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Why MOBN! Supports Measure Z (II)

Part Two: Why MOBN! Supports Measure Z

This is the second in a series of posts on Measure Z, which is on Oakland’s November ballot and which we support. Last time we talked about why police matter. This time we talk about Measure Z’s minimum staffing requirement.

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Measure Z Has A Real, “Boots on the Ground” Police Staffing Requirement

Measure Y, passed ten years ago, required that the City budget for at least 803 police as a condition to collecting the taxes, but had no requirement that any particular number be actually hired. So the City budgeted for 803, but only actually hired that number for a brief period in 2009. Then, the City stopped hiring police and then laid off 80 officers. This reduced the number of police into the mid-600’s. After that, the voters passed Measure BB, eliminating the threshold altogether.

Although it’s a lower number than 803, Measure Z reinstates a hiring threshold, requiring the City to immediately budget for at least 678 police, and hire and maintain that number as soon as practicable (and no later than mid-2016). Here is what it says:

Upon passage of this Ordinance, the City shall maintain a budgeted level of no fewer than six hundred seventy eight (678) sworn police personnel (including those sworn police personnel funded by this Ordinance) at all times, and shall hire and maintain no fewer than 678 sworn police personnel as early as practicable after the passage of this Ordinance and at all times after July 1, 2016.

Further, “The City shall be prohibited from collecting the taxes provided for in this Ordinance at any time that” it fails to meet these requirements, with certain limited exceptions.

Furthermore, as the City Auditor has observed, to maintain a floor of 678 police, the City has to budget for at least 700 officers, and probably more. As the number of officers fluctuates up and down, the number will often be more than 700. And while there are a few exceptions to the requirement, we are convinced those exceptions will be very hard – and in some instances impossible — to establish.

Is 678 police – or 700 – enough? Of course not. MOBN! has long taken the position that Oakland needs at least 900 police, and a resource allocation study to show how many we need and how they should be assigned. But getting to that number will have to be for another day. Meanwhile, a reduction of 52 to 59 officers resulting from defeat of Measure Z will surely make things worse – likely reducing police staffing to a number below 600. Oakland voters should not make things worse.

Make Oakland Better Now! Supports Measure Z– a Public Safety Measure with No Tax Increase (I)

MAKE OAKLAND BETTER NOW! SUPPORTS MEASURE Z – A PUBLIC SAFETY MEASURE WITH NO TAX INCREASE

HERE ARE THE REASONS WHY

The most important local measure on this November’s ballot is Measure Z, “The 2014 Oakland Public Safety and Services Violence Prevention Act.” We are convinced that Measure Z fixes many of the problems with Measure Y, results in no new taxes, and will have a positive impact on public safety in Oakland. The measure will fund Oakland police officers who will focus on reducing shootings, violent crime, robberies, and homicides and increase support for the Ceasefire model and community policing in every neighborhood in Oakland. It will support proven community programs that support our at-risk youth and reduce crime, with an enhanced level of oversight and accountability. Accordingly, we urge Oaklanders to vote for Measure Z, and encourage them to attend the campaign kickoff this Saturday, September 13 at 10:00 a.m. at the Archway at Lake Merritt (On El Embarcadero between Lakeshore and Grand).

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Over the next week, MOBN! will publish five posts on this critical subject. In the first three posts, we will explain why we support this measure. Then, we will publish a chart comparing Measure Y and Measure Z and showing the multiple areas in which Measure

Z improves on its predecessor. Finally, we will discuss a series of myths and misconceptions about Measure Y and Measure Z and show why those myths are wrong. To start, here is why we are supporting this measure:

Part One: Why MOBN! Supports Measure Z

Policing makes a difference: For more than five years, MOBN! has studied what does and does not have an impact on violent crime in cities. We know from the experiences in Los Angeles and New York that a felt police presence reduces violent crime. We know from the studies described by McCabe that communities reduce crime and improve police / community relations when police have sufficient staffing so that no more than 60% of officer patrol time is spent responding to calls, with the rest devoted to community problem solving.

Oakland has one of the highest per-capita rates of police calls for service in the United States. Officers have almost no time to do anything but respond to those calls, and many calls get responses days after they come in, if there is a response at all. So there certainly is not the amount of time for problem solving that allows every officer to be a problem solving officer. And while the experience of one city does not amount to a statistically valid analysis, we also know what happened when Oakland reduced its number of sworn officers: crime skyrocketed.

Local and national commentators with an ideological bent in opposition to the entire concept of police generally point to one study when they argue there is no relationship between police staffing and crime reduction: the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment more than 40 years ago. We will comment on that study some other time, but for now, it should suffice to say that the lead author of that study has stated repeatedly that his Kansas City study means no such thing.

The other argument we hear is that police are too expensive, their overtime is too high, or they take too high a proportion of the city budget. But there is no major difference between police salaries in Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose or BART, and part of the OPD’s attrition problem is that other departments are hiring away Oakland’s officers; those facts and a basic understanding of how labor markets work suggest to us that there is nothing off the charts about Oakland’s police salary scale. And the solution to excessive overtime costs is to employ enough officers to eliminate the need for overtime.

Our estimate is that the police share of the Measure Z proceeds will be just short of $13 million dollars per year, which will fund between 52 and 59 police officers. We’ve spent enough time reviewing the city’s budget that we know that this money will not be there for police if the measure fails. And a further loss of officers in Oakland will be devastating to public safety.

Make Oakland Better Now! Asks The Candidates: “What Will You Do If You Are Elected?”

Thanks so much to all the Oaklanders who contributed their thoughts about questions to ask Oakland’s mayoral candidates.  Your ideas came in as blog comments, as e-mails and as Facebook posts, and they were great.

We couldn’t use every question, but we used many of them, and we tried to cover every subject you suggested.  The field of candidates is now set.  We’ve sent a questionnaire to all of the 15 Mayoral candidates and another to all of the 12 City Council candidates.  Unlike most of the questionnaires candidates fill out, our questionnaires and the responses are public.  We want the public, and the press, to know what the candidates say now on the issues that matter most to Oakland.

Here is our Mayoral candidate questionnaire:


And here’s the questionnaire we sent to City Council candidates:

 

We’ve asked all candidates to respond by Thursday, September 11, and we’ll get the responses published as quickly as we can once we receive them.  So stay tuned.
(Post title corrected August 26.)

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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Oakland’s Annual Budget Deliberations Start – Can Oakland Finally Establish A Rainy Day Fund?

In 1996, Oakland established financial policies intended to bring sound financial practices to the City’s budgeting process.  Specifically, the policies required the City to maintain a reserve against disasters of 7.5% of the general purpose fund.  The policies also were designed to avoid the spending of one-time revenues on recurring expenses.  Why?  Because ongoing expenses are just that – ongoing. When they come due again the next year, one-time revenue won’t be there to pay for them anymore.  For this reason, Oakland’s financial policy since 1996 has limited the City’s ability to spend one-time revenues on recurring expenses without declaring a fiscal emergency.

In particular, the policy has limited the City’s ability to spend more than $40 million in Real Estate Transfer Tax (“RETT”) revenue for ongoing expenses.  This policy recognizes that the excess RETT – a percentage tax on real estate sales – is one of the most volatile and undependable revenue sources, and should be treated as one-time revenue.  Instead, under the policy, excess RETT was to be devoted to increasing reserves, paying pension obligations and repaying negative fund balances.

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District 2 City Council Debate on June 4th, 7pm.

We have more than a mayor’s race in Oakland this November. City Council District 2, 4 and 6 seats are also up for election, and the District 2 seat is vacant with Council President Kernighan’s pending retirement.

This Wednesday, June 4 at 7:00 p.m., Grand Lake Neighbors and Lakeshore Avenue Baptist church are sponsoring a District 2 City Council Candidate Forum with candidates Kevin Blackburn, Abel Guillen, Dana King, Sokhom Mao and Andrew Park. Location: Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Avenue.

You will have the opportunity to hear the candidates discuss the issues and answer your questions. Submit your questions in advance via email to forum@grandlakeneighbors.org, or submit your questions at the event.

Safe Oakland Speaker Series

 

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Only 6 Days Until Part I of the SafeOakland Speaker Series featuring Connie Rice of L.A.’s Advancement Project.

Sunday, June 08, 4p-6p @ Impact Hub Oakland – 2323 Broadway @23rd St.

Please help spread the word – the venue can fit 250 people, want to pack the house! Come and bring a friend or few!

Please pass on to your contacts this flyer with the information