By Bruce Nye
[ October 2014 ] Neighbors for a Safer Oakland – the Measure Z campaign committee – was very disappointed to see MGO take a position opposing Measure Z. MGO members should review all modern informed views of crime and violence prevention, with the available data, with the views of all leading candidates for Mayor, the Oakland Police Officers Association, Oakland Fire Fighters, District Attorney O’ Malley and most leading community groups. We know MGO has the best interests of Oakland at heart, and appreciate their invitation to show why we disagree with them. We’ll give just a few examples.
In its recent blog post, MGO states “Measure Y required the City to maintain a minimum force of 739 officers.” Not so. Measure Y required the City to budget for a minimum number of officers, but with no requirement that it actually hire and maintain them.
Measure Z, on the other hand, has a minimum staffing requirement. Consider this: right now, Oakland’s general purpose fund pays for about 618 officers. All others are paid for by Measure Y funding (between 50 and 60 sworn police) or grants. Both the Chief of Police and City Administrator have cautioned that meeting the floor of 678 officers will require budgeting a number more than 700. The Chief has made it clear that without Measure Z funding, we will lose 50 officers. The City Auditor has opined that to ensure a floor of 678, Oakland will have to budget at least $5 million from the general purpose fund. And remember, Measure Z also has a no-layoff provision for police. So as long as the voters pressure City Hall to continue the recruitment, hiring and training of police the numbers are likely to go up from 700, not down.
As many of the opponents do, MGO takes a snippet from the most recent Measure Y evaluation report, quoting RDA’s Dr. Patricia Bennett out of context as stating, “the public’s ‘high expectations’ that the measure would reduce crime and violence were unrealistic.” What Dr. Bennett actually states in the report, under the sub-heading “Unrealistic Expectations,” is this: “Despite the fact that Oakland Unite has relatively limited resources, the public has high expectations for it to reduce crime and violence.” City of Oakland, Evaluation of Oakland Unite Violence Prevention Programs FY 2012-2013, page 8. Emphasis added. In other words, we are spending a relatively small amount of money on violence prevention programs and expecting them to solve all of our crime problems.
A review of the entire report, and the report from 2011-12, reveals a number of programs – not all of them, but many – having real, positive, verifiable impacts on violence in Oakland. If you doubt us, take a look at the reports here and here. A Power Point summary showing positive results is here.
And to ensure programs do reduce violence in the future, Measure Z has a higher level oversight than Measure Y and nearly every other Oakland city initiative. The new oversight panel must be comprised of:
“individuals with experience in criminal justice, public health, social services, research and evaluation, finance, audits, and/or public policy.”
Unlike Measure Y, Measure Z specifically requires that the annual evaluations … include performance analysis and evidence that policing and violence prevention/intervention programs and strategies are progressing toward the desired outcomes. Evaluations will consider whether programs and strategies are achieving reductions in community violence and serving those at the highest risk.
In other words, Measure Z specifically requires that violence prevention programs be evaluated on whether or not they prevent violence.
MGO does say something many of us on the campaign committee agree with: “Far more funding should go for police… We need to fund a measure that provides many more police officers.” That’s easy to say and hard to do. Before this measure was written, a coalition of community, business, non-profit and faith-based groups met repeatedly with the Oakland Police command staff and City budget office to evaluate the cost of many public safety options. We then went out to the community to conduct focus groups and surveys to see what Oaklanders wanted and what they were willing to pay for. We learned that Oaklanders might be willing to continue the existing Measure Y parcel and parking taxes, but under no circumstances would support – by the required 2/3 margin – parking tax and parcel tax funding for 800 or 900 police. So funding for 200 or 300 police was a non-starter without a major, multi-year educational process.
MGO repeats another anti-Measure Z line that is clearly not true: that “the current Measure Y is fully funded through June, 2015,” and there is time to “make the City come back to us with a competent, workable measure.” First, the 8 ½ % parking tax expires on December 31, 2014. That means that for fiscal year 2014-15, the city is going to immediately lose $4 million in public safety funds.
More importantly, bringing a new measure to the voters is not that fast or easy. Elections Code §10403 requires that all ballot material be submitted to the County by the 88th day before the election. So, for a June 2 election, everything would have to be done and submitted to the Registrar of voters by March 5. It took 20 months to develop the current measure, so the chances of getting the new measure drafted, vetted and submitted to the registrar less than four months after the City receives the November election results seem pretty much non-existent.
Most of us on the campaign committee believe there is much to be done beyond passage of Measure Z. But the Measure Z opponents, including MGO, propose that we punish Oakland for not spending enough on public safety by giving the city even less for police and violence prevention. The damage that will be caused by a no vote is enormous. The good that will be done by a yes vote is just a start, but a step in the right direction.
That’s why we urge Oaklanders to join the dozens of reputable organizations, elected officials, and community leaders who have endorsed Measure Z.
Loni Hancock, State Senator, 9th District
Nancy Skinner, Assemblymember, 15th District
Rob Bonta, Assemblymember, 18th District
Nancy O’Malley, District Attorney, County of Alameda
Sheila Jordan. Alameda County Superintendent of Education
Keith Carson, President, Alameda County Board of Supervisors
Nate Miley, Alameda County Board of Supervisors, District 1
Wilma Chan, Alameda County Board of Supervisors, District 3
Jean Quan, Mayor, City of Oakland
Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Oakland City Councilmember District 3
Patricia Kernighan, President, Oakland City Councilmember District 2
Larry Reid, Vice President, Oakland City Councilmember District 7
Noel Gallo, Public Safety Chair and Oakland City Councilmember District 5
Libby Schaaf, District 4 Councilmember and Mayoral Candidate
Rebecca Kaplan, At-Large Councilmember and Mayoral Candidate
Dan Kalb, Oakland City Councilmember District 1
Dan Siegal, Attorney and Mayoral Candidate
Bryan Parker, Businessman and Mayoral Candidate
Joe Tuman, University Professor and Mayoral Candidate
Anne Campbell Washington, District 4 Council Candidate
Dick Spees, Former Oakland City Councilmember, District 4
League of Women Voters Oakland
Democratic Party of Alameda County
Alameda County Central Labor Council
Oakland Police Officers Association
International Association of Firefighters, Local 55
IFPTE Local 21
Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce
Black Women Organized for Political Action PAC
Make Oakland Better Now (MOBN)
Oakland Community Organizations
Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club
Jewish Community Relations Council, East Bay region
Block by Block Organizing Network (BBON)
East Bay Housing Organizations
Professional & Technical Engineers, Local 21
The Pastors of Oakland
Bishop Bob Jackson, Acts Full Gospel and Men of Valor
Rev. J. Alfred Smith, Allen Temple Baptist Church
Bishop Michael Barber, Diocese of Oakland
Pastor Raymond Lankford, Healthy Communities
Former Oakland Police Chief Rich Word
Ryan Hunter, Measure Y Oversight Committee Member
Joanne Brown, Measure Y Oversight Committee Member
Tim Morse, Bay Alarm Company
Amy R-Quintero, VP of Detect All Security
Mary Bergan, Chair for Action, League of Women Voters Oakland
Mary Boergers, NCPC Leader for Adams Point (Beat 14X)
John Jones III, OCO Leader
Mandy Bratt, OCO Leader
Amy Fitzgerald, Executive Director of OCO
Anne Marks, Executive Director of Youth Alive
Geoff Godfrey, Executive Director, Oakland California Youth Outreach
Bruce Nye, Chair, Make Oakland Better Now
Don Link, Chair, Shattuck NCPC
Geoff Collins, Chair of the Oakland Police Officers Foundation
Brigitte Cook, SAVE Board Member (Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere)
Paula Hawthorn, SAVE Board Member (Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere)
Celsa Snead, Executive Director, The Mentoring Center
Jay Ashford, Make Oakland Better Now Leader
Hastings Hart, Beat 10Y NCPC
Don Link, Shattuck NCPC, Beat 11
Kim Thompson, Upper Rockridge NCPC
Mike Ubell, Greater Rockridge 12Y & 13X NCPC
Chris Vernon, Bushrod NCPC – Beat 11X
Margitta Gardner, Piedmont Avenue NCPC Beat 9X
Kirstyn Russell Golden Gate NCPC, Beat 10X
Doug Cover, KONO/Northgate, Beat 8X