Kaplan, Brooks Push for City to Pay Bills on Time

Oct 3, 2014

Posted in BusinessCommunityEconomic DevelopmentElections & Voting RightsPoliticsResponsive Government

Oakland City Council President Pro Tem Rebecca Kaplan and Councilmember Desley Brooks introduced legislation Thursday morning that would strengthen requirements that the city pay its bills on time.

Councilmembers Brooks and Kaplan submitted the following item title to the Rules Committee this Thursday: “Ordinance Amending Oakland Municipal Code Chapter 2.06 To Clarify and Add Language Specifically Identifying Requirements for Prompt Disbursements of Grant Funds to Grant Recipients.”

Desley Brooks

“People, non-profits, and companies that do business with our City deserve to get paid on time,” Kaplan said. “This is an incredibly basic part of running a government — or any other kind of organization — and we should treat our local businesses and non-profits with respect.”

The bill would clarify the City’s Prompt Payment Ordinance, which Brooks originally authored in 2008, to clarify that it covers payments to non-profits and ensure consistent and respectful treatment of our community. The bill is a clarification of the intent of Brook’s original ordinance and is not a rewrite.

Brook’s leadership resulted in the original ordinance passing unanimously.

Kaplan and Brooks said that the City of Oakland has a poor record of paying vendors and contractors on time — especially small businesses, non-profits and minority-owned companies.

Rebecca Kaplan

“The city administration has fallen down on the job,” Brooks said. “And it’s most adversely affected Black- and women-owned small businesses with the least flexibility to wait around. City Hall has left them in the lurch, and it’s simply not acceptable.”

Kaplan added that residents are also harmed when small businesses and non-profits stop doing business with the city.

“When the Administration doesn’t pay them,” Kaplan said, “they can’t pay their own bills, which hurts workers, and can lead some to stop working for Oakland.”

With the leadership of Brooks and Kaplan the council also recently won funding in the city budget for a disparity study — to determine and identify disparities in the awarding of contracts to minority-owned firms. The city is required to conduct such a study every two years, but hasn’t done so since 2007.

The requested Prompt Payment item will be heard at the city’s Oct. 28 Finance and Management Committee.