Special Tax For Oakland Zoo Heading To Ballot; Changes To County Fundraising Limit

ALAMEDA COUNTY//BOS ROUNDUP | A new and badly needed revenue source may be coming to the beleaguered Oakland Zoo. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved placing a special tax on the November ballot that could net the zoo around $4.5 million in additional revenue through a $12 annual parcel tax.

Dr. Joel Parrott, the executive director of the Oakland Zoo, told the board he is confident the measure will be successful this fall after polling revealed 75 percent of respondents to a survey about the tax said they backed the measure or were “likely yes.” A previous survey testing $20 parcel tax showed less exuberance among voter, Parrott said.

The zoo, established at its current location in the 1950s, is in need of improvements to its infrastructure, including animal enclosures and aging drainage systems, said Parrott, who also pledged to use the increased revenue to preserve its existing programs and exhibits. The Oakland Zoo welcomes over 600,000 visitors, primarily from the East Bay to its park near the Oakland Hills.

Supervisor Scott Haggerty, while offering his support for the zoo, raised questions over a proposal by the zoo to fund the ballot initiative through a payment schedule with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. The arrangement would set a bad precedent for other jurisdictions wanting to use similar plans to fund ballot measures, said Haggerty.

Supervisor Scott Haggerty

AMENDMENT TO COUNTY CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING LIMIT Supervisor Scott Haggerty’s county campaign fundraising ordinance, passed after the now infamous election of former Supervisor Nadia Lockyer in 2010, is getting quite a bit of attention in the run up to Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s campaign for the seat held by Supervisor Richard Valle this fall. However, the ordinance, created for county-based district races needed tweaking, according to Haggerty, who was hearing complaints from potential candidates for other races, excluding county supervisor.

A first reading of an amendment to Haggerty’s ordinance was approved Tuesday that would double the campaign fundraising limitation for individuals to county-wide races from $20,000 per election to $40,000. “It has been brought to my attention that this could hinder the ability of county officials who run in county-wide elections to raise the funds needed to organize and operate a county-wide campaign,” Haggerty wrote to the Board of Supervisors.

The change would not affect races for county supervisor, including the hotly-contested campaign in District 2 featuring Supervisor Richard Valle, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi and Union City Mayor Mark Green. The $20,000 threshold is believed to be commensurate with campaign costs associated with a smaller district race, rather than one catering to the entire county. Such offices would include those for district attorney, sheriff, treasurer, county administrator.

COUNTY DRUG DISPOSAL INITIATIVE IS LAW The Board reaffirmed its unanimous support two weeks ago for Supervisor Nate Miley’s safe drug disposal ordinance by approving its second reading Tuesday afternoon.

It is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, but large pharmaceutical producers may still have a say in when and if it ever goes into effect. The threat of a lawsuit against the county still exists. The ordinance forces drug producers to design and execute drug disposal programs at their own costs. The law is based on the idea producers should be held responsible for the end use of the products they sell.

OLDEN HENSON RETURNS TO GOVERNMENT Former Hayward Councilman Olden Henson is back in local government just two weeks after his defeat in the June elections. The 18-year council veteran was appointed by Supervisor Richard Valle to sit on the Oversight Committee for Hayward’s redevelopment agency. Olden will replace Teri Swartz, who resigned this month.

In additon, a spate of appointments issued Tuesday before the Board’s August recess, include Valle becoming a delegate to the Associated Bay Area Governments and Aileen Chong-Jeung being appointed to the Castro Valley Municipal Action Committee. Both appointments were made by Supervisor Nate Miley.

DEPUTY LOSES HIS PANTS On June 15, three pitbulls attacked Alameda County Sheriffs Deputy Peter Slaughter while on duty. One of the ravenous dogs ripped Slaughter’s pants. The damage cost Slaughter $186.93 to replace the torn trousers and he wants the county to reimburse him.

The agenda item is one of the oddest you will see in government, but also shows how the work of the Board of Supervisors is often found in the most minute of details. The expenditure, though, exceeded Risk Management’s $150 limit for approving claims and needed the Board’s approval.

Rest assured, if the issue of pants ever comes up in the future, one potential supervisor might be able show the county how they can replace those trousers at no cost.