Tag Archives: Ann-Marie Hogan


Berkeley city auditor calls for better rainy day fund policy

Ann-Marie Hogan, Berkeley city auditor
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In perhaps the first-ever folksy moment in a Berkeley audit report, the city auditor recalls Aesop’s 3,000-year-old tale of the “Grasshopper and the Ant.” The frivolous grasshopper plays through the summer months while the industrious ant toils to store food for the winter. When winter arrives, the grasshopper starves to death.

The moral for Berkeley, according to City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan? Seize hold of the current relatively healthy economic conditions and put in place a more prudent, detailed policy for the city’s general fund reserve, often called the rainy day fund.

“Nobody wants to put aside money for tomorrow when there are so many unmet needs starting them in the face today and the residents are all clamoring for their priorities,” Hogan said. “We’ve had a couple of years of really good revenue news. This would be the time to put in place the policy.”  … Continue reading »

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Staff: Measure M has Berkeley streets in better shape

"Microsurfacing" on Durant Avenue in Berkeley has made for a smoother ride. Photo: City of Berkeley
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With the help of Measure M, the city of Berkeley is making strides to repair street conditions and add innovative “green infrastructure” projects around town that are helping improve stormwater quality, city staffers told the Berkeley City Council earlier this week.

Tuesday night, staff presented an update on Measure M to council. The measure was approved by voters in November 2012 to take a more aggressive approach to street paving, and also build capacity for watershed-related projects.

Officials said it was a report by City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan in 2011 that helped bring the sorry state of Berkeley’s streets to light. Hogan found that Berkeley’s streets had an average score of 58 on the Pavement Condition Index (PCI), in the “at risk” range but approaching “fair.”

By 2018, as a result of Measure M and other efforts by the city to address the problem, staff believes Berkeley will have boosted its score to 65, which is in the “fair” range of 60-69.

“It may not on its face seem like a significant increase, but it really is,” Sean Rose, manager of engineering, told council Tuesday night. Rose said the average score for the nine Bay Area counties is 66, and that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission would like cities to reach a score of 75, which is in the “good” range on the PCI. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Is the city of Berkeley getting more efficient?

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Maybe the headline should be “man bites dog” but there’s a bit of good news on council’s Tuesday agenda: a vast improvement in timely approval of contracts. Our performance audit “Most Contracts Executed Timely but Contract Project Managers Could Use Better Tools and Guidance” tells the story.

The bigger story here, to me, is the many more substantial improvements I’ve seen in nearly 21 years of auditing city programs and performance. Whether I look at our 2004 audit of contracts, … Continue reading »

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Soda tax, school board race, open council seat bring campaign cash to Berkeley

The proponents of a tax on soda kicked off their campaign on Aug. 2. Photo: Berkeley vs Big Soda
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The lure of an open Berkeley City Council seat has turned the race to replace Gordon Wozniak in November into a big bucks proposition.

The District 8 race for Wozniak’s position, the city’s proposed sugar-sweetened beverage tax on distributors and the Berkeley School Board race — with four people vying for three seats — are already bringing in significant campaign contributions as the November 2014 election approaches.

Read Berkeleyside’s 2014 election coverageContinue reading »

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Berkeley is struggling to reach zero waste goal by 2020

A recycling truck in Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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A recent audit of several City of Berkeley departments has revealed that the city is in jeopardy of not meeting its zero waste goal by 2020.

The resolution to divert all waste from landfills was adopted by Berkeley City Council in 2005. According to the city auditor report, the city met the requirement by Alameda County to divert 75 percent of readily recyclable materials from landfills in 2010, and it has doubled its waste diversion rate since 1995. But the audit reveals several setbacks, and potential solutions, to achieving the 100 percent goal.

City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan said getting more Berkeley residents on board with waste reduction will be key to meeting the objectives. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Council hears minimum wage increase pleas

Waiters at Comal. Photo: Postcard PR
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Berkeley’s adoption of an increased minimum wage moved a step closer this week. The City Council heard a long line of advocates urging adoption a $10.74 minimum wage for employees in Berkeley.

The City Council will have a special meeting on May 1 on a minimum wage ordinance.

The Commission on Labor’s recommendation to the Council is to set a $10.74 minimum wage (the same as San Francisco’s) for businesses with fewer than 50 employees and non-profits, to include a medical benefit requirement, and to adjust the minimum wage annually in line with CPI. For “corporate franchises” or businesses with over 50 employees, the commission recommends a minimum wage increase to “the equivalent of the Berkeley Living Wage,” which is currently $13.34 per hour. … Continue reading »

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Average Berkeley street in at-risk condition, many worse

Measure M will provide more funds for improving streets, but it still will fall short of the need. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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According to a report from the City Auditor presented to the City Council last night, the average Berkeley street is in “at risk” condition. As the report, “Failing Streets,” details, as street condition deteriorates, the cost of paving increases rapidly.

“Berkeley streets are in a serious state of disrepair, with the average street at risk of failing,” said City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan. “Our audit shows how to use available data to decide how much to invest, when, and where, to stop the skyrocketing future cost of failed streets.”

The audit used StreetSaver software, developed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for the nine-county Bay Area. The software assigns a pavement condition index (PCI) between 100 (excellent) and 0 (failed) for a city’s streets and generates scenarios for five-year repair plans. Berkeley’s streets have an average PCI of 58, at the top of the “at risk” range. … Continue reading »

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Council faces tough decisions on unfunded liabilities

Mayor Bates: "people will need to start contributing"
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The Berkeley City Council special session on the $310 million — or higher — unfunded liability on promised employee benefits revealed the difficult choices faced by the city.

A presentation by budget manager Teresa Berkeley-Simmons made the root of the problem clear. The California Public Employee Retirement System (Calpers) assumed annual investment returns of 7.75%. The crash of the Great Recession in 2008 meant that returns in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009 were negative 24%, producing an annual loss against assumptions of 31.75%. For Berkeley’s city employees, that has produced investment losses of $200 million.

“We can’t grow our way out of this,” Berkeley-Simmons said.

“Even if Calpers gets 7.75% forever now, they have lost $200 million on which we’ll never get 7.75%,” explained City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan.

City Manager Phil Kamlarz said the money to close the gap has to come from either increased contributions or a reduction in cash available for city services, or some combination of the two. Long term, the gap can be closed by reduced benefits for new employees, but that does little in the short and medium term.

“Rather than cut services, people are asking employees to contribute more,” said Mayor Tom Bates. “That’s the path we have to go down. People will need to start contributing more. It’s unfortunate, but they’re lucky to have a job.” … Continue reading »

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Problems almost solved in Berkeley police evidence room

Evidence room
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Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan plans to tell the city council tonight that, after a five year delay, the department is working quickly to address problems in its evidence room.

All the problems identified during an outside investigation in 2006 should be remedied by the end of May, according to Meehan, who expressed chagrin at the delay.

“It should not have taken this long,” said Meehan. “We have no reason for it. There is no excuse for it.”

In 2006, Berkeley Police Sgt Cary Kent admitted that he had been stealing narcotics from the evidence room he oversaw. He resigned from the department and was later convicted of grand theft.

The police chief at the time, Doug Hambleton, asked the California Commission on Peace Office Standards and Training (POST) to review evidence room procedures. The group identified 18 deficiencies.

City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan took a look in 2010 at the progress made toward correcting the deficiences. Her report, which she will present tonight, concluded that the police department had only taken minimal steps toward fixing the problems.

But Meehan, who became police chief in December 2009, said he recently accelerated the process and the department has made major progress since Hogan’s report was released. While the audit, finished in December 2010, said the department had only completed three of the 18 suggestions made by the POST report, (Hogan increased that number to six as of last Friday,) about 45% of the suggestions have actually been carried out. The rest should be finished by May, said Meehan.

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Berkeley may pay for sex-change surgeries

The City Council currently meets in the Maudelle Shirek building but is looking for new meeting space.
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City employees who want to get sex-change surgery may soon get funds for the operation from their employer.

The City Council will consider tonight setting aside $20,000 a year to assist those who want to change their genders. The money will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

In order to be eligible for the funds, city employees will have had to “successfully lived and worked within the desired gender role full time for at least 12 months (real life … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police evidence room still has problems

Police department
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Five years after a sergeant from the Berkeley police department stole drugs out of the evidence and property room, prompting a series of investigations, the department has only taken minimal steps to improve the situation, according to a recent report by the city auditor, Ann-Marie Hogan.

Berkeley police processed 9,000 items in the year 2009, including $310,000 in cash and narcotics evidence with a street value of $1.5 million. But there are inadequacies in the way the department handles this evidence, which puts it at risk for theft or loss, Hogan noted.

Hogan’s audit is a follow-up to a 2006 report prepared by the California Commission on Peace Office Standards and Training (POST). That report noted a number of deficiencies in the way the police department collected and processed evidence and suggested 18 remedies to fix them. The Berkeley police department has only fully implemented six of the suggestions (with three just being done in the last few weeks), started work on four others, and done little on the remaining suggestions, according to Hogan, who will present her findings to the city council on Tuesday.

“We would have been happier if they had moved faster,” said Hogan. “One of the problems with property rooms in general is that police departments are focused on catching bad guys and emergencies. Cleaning up procedures, evidence, and paper work is just not as high a priority as cleaning up the streets.”

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan, who took office in December 2009, did not return phone calls or emails on the subject. (see addition below) But in the month since Hogan’s report was issued, the police department completed three of the recommendations made by the POST report, the same number that had been completed in the previous four years.

Meehan and the City Manager’s office also submitted a time line for competing the rest of POST’s suggestions.

Update 4:25 pm: “I have directed staff to implement all of the recommendations and work with the Auditor’s office in doing so,” Meehan said in a e-mail to Berkeleyside. “We take the … (POST) recommendations for improving our Property and Evidence Room controls and procedures very seriously. We recognize the critical importance of being accountable to this process to ensure the integrity of our work and thus the community’s trust in us.”

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