Oakland council members voted unanimously to continue waging its lonely and increasingly costly war against Goldman Sachs even after Mayor Jean Quan warned the price tag likely will continue to rise.
The council on Tuesday agreed to enter into an agreement with Spinnaker Consulting, Inc. that could pay the firm $226,378 -- more than the cost of a city litter removal crew -- to help Oakland prepare its case for barring Goldman from doing business with the city.
Urged on by labor and community activists, the city has been trying to cut ties with the Wall Street titan after it refused to cancel an investment that could cost taxpayers about $20 million before it expires in 2021.
To prevent Goldman from bidding on city debt, Oakland needs to go through a formal process known as debarment, during which Goldman would get to rebut the charges at a hearing. The city won't get any of its money back if it prevails.
The activists who urged cutting ties with Goldman don't have the expertise to prepare for the hearing, Quan told the council. She also warned that the costs were likely to rise and that the city was nearing a settlement with Goldman before the council moved forward previously with cutting ties.
No other city has followed Oakland's lead, but council members Tuesday decided to fight on even after bristling at the costs. "I feel that I have to reluctantly support this particularly because I'm so disgusted at Goldman Sachs and what they did to our community," Councilman Dan Kalb said.
Oakland entered into the deal with Goldman to protect itself from potential interest rate spikes on city bonds issued in 1998 to fund police and firefighter pensions. But interest rates have remained low, and the city continues to pay Goldman a fixed interest rate that is much higher than the prevailing rate Goldman pays Oakland.
Oakland City Council votes itself a raise
Oakland council members awarded themselves a 2 percent raise Tuesday, the same night they approved new union contracts giving many workers the same salary bump.
During the recession, the council had repeatedly voted to reject raises as their salaries remained at about $72,000.
Council members Larry Reid and Noel Gallo argued against accepting the raise, which is pegged to cost of living indexes.
Fast Internet coming to Hayward, Oakland
A high-speed fiber-optic cable loop with lightning-fast Internet speeds could be up and running next year in Hayward, and Oakland may not be far behind.
The Hayward City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a public-private agreement, tentatively called High-Speed Hayward, that would allow fiber optic cables to be run through city conduit in exchange for 10 percent of the cable network. The 18-mile loop would encircle much of the city.
Councilman Al Mendall said the network, geared toward commercial customers, would help attract biotech companies, call centers and corporate headquarters.
"It makes a statement on Hayward's part that it supports businesses," Mendall said.
Oakland also is taking steps toward creating a citywide fiber-optic network. On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved development of a fiber-optic master plan and entered into negotiations with the private firm LightUP Oakland on a pilot project to build a fiber-optic system in the business district bound by the Coliseum complex and Oakland International Airport.
The projects are modeled after Lit San Leandro, which uses existing city conduit in San Leandro to house a loop of fiber-optic cable that businesses can tap into.
At a recent League of Women Voters forum, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy spoke about Lit San Leandro. Afterward, Hayward City Councilwoman Barbara Halliday quipped, "I think your loop is more popular than ours," making a reference to Hayward's one-way traffic loop downtown.
San Leandro launches economic website
Did you know Cleophus Quealy Beer Company plans to open up shop in San Leandro next year? Or that the West Gate center was originally a Chrysler/Dodge plant?
Thanks to www.SanLeandroNext.com, a new website launched by the city last month, you can get insight on the city's economic development and innovation plans and progress, and learn the latest about the 18-mile high-speed broadband network Lit San Leandro.
"We will highlight our progress in transforming San Leandro into a center of innovation, as well as highlight the many exciting, new businesses coming to town and significant initiatives by current businesses across our vibrant and diversified local economy," Cassidy said about the site in a statement.