Oakland rethinks pay-go fund

November 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Oakland City Council members are supposed to use the city's "pay-go" fund to pay for capital improvements in their districts; things like repairing pot holes and cracked sidewalks, building new parks, buying public safety equipment and installing street lights.

"This is taxpayer money; this is capital improvement money that a taxpayer should be able to see and touch," City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente said.

But that hasn't always been the case. Records show council member Desley Brooks has been using the money to instead pay for entertainment in her East Oakland district, things like tent rentals for parties, food and even DJ's.

De la Fuente wants to put a stop to it. Tuesday night he introduced legislation that would eliminate loopholes in the pay-go fund; $250,000 for each council member and the mayor to spend annually on projects.

"This is funds for brick and mortar; to build a rec center, playground equipment in schools," de la Fuente said.

Brooks did not return calls from ABC7.

Council member Brooks spent thousands of dollars in pay-go money, making park upgrades around her district, including putting in playground structures; but she also spent about $4,500 to rent gigantic jumping structures.

City records show that since 2005, Brooks has spent more than $100,000 in pay-go money on entertainment; including more than $12,000 to rent sound equipment for a concert, $1,100 for a DJ, $1,400 for barbeque from the Everett and Jones restaurant and $2,700 to rent a room at the Marriott for a Christmas and Kwanza party.

East Oakland resident Terri Barker likes having the entertainment in her neighborhood.

"I think it's being used properly," Barker said.

But the money is for a specific purpose, City Council member Jane Brunner said.

"It should be for the public and it should be long lasting," Brunner said.


Load Comments