Oakland – Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby visited the Greater Rockridge Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council on Thursday of the 10th of October. The featured speaker, the City Auditor Ruby did not disappoint, informing her audience of what her job is and her office does, but also peppering in commentary about it’s place in the City of Oakland’s political scheme.
Basically, Ms. Ruby informed the audience that “auditor’s office budget is half that of other cities of comparable size” and that her budget is set by the Mayor of Oakland, and the Oakland City Council, which, she points out, is a conflict of interest.
And it’s worth noting that pointing that out is not going to net Courtney a budget increase next year.
Anyway, here’s the posted meeting minutes drawn from this page (click here for link) as posted by the Greater Rockridge Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council managers:
Greater Rockridge Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council (12Y/ 13X) — Minutes
Thursday, October 10, 2019
Rockridge Library, College Avenue and Manila
General Public: 7:30-9:00PM
7:30 — 7:35 PM — Introductions
7:35 — 7:50 PM — Oakland Police Dept. (OPD) Status Reports, beats 12Y and 13X
7:50 — 8:10 PM – Neighborhood issues discussion, including new priorities
8:10 — 8:40PM — Courtney Ruby, City Auditor, will discuss auditing Oakland, particularly Oakland Police, followed by Q and A
*Note: The agenda was moved around to allow the Auditor to speak first.
Mike Ubell called the meeting to order at 7:36 PM. He called for the NCPC officers and Oakland Police representatives present to introduce themselves. He called for volunteers to the vacant NCPC position of vice-chair. Eleven people were present. Oakland Police were represented by Community Resource Officer (CRO) Kristine Jurgens-Duenas (beat 13) and Officer Andre Volyvets (beat 9). Karen Ivy was unable to attend.
Courtney Ruby, City of Oakland Auditor, introduced herself. She was sworn in to this term on January 7, 2019. She previously served as auditor from 2007-2014. Her term of office is 4 years. The auditor’s office is independent, and has the authority to audit anything and everything. There are 10 full time employees: 8 auditors and 2 administrative personnel. The office budget is $2.3 million per year, out of a city budget of $1.6 billion per year.
The auditor’s office tries to ensure transparency, accountability, protect against fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, and increase revenue and decrease costs. Homelessness is currently a top concern, overtaking crime. The auditor’s office is looking into homeless services, including encampments.
The auditor aims for the highest standards in office. Her office, when deciding what to audit, is constantly assessing what are the most critical issues facing Oakland as well as looking across the nation to see what other cities are grappling with. Her audits also identify best practices and ways to increase value to the residents of Oakland. Performance audits review economy, efficiency, and effectiveness. They audited the Fox Theatre when the costs ballooned from $30 million to over $90 million; her audit revealed how this had happened, and that no one party was responsible for specifying and authorizing the expanded scope of the work. Everyone pointed their fingers at someone else from the Councilmembers to the contractor to the project manager.
After a cloud of perceived corruption in 2007, the auditor created a hot|ine, after urging the governor to sign a whistleblower protection act. 50% of hot|ine reporting came from employees. The audit of non-interference by the City Council with administrative staff received 67 tips; the Council is not allowed to interfere in day-to-day operations. The audit hot|ine receives approximately 150 tips per year, and the hot|ine has the capacity to translate ca||ers reports in over 150 languages. The hot|ine is being rebooted, it was less active under her predecessor.
The auditor’s office wants to create a clearer picture of the City’s financial picture and will be issuing a financial conditions report in the next couple of months. Among other things they are currently auditing fire inspections.
Q: How granular is the picture?
A: Mike Ubell referred to 600 pages of spreadsheets at Open Budget Oakland, an app created by Open Oakland, which allows drilling down. Ms. Ruby called it a “game changer”; she noted that the city doesn’t release actual expenses.
Q: Do you audit the schools?
A: The auditor has no authority over OUSD. Mike Ubell asked if they have their own auditor; Ms. Ruby said they did once, she isn’t sure about now.
The auditor’s office budget is half that of other cities of comparable size. The budget is set by Mayor and City Council, which is conflict of interest. The Council now seems more receptive to Auditor’s reporting; she has seen a change in culture including responsiveness to audits. The current City Administrator is very receptive to audits and transparency. Many audits are mandated, such as audits for Measure D, but not funded, which constrains the office’s independence. The Auditor’s operation is technical, and follows government audit standards; the office is peer-reviewed every 3 years. The local whistleblower ordinance was a big step forward, every council member but one voted to pass it.
The police overtime audit found that three officers had worked 70 days straight; lack of proper rest is a dangerous performance liability. The second-highest paid person was seIf-scheduling for special events; that’s a conflict of interest. The city budget is not realistic about police overtime, that budget is always overspent. |t repeatedly under-estimates police overtime expenses, and is not transparent. The police department did a great job reducing overtime, but costs are going up due to pensions, higher personnel benefits, etc. That’s a structural government issue.
Everyone appreciates auditor’s reports. In general, costs are rising faster than revenues. Reports are available at http://oaklandauditor.com.
Mike Ubell asked, how does the funding for OPD vacancies compare with funding for overtime? A: We need transparency on how they handle overtime.
Q: We have a $25M deficit, what about worse times?
A: We need a structural discussion. Pensions are a challenging issue. This isn’t unique to Oakland; the government funding model is broken. We’re in a boom and still running a deficit. How will we move forward?
Q: What about homelessness?
A: The office is currently scoping an audit, to look at costs, tracking, services, cooperation with the County, and performance of contractors. Homelessness is up 47% in 2 years.
CRO Kristine Jurgens-Duenas (beat 13X) and Officer Andre Volynets (beat 9), presented statistics from the previous 60 days versus the same period in the prior year. CRO Officer Mac (beat 12Y) was unable to attend.
Crimes 8/12/2019 — 8/12/2018 —
Auto Burglary 44 45
Grand theft person 6 0
Robbery 14 7
Residential Burglary 4 6
Commercial Burglary 3 5
In answer to a question, OfficerJurgens-Duenas said that force or fear can quickly turn a grand theft person into a robbery.
Crimes 8/12/2019 — 8/12/2018 —
Auto Burglary 5 7
Grand theft person 0 0
Robbery 1 0
Residential Burglary 0 2
Commercial Burglary I 1 I 1
Q: How can we stop grand thefts person and robberies?
A: It’s hard to do. Events happen fast. Cameras and good lighting can help. These are often done byjuveniles, and they frequently use rental cars or stolen license plates. The police Crime Reduction Teams work on these, and do a lot of undercoverwork.
Mike Ubell asked if OPD crime clearance rates are published, he hasn’t seen them except for murders.
OfficerJurgens asked if Shane was still around; Chris Jackson from Rockridge District Association said Shane is now in housing, no longer living under freeway at Forest and Locksley.
Mike Ubell closed the meeting at 8:36 PM.
Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council Priorities for October 2018
1. Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council Priority: No current priority.
1. Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council Priority: Children going to school, crossing Broadway Terrace at Hermosa, are in danger from traffic between 8:00 and 8:20 AM.
Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council meetings are normally the SECOND Thursday of even-numbered months. Next meeting Thursday, December 12, 2019 at 7:30 PM Rockridge Library, College and Manila — See you there and stay safe!
Be sure to read the truth about the City of Oakland and Insight Terminal Solutions. It’s the facts the racist media doesn’t want you to know.