As election season got into full swing this past summer, Oakland City council members made a splash by threatening to cut ties with Goldman Sachs if the investment bank refused to cancel an investment that will cost the city about $20 million before it expires in 2021.
If the council's bluster was a bluff, Goldman is calling it.
The bank refused Oakland's demand to cancel the interest rate swap at no cost to the city. It's willing to negotiate an early termination to the investment, but it won't terminate at below-market value price for the city, according to a city report.
The issue will go before the City Council's Finance and Management Committee on Tuesday.
Oakland entered into the deal with Goldman to protect itself from potential interest rate spikes on city bonds issued in 1998 to fund police and firefighter pensions. But interest rates have remained low, and the city continues to pay Goldman a fixed interest rate that is much higher than the prevailing rate Goldman pays Oakland.
Unions and citizen groups pushed Oakland and other municipalities to take a tough stand with investment banks over interest rate swap deals. They said banks were profiting from their role in the 2008 financial collapse, which forced the Federal Reserve to slash interest rates and consequently turned the deals dramatically in the banks' favor.
Hayward looking to the future
Hayward wants to hear from residents about what they think the city should be like in the future, and staff members are planning activities to make the meetings engaging.
"We will have interactive stations where people can share their views," said Erik Pearson, Hayward senior planner. At the series of neighborhood workshops, residents will be asked for their opinions to help city staff members update Hayward's general plan, which will guide decisions on growth and services such as public safety and libraries.
At the first station, residents will use stickers to show where they live and work and their favorite place. At the second, they will be asked to write down on Post-it notes what they consider Hayward's assets, opportunities and challenges.
"The third station will basically be a big sheet of blank paper where people can write what they think should be the vision for the city -- what qualities they think Hayward should have in the future," Pearson said.
At the fourth, they will be asked to complete the sentence, "I love Hayward because ..." on a card.
"We're going to ask people if they're interested to do a quick video recording where they read their card," Pearson said. The videos will be posted on the city's website.
The first meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, followed by 10 a.m. Dec. 1 at City Hall; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, 26890 Holly Ave.; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at Fairway Park Baptist Church, 425 Gresel St.; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at Southland Mall Conference Room A/B, near the food court; and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12, Hayward High School, 1633 East Ave. Spanish translation will be available.
For more information, go to www.hayward-ca.gov/generalplan.
Fremont updates its smoking ordinance
Fremont just became a less friendly city for smokers, but a much kinder place for residents' lungs.
The City Council voted Tuesday to update its smoking ordinance for the first time since 1993. The American Lung Association recently gave the city a D grade in the categories of reducing the sales of tobacco products and being smoke-free in outdoor areas and in multiunit housing.
The new ordinance will improve the city's grades in all categories because it calls for placing greater restrictions on smoking in outdoor areas, banning all tobacco product vending machines, declaring secondhand smoke a nuisance and requiring landlords to disclose smoking residences and areas to new tenants. It also more clearly defines the distance between smoking and nonsmoking places in the workplace, allowing people to smoke no less than 25 feet from building entrances, windows and air intakes.
Councilwoman Sue Chan said the new ordinance will make Fremont a healthier place to live.
"This update will bump us up to a B (grade), but not quite an A," she said. "But it will afford people greater protection from the effects of secondhand smoke."