen by 119 percent in the last decade.

When a contractor reached the block where Charity Hicks lives, Hicks – who a community leader in the fight against the shutoffs – demanded, “Where’s your water termination notice?”

I

Water protest in Detroit

Water protest in Detroit

nstead of answering, the contractor drove away, knocking Hicks over and injuring her leg. Soon two policemen soon arrived – to arrest her. Mocking her questioning the water shut-offs, they took Hicks, who is pregnant, to jail, where she spent two days before being released without charges.

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of residents who have had their water turned off. But in late September, Detroit’s bankruptcy judge ruled that, although “water is a necessary ingredient to sustaining life,” residents nevertheless have no “enforceable right” to water and that the city needed the revenue.

A number of residents reported to the UN fact-finders that they fear they will lose custody rights because having no running water is grounds for the city’s child protective services to remove their children.

According to one news report, Theresa Clayton, a third-grade teacher in the Detroit public school system, said she is required to report students without water to child protective services. “I have had to train my children, [saying to them]: ‘If you do not have water, you cannot tell me … because the people will come get you,” Clayton said.

At a town hall meeting a week ago on Sunday, a school board member said that one high school principal has begun to open the school at five a.m. so that the students could shower and wash their clothes.

The Detroit mayor’s office criticized the U.N. review as one-sided. Alexis Wiley, Mayor Mike Duggan’s top aide, said the city is “very disappointed” with them.

“They weren’t interested in the facts,” she said. “They took a position and never once [before Monday] reached out to the city for data.”

The city policy is to shut off water to businesses and residents who either are 60 days past due or owe more than $150.

Detroit is country’s largest municipality to file for bankruptcy. Most shut-offs were halted for several weeks this summer to give residents an opportunity to enter a payment plan, but they have resumed with 5,100 shut-offs in September alone.

Courtesy of the Post News Group, October 26, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

City Considers Prompt Payment to Nonprofits

By Ken Epstein

The City Council is considering an amendment to its Prompt Payment Ordinance that would ensure nonprofit organizations that do business with the City of Oakland receive payments in a timely manner for the work they do.

The ordinance is scheduled for discussion and a vote at the city’s Finance and Management Committee meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 9:30 a.m., at City Hall.

Desley Brooks

Desley Brooks

Many agencies, especially smaller nonprofits, have frequently complained that they in effect have to float a loan to the city, as they wait for months or even over a year for the city to pay invoices of tens of thousands of dollars or more for work that has already been completed.

A few nonprofits even have had to curtail programs or even shut down as result of failure to receive payments from the city.

Sponsored by Councilmember Desley Brooks in 2008, a Prompt Payment Ordinance was passed requiring timely payments to city contactors – normally within one month.

However, the City Attorney ruled that the ordinance applied only to private businesses that do work for the city, not to grant-funded programs

“Nonprofits frequently would carry the burden of the city,” said Brooks “We’re talking not just small sums of money. Sometimes, it would be in the six figures. Sometimes, they wait for over year to be paid.”

Rebecca Kaplan. Photo courtesy sfgate.

Rebecca Kaplan. Photo courtesy sfgate.

“They can’t function when face that kind of uncertainty.”

The amendment, introduced by Councilmembers Brooks and Rebecca Kaplan, is intended to clarify and extend the ordinance to nonprofits that are grant recipients.

“We’re supporting this amendment that would go back to ordinance’s original intent, that everybody should be paid in a timely fashion,” said Brooks.

Oakland Private Industry Council CEO Gay Plair Cobb welcomed this clarification stating “the question is why would the city not want prompt payment requirements to apply to non-profits which do such important work for Oakland citizens?”

Cobb has disputed previous rulings that the current ordinance excluded contractors which receive grant funds. “This made no logical sense whatsoever,” she said.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 24, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

.

 

 

Mayoral Candidates Consider Plan to Activate Community Involvement

 Community task forces designed to debate, develop and implement city policy were an innovation established in Oakland almost a decade ago (shown above). Some people are now seeking to build on that experience  to establish new task forces to involve and empower residents in an ongoing way.

Community task forces designed to debate, develop and implement city policy were an innovation established in Oakland almost a decade ago (shown above). Some people are now seeking to build on that experience to establish new task forces to involve and empower residents in an ongoing way.

By Post Staff

Several of Oakland’s mayoral candidates have expressed interest in creating communitywide action task forces that could potentially involve hundreds of Oakland residents in developing, passing and implementing policies that will affect the future of the city.

The goal of this process would be to take residents out of their traditional role as passive observers of city decisions or participants who try to intervene at the eleventh hour to halt or modify policies and ordinances they do not support that are advocated by city staff, the mayor or City Council.

Proposals so far include task forces on the arts, jobs, economic development, youth and education, police accountability and public safety, housing and tenant rights, protections and encouragement of small businesses, increased transparency and public involvement in city government and creating opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.

Participants would volunteer for a task force in which they have interest and expertise.

Elected officials would be asked to pledge to support active community involvement by bringing completed task force proposals to the City Council for a full discussion and a vote.

A similar task force process was pioneered during the administration of Mayor Ron Dellums, which involved 900 residents for a number of months, and led to about 150 polices and programs being proposed and about 80 being implemented.

These policies and programs included the first-ever appointment of a resident of West Oakland to the Port Commission; an industrial land-use policy; removal of a barrier to local hire policy; the creation of a Business Assistance Center;“Banning the box” on city applications; creating a position within the Mayor’s office to work on the re-entry of previously incarcerated individuals;  and continuing the compliance period on the Riders consent decree.

Other initiatives included a successful project to diversify the teaching force; return of the school district to local control; “green workforce development,” enhancing the “culture of learning” which led to yearly Back to School rallies at City Hall; anti-drop-out initiatives; and health services in the schools.

Already, the Post has received an offer of $10,000 to help facilitate this community engagement process.

Anyone interested in participating in a task force can send their name and area of interest to oaktaskforce@gmail.com

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 24, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

In 11 Years of State Oversight, No Audits of Oakland Schools’ Finances

By Post Staff

In the 11 years since the State of California declared the Oakland Unified School District bankrupt and seized complete control of district governance and finances, the state has not conducted an audit of the district’s financial condition.

State Senator Don Perata pushed for a state takeover of Oakland schools.

State Senator Don Perata pushed for a state takeover of Oakland schools. Photo courtesy of SFGate.

According to a new report by the Alameda County Grand Jury, over 10 years of poor financial recordkeeping in the district cost city residents over $29 million in extra property taxes after the district lost its credit rating for borrowing money.

Moody’s removed its credit rating in 2012, and Standard & Poor’s withdrew its rating of the district in 2011, driving up the cost of borrowing on bonds.

The credit ratings were removed because the district’s state appointed trustees, acting under the authority of the State Superintendent of Instruction, did not require financial recordkeeping reforms since 2003 that would allow the district to do an audit.

Then State Superintendent of Instruction Jack O´Connell hired trustees to run the school district

Then State Superintendent of Instruction Jack O´Connell appointed a trustee to run the school district

The problem is a lack of internal accounting controls and books that are basically in shambles, according to a spokesman from the State Controller’s Office

In 2003, OUSD was $37 million in debt and forced by the state to take a $100 million emergency loan, and the State Controller’s Office became the district’s auditor. The superintendent of schools was fired, and the power of the elected Board of Education was suspended.

Oakland’s powerful State Senator Don Perata pushed for the takeover. He also advocated for selling the school district headquarters complex to real estate developers in order to repay the loan.

Though the district was only $37 million in debt, it was forced to take the $100 million loan, in part to install new computer systems to put Oakland’s finances in order.

Senator Perata wanted to sell Oakland school district headquarters property to build this TerraMark development on Lake Merritt.

Senator Perata supported selling  Oakland school district headquarters property to build this TerraMark development on Lake Merritt.

Yet during those years, the district has not been able to complete a single audit because “there was a weakness in internal controls, and their records were in disarray,” according controller’s office spokesman Garin Casaleggio in an interview with the Oakland Tribune.

The latest audit the State Controller attempted to finish was for the 2010-11 school year. The controller will continue to audit the district’s books until it pays off the remaining $55 million of the emergency loan.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 11, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

 

Desley Brooks Helps Family After City Sewer Workers Wreck Their Home

Left to Right: Gerard Gray, Kameron Gray, Christina Gray and City Councilmember Desley Brooks

Left to Right: Gerard Gray, Kameron Gray, Christina Gray and City Councilmember Desley Brooks

By Ken Epstein

Gerard and Christina Gray have been working with the City of Oakland for over a year to get back into their home after a city crew accidently caused sewage to back up into their house – completely destroying it.

During that time, the couple says, they have been able to turn repeatedly to their representative, City Councilmember Desley Brooks, who has worked with the City Administrator to overcome bureaucratic obstacles to make sure the city fulfilled its responsibilities to the family.

“We knew this was the city’s fault, and this family should not have to go through this,” said Brooks.

“Along the way, we’ve talked to Councilmember Brooks when the city was not hearing us,” said Christina Gray.

The Gray’s nightmare began on July 16, 2013 when a city crew was working in the neighborhood using pressurized water to flush out the sewer lines, and something went wrong.

Apparently, there was too much water pressure, and a camera had not been used to check the pipe. As a result, sewage erupted from the bathtubs, drains, sinks and toilets in the Gray’s home at Keller Avenue and Mountain Boulevard in East Oakland.

The raw sewage contaminated the garage level and the two levels of the home. The liquid that pooled on the floor of the top level sank through the flooring, causing the ceiling of the first level to collapse.

The Grays, who had been living in their home for 15 years, had only an hour to go into the house in HAZMAT suits to gather their clothes and few personal possessions.

Their home had to be gutted.

The couple moved with their three children to a hotel. Since then, they have lived in hotels and moved six times. Their renovated home is supposed to be ready in January.

The couple called Councilmember Brooks who talked to the City Administrator when the city was being unresponsive.

Though city willingly accepted responsibility for the repairs, staff objected to paying for the family’s hotel stay.

City staff also pressured the Grays to accept the cheapest contractor, who would not thoroughly renovate the home but would instead clean and reinstall the old fixtures and patch instead of replace walls, according to the couple, who had to pay an attorney to represent them.

“(Originally,), all they did was give us a claim form and tell us to save the receipts so we could be reimbursed at the end,” said Gerard Gray, pointing out that the couple has had to continue to pay the mortgage and all the utilities for their home for the 15 months that they have lived in a hotel.

In addition, the City Attorney’s Office in writing agreed to waive permit fees for rebuilding. But staff changed their minds and wanted the couple to pay many thousands of dollars in fees.

Councilmember Brooks brought a resolution recently to the full City Council, which voted unanimously to waive the fees.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 3, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)