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Alameda County, CA June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

Oakland: It Is All About Vision!

By Ron "Oz" Oznowicz

Candidate for Mayor; City of Oakland

This information is provided by the candidate
"Oakland doesn't have to be a money-loser, and Oakland's citizens don't have to be the cash cow to feed it." ...Ron Oz
If you only live this life once, you might as well live it a lot grander.

  • Oakland is a wonderful place. Most who leave, leave a part of themselves in Oakland. Many who stay, wait for better things. Oakland is where the heart is.

  • There's a lot being done in Oakland by lots of people. A tremendous amount of money is being spent on many employees and many programs for many things in many parts of town. Yet, people are still leaving, the City is still unsafe, the government is still unresponsive, the schools are still inadequate, and there are still potholes and dirty streets. And... City leaders are still finding new ways to get more money from taxpayers to get less done. Oakland needs Leadership and Management to give Oaklanders what they pay for.

  • Our $1.06 Billion Budget is out of control and any businessman can see it. There is a difference between the "Nice to Have" and the "Must Have." We should immediately trim 10% from spending. That should free up $100 Million. Then we should reprioritize our employee base to add 200 police officers over the next five years. We should freeze all salary increases for two years to help save many jobs and get our City in order. Then we should hold our budget spending increases to a hard and fast limit not exceeding the Cost of Living. If we had done that in 2000 we would have 200 more police officers today and hundreds of million dollars in the bank. Let's do it now with a new Mayor.

  • In case anyone is wondering, 200 more police officers would cost $31.5 Million a year. That's not much out of a Billion Dollars. In 2000 the Police Department was 38% of our Budget. Today, it is 31% of the Budget. That 7% difference on a $Billion Dollars is $70 million, more than twice what Oakland needs to pay for 200 more police. Oakland is spending money over 400% faster than the Cost of Living, but not adding a single new police officer to the regular Budget.

  • It only takes one worker and a pickup truck to fix the average pothole. Public Works should be run as a private company where costs are cut, profits are made, and customers have to be satisfied.

  • Oakland needs a Mayor with the mind of a developer, the prudence and knowledge of an investor, the strategy of a chess player, and with his hands on the purse like the money was his own. We wasted $80 Million on Oak Knoll, $54 Million was subsidized on the Downtown Development, $9 Million went to bail out a losing developer, and many millions more were compromised on Oak to 9th. We lost many tens of millions on the Raiders and will likely lose the A's altogether. We lose millions to sloppy subsidies for affordable housing and other well-meaning but failing programs. We even have to spend millions to cover the cost overruns on the grants and special programs others pay for. A few million here and there sure add up fast. It would be nice to have money and properties in the bank.

  • Money seems to be a narcotic to our City leaders. The more they get, the more they need. They think balancing the budget means spending more than they have and then going to citizens for more money. There's nothing wrong with pulling in much more money than the City needs for its Budget, as long as it gets put away and not added to spending. What happens when any person, any family, or any business has more revenues than they counted on? They save it, put it away, put it to work. Any investor knows the concepts of "Return on Assets," "Free Cash Flow," "Retained Earnings," and all the indicators that show a company is being run well, profitably, and has a good future.

  • We need a vision much greater than anyone has yet put forth. Small visions use up all our money and beg for more. It's a small vision that let the Raiders go in the first place, and is waving goodbye to the A's. It's a small vision that sees "stick-frame" low-rise construction on our best properties. It's a small vision that wants to save blighted industrial land or thinks traditional neighborhoods can't be saved. It's a small vision that doesn't realize traditional neighborhoods will only survive if growth is encouraged elsewhere.

  • Big visions call for saving our money and resources for those big moments. They call for people who know success in big things and won't settle for less. Grand visions see Oakland as a city with 650,000 people living in high rises and quaint neighborhoods, walking and enjoying parks and promenades, all magnificently connected. Only a larger City can offer enough police; properly organized and with the right attitude they can make safety the greatest community pride.

  • The right Mayor could point out to all those residents who live in neighborhoods whose character they want to preserve, that their neighborhoods are in serious danger from those with small visions. Unless there are armies of construction cranes along the estuary, downtown, in our decaying industrial and manufacturing sections, and other neglected places, to accommodate a large influx of new people and businesses, there will be unrelenting pressure on the small neighborhoods to grow more density than they wish. An urban planner can tell you that we could double the population of Oakland without changing the character of traditional neighborhoods. He would also tell you that it is most important to attract new people to Oakland who have money to invest, to start businesses with, and to employ people. One industrial acre could accommodate maybe 10 high density affordable town homes. It could also accommodate a 30 story building with 250 very expensive apartments and condominiums. The small vision might yield $24,000 annually for Oakland's Treasury, while the grander vision could yield $1.5 Million annually. Why is it even a debate? Which vision do you think would provide the greater funds to preserve, protect, and sustain the traditional neighborhoods?

  • We could actually keep the A's or even buy them. But they wouldn't be for sale if it was known that in five years we would have an Oakland Freedom Tower taller than the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, with a Ball Park anchoring the bottom of it, the envy of Giants fans. And that's not all. We would have an Oakland Pier of shops and attractions that San Franciscans would hop the ferry for. It could be a part of an entire giant package of hotels, convention facilities, high rise condominiums, shops, cinemas, restaurants, and enjoyable promenades, fountains and greenery.

  • San Francisco has 16.5 million visitors who spend $7 Billion, and how many think of coming to Oakland? None would miss coming if we realized the Grand Vision. We are an Enterprise Zone, so why aren't we enterprising? One candidate sees philanthropists putting $100 Million into Oakland each year. Ron Oz sees Oakland setting aside $500 Million in 5 years. The politicians would crawl all over themselves putting in another $500 Million. A $500 Million loan would cost Oakland $3 Million a month. It wastes twice as much as that now. That's $2 Billion, and the private developers, syndicators, investors and financiers haven't even come into the picture yet. That's $2 Billion with which the Oakland Freedom Tower, the Ball Park and the area infrastructure could change Oakland forever. Private high rise housing and commercial development would add another $10 Billion. Our tax and investment revenues could be increased dramatically. San Francisco and San Jose citizens would move to Oakland.

  • Most people are now sensing that we can't go on with the direction of the past and current policies and priorities. We are a compassionate City who helps our poor, our wayward, and our needy. However, we must build an economic engine to afford it. That's the beauty of our system, and the weakness. Ron Oz knows that Oakland must grow, and grow financially sound, to afford the temporary help some of us need until better times. But there will be no better times if we run out of gas while we're going uphill.

  • It's no wonder no one on the City Council or in the Mayor's Office has thought of a Grand Vision yet. Oakland hasn't elected anyone with the confidence to match this kind of foresight since early last century. Likely you will hear the same old "We-Can't," "We-Won't" and "We-Shouldn't." They're wrong!


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