STINGRAY CONTINUED Two weeks ago, without any discussion, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors continued a controversial proposed allocation of $113,419 to upgrade its controversial Electronic Surveillance Telephone Tracking Technology; more commonly refer to as Stingray. The device, manufactured by Harris Corporation, mimics a cell phone tower and tricks users’ mobile phone data and calls to it. Funding for the Stingray upgrade comes from a 2014 regional Urban Area Securities Initiative federal grant worth $6.3 million. Within the grant is $180,000 allocated for the Stingray retrofit. The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California registered strong opposition toward the agenda item on Sept. 29 “The request for this intrusive device should not be approved without greater public input and a thorough cost-benefit analysis,” said Linda Lye, an attorney for ACLUNC.
PARAMEDICS PLUS BAILOUT In late July, Paramedics Plus, the county’s emergency ambulance transport vendor, said they needed a $4 million infusion of cash to offset its losses. On Tuesday, the board will consider an amendment to Paramedics Plus’ contract that deletes the vendor’s 90-day walkaway provision and the county’s exclusive five-year extension provision, said a staff report. It also extends the contract another six months through April 2017 at no additional cost to the county. In exchange, the county will pay Paramedics Plus a one-time $4 million payment in two installments and will not increase the county’s net costs.
SUPPORT FOR SPLIT ROLL? Even though state Sen. Loni Hancock’s proposed constitution amendment to reform Proposition 13 was unsuccessful during the most recent legislative session, the Board of Supervisors could weigh-in on the proposal Tuesday, if and when it resurfaces in Sacramento, maybe as early as next year. SCA-5 did not pass out of a State Senate committee last September and the Alameda County Assessor recommends the board take no position or oppose Hancock’s amendment. The amendment would generally tax commercial properties at full market value while decreasing the burden on homeowners. “This legislation as currently written is administratively burdensome and would jeopardize county revenue,” the assessor said in a staff report. The county’s Personnel, Administration and Legislation Committee previously issued support for SCA-5. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE.
BUDGET ADVISORY COMMISSION Oakland city staff is asking the city council to make sweeping changes to the Budget Advisory Commission. Among the changes recommended is making the commission’s formation as part of a city ordinance instead of a resolution. Instead of council members making appointments to the commission, the power would rest with the mayor’s office using recommendations from “various elected officials.” The length of each term would increase from two to three years for “continuity of membership” and expiration of terms would be moved from the Spring to Oct. 1.
ARMY BASE PROJECT UPDATE Fifty percent of the public improvement project is complete, says a staff report on progress of the Oakland Army Base project construction to be heard Tuesday afternoon in the Oakland City Council Community and Economic Development Committee. In addition, a vast majority of the 12 milestones and phases for the project are projected to be complete before their original completion dates, said the report. Hiring goals are also above projections with more than half being local hires, more than 22 percent being local apprentices and nearly 55 percent of workers labeled “disadvantaged.” The benchmark was slated for 25 percent. As far as on the job safety, just three recordable incidents have been reported.
CITY TAX SURVEY The Hayward City Council will commission a community input and feedback survey at a cost of $31,000. The survey to be conducted by Godbe Research will seek the top issues confronting Hayward residents and organize them by rank. The survey’s function also appears to gauge voter enthusiasm for placing a Utility Users Tax on the 2016 primary ballot.
Hayward does not current have such as tax. Under the research firms proposal, the survey would be a hybrid telephone and web-based poll. The 15-20 minute survey hopes to yield data from 500-600 registered voters.