Tag Archives: Oakland

Meet Guillermo Cespedes, Oakland’s New Chief of Violence Prevention


For several years now, Make Oakland Better Now! has urged elected officials to adopt and implement a comprehensive public safety plan, involving coordinated activities from every city department – from police to parks and recreation and more – playing a role in violent crime prevention.

In 2013 the City’s police consultant, Robert Wasserman, argued for this in a report titled, “Zeroing Out Crime.” Mr. Wasserman wrote, “Every agency must see itself as part of the crime solution and coordinate initiatives.” He urged regular meetings of heads of every department with any responsibility for crime reduction.

While some of Oakland’s elected officials have agreed, they have not been able to coordinate adoption or implementation of such a policy.

A new City leader is taking up the work of making this finally happen, and we are hopeful. In October, three of our board members were pleased to meet with Guillermo Cespedes, the first Chief of Oakland’s new Violence Prevention Department, who assumed that position on September 23. He said at the start of his tenure, “I am honored and very excited to return to Oakland to join professional colleagues, community advocates and elected officials in building a balanced comprehensive violence prevention strategy.” Continue reading

Visit Make Oakland Better Now! at the Art + Soul Festival

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The annual Art + Soul Festival is this Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m. in downtown Oakland. It’s a really exciting weekend featuring local organizations, artists, food and musicians. This year’s lineup includes Fantastic Negrito, Kev Choice, Jennifer Johns, Estelle, West Coast Blues Society, Oaktown Jazz Workshop, and a special tribute to the tragically departed drummer Victor McElhaney. The weekend is a don’t-miss event.

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Make Oakland Better Now! will have a table there all weekend. We’ll be at booth 267 (on Clay Street by City Center). Come visit us! Board members will be there ready to talk to people about our organization’s history, advocacy positions, and future. We’ll have hand-outs telling newcomers about MOBN!

We’ll also be doing some fundraising for the projects we have lined up, so we hope to see you there. If you can’t make it, you can still donate here by clicking the “Donate” button below. Thanks for your support and we’re so excited to celebrate with The Town.


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What’s in the New “Oakland Together” Budget?


(This is a post in our Budget Bits series, following Oakland’s mid-cycle budget policy and process. Read our previous updates: post one, two, three, and four.)

On June 24th, the City Council unanimously adopted its two-year, $3.29 billion budget. (The full budget document can be read here.) The final adoption reflected a combination of the Mayor’s Proposed Budget and augmented by $44.4 million in amendments proposed in the “Oakland Together Proposal,” which was a combination of amendments by numerous council Members. The Mayor’s Proposed Budget included the funding needed to continue many necessary city services and required funding for continuing obligations such as bond payments, retirement and healthcare. The Council amendments added increased services in a number of critical areas. 

Make Oakland Better Now! believes that many of the service issues presented in both the Mayor’s proposed budget and in the adopted budget are critical. However, in the Adopted Budget, the Council took little action to significantly pay down our City’s long-term unfunded liabilities of $2.7 billion nor did it significantly increase the protections in the Rainy-Day Fund. Oakland also has unfunded Capital projects of $2 billion.

We are now in longest positive economic surge since WWII. However, there have been numerous indications that economic conditions may change during the period of this two-year budget. How will Oakland respond? Continue reading

Council President Kaplan’s Budget: Our Response

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Tonight, at a special meeting of the City Council, the Council will receive the recommended amendments to the Mayor’s proposed budget from City Council President Rebecca Kaplan (you can read the budget here).  Oakland’s Finance Department issued its review of President Kaplan’s budget, urging Council to reject the budget calling it “unbalanced” and “illegal with respect to provisions of the City Charter, City ordinances, ballot measures, and State law. ”

(Read recent coverage on the two budgets from The San Francisco Chronicle and the East Bay Times.)

Debate over budget priorities and changes will continue. Make Oakland Better Now! sent a letter to City Council (available here) and urged them to consider the following issues concerning President Kaplan’s proposed budget changes: Continue reading

Oakland’s Proposed Budget: Our Recommendations

(This is a post in our Budget Bits series, following Oakland’s mid-cycle budget policy and process. Read our previous updates here and here.)

The Oakland City Budget is now in the process of being reviewed by the Council. At a special meeting on June 10th, the Council will receive the recommended changes to the proposed Budget from Council President Rebecca Kaplan. It will also receive the recommendations from the Budget Advisory Commission.

Oakland is facing significant budget challenges and pressures. With the long and short term in mind, we reviewed the Mayor’s proposed budget, the priorities and adjustments. Our key findings and recommendations our outlined below.

Police Department

For years, we have recommended and supported major changes to the Police Department. It is important to support Ceasefire, the accountability programs instituted by the Monitor, and the Police Commission. The Proposed Budget does this and we fully support it. The Budget also includes $475,000 for the ShotSpotter program, which we support.

Parks and Street Lights

The Landscape and Lighting District (LLAD) was created 30 years ago to fund lighting and parks, but it did not include an inflation factor. As a result, these services are woefully underfunded. The budget has a one-time, fix which we support. But we strongly recommend the Council take steps to place a measure on the March Primary Ballot (yes, it’s in March) to fix this problem.

Fire Safety 

The Proposed budget adds 11 new positions to the Fire Prevention Bureau – covered by fees – to modernize and augment Fire Inspections, Vegetation Management, and Fire Plan Check reviews, and meet the Bureau’s operational needs to improve public safety outcomes. It also invests $1.1 million in one-time funding each year for Wildfire Prevention (total of $2.2 million) and authorizes $100,000 each year ($200,000 total) for implementation of the City’s Vegetation Management Plan. MOBN! supports this proposal and also recommends the Council consider re-submitting the lapsed tax funding for wildfire services.

Homelessness

The Proposed Budget provides $12 million in grant funding for numerous homeless services, in the second year it adds $3.8 million from the newly established Vacancy Tax, and adds staff for the newly created (by Measure W) Commission on Homelessness. It is also expected these funds will be augmented by new appropriations from the state.

MOBN! supports this budget item and further recommends that the County of Alameda become a more active and cooperative participant in addressing homelessness. We also support the creation of a new position, a person who would oversee all of the services that Oakland provides to the homeless, and who would work with the State and County to coordinate efforts and funding.

Capital Investments

As a result of the passage of Measure KK, which MOBN! strongly supported, the budget contains $110.6 million for transportation related infrastructure, including$75.8 for street paving and $30 million for affordable and transitional housing. This is in addition to $32.68 million authorized in the 2017-19 adopted budget. MOBN! supports these actions.

Fiscal Health

The Budget makes continued progress on financial stability by reducing the use of one-time revenues for ongoing expenses and continues paying down negative fund balances pursuant to Council approved policies. MOBN supports this action.

The Proposed budget also implements the Administration proposed and Council approved plan to create long-term funding for the underfunded Other Public Employee Benefits (OPEB) program, which funds healthcare benefits for retired employees. This is a great first step, but the Administration and Council must continue to review and seek solutions to the ever-increasing pension obligation of PERS. No clear solution has been identified except for the potential revenues Split Role Initiative, which is now scheduled for the 2020 General Election ballot. We will have more on this as the policy develops.

 

We urge all members of MOBN! and interested Oaklanders to weigh in on the 2019-21 Budget! Hearings are scheduled on June 10th, June 18th, and if needed, June 25th. Make sure you’re represented in this process.

Attend The City of Oakland’s Special Meeting on Violence Reduction

Measure Z

On Tuesday, April 30, 6:00 p.m. at City Hall, the Oakland City Council, Safety and Services Oversight Commission, Police Commission and Community Policing Advisory Board will hold the annual meeting required by Measure Z, the public safety parcel tax measure passed by the voters in 2014 that funds police staffing and social services directed at reducing violent crime, and that also established the Safety and Services Oversight Commission (“the SSOC”). We encourage all Oaklanders who are able to do so to attend and participate. Continue reading

Oakland’s Getting Ready For Its First Measure Z Meeting. Here’s What Should Happen

Yes on Measure Z

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