Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Special Tax For Oakland Zoo Heading To Ballot; Changes To County Fundraising Limit

ALAMEDA COUNTY//BOS ROUNDUP | A new and badly needed revenue source may be coming to the beleaguered Oakland Zoo. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved placing a special tax on the November ballot that could net the zoo around $4.5 million in additional revenue through a $12 annual parcel tax.

Dr. Joel Parrott, the executive director of the Oakland Zoo, told the board he is confident the measure will be successful this fall after polling revealed 75 percent of respondents to a survey about the tax said they backed the measure or were “likely yes.” A previous survey testing $20 parcel tax showed less exuberance among voter, Parrott said.

The zoo, established at its current location in the 1950s, is in need of improvements to its infrastructure, including animal enclosures and aging drainage systems, said Parrott, who also pledged to use the increased revenue to preserve its existing programs and exhibits. The Oakland Zoo welcomes over 600,000 visitors, primarily from the East Bay to its park near the Oakland Hills.

Supervisor Scott Haggerty, while offering his support for the zoo, raised questions over a proposal by the zoo to fund the ballot initiative through a payment schedule with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. The arrangement would set a bad precedent for other jurisdictions wanting to use similar plans to fund ballot measures, said Haggerty.

Supervisor Scott Haggerty
AMENDMENT TO COUNTY CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING LIMIT Supervisor Scott Haggerty’s county campaign fundraising ordinance, passed after the now infamous election of former Supervisor Nadia Lockyer in 2010, is getting quite a bit of attention in the run up to Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s campaign for the seat held by Supervisor Richard Valle this fall. However, the ordinance, created for county-based district races needed tweaking, according to Haggerty, who was hearing complaints from potential candidates for other races, excluding county supervisor.

A first reading of an amendment to Haggerty’s ordinance was approved Tuesday that would double the campaign fundraising limitation for individuals to county-wide races from $20,000 per election to $40,000. “It has been brought to my attention that this could hinder the ability of county officials who run in county-wide elections to raise the funds needed to organize and operate a county-wide campaign,” Haggerty wrote to the Board of Supervisors.

The change would not affect races for county supervisor, including the hotly-contested campaign in District 2 featuring Supervisor Richard Valle, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi and Union City Mayor Mark Green. The $20,000 threshold is believed to be commensurate with campaign costs associated with a smaller district race, rather than one catering to the entire county. Such offices would include those for district attorney, sheriff, treasurer, county administrator.

COUNTY DRUG DISPOSAL INITIATIVE IS LAW The Board reaffirmed its unanimous support two weeks ago for Supervisor Nate Miley’s safe drug disposal ordinance by approving its second reading Tuesday afternoon.

It is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, but large pharmaceutical producers may still have a say in when and if it ever goes into effect. The threat of a lawsuit against the county still exists. The ordinance forces drug producers to design and execute drug disposal programs at their own costs. The law is based on the idea producers should be held responsible for the end use of the products they sell.

OLDEN HENSON RETURNS TO GOVERNMENT Former Hayward Councilman Olden Henson is back in local government just two weeks after his defeat in the June elections. The 18-year council veteran was appointed by Supervisor Richard Valle to sit on the Oversight Committee for Hayward’s redevelopment agency. Olden will replace Teri Swartz, who resigned this month.

In additon, a spate of appointments issued Tuesday before the Board’s August recess, include Valle becoming a delegate to the Associated Bay Area Governments and Aileen Chong-Jeung being appointed to the Castro Valley Municipal Action Committee. Both appointments were made by Supervisor Nate Miley.

DEPUTY LOSES HIS PANTS On June 15, three pitbulls attacked Alameda County Sheriffs Deputy Peter Slaughter while on duty. One of the ravenous dogs ripped Slaughter’s pants. The damage cost Slaughter $186.93 to replace the torn trousers and he wants the county to reimburse him.

The agenda item is one of the oddest you will see in government, but also shows how the work of the Board of Supervisors is often found in the most minute of details. The expenditure, though, exceeded Risk Management’s $150 limit for approving claims and needed the Board's approval.

Rest assured, if the issue of pants ever comes up in the future, one potential supervisor might be able show the county how they can replace those trousers at no cost.


  1. What about people like me that do not support the incarceration of animals? I am a tax payer and homeowner in Alameda and believe zoos are inhumane.
    The zoos are not libraries and have different function that do not do anything to promote a democracy.

  2. I think you will have to pay the tax regardless if you support pink flamingos in a pond or lions in a cage. Live with it.

  3. This true. There was no discussion of whether zoos in practice are humane and whether taxpayers should support it. Maybe there could be a clause for taxpayers like you to become exempt like some older residents are from school parcel taxes.

    However, it sounds like the Oakland Zoo is one of the more humane facilities around, but take that with a grain of salt.

  4. Regarding the county limit on Supervisorial races.

    I see it will remain limited to $20,000

    So Hayashi will theoretically only able to carry over $20,000 from all 4 of her active accounts combined, or up to $20,000 from each of the 4 active accounts?

    Also, I assume there is no personal limit if a candidate is using their own private money.
    If so, she and her husband could spend $100K or $200,000 if they had it and so desired.

    Anyone know which of the above options are operative?

  5. Tavares, I read often and enjoy your stories since the Daily review and the Chronicle are worthless in Castro valley. First time posting here. I see that this site has a good following.

    I see that you are very well connected with the politics happenings in the east bay.

    Just did a little of digging in your traffic following and found that ebcitizen has in the last month almost 2500 new visitors.
    Look: http://siteanalytics.compete.com/ebcitizen.com/

    That is almost the same as tricityvoice.
    Look: http://siteanalytics.compete.com/tricityvoice.com/

    Ebcitizen is on an uptrend. Keep the good work.

    OK but anyway I am really pissed on the zoo tax. The guy or gal on the first posting brings out an excellent point.

  6. The limit stays at $20,000 per donor, but if you've got the cash, you can spend as much as you want. Maybe sell your second home in Castro Valley? Yeah, just crazy talk.

  7. I'd rather have monkeys throw shit at me than pay a $12 parcel tax. I'm sure those in favor will say it's concveniently just $1 a month

  8. Small point of clarification....the county administrator is not an elected position.

  9. The problem with the Oakland Zoo parcel tax is that they are not really trying to improve the zoo itself, they are trying to get more funding in order to expand it. They are just using the "beleaguered" story to get the taxpayers to go for it. This is how they pull the wool over taxpayers' eyes. The politians know this, but are letting the zoo pull this stunt because the zoo lets them use the zoo for their own purposes for free.

    The new buildings will take over more of the protected lands of the Knowland State Park and minimize the living space for the plethora of wild animals that live there which include foxes, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, deer, skunks, possums, and myriad other animals. If we allow this tax now, the zoo will just come back in a year or two and say that they cannot finish their improvements and demand a higher tax.

    Check out www.saveknowland.org

  10. I agree, why do we have a zoo anyway, and why spend public money on it when we haven't enough to pay for our schools, firefighters, police, roads etc etc

  11. It's bad enough that the zoo and city repeatedly reassured those concerned about the costs that it was "a done deal," mostly covered by private donors, etc. and that is clearly now revealed as a lie. But the zoo's theme park expansion, which this tax will help pay for, will destroy rare natural resources and animal habitat in beautiful Knowland Park, the city's largest remaining open space. It's all being done with a "conservation" theme, ironically, but since the greatest threat to species diversity is loss of habitat, it is terribly wrong that the zoo won't walk the talk in its own neighborhood. Please visit our website to learn more and spread the word to others who care about protecting our remaining natural places from development.

  12. Zoo funding needs to be voluntary. I agree with the 1st post.

  13. Isn't the city closing a school near the zoo (on Malcom). I think we have plenty of more important issues here in Oakland than expanding the zoo.

  14. Dear Knowland Park Supporters,

    But seriously…The parcel tax measure—11th hour political shenanigans

    We’ve now finally found a copy of the zoo’s proposed parcel tax ballot measure, which the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to place on the November ballot. It was first discussed at a secretive retreat back in June, detailed documents from which were not available on the county website. We only heard about it from a news report: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_20584593/oakland-zoo-plans-ask-alameda-county-voters-ok?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com

    Despite numerous requests, no one we contacted at the county after we read this news story could tell us anything or give us a copy of the measure or the materials distributed at the retreat. Then it was placed on the ballot at the 11th hour by the supervisors, as we reported late last month (see http://www.saveknowland.org/2012/07/27/public-cost-for-grandiose-zoo-expansion-rising-now-alameda-supervisors-want-to-add-to-your-parcel-tax/) . The measure, if passed, would allow the zoo to do pretty much anything it wants with the more than $112 million-plus the tax would raise over 25 years—in fact, it explicitly says that as long as it is used for any of the extremely broad things listed, the zoo can delete or add or ignore any of the specific projects mentioned as examples, since the tax goes on after the projects mentioned may be completed.

    To see the draft ballot measure (the zoo has not yet filed the final version, probably to minimize the time the public will have to view it before arguments against are due for the voter’s guide), go to http://www.acgov.org/board/calendar.htm and click on July 24, Regular Meeting, Item 73A attachment.

    We need your help to aggressively oppose this money grab. Time after time, the public was reassured that the expansion development was a “done deal,” all taken care of, no worries about public funds amidst the biggest financial crisis in decades. Now we find out that once again, politicians and zoo executives are working behind the scenes to make us pay again and again, and to destroy our own Park in the process.

    Volunteers needed: Please email us at info@friendsofknowlandpark.org if you can volunteer. We are working on flyers and should have something posted by Monday (we hope) that can be printed for use in letting people know about the issue. We could use someone to help us with some online research, to do tabling in the coming weeks at various events, and to do an assortment of other things. Even if you only have a little bit of time, working together it adds up to a lot.
    These are long-haul battles, especially when we are working against opponents (or secret supporters?) as intransigent and arrogant as the zoo’s executives seem to be.

    The most important thing is to talk to your friends and neighbors who vote! Explain to them why you oppose this measure—it’s bad for the environment, but also just sleazy politics at its worst. Hand them a flyer and ask them to visit our website for more information. (www.saveknowland.org)

    THANKS TO ALL—it’s a long haul but you always, always come through!

    Friends of Knowland Park Leadership Team

  15. Before you believe the zoo's sob story, please take a look at the large amount of public $$$ already in the pocket of zoo administrators!!! They lie, and lie and lie some more. Recall the Memorandum of Understanding, negotiated many, many hours of volunteer community member blood sweat and tears, and signed by J. Parrot,Zoo director, which propmises NOT to do what they are doing right now. This is all documented on www.saveknowland.org. That document has now become, IRRELEVANT, according to the same J. Parrot. This measure would tax all proterties in Alameda county, and give the zoo about 125 MILLION $ over 25 years and come with NO STRINGS ATTACHED!! See for yourself, before you buy the hype about the "poor beleagured zoo."

  16. These small business owners need help keeping in compliance in the latest song parody produced by Tax Defense Network. I in no way believed I would overhear Offspring's "Come Out and Play" turned into a jingle concerning keeping up with your taxes. And also, there is some practical answers to the most frequently asked questions from small-business owners. Check it out at http://www.tax-defense-network-tax-songs.com/song-parodies/questions-business-owners-ask/