The annual $12 per-house parcel tax on the Alameda County ballot to help fund the Oakland Zoo may feel warm and fuzzy, but it lacks financial justification.
The zoo sits on city-owned property and is managed by the nonprofit East Bay Zoological Society. The society is behind the push for Measure A1, which would last for 25 years and raise $5.5 million annually. But the zoo's operating budget is close to balanced today. Society officials say they would use the money for needed capital improvements and then transition more funds to operating expenses.
But, when we asked, they were unable to produce long-range financial projections to justify the tax. We would have been fine with a five-year measure for a list of needed capital projects. But this doesn't have one. Vote no.
Meanwhile, two Berkeley ballot measures seek greater government transparency. One is overkill, the other is essential.
No on Measure U. We usually trumpet sunshine and open-meeting requirements. But this micromanaging measure goes too far. For example, it creates a new commission with the power to sue the city for compliance, gives the public the power to petition to put items on an agenda, expands public comment period to three minutes per person, and requires elected officials and city department heads to post weekly calendars of their meetings.
Yes on Measure V. This is a long-overdue, much-needed requirement that the city clearly disclose long-term