Bruce Nye: Oakland’s City Budget: We have questions. Does Oakland have answers?

Tonight at 5:30 at City Hall, again on May 26, and at additional meetings in June, Oakland’s City Council will be considering one or more of the three budget proposals submitted on April 29 by Mayor Jean Quan. Mayor Quan has named the three budget proposals Scenario A (the “All Cuts Budget”) Scenario B (“Cuts & Employee Contributions”) and Scenario C (Cuts, Employee Contributions& New Revenue”).

Make Oakland Better Now! (MOBN!) has combed through these documents, and still has many unanswered questions. The answers may be available, but as far as we can tell, they don’t appear in the budget documents. In the coming days, MOBN! will raise some of these questions and try to explain why the answers matter. Future posts will appear at MOBN!’s blog, Oaktalk.

How Did The Mayor Set Priorities in the Three Scenarios?

Part One

Whether written in a strong economy or in hard economic times, all budgets show priorities. MOBN! strongly favors the Budgeting for Outcomes means of budgeting described in David Osborne’s The Price of Government. Under this model, a city determines the most cost-effective and efficient way to provide desired levels of each potential service, prioritizes those services and allocates sufficient funding to each of the services in order of priority until all resources are exhausted.

This is the complete opposite of how Oakland and most other cities budget. Instead, the usual process is to take last year’s numbers, determine how they should be adjusted for changed circumstances (e.g., contractually required cost of living adjustments, known price changes, losses of funding sources, etc.) and then make cuts until expenses match revenues. The result is often a budget that waters down all city services and trains citizens to continually lower their expectations about city government.

Unfortunately, the Budgeting for Outcomes approach takes approximately a year to execute and we are far too close to the start of the 2011-12 fiscal year to consider it. So, if we must have the Death by a Thousand Cuts method of budgeting, those cuts must be made in a way that consistently and coherently tracks city priorities.

The mayor’s budget documents and transmittal letters send decidedly mixed messages about the City’s priorities. The Mayor/Council Priorities at the beginning of each scenario (which is identical to the list submitted with the 2009-11 budget) tells us that everything is a priority: public safety, sustainable and healthy environment, economic development, community involvement and empowerment, public-private partnerships and government solvency and transparency.

Some of the detail shows us that this is more of a wish list than a realistic set of priorities. For example, the detail for public safety–in a city that has seen its sworn police staffing drop by about 150 officers in the past two years–urges “an adequate and uncompromised level of public safety services to Oakland residents and businesses. . . .” And one of the sustainable and healthy environment bullet points is “Infrastructure: Provide clean, well-maintained and accessible streets, sidewalks, facilities, amenities, parks, recreational facilities and trees.” This language precedes a budget that eliminates tree trimmers, and anticipates very little street repair. Acting City Administrator Lamont Ewell estimates a capital improvement need of $1.6 billion.

Mr. Ewell identifies seven Budget Balancing Principles, two of which reflect at least some prioritization:

  • Principle 2: Give highest priority to protecting the most essential City services. (Although he does not commit to what the most essential city services are); and
  • Principle 4: Minimize the negative impact on Oakland residents, businesses and employees.

Mayor Quan identifies her overall approach to budgeting as “an attempt to be fair to all groups while trying to reduce the impact on our most vulnerable citizens, especially low income seniors and youth”. This begs another question: Is being fair to all groups a budgeting priority for Oaklanders?

Perhaps a better way to identify the city’s priorities is to look at how it actually spends its money and where it makes its cuts. Interpreting the three scenarios for this purpose; however, presents several challenges. MOBN! will dig deeper, and look at those challenges, in our next post, at www.Oaktalk.com.

133 thoughts on “Bruce Nye: Oakland’s City Budget: We have questions. Does Oakland have answers?

  1. MarleenLee

    Apparently the City’s main priority is paying off debt. According to my calculations, property owners are currently paying $1500 a year just to service debt. Translated into revenue, this is $205 million annually – enough to pay for an entire police force of 1200 officers! For my analysis of the budget, check out my blog.

  2. Ken O

    Thanks Marleen. Yes, we are committed to paying the big fraudster banks (JPMorganChaseWAMU, Bank of America-Countrywide-MerrillLynch, Wells FargoWachovia-mexican drug money launderers) before anything else. As the old Everett & Jones banner said before they removed it “Bail us out.” Monkey see monkey do.

    What became of John Russo’s lawsuit against these parasitic thieving banks a few years back. Just a PR wrist-slap, or did it meaningfully help Oakland’s credit card borrowing binge by lowering our rates? (big banks were colluding to raise Oakland’s bond borrowing rates) …

    http://www.oaklandcityattorney.org/PDFS/News%20Release/Antitrust%20Lawsuit%20Press%20Release%204.23.08.pdf

    http://www.lieffcabraser.com/media.php?NewsID=135

    I agree with a comment from this post

    http://www.abetteroakland.com/having-a-say-in-the-city-budget/2009-04-10

    that the city should do away with timecards for professionals. It’s a dinosaur, one that City of San Francisco has too (I’ve worked there so I know).

  3. Brook V

    As a board member of The Friends of the Oakland Library, I was obviously horrified by the mayor’s all cuts budget because it would eliminate all but 4 library branches (while closing 13 and several other resource centers). The library’s budget is being cut 85%! She would take it below the Measure Q threshold, so the taxes the Oakland residents voted to collect on themselves in 2004 would not even be collected! Considering that library use has gone up considerably during these tough economic times (many people use the computers daily to look for and apply for jobs) and that sending their children and teens to the library is the only safe option for some parents, I don’t see who the priority is here – certainly not people looking for jobs or youth looking for a safe place the hang out and (hopefully) learn.

    To see the official statement from the Friends of the Oakland Public Library, please go to:

    http://www.thebookmarkbookstore.org/

    Thank you.

  4. ralph

    Brook,
    I am just guessing here but Budget A was never intended to pass. Just remember Oakland is CA’s 2nd most literate city (or so I’ve read). And we all know the stats on reading at grade level at G3 and drop-out and crime. Trust me libraries aren’t going anywhere. What I do suggest is figuring out which services should be preserved if the revenue measure does not pass.

    And to the library worker who was in awe on the Oakland African-American library, we are not the only city with such a library. Denver and NYC are two cities that easily come to mind. And you can find one in at least one Florida city, too.

  5. Oakie

    Using the “Budgeting for Outcomes” model to evaluate based on measuring effectiveness makes the City of Oakland a Bizarro World. I have watched for 30 years as the city’s political center insist that their dogma be satisfied, no matter that their pet projects produce no good results at all.

    The problem is that we have a democracy. And the voters here have elected exactly who delivers what they want. And that will not stand up well to any measure of effectiveness.

    Has anyone measured the effectiveness of “Youth Outreach” programs which have been sold to the electorate as the best method to reduce crime? Well, Jean Quan is still pushing this stuff. Even in the current budget. And she was elected fair and square by the voters of Oakland. Ditto for the council.

  6. Max Allstadt

    We have very little transparency, fix that, and democracy improves because the press will have much easier access to see just how poorly our government is operating.

  7. Oakie

    RE Naomi #6: Do you have any suggestions? Democracy depends upon voters with common sense. What do you do when the voters are idiots? And continue to be for at least 30 years.

    Today’s SFGate Chip Johnson article quotes Reygan Harmon, Quan’s senior policy adviser on public safety: “And because the issue of crime has always been an all-encompassing subject for many Oakland residents, linking crime prevention strategies with youth, health and other social programs is more palatable to the residents most afflicted by the troubles.”

    So there you have it, as Pooh Bear said. The Mayor’s senior advisor on public safety, invoking –instead of REAL crime prevention–we need to focus on youth, health, blah blah blah.

    So where is the “Budgeting for Outcomes”?

    No, it’s the same old same old. We can yap on and on about Budgeting for Outcomes, but that’s most definitely NOT what’s happening.

    The voting electorate and civic leadership needs a good slap in the face. I’m betting the trajectory we’re on will deliver that Real Soon Now.

  8. Oakie

    Would you like a constructive suggestion that might actually solve the budgetary problem?

    Start by remembering that our city employees are compensated 20% higher than Bay Area averages. All readers of ABO are aware of this.

    Well, the solution is to strangle the ability of those in political power in this city to contract with employees for these unreasonable levels of compensation: write, gather the signatures to get on the ballot and pass a City Charter Amendment that states that it is unlawful for the city to contract with any city employee union for compensation that is more than a level which is 20% BELOW Bay Area averages for comparable work. I figure since those employees have benefited from 20 years of 20% overpayment, then it’s fair that we spend the next 20 years paying them 20% less. What’s fair is fair. And turnaround is fair play.

    What do you think those city employees will do? Quit because they can get better paying jobs? I don’t think so……..

    And if you need help gathering signatures, let me know–I’d be happy to help.

    Since an overwhelming portion of the city’s budget is employee compensation, I figure a 40% drop in those costs should leave a bit of budget for focusing on crime prevention, which is our most critical need. And a few bucks if you want to toss it at “youth programs,” or you can throw that amount down a toilet, since it will make no difference to our level of crime and it will only benefit the poverty pimps that suck off our collective teat.

  9. Oakland Space Academy

    Ah yes, “the voters are idiots,” similar phrases are used by despots the world over.

    And so committed to reducing Oakland government employee compensation, Oakie is willing to “help gather signatures,” ya know, once someone with some actual commitment does all the work. Ridiculous.

  10. annoyed

    Oakie has a point. Voters keep electing the same ineffective people into office then can’t figure out why things don’t get any better. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? How on earth can you believe with a straight face that the problems in City Hall belong only with the folks you didn’t vote for?

    My question is why is Mayor Quan trotting around China when we are in a budget crisis? Why am I the only person who cares? I’m not opposed to international travel but doesn’t this speak to her values and priorities that she would plan an overseas trip NOW, right in the middle of when the city is trying to cobble together a budget by June 30? This is not only demented but outrageously arrogant. But then, we are talking about Jean Quan. The only thing that is more demented is that voters don’t seem to give a darn.

    We only have the vestiges of democracy in this country. Most people don’t vote. Most people don’t even bother to read their voters pamphlet to give themselves a fighting change of understanding the issues. People voted for a piece of crap ordinance called Measure Y and now people can’t complain enough about it. I remember campaigning against this garbage and people looking at me like I had just cut the cheese in church. I TOLD YOU SO. This was Nancy Nadel’s dream legislation and oh, look, she is still in office.

    I’m sorry, I have to laugh at y’all. I’d be happy to collect signatures to recall the hacks or initiate some change but right now I’m working with the city employees you all think are a bunch of useless bums about several abandoned properties to keep my neighborhood from becoming a blight and crime ridden toilet. Since we have the least effective police department due to staffing shortages that are only going to get worse, I thank whatever higher power I believe in in at any given moment for Public Works and CEDA employees. Because my elected official is too busy handing out patronage to his campaign supporters. And no one really cares.

  11. len raphael

    Tempting to conclude the voters are dumber here than say SF or Walnut Creek or Denver, because of the poorly functioning city government, but that’s very unlikely. Look at the statistics on likely voters here and you’ll see they are overwhelmingly solid middle or upper middle class types. Not that class status is equivalence to political intelligence, but the likely voters here are at least well educated.

    Part of the problem is Max’s lack of transparency, but I’m not at all confident that a whole bunch more transparency will make much of a difference.

    For one thing with some notable exceptions, the quality of most local media journalists is much lower than it was say 30 years ago. Doesn’t matter how easy it is for them to get the facts if they’re weak on analysis, whether quantitative or qualitative.

    It’s too much to expect busy residents trying to cover the high cost of bay area vibrant living to spend the time digging into Oakland politics and governance.

    To some extent that’s true in other cities, but Oakland also has a shortage of elites committed to good governance. Would think Detroit and maybe Newark have similar problems.

    Then there’s the ideogical blinders that for reasons historical or via self selection are common here.

    When well informed, highly intelligent residents tell me that of course Oakland city employees should be compensated much better than most every other US city because Oakland has to lead the way for decent wages for everyone, it’s not a question of intelligence or transparency.

    The ideological blinders come in different flavors, and are not restricted to old white lefties, or people of color whose professional lives are completely dependent on government funding. Eg. i see some of the fervor of younger newcomers here for mass transportation policy to follow a long tradition here of using analysis selectively to support ideology. But more commonly, it seems that younger people put their political energy into transportation policy because they feel it’s hopeless to put it into say fiscal policy or security.

    Eventually reality will set in. Transparency, analysis by amateurs, and new leaders stepping up will help residents reach sustainable decisions. But it will have to get much much worse here before that happens.

    -len raphael, temescal

  12. Naomi Schiff

    Re: furthering democracy with intelligent voting. So let’s not gut our educational system, but rather improve it. Transparency, yes, libraries yes, better news media, yes. All this depends on teaching people to read and to think critically. As to the other points above, I think encouraging trade with Asia is a good thing for Quan et al to be doing; building port activity, jobs, and economic vitality is critical. I want our officials to work towards bringing in business. While I am depressed about the civic economy, I see how it connects to the state and nation, and don’t think we are being singled out for a particularly horrendous version of the general disaster. The negativity presented in the string above is overdone, considering that those posting do care about their city, appear to want to help, and are smart enough to perceive the general economic challenges. Some proactive behavior and positive attitudes might be helpful, even in dire times. We need to pull together and find solutions, and while critical review is important, kvetching can be overrated.

  13. len raphael

    Economic Development. Listened to the 3rd in the NPR series on how cities are trying to goose job development. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/435/how-to-create-a-job

    Some bigger out of state cities have bigger full time business development staffs in California dedicated to persuading Calif employers to move than Oakland has helping employers stay here.

    Not surprisingly, California jobs are the main target of every out of state city.

    if we put half the effort devoted to keeping the A’s here to ongoing support of existing employers and attracting new ones…

    Is there any basis to believe that Quan and Reid’s China trip is anything more than a junket? That we need both of them over there when maybe just sending a couple of staff for a few days would be more effective?

  14. ralph

    Based on my observation, I am inclined to believe that Oakland business development, attraction and retention is woefully understaffed. The port should be creating jobs so I am glad we have a mayor who gets it.

    As to thinking critically, all students should be required to join debate clubs. Best I can tell, most students recite what the adults tell them to believe.

  15. Raider Zig

    For those of you who are new to Oakland you might not recognize the old and frequently used saying “share the pain”
    It’s the catch phrase to coheres the Unions to give it up and the citizens to continue to shell out for taxes.
    No more share the pain for the the tax payer homeowners and business.
    I do agree that the City should prioritize and start with infrastructure and public safety instead of the old across the board “share the pain” plan .
    By doing an across the board share the pain budget what admin. is really doing is using scare tactics on the workers and citizens to give it up .I call it cock the gun and stick it to the heads of Oaklanders extortion . Time and time again this has happened . Oh look! What about the children! What about Oakland’s culture !
    The Cities primary purpose again is providing infrastructure and public safety and not to use general fund money for the Black holes: namely the giveaways to the Zoo, Chabot science ,fairyland, Dunsmuir house ,Oakland public schools , kids first to other agencies etc.
    There are places to logically cut and if the City really really wanted to they could cut and balance now .
    Like I suggested ,sever funding to the blackholes , also give the Dunsmuir house to Eastbay regional parks which is next door. The Zoo is a regional Zoo , give it to the state or some regional authority (knowland park and Zoo was a state park once ).The Museum is also a regional museum so sell it or give it up to some regional authority. The Kaiser building could go to peralta college. The Pools if they are connected to a school should go to that school.
    So many ways to cut the fat and the fluff
    Jim Zigenis

  16. Colin

    I think what we have is an under-informed electorate who then falls under the sway of political figures and other civic leaders who play the demagogue.

    Better and clearer data could really help here. In its absence, people default to bumper sticker slogans.

    As an example, on the union compensation issues, some posters seem to take for granted that voters “know” what they are paying our municipal unions and have accepted that for ideological reasons. I don’t actually believe that. I don’t think people know that we are paying a premium, and if they suspect it, they certainly don’t know the magnitude.

    Are we really paying 20% more than other local municipalities? I just read that in one of the posts above, and have no way to know if that’s true. Nor what it reflects: Overall or per worker, or per worker-hour? Is it 20% across most groups, or 30% for cops and 10% for teachers and 40% for firefighters?

    Getting the actual facts on the table is really important because it can shape the debate. Does anyone have a source for this stuff?

  17. len raphael

    Colin, 20% sounds high, except for less skilled job positions where it could well be true. unfortunately, i don’t think the city has released any salary surveys since they withdrew the public one of a couple of years ago that showed Oakland paying at the top or higher than most every other city, particularly for lower skilled positions and public security.

    that’s the kind of data that the city should be collecting and releasing so we don’t have to guess and extrapolate. with all those very highly paid HR managers (do a search on the Oakland Tribune site for Neldam’s Baker and lost wedding cake deposit, about a year ago for the name of a young City HR manager. Then you have to look her name up on the Tribune’s database of public employees to find out she was very well paid. If you have the time to do that, more power to you.)

    We all like to believe that accurate information will drive out inaccurate info. I’m not convinced. Residents want to believe their elected officials. Until residents feel the effects of the City’s fiscal problems, they’ll continue to assume that their officials have everything under control.

    And to some extent the big lie tactic is alive and well:

    National and state muni unions have been producing ads purporting to debunk statements that muni workers are better paid and benefited than private sector employees. They never localize those statements for say the Bay Area, or break it down for employees who retired in the last 10 years.

    Our new Mayor implies that an 80$ parcel tax, and modest employee concessions and all will be well for several years.
    A lot of residents want to believe her.

    -len raphael, temescal

  18. Naomi Schiff

    Raider Zig:
    I suspect that your savings suggestions won’t generate enough to help much. Dunsmuir has in the past collected substantial parts of its budget from weddings and events. Not sure how it is going right now, as Parks and Rec took it back from the nonprofit foundation that was running it, but it has not absorbed large amounts of funds in recent history.. Zoo is largely self-supporting as is the museum. Talks are already underway concerning independence of some kind for the museum. Peralta has its own troubles and doesn’t seem to be moving forward with purchasing the Kaiser Aud. Certainly “giving” it to someone isn’t going to help: it is a valuable asset, on publicly purchased land. As to pools: many are already jointly operated by schools and city; but schools are in financial trouble too, so I don’t see why they would suddenly want to take them on. On the other hand, we must not eliminate everything that kids can do during the summer and afternoons if we want to avoid having bands of bored youths hanging around with nothing to do. Also,making sure kids learn to swim saves huge money in emergency rescue and city liability.

  19. ralph

    What I want to know is what type of subsidy the City offers to some of these cultural orgs. Kids should not be learning to swim on my dime because they are kids. I agree with subsidies to a degree but I am not convinced that these orgs are doing enough to be self sufficient. The city should not be their primary source of revenue.

  20. Naomi Schiff

    Parks and rec, who run the swimming pools, provides extremely valuable services, and absorbs a very small part of the general fund (2-3 percent: compared to public safety). Without things to do, our kids are at risk. And we pay taxes so that, among other things, the city can provide parks and rec services all over town. These services include seniors, kids, and people in between. Structured activities are part of that! They do charge fees, and independent swim clubs pay rental fees for use of facilities as well. So do organizations who put on picnics and barbeques.The city’s swim league for kids has been a great and cost-effective program. Kids who can swim are much less likely to drown or to require expensive rescue services. Water accidents don’t come cheap. And families who are active are healthier, rack up fewer hospital admissions (also our public dollars). As mentioned before, the zoo and museum are doing a great job of attracting outside dollars and making enormous fundraising efforts. The city ‘s subsidies to these two institutions are an ever smaller portion of their budgets, and the museum is talking about getting off the dole entirely.

  21. Dax

    Have I missed it in the paper thus far, or does Oakland have some labor concessions along the lines of San Jose’s?

    Which Oakland employee groups have offered to take 10% or greater cuts in salary, a boost in employee medical payments, and some extra boosts in the current employees portion of the pension contributions?

    Has any Oakland employee group offered a package that equals a 10% cut in “total compensation” costs?
    I would think that would be the minimum aim.

    After all, reading about San Jose, even after 10% cuts in salary, they are declaring a city state-of-emergency.
    Looking into placing on the ballot changing the future accrual of pension credits by current employees, not just future hires.
    Not taking back what has been earned, but returning to sensible rates that were in place prior to pensions getting jacked up in the past decade. Raising the age of retirement by 5 years to 60 and 65.
    Again, their mayor, Chuck Reed, wants to put this on the ballot if more can’t be accomplished at the bargaining table.

    Just seems everything in the news about San Jose is so much clearer and straight forward than we hear from Oakland’s leaders.
    Chuck Reed has stopped dancing on eggshells.

  22. len raphael

    Based on newspaper reports of a few months ago, the Museum trustees are not waiting around for the Good Ship Oakland to sink.

    Their board shows a much heavier percentage of operating business types (as compared to real estate developers) than I’ve seen on any public commission here. Not quite the heavy hitters that you’d see on say the DeYoung, but the type we need to see more active in government affairs than we do.

    -len raphael, temescal

  23. len raphael

    spoke at the cc meeting in support of the gang injunction.

    it was filled mostly with kids under 18 who were to put it bluntly, sweet. Unfortunately, they have convinced themselves with the eager assistance of “community workers” and Segal attorneys, as one 16 year old put it, that the GI will only result in cops beating and killing youth of color.

    Fascinating that some of the kids and community organizers referred to the budget deficit, and even acknowledged Pat K’s point that most of the cost of the GI are fixed salaries in the City Attorney’s office and OPD. But then they ignored their own statements, and jumped to state that the big bucks spent on GI should be spent on social programs.

    Those community organizers and Segalistas did a number on those kids’ heads.

    -len raphael

  24. len raphael

    talked with a twenty something GI opponent. He agreed with me that there had been 0 lawsuits and settlements resulting from the North Oakland GI. he even agreed that violence seemed to have dropped.

    But then he said Fruitvale GI was different because it had a high number of unamed John Does.

    My hunch is that there is a qualitative difference between the Fruitvale situation and North Oakland. That difference could be the nature of Latino gangs. That unlike the black gangs, the Latino gangs are tightly woven into family life. In a sense they want to protect their family members, even though they know they are violent.

    -len raphael

  25. len raphael

    One of the chuckle moments for me at the CC meeting was hearing Segal JR say that proof that the North Oakland GI was a failure was that property values in North Oakland dropped 12% since it was started.

    Considering prices in Fruitvale probably dropped, what twice that, in the same period, I’d have drawn a different conclusion.

  26. len raphael

    Anyone who thinks that the Quan-Nadel-Brooks “progressive’ bloc will die out with the 60′s baby boomers should have been at that CC tonight.

    There is a whole crop of young’uns eager to run for office etc. Quite a few of them have suckled on the various anti poverty and anti violence program tit.

    The only speaker the whole evening who pointed out that there will be no improvement in private sector jobs here until crime levels drop was Pat K. To hear the many anti GI supporters, young and old, is to believe that jobs are something that “programs” and better education create out of thin air.

    Pat flatly stated that Clorox moved many of its staff out of Oakland because they were getting mugged.

    Didn’t faze Brooks one bit. She really deserves the Huey Long demagogue award. Gotta love her use of repetition and “facts”.

  27. len raphael

    The resolution calls for an independent evaluation of the GI. No time specified.

    Not clear to me how City will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the Fruitvale injunction now that it frozen at the current level.

    with such a small sample, it will be easy to decide it’s effective if most of the named gang members get convicted of serious crimes, but if very few get convicted does that mean the wrong people were targeted or that the GI discouraged crimeL

    Also with such a small number of targets, limited to one overall gang, no there could be a measurable impact on gang activity attributable to this GI.

    Lastly, with dimishing OPD resources, not clear if the GI can even be implemented properly.

    -len raphael, temscal

  28. livegreen

    –Pat Kernighan’s clarification about the budget being fixed was enlightening. Libby Schaaf agreed with that;
    –Ignacio made the motion to support the GI’s and Pat K.’s added to eliminate the John Doe’s from it. Will eliminating the John Doe’s prevent the Chief from adding names in future?
    –I got the impression Rebecca Kaplan would have voted to support the GI if IDLF had accepted her amendment to put limits on legal costs in the future.

    On the other hand, most of these being internal costs (not outside lawyers), what does that mean? And can the City Counsel restrict the internal budget of the City Attorney, and tell them how to spend their money?

    My impression is that might be a violation of the City Charter (correct me if I’m wrong).

  29. len raphael

    Now that Segal Jr., Cunningham et al lost this round in the political arena, the Council should consider offering an out of court settlement whereby Segal’s public interest law firm gets a very modest fixed price contract to provide legal defense in civil only matters with a cap per defendent.

    None of this Rider open ended court supervised NSA where the costs have possibly run into the tens of millions.

    Such a settlement would both address what might be a civil liberties flaw in the GI and save us continuing legal costs.

    -len raphael, temescal

  30. Dax

    From what is noted above, it seem apparent that most of the “named” and “John Doe’s” in the GI are members of Latino gangs.

    Is that true?

    I know its nearly improper to bring up such a politically incorrect issue in Oakland, but can I assume that given that certain people are named, that therefore, they are all legally in the country.

    Meaning, can you name a person who is not officially here, as part of a gang injunction list?
    After all, if you are bringing such measures against them, then why not just pick them up for their unauthorized status.

    So, I assume they are all legal residents, right?

    Just wanted to clarify that point.
    If that is the case, then does it mean that a GI excludes anyone in gangs that is a undocumented resident?

    That would be rather strange, to only include legal residents in such a measure?
    So one way or the other, however it is handled, it seems strange.
    Given that I don’t think gangs have their own “undocumented” criteria for membership.

    Please clarify if you know.

  31. Livegreen

    The City Council and OPD are not about to act for ICE. Several people said OPD they’re the same thing (don’t know what evidence if any they have), and Rebecca Kaplan said she would look into that.

  32. len raphael

    Dax I don’t know, but i can’t imagine that it excludes undocumented immigrants.

    Clearly that’s why the agit prop hits fertile ground in the Fruitvale.

    If people want to avoid immigration hassles they have to stay out of gangs. I know several young Latinos in their twenties from the flats who were gang members in their teens, got out, and stayed out.

    The GI does not change the stated policy of OPD to refuse cooperation with ICE.

  33. annoyed

    I have renewed faith in Ms. Kernighan. She was the only person to step up and tell it like it is. People are afraid to come out and support the GI, her constituents want more cops, business won’t come to Oakland due to crime, and businesses are leaving Oakland because of crime.

    I was happy to see Kaplan hit back at the SF crowd who pitifully tried to manipulate this into an LGBT issue. But last night’s vote and her deemed approved vote of a couple years ago did it for me. I want to see someone new in the at large seat.

  34. annoyed

    I have renewed faith in Ms. Kernighan. She was the only person to step up and tell it like it is. People are afraid to come out and support the GI, her constituents want more cops, business won’t come to Oakland due to crime, and businesses are leaving Oakland because of crime. Period.

  35. len raphael

    Is Chinatown and New Chinatown, Pat K district?
    Would guess unanimous support there for the GI but totally behind the scenes to avoid “becoming a target”.

    Would have been interesting to have seen the reaction of the youthful GI supporters to examples of how much money the City has spent on various bad and dubious items.

    Makes the GI 200k or even 1Mill look like chump change.

  36. Born in Oakland

    Please, oh please, do not call it “New Chinatown” which is a name some realtors began to use when property in the neighborhood became more valuable due to population trends. Call it Brooklyn (it used to be the Township of Brooklyn) or Clinton Park (used to be adjacent to the Township of Clinton) or San Antonio (the name Community Development used). The newest name is “Eastlake.” PK is the councilperson for this burgeoning neighborhood.

  37. Naomi Schiff

    Am I the only one who immediately thinks “gastro-intestinal” every time I see initials GI?

  38. len raphael

    how about discussing the effect of the GI on the Upper Fruitvale tracts?

    some percentage of the anti gi leadership understand that the threat to civil rights is minimal. But they see this as a golden issue to organize around for future demands etc.

    it is certainly that. they got the young latinos and probably a bunch of adults convinced the holocaust is coming.

    That could be why it appears that Batts and then Russo were surprised by the amount of opposition. (that and there was none in the N Oakland one)?

  39. len raphael

    I was particularly pleased to see a representative of the oakland teachers union at the CC, announcing opposition to the GI.

    She must have been gratified to hear one of the kids express outrage that teachers here were “only paid 40,000 a year”.

    Do you think that teenager knows what her own parents probably earn maybe 30k/year?

  40. Mry

    With all due respect, if her parents are only earning 30k a year, they probably did not spend at least 6 years in college.

  41. Naomi Schiff

    I think it is entirely reasonable to disagree about gang injunctions. I don’t hold a strong opinion, but I can see very good arguments on each side. We need to respect each other and our fellow citizens in order to reach consensus. I’d suggest avoiding accusations that people’s views are merely the result of political extremism, manipulation or craziness. One thing about teachers is that many see in their students the unfairness of a system that surely does make things much harder for some groups of people than for others, and that subjects some people to more police violence than others.

  42. ralph

    Naomi,
    An analysis of the facts would lead most to conclude that GIs are a net positive and at the very least merit usage as a legitimate and legally available law enforcement method for crime suppression.

    But most people who either spoke or wrote to oppose of the gang injunction and not conducted any analysis. For example, they say there have been no studies as to the efficacy. They are wrong. There have been a few. They tell you that they are ineffective an LA Grand Jury Report says different. They think that GI should stop all crime. It won’t. GIs are narrowly tailored to address certain issue. They want police to perform social services. Police officers are part of law enforcement. They are not equipped to perform social services, but by suppressing crime, they make it possible for us to get more bang for our social service buck.

    I am also tired of people saying that police office are targeting POCs. and white gangs. My response we are not living in Iowa we target the individuals in the gangs operating here. OPD is not about keeping Des Moines safe. They are about keeping Oakland safe. Or if Des Moines is too far away for some to digest, OPD is not focused on the pot growing communities in NorCal counties.

  43. len raphael

    Naomi, one advocate’s community organizing is another person’s manipulation.

    To me it’s manipulation stoking the kids up with visions of mass arrests of innocent poor kids and jailing them and their older siblings. Even if OPD and all the old farts of oakland (OFO) wanted to do that, it couldn’t happen here for lots of reasons that you and i both know.

    When i was at the CC i thought the frequent mention of how the GI was a bad use of limited funds when we’re broke, was a red herring, a “tool” as we GI supporters like to say, to take down the GIs.

    On reflection, the reference to cost was the opening salvo in the coming Oakland budget wars.

    The Oakland non-profit industrial complex (ONPIC) is light months ahead of our officials and most Oakland voters because it’s leadership is acutely aware of its complete dependency on budget priorities.

    I’m not saying it’s strictly the leadership’s protecting their jobs motivating them, because many of them truly believe their orgs are Oakland’s best hope for peace, justice, economic development etc.

    But to survive in the short run, they have to stake out a position in the voters’ and politicians’ minds that allocating money to policing is a waste of money.

    And in the long run, their survival and growth depends on convincing the fastest growing segment of Oakland’s population, young Latinos, of the greater importance of social program spending over other needs.

    Even if the ONPIC loses on this round of the GI fight on a TKO, they still won the hearts and minds battle of young and not so young Latino’s, plus made allies of the diminishing Black ONPIC’s here.

    By impression, was that other than Max, every speaker against the GI was over 50. Other than maybe a dozen anti GI speakers, every opponent was under 25.

    Because of the McDonald’s issue, there were at least a dozen under 30 something
    residents present from all over Oakland who might have stuck up for trying the GI’s. Sure, they would gotten some catcalls for being “not from here”, “gentrifiers”, etc.

    It’s a lot harder politically to change Oakland’s priorities than building plans.

  44. Dax

    Before we hear repeated posts about how teachers with 6 years of college are making only making $40,000 per year, a few facts.

    The average teacher salary in California was $70,458 in the 2010. (per the National Education Association’s web site)
    The average teacher salary in California at the end of their career was over $80,000.
    (per calculations done on the STRS website)

    Now, Oakland’s averages are lower, both because Oakland pays less than other districts and because many Oakland teachers leave the district before gaining seniority and more advanced pay.

    I seem to recall the overall Oakland average being below $60,000 per year.

    Just looked up a friend from college, teaching in Oakland, age 60, salary slightly over $70,000 plus some “other” giving an extra $4,000 for a total salary of $74,000, not including any benefits, pensions, etc.

    Appears Oakland is about $10,000 below some other districts.

    Just tired of hearing these $40,000 figures always being thrown out, as though that was the average for all teachers in Oakland.

    Teaching in Oakland is not a easy or financially rewarding job. The total district budget, on a dollars per pupil basis, is higher than many other districts, but it appears a smaller than normal percentage ends up in classroom teacher’s pockets.

  45. Naomi Schiff

    But wait a minute, Len:”. . . that allocating money to policing is a waste of money.. . .”???? We ARE allocating huge sums to policing with or without the gang injunction. As so frequently repeated, public safety is 70% of the general fund (and likely rising). So regardless of what any nonprofit advocates are saying, or what anybody else is saying, to me the only question about policing is whether we are getting as much as we can out of our huge expenditures. I think the focus on the gang injunctions, both pro and con, is a distraction.

  46. len raphael

    Naomi, the anti-GI people don’t think the controversy is a distraction. In part because of they like the ACLU make civil liberties their highest priority; for others it’s paranoia about the GI’s, and for other opponents it’s a great issue to organize around.

    Yes public security is expensive and always will be. Yes the efficiency and quality of policing (and fire) has to be greatly improved.

    i have no doubt that Kaplan, Brooks, Quan, plus the ONPIC with the acquience of the 350 most senior cops are quite willing to reduce the number of cops down to the 500 range without reducing the cost per fewer cops.

  47. Max Allstadt

    Naomi,

    The majority of most, if not all city budgets goes to public safety. Oakland isn’t special.

    Public safety commands that money for two reasons:

    1. Public safety is expensive. Equipment and vehicles are expensive. Life and health insurance, even bought in bulk, is expensive for people who’s job involves risking getting shot or risking getting burnt alive.

    2. Public safety is THE primary function of a municipal government. Without it, no other benefits of a municipal government can happen. Case in point: Mogadishu.

  48. ralph

    Those of us who spend money on intervention and prevention programs that have not been effective do not think that advocating for the police suppression is a waste of time. My friends living in North Oakland do not think it has been a waste of time. The police budget is not going to change because of the GI. Police are still going to be policing but their time may be allocated differently.

    And yes public safety absorbs a huge chunk of the budget. But this is true is just about every city. It is expensive. And yes, in a Shrinking budget, the share of the budget that safety consumes will likely increase. It is basic math a numerator that does not ffall at the same rate as the denominator is going to result in a higher percentage.

    But it is the city’s primary obligation. People invest in safe communities. They buy houses, open businesses, employ individuals, i.e. they perform activities that result in revenue generation.

  49. Patrick M. Mitchell

    My primary issue with so-called violence suppression programs is that they target individuals for intervention, but have little/zero palpable effect/benefit to the remaining 99% of the population. Who are the most likely people to get involved in violence suppression programs? My guess is that it is not those individuals most at risk. Furthermore, who’s to say that if we spend big $$$ on little Johnny from age 8 to 14 – that his parent/s won’t up and move to Antioch/Stockton/Dallas? How does that protect Oaklanders? It doesn’t. Police are geographically specific and therefore they provide blanket protection for everyone within our city. Violence suppression “programs” are a wishful thinking attempt at *future* behavior modification for people who are free to leave Oakland at any time.

  50. ralph

    Patrick,
    Suppression programs are a law enforcement tool. They are used by law enforcement disrupt active criminal enterprises. Suppression works for a number of reasons – google Maxon.

    Intervention programs are for people trying to get out of the game. And Prevention is to keep the at-risk out of the game.

  51. Max Allstadt

    Ralph, just googled Maxon, didn’t get what you were trying to point us at. Got a url?

  52. Livegreen

    What I don’t understand is we hired an excellent Chief, African American, who grew up in the ghetto, believes in the benefit of mentoring and social programs (the very type his political opponents support), has done massive outreach to EVERY community in Oakland, and is 10x better than the last Chief we had.

    We get this top notch Chief, and what do the Mayor, and City Council do? Micromanage and undercut him at every turn. What’s the point of having a Chief, a good one at that, if anti-police Politicians won’t listen to him, and feel they know better?

    Lets admit it: Everytime our Mayor, Desley Brooks, Rebecca Kaplan and Nancy Nadel will ALWAYS criticize OPD no matter who is in charge. They do not believe in Police or a functioning Police Dept.

  53. ralph

    Livegreen,
    And don’t forget that Chief Batts curtailed sideshows. I think someone on another blog indicated that they are still happening. But last summer we went without sideshows. Chief Batts care and it is about time that this city recognize his accomplishment and admit we have something special here. Give him the tools to perform his job and don’t micromanage his every move.

  54. ralph

    Can Civil Gang Injunctions Change
    Communities? A Community Assessment of the Impact of Civil Gang Injunctions MaxSon (my bad), Hennigan, Sloane, and Kolnick

    99 page report check out

    Section C: How Gang Injunctions Might Work

  55. len raphael

    it’s too late for Chief Batts. Between the election of police hater as Mayor, and the disrespect from rank and file cops after his attempted San Jose move, he’s a lame duck.

    Gotta wonder who’s in charge of OPD at this point, but I doubt if it’s Batts or Quan.

    -len raphael, temescal

  56. len raphael

    re the pitifully low turnout of GI supporters at Tuesday’s CC meeting: I completely understand why so few GI supporters from the Fruitvale spoke at the CC.

    What I don’t understand is why so few under 35 new mostly white residents spoke up.

    Willing to turn out in droves for zoning and transportation votes, but not public security? Daniel, Betts, Chris?? Disinterest? Fear of becoming a target because your’re a hated gentrifier not from here? or just simple opposition to the GI?

    -len raphael, temescal

  57. ralph

    Len,
    I think the distance was a factor for Chris. But don’t forget there were non-young uns who found the whole gang injunction discussion a distraction.

  58. Daniel Schulman

    @Len I am not sure if I am the “Daniel” you are referring to. I do often speak on zoning and transportation issues, but it has been an awfully long time since I’ve been under 35. I am hardly a new resident either.

    It is nice you got out of armchair and went to City Council to speak on an issue you care about, but I do not believe that entitles you to a holier-than-though attitude.

    Personally, I try to focus my limited resources for advocacy to areas where I feel I can have a positive impact and make a unique contribution. On the topic of Gang Injunctions, I do not really feel I have much to add to the debate.

    While I generally support the policy of Gang Injunctions in Oakland, I do see value in some of the arguments from those opposed. For example, your quick to draw assumptions about others seems to substantiate opponents’ contention that the Gang Injunctions will increase profiling and stereotyping of people based on appearances.

  59. Dax

    What a sick article in the Tribune today.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/top-stories/ci_18116182

    Am I wrong, or is this picture growing and expanding. Isn’t this going to be a ever greater part of Oakland’s future?
    Our city policies, or lack thereof, aren’t they feeding this environment?
    All in the name of paying homage to some misguided openness to everything as long as someone can put some “culture” label on it.

    Really, does anyone here think this trend will not continue? That the affected neighborhoods will instead improve, or that the blight depicted in this article will not spread.

    Is Oakland right in line to follow other urban areas in Southern California.
    Aren’t we really inching into some foul version of a “new-normal” for wide spread districts of Oakland.

    The city has nearly welcomed this and is too afraid to offend those who suggest more acceptance of all cultural “norms” is the only way to a better future.

    Or am I just getting too old and afraid of change and “diversity”.
    You know, there are many cultural norms, in many nations, that are really awful.
    Yet I think some here in the East Bay think if it exist somewhere in world, that we accept it in the name of “diversity”.

    Break out the burkas…

  60. Livegreen

    Dax, The current political arguments are stuck between open borders and closed borders. No progress is made and we continue to import poverty to give them the chance to become millionaires.

    The far left and far right seem to agree that this lottery equates to economic policy. Welcome to the Third World.

  61. len raphael

    Dax, in the absence of civic security, in fierce competiton for scarce resources or substitutes thereof, what else would you expect? this has nothing to do with diversity, because as the reporter points out, the distinctions that gangs draw often have no basis in appearance, but can be cultural.

  62. len raphael

    Daniel, you’re young at heart.

    Not so much holier than thou, as much less tolerant of crime and violence than you.

    Acceptance of crime and violence levels here that in other cities would lead to grand jury investigations and public recalls etc, in Oakland deteriorate into guns vs butter arguments.

    Older, long time residents in the Hills just read about, unless they go to restaurants in DTO.

    People in the flats are resigned to it or move away if they can.

    Young people in bad parts of town, join gangs.

    The vote at the CC was known before the meeting, but I’m not as sure that the emasculation of the GI BY limiting it to the named members of a single gang would have been proposed by Pat K if she had faced 180 angry adult speakers insisting on a fair tryout of the Gang Injunction.

    -len raphael, temescal

  63. Naomi Schiff

    Len, in the friendliest way, and with respect for your persistence, I object. I don’t think Daniel is particularly tolerant of crime and violence. But I do think that he might disagree with you (as I might) about effective solutions. And Daniel doesn’t live in the hills (nor do I). I think it might be time for us to have a fresh conversation, and start with a clean slate and no assumptions about what other people think, what their motivations are. I respect your intelligence, but sometimes your presumption about why other people think as they do is way off. It is not at all clear that gang injunctions solve our problems, but I hear and can accept that you and some other people hope and believe that they will. If I disagree, though, it doesn’t mean I approve of crime. It’s about means, not ends.

  64. len raphael

    i only aimed those remarks at any way to Daniel because he posts and speaks at City meetings re transit issues, but doesn’t post here or speak at Citywide meetings re crime.

    To be sure that’s hecka more civic minded than 99.9% of my fellow residents.

    Actually it’s a complete mystery why so many Oakland residents tolerate the crime here. Even more of a mystery why involved people like Daniel do. I’ll add you to my mystified list.

    Judging by the look on Batt’s face at the City Council, I suspect he’s mystified also.

    -len raphael, temescal

  65. len raphael

    A couple of weeks, at my Temescal NCPC meeting, a 40′ish big white guy showed up and yelled at the rest of us at the
    meeting for not being angry at crime levels of Oakland.

    And yes it was annoying to listen to him rant at us :)

    Afterwards I talked to him for a
    while, he apologized. When he gave more details of his experiences here, made
    sense he was angry (but not at us).

    A couple of months ago he got jumped at 930pm walking home from Walgreen between
    Tele and Webster. Suffered a concussion from that.

    A week or so ago, he heard the alarm of his neighbor around midnight and rushed
    over to their house because he knew they were home, and banged on door. Wife
    rushes out, he rushed in and found a guy holding a pistol on the hubby. Knocks
    the bad guy down and sits on him till cops arrive.

    I couldn’t explain to him why Oakland residents tolerate the levels of violence
    and crime that we have.

    A few years ago when I was going door to door in the city council campaign, one middle aged woman told me straight-faced that crime was just the price one paid for living in a wonderful city like Oakland.

    I’ve had more than one young resident tell me they liked the “edginess” of Oakland.

    -len raphael, temescal

  66. ralph

    I could be wrong but the anti-injunction people start with an assumption that is flawed. Their tone indicates that they believe supporters think gang injunctions are a silver bullet. A gang injunction is a tool that is available to the reduce certain criminal activities and allow for preventive activities to be more effective.

    I am just happy that Daniel passes for 35 y.o. activist makes feel quite young.

  67. Naomi Schiff

    I don’t think I’m tolerant of crime. What’s your gauge? Whether someone favors the gang injunction method or not isn’t a useful index. Overall, most Oaklanders don’t like crime and are not sympathetic with perpetrators. A lot of us have been crime victims and have had to work with the police to improve our neighborhoods. Don’t tell me I don’t care about it, just because I look at the budget differently than you do. That’s like me saying you don’t care about literacy because you aren’t advocating for the libraries. It wouldn’t be fair. I think we can work on these issues without getting all self-righteous.

  68. annoyed

    People are tolerant of crime in Oakland. That’s why we have so much crime. In other communities, the voters, residents, and business community demand safe streets. People here think gang bangers are kind of cute and romantic, and not the rattlesnakes that they are.

    Oaklanders don’t care if we never get another business to move to Oakland or if the ones already here leave. Just treat our criminals with the all the dignity and respect we cannot bother to afford their victims.

    Giving someone a coke and a smile will not end violence in this city. Oakland needs a real major crack down and crime but it will never happen thanks to do-gooders, bleeding hearts, and people overwhelmed with survivor’s guilt for not having to live in the killing fields.

    We’ve had another shooting in my neighborhood closely following a prior shooting. People need to know what it is to have their car windows shot out, their toddler grandchildren shot up, their houses shot up, their neighbors robbed raped and beaten to understand why some of us are thoroughly disgusted with people who think the GI is just so unfair (said with my best Shirley Temple immitation).

    There is a lot of violence in Oakland that gets reported to the cops and commands a big police response that never lands in the press. The last NCPC meeting I attended, the cops ticked off three shootings that were never reported in the press. If no one is shot or killed, it isn’t news and if it isn’t in the news, it never happened. The day of our latest shooting here, I saw a satellite truck drive by and as much as I wanted to run in the street and stop it and beg someone for help, I didn’t want it to have my lone face on television talking about the violent pukes this area and paint a big fat target on my backside.

    So, Naomi, to conclude, I don’t think you are serious about crime. Either that or you have severe mashochistic tendencies like a lot of folks in Oakland who think violence is just our cross to bear.

  69. Livegreen

    Naomi, But many idealistic people like u, the anti-Injunction activists & the Mayor don’t think the solution to crime has ANYTHING to do with the Police or their expertise. You think ONLY social programs are the solution. So I repost:

    What I don’t understand is we hired an excellent Chief, African American, who grew up in the ghetto, believes in the benefit of mentoring and social programs (the very type his political opponents support), has done massive outreach to EVERY community in Oakland, and is 10x better than the last Chief we had.

    We get this top notch Chief, and what do the Mayor, and City Council do? Micromanage and undercut him at every turn. What’s the point of having a Chief, a good one at that, if anti-police Politicians won’t listen to him, and feel they know better?

    Lets admit it: Everytime our Mayor, Desley Brooks, Rebecca Kaplan and Nancy Nadel will ALWAYS criticize OPD no matter who is in charge. They do not believe in Police or a functioning Police Dept.

  70. len raphael

    Over on oaklandlocal.com an ongoing thread still has people on both sides of this talking to each other. we even heard from michael segal the other day. http://oaklandlocal.com/blogs/2011/05/why-oaklands-gang-injunctions-got-funded-and-what-do-about-it-community-voices

    a Geraldo Sandoval posted:

    “I live in the Eastlake district and 6 of the 8 households on my corner are in favor of the injunctions. Surprisingly, the strongest support came from a Guatemalan family who have been in the neighborhood for several years. They told me that Nortenos are homies entre ellos. Which translates into if your not down with them you not getting any love from them. A friend of mine who lives in the Fruitvale was jumped by some Nortenos, but he couldn’t go to the police because he is undocumented. So if these cats are down for La Raza why are they beating on their own and pushing drugs to their own? I grew up around gangs, partied with bangers. I know that the older cats use the younger ones to do the dirt (shootings, ect.) because they’ll probably be charged as a juvi if they don’t have priors. A lot of kids who are drawn to the life see the bling and the power that these gangsters seem to have. They don’t realize that they are being used. We have to face facts, violence can be power. If you have a rep’ that equals respect in the hood. It also means that you’ve made a lot enemies. If we can break the cycle of younger people being brought into the life’ by making it harder for the gang to operate, then the injunctions are a good thing. ”

    Or as Max succinctly replied in part to Michael Segal’s call for better ways to reduce violence:

    “I’m still not hearing any suggested strategies from the anti-injunction folks that involve suppression. It always seems to be centered on ways to be nice to people who’ve been mean to people in order to get them to be nicer.”

    Most of the people i know here in North Oakland reluctantly but actively support the Gang Injunction here.

    They supported trying it because they realize that waiting for the anti-violence, job training, rec centers and other methods dear to their values wouldn’t help their immediate problem of shoving their children in the bathtub when they hear gunfire.

    Nadel and Brooks can quote their crime stats, and I’m sure those reflect some part of reality such as the actual homicides and reported crimes.

    But to many residents in North Oakland, the volume of gunfire is substantially down, for whatever reason, from before the North Oakland GI.

    -len raphael, temescal

  71. Livegreen

    I will amend my tag above of idealists to extreme idealists. As many of us who support the Chief have said, we beleieve social and youth programs play a part. We just don’t believe they can work alone. Like anti-police, extreme idealists do.

  72. Naomi Schiff

    Dear Livegreen,

    You wrote: “You think ONLY social programs are the solution.” Just for the record, I don’t think any such thing. I’d be grateful that you not assume you know more than I do about what I think.

  73. annoyed

    Len, I just can’t engage on that discussion over at what’s-its-bucket. My nerves are shot to hell from the activities over the past couple of weeks. I’ve had nightmares all weekend and when I lay down, the loudest sound I hear is my heart banging away. I usually love a healthy debate. I even watch Fox News just to get my dander up. But I can’t debate this subject with people who, in my opinion, have their collective heads up their asses. What these people just refuse to understand is that what is going on in Oakland truly is a matter of life and death. I never thought I could live in a community that doesn’t give the first damn about innocents who are shot up by thugs. Again, more concern about doggies, kitties, and Bambi than babies. I don’t get it. There is no outrage here. A man was shot to death while gardening in his front yard this weekend. I could just scream!

    Beleive it or not, I’m left of center on just about everything. But the more I listen to people in Oakland discuss public safety, I feel myself getting shoved further and further to the right. I used to be active in the Black Panther Party in another city. I believe that poor people of color get some of the worst breaks in this country. I also know for a fact that the criminals that have come from my neighborhood have been a collection of poor and solid working class youth–working class youth with a stay at home parent, who have gone on family vacations, who live in nice homes, who have access to sports and other activities. The allure of being a badass is very strong. The offenders who go to jail are the poor folks. Don’t EVER confuse who is commtting crime based on who goes to jail. Using poverty is a way to guilt people into forcing a position on crime that is not supported by reality. Crime happens in poor neighborhoods because poor people are the least likely to fight back, not because poor people are intrinsically criminal. You’d think it is obvious why the sideshow can happen in East Oakland but not Montclair. I mean, duh. All the people who are trapped in these neighborhoods who cannot leave have no one to fight for them. No one. The middle class in this town are too busy fighting for the criminals

    The same people who cry racism over the GI, were the same kind who opposed school uniforms when kids were killing each other over jewelry and tennis shoes back in the 1980′s. They opposed cops on campuses in the 1970′s. Remember Marcus Foster? They opposed the crackdown on cruising around Lake Merritt. They oppose the curfew. They opposed the crackdown on the sideshow. They oppose hiring more police. We are all racists for not agreeing with them. The ACLU has been one of the worst obstacles to making this city safe than almost any single organization. The one common link for all these folks is that they never, NEVER, ever stand up for the dead. All the dead innocents shot to death for unloading the wash, or the groceries, or gardening in the front yard, or mowing the lawn, or doing their rounds on the security night shift, or stepping out of the family car after a fun afternoon of shopping, or shot to death in their sleep in their own bed. These naysayers don’t give a fark about the dead and no one speaks for them and how their loss has devasated so many of their loved ones. It disgusts me. And it disgusts me that so many good folk in Oakland just don’t seem to have anything to say about it. The fact is, we could do a lot to reduce crime and improve the business climate. We won’t do it and can’t do it as long as so many folks in this town view crime as a navel gazing exercise that doesn’t really affect them.

    I see that Richmond has a City Manager who is moving the city forward with a lower crime rate, more business coming to town, and so on. Another neighbor city getting its act together while Oakland waits for the Messsiah to arrive with more job training, more funds for schools, more after school programs, while more people die every week and revenues continue to decline and the weekly slaughter continues. So Richmond is poised to kick Oakland’s butt economically just like Emeryville did. Man, I just can’t take it.

  74. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    As someone who speaks occasionally on urban form and transport issues, is white, and almost under 35, I’d just like to say I largely second Daniel’s response to Len’s inquiry and also somewhat agree with Naomi’s subsequent responses. My own thinking on the GI’s oscillates somewhat. Overall I think it is probably a good idea, but after seeing some of the negative community reaction at the City Council meeting last week, I’m not so sure.

    Unfortunately, it seems that the GI has become a proxy for where one falls on the police-social services axis. To me that is off putting, because while I fall staunchly on the police side but am unconvinced on the utility of the GIs, according to Len I am “more tolerant of crime.” Daniel’s and Naomi’s rebukes of Len’s “quick to draw assumptions” and “presumptions about why…” were spot on, and apply more to similar if less thoughtful arguments by Livegreen and annoyed.

    IMO, we aren’t going to make a serious dent in crime until we have way more police on the streets. But regardless of the number of police, they will absolutely be more effective if they are respected by law-abiding citizens in the most crime-ridden neighborhoods. And that’s really important! Because at the end of the day, it isn’t me, it isn’t Len, and I’m guessing it isn’t Livegreen, annoyed, Naomi, Daniel, ralph or Dax that are most effected by crime in Oakland – to some degree we’ve likely all bought our way out. It is Christian, a Latino Envision Academy junior who was an intern in my office last semester and lives in deep East Oakland. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing he was against the injunctions. But I can’t tell you how much this smart kid from a working-class family pines for a safer neighborhood and a better future. He deserves better than the stupid platitudes and sloppy, simplistic thinking I often read here on this issue.

  75. len raphael

    Naomi, i do not lump you into the “if it comes down to libraries and rec centers or reducing opd to 500 cops, i’ll chose libraries and rec centers” camp. Should I?

    If i were king of oakland, I’d cut all anti-violence program funding before I cut libraries and rec centers, but if we mismanage fiscal stuff as bad as we probably will, it could come down to cutting libraries and rec centers.

    Annoyed, what can i say other than I can relate, and i’ve come across quite a few others who feel the same frustration. (my apols for venting on you Daniel). That white guy with the concussion from his mugging kept pouring himself glasses of wine and repeating the same questions you ask.

    Yeah, the school uniforms. That was a typical Oakland duzzy.

    Btw, you’re not the first former black panther I’ve come across here who feels like you do.

    I got personal satisfaction from speaking my piece at the cc meeting, when i ended by quoting an email from my younger son in iraq a couple of years ago saying how his sector near abu ghraib, was safer than many parts of oakland.

    Mattered not to me, that most of the listeners are absolutely convinced that if all the money wasted on Iraq had been poured into anti violence, job training, and education in Oakland, that there would be a lot less crime and violence here.

    You’ll never be able to convince many residents that Oakland’s continuing problems would be cured by spending more money on social programs.

    LG, if this has been a European country and Batts had been minister of defense, he would have resigned when Kaplan and Qwan blocked police at the Grant demo. He certainly should have resigned when Qwan got elected, but he has to earn a living so he tried for SJ. Now, he should just be upfront and sent out his resume. Let Qwan take the fall or succeed by picking his replacement.

    -len raphael, temescal

  76. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    And for as to why I speak on urban form and transport issues and not crime. At this point, I don’t think reducing crime is rocket science. IMO, you need way more police than we have, better police-community relations, and a low-tolerance for the small stuff attitude, aka the “broken windows” theory.

    But urban development and transport around here is about as close as it gets to rocket science. Oakland just approved a one-story building on a major thoroughfare 6 blocks from both MacArthur BART station and “downtown” Temescal (51st & Telegraph). Activists had to file an appeal to just have the drive-through moved to the back of the building over the objections of CEDA staff and the Plan Commission. BART’s Oakland Airport Connector is just a terrible fish-nor-fowl project that spends ridiculous amounts of money to inefficiently get people to the airport, when either a modest BRT would suffice, or a full BART extension would be expensive but at least efficient. Fruitvale Transit Village and Jack London Square are awful festival-marketplacey, suburban-style developments that are both located in happening areas where actual urban developments would likely have been resounding successes. And don’t get me started on the confused attitude of our leaders (Ms. Schaaf excepted) on parking and it’s pricing.

    Respected people in Oakland who get paid to do these things for a living have terrible views on these issues. And unlike crime, which could change in 5 years with different leadership and/or more money, their poor decisions will be with us for decades if not generations.

  77. livegreen

    Naomi, Leaving aside how you think (which is demonstrated by your previous arguments), the more important point is how the Mayor, Siegels, and City Councilmembers respond. How they address the meat of my points above is the core issue.

  78. len raphael

    never liked cleaver’s line about part of the solution part of the problem, but apropos here.

    between the highly intelligent, completely dependent on on city funding ngo people; the 350 layoff proof senior highly paid cops, similarly senior other city employees, and ill informed scared younger residents of east and west oakland, we’re never going to break the violence cycle here until residents stick their necks out, get off their butts, and literally march on city hall like those kids at the CC demanding a bunch more lower paid cops.

    the ngo’s and those group of lower seniority city employees constitute an unholy alignment of interest that’s quite effective as long as residents of the nice parts of town don’t get takeovers, drivebys,and street crime.

    it took a bunch of drivebys and shootings to push the North Oakland residents into action. I don’t think that would have been enough except that a bunch of time were trying to raise families here. One thing to chose the physical risks/rewards for oneself, but when one’s kids enter the picture, darwinian drives kick into overdrive.

    -len raphael, temescal

  79. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Livegreen,

    How our leaders respond to the “meat” of your points? You’ve got to be kidding, there is no meat.

    You set up straw women who that anti-police, extreme idealists who “do not believe in police or a functioning police department” and that the solution to crime doesn’t involve “ANYTHING to do with the police” and can be addressed by “ONLY social programs.”

    Those statements are absolutely false; no one serious about these issues believes those things. Which is why no one serious about these issues is going to address your points. They aren’t serious points, they are stupid points.

    The frustrating thing for me is that I probably largely agree with you on the remedies Oakland should be taking to address crime. Your simplistic thinking undermines those arguments by providing an easy foil.

    If you want people to respond seriously to your points, you need to make much better ones.

  80. len raphael

    hmm, lost the edit button?

    , and literally march on city hall demanding a bunch more lower paid cops, like those kids at the CC GI meeting.

    the ngo’s and the groups layoff proof high seniority city employees constitute an unholy alignment of interest against giving higher priority to security that’s quite effective as long as residents of the nice parts of town don’t get takeovers, drivebys,and street crime.

  81. MarleenLee

    OSA: Some of the anti-GI people really are part of the lunatic fringe, called “Critical Resistance.” You can read about them here.
    http://www.criticalresistance.org/article.php?list=type&type=5 Don’t think that there aren’t people out there who truly do not believe in police or jails. Or anarchy. They are loud and organized, and Oakland people actually “tolerate” this type of thinking, which, of course, is part of the problem. When these freaks get up to speak at meetings, there are cheers to the rooftops. When somebody else gets up and talks about how we need more police, and gang injunctions, they get booed. What is wrong with this picture? It is totally insane! I’m with annoyed. The backwardness of it all, the silence of rational people, the fact that we are not inundating City Hall demanding a return to reason and respect for the rule of law, it is truly sad. But we have no leader! the crazy anarchists, the unions, the non-profits – they are all rounding up the city workers and disenfranchised youth to puppet what they want said. The law-abiding folk who want more police and civility? We get accused of having the “stench of gentrification” about us and get insulted and shouted down at public meetings. We are not organized in effective groups. And nobody is even trying to make that happen.

  82. annoyed

    “And that’s really important! Because at the end of the day, it isn’t me, it isn’t Len, and I’m guessing it isn’t Livegreen, annoyed, Naomi, Daniel, ralph or Dax that are most effected by crime in Oakland – to some degree we’ve likely all bought our way out. ”

    I’m not offended that you didn’t read my posts. Otherwise, you wouldn’t lump me in with those you feel are most unaffected by crime or who “bought” their way out. I’ll just chalk you up as another yakker who has no clue what s/he’s talking about.

  83. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    MarleenLee,

    I didn’t say there weren’t people out there that think these things, just that serious people like Naomi and our leaders in the Mayor’s office or City Council don’t. That is a huge difference, one that appears to be lost on you and others. The vast majority of Oaklanders don’t tolerate this type of thinking, they find it incredibly silly, which it is. I also believe the vast majority of Oaklanders (including, I’ll bet, Naomi) think we should have more police.

    The cheers and booing you speak of is theater – it’s not insane, it’s interesting. If you were willing to pay attention you could learn something. And if you learned something you’d be better able to fight for your views. But instead you (and Len and Livegreen and annoyed) dismiss competing views with straw women and chicken-little posturing. Oakland is poorer for it.

  84. livegreen

    Annoyed, Amen to both your comments.

    OSA, Your 2nd point is to dismiss my points, not to address them. The fact is the Mayor & anti-Injunction politicians HAVE undercut the Police Chief. Ignoring that point doesn’t make it invalid.

    To your original point about why you are Anti-Injunction you base that on an interaction with 1 kid from the Fruitvale and how he MIGHT feel. Talk about platitudes!

    In the Fruitvale there are people on both sides of this issue, just like there are everywhere. Some of them speak in platitudes others not. On both sides of the issue. That is not the point.

    The bottom line is the Chief is NOT speaking in platitudes, and is perhaps the biggest expert in the City of Oakland. He has also proven to believe in mentoring and social programs.

    And yet the Mayor and opposing City Council members undercut him at every turn.

  85. len raphael

    for sure i’ve bought my way out as best i could. But not as effectively as if i had stayed living at the top of Panoramic Way (Oakland but only accessible thru Berkeley).

    I started taking the crime situation personally because both my kids went to Tech during a rough period over there, and both straddled the divide of college bound kids and jail bound kids because they played football. i met a bunch of kids I’d never have talked to otherwilse. They knew they were doomed if they didn’t move out of Oakland.

    But the last straw for me was the Jan 08 shooting of Chris Rodriguez a few blocks away from me. I didn’t buy “that could have happened anywhere” stuff.

    A drive-by up 49tth and Lawton 3 years, bullets spraying everywhere just pissed me off more.

    NSA, replay the CC video of Wendy Schneider my Temescal neighbor Uhuru supporter. Extreme yes, but lots of affluent Oakland people donate used furniture to their store.

    There are other groups that appear much more moderate than Uhuru, such as PUEBLO.

    But even that group proclaims “The Campaign for Community Safety and Police Accountability (CCSPA) works to challenge the racism inherent in the city of Oakland’s policing practices and fights to hold officers accountable to the community they serve by documenting and validating incidents of police misconduct and organizing community members to advocate for more responsive and accountable police practices.”

    OPD is guilty of many things but racism is not one of them.

    Mayor Qwan gave the founder a big hug recently.

  86. MarleenLee

    OSA: I didn’t hear anybody at the Council meeting, or Dan Siegel or his law associates, tell the anti-GI folks, many of whom were spewing absurdities, falsehoods, insults and prejudice, that they found these ideas “silly” or that they weren’t going to “tolerate” such ideas, not to mention the uncivil tone of the debate, including booing people who are trying to make their neighborhoods safer and more secure. For some people, the incivility and booing is “theater” I am sure. However, if you are one of the people whose life has been threatened, and you muster the courage to speak out at a council meeting, perhaps for the first time, only to be insulted and booed, it is not theater. It is not interesting. It is intimidation. And unfortunately, it appears to be effective.

    By the way, insulting people here on this forum (calling their points “stupid” or accusing them of “buying their way out” of crime victimhood or “not being willing to pay attention”) is uncalled for and an ineffective method of argument. Given the level of my involvement in fighting for public safety over the last three and a half years, there is no way you can accuse me of not being willing to pay attention.

  87. annoyed

    Wow. I thought I was living in the ghetto. Mr. Space Cadet has just elevated my vioent corner of the Fruitvale. Too bad his assessment isn’t reflected in the value of my home so I COULD buy my way out.

    You’re going to give yourself hemorrrhoids talking out of your butt like that.

  88. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    annoyed,

    He.

    It appears you are the one not reading posts. I was “guessing” about you, because I don’t know where you live, only where Len and I do. And I wrote “most effected” (sic), not “unaffected,” as you claim right after quoting me correctly, and “likely” to qualify that I did not know for certain.

    But unless you live in deep East Oakland and are a kid or young adult, I’m sorry, but you just are not the most affected; there are tens of thousands of Oaklanders who are affected much more. And guess what, those most affected seem to have views on police that I (and you, and others) completely disagree with and think are wrong. Figuring out how to respond to, effectively combat, and change minds on this issue is incredibly important. The first step is to not dismiss them, but to try to understand from where they are coming, the better to argue against them.

    You can call me a yakker with no clue if you want (it certainly would be in character), but dismissing those who disagree with you makes it much harder to win battles, much less wars. That sucks for me because I’m on your side.

  89. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Livegreen,

    I’m not anti-injunction. And my views are not based upon an “interaction” with 1 kid. He was in my office for months, and he has to live daily in probably the most crime-ridden neighborhood in Oakland. I walked into the CC meeting slightly pro-injunction. I still am, but what I saw at there has me rethinking my position. I’m beginning to feel they are mostly a distraction and a proxy.

    The question isn’t whether some speak in platitudes on both side of the issue, but that you do.

    I’m sorry if I offended you MarleenLee, but where I come from stupid arguments get called stupid, and writing things like anti-GI people think solving crime does not have “ANYTHING It does no good to sugarcoat

  90. annoyed

    You are truly full of it. I’m going to guess that you don’t live anywhere near Fruitvale or East Oakland and base what you know on a kid you met once who lives in the Fruitvale District or the evening news. But you know what’s best for us’ns, suh?

    Please take your plantation attitude and go away.

  91. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Whoops, that loss of edit is hurting me now. Strike “It does no good to sugarcoat.”

    …”ANYTHING to do with the police” is stupid.

    LiveGreen’s point that the anti-GIers have undercut Chief Batts is interesting, I’d love to hear it defended. But Livegreen doesn’t want to spend his/her time that way, and instead would prefer to write that our Mayor and several council members “do not believe in police or a functioning police department.”

    I’m not “accusing” anyone of buying their way out of crime victimhood, and if I were it wouldn’t be an accusation. I was simply noting that, in all likelihood, most of those contributing to this discussion live in far from the worst neighborhoods in Oakland. Do you think I am wrong?

    MarleenLee, I know your level of involvement and respect it. But in dismissing the opposition as insane, you do a huge disservice. It isn’t insane, it comes from a real, sane place. Better understanding that place is key. Which is all the more frustrating because you are much smarter than that.

  92. livegreen

    OSA, I have been to numerous NCPC meetings in both my community and others. One was to a neighboring community, after a young man was killed fleeing the gang he had quit (according to police, elected official, and his father).

    Near there another young man was killed when a suspected gang sprayed up his house with bullets, across the street from a known drug house.

    We ourselves have had drug dealers living next to us, and shootings on more than one occasion.

    This is but a small portion of my activity in my community and my activity on the issue city-wide.

    Regarding platitudes, it is also a platitude when anti-Injunction activists and Elected Officials undercut the Police Chief. Repeatedly, day-after-day, week-after-week, month-after-month. Yet you seem fine overlooking their platitudes, based on a big turnout at city hall.

    To Len’s point (generally, not aimed specifically at you or Daniel) this is an implied platitude that many citizens in Oakland accept without offering any solutions.

    The Chief offers solutions, the Mayor undercuts him, and then the electorate wonders what the solutions are? Gee, wonder what’s wrong with this picture. Around around it goes…

  93. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Come on MarleenLee, just because no one spoke up at the CC meeting doesn’t mean they don’t think that. Would you have spoken out? I certainly wouldn’t have. You don’t debate people who aren’t interested in serious debate, only in shouting falsehoods (see Livegreen, annoyed).

    And how exactly was the incivility and booing effective? The CC voted (at Batts suggestion) to continue enforcing the GIs, and wait on expansion until studying their effectiveness. That sounds like the height of reasonableness to me.

    It appears the sky is not falling as fast as you’d wish.

  94. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Livegreen,

    I’m concerned you may not know what a platitude is. I have drug dealers across the street, and have had shootings on at least one occasion, more nearby. Is this supposed to give me cred with you?

    You keep saying the Chief is being undercut, but you never elaborate. How? In what way? What solutions has the Chief offered? How has the Mayor undercut those? I’m generally interested, I want to know. It would be a much better, more effective, and more interesting (for me!) use of you time than most of what you write.

  95. len raphael

    OSA, thu cc effectively killed the GI with a one-two punch: eliminating the 40 John Does, and denying any expansion until completion of an independent evaluation.

    The independent eval of performance and costs was a good idea. Should be applied to Measure Y expenditures too.

    Cutting the 40 John Does seemed like a reasonable thing to me when i was sitting at the CC meeting, but thinking about how that would skew the results of an eval led me to decide it = shelving the GIs because, depending on how broadly the goals of the GI eval are worded, only apply the GI to 20 or so members of one gang unlikely to measurably reduce violence in that sector. By limiting expansion so that it can’t be expanded to members of other gangs, the GI could even increase turf violence there.

    To address the civil liberties concerns, council could have set some money aside for legal aid for civil suits. work out a settlement with Segal team for that in exchange for dropping the case. (yeah sure, that would lower the city’s GI costs tremendusly and skew the eval in GI favor).

    -len raphael, temescal

  96. len raphael

    And limiting the test to currently named alleged gang members, would spread the entire start up legal cost numerator over a very small denominator. Public will only hear that nonsense (yes nonsense) about how we could have sent every named gang member to college with the money spent on legal costs.

  97. livegreen

    OSA, I gave some examples of both my experience and experience of others affected by crime in response to your statement earlier about who is “the most affected by crime”.

    However perhaps I did not bring home the matter in as direct away as I should have: Even though I’m not the most affected by crime, I’ve still been affected by it plenty and have a right to ask for greater safety (for my own family and for others).

    The example I gave of the meeting I went to regarding people getting killed were examples of people more affected than I was and, although they’re dead and can’t respond to your theory about how the police might not respect them or their shooters, the gang members who shot them certainly didn’t respect them (or care about it for that matter).

    Either way, to generalize about the Police caring or not caring about people who feel that way is not the issue. First because people are dying, and that is more important. 2nd because not all the Police are the same and therefor those generalizations don’t apply to all the police. 3rd because OPD is EXTREMELY multi-cultural. 4th because so is the Chief.

    It is a false issue, and you have bought into it. For the few who have been disrespected by the Police, they have plenty of recourse through the Riders NSA to complain about those Officers, and those protesting at the Injunction hearing know it.

    Back to the meeting, the neighbors and family of those shot, the primary concern was not who the Police did or didn’t respect: they wanted more Police to deter crime to begin with and they wanted the Police to find out who killed their loved one (a general question there is the OPD Investigations backlog, esp. due to understaffing and NSA-induced high IA #’s).

    I’ve also been to meetings in the Fruitvale where plenty of people spoke up against gangs. And they specifically mentioned they were afraid of coming because they’ve been threatened by gangs before. One of those was an older Latina who spoke up for the Injunctions in City Council and addressed this point (also covered in an Oakland North or Tribune articles, maybe both).

    As to the use of the word Platitude, in my haste I used it incorrectly in a prior post when talking about pro- or anti-Injunction activists when I said they might or might not talk in Platitudes. My bad.

    But I used it accurately when I described anti-Police activists who 2nd guess or undercut Chief Batts decisions and advice, even though he’s the expert, and yet (beyond more social programs) wonder what the solutions are for the Police. This happens over and over again in Oakland. It is a political platitude on the extreme left, and it is extremely tiresome.

    To your question about the specifics of that, I will gladly respond a little later…

  98. len raphael

    talking it over with my 29 year old friend who belonged to one of the oakland latino gangs when he was a teenager. moved out of oakland years ago but still has plenty of family in east oakland.

    his impression is that a lot of older latino’s are anti GI because they’re worried that that their nephews, kids, and grandkids will get swept up and deported, put in jail etc. And they know some cops are racist aholes.

    he thinks its more peer group pressure, rather than fear of retaliation from gangs, that keeps the substantial number of older latinos from supporting the GI in a modified form. they don’t want to be seen as disloyal to to latinos.

    when i explained the mechanics of the GI to him, his reaction was that

    a. dumb idea to restrict it to one area and 20 or so members for the reasons i gave above. He said that while that one gang was currently the dominant one in that area, members of other gangs often come into that area because it’s the economic, shoping, restaurant center of East Oakland. Weaken one gang, others will expand.

    b. needs to have stronger protections for named members to get off the list when they turn their lives around without paying big bucks in legal fees. a lot of younger kids, like him, got into gangs, but want to get out in their early twenties.

    -len raphael, temescal

  99. livegreen

    Here’s how the Mayor and anti-Injunction council members have deliberately undercut Chief Batts:

    –the Mayor has named the biggest opponent of the Injunction, gang lawyer Daniel Siegel, as one of her most important advisers;

    –Chief Batts has recommended that OPD should have 900+ Officers. While running for Office the Mayor disagreed and said she can solve Oakland’s crime problem without hiring any more Officers (through Measure Y and other social programs, especially for the worst offenders).

    –She & the City council decided to lay off 80+ officers (an issue over which Chief Batts almost left for San Jose);

    –In order to accomplish that without running afoul of Measure Y or Marleen suing them when they did, the City Council promoted and passed Measure BB (keeping the social programs, firing the Officers);

    –The Siegel’s and their activist supporters have called the Injunctions racist and targeting minorities. Regardless of the fact that this is an extremely narrowly tailored Injunction, calling Chief Batts policies racist is ironic in the extreme. Anti-Injunction politicians have also made these claims.

    –The Mayor has gone out of her way to point out how many Officers do not live in Oakland. It is to the point where one wonders if she’s working to improve that or rub it into the faces of anti-police activists. To constantly remind people of this (as opposed to working constructively with the Chief & OPOA to improve it) does the opposite of improving relationships between Officers and the Community. (Regardless of the fact that I agree with her on this issue, it is how she handles it that I find counterproductive).

    Also, many OPD Captains either live in Oakland or grew up here, yet she almost never publicizes these positives.

    –Desley Brooks and Nancy Nadel have both labeled the Injunctions as tools of Gentrification.

    –At the City Council meeting Rebecca Kaplan attempted to limit how Chief Batts assigns OPD’s lawyers by limiting the amount of money the City would spend internally on current or future Injunctions (and regardless of whether or not that’s even legal).

    –Ms. Kaplan and the Mayor (along with Naomi) tried to stop OPD Officers from displacing the rioters (who ended up vandalizing DT businesses during the Oscar Grant riots) when Chief Batts instructed the Officers to do this;

    –The Mayor and City Council supposedly want a Chief that can address many of the community challenges in our diverse City. Yet when we actually get a Chief that is concerned about this, about community policing, who grew up in the ghetto & has experience on both sides of the uniform, and who demonstrated this by making improving relationships with the Community a core of his purpose, the Mayor and anti-Injunction Councilmembers ignore these efforts, and take the low-road to anti-police stereotypes and generalizations about police racism (as if these efforts had never been made).

    Most importantly, they act as if he were a caucasian chief from the burbs who has little to know appreciation for young men of color or community policing (like the last Chief we had), when he is the opposite.

  100. livegreen

    Also: While the City Council meeting was in session the Mayor’s husband Floyd Huen brought Norteno Ruben Leal, one of the subjects of the Gang Injunction, into the Mayor’s office for a personal meeting with her.

  101. len raphael

    Cops living in Oakland? Why stop at requiring that because they might do something sneaky like move to Montclair?

    Might as well make them live in the highest crime zip codes.

  102. Naomi Schiff

    I’m wondering about:” –Ms. Kaplan and the Mayor (along with Naomi) tried to stop OPD Officers from displacing the rioters (who ended up vandalizing DT businesses during the Oscar Grant riots) when Chief Batts instructed the Officers to do this;”

    Not what happened.

    My husband and I did walk through the crowd earlier in the evening, with the idea that the more respectable middle-aged business owners were out on the street, the better. (We have run a downtown business since 1981.) We had left when things seemed passionate but peaceful, and I wasn’t present at all at the moment you seem to reference. But I did see quite a few people like us, who felt that diluting the crowd might calm things down. I wish more of us had been there, because I think it would have been helpful. The people I recognized who seemed to want trouble were a small group perhaps connected with the old-fashioned spartacist league people (incredible throwback 1930s rhetoric). I called Revolution Books in Berkeley and engaged in quite a dialogue with them, begged them to stop attacking the businesses in Oakland that suffered, that it was ineffective, counterproductive, and hurt immigrant and minority business owners the most. I asked them how they would feel if a bunch of folks from Oakland came and smashed their store windows.

    I believe that Kaplan and Quan probably shared the feeling I had, that we could be the human control rods among the hotheads. We could have used more ordinary law-abiding folks to cool the situation down. As a downtown business person my interest was to keep things safe and to help protect neighboring business establishments.

    I’ve started buying my socks at the now-reopened shoe store that was attacked. Hope everyone will join me in patronizing downtown businesses.

    Livegreen, I’m just not sure why you are imputing things to me that aren’t the case. You might disagree with me on some issues, but we aren’t all that far apart. Call me any time if you want to check facts. I’m easily reachable both at home and at my business.

    Len, I do want to keep the libraries open. I worked pretty hard on it the last time around. Cutting the availability of places where people can go surely won’t help the city become more functional. Call me an idealist, but I want BOTH police AND libraries, parks and rec, etc. Looking at the budget, it’s not libraries and parks that are the problem anyway.

  103. len raphael

    Naomi, no argument from me on keeping the libraries and parks open, and adult ed (OUSD) for that matter, while staffing opd at 1,000 to get effective community policing without use of GI’s.

    To do that without getting subprime muni loans we’ll have to gut all other social/life quality programming, cut all wages by 25%, eliminate free retirement medical for existing employees, and get major concessions on vested pension benefits.

    i don’t see any of that happening except for the borrowing part.

    -len

  104. ralph

    The protest was peaceful until it wasn’t. With all due respect I don’t think middle-aged business owners mattered much to the rioters. If they had, I suspect they would not have rioted. Keep in mind the rioters were for the most part non-Oakland residents.

    I don’t see the point in rehashing the events, but after the rioters, not the protestors, initiated events that forced the policemen to declare an unlawful assembly, the assembly became a law enforcement issue. Problem is the protestors probably didn’t recognize the unlawful assembly as an actual law. I bet the rioters did.

    From a visual standpoint, I think what people object to is council member interferring with law enforcement activities. Some might call it anti-police, some might call it poor judgment. I doubt the event did anything to change the view of either supporters or non-supporters.

  105. Naomi Schiff

    You are right, Ralph. I’m not saying my idea worked; obviously it did not.

    But I do object to misrepresenting what I or anyone said or did, without taking the trouble to check first.

    My point in general is that categorizing and name-calling are nonproductive. Increasing polarization makes it harder to get solutions.

  106. len raphael

    Naomi,

    Am I taking out of context or sequence the video footage of Kaplan and Quan locking arms in front of the police line at the time when the cops ordered people to disperse?

    I confirmed my interpretation of the video by talking to a police Lt. a couple of weeks after the fact. The Lt was a few feet away from K and Q and got quite concerned that they were preventing him from dispersing the crowd.

    It wasn’t a question of outside or local provoquers. Stuff like small heavy cans of red paint were getting thrown down at his officers from upper stories of buildings.

    His superiors decided it was too dangerous to stand there take hits from above.

    He also said he radio’d his commanders first to make sure that there were exit paths for the crowd.

    Locking arms had nothing to do with what you were trying to do by walking around as a human dampening rod unless you accept K and Q after the fact story that they were protecting the cops from dangerous agitators. If that’s what they were doing, would think they’d have been facing the demonstrators, not the cops.

    -len

  107. len raphael

    Regardless of Q and K’s rationale for their behavior at the grant riots, why did they vote for hiring a police chief if they’re going to override his decisions at the riot, the gang injunction, and the youth curfew? Same the 300k/year and leave the position vacant.

  108. Max Allstadt

    It’s tragic that Oakland hired somebody that Bill Bratton called a “rockstar” and then proceeded to obstruct him and micromanage him at every turn.

    It’s also not really all that productive to dwell on the particulars and rehash them at length on a blog comment thread.

  109. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Livegreen,

    Thank you. Those last two comments are just miles above the drivel you were writing before. I’ve got some disagreements, but these are solid, well-thought out points, which is great because they need to be made.

    I would argue though that a lot of your points don’t amount to our city leaders “undercutting” Chief Batts, but simply disagreeing with him. By using the term in the manner you do, you seem to imply that no one should be disagreeing with him. I don’t think that is right. I don’t want the police chief determining the martial budget or staffing anymore than I want generals and admirals to do so, their biases are all too obvious, and they are not in a position to weigh their needs against others. And, like it or not, the GIs are a political and legal issue, which should be decided by political and legal means. Even if I agree with them, I don’t want a police chief able to use GIs without political and legal oversight.

    That the injunctions are tools of gentrification (to the extent that they work) is absolutely non-controversial; it’s the height of obviousness. Of course if you make neighborhoods safer, they will become more desirable and gentrified. Especially when you combine that with the immense building restrictions and high-entitlement costs that Oakland does, that disallows housing supply to rise in response to a rise in demand.

    I’m not sure what the false issue is that you claim I’ve bought into (#103), but let me just say I don’t have a “theory about how the police might not respect them,” nor did I “generalize about the Police caring or not caring about people.” My concern here hasn’t been with the how the police feel, it has been about how those in the community feel about the police – that is way different. And that certainly isn’t a false issue. You seem to dismiss it away with a breezy “they’ve got the Riders NSA” attitude, but I think this is something that those who favor the GIs should spend more time addressing and less time dismissing.

    But again thank you for finally articulating some thoughtful points. Now if I can get people to stop using loaded terms of demagoguery like “anti-police,” and patently false generalizations like claiming those against the GIs think the solution to crime doesn’t involve “ANYTHING to do with the police” or are “more tolerant of crime,” we can begin to have a constructive discussion about how to address these problems in our community. I think I almost have; my work here may be done.

  110. Ravi

    Space sez: “I would argue though that a lot of your points don’t amount to our city leaders “undercutting” Chief Batts, but simply disagreeing with him…I don’t want the police chief determining the martial budget or staffing anymore than I want generals and admirals to do so… they are not in a position to weigh their needs against others. And, like it or not, the GIs are a political and legal issue, which should be decided by political and legal means. Even if I agree with them, I don’t want a police chief able to use GIs without political and legal oversight.”

    Keep in mind the following:

    1. City Hall (Mayor and Council) have no coherent strategic plan for improving public safety, reforming OPD, implementing community policing. Or for competently managing Oakland’s problems in nearly any way. The CC and Mayoral roles are mostly negative, cutting funds and cutting programs because of outspoken constituents.

    2. Police essentially are not “martial.” There is a big difference between the military and the police. Just a little reflection and very little research should convince anyone of this.

    3. The GIs were not Batts’ idea. They began in the last year of the Dellums regime. Batts is willing to use them, or whatever tool is offered him, but I have my doubts, and I am sure he does too, whether GIs are any sort of optimal antiviolence tool.

  111. Patrick M. Mitchell

    “That the injunctions are tools of gentrification (to the extent that they work) is absolutely non-controversial; it’s the height of obviousness. Of course if you make neighborhoods safer, they will become more desirable and gentrified.”

    I highly doubt there are many people out there thinking that gang injunctions – successful or not – make a city more desirable. Unless you already live here and are considering leaving.

  112. livegreen

    OSA, I will note you attached labels to my comments first, then asked for information later. That is a backwards approach.

    Also, I am not asking for citizens or politicians to not disagree with the Police Chief. I am saying that on major policy issues some politicians and activists almost always disagree with him, and continuously work to prevent the Chief’s recommendations from being implemented.

    Like you, they equate their theoretical disagreement with Chief Batts with reality, and prevent him from implementing policy, to find out what actually will happen. That’s more than disagreement. That’s undercutting the Chief and his recommended policies. And it’s continuous. The totality of almost never heading his major policy proposals, the sum of the actions, that is as important as each individual action.

    This, combined with the fact that OPD is multi-racial and multi-ethnic (it is not your grandfathers police force), make the accusations of Department-wide racism false (the exceptions are not the norm). And the fact that Chief HAS been active bridging differences with the Community (acknowledged by many safety advocates living in poor areas) yet anti-Police activists and politicians say that he and the department are not. Well, both cannot be true, at least in generalizations (specifics maybe, in which case lets talk details, and lets not throw out blanket accusations).

    The only logical conclusion of this constant criticism of a multi-racial, community oriented Police Chief and Police Dept. is these critics will NEVER be satisfied by the Police, the Police Chief, or their policy proposals. And that IS anti-Police and it IS undercutting the Police Chief.

    By refusing to acknowledge actual change in the Police Department, anti-police activists and politicians can keep throwing out Department-wide charges of racism even if their false, and can be comfortable with their opinions and world view, even if they are false.

  113. livegreen

    BTW, that the Mayor was busy meeting with a Norteno gang member who’s subject of the Injunction, while the Chief was in the Council meeting advocating support for it and proposing compromise, is the pinnacle of working to undercut the Chief and show support to his opponents.

  114. Dax

    Interesting quotes of Russo’s regarding the future –

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/abraham/detail?entry_id=89630

    Zennie62, interview of Russo

    —————————————————–
    Russo says that even if the City of Oakland makes a seven percent return, the City would still end up onwing $141 milllion in each year 2024, 2025, and 2026 – a total of $423 million.

    The General Fund of Oakland will have to pay $141 million a year by that time. “It will break the bank,” Russo says. It’s also far beyond the revenue-producing capacity of the City of Oakland, given the population size and level of assessed value of property now, and into the future.
    —————————————————–

    Can we assume the 8 members of the council are counting on NOT being on the council in 2024?

    And for the mayor, does 2024 even exist?
    Perhaps Harold Camping is advising the mayor and council on 2024 matters.

  115. len raphael

    OSA, I assume you are tongue in cheek calling the GI a tool for gentrification.

    The people I heard at the CC meeting literally believe it’s purpose and effect will be to round up young Latinos and ship them to jail or Mexica to make room for well to white people.

  116. len raphael

    V, now what happened to the edit key?

    “OSA, I assume you are tongue in cheek calling the GI a tool for gentrification.

    The people I heard at the CC meeting literally believe it’s intended to round up young Latinos and ship them to jail or Mexica to make room for well to-do whites.”

  117. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Len,

    Those words weren’t tongue-in-cheek, but maybe exaggerated for effect. How about this:

    “tool for making the neighborhood safer, which will make it more desirable, which, without a corresponding increase in the number of housing units (extremely difficult without massive land use deregulation and entitlement process streamlining), will have the effect of pushing out existing renters for those more able to afford the increased rents and encouraging some existing home owner-occupiers to sell and live the good life (defined as far bigger houses for the same price) in far flung burbs, while others stay and (hopefully) capture additional future increases in safety and thus property values.”

    Now that is certainly clunkier, but given my haranguing this week on using terms of demagoguery like “anti-police,” I probably shouldn’t use “gentrification,” a loaded term as well. My problem is that I don’t really view gentrification as that bad a thing, certainly it is better than its opposite. And since we aren’t deregulating land use or streamlining entitlement around here anytime soon, those are pretty much the only choices.

    Maybe I’ll just settle on “tools for fixing up the neighborhood.”

    And just for the record Livegreen, I don’t have any disagreements with Chief Batts. In nearly all of your points above I believe he was in the right. My disagreements lay elsewhere.

  118. len raphael

    sheesh OSA, around these parts, the G(entrification) word carries more baggage the Oakland Airport sees in 10 years.

    East and West Oakland have huge empty areas that are not restricted to industry. Plenty of capacity for gentrification without noticeable increase in housing costs for the older areas. Might even lower housing costs by attracting capital.

  119. livegreen

    Actually in Oakland’s case the date does not support increased safety (OR jobs) causing gentrification. Instead it’s the opposite: blacks are leaving Oakland to find cheaper housing, better job opportunities, education, and yes, increased safety.

    From an Oakland Local interview with Urban Strategies: “Economic factors surely play a major role with many families seeking more affordable housing in outer suburbs and with jobs moving to larger corporations setting up in these ring suburbs also. Other factors include families seeking safer communities and better schools.”

    http://oaklandlocal.com/article/blacks-leaving-bay-new-report-black-population-trends-oakland-reveals-‘alarming’-results

    From the Tribune/Mercury News (including map of AfAm population losses): “The reason for the flight to the suburbs? ‘From what I’ve observed over the past 10 years, I think it’s redevelopment and violence,’ said the Rev. Andre Shumake, the Richmond Improvement Association’s president.”

    Anecdotal experience backs this up. A number of AfAm friends or acquaintances have recently left Oakland or are thinking of doing so. Their answers were that it’s just too dangerous where they live in Oakland and shows little sign of improving.

    A lack of safety (or appearance of safety) is one of the leading causes of gentrification in Oakland.

  120. Dax

    So many groups with their own special causes for gentrification.

    Obviously there are many reasons for African American families leaving Oakland.

    I find however that many of those quoted from groups such as Urban Strategies, or those against gang injunctions do not allow themselves to include all possible causes for the flight.

    You see, some of the real causes don’t fit nicely with their world view, so they avert their eyes and find other points upon which to rest most of the blame.

    For example, I think a fairly large cause of migration out of Oakland, does indeed have to do with jobs or lack thereof.
    No one seems to ever dispute that people come to a city, or state, or country, FOR jobs, so why would people question people LEAVING when they can’t find jobs.

    If you want to know one of the major reasons why certain groups are leaving areas of Oakland, look at who is working and who is not working. Who is being hired and who is not even in the hiring loop.

    Look at areas where large substitutions in populations have taken place and see in the nearby economy who is now included and who is largely excluded.
    Look at East Oakland where large and fairly rapid population shifts are underway.

    I mean, come on, wander around the industrial locations, warehouses, construction sites, … just simply drive around. As they say, “you don’t have to be a rocket scientist?.

    Apparently the Tribune doesn’t encourage reporters to simply drive around and see what is in front of their eyes.
    Instead we get articles with quotes from organizations with the ability to only give a abridged version of the landscape. One that comports with their prior organizational beliefs.
    If a real cause lies outside their organizational beliefs, they either dismiss it or greatly understate its impact.

    If the Emperor is cold, way down on their list of probable causes would be “no clothes”.

  121. Navigator

    It’s called work ethic or lack thereof. Asian and Latin American immigrants have transformed large swaths of East Oakland through hard work, being frugal, and pooling money for business investment. These new imigrants have taken discarded neighborhoods and commercial strips and turned them around. When Whites abandoned inner city Oakland, and took the banks with them, the immigrants picked up the pieces. Fruitvale and Eastlake are just two examples. Why hasn’t the African American communitty been able to do the same thing in other parts of East Oakland?

  122. J

    Well technically the African American community did have neighborhoods that, in the 60s and 70s were quiet vibrant. One such area was West Oakland on 7th that was essentially completely destroyed with the construction of BART, the 880, the post office, and the projects. so the community that they did build was destroyed by the government. However i do fully understand your point as to why the Black community hasn’t been able to recreate this level of success sense then.

  123. Dax

    Navigator, Very easy to just issue a “It’s called work ethic or lack thereof” proclamation.

    There are multiple reasons so many jobs go to many new and often undocumented arrivals, in place of some young African American men.

    But here, lets just see whats in the news today.

    “http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/24/BA8P1JJR6H.DTL”

    Yes, its often better to hire very compliant, often undocumented, workers who don’t insist on basic working conditions, basic reporting, basic workmans comp coverage, and basic taxes being paid on behalf of their labor..

    The issues I mention are by no means the entire cause of the employment problem in the poorer parts of the African American community, but to simply sweep it all away under the “lack of work ethic” is burying your head in the sand.

    It wasn’t that many years ago when African American young men were doing many of the jobs, in many of the areas where they are seldom found these days.
    I don’t think the main reason is because their entire work ethic suddenly dried up.

    Many people, business men and other leaders, have effectively decided they are replaceable and not as cost effective as newer workers they can bring in.
    Of course we all know the real cost of marginalizing a significant segment of our population. Why, the costs of doing so appear each year at budget time in both the state and local arenas.

    Its not like those we fail to include in our economy just disappear. Both in direct costs, indirect costs, as well as quality of life in a city, they are indeed very costly to abandon.

    I mean, isn’t this precisely what all these threads are about.
    Crime, violence, fear, police and incarceration costs…
    Yes indeed, these young men are a crucial part in this major industry. Its just that they’re not employed like everyone else.

    BTW, there is no plan in place to change any of this. The OUSD says 65% of African American males fail to graduate from the Oakland School system. If all goes perfectly that might get reduced to 55% over 10 years of progress.
    Meaning 11 of 20 would still leave school unemployable in anything but fairly unskilled labor positions.
    Positions for which we continue to recruit a steady supply of labor from elsewhere.

    This picture seems like a prescription for a bad-brew well out into the future.

  124. Navigator

    What exactly are “Oakland’s challenges.” Does the ground in Oakland reach up and grab people by the ankles and keep them from attending a free public school? Does Oakland rob and kill people? Does Oakland throw trash on the ground and vandalize property? Does Oakland make people sell drugs for fast money rather then taking an honest and honorable job which pays much less?

    As long as a certain segment of society chooses wrong over right, we’re going to have problems. I realize that most of the problems in Oakland are caused by a very small percentage of the population. It’s the thug culture which terrorizes certain neighborhoods.

    As far as jobs go, recent immigrants who start small businesses are going to hire family members, friends, and members of their communitty before hiring anyone else.

    The question is, do successful African Americans hire poor African Americans as employees? I’ve heard from an African American friend that African American business people are reluctant to hire young inner city African Americans because they fear that they’ll get ripped off.

    It’s a complicated situation. The number one thing is a stable household and good parents. We need to raise kids with integrity and respect for others.