For six evenings in October and November 2016, enthusiastic citizens attended the 16th Annual Alameda County Citizens Academy. At each meeting county elected and appointed officials talked about their departments’ work. The audience then asked questions and discussed the presentation. In this way, participants began to understand the role of Alameda County government and its relationship to their local city governments.
Budget: Dennis Bozanich, Principal Administrative Analyst, discussed the County budget, illustrated with charts and graphs from the County Administrator’s Office http://budget.acgov.org. Twenty-seven percent of the budget goes to Health Care Services, 26% to Public Protection, and 32% to Public Assistance. The County budget is made up of: 15 cents from every property tax dollar for 15% of the total budget, state funding at 40%, federal funding for 20%, and service charges for 13%.
Emergencies: Highlights of the Academy were: a tour of the County Fire Department and Juvenile Justice Center. At the Fire Department, we viewed its specialized fire fighting equipment and earthquake emergency vehicles www.acgov.com/publicsafety. David Rocha, Fire Chief, explained how Alameda partners with each city and participates throughout California during major catastrophes. He also mentioned that, in the case of a serious earthquake, citizens are on their own for 96 hours or four days; so he advised everyone to store a supply of drinking water.
Juvenile Justice: At the Juvenile Justice Center www.acgov.org/probation/jfs.htm, we saw a carefully planned environment run by compassionate staff. After this tour, Brendon Woods, Alameda County Public Defender, told how he planned programs to empower youth rather than send them to court. Two programs already in progress are VOICE – a voting outreach program – and LYRIC www.acgov.com/defender/services/lyric.
Economic Development: The East Bay Economic Development Alliance www.eastbayeda.org works with start-ups, and small, and large businesses to help them avoid administrative barriers and continue to grow and thrive within the county.
Public Health: The Public Health Agency, HCSA, is large–with an organizational flow chart twelve boxes high that includes services from health alerts to emergency medical services. See www.acphd.org.
Speakers gave exciting reports about Alameda County level departments and each had progressive ideas for our urban communities. Check at www.acgov.com/academies/citizens/index.htm to sign up for next year’s Academy, or to receive a timely notice by subscribing to your District’s Board of Supervisors www.acgov.com/board newsletter.
Christine Wenrich, Board Secretary
Note: in the photo of the Leadership Academy 2016, you can see a glimpse of author Christine Wenrich, back row, third from the left. She is in smiling closeup above left.
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