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.

There was much media coverage of the event by the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, Oakland Local, Youth Radio, KQED NewsEast Bay Citizen  and Oakland North.  And of course, there was plenty of Twitter commentary, which has been “storified” here. The debate began with each candidate asking the same, three-part question:  What is your plan to make Oakland Safe?  How will you implement and pay for your plan?  How will we know when you have succeeded?  This was the only question they were given in advance, and the only one asked uniformly of all nine candidates.  Their responses are transcribed after the jump.

COURTNEY RUBY: Thank you, my name is Courtney Ruby and here’s what I know:  We can’t make Oakland safer until we fix Oakland’s broken government. And to fix Oakland’s broken government we need to address the leadership deficit inside City Hall. Oakland has what it takes to rise to this challenge.  We have a community that is clamoring to get involved in real solutions.  We have a dedicated police force that risks their lives each day.  And we have millions of dollars that have been identified through waste, fraud and abuse that we can apply toward public safety.  I know, because my office did an audit of OPD technology and we found that the city wasted about two million dollars in technology never used or underused. What we don’t have is leadership inside city hall to pull it altogether and make our city safer.  As auditor, I have looked at the hard numbers, not excuses.  I hire professionals and let them do their job.  I lead a risk-based focus that’s based on results, not politics. As mayor, I will lead the fight for public safety every day.  I will hire a police chief – a good police chief – to get the job done, provide them the tools and resources.  I will set benchmarks, so that you the public – as I’ve done as auditor – can measure our progress in real time.  I will use the millions of dollars we will identify to put towards public safety first. And, I want to reach beyond community policing to collaborative policing, which means that law enforcement and the community come together to real partnerships.  And bring this together ___ a strategic plan that we implement. And it’s the mayor’s job to make sure we implement and succeed in making this city safe. Tonight I’m going to ask for your vote that I may make this city safe.  Thank you.

JASON ANDERSON: Hello, my name is Jason Anderson, Green Party candidate, military veteran, and what I see in the city is a lot of dysfunction and a lot of lack of leadership, lack of direction.  I’ve served in the military seven years, and I have a clear understanding of what it takes to understand a large organization. What it takes at the ground level is to talk to people face to face one to one to interact and also on the governmental level.  I’ve been in large organizations and I can see clearly that there is a lack of leadership. The mayor’s job is as a spokesperson and the representation of the city, a person who represents the city completely, not just the hills, but on the flatlands and throughout the city.  It’s not just about meeting with the same group and making ;the same deals, but actually providing deals for people who don’t have the same opportunity, to allow them to reach from the ground level to East Oakland to possibly have a house in the hills. So it is imperative that the leadership of the city is addressed.  As you can see by the lack of a police chief or interim police hief now an interim city administrator, that means that the top level is not somebody that you would want to follow as a leader.  And I believe that with proper leadership and a clear plan on how to hire the chief of police and the city administrator, which is a tough job. I mean, I have to say that the city is in very much trouble right now.  And I think everybody understands that.  If you don’t have a clear chief of police and you don‘t have a city administrator, those are the two most important jobs, and right now we are failing at government. And I think that with new fresh leadership, and a fresh face and a person that understands government from the military level, would actually bring what the city needs.  Thank you.

JOE TUMAN: I prefer to stand if you don’t mind.  Good evening, my name is Joe Tuman, and I’m also running for mayor. The first part of the question asks, “what is safety to me, and how will I make the city safe?”  My direct answer to this question is to suggest that we need both a short term and a long term approach to solving crime. The short-term part of this involves staffing numbers for the police. In my administration the goal will be to take an additional 300 officers net of attrition during and bring our force up over 900 police officers. I say this not because we arrest our way to a solution , but simply because you can’t project a visible police force, you can’t discourage bad choices and encourage good choices. I’m also about investing in social programs that are held to a metric of the outcome that I’m looking for.  So if I invest in programs to reduce violence then the way I evaluate those programs is to see if they actually reduce violence. And I would do that on a yearly basis not every three years the way we do it now. Now the next question about this is the long-term solution. In order to solve the systemic causes of crime you have to address poverty. So part of my answer tonight to is to talk about, if you ask me follow-up questions, education housing and jobs production, and  I have answers on that. How do I pay for that is the next part of this question and very quickly I’ll tell you it’s through a blend of existing tax bases that we have that we’re not leveraging right now. They include retail taxes, sales tax in other words hotel taxes, the room rate taxthat we have, and also the attraction of new businesses to create business license taxes.  I want to grow revenue. The other way that you pay for this at least on the police side is to continue to contain the cost of policing by continuing civilianization of existing jobs that can be civilianized  and going to third tier hires for new cadets if necessary. The last part of the question was how we know when it works, how will you know when you’re safe? And the answer to that is not looking at data at year-over-year just for homicide but to look at several years’ worth of data across all crime categories to show meaningful reductions. You’ll know it’s safe then. You’ll also know You’ll also know it’s safe when we don’t have to have a public forum that only talks about crime  You’ll know it’s safe when we don’t have neighborhoods any more that are hiring private security to the job of police. You’ll know it’s safe when people in the poorest parts of our community have jobs and don’t see crime as an alternative. We are so far away from that norm right now that we need to change the way things are.  That’s the Oakland I plan to get us to, a city that’s safe.  Thank you.

BRYAN PARKER: Ladies and gentleman, I don’t think we’re asking the right questions. Yes policy and plans matter. But leadership and the ability to execute matter more. I will return to my plan how I’ll fund it and how you’ll measure me but I’m going to use my time to reframe this discussion around leadership and execution.  If I look upset or saddened it’s because I am. Our city is in crisis. City Hall is broken. We’ve now gone through four police chiefs and three administrators in three years. We celebrate the city as safe, but 100 people still lost their lives here last year. As a brother of murdered sister I will tell you that’s no reason to jump for joy. City Hall says that we don’t have the money or they can’t find it to invest in proper safety resources or education.  But the money is there.  We just don’t look for it or spend it wisely.  Let’s take the $9.1 million that was wasted last month alone.  Money that could have been captured with better leadership. Money that could have funded 30 to 40 officers. If you look at $4.5 million settlement that was spent on Occupy Oakland, and another $3.5 million on a pothole settlement, and $1 million to a consultant, this is money wasted. While our city leaders waste precious resources our city becomes more unsafe by the day. Our houses are being robbed and our children are dying. Even odds, that’s what the San Francisco Chronicle called the odds for an African-American in this city by the time they’re 18 to either graduate OUSD high school or be shot. Each time as an African-American I’m in a room with another African-American male friend I have to step back and say that if I had grown up in this system, one of us would not be there. Even odds are not the kind of odds I want for this city. Even odds we can do better and we must do better. Capable leadership is how we get to a safe city. And that’s what I’ll offer as mayor.  I look forward to coming back and talking about the plans, the funding and how you’ll measure me.

LIBBY SCHAAF: Good Evening.  My name is Libby Schaaf.  I was born and raised in Oakland, graduated from Skyline High School and am the proud mother of two young children who are attending the same Oakland pubic school I attended as a child. I started my career as an attorney but left that to start a centralized volunteer program for the Oakland Public Schools.  I have served as the chief of staff to the president of the City Council, as  special assistant to Mayor Jerry Brown where I was proud to be his point person on violence prevention, as the director of public affairs for the Port of Oakland and currently serve in a council member here in Oakland. As mayor, I will rebuild our police department, and connect it with community while addressing the root causes of crime.  I’ll increase the number of police and particularly civilian employees.  I’ll fix our 911 system so that Oaklanders can know that a cop will come when you call.  I’ll make better use of data and intelligence to stop crime before it happens.  And I’ll expand successful violence prevention programs like Cease Fire.  Finally, I will heal the relationship between the police and our residents, while instituting authentic community policing. And we can’t have a serious conversation about crime in the city without talking about root causes.  We need every child in Oakland to graduate from school with the hope and the skills that they will need to succeed.  As mayor, I will focus on reducing our shameful dropout rate and chronic absenteeism.  I will work to forge pathways for our graduates from school to jobs. And I’ll work to bring jobs for Oakland’s families and make sure that our workers have a decent minimum wage. I’ll fund this plan with revenues from economic growth continuing Measure Y revenues, expanding partnerships and implementing major cost savings.  I am a proud Oaklander. And I reject that crime is some sort of urban tax that you have to pay for living in Oakland.

DAN SIEGEL: Hello everyone my name is Dan Siegel. I’m really happy to see you all. I want to thank MGO and Make Oakland Better Now. I want to thank all the excellent candidates for mayor for being here. I’d like to thank our hosts. We need a comprehensive plan to address crime. We can’t be doing what hasn’t worked. We can’t just be continuing what’s called the school to prison pipeline. Very  briefly I have a three-point plan. First of all, it speaks to de-centralizing and reorganizing the Police Department. Let’s put 540 officers on the street in 60 beats to really focus on violent crime to find out is committing the crime and to arrest them. Secondly we need a Police Department that serves all people.  For 200 years experts on policing have said that police can be effective only when all people view the police as treating them fairly. We need to not only end the negotiated settlement agreement, we need to end the millions of dollars spent on police abuse cases by simply stopping police abuse. And third, long term because the only thing that’s really going to work in Oakland is dealing with the conditions that cause crime everyone who wants the job should have a job. Every child should have a decent education. We need all sorts of programs because otherwise we’re just going to continue the situation where the prison population has tripled in the last 30 years and we still feel unsafe. I had experience working with police departments. I reorganized the School District Police Department. I reorganized the Housing Authority Police Department, both successfully. I wrote with Wilson Riles the community policing ordinance which I will implement as mayor, and I lead the San Francisco Police Department to satisfy the terms of its consent decree and bring women and people of color into that department.

NANCY SIDEBOTHAM: Good evening.  My name is Nancy Sidebotham and I’m running for mayor because I’m angry. I’m fed up.  I want change. I want to see leadership in Oakland that is going to bring change and make the citizens of Oakland proud of the city they live in. I don’t want to hear anybody else telling me I’m going to move out of Oakland because it’s safer somewhere else. This is something that is has got to stop. Crime in Oakland is not the main issue. Public safety is not the main issue. Quality of life is the main issue. And for that to be handled and dealt with, we need to start looking at what Oakland is made up of, how Oakland has been for the last 45 years, so that we know what the future can look like. We have been a welfare city all this time. We have been handed handouts from the  federal government and the State, and we’ve relied on that.  And we need to change that. We cannot continue to build low-income housing in Oakland and expect Oakland to change. We need to bring jobs to bring jobs to Oakland. You cannot bring jobs to Oakland because jobs are not in America anymore. So when you are talking about how you want to bring change and these kids that have no hope that are going around shooting each other because they have nothing else to do or walking on the freeway and committing suicide because they have no future, and they’ll tell you that they have no future.  And they leave notes behind saying that they have no future. We need to bring change to the city.  We have had no leadership in Oakland for the last 4 years.  And even beyond that.  We have had a machine politic, organization running this city for the last 35 years, and that needs to change, and you need to get angry.  You need to start asking yourselves “what are we as citizens going to do to make change?”

JEAN QUAN: Good evening.  I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother and I raised my family in Oakland and I want you to know that every violent crime in this city is unacceptable and it’s personal to me. When I became mayor, we were at the bottom of the recession, we had the lowest funding for police officers, the state prisons were putting thousands of young men on our streets without support, without education, and we had to move to rebuild the Police Department. We started by negotiating with the police union to get them to pay for  the first time in history into their pensions so I could recall 60 officers. We invested most of the economic growth of the last three years into four police academies,  and tomorrow 47, the largest class that we can remember 47 new officers will land on the streets of Oakland. We’ve hired civilians to get officers from behind desks. We’ve reorganized the city into five areas under five captains who are energetic and who are responsible for the neighborhoods they represent. Our department is beginning to change. In the last four   academies, more than half of the candidates have been minorities or people of color. More women have been hired and almost half in each class speak a secon language. We were able to get federal help, with marshals in Washington, and they have helped us take guns of the street and break up some of the most violent gangs. We’ve been able to implement cease-fire which has been able to target on the most violent criminals. And so, as a result of that, crime is trending down. It may not be enough but it’s a beginning.  More importantly, we’re beginning to work with our community and begin to work in relationship whether it’s walking every Friday night, and I invite you to join us, for our neighbors or our churches, or working directly with the federal monitor. I’ll talk about jobs later.

PATRICK MCCULLOUGH: Hi, I am Pat McCullough, and one of the things I want to do is bring everybody into a feeling that they are going to succeed, that they are going to be safe and that they are going to be good neighbors to the people around them. This is part of the mayor’s job is to let everybody in the city know that they’re a part of it, and that their input is important. Now we’ve got a lot of youth out in the city throughout Oakland, East Oakland, West Oakland, North Oakland who really don’t have any hope. And the problem isn’t that the schools are not giving them hope, that the jobs aren’t there for them. The problem is that they were never taught by their parents and this is not being reinforced by the administration of the government that they have to behave a certain way towards each other and that’s one thing that I know I can do because I grew up poor. I grew up, I used to live in some of the projects for many years. I’ve also lived in some very wealthy communities for many years.  So I understand why people in the hills realize that, we can’t wait for change to happen in the flatlands in order to make ourselves safe, we have to do something. Hiring private police to make ourselves safe. What I want to do is to let them know and let the people don’t have the money to pay for private security know that it’s all our problem.  And that we will redirect the Police Department to not spend so much time dealing with internal affairs issues and protests because the rest of the citizens in the city are going to take up part of that slack. We aren’t going to tolerate riots downtown. We aren’t going to tolerate people observing crime and not reporting it to the police when it’s necessary to get somebody arrested. Everybody has to be a part of this, and it is going to take somebody like me who knows what it’s like on both sides of this issue. So I’m going to have to do some things that people probably haven’t wanted to before. One of these is to go and ask for some parcel tax or other tax revenue to pay for additional police. So, that’s it for now, talk to you later.

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.

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