Category Archives: Uncategorized

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


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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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, or submit your questions at the event.

Safe Oakland Speaker Series


Screenshot 2014-06-03 at 7.23.08 AM


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



Ten Strategies to Make Oakland Better: (3) Contract for a Resource Allocation Study for OPD

Ten Strategies to Make Oakland Better

Strategy Three: Contract for a Resource Allocation Study for the Oakland Police Department

Make Oakland Better Now! was established to advocate for public safety, public works, government transparency, accountability and budget Reform. Often, however, we are recognized simply as advocates for increasing the size of the Police Department. While we stand by our position that Oakland desperately needs 925 sworn officers, much more is needed to make Oakland the city its residents want and deserve. This is the third installment in our ten part series on steps Oakland can and should take to make this a better, safer and more sustainable city. For our third strategy, we urge the city to take the steps necessary to make a fact-based determination of how many police officers the city needs.

Many Oaklanders believe the Oakland Police Department is understaffed. A May 7 Survey USA Poll sponsored by KPIX-TV shows 77% agreeing that the City of Oakland has “not enough officers.” Mayor Quan and her election challengers Bryan Parker, Courtney Ruby, Joe Tuman, Libby Schaaf and Dan Siegel have all advocated for increasing the size of the police department, proposing goals of anywhere from 700 to 925 sworn officers. Meanwhile, OPD recently reported sworn staffing of 652, thirty-seven fewer officers than the city employed in July, 2010 after laying off 80 officers!

Continue reading

Public Safety Mayoral Candidate Debate Protocol

Make Oakland Better Now! and MGO are expecting more than 200 people at the mayoral candidate public safety debate on Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at Temple Sinai. See the original announcement here, and RSVP here. We have notified all of the participating candidates of the protocol and ground rules, and here is what we have told them:


Dear Mayoral Candidates:

Thanks to all of you for agreeing to participate in the MGO / MOBN! Mayoral Candidate Public Safety Debate, which as we have advised, will take place on Thursday, April 3 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Temple Sinai. We look forward to the contributions each of you make toward the public dialog about what it takes to make Oakland safer.

Our debate committee, journalist panelists and moderator have met, and agreed on the following protocol and ground rules:

Continue reading

Save the Date! MOBN Sponsored Mayoral Debate on 4/3/14


Plaintiffs’ Counsel From the NSA Responds To MOBN Post

Last month, Make Oakland Better Now! published board member Paula Hawthorn’s analysis of the latest report by monitor Robert Warshaw, observing that Warshaw continued to find Oakland and its police department out of compliance with the NSA for acts and omissions not covered by the Court’s order.  As one example, Ms. Hawthorn observed that the monitor was citing officers’ failure to activate their video cameras, cameras that didn’t exist when the NSA was issued by the Federal Court.
Attorney Jim Chanin, who with John Burris represents the plaintiffs, requested an opportunity to respond, and we agreed.  His views follow:


Continue reading

The Negotiated Settlement Agreement, Two Years And Millions Of Dollars Later

MOBN! Board member Paula Hawthorn checks in with her review of the latest Monitor’s report.

Two years ago I wrote this about the Negotiated Settlement Agreement:

I have reviewed the fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth (current) Quarterly Reports of the Independent Monitor. … In the four reports that I reviewed, there were six tasks that OPD is always in “partial compliance”: tasks 5, 20, 24, 34, 41 and 45. They were in partial compliance, I maintain that they will remain in partial compliance in future reports, and thus OPD will end up in receivership.

In fact, we did wind up in “receivership light” with a Compliance Director (in addition to the Independent Monitor assigned to monitor the NSA) who is tasked with bringing OPD into compliance with the NSA. The Monitor is Robert S. Warshaw, the Compliance Director Thomas C. Frazier. Frazier gets an annual salary of $270,000 and Warshaw has a two year, $1.78 million contract.  As our Compliance Director, Frazier directs that money be spent to bring OPD into compliance with the NSA. Frazier’s Remedial Action Plan Budget Addendum calls for $3,605,000 to be spent on the police department itself.. So the combined cost of the NSA monitor & compliance director for the last year is $1,160.000 plus Frazier’s $3.65M in ordered City spending.

And what do we have to show for this? How closer is OPD to being in compliance with the NSA after this amount of time & money? Surprise! No Closer!

Continue reading