Category Archives: Public Safety

What Do Oaklanders Think About Our City Budget? They Want to Be Safe!

In May, 2013, Oakland’s City Council passed a resolution, sponsored by then-city council member, now Mayor Libby Schaaf, to substantially revise Oakland’s budget process.  The idea was to add transparency, predictability and order to a process that has often been sporadic and incomprehensible. The new process significantly increased the role of Oakland’s Budget Advisory Committee, set a schedule, and required an orderly approach to public and City Counsel input.

The new process required that Council hold a “biannual” [sic] budget workshop in the fall preceding the budget adoption year, and that staff present a Five Year forecast, to be made widely and publicly available, no later than February 1.  The budget workshop did not happen until January 28 of this year, and the Five Year forecast has not yet been seen.

But there is one requirement of the resolution  where Oakland is ahead of schedule. For this one, the Budget Advisory Committee, not staff or City Council, were responsible.  The resolution requires the following:

During the January – March period prior to Budget Adoption of a budget adoption year, the City Administrator should develop or secure a statistically valid survey for assessing the public’s concerns, needs and priorities. Whenever feasible, the City should conduct a professional poll administered to a statistically relevant and valid sample of residents that is representative of Oakland’s population . . . . If that’s [sic] not possible, then demographic information should be collected and reported out with the survey results.

Prior to release, the survey questions shall be submitted to the Budget Advisory Committee for review of bias, relevance, consistency in administration, inclusion of benchmark questions, and ability to assess concerns, needs and priorities.  The survey instrument, method of dissemination and any instructions for administration shall be publicly available.

Although the “survey instrument, method of dissemination and . . .instructions for administration” were not publicly available, the poll did happen.  A downloadable report (pdf) with the results is here.  And here is what respondents said about their budget priorities:

Respondents were asked an open-ended question about the two most important issues facing Oakland residents that they would like to see prioritized in the City government budget. . . . Their most frequent answers related to crime and public safety, which over six in ten mentioned as either their first or second choice: crime/violence (20% first choice, 13% second), more police/funding/police issues (10% first choice, 6% second) and public safety (8% first choice, 5% second).

This table summarizes responses to the open-ended question:

Current Priorities for the City Budget

(Categories with 2% or More as First Choice)

            In the upcoming two-year budget, what are the two most important issues facing Oakland residents that you would like to see prioritized in the City government budget?

Budget Priority % first choice % second choice
Crime and safety 38 24
    Crime/violence 20 13
     More police funding / police issues 10 6
     Public safety 10 5
Education / Public Schools 8 5
Housing costs / affordability 10 6
Street and sidewalk maintenance 8 8
Jobs / Keeping business 7 11
Youth activities 3 3
Homelessness 2 4
Public transportation / buses 2 2

We are particularly impressed by the fact that these were spontaneous answers to open-ended questions, not a selection from choices.  This is much more compelling than responses to multiple choice polling questions.

So the answer should be clear to the City Council, the Mayor, the City Administrator and the budget office:  more than anything else, Oaklanders want to be safe.  This priority should guide everything that happens during the budget process over the next four months.

And Make Oakland Better Now! will be there to deliver that message to the city, and to let you know how the process is going.

MOBN! Supports Proposed Safety Measure if City Guarantees Officer Threshold

MOBN! SUPPORTS THE PROPOSED PUBLIC SAFETY MEASURE – IF THE CITY GUARANTEES A THRESHOLD NUMBER OF OFFICERS

Tuesday night, Oakland’s City Council has a very big agenda (and will be holding a very long meeting). But the most critical item on that agenda is a resolution to place a public safety and services ballot on this November’s election, to take effect in January when Measure Y expires.

As most readers of Oaktalk know, Measure Y was passed ten years ago, and provides for a parcel tax and parking tax that provide $22 million for “problem solving officers,” violence prevention programs and fire funding. We could provide a litany of issues and problems with Measure Y, but will save this for another day. Our questions have been (1) what would happen without the $22 million?, (2) what would the voters be willing to do?, and (3) what politically acceptable solutions were there to solve the biggest problems with Measure Y.

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It’s Time For Oakland To Adopt A Comprehensive Public Safety Plan

Tonight at 6:00 p.m., the Oakland City Council’s Public Safety Committee will meet for the second time on the subject of “Public Safety Initiatives Throughout the City.”  Staff reports are here and here.  MOBN! has long advocated for a comprehensive public safety plan, with coordination of all of the city’s safety efforts, specific goals and accountability.  We had hoped that this is what we would get from Strategic Policy Partners (Wasserman and Bratton).  Instead, we got bits and pieces, and a long memo urging more community involvement.

Despite a slight reduction in violent crime in the last sixteen months, the city has much yet to do.  In this letter to the Public Safety Committee, we set out our view of what a plan would look like, and what some of the key components should be.

Guest Post: Numbers And Nonsense In Oakland’s Search for Public Safety

Make Oakland Better Now! has started a 10 part series on strategies for making Oakland better, and we will be continuing with that soon.  But others have good ideas as well, and we want to share some.   The ideas in this guest post are those of Steve Spiker. A self-described urbanist, technologist, photographer and husband and father, almost new home owner, he is the Research Director for Urban Strategies.    His blog, where this post first appeared, is here.  

Oakland is once again talking about data and facts concerning crime, causes and policing practices, except we’re not really. We’re talking about an incredibly thin slice of a big reality, a thin slice that’s not particularly helpful, revealing nor empowering. And this is how we always do it.

Chip Johnson is raising the flag on our lack of a broad discussion about the complexity of policing practices and the involvement of African-Americans in the majority of serious crimes in our city, and on that I say he’s dead right, these are hard conversations and we’ve not really had them openly. The problem is, the data we’re given as the public (and our decision makers have about the same) is not sufficient to plan with, make decisions from nor understand much at all.  Once again we’re given a limited set of summary tables that present just tiny nuances of reality and that do not allow for any actual analyses by the public nor by policy makers. And if you believe that internal staff get richer analysis and research to work with you’re largely wrong.

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MOBN! / MGO Mayoral Candidate Public Safety Debate – The Video And (Partial) Transcript

As a result of the very hard work of one of MOBN!’s board members, we are now able to offer an updated video of the April 3 debate featuring nine mayoral candidates.  The video and audio are now in sync, and just about all of the missing audio has been restored.

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Public Safety Mayoral Candidate Debate Protocol

Make Oakland Better Now! and MGO are expecting more than 200 people at the mayoral candidate public safety debate on Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at Temple Sinai. See the original announcement here, and RSVP here. We have notified all of the participating candidates of the protocol and ground rules, and here is what we have told them:

 

Dear Mayoral Candidates:

Thanks to all of you for agreeing to participate in the MGO / MOBN! Mayoral Candidate Public Safety Debate, which as we have advised, will take place on Thursday, April 3 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Temple Sinai. We look forward to the contributions each of you make toward the public dialog about what it takes to make Oakland safer.

Our debate committee, journalist panelists and moderator have met, and agreed on the following protocol and ground rules:

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Neighborhood Champion Awards – East Oakland

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Make Oakland Better Now! is pleased to join the Oakland Police Foundation and Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce in co-sponsoring tomorrow’s Neighborhood Champions Awards Event.  Come join us as we will celebrate “Community Policing Partnerships That Work” by honoring the police officers, district attorneys, outreach workers, citizens, and the faith-based community who actively contributed to East Oakland’s 28% reduction in violent crime.

Date:  Saturday, March 8, 2014

Time: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Place:  Acts Full Gospel Church, 1034 66th Avenue, Oakland