November 20, 2003

PRNC 11-2003: The Un-Minutes

Once again, I present my own take on the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council, with the understanding that I left at 9:30 and didn't hear the committee reports, and that I write about what interests me--this is in no way a blow-by-blow report. However, I do try to give my best analysis of the state of a major issue in front of us: the projected closure of Fire Station 61, and the drastic reduction in library services that will lead to limiting our own local branch to 12 hours a week.

Be prepared to show up at City Hall on December 2, to fight for local services with loud voice and stamping feet!

Kris Kringle comes to the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council

Even in the bleak midwinter of our budget crisis, Shirley Butt thought to suggest that we bring goodies to the December PRNC meeting. Let's turn it into a festive event (at least until the fur starts flying over the latest micro-issue). I'll do up a batch of the holiday biscotti. Perhaps the folks getting laid off January 1 can bring doggie bags!

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

November 29 we're having Caroling in the Point. I will accept small bribes in order not to participate in this event.

Land Use Committee

No one showed up for the meeting. Hence, no news. (Hmm... I get nervous when anyone claims there is no land use news. Fred, get your deerstalker cap, and let's head to the Planning Department for a little ground-based reconnaisance.)

Beat Report

They also were MIA this evening. (It's remarkable that the meeting hadn't even gone to committee reports by 9:30, given how little was on the agenda. Ah well, natured abhors a vacuum.)

City Manager Retires

By now you have all heard that Isaiah Turner has retired. Jay Corey, who is now an assistant city manager for economic development, will be the interim city manager.

The Budget Crisis: Be Dainty or Be Heard

The PRNC president made an effort to attend the City Council meeting earlier this month to make a case for keeping Station 61 open. However, our chance to make our case at this meeting was precluded because a swim team fighting to keep a pool open had taken all the open spots.

Tom Butt took the floor for a special budget report. As has been done in the past, Butt laid out the background of the budget problems in very Boolean either/or terms: the employee unions were asked to "share" the costs (through permanent concessions to benefits and salaries); the alternative is massive layoffs. According to this analysis, the problems with the budget are directly caused by, and cured, by employee benefits, particularly retirement packages for fire and police.

The employee-benefit crisis is an analysis accepted without question by no less a prestigious publication than the West County Times, but I'll go way out on a limb here and say this doesn't sound right, particularly with a city management core that requires $18 million annually to function, not to mention the cost of retrofitting the old building and housing these folks on that comfy corporate campus on the piers.

I say show me the money--as in the budget. Not the parts of the budget you want me to see, but the whole damn enchilada. Butt said, "When the city passed the budget for 03-04, the city council knew the city was in the red." I still want to know, why did they all vote for it, and who is "they" if not the same Council Butt sits on?

Tom fared better on his strategy suggestions. Citing his thirty years of experience, Tom said the only way we could make an impact on the city council was to show up and "be rowdy," in his terms. The PRNC president made a plea for a Ghandian approach, which Tom (and the rest of us) received somewhat skeptically. Tom replied, "The only way we could turn this around is to turn out 700 people to a city council meeting. ... A massive outpouring is the only thing that will change the mind of the City Council. ... Gotta be loud, gotta be boisterous.”

A resolution was passed asking Butt to place the fire station on the December 2 agenda. The motion on the floor was not restated prior to voting; after the vote, Artrese asked if we were supporting the fire station, or all services, and like several of us, seemed surprised that the resolution was limited to fire services.

PRNC Continues to need Adult Supervision

At this point, the PRNC meeting devolved into an extended discussion that was not on the agenda and should only have been allowed with a vote to suspend the rules for a set period.


Everyone perked up for the CALTRANS dog and pony show about the Richmond Bridge Retrofit. We were warned CALTRANS would be closing the bridge down to one lane earlier very shortly, and advised there is now 400 feet of brand new bridge out there (I experienced a frisson of anxiety, thinking about how many times I drove over the old, corroded bridge, visions of my car plunging into the the Bay). We were pretty much entranced by the model bridge they brought to the meeting, and I think they could have told us we would have to jump from our cars and swim to San Rafael and we would have stood there nodding.


Morty Presament from Richmond Planning came to talk about Seacliff and the Petromark Property. He explained he wasn't familar with the project. After questions about landslides and runoff, he encouraged us to phone the Planning Department if we had questions. Uh huh.


Cathy, the acting director, spoke about the impact of the cuts on the library. I'm going to transcribe their paper flyer and write a separate entry. Given its limited funding and resources, the library provides exceptional service. We need to keep their doors open and help them find ways to get better, more stable funding.

See you December 2 at the City Council meeting.

Posted by kgs at November 20, 2003 07:40 PM | TrackBack
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