Join the Conversation! Help MOBN! Create Its City Council Candidate Questionnaires

Make Oakland Better Now! is preparing questionnaires for City Council candidates, and we want your help.

In 2010, MOBN! submitted questionnaires to all mayoral candidates. The responses were posted publicly on and can still be viewed here. In 2012, we are expanding the process, sending questionnaires to all candidates for City Council and for City Attorney. The City Attorney candidates have received their MOBN! questionnaires and will be responding shortly.

In the meantime, MOBN! is preparing its questionnaires for City Council candidates. We’re interested in what our members want to ask. Submit your proposed questions below in the comments section no later than midnight Friday, July 20.  All proposed questions will be seriously considered. Questions should be respectful and constructive. And, as a reminder, MOBN! focuses on these issues impacting Oaklanders: public safety, public works, and government transparency, accountability and budget reform.

Help us empower Oakland voters. We look forward to your input.

To read about MOBN!’s endorsement process and protocol, click here.

Make Oakland Better Now!

OakTalk Here is the blog of Make Oakland Better Now!, an Oakland community grassroots group of a grass-roots group of voters, volunteers, and policy advocates committed to improving the City of Oakland by focusing on public safety, public works, and responsible budgets. Founded in 2003, we’ve researched, lobbied, and successfully campaigned for a number of new, impactful policies, including the city’s Rainy Day Fund, Measure Z and Operation Ceasefire.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Jim Dexter

    As a councilmember, will you fully implement Measure Y as originaly intended, with a minimum of 803 officers and each PSO assigned ONLY to one each of the 57 Community Policing Beats

  2. Chris Vernon

    As a councilmember, will you fully support the introduction of a complete and effective Operation Ceasefire as proposed by criminologist David Kennedy, meant to dramatically reduce the levels of gang related violent crime and open air drug dealing?

  3. hedera

    As a councilmember, will you be realistic about the money the city has to spend and how it needs to spend it, and then spend the money the way you said you would?

    A side comment on Jim Dexter’s comment: fully implementing Measure Y as passed would be a good start, BUT 803 police officers is absurdly low for a city the size of Oakland. What would the councilmember do about police staffing generally?

    1. Jim Dexter

      Per your comments on OPD staffing, I agree completely with you that MY would only be a good start. Now, keep in mind, to get back to 803 would cost many millions of dollars to achieve and maintain, not counting future pensions. I believe this would be money well spent, but where to get the budget for it? Re-prioritize the entire City of Oakland budget goal set, and get the priorities aligned with reality. What is a reasonable goal: 900 officers, combined with a complete effort to civilianize OPD to eliminate many badged officers doing desk work.

      Jim Dexter

      1. don williams

        Jim Dexter is onto something here . Makes perfect sense to me. Public safety pensions are better because they include danger .Desk jobs are not dangerous….They should not get the public safety pension if they are not involved in public safety…

  4. Helen Danhakl

    Which of you are supported by Jean Quan?

  5. “Dear Candidate,

    As a long time resident of Deep East Oakland, and as a licensed attorney who works on civil rights issues at a state and national level, and as a proud member of our local East Oakland communities of faith, I only want to know one simple question:

    Will you, Sir or Madam, be coming out to East Oakland to informally meet with our communities here, BEFORE you set the policies that affect us???

    OR, will you come out AFTER the next police shooting, in yet another vain attempt at media damage control?

    From East Oakland, I can tell you that we highly suggest you come out BEFORE the next shooting, and not AFTER the next shooting.

    Most Sincerely,

    Kevin Lee Thomason, Attorney at Law
    Of Counsel to the Calguns Foundation
    Member ABA Subcommittee on 2A Civil Rights Litigation
    Former Elected Director, CRPA
    10 Year PROUD MEMBER of DEEP Our East Oakland Communities”

    As it stands right now, the Foundation that I am of counsel to, is currently suing both OPD, and Alameda County, for civil egregious rights violations. It is precisely because of the historical dysfunction in our city and county, around civil rights, that we have to do this. My concern is that our elected officials will continue to violate our civil rights, hurting all of us, in the process. These violations happen because our elected officials do not take the time to really understand community concerns and needs.

  6. Mike Merriman

    Please list your detailed plans for OPD staffing in the next 1 to 5 years.

  7. Non-Oaklander

    What are your thoughts on instituting an Oakland Police Commission, and if you are for the idea, what would you do to help the process of creating a commission move forward?

  8. Mark B.

    Like Helen Danhakl’s question, I plan to evaluate the endorsements given to the candidates. This will reveal the ideologies that the candidates are supported by or beholden to.

    Needless to say, I will not spend a New York minute on a candidate supported by Jean Quan nor one who praises her as a mayor.

  9. Mike Ferro

    I think a question (or probably questions) should be focused on the Council’s failure to perform as a competent policymaking body. Although some individual Councilmembers can exhibit insight into some aspects of Oakland’s problems, there is a deep failure of the Council as a whole to do due diligence in fostering the kind of rational problem-solving process which is required to help Oakland move forward. Rather than working to incorporate citizen, administration and community group perspectives, what passes for sensible policymaking seems to be last-minute, shortsighted and counterproductive. There is a notable lack of effective leadership, which is obvious and which is replaced by grandstanding and symbolic votes on important decisions rather than on creating practical, useful compromises.

    In particular the Council seems to make a regular practice of ignoring what’s mandated in legislation. I followed this faulty process closely late last year with the “review” of Measure Y performance prior to the reauthorizing of the contracts for agencies providing social services to the city. The Council did not incorporate the work of the officially-authorized Measure Y Oversight Committee; the Council failed to question the poorly-implemented official Measure Y performance review by the consultant RDA; the Council failed to evaluate the performance of Measure Y programs in reducing violence as mandated in the Measure Y legislation. These failures were pointed out to the Council repeatedly by community groups and individuals.

    The recent poor-quality decisionmaking of the Council on incurring more debt for funding PFRS obligations is another case about which MOBN is surely well-aware.

    The core of my concern is that new, idealistic, energetic Councilmembers may well be elected who don’t have a clear idea about the nature of the dysfunctional culture in City Hall and why poor decisions are made repeatedly year after year. MOBN’s questions may help naive prospective Councilmembers to understand this and might help the public sort out which candidates are capable of fostering change and which are not.

  10. don williams

    Oakland is enriching suburban areas with its generous pensions. Few of Oaklands retirees stay in Oakland when they retire . If you live in Oakland you should get the generous pension but, if you go to the suburbs your pension is reduced..Oakland is having its wealth extracted to outer areas….

  11. Theresa Nelson

    As a Councilmember, how will you approach addressing the City’s long-term financial crisis and its structural ineffectiveness? From 1995 – 2005, as Oakland’s population decreased by about 5%, Oakland increased city staffing by 20% and average salaries climbed to be the highest in the USA by 2005, higher than any other city with more than 300,000 people, higher than New York, LA, or San Francisco (data from US Statistical Abstract). With more staff, and those staff being more highly paid, it created an exponential increase in the city’s long-term pension obligations and expenses. Oakland remains in the top 6 in the US in salaries. And during most of this time, the City paid the employee’s contribution to pensions as well as the City’s own payment. These pension obligations squeeze the City’s shrinking General Fund even further. Nearly every year brings another City Council vote to refinance pension obligations and create more long-term debt that the City cannot likely ever pay for, and the City Council seems either unaware of or chooses to ignore the long-term impacts of these decisions. How would you address this issue?

    1. This is the elephant in the room, and the city will NEVER address this. That is why we need to vote every last one of them out, and we need to seek an administrative cleansing of the employment rolls.

  12. Jonathan Klein

    Thanks MOBN for this opportunity. Here are a few questions on public education from the staff at Great Oakland Public Schools ( that we offer for your consideration:

    As a council member, provide specific examples of how you will work with the school district to support the needs of our children, our schools, and our teachers?

    Our children and youth need to feel safe traveling to and from school. As a council member, what will you do to ensure Oakland students have safe routes to school?

    Teachers are the most important influence on students at school. As a council member, what will you do to ensure that Oakland children consistently experience effective teaching?

    Technology has transformed our communications and economy. As a council member, what will you do to ensure Oakland closes the “digital divide” and uses new technology tools to prepare students for life and work in the 21st century?

    Thanks MOBN for pulling this together! We look forward to reading the candidates’ responses.

Leave a Reply to Jim DexterCancel reply