Help MOBN! Write Candidate Questionnaires

As we have done for the last two election cycles, Make Oakland Better Now! is getting ready to send candidate questionnaires to all Mayoral and City Council Candidates.  We will try to design questions that the candidates can’t dodge, that require specifics and not vague generalities. And unlike many of the questionnaires business groups, unions and others submit, the responses to ours will all be public.

Our questions will all relate to public safety, public works, the City budget and transparency and accountability. Would you like to help us?  Here’s your chance. Please submit your proposed questions either in the comments to this post or in an e-mail to before the submission deadline of Wednesday, July 23.

We will be submitting questionnaires as the candidates file their nominating petitions, and hope to publish the responses by mid-September. Let’s find out what they say when we ask them the tough questions!

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 11 Comments

  1. Mr. Grumps

    1. Violence reduction:

    What are your specific plans for reducing the homicide rate in Oakland? For decades the Oakland homicide rate has been 20 to 25 homicides annually per 100k population. The overall national homicide rate typically has been 4 to 5 homicides per 100k population. Oakland historically has exceeded the national rate by a factor of approximately 5.

    Tell us specifically how much during your term as mayor you plan to reduce the homicide rate per 100k in Oakland. Exactly how do you propose to accomplish this?

    Describe your plans for transparency about violence reduction–how often you will report to the public and what data you will provide.

    2. Job creation and economic growth:

    What are Oakland’s historical and current economically-deprived minority (non-white, non-Asian) unemployment rates? Describe specifically how many new living-wage jobs Oakland needs to reduce minority unemployment to your specific goal such as 5% unemployment.

    Tell us exactly how many new jobs your efforts will provide within your term as mayor.

    Describe your plans for transparency about job creation and unemployment reduction–how often you will report to the public and what data you will provide.

  2. MikeM

    Police: Please describe in detail how you will increase the number of Oakland police and what metrics we can use to judge your progress. Your plan should address budgets, attrition etc.. thanks!

  3. Mr. Grumps

    3. Leadership, strategic planning and transparency:

    Define exactly what leadership, strategic planning and transparency mean to you.

    Describe the state of leadership, strategic planning and transparency in Oakland government.

    Tell us your specific plans for improving leadership, strategic planning and transparency during your term as mayor.

  4. Mr. Grumps

    4. Always playing catch-up in Oakland:

    Typically Oakland government works in a reactive mode. Instead of setting priorities for the long-term, Oakland government seems to focus on short-term crises.

    For example there is currently concern in Oakland about affordable housing and negative effects of gentrification. Instead of having a successful long-term economic development policy which might have minimized the effects of changes in the regional real estate market, there is public pressure now to “do something “ to catch-up.

    Another example is the layoff of 80 police officers in 2010 in the face of a short-term financial shortfall. Now Oakland is trying to catch-up with additional cops with great difficulty and at great expense.

    If you are elected mayor what specifically would you do to help Oakland create and put-to-work a long-term perspective on our problems?

  5. Charles Pine

    A new, increased Measure Y tax is on the same November ballot. Considering that we do not know yet who the mayor will be, what is your position on how we should vote on Measure Y?

    1. Mr. Grumps

      Not sure who the “you” is in “you,” but I will with misgivings vote for the renew of Measure Y. Despite the huge flaws of the renew, and the lost opportunities to improve many aspects, the $10 million to keep cops at their current, probably critically inadequate, level is definitely needed.

      If we re-elect Quan, or put Schaaf or Kaplan in her place, we’ll be no better off in the future than we are today. If we can elected someone with some ability to plan, some ability to lead, some ability to bring people together, some ability to reduce waste, some interest in transparency, some creative thinking ability, we can’t help but move forward at least a little bit.

      1. Charles Pine

        Mr. G.: “The $10 million to keep cops at their current, probably critically inadequate, level is definitely needed.”

        It amounts to extortion to say, if you don’t renew Y (which the City did not have for most of its history), police staffing must go down. There is absolutely no necessary connection between a parcel tax and the level of police staffing. We paid more starting Jan. 1, 2005, and staffing went down instead of up; we have fewer police today than then. The Y money went elsewhere.

        On the flip side, there is no need to reduce officer staffing if Y expires this year. The money that went elsewhere simply stops flowing to City Hall.

  6. Mr. Grumps

    A last comment: I don’t know much of the detail of Neo-Measure Y, but, based on last night’s Council meeting, it seems the Council has succeeded in its usual pattern of divide-and-conquer and insuring the least political risk for city hall.

    AFAIK Neo-Y throws a bone to those who want to continue to try to increase the number of cops and throws another to those who prefer fewer cops and more social programs. If voters pass Neo-Y the Council has covered its butt for the time being whether or not public safety improves.

    A more strategic approach to Neo-Y for the purpose of actually reducing violence might have been a requirement for the early completion of a comprehensive integrated public safety plan. Something like Ceasefire for Real (CFR). Without a clear crime plan Oakland’s public safety problems can’t get better. Matters will continue to stagger from one crisis to the next without CFR.

    A more strategic Neo-Y might have provided (if possible legally) for incremental increased funding through an advancing parcel tax rate (to an established maximum) provided certain positive violence-reduction outcome objectives were met. This might have provided a positive incentive for electeds to actually accomplish something. Neo-Y in the form proposed by the more-cops-crowd only would have provided, AFAIK, for reduced funding if fewer than 700 cops were hired and maintained.

    Positive reinforcement for human beings, as for animal training, is usually much more effective than negative. But again, we have pretty much a government of flat-liner electeds whose cognitive competence and ability to rise to new opportunities must remain in question.

  7. Mr. Grumps

    Senor P: “It amounts to extortion to say, if you don’t renew Y (which the City did not have for most of its history), police staffing must go down. There is absolutely no necessary connection between a parcel tax and the level of police staffing.”

    In fairness I don’t think any City Council member has actually made an extortionist threat. But the consequences seem clear to most people that under financial duress our electeds think even less clearly than normally and consequently act even more irrationally.

    Rather than looking at the Council and Mayor as criminals, it’s probably much more useful to look at them as being screwups–not too bright, without much real management experience, incapable of the demanding tasks of competent risk management and, for the most part, longtime members of a highly dysfunctional city hall culture.

    This view is useful in that it offers not simply blame, but a potentially-productive choice, which is to vote in some new people who are intelligent and honest.

  8. Slapstick and mischief may be questionable as “family friendly” to some.
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    In this case, the values of only certain comic book issues are increased during a movie’s hype.

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