Strategic Policy Partners Returning To Oakland For “Do-Over” of Crime Reduction Plan

Make Oakland Better Now! was getting ready to post Part Three in its series on the SPP/Wasserman report (the first two are here and here.  Then, we learned from this past weekend’s Oakland Tribune that Mr. Wasserman is returning to Oakland to finish the job that was started.  We are pleased to hear this. And in this post, we give our views on what the next steps should be for Mr. Wasserman, for SPP and for the City of Oakland.



Strategic Policy Partners’ Final Report Is Here – Now What? Part 2

The long-awaited Strategic Policy Partners’ report “Addressing Crime In Oakland – Zeroing Out Crime – A Strategy For Total Community Action” has finally been released. While our overall reaction to the report is one of disappointment, we think there may be some positive takeaways. In our first post, here, we summarized some of the report’s recommendations. In this and the next , we will discuss our concerns and suggest next steps for the city.

Violence prevention programs:

When he met with community groups, Mr. Wasserman repeatedly stated that part of his mission was to inventory all city, county and state violence prevention programs providing services to Oakland’s citizens. We supported this because while we believe programs play an important part in violence prevention, we also believe the city needs to be much more careful to ensure that its violence prevention dollars are being spent wisely. To us, inventorying the programs means identifying them, determining how much is being spent on them, assessing their effectiveness as public safety tools and whether they were effective parts of the City’s public safety efforts.



Ending Gun Violence In Oakland – Important Program This Saturday, September 21

Make Oakland Better Now! has become pretty well known  for advocating for more cops;  it is true that we believe the Oakland Police Department is critically understaffed, and the department needs to be grown to at least 925 officers.

But we know that there are other essential violence prevention elements besides a fully staffed police department.  We continue to support a properly run Operation Ceasefire (and we’ll be posting more about this very soon) and we support those programs for which the data proves a positive effect on violence reduction.


Will the Mayor’s Proposed Budget Rebuild Oakland’s Police Department?

On Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church, 114 Montecito, Make Oakland Better Now! will sponsor a public forum, “Can Oakland Afford to Be Safe?,” featuring Chief of Police Howard Jordan, City Administrator Deanna Santana and key staff members to discuss the connection between Oakland’s budget challenges and the need to rebuild the Oakland Police Department. All concerned Oaklanders are urged to attend. Meanwhile, we are beginning our analysis of the mayor’s proposed policy budget and its impact on public safety.

Make Oakland Better Now! is in the process of analyzing the mayor’s proposed policy budget that was released on Wednesday. One element struck us immediately. While this is the first proposed budget to include police academies in years, we question whether those academies will result in the sworn officer increases the mayor has announced. We are concerned that because Oakland needs at least 900 officers, if not more, the goal she posted are being moved and not in the right direction.


Oakland’s Budget Process: Happy Days Are Not Here Again

The Mayor and Administration are expected to release a proposed city budget between April 15 and 20 and present it to council on April 30. After that, the budget will be considered by council at special meetings (all at 6:30 p.m.) on Thursday, May 23, Thursday, June 6 and (for final adoption) Thursday, June 27. This is the second in a series by Make Oakland Better Now! on Oakland’s budget challenges.

Make Oakland Better Now! began analyzing Oakland’s budget in 2009. Soon after that, we publicly stated that our city faced a 2010-11 structural deficit as high as $48 million, including negative fund balances, un-funded liabilities, and deferred capital repairs. We predicted that deficit would climb to $155 million by 2013-14. Before we published this view, we presented it privately with a number of elected officials, whose reactions ranged from surprise to agreement to adamant denial.

Starting last fall, the City Administrator began publishing thoughtful, reasoned reports stating that, considering negative fund balances, un-funded liabilities, deferred capital repairs and other deferred expenditures, the City’s annual structural deficit ranged from $155 million to $159 million over the next five years. This reality check / breath of fresh air is refreshing and encouraging: the first step to solving your problems is accurately identifying them.


Make Oakland Better Now! members help Oaklanders Understand the Issues

Part of Make Oakland Better Now!’s mission is to help Oaklanders understand what all of us  are dealing with when it comes to addressing key issues like public safety, budget reform and responsible approaches to city budgeting.  This includes participating in media events.

In the past month, we have had two opportunities to provide our views on main stream media.  Make Oakland Better Now! board member Jim Blachman recently appeared on radio station KALW with Deputy City Administrator Scott Johnson and Bay Area News Group columnist Dan Borenstein to discuss the challenges for Oakland posed by unfunded pension and other liabilities.

And Make Oakland Better Now! board members Joe Tuman and Bruce Nye recently appeared with Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church of God In Christ on the Oakland Tribune’s web site to discuss the need for more police in Oakland.



Time to Reform the Public Speaker Process at City Council Meetings

Except for the final passage of the four measures in the wee hours of the morning—at about 3:30 a.m.—the January 22 City Council hearing on strengthening the OPD did no service to Oakland.

As is too often the case when the Council hears contentious issues, the arduous process operated as a war of attrition between those speakers able to stay practically until dawn, and those who had to go home on BART before its midnight closing.

Those who attended the meeting or watched it on KTOP, found it difficult to remember that the purpose of Council hearings is to help the Council make the best decisions for the residents of Oakland.  Instead, we were treated to the spectacle of hundreds of speaker-card holders clogging the system with repetitive messages, AND not providing any information to help the decision process. Council’s actions in the past at similar marathon sessions have given the impression to participants that public policy objectives can be achieved by rallying large numbers of vociferous speakers to monopolize the hearing process. This is no way to set policy.



The MOBN! Board endorses Ignacio De La Fuente for the Oakland City Council At-Large. We strongly encourage you to vote for Ignacio as your first choice for City Council At-Large in November.  After careful consideration of all candidates, we based our endorsement upon the following points.

First, for several years Ignacio has shared our view that public safety must be a top priority for Oakland. But more than just talking about public safety, Ignacio has been willing to support and champion a variety of measures to public safety and attempt to reduce violent crime in the city. While he has not always had the support of other soon-to-be retiring members of the council, his leadership on this issue has been instructive of what he might accomplish, given the more influential post that comes with the At-Large seat.



Make Oakland Better Now! is proud and pleased to endorse Lynette McElhaney for City Council District 3.  We urge Oaklanders to join us in working for Lynette and contributing to the success of her campaign.  In reviewing her responses to our questionnaire and observing her presentations at candidate forums, we were impressed by:

  • Her commitment to and understanding of public safety strategies that work.  Nearly all city council candidates express a commitment to Cease Fire, a long-time MOBN! priority.  But as a founding member of the Richmond Ceasefire / Lifelines to Healing strategy Work Group, Lynette has been an integral part of Cease Fire in Richmond, which has experienced a significant reduction in violent crime.  She clearly understands the importance of real, Boston / Cincinnati Cease Fire programs.
  • In a district where it can be hard to advocate for more police, she makes it clear that a fully restored police force must be an essential element of Oakland’s public safety plan.  Lynette is in full agreement with MOBN!’s public safety plan, including agreement that restoring the Oakland Police Department to 900 sworn officers must be our highest priority.
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