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Lowlights From Last-Night’s Council Meeting

Here are some snippets from last-night’s City Council meeting…

Joint Meeting of City Council, ARRA and CIC
During discussion of the year end financial report, City Attorney Teresa Highsmith and Interim Finance Director Anne-Marie Gallant danced around the question of $5 million of un-funded workmans compensation liabilities. Both the Mayor and Councilmember Matarrese tried for several minutes to pin them both down on the fact that it’s a $5 million liability that must be covered from the general fund, therefore it effectively reduces our general fund balance by $5 million. On the webcast, tune into the 1 hour mark on the time stamp.

Tune in at the 55:30 minute mark to see a discussion of roughly $300,000 that is owed to the Golf Commission by ARRA. Ms. Gallant danced on this one too and referred to the $10.3 million ARRA fund balance as “healthy, but not significant, I wouldn’t say.” She took notes to check if there were restrictions on the use of the funds, and what the commitment is to pay them back. The reality is that the City is trying to starve out the Chuck Corica Golf Course so that they can take land currently used for the courses and turn it over to Ron Cowan so he can move the Harbor Bay Health club to the golf course land, and build homes on the current site of the health club on Bay Farm Island.

Alameda City Council Meeting
City Manager Debra Kurita gave a doom and gloom presentation on the upcoming budget shortfalls for 2008/09 and 2009/10 as well as cuts in services for Council to consider – chiefly to the fire and police departments – to make up the shortfalls. As expected, the City Manager’s presentation made no mention of the bloated City Attorney and City Manager offices. When Mastick Senior Center Advisory Board President Tony Santare spoke to object to proposed cuts to the Mastick’s budget, Mayor Johnson was quick to admonish him that no decision was being made that evening, and that these were only discussion items. Yea, and if nobody from the Mastick Center stood up last night to object, the Council would likely ultimately approve cuts to their budget and use the rationale that nobody ever came before them to complain about it. See the 2 hr mark on the webcast.

Several central Alameda residents in the current Alameda Power & Telecom underground district are receiving bills for thousands of dollars for having their utilities moved from overhead aerial wires to underground trenching. They had been told originally that their cost would be capped at around $2000. Alameda Power & Telecom is only footing a small portion of the trenching costs when customers also ask for telephone and cable to be undergrounded in the same trench. Resident Griff Neal, who had originally convinced several of his neighbors to support the undergrounding effort, has been getting a lot of calls from neighbors now that they are getting their bills. He spoke at 1:30 in the morning, and you can see him at the 5:50 mark on the tape.

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