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The Glenview Neighborhood Association meeting came to order yesterday with a moment of silence. For a good few minutes the small, carpeted room at Presbyterian Church lay quiet for the police officers who died this year. Everyone in attendance—some 30 neighbors and Vice Mayor Ignacio De La Fuente—received a blue ribbon to show their support.

In his briefing on the city’s affairs, Ignacio De La Fuente said that Oakland wants to provide its law enforcement with financial help. Some of the federal stimulus funneled to Oakland will also go to the beleaguered parks system. But there’s not a whole lot of money in the proverbial kitty these days. “The city of Oakland’s budget deficit is something like $85 million,” he said, which is a lot larger than earlier estimates. The enormity of this isn’t lost on De La Fuente, who came into office in 1992 during a recession. “I’ve seen $35 million in the red, sure, but this is the worst I’ve seen in 16 years in office.”

As De La Fuente elaborated on making city-wide cuts I noticed how spiffy he looked. His black-top, half-frame glasses and tailored, pin stripe suit gave him a sharp appearance. The majority of the group walked in wearing their fleece or loosened collared shirts. A couple wore scout badges. But among the workday weary, Ignacio appeared to have been spritzed with fresh rose water. His violet-colored tie shimmered as he fielded questions about the Glenview’s flower median. (Due to budget constraints, its drip water system will be dramatically reduced.) Of the city’s spending priorities, he said that the city has to focus on basic services. “I don’t think citizens have a clue as to how much resources it takes to water the city parks and maintain its lights.”

He also reiterated how the city has to weed out wasteful spending practices. Of a recent audit in the Public Works department, he said there were 200 suggestions for improvement. “We’re also one of the few cities whose citizens pay into city employee pensions,” he claimed. On the negotiating table, then, is a reduction in pay or a reduction of pensions. “We’re going to have to do less with more.”

Some expressed frustration at how cities across the country choose to prioritize spending. And De La Fuente shared these concerns and pointed to the present set of circumstances. Then he confessed, “I should tell you that tomorrow the Oakland Tribune will publish some things I said about our mayor. With all due respect, I think he’s done a poor job.”

It was hard not to imagine how Oakland would’ve fared if De La Fuente won the mayoral race. The cardboard flowers his campaign laid all over the city came down when Dellums won. A few remained interlaced in a chain link fence at the empty lot on Park Blvd. and Hampel St. For weeks after the election, their smiling yellow faces greeting casual carpool riders. These days, Oaklanders are getting ready to weather a new status quo.


rest in peace to the officers

who fell in pittsburgh, pennsylvania.

their memorial service will be held thursday,

in the neighborhood of oakland

not to be confused with the city

that lost four of its own a month ago.

to sciullo, mayhle, and kelly of the iron city


romans, dunakin, hege and sakai of the town:


here’s a rose from my garden.

you are missed.