Monday, January 3, 2011

Did Former Finance Director's Projections Shape Last Election?

By Steven Tavares

By most accounts, San Leandro's former part-time finance director was affable, capable, if not, conservative in his budget projections for the city. With a new full-time director sorting through her predecessor's work, Perry Carter's analysis is now taking on an alternative reading as his replacement finds the city's financial condition still dire, but far more manageable than six months ago. The reversal has some wondering whether Carter may have lost the election for former mayor Tony Santos.

"Well, I don't know, but that's what some are saying," Santos said. "These numbers sure would have helped during he campaign."

City Finance Director Tracy Vesely said Dec. 21 the city could expect an extra $1.7 million in revenue from a combination of Carter's conservative estimates and a return to expected property tax returns after the state reconciled an error two years ago by taking more in tax receipts from the city in 2009.
The past mayoral campaign leading to Mayor Stephen Cassidy's upset of Santos featured considerable discussion of the city's dwindling revenues and reserve funds. In Santos' four years as mayor, his administration used most of the nearly $20 million in reserves set aside primarily for economic downturns such as these. Cassidy, though, exploited the general atmosphere of anger to great lengths while Santos failed in reminding voters of his work in presiding over one of the least-suffering city budgets in Alameda County.

Several city employees still griping over Cassidy's win, said Santos never grasped the discontent of the voter and instead focused on a rigid view of facts that, while true, were never explained. "Cassidy knows every city budget, by law, is required to be balanced," said a city source who declined to be identified, who also believes you can't blame Carter for doing his job.

The kindly finance director with a shiny bald pate retired last November after holding the position as a part-time employee. Vesely, his replacement, previously worked for the City of Berkeley.

Armed with the new information, Santos has recently told numerous people his administration is leaving the city with an excess of funds--around $8 million--to play with in the next fiscal year, while tweaking Cassidy for comments the city is on the brink of bankruptcy. Critics, though, say the amount given by Santos is disingenuous since those funds have existed all along and were never reflected in the city's budget projections. Five million of the total comes from the city's emergency fund with the remainder coming from a one-time payment from Kaiser Permanente, most of which has already been earmarked for various road and improvement projects.

In early 2010, Carter told the city council to expect an operating shortfall of $7.3 million which led to further cuts in city programs and staff. By June, the council approved a fiscal budget for 2010-11 featuring $3 million in deficit spending. At the Finance Committee's final meeting of the year, Vesely said she was comfortabe predicting a shortfall of $2.2 million, but also forecasted another year of flat revenues.

POLITICS HOMEGROWN http://www.eastbaycitizen.com/


Between these numbers and the RCV mix up, this wasn't an election , this was a coup.

Of course this is all crap. The City lied so that stupid people would vote to increase taxes.

Most citizens don't really care about these budget details, and these numbers are so easily manipulated anyways. Santos lost because he sucked as mayor. Cares more about the employees of the city than the people. He deserved to lose. It probably was a big lie to get voters to pass Z.

Did anyone hear the wonderful news that Jerry Brown wants to eliminated ALL Redevelopment Agencies? That is wonderful news.

Santos lost because the city feels like it is losing its battle as a decent place for the middle class to live, there is a sense and feel of decline and the city now has a rough edge and feel most of us do not like.

First of all, dipping in to the reserves every year as Mayor is not "leaving the city in better shape than it was in" - it is borrowing money on the backs of San Leandro's children.

San Leandro got mo' ghetto under the Santos regime; more people got robbed with a gun and/or shot at; and businesses fled the city. Santos showed he was owned by the public unions by passing a sweatheart contract deal the last thing he did in office. Good riddance!

This will all come back to haunt the city and their right wing racist nut jobs.

The only thing coming back to haunt this city is all the liberal nuts who want to bring more crackheads into town under the guise that is is "quaint". Everything for you liberal loons is "Racist".

Re: the comment above. Santos lost for one reason. Starosciak couldn't wait her turn for mayor and handed the election to Cassidy. There is 1/3 support for Cassidy and his friends. 2/3 for the rest. Which number is bigger?

What do you think the reserves were for in the first place. They are for times like this.

Funny twin reads in the Daily Review today...one talked about San Leandro residents upset about gang activity, grafitti and major increases in fear and crime in their neighborhood near Bay Fair above E 14th and below 580 and then a letter to the editor in the same section from Mayor Santos touting his success as Mayor in preserving San Leandro's high quality fo life for its citizens. Too funny.

That area is unincorporated and under the county's jurisdiction. The county sheriff's department has responsibility for patrolling and controlling that area reported in the paper!

Can't really tell the difference between Ashland and San Leandro Proper anymore. Might as well be one big 94578 Zip Code.

Thanks for the correction...the paper should be more careful and not call it San Leandro but Ashland. Anyway, the San Leandro proper section nearby is not any better, just as scary and run down.

Barry, do you really think anyone cares what is Ashland and what is San Leandro? Certainly the residents do not care and the paper, if you can really call it a paper does not care. Mike

Why did Starociak have to "wait her turn" to run for Mayor? That was an election, not a coronation of the Lord of Linquisa, the Baron of Bacalhao, or the Marquis of Malasada.

Mike, someone cares, since they corrected my post.

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