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Friday, January 27, 2012

Redevelopment Agency Dissolves But Staff and Salaries Go On

Shouldn't A Reduced Workload Mean A Reduced Workforce?

Oakland's and Emeryville's Redevelopment Agencies are both being dissolved on February 1st, the largest contraction of government commission in a generation. Both cities are facing a surplus of labor owing to the sudden elimination of a major source of government work, administering the agencies. In response, Oakland will be laying off 105 full time employees on February 3rd and Emeryville will...wait for it...stay exactly the same.

City Manager, Pat O'Keeffe reports that there will be no staff reduction as a result of the closing of the Redevelopment Agency until at least July 1st, the start of the new fiscal year for the city.   Mr O'Keeffe says the staff positions that were formerly wholly or partially charged with redevelopment work will be retained and tasked with "other work" at City Hall.  Their salaries, previously paid with Redevelopment Agency funds will now be paid out of Emeryville's General Fund.

Won't die:
Is this to be the fate of the
Redevelopment Agency?
Assistant City Manager, Delores Turner tells the Tattler that Emeryville is different than Oakland and to make gross comparisons about how the two cities wind down their respective redevelopment agencies is unwarranted, "We have obligations that are still enforceable, even after February 1st" she said adding,  "We won't know anything as it relates to the enforceable obligations until the entire oversight process has been completed.  The list of obligations must be validated."  Ms Turner addressed the eventuality of lowering the staff to match the reduced work load at City Hall without a redevelopment agency, "Regarding staffing, we will not know how the dissolution [of the Redevelopment Agency]  will impact staffing until we've gone through our entire budget process in July."

Both Mr O'Keeffe and Ms Turner cautioned Emeryville residents should not expect a large reduction in staffing at City Hall after July 1st owing to the started but not yet completed redevelopment projects that will go forward even after the February dissolution.  Also they tell us to wind down the Agency will require significant labor over two years.

We don't know if these explanations are reasonable but we find it dubious that a massive government agency that has undertaken the function of 95% of our town, much larger than in Oakland we should add, that there shouldn't be at least a small reduction in staff as a consequence of its sudden demise, all the provisional explanatory reasons notwithstanding.  It seems to us that simple bureaucratic inertia, the well documented self protective impulse of bureaucratic regimes and their tenacious resistance to shrink on their own accord is likely at play here.
Further, we find it implausible that the number of staffers needed to wind down the Redevelopment Agency is precisely the same number as it took to conduct its multi-year business of building our town.

Emeryville residents should only have the size of government that they need and common sense tells us that the end of the Redevelopment Agency with all its historic workload should mean a reduced workforce at City Hall.  We realize that Emeryville and Oakland are not the same but the difference between the two cities as they wind down their redevelopment agencies is stark.  Citizens would be well advised to keep a close eye on the bureaucrats at City Hall as the era of redevelopment comes to a close in Emeryville.


  1. Again, Brian, your Opinion is "Dead Right". This small Community is not being managed in the way that I want, but, who am I; just a resident-tax payer constituent. These City of Emeryville Executives, who export their over bloated compensation to other Counties, where they reside, are watching out for their own "Empires", at our expense. I feel like a Chump.

  2. The writer leaves out a critical piece of information in the story. How many employees are there in the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency? If Oakland has 105 and Emeryville is much larger then one would expect maybe 150? 200? Nope. The real answer is 8. Two of those eight employees work specifically with housing. The City will still have housing programs, which were adopted by ordinance, which will need to be managed after the Agency is gone. Even if these programs were repealed, the existing housing would require ongoing management.

    It is true that the dissolution of the agency will also require labor. If you look at most smaller cities with agencies with less than 10 employees, you will find that most of these cities are electing to become the successor agency and retain control of winding down their agencies. Some cities, like Los Angeles, are not electing to do this, and thus are laying off all the employees in the agency. You will not find many smaller cities who are laying employees at this time due to the elimination of redevelopment. It's just not prudent until this mess gets sorted out. In the past, this blog has defended City employees. Why do you want to let them all go now? Is it becasue these particular employees might not be in a union? That seems like a double standard to me.

    OK, Brian, go ahead: defend your lousy research for this piece. It looks like all you did was read an article about Oakland and then call Delores Turner. It doesn't seem like you did much else to inform your opinion. Go ahead now, have the last word. I know you'll insist on taking it.

    1. To Ms Anonymous-
      Nice job trying to shut the door after making subjective insider proclamations. I guess the straw man set up; that the 'last word' as you call it is automatically immaterial, makes my advise for citizens to carefully watch City Hall now the advise of a 'lousy researcher' and not to be listened to. I guess we're supposed to trust City Hall implicitly and expect they could not be effected by bureaucratic inertia as all other bureaucratic regimes are. Not in Emeryville, is that it?

      The commenter is leaving out a large group of Redevelopment workers: those that worked part time for the agency at City Hall. Also, if you read the piece again, you'll note I mention that the geographic size of Redevelopment in Emeryville relative to the city is larger than Oakland, not the number of employees.

      RE Unions; I support the SEIU but I don't support Emeryville keeping employees that are no longer necessary. To expect that the government grow and shrink with its growing and shrinking duties is not to be anti-union.

    2. The City Hall insider above left out critical information in her comment. Her assessment that the Redevelopment Agency employs eight people, used to negate any argument that the government might constrict as a result of the Agency's demise, didn't take into account all the part time work done by employees in different departments. The eight people argument purposefully obscures the huge amount of work performed on behalf of the Redevelopment Agency by regular City Hall employees.

      Here is a partial breakdown:
      100% of the Economic Development & Housing Department budget is funded by the Agency, City Clerk’s Office is at 67.11%, City Manager’s Office 52.11%, City Attorney’s Office 43.59%, Public Works Department 18% and the Finance Department is 13.19%

  3. Why didn't you repost this story? It's laregly about Emeryville:'

    Oh, wait, it's because it praises the work the City and the Redevelopment Agency have done. We would't want to do that now.

    1. You didn't consider the possibility that perhaps I didn't see the story.

    2. Let's all attack the messenger rather then discussing the message! To anonymous at 9:14 with your well-thought out statement:

      "OK, Brian, go ahead: defend your lousy research for this piece. It looks like all you did was read an article about Oakland and then call Delores Turner."

      How can you make a judgement on what Brian researched for his story? Did you watch him research and write his story? Are you the all-knowing oracle who knows everything that happens? My guess is probably not.

    3. You've seen it now, so why not repost it?

    4. Never! I must hide any news about my home that is flattering!

  4. If you acknowledge that Oakland and Emeryville are different, why don't you find a comparable example then?

    1. Every city is different as to how it used and how it will close its redevelopment agency. Oakland was sort of random except for the compelling fact that it is a contiguous neighbor with makes for a compelling lead in as to how Emeryville will not effect any change whatsoever in the face of this massive redevelopment agency change vs Oakland. Its one of those intersection points that once revealed, might cause citizens to contemplate the function of government and their role in it.

  5. What it comes down to is that we will be paying for un-needed city unionized full package employees and we will not be able to afford our pedestrian bridge over the freeway or rr tracks. When our next election comes up, lets vote in some folks who will take care of these misappropriations of our money.

  6. I don't think the City government should necessarilly lose employees because redevelopment is gone. I'm sure City employment is already down as a result of leaving positions vacant during the economic downturn. There's plenty of demand for services. I'm sure those employees can fill a gap somewhere and help maintain valuable services for residents.

  7. to anonymous jan. 27 9:14 a.m.

    jeez, i hope there aren't "any smaller cities laying employees at this time"!

    seriously folks, if you're going to take swipes and write nasty comments, sign your darned name. reminds me of the ku klux klan, hiding behind their white sheets.

  8. It is unfortunate that the City Counci was incapable of asking the tough questions last night and essentially rubber stamped the proposed budget. They eliminated two positions that directly impacted the residents in favor of maintaining a department of 3 staff, headed by a HIGHLY compensated department head who makes $229,943 in compensation. Where was the reorganization requested in the visioning sessions? Ruth was searching for a way to pay for part time code enforcement, here is a way, reduce the department head to a manager and use the salary savings to fund a part time code enforcement officer. Do we really need a department head to manage 3 people? Yesterday was a sad day for Emeryville.