Responses to MOBN!’s District 6 City Council Candidate Questionnaire

Make Oakland Better Now! sent candidate questionnaires concerning the most critical issues facing the City of Oakland to the four District 6 City Council Candidates. We received responses from two of the four candidates, not receiving responses from incumbent City Council member Desley Brooks or candidate James Moore.

Links to the complete responses are here: Shereda Nosakhare, Michael Johnson.

The questionnaire, with links to candidate answers to individual questions, is below.

MOBNgreenlogo

Council Candidate Questionnaire

NOTE: PLEASE LIMIT YOUR ANSWERS TO 250 WORDS EXCEPT WHERE THE QUESTION INDICATES A DIFFERENT WORD LIMIT.

To see candidate responses to questions, click on their name and you will be moved further down this web page to their response. By clicking on the links titled “Go To Top of Page”, you will be redirected to this point in the post.

QUESTION 1. Please state your position on the following November ballot measures along with a brief
(No more than 30 word) statement supporting your position.
● Measure Z: Public Safety (Parcel tax for police, fire and violence prevention programs)
● Measure CC: Public Ethics (Restructuring of Public Ethics Commission and mandatory funding for its staff)
● Measure DD: Redistricting (Citizens’ redistricting commission for City Council
boundaries )

Michael V. Johnson
Shereda Nosakhare

QUESTION 2. MOBN!’s public safety plan calls for increasing Oakland’s police force to 900 sworn officers within four years. To reach this goal, MOBN! advocates that the city should: 1) not layoff any Oakland police officers under any circumstances; 2) schedule, fund, and conduct sufficient police academies each year to increase that number, not simply replace officers who retire or otherwise leave the force; and 3) make increasing the size of the police department its number one priority. Do you agree or disagree?

Michael V. Johnson
Shereda Nosakhare

QUESTION 3. OPD’s difficulty in achieving the authorized sworn staffing level appears to be  exacerbated by high attrition and low morale, as shown by the department’s internal polling (http://tiny.cc/OPDPoliceSurvey) and it’s loss of officers only months after they complete their training.  How should the City solve OPD’s attrition and morale problems?

Michael V. Johnson
Shereda Nosakhare

QUESTION 4. OPD has been under Federal Court supervision for close to twelve years.  While Oaklanders have repeatedly been told that the end is in sight, in late July, Judge Henderson stated that Oakland’s disciplinary processes have violated Court orders, and that continuing the same practices will “undermine any confidence in the sustainability of the reforms that have been and continue to be achieved.” Then, on August 14, the Judge criticized the City’s recent inability to sustain through arbitration an officer termination in connection with response to the Occupy Oakland protests. (Source: http://tiny.cc/ArbOrder.) The Court opined that Oakland could not be in compliance with two NSA tasks if internal investigations were inadequate and “discipline is not consistently imposed.” Many people believe the Monitor has repeatedly imposed requirements on Oakland that far exceed the literal requirements of the NSA, and that as a result of the Monitor’s shifting standards, Oakland may never be able to extricate itself from Court supervision.  As a City Council member, to what extent would you be prepared to oppose continued and changing demands from the Monitor, and what is your plan to end the era of Court supervision?

Michael V. Johnson
Shereda Nosakhare

QUESTION 5. According to the Public Works Department, Oakland is on an 85-year repaving schedule, meaning a street that is repaved today won’t be repaved again for 85 years. Further, according to Public Works, maintaining the existing pavement condition on Oakland’s streets would require an estimated $28 million annually, while the amount allocated annually has been less than $6 million in recent years. Sixty percent of the City’s curb ramps are non-compliant or non-existent. The total needed to rehabilitate Oakland streets is over $435 million. How do you plan to reverse the ongoing deterioration of our streets and sidewalks? If you are elected, when will Oaklanders see a difference?

Michael V. Johnson
Shereda Nosakhare

QUESTION 6. The extent to which the City faces unfunded liabilities and what should be done about them has been a contentious issue in recent years. As recently as last December, the City Administrator projected that for the three fiscal years beginning July 1, 2015, Oakland faces all-funds budget structural shortfalls totaling $795 million if it addresses its deferred capital expenses and deferred liabilities, and $342 million if it does not (Source: December 12, 2013 Update to Five-Year Financial Forecast, Attachment D, http://tiny.cc/5yrupdate.) Do you believe Oakland faces a financial shortfall, and if so, how will you address it if elected in November?

Michael V. Johnson
Shereda Nosakhare

QUESTION 7. Operation Ceasefire has been described as the centerpiece of Oakland’s violent crime reduction effort. We understand that funding for its manager has been dependent on grant funding and that there is an insufficient number of case managers to maximize Ceasefire’s success.   Do you support expanding Operation Ceasefire?  Where specifically do you propose allocating resources and staffing?

Michael V. Johnson
Shereda Nosakhare

QUESTION 8. In 2012-2013, Oakland contracted with Strategic Policy Partners (Robert Wasserman et al.) to present a comprehensive public safety plan.  Strategic Policy Partners made a large number of recommendations, some of which have been implemented and some of which have not. (The reports are here:  http://tiny.cc/SPPReport, http://tiny.cc/Bratton1, http://tiny.cc/SPPBest)  If the voters elect you in November, please state whether you will support implementing the following recommendations (We are looking for a “yes” or “no” answer, with explanatory narrative not exceeding 25 words for each recommendation):

Call for Service Reduction strategy;

Expanded investigation capacity in each of the City’s 5 policing districts, so that each district has an investigative sergeant, 3 investigators, and 3 to 5 police officers.

Increased sworn police personnel to a ratio of 2 officers for every 1,000 in the population (i.e., 800). 

Expansion of the Ceasefire initiative.

Redesign of community policing, so that the entire Police Department, not just PSOs, are focused on community relationship building.

Measurement of the state of community / police relations.

Moving restorative justice practices into the community, to address neighborhood disorder and minor crimes in a manner that brings community into the process and prevents future crime and disorder occurrences.

Appointing a Director of Community Improvement who will be responsible for coordinating collaborative action by city agencies, community groups and state and federal partners, to address both quality of life issues and crime. 

Appointing a team of representatives from the community to work with the Director of Community Improvement, the Police Department and other government agencies to insure community coordination. 

Bringing Security Ambassadors into the crime reduction strategic plan and require advanced training to those who patrol downtown areas, so they are active and have the ability to intervene in minor situations that impact public security.

QUESTION 9. In early 2010, Oakland’s Finance and Management Committee received a presentation from staff and visiting personnel from the City of Baltimore concerning CitiStat, a leadership strategy a mayor can employ to mobilize city agencies to produce specific results.  (More information is at http://tiny.cc/q00ojx ).  CitiStat involves use of a round-the-clock 311 reporting system for any request for city services other than policing. It uses data in a manner similar to ComStat. High level city management uses the 311-generated data and benchmarks and regular meetings to hold departments accountable, judge successes and failure, reveal what agencies are doing and not doing to achieve benchmarks and provide the best possible services to residents.  Explain your familiarity with CitiStat and whether you believe such a program can and should be implemented in Oakland.  If you do not believe it should be implemented in the near future, explain why.  If you think it should, explain what you will do to support implementation.  

Michael V. Johnson
Shereda Nosakhare

QUESTION 10. Oakland has room to improve its policies in the areas of crime reduction, budget processes, street maintenance, and economic maintenance. What cities can Oakland learn from, and adopt or emulate policies from with respect to these subjects? What policies from other cities would benefit Oakland?

Michael V. Johnson
Annie Campbell Washington

11. Do you support the following policies and, briefly, why or why not?

 A. Creation by Charter amendment of a Rainy day fund as recommended by MOBN! and the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC)?

B. Annual polling of city residents on their satisfaction with city services? What would you do with that information?

C. Conducting a police resource deployment study to determine the number of officers actually need by OPD and how they should be deployed?

D. Will you support the preparation of a comprehensive public safety plan?

Michael V. Johnson
Shereda Nosakhare

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Candidate Responses

QUESTION 1

Michael V. Johnson

Measure Z: Public Safety (Parcel tax for police, fire and violence prevention programs)
I support Measure Z. The City of Oakland should do everything it can to reduce gun violence, robberies, and homicides, improve 9-1-1 response times and support at-risk youth/young adults.
Measure XX: Public Ethics (Restructuring of Public Ethics Commission and mandatory funding for its staff)
I whole-heartedly support Measure XX. The Public Ethics Commission should be given greater independence, broader enforcement authority, powers and responsibilities, and staff to enforce compliance with ethics-related laws and requirements.
Measure XX: Redistricting (Redistricting commission for City Council boundaries)
I support the measure to amend the City Charter to transfer authority to redraw the district boundary lines for City Council and OUSD to a 13-member independent redistricting commission.

Shereda Nosakhare

Measure Z: Public Safety (Parcel tax for police, fire and violence prevention programs):

Support. Public Safety is one of my top concerns.

Measure XX: Public Ethics (Restructuring of Public Ethics Commission and mandatory funding for its staff) Support

Measure DD: Redistricting (Redistricting commission for City Council boundaries)

Support: I have worked diligently on this measure for over a year with community partners and community input. This measure takes the decision-making process out of the hands of those that most benefit from the boundaries.

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QUESTION 2

Michael V. Johnson

I AGREE that we need to increase Oakland’s police force to within four years. It is my position that the total number of sworn officers is the wrong number to focus on. The number that we should be focused on is the number of sworn
officers that have been assigned to patrol the streets of Oakland. Here is why I have taken that position.
As of May 31, 2014 sworn staffing level were at historically low levels of only 649 officers. While the budgeted strength of the OPD is 707 as of October 2014, 58 positions remain unfilled. Of the 649 positions that are filled, only 224 officers
have been assigned to patrol the streets of Oakland.
It is my intent to fully implement community policing in the city of Oakland, and to do that you need feet on the street in our neighborhoods in order to make community policing work effectively. So while the total number of officers is an
interesting number to know, that number, is only secondary to the number of officers assigned to patrol our neighborhood. That number should be at least 360 sworn police officers assigned to patrol our streets (which is
136 more officers than we have today). That would bring the total sworn staff level of OPD to 785 officers. That is the minimum staffing level that I believe is necessary on the enforcement side of the public safety equation to help
improve public safety in the City of Oakland

Shereda Nosakhare

Agree; Public Safety is my top property. Families must feel safe in and around their homes. I will ensure that our public safety staffing is restored.

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QUESTION 3

Michael V. Johnson

My proposal to fully staff OPD, involves a three step approach, will reduce attrition, improve morale, and make OPD more cost efficient by reducing overtime costs. It includes:
a) Immediately re-deploying 136 sworn officers from the 425 officers who are not currently assigned to patrols by increasing the Seargent/Lieutenant to Police Officer ratio from 1:4 to 1:13 until new police officers are hired and eliminate mandatory overtime.
b) Implement a “Stick Approach” for new recruits that requires a minimum four (4) year contractual commitment upon successful completion of academy and field training. At a training cost of $100,000, failure to fulfill their commitment, would require repayment of $25,000 for each year the commitment has not been met by the recruit. Repayment would come from the recruit or the hiring police agency that the officer is transferring to prior to being released from their contractual commitment.
c) Implement a “Carrot Approach” for officers that live outside of Oakland and have been with the OPD for a minimum of four (4) years. They would be eligible to participate in a “Work and Live in Oakland” program, and provide them with a 10 year forgivable loan from the City of Oakland to use as a down payment to purchase a home in the City of Oakland. Failure to complete the commitment, would require repayment of $10,000 for each year the commitment has not been unmet by the police officer to stay in the City of Oakland.

Shereda Nosakhare

OPD needs support from the Administration and the Council. We have gone through several Police Chiefs in the last few years because of our lack of trust that the leadership are experts that can do their job.

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QUESTION 4

Michael V. Johnson

As a City Councilmember I would be prepared to encourage OPD to comply fully and completely with bringing itself into compliance with the NSA by completing the final two tasks that remain undone. Internal investigation that are in fact adequate and transparent and discipline that is consistently imposed is the only the OPD will begin to gain the trust of the greater Oakland community. I would also fiercely advocate that Monitor clarifying and clearly articulating what standards need to be meet in order for OPD to comply. Then as a member of City
Council we should collectively hold the Monitor accountable for evaluating OPD’s progress towards compliance based on those standards, allowing no room to waiver or leave it to the subjective interpretation of those standards by the Monitor.

Shereda Nosakhare

It’s about balancing. The City has made a lot of progress, and down to a final few (3 I believe) requirements before compliance. As the City Councilmember I will support Chief Whent who is making progress and who has the support of Warshaw and work towards ending the era of Court supervision.

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QUESTION 5

Michael V. Johnson

The simple answer is to grow the City of Oakland’s general fund revenue. The adopted policy budget for FY 2014-2015 for the general fund was $449,875,422. With more $435 more than needed to rehabilitate Oakland streets and only $6 million dollars annually budgeted for this work, over the next ten years we will be over $375 million behind what is required.
Oakland needs to develop a strategic plan which will grow retail development and as a result to grow our tax base by 10% annually. I would like to see ten (10%) percent, or $4.5 million annually to be set aside for approving our streets. Successfully implemented by 2024 we would have increased the budget by almost $19 million annually and rehabilitated all of Oakland streets in 20 years, in the year 2034. Oaklanders would begin to see a difference in only four (4) years as the budget for street repair would have grown 400% from $6 million
to $24 million annually

Shereda Nosakhare

I support Measure BB as it will bring $8M for Oakland’s arterial streets (plus Bart, AC transit, BRT). This is very important so we can see immediate change with our deteriorating streets. Additionally, we should also look to bonds, as it costs even more to fix streets once they degrade past a certain level. Oakland is 85th out of the 120 or so Bay Area cities- D- grade. We must work diligently to improve this.

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QUESTION 6

Michael V. Johnson

As stated previously, the simple answer is to grow the City of Oakland’s general fund revenue. The adopted policy budget for FY 2014-2015 for the general fund was $449,875,422. Oakland needs to develop a strategic plan which will grow retail development and as a result to grow our tax base by 10% annually.

Shereda Nosakhare

Councilmember Schaaf’s Rainy Day Fund proposal is a great first step, putting away 50% of the ongoing excess real estate transfer tax (RETT), towards unfunded liabilities and capital improvement needs. We are not doing enough to pay for future retirement and medical benefit costs. We need to try and get a handle on escalating medical costs, which drives the increasing OPEB costs, fight harder with providers like Kaiser perhaps. With new Calpers rules we now have to show unfunded liabilities as a real liability, so part of the solution is making more Oaklanders aware of our increasing costs. Our hard working employees deserve their pensions, but we do need to ensure that Oaklanders understand the cost.

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QUESTION 7

Michael V. Johnson

Yes, as an active member of Operation Ceasefire I have seen the results personally. I support expanding and fully funding Operation Ceasefire. I would specifically propose allocating resources and staffing to the Through the Lifelines to Healing campaign.
This program addresses the root causes of violence and crime in Oakland and the cycle of mass incarceration that disproportionately affects the lives of young black and Latino men. Their efforts are focused on creating pathways to prosperity and peace for the communities that are experiencing violence so that families can live safely and thrive.

Shereda Nosakhare

Operation Ceasefire is great, and it is working now that we have both the carrot and the stick approach. OPD suggest that another Crime Reduction Team (CRT) dedicated to CeaseFire would promote efforts. I support flexibility with OPD staffing, and keeping sworn numbers above 700 so we can have necessary officers for CRTs for Ceasefire among other focuses.

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QUESTION 8

Michael V. Johnson

Yes. I support these recommendations, particularly expanding Operation Ceasefire, increasing sworn personal to 2 officers per 1,000 population and the redesign of community policing.

Shereda Nosakhare

Call for Service Reduction strategy; Yes

Expanded investigation capacity in each of the City’s 5 policing districts, so that each district has an investigative sergeant, 3 investigators, and 3 to 5 police officers. Yes

Increased sworn police personnel to a ratio of 2 officers for every 1,000 in the population (i.e., 800). Yes

Expansion of the Ceasefire initiative. Yes

Redesign of community policing, so that the entire Police Department, not just PSOs, are focused on community relationship building. Yes

Measurement of the state of community / police relations. Yes

Moving restorative justice practices into the community, to address neighborhood disorder and minor crimes in a manner that brings community into the process and prevents future crime and disorder occurrences. Yes

Appointing a Director of Community Improvement who will be responsible for coordinating collaborative action by city agencies, community groups and state and federal partners, to address both quality of life issues and crime. Yes

Appointing a team of representatives from the community to work with the Director of Community Improvement, the Police Department and other government agencies to insure community coordination. Yes

Bringing Security Ambassadors into the crime reduction strategic plan and require advanced training to those who patrol downtown areas, so they are active and have the ability to intervene in minor situations that impact public security. Yes

I would support each of these initiatives but it all comes down to having over 700 minimum officers to support these efforts.

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QUESTION 9

Michael V. Johnson

From all that I have read, CitiStat is the non-law enforcement version of CompStat used to hold city department management responsible for providing city services and for managing their departments, and it was formally
proposed to the Oakland City Council in 2010.
Four years later, I believe that now more than ever Oakland is in serious need of a system that will hold department managers both responsible and accountable for providing city services in an efficient, service-oriented and cost effective manner.
I would support its implementation led by our Mayor working directly with our City Administrator. I would emphasize that CitiStat is a strategy to be led by city departments managers to improve their performance by obtaining, tracking and working with performance data, and by demonstrating a commitment to accountability that show directors and managers they either have to get with the program or get out. Semi-Annual review to report outcome would be the extent to which I could see City Council involvement

Shereda Nosakhare

The City has a new CTO Bryan Sastokas – this is in part about empowering him, IT staff, and collaborating with the wealth of talent from Open Oakland, the civic hacker community to build applications and leverage resources in Oakland and the Bay Area. Before achieving this higher level of metrics, we should start by having a modicum of performance measurement for each department based on the chosen metrics of impact. The City has a long way to go, so lets set some achievable milestones with an eye towards a robust 311 system.

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QUESTION 10

Michael V. Johnson

 Richmond, CA – Crime reduction
 Seattle, WA – Budget Processes
 San Jose, CA – Economic Maintenance
 Anaheim, CA – Street maintenance

Shereda Nosakhare

Oakland should look at Philadelphia and its use of private cameras to help fight crime; Richmond, with the way that it hires its Police Officers and focusing on hiring officers from the community and San Francisco with economic development and its planning department and ability to welcome development.

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QUESTION 11

Michael V. Johnson

A. Creation by Charter amendment of a Rainy day fund as recommended by MOBN! and the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC)? Yes. To mitigate short term fluctuations in general fund revenues.
B. Annual polling of city residents on their satisfaction with city services? What would you do with that information? Yes .To improve city services for its residents.
C. Conducting a police resource deployment study to determine the number of officers actually need by OPD and how they should be deployed? Yes. Redeployment of existing OPD resources is a key strategy in my campaign
platform.
D. Will you support the preparation of a comprehensive public safety plan? Yes. We should fully implement community policing in Oakland.

Shereda Nosakhare

 A. Creation by Charter amendment of a Rainy day fund as recommended by MOBN! and the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC)? Yes, as I stated above we must not kick the can down the road and begin to save for the future.

B. Annual polling of city residents on their satisfaction with city services? What would you do with that information? Yes, this would allow the Council to feel the pulse of the residents and adjust were needed.

C. Conducting a police resource deployment study to determine the number of officers actually need by OPD and how they should be deployed? Yes, this will allow us to determine if we are doing this as efficiently as possible to truly serve all residents.

D. Will you support the preparation of a comprehensive public safety plan? Yes, not just to prepare one but I am also committed to carrying it out.

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