The news that Oakland city workers are slated on Monday to go on strike for the first time since the oldest baby boomers were in diapers is staggering.* Combined with BART workers, the striking municipal employees will contribute to what figures to be a day of legion inactivity over in the East Bay. But, hey, at least the weather's gonna be nice. (Expect a fair share of little Oaklanders to be born nine months from Monday).
We like to point out the shortcomings of San Francisco government -- but it's clear, compared with the cheaper and hipper city across the dilapidated Bay Bridge, we're leading the National League West of city government. It's a weak division -- but, damn it, we're leading it!
For one thing, city workers in San Francisco are forbidden via the City Charter to go out on strike. Following a divisive strike by public safety workers in the mid-1970s, the city's bylaws were rewritten so disputes are now handled by binding arbitration.
Oakland's municipal workforce would probably hella want to be in the position of San Francisco's with regard to binding arbitration. But Oaklanders have another disadvantage: Their city budgeted recklessly in the past, and it's causing problems in the present.
See Also: Oakland Bracing for Day of Legion Inactivity
In San Francisco, Redevelopment funds were, straightforwardly, used for redevelopment projects. And when Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated that agency -- and the money to support it -- there was pain and suffering.
But not as much as in Oakland, where the city siphoned redevelopment dollars into paying salaries of workers it couldn't otherwise budget for. As noted in this great Bay Citizen article from 2011:
Oakland's redevelopment agency is paying $3.5 million for the 17 police officers. It pays half of Mayor Jean Quan's $183,000 salary. It pays $1.65 million to cover the salaries of four City Council members and six of their staff members. Oakland's city administrator, the city attorney and several public works employees are also partially on the redevelopment agency's payroll.
All told, redevelopment funds cover about $14 million of Oakland's payroll.