Oakland shuts down to save cash

November 12, 2008 7:59:28 PM PST
Oakland's building permit office was bustling Wednesday, but come Nov. 26 the permit office, along with the rest of the city government, will shut down for a day in an attempt to close the city's $42 million budget gap.

"It pushes my schedule back and my time frame," Paul Ferreira said. "It closed yesterday, which was a holiday, and it was kind of an inconvenience." Ferreira was waiting in line for a building permit Wednesday.

The City Council has already voted to shut down Oakland's government for 13 days over the next seven months. The current proposal would close city offices in the days before and after Christmas, as well as on a series of Fridays before other holiday weekends - days that would have the least impact on peole who need city services.

City workers voiced their anger over the shutdown during a protest at City Hall.

"We call them lockouts," city employee Dwight McElroy said. "Basically, on those particular days that they've proposed, they've proposed to lock employees out of their jobs and lock the citizens out of services."

Shutting Oakland down for 13 days a year would save the city about $5 million. Police, firefighters and other essential city employees would still show up for work during those days, but other workers would be forced to take a day off without pay.

But instead of forcing city employees to take a day off, the city may ask for volunteers, acting city administrator Dan Lindheim said.

"It's sort of Orwellian; I'm calling it mandatory-voluntary time off, basically giving the employees the opportunity to pick the days that they would not be working," Lindheim said.

Forced or not, there will not be any city business in Oakland the day before Thanksgiving.


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