OAKLAND — City officials have put together an $89 million wish list of infrastructure projects they hope might be included in President-elect Barack Obama's anticipated economic stimulus package — and Oakland's incoming council member believes the city should push for even more.
The projects on the list would create 1,043 jobs in Oakland, officials estimate, and are listed in a recent U.S. Conference of Mayors report that includes some 15,211 ready-to-go infrastructure projects in 641 cities across the country.
At-large Councilmember-elect Rebecca Kaplan believes Oakland can make a strong argument that the federal government should spend more on urban infrastructure projects, pointing to what she calls a "historic underinvestment in Oakland" that should be reversed.
"I feel like one of the things I have to do to help Oakland is figure out a way to help people see infrastructure as really sexy and worth talking about, and deserving of headlines and attention and effort," she said. "You rarely see people marching in the streets for infrastructure, but it's so important."
The most expensive project already on Oakland's list is $20 million for the Oakland Community Land Trust to buy and rehabilitate foreclosed properties as part of an Oakland-based land trust to support low-cost housing. That project would create an estimated 240 jobs.
Across the country, cities have submitted more than $96 billion in projects that
Mayor Ron Dellums was appointed last month to participate in a Conference of Mayors work group to craft a recovery plan for urban areas as part of national economic stimulus.
Kaplan will be sworn into office Monday in a ceremony beginning at 11 a.m. at City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Then she and her seven new colleagues will select a council president. It appears Ignacio De La Fuente's 10-year hold on the position could be coming to an end.
"It's not a question of whether he wants to hold onto it," said Councilmember Desley Brooks (Eastmont-Seminary). "I don't think he can."
Brooks said she is uninterested in the position. De La Fuente (Glenview-Fruitvale) did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Longtime council members Jane Brunner (North Oakland), Nancy Nadel (Downtown-West Oakland) and Larry Reid (Elmhurst-East Oakland) all have been said to be eyeing the spot atop the dais, as has Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel), who hasn't served on the council as long as some others in the mix.
Nadel declined to comment about the possibility, while Quan did not return e-mails or phone calls. Brunner said she would like the position and Reid would, too — just as he and Nadel did two years ago when De La Fuente managed to hold onto it.
The odds for Reid could be long, and he admitted he might not have the votes he would need.
"To be interested in being the council president, you have to be able to count to five," Reid said. "I can count to four. I can't count to five."
Brunner might be the favorite. Reid said he would support her assuming the five votes aren't there for him.
"I am interested," Brunner said. "And I think we'll know on Monday what actually happens."
Back to the economy "...
Dellums will join Brunner, Assemblymember Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda, and Steven Raphael, a professor at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, on Jan. 14 to discuss key economic issues facing Oakland and California.
The event, called "A Progressive Perspective on the Economic Crisis," will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.
The event is scheduled two days after a City Council meeting Jan. 12 when council members will begin planning a budget for the two-year period beginning July 1.
Reach Kelly Rayburn at 510-208-6435 or email@example.com.