In 2012, Make Oakland Better Now! and several other community groups got involved in the process of creating a property tax and parking tax measure to replace Measure Y, which funded violence prevention program and was about to expire. We sought a measure that would fund community policing officers and social services geared toward violence reduction, particularly the then recently re-started Operation Ceasefire program. We helped fund and participate in policy research. We organized community focus groups and other activities to craft a measure that would reduce violent crime and win support. And we actively pursued cooperation with City Council members on drafting the right measure. Continue reading
As the city of Oakland prepares its 2019 – 21 budget, Make Oakland Better Now! has reviewed the documents presented to the City Council. Our summary below will provide background for the budget actions in the months ahead. Clearly, the city is facing significant budget challenges.
In February, the City Council received a budget briefing on the financial realities the city will face in the next two years. Then in March, the five-year fiscal forecast was presented to the Finance and Management Committee. Both of these reports show the city is facing a structural deficit with substantial financial challenges. Here are the highlights:
For many years and several budget cycles, Make Oakland Better Now! has provided Oakland residents with tools to help understand the city budget. We’re proud to continue our analysis, as Oakland’s Mayor, City Administrator, and City Council move toward adoption of the midcycle, 2019-2021, budget.
So far, we’ve seen some budget priorities from individual City Councilmembers including D2 Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas , D3 Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, and D6 Councilmemeber Loren Taylor. The Finance & Management Committee has also been given an updated Five-Year Financial Forecast, which you can read here.
But what do Oaklanders want to see in the new budget? Back in February, a community survey – now required – was presented by FM3 Research, the survey specialists contracting with the city. The full report is available here. It’s quite lengthy, but there are a couple of key points worth highlighting. Continue reading
On February 19, Oakland’s court-appointed Monitor and Compliance Director Robert Warshaw issued an addendum to OPD’s Executive Force Review Board’s report on the police killing of Joshua Pawlik. (The full text of the addendum can be found here; other public documents related to this case can be found here.) In this addendum, Mr. Warshaw is highly critical of the Executive Force Review Board’s conclusions, and of Chief Kirkpatrick, leading some in our community to call for Mr. Warshaw to fire Chief Kirkpatrick.
As Compliance Director, Mr. Warshaw has the right to fire the police chief, but we would not only urge that Mr. Warshaw not fire Chief Kirkpatrick. We would also urge the court to appoint a different Compliance Director. Continue reading
On Tuesday, June 19, Oakland’s City Council will be considering the usual mid-cycle adjustment to Oakland’s budget. The administration’s initial proposal is here. (Its supplemental reports are here and here.) We’ve spent much time evaluating all of the current possibilities, and considering them in light of our priorities: public safety, public works, transparency and accountability, homelessness reduction and budget responsibility. Our recommendations to the Mayor, City Administrator and City Council are shared below: Continue reading
In our previous post, we gave a brief history of the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA). Here, we’ll look at the costs and what can be done to get the Oakland Police Department out from under oversight.
How much does the NSA cost Oakland?
In 2015, Rashidah Grinage, from the Coalition for Police Accountability, filed a Public Records Act request with the City of Oakland, asking for all data on the cost of the Negotiated Settlement Agreement. Paula Hawthorn, who serves on the board of Make Oakland Better Now! and is a member of the Coalition, analyzed that data, and found that from 2003 until the time of the request, the total spent had been about $30,000,000. Continue reading
15 years and over $30 million later, the Oakland Police Department is still under federal oversight.
On January 22, 2003, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California approved the settlement of a lawsuit between the City of Oakland and 119 plaintiffs who alleged that Oakland police offices had beaten, kidnapped and planted drugs on them in the summer of 2000. The plaintiffs, who were represented by attorneys James Chanin and John Burris, received a payout of $11 million, and the City agreed to reforms embodied in the Settlement Agreement, a list of 51 different tasks which OPD must come into compliance with. These tasks includes reforms in areas such internal affairs, supervision of officers, police use of force, and community policing. Continue reading