Say what???

The Merry-Go-Round today begins a new feature we’re calling “Say What???” whose purpose is to translate items on the City Council agenda into “easily understood language” as required by the Sunshine Ordinance.

Our inaugural item is #3-A on the “joint meeting” agenda for next Tuesday, September 17.

Here’s what it says:

Public Hearing to Consider Adoption of Resolution Approving the Form and Authorizing the Execution of Certain Lease Financing Documents in Connection with the Offering And Sale of Certificates of Participation Relating Thereto to Refund the City’s Outstanding 2002 Certificates of Participation (City Hall Refinancing Project) and to Finance the Costs of Construction of a New City Emergency Operations Center and Associated Expenses and Authorizing and Directing Certain Actions with Respect Thereto. [CITY COUNCIL]

Adoption of Resolution Approving the Form and Authorizing the Execution of Certain Lease Financing Documents in Connection with the Offering and Sale of Certificates of Participation Relating Thereto to Refund the City of Alameda’s Outstanding 2002 Certificates of Participation (City Hall Refinancing Project) and to Finance the Costs of Construction of a New City Emergency Operations Center and Associated Expenses, and Authorizing and Directing Certain Actions with Respect Thereto. [CITY OF ALAMEDA FINANCING AUTHORITY]

Adoption of Resolution Approving The Form and Authorizing the Execution Of a Termination Agreement in Connection with the Refunding by the City of Alameda of its 2002 Certificates of Participation (City Hall Refinancing Project) and Authorizing and Directing Certain Actions with Respect Thereto. [ALAMEDA PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT]

Here’s what’s going on:

  • The City wants to borrow $3 million to provide funds to pay the cost (and “associated expenses”) of building an Emergency Operations Center (“EOC”) next to the new – and still unfunded – Fire Station No. 3.  This is the same EOC that, just last year, the voters were asked to, and refused, to pay higher sales taxes to finance.  See
    “Why fund OPEB when you can build an EOC?”
  • The mechanism chosen to accomplish this result is to re-finance an issue of municipal bonds that otherwise would have been paid off in 2025.  The City now will be required to continue making annual payments of principal and interest from the General Fund in the amount of $828,000 for an extra nine years – i.e., until 2034.

Just how hard would it have been to say that in the agenda?

Oh, we forgot: The agenda item is just the “headline”; the relevant information is contained in the accompanying staff report.  But anyone who writes a headline like the one quoted above wouldn’t last long on any copy desk we ever worked on.  In any event, we’d like Mr. Russo and Ms. Kern to tell us this: When an agenda item is written in gobbledygook, how is the average citizen supposed to know to check the staff report to find out what’s up? And why should the burden be placed on her?

Source: 2013-09-17 CC agenda

About Robert Sullwold

Partner, Sullwold & Hughes Specializes in investment litigation
This entry was posted in Budget, City Council, Firefighters and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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