Greg McConnell: Keep Chief Batts

This guest post was written by Gregory McConnell, President and CEO of the Jobs and Housing Coalition, which represents major businesses in Oakland.

Police Chief Anthony Batts came to Oakland with the promise that he would have the resources to do the job. Instead of beefing up the department, it has been cannibalized. We have gone from 803 cops to 656 with more losses predicted because of attrition. The city has no plans to recruit new cops. Now it looks like Batts may want to leave.

The community is saddened by this news. The Mayor expresses disappointment, but also says this may be a blessing because she could then appoint her own person. This issue, no matter whom you support, is very divisive, so I want to look at it with less vitriol and greater emphasis on what is really at stake.

The Chief applied for the SJ position in October. It could have been that the Chief was merely throwing his hat into the ring to gauge his professional appeal. Once the newly elected Mayor named Dan Siegel, a major cop critic, as a Chief Adviser, Batts may have looked at the decision and the resource problems and decided that he would consider leaving if offered the job. That is when he made it known that he is considering greener pastures.

Or, could it be that he really does not want to leave. His sudden announcement may be a ploy to register his great displeasure with a variety of decisions including layoffs, inadequate community support, and primarily to focus attention on understaffing. If this is his intention, he has played this masterfully.

The stakes for Oakland are very high. We lost 500 Clorox employees to Pleasanton and while the company publicly talks about better resource deployment, we all know that the crime problems at 13th and Broadway and throughout the city had to play a role in the decision. ABAG and MTC are threatening to leave the city and take thousands of employees to other locales. A crime dilemma won’t help those of us trying to persuade them to stay. Ten thousand residents were attracted to the city with the 10K plan, spawning new restaurants, entertainment venues, and jobs. These people thought Oakland would get better. What happens if they start believing otherwise?

Much of the current attention is focused on Batts because he has been seen as a man with a real commitment to solving Oakland’s problems. His possible loss is a real blow to our collective hopes for improvement of the city. Nevertheless, we must face reality, whether he stays or leaves, without major changes, we will have the ongoing problems of unrelenting crime, an understaffed police department, low moral, and a city that has no real plans to make things better.

I admire and respect Chief Batts. I hope the city finds a way to keep him here. With the proper tools and resources, he is capable of leading us out of this nightmare of unrelenting crime. On the other hand, even if we are successful at getting him to stay, if we don’t get him resources and clear community support, we will continue to be mired in the problems that have afflicted this city for decades.

Mayor Quan may see the opportunity to appoint her own chief as a blessing. But I predict that anyone who tries to police Oakland with 656 cops will fail. The problem is too big for one person. The community must rally behind a strong leader. We already have one, let’s support him and do our best to keep him here.

278 thoughts on “Greg McConnell: Keep Chief Batts

  1. Don Attlewood

    Batts’ departure would be an indictment of the mayor’s public safety plan. Simply put, neither he nor anyone else can perform the function of a police chief without the minimum of resources. However, he is first in line for the blame when the mayor fails to deliver on her promise for decreasing crime in Oakland. At this rate, failure seems to be most likely.

    I have to wonder: Mayor Quan, being such a stalwart supporter of former mayor Dullums, would be excited to see a Dullums appointee leave? It does not make sense, and leaves her in the awkward position of saying either: She disagreed with Dullums; or her enthusiasm for Batts’ departure is insincere

  2. Max Allstadt

    I think it’s likely that Batts wants to leave because he doesn’t think he can help a city that doesn’t want to be helped. It must be an incredibly frustrating position to be in.

    But we don’t have to sit idly by and accept his departure. Batts is popular enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if a grass roots fundraising effort could wind up donating a 50% salary hike to him if he stayed.

    The other thing that really needs to be addressed here is the intractable situation between Mayor Quan and OPOA. Every rumor I hear tells me that OPOA doesn’t want to negotiate or arbitrate. And for her part, Mayor Quan has stated that her plan to get the cops back is to offer them the same deal that they already rejected once.

    What can actually be done about that? I sincerely hope that council President Reid, who has a fine relationship with the cops, can work something out. Perhaps that’s the most politically viable solution: Let Reid do the talking and take the credit for solving the problem.

    I think he can do it. I think OPOA has no reason to snub Reid. If they want to look like they’re reasonable, but they don’t want to work with Quan, Reid is the go-to guy.

    Unfortunately, unless we get our force strength up in short order, I don’t see how we can keep Batts. If I was in his shoes I’d be at my wit’s end too.

    What kind of crazy city gets up to it’s neck in an ongoing murder epidemic, hires a rockstar police chief, and shortly thereafter decides that they need to lay off 10% of the force?

    Also, if the city council threw all their paygo money into rehiring cops tomorrow, how many would we be able to rehire?

  3. gregory mcconnell


    I assume the pay hike comment was to drive home the enormous support that Batts has in the community. I don’t think this is about money for him and I trust you were not suggesting that. You are right, every poll I have seen shows that he is one of the strongest and most popular public figures in Oakland.

    This game of chicken between the Mayor and OPOA will have 400,000 innocent bystanders and will only reduce Oakland’s viability as a place to attract investments that create jobs.

    The stakes here are quite high.

  4. Max Allstadt


    That’s exactly what I meant by the pay hike comment. It’s obviously not a money issue for the Chief.


    Bob Gammon is wrong. Particularly when he goes after Batts for not telling people he was considering leaving. When you’re thinking about leaving a job, you don’t tell anybody until you’re sure you’re leaving. Everybody knows that. To do otherwise risks undermining yourself in all sorts of messed up ways.

    If Batts leaves, it’s a very smart and talented man giving Oakland’s mayor and many of it’s councilmembers a vote of no-confidence.

  5. CitizenX

    I don’t disagree, Max. I wouldn’t expect Batts to say anything about the SJ job. With higher level government jobs, word often seems to leak out. Unfortunately, if Batts does not get the SJ job, I imagine his relationship in Oakland will not quite ever be the same.

  6. ralph

    If Batts does not get the SJ position, I do not think his relationship is beyond repair. I think it is possible for the chief, the mayor, and the council under Reid’s guidance to form a strong working relationship.

    Batts has made it clear that among other things he wants to improve the outcomes for young people of color. These goals are the same for the mayor. SJ offers the same challenge. I don’t think he wants to go just anywhere. He is motivated by something other than just law enforcement. He has a genuine concern for the community.

  7. MarleenLee

    Quan’s recent comment in response to Batts’ announcement that “it’s not the end of the world” is very telling. Apparently, it needs to be the end of the world in order for her to realize there’s a problem and do something different.

    I don’t blame Chief Batts at all for wanting to leave. The City apparently gave him a “three year contract” that included no obligation for him to stay three years. Pretty smart negotiating on the City’s part…NOT.

    Then they laid off more than 10% of an already decimated police force and cancelled an academy that was already in progress. Then they bamboozled the public into supporting Measure BB, that had the effect of taking away an additional 63 police officers, because the PSOs had to come from the existing ranks. Then Quan appoints her personal attorney and Brunner’s law partner, who supports the rights of gang bangers and looters, to her cabinet.

    Batt’s announcement, whether intended as such or not, is absolutely an indictment on the City’s utter lack of support for improving public safety in Oakland.

  8. CitizenX

    Guess it’s not the end of the world, when Oakland doesn’t have a crime problem. Since Mayor Quan took office, I’ve come to realize that Oakland has a lack of jobs and lack of after school and astronomy programs problem. Crime problem? Hah!

  9. Max Allstadt

    The biggest calamity here is that Chief Batts fleeing Oakland sends a message to every talented police chief in the country that could potentially replace him: “Don’t touch Oakland with a ten foot pole”.

  10. livegreen

    I agree with most points expressed here. Oakland needs Chief Batts. He has the ability to bridge many different communities, including advocating the need for public safety for all citizens (including minorities), moving the department towards a positive, productive resolution of the Riders NSA (Gammon is wrong on this point), improving interaction of Officers with disaffected members of the public (except perhaps with Gangs & Mr. Siegel), and crafting a solution between Patrol & Community Policing with a short-staffed department.

    I agree with Ralph that the bridge between the Chief & Mayor might be working with youth and mentoring programs. Encouraging Officers & the OPOA to actively visit schools might be an extension of that.

    But there are many obstacles too:
    -The Mayor said during her campaign she can reduce crime without hiring more cops;
    -The OPOA went a bit to far with it’s Robocall campaign;
    -Dan Siegel has got to go. It seriously damages the efforts the Chief has made to do more with less (the gang injunctions).

    -ALL the Unions are going to have to chip in. So far the City has made it’s “compromise” be on the backs of Officers. While I agree they MUST contribute to their pensions, it cannot be only about Officers.

    -Finally, there is a basic difference between my first point and how the Chief feels. That is, the Mayor does not feel we need more Officers, and the Chief does. THis is a big, big gap, and the one that concerns me the most.

    In addition to this, I believe there is a lag affect on the reaction of crime to less Officers. That is, the criminals don’t start shooting up the whole city immediately. They expand slowly, gain confidence, and expand some more. Especially the more organized criminals, like gangs, drug dealers, and gun runners (it takes time to “tool up”).

    It’s only early in the year, so to early to say. But if murders are any indication, things are going in the wrong direction (especially for the most frequent victims, young black men).

    If Jean pays no mind to this early indicator, and takes too long to react, it will take longer for solutions to be implemented and for them to take affect. And that will jeopardize her success as Mayor (which she should care about more than Dan Siegel’s personal feelings about Gang Injunctions).

    If, on the other hand, the Mayor, the OPOA, and the other unions are willing to compromise, a solution hopefully can be found.

    I’m not optimistic that any of these 3 want to find a solution. They seem to all be making a bet that what’s best for them is what’s best for the City, with no insurance (no hedge) if they’re wrong…

  11. livegreen

    BTW, Greg McConnell is right on the business and job front too. & less employment will = more problems.

    & Max is right about the affect on potential outside Chief’s of proven success.

  12. V Smoothe

    livegreen –

    The reason the focus last year was on the police and not other unions is because the other unions already agreed to concessions in excess of what was being asked of the police. They have done their part. Now the City is asking the police to contribute to their pensions in the same amount as all non-sworn employees, and less than firefighters.

  13. livegreen

    What are the contributions the other Unions made? And any links for further reading would be helpful.

  14. Bruce Nye

    Make Oakland Better Now! will be at council tonight to deliver a message very similar to Greg’s. Since there is nothing on the agenda that is any way public safety related, we’ll be delivering the message in open forum. This will be the first part of a multi-part effort to try to persuade CC and the Mayor (who presumably will be en route to D.C.) that their top priority must be finding new, cost-effective solutions to restoring policing to Oakland. Open forum is shortly after 5:30. Everyone is encouraged to join us.

  15. gregory mcconnell

    Thanks Bruce,

    I would join you but I am home in bed with a flu bug that I can’t seem to shake. I encourage others to join Bruce and MOB Now to make the points that you feel most strongly about. This is serious stuff that will greatly impact Oakland in many ways. Let the CC know how you feel.

  16. ralph

    Long story short, the police are the only union not making a meaningful contribution towards their pension. It has been well documented here and other places that all others do and FF made some concessions and contribute 13% towards retirement. OPD is the only PD in the 9 BAC that does not contribute at least 9% towards their pension. The city paid benefits effectively increase salary and pension benefits.

    I am not sure I buy your connection to officers and crime. Note, a number of outsiders target Oakland due to a perceived high number of either illegal or undocumented residents who may not be willing to report the crime. The reported rapes tend to be among people who know each other. Murder results from a business transaction gone bad.

    I have no idea why the Chief wants 900+ officers. But since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I have people in command request additional resources. Something about providing cover if promised results don’t materialize.

    PS: I might suggest you spend less time watching The Wire.

  17. MarleenLee

    Ralph: Here’s why Chief Batts wants 925 officers: (Data from September, 2010).

    Response times are far behind the state averages. 911 calls are answered in about 17 seconds as opposed to a statewide average of 6.4 seconds. As a result, 14.4 percent of all emergency calls are abandoned. Response time for Priority 1 service calls is 14.8 minutes on average, Priority 2 calls take about 71 minutes to respond to, and Priority 3 calls mean an officer probably won’t show up for two hours and eighteen minutes. Both patrol and investigations divisions sections are understaffed and overburdened. Unsurprisingly, many crimes are not getting solved. Last year, OPD had a 29 percent clearance rate for violent crime, and a four percent clearance rate for property crimes. State averages are 39 and 11 percent, respectively.

    It’s not like the criminals aren’t familiar with these stats. I also read a study recently that confirmed that when police departments are understaffed, there is tremendous underreporting, because citizens know that the crimes will never be investigated, let alone solved. While certain types of crimes are generally always “reported” (i.e. discovered) such as murder, many, if not most of the other crimes are going to be subject to underreporting.

  18. ralph

    I still don’t know why Batts requested additional resources. I do know alternative theories. If fewer officer were out on disability, it is possible that response time would be better. All I know is alternative theories.

    Crime is underreported. Crime is always underreported. I have been underreporting for years.

  19. Naomi Schiff

    I don’t believe Quan said that she wanted the lowered numbers of police officers. The City Council would have preferred not to lay anybody off. They are as eager as any of us to see crime stats go down. After all, they do get the angry phone calls. The insistence that Jean is some kind of pro-criminal radical is ridiculous and unhelpful. We needn’t translate our political prejudices into useless sniping.

    We have a budget problem and as noted by others, the older police officers seem willing to sacrifice the younger ones in order to keep their munificent pensions without paying anything toward them. At my workplace, employees pay something like 90% of their retirement! Nobody is shooting at us, but still that’s quite a difference.

  20. livegreen

    Ralph, I’m not privy to the OPOA’s & the City’s negotiations. However they mutually negotiated these terms in the past, & the OPOA gave up a 4% salary increase they were due. So they say they’ve contributed too.

    Furthermore the OPOA has stated they don’t contribute to their pensions because the City didn’t want them to during the rise in the stock market.

    It seems you and the City are saying that because the City didn’t negotiate the same terms to all unions & employees, the Police are the only ones to blame.

    Now I agree that they should contribute, and have repeatedly said so. I never said that they shouldn’t. The ONLY thing I’ve said is other concessions need to be given by other unions too. I really don’t see why that’s too much to ask.

    Quite simply, if you put it all the budget solutions on the backs of only the Police, and you support Mr. Siegel and others who are undermining the Chief’s efforts to target gangs with a smaller staff, you’re not going to get compromise. And that is going to prevent the OPOA from any ability to compromise, is going to increase crime, & is going to force the Chief to leave.

    Our elected leaders & the OPOA can make the choice: compromise for the good of all, or play politics, play the blame game, and lose more Officers.

    PS. Huh?

  21. Max Allstadt

    Just out of curiosity, how much money is in the council’s paygo accounts right now, and how many cops could it rehire?

    I think the vast majority of this city would prefer to see that money spent on cops than on solar powered trash cans engraved with “brought to you by councilmember x”, or trees with plaques that say “brought to you by councilmember y” or murals that are embossed with “brought to you by councilmember z”.

  22. ralph

    I don’t know what it is you are reading. I am not blaming anyone for anything.

    You are ignoring one key fact – all other unions have given back and are contributing to their pension. What part of all the other unions have made concessions do you not understand.

    The police are not contributing to their pension. Yes, from what I recall the police forewent the 4% raise, but everyone else did too. I believe some also took pay cuts. (Personally, I do not believe that the raises should be a set percentage. I think you can tie it to changes in price level and apply various caps.)

    PS: “tool up” sounds like you have watched one too many episode of “The Wire”

  23. livegreen

    Naomi, I’ve publicly heard Jean say 2x that she believes she can reduce crime without hiring more Officers.

    Who said Jean’s a pro-crime nut? She just has friends who believe OPD makes their decisions based on the color of the gang members skin. I don’t believe that. I think the Chief & City Attorney decided who’s on the Gang Injunction based on prior and current criminal activity.

    Since the City Council Safety Committee has advised they’ll review the Gang Injunctions, I wonder how much of the gang members records they’ll be reviewing, and how public it will be?

  24. CitizenX

    Oakland firefighters have traditionally chosen to make retirement contributions in exchange for relatively larger salary increases. When the City granted the 3% @ 50 benefit to the firefighters, they agreed to pay an additional 4% of their retirement costs, even though they were already paying the full employee contribution of 9%.

    The City granted them an 8% pay increase the year that they began the 4% additional contribution, so they received a net 4% take home increase (ignoring taxes) and a boost in retirement benefits. The 8% pay increase was the gift that kept on giving, as it increased other pay items, including those based on a percent of pay and, especially, overtime. Future pay increases further compounded the 8% bump.

    The Fire Department has never gotten close to their full authorized complement of firefighters, resulting in lots of available overtime. This explains all the firefighters in the $200,000 club.

    On the other hand, Police have refused over the years to pay into retirement and, one can argue, received less generous salary increases. They did not receive the extra bump the other unions did, when the improved retirement benefits were put in place.

    At the end of the day, only a market wage/benefit study would tell us which unions are relatively well compensated.

  25. livegreen

    My understanding is the OPOA gave similar cuts as the other unions, it’s just they forgave their salary increase instead of increasing their pension fund contributions.

    Look, I wish the City Council gave all employees and unions equivalent cuts during negotiations. I think it would be much more clear. But that’s not what they did or how they negotiated.

  26. CitizenX

    Max, I dislike paygo accounts with a passion. The politicians use the funds to buy favor and votes. The accounts should be eliminated. The problem of funding cops with the money is, what do you do when the money is gone? Ongoing expenses should be funded by ongoing revenues. One time revenues (and reserves) should be used for one time expenses.

    OTOH, one can argue to spend the money now and worry about tomorrow when it comes, but I think that is the very thinking that is at the core of Oakland’s current problems.

  27. ralph

    It is worth repeating Naomi’s comment regarding the older police. I’ve made the point here. Gammons made the same point in his 10 point column. CMRK made a similar point during her campaign. And anyone with half a brain knows that the older members are making this situation difficult.

    Fact: Except OPD, all BA PDs contribute at least 9% to retirement

    Fact: layoffs are LIFO

    Fact: when the LIFO officers are hired by another PD, they will contribute to retirement.

  28. Charles Pine

    “The insistence that Jean is some kind of pro-criminal radical is ridiculous and unhelpful.”

    Quan’s not radical, but when it comes to spending City revenue, she puts the police force last. During her city council term, we went from about 740 police to 658 at the start of her term as mayor.

    That drop is just not acceptable for the core duty of municipal government, unless you do not care about residents suffering burglaries, robberies, and vehicle smash-ins. She might not be pro-criminal, but she certainly ignores safety for residents.

    Now Quan keeps talking about shifting officers into the problem-solving slots while the current budget that she and council adopted last summer eliminates all police academies for the next two years. That means around 100 fewer police, by attrition.

    Also last summer Quan and council killed an academy in progress. She makes noises today that she wants more police to be Oaklanders. Does she not know that several of the recruits in the aborted academy had come out of the Cadet program, which brings up Oakland youth to enter law enforcement? Talk about hypocrisy.

  29. Jonathan C. Breault

    On his worst day Anthony Batts is 10 times more qualified and more effective in his job than any politician currently running things here in Oakland. The idea that Jean Quan’s cavalier and thoughtless pronouncement that essentially implies that the loss of Batts to San Jose would not be a tragic and substantially demoralizing loss for Oakland is testament to her inability to comprehend facts and reality as others less narcissistic and delusional do. Batts departure would be a seminal event in recent history as it would once again declare to the world that Oakland is not receptive to serious and highly qualified professionals and instead is content to operative within the odd, myopic and self destructive confines of its own distorted perception of the world. Parochial, provincial and decidedly fifth rate; a moniker not normally sought by municipalities that are run by qualified, educated and serious professionals who actually have an education sufficient to provide them with the tools to do their job. Batts is undoubtedly the most impressive and highly qualified person in public life in Oakland today. He is for all practical purposes irreplaceable. It is an odd confirmation of the obvious that a town which is afflicted by real crime and the stigma of crime which has retarded economic growth for decades would allow the one person in America who could actually do something about this. This never ending self destructive instinct so endemic to the social fabric of Oakland is a subject for which an army of psychologists might be employed.

  30. Livegreen

    Fact: Officers passed up a 4% raise when other employees agreed to contribute 5% more to their pensions (this does not include furloughs);
    Fact: 80 Officers got layed off. More than any other department.

    Now I totally agree the older Officers did in the younger officers. But the fact is the City Council made the decision to ax one department more than any other. The result is we pay the price by risking losing Chief Batts, & increased murders and other crime, and, even when crime did go down, a lower % of crimes being solved (an assumption on my part, there being less investigators than before).

    I agree, the OPOA needs to make concessions. I like Naomi’s solution of getting all City workers to pay significantly more into their pensions. Naomi, will Jean act on that one?

  31. Naomi Schiff

    I don’t know. It is all very tough, and as much as I might say “why don’t they just do x” a lot of it is hard to navigate. These union negotiations, about which I know little, will come up at various times, not all at once. I hope that the mayor’s going to be able to work with the unions to find some solutions that don’t hurt the city and do keep the employees we need, in a functional setting. I do know that as employees quit or retire, the city is being cautious about hiring. Some are not being replaced. But attrition doesn’t really solve the pension problem, and may leave us with too many staff in some depts, not enough in others.

  32. Frank Castro

    I agree with Marlene about the reckless comments made by Quan after this story broke. To have her say that Batts has done “an adequate job” is incredulous. What she should have done was praise him for the job he has done so far and hope that he would reconsider for Oakland’s sake. But no, Quan wants to make an appointment herself, while having Siegel whispering in her ear. That does not instill confidence that she will do what is right for Oakland. And remember, public safety was only her 3rd highest priority as stated in her inaugural speech

  33. ralph

    Your facts are nice but irrelevant.

    First, I fundamentally disagree with guaranteed wage increases. In the non-unionized private sector, employers do not routinely promise a 5% raise for every employee 3, 4, 5 years into the future. Wage consessions in the unionized world tend to be temporary. The unions find a way to recover that money in future negotiations.

    Second, I do not trust your math. 80 officers in an 800 person department amounts to 10%. 3 people in a 4 person office amounts to 75%. One can only lay-off people where one has people to lay-off and after laying off most of the city, the police department was the last group on the list. Furthermore, one needs to keep in mind that some were funded by specific funds. Without those funds, the people had to go. Just because you have not heard about the lay-offs does not mean they did not happen. A fair number of non-officers stood before council asking that there positions not be eliminated.

    I don’t recall Naomi suggesting that all employees contribute more to their pension. I suggest that new employees come in under a DC versus the DB.

    Dollars to donuts the rate of murder is not materially different this year.

  34. gregory mcconnell

    Ralph said: “Dollars to donuts the rate of murder is not materially different this year.”

    Ralph, I so hope you are wrong. We need to substantially reduce the carnage in the city. Maintaining the existing level of murders is not progress.

    Back to Batts, do we all agree that he is a fine Chief and we need to do what we can to encourage him to stay?

  35. ralph

    Yes, I, too, hope I am wrong to the positive. That was meant more to those who think that fewer officers automatically results in an increase in murders.

    I have lived in enough high murder rate cities to know that the number of officers does not change the murder rate.

  36. Andrew Alden

    “Or, could it be that he really does not want to leave. His sudden announcement may be a ploy to register his great displeasure with a variety of decisions including layoffs, inadequate community support, and primarily to focus attention on understaffing. If this is his intention, he has played this masterfully.”

    Sorry Greg, this strikes me as highly unlikely. I don’t see how he would get satisfaction. What would have to happen to keep him here? And how likely is that?

  37. len raphael

    Whether JQ is a cop hater or just a cop disdainer makes no never mind. For years she has consistently stated and acted on her belief that police are the smallest part of the solution to Oakland crime but the biggest cost to the city. She’s stayed true to her ideals by putting her stamp on various ballot measures and budget decisions over the years.

    At the city finance committee meeting on KTOP last year she had completely forgotten personally ordering a halt to replacement of cop cars. Staff had to remind her of her decision when the topic of cop car roofs leaking in the rain arose.

    A couple of weeks JQ made a photo op out of her meeting with the head of PUEBLO. She wasn’t doing that with the NCPC’s.

    JQ is hoping Batts gets the job at SJ or another city so she wouldn’t have to fire someone as popular as him.

  38. len raphael

    Batts is very replaceable and probably by someone either within the dept or formerly OPD.

    The issue is how the inevitable replacement will be found.

    Would be useful if we were told how the process worked when Batts was chosen. My understanding is that it was a broader group than just the Mayor’s office and the council members. Were NCPC leaders part of the process?

  39. len raphael

    Max, i’m not as sure as you that most residents would rather see the paygo money spent on getting more cops than trees.

    I think it’s closer to 55% cops; 45% trees, playgrounds, portable classrooms, anti violence programs, job training. And maybe it’s 50/50 because even the most pro more cop supporters realize that most of any additional cops will get absorbed by the problems in the highest crime districts before they see any improvement in local policing in rest of town.

  40. gregory mcconnell

    Ralph, I figured as much. Thanks for the clarification so everyone gets it.

    Andrew, just trying to make some lemonade over here.

    All, thanks for a good discussion without the back biting that can sometimes occur when discussing contentious issues.

  41. Livegreen

    Yes, I want the Chief to stay. As Len alludes to, some past & present NCPC and other Safety advocates might have sway. These include Don Link (ex-CPAB chair), Nick V. (ex-NW chair), Jose D. (ex co-chair of UNCO and current NCPC chair), Daniel S. (22X Chair), etc.. These r only a few of the safety activists who supported Jean. Together with Mr. McConnell, MOBN and others an impact can b made.

    However the real promises and policies r going to have to come from the top, and of that I’m more concerned.

    Our Mayor has a lot of work to do when she returns from D.C.

    Mr. McConnell and MOBN, how we can help?

  42. We Fight Blight

    How on earth can anyone be surprised by these turn of events. Jean Quan has long been an apologist for crime and criminals and she was clear on her priorities which did not include a strong police force with enough Officers. Oakland residents voted her in, now Oakland residents have got to live with the results. Not unlike Ron Dellums.

  43. MarleenLee

    Quan’s response in the press today basically amounted to: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” I hope Batts realizes that is not the sentiment of most of the law abiding citizens of Oakland. But in any event, I think the real pressure should be on increasing police staffing. Otherwise, it’s not just about Batts leaving; it’s about nobody else with any sense wanting the job.

  44. ralph

    I would argue that you can not find a replacement for Batts inside the department. Chances are everyone who would be in the running is most likely tainted by Riders and other past baggage of the department.

  45. annoyed

    Jean Quan was one of two council members who locked arms to prevent the police from walking by them during last summer’s riot. Who does that? Then OPD conducted an investigation of their actions. Do you really expect Quan to ever have a decent relationship with cops? Maybe the reason cops are leaving Oakland is because the leadership is bad and then got a lot worse this past November.

    And the Dan Siegel move is a swipe at Russo.

    By the way, , one thing I did not see mentioned was Batts’ exhasperation with this community’s attitude toward violent crime. This community goes apes**t over the assassination of Bambi but doesn’t bat an eye when a five year old child is shot up for no reason. For all the whining about crime, whenever there is a meeting hosted by OPD for the community, the turnout does not reflect a community terribly worried about crime.

  46. annoyed

    By the way, if SJ doesn’t work out, SF is also looking for a new chief. Gascon and Batts are close associates and I wouldn’t be surprised if Batts was recruited by SF if they do a formal search.

    This is devastating news but I cannot fathom why Batts would stay if he had other options.

  47. livegreen

    If Chief Batts doesn’t stay, I agree the options r limited, but some might still exist. Here’s a post from retired OPD Officer Ron Oz on one of the PSA listserves (also offers some insight about OPD’s evolution):

    “Oakland is a wonderful place …wants to be.

    The cat is out of the bag, that Chief Batts has sought employment elsewhere. This was not a news item for many on OPD where the rumors for his departure have been rife for over six months.

    Chief Batts has been an Oakland celebrity to be sure. And soon he will be gone.

    Mayor Quan is our Mayor now, and she has jumped into the job with full engagement. This is promising. We expect her to bring an entirely new and fresh outlook to the job. She must know that the common denominator for any and all innovation, change, progress, and confidence for Oakland’s future lies in developing, constructing and engineering, a Public Safety apparatus that is effective, respectful, connected, and widely subscribed. We know she prefers a preference for homegrown solutions, and the departure of the last four OPD Chiefs should highlight this all the more.

    Yes, the selection of a new Chief is all important… so important in fact that we better not repeat the mistakes of the past. Looking outside for a new law enforcement personality, however qualified the resume, testimonials, or interviews, still leaves us with three problems: 1. On-the-job training. 2. Gambling on effectiveness. 3. Wondering about loyalties and ambitions.

    We Oaklanders are a hopeful bunch. We give our employees and management full support and all we ask in return is results. We are gracious in granting time and will wait patiently. Yet, somehow our last four police chiefs have disappointed us.

    1. We need a Chief who knows what to do in Oakland.
    2. We need a Chief who cares for Oakland.
    3. We need a Chief with experience and attachment with OPD and our City.

    The natural choice would be to select a Chief from within OPD ranks. I know all the potential candidates and I can tell you they all mentioned they simply aren’t prepared to take over the job. I agree with them. Even though they are the smartest and best educated we’ve ever had, they lack mentorship, cohesive direction, a connected system, an apparatus that is engineered to be optimally responsive at community levels.

    There is a solution, immediately at hand, and with a probabilty for success unmatched by any choices or costs associated with a “nationwide search.”

    Many of you know Robert Nichelini. He rose throught the ranks at OPD to Deputy Chief and was unfortunately bypassed for Chief by a mayor who took the political option. Bob Nichelini retired honorably from OPD and became the Chief of Police at Vallejo where he has served for the past eleven years. I first met Bob in the fifth grade at Rockridge School and have known him ever since. He has always lived in Oakland. He is articulate, pragmatic, ethical, collaborative, respectful, well educated, and most of all knows Oakland like the back of his hand. OPD knows Chief Nichelini well, respects him, and would expect great improvement under his leadership. He is an attorney. Vallejo asked him twice to be their City Manager. He was also the Chief of their Fire Department. He has overcome severe resource handicaps brought about by Vallejo’s bankruptcy and he has never complained about the politics, the budget, or begged off his tasks with any excuses. He also commuted to and from Vallejo each day to his home in Oakland.

    Chief Nichelini has kept very close tabs with members of OPD over the years, and still visits and regularly counsels with retired Chief George Hart who served at the head of OPD for nineteen years. He is pragmatic, solution oriented, and demanding of results. He is the author of the 35-Beat plan which was extremely effective in instilling “beat integrity,” significantly lowering response times, and able to optimize limited manpower resources [625 cops] which were fewer 20 years ago than today. OPD needed such a plan, which was both strategic and specific as to details, because the crime rates and calls from citizens were at record levels… higher than today. He is an advocate of Beat Health. He knows that Community Policing is having a benign police presence that contributes to neighborhood harmonies. He can incorporate the spirit of PSO’s with the support of the rest of OPD. He knows contract law and will respectfully honor the dreaded NSA in ways that can satisfy all concerned. He still has a reputation for stern fairness, holding employees to high standards.

    I see Chief Nichelini every few months or so, and I have no authority to recommend him for OPD’s Chief except my belief that he cares about Oakland and expect he would at least consider the notion of serving. I know he knows what data to demand and how to interpret it from an Oakland perspective, land this has been the major demonstrated disadvantage this past decade. Nichelini had a target of “3 minutes” to answer any priority call. He knew that cops had to stay on their Beats. Chief Nichelini also has a working rapport with all the other police chiefs in our area. He knows Oakland’s past, has a stake in its present, and has visions for its future. Perhaps he should have run for Mayor, but he has told me he prefers to do what he knows best, and besides he speaks highly of Mayor Quan.

    Robert, as you read this, please forgive me for being so presumptuous, but Oakland needs you now and you can lead by example that we can solve our own problems.


  48. Livegreen

    Ditto to what Ralph said. The traditional media has lacked in reporting the positives and ongoing, non-protesting political activities at City Hall. If it’s not a mass gathering of people protesting gang injunctions, or people criticizing OPD, the Tribune doesn’t cover it. The only time they pay tribute to Batts is when they work it into a hit piece.

    This is why for information on the mundane, critical work that goes on at City Hall we turn to V and ABO.

  49. Andrew Alden

    Ralph, what “comments on the Drummond piece”? I can guess that Tamerlin Drummond wrote another snoozer, but there’s nothing in this thread mentioning her.

  50. ralph

    You will need to click over from V’s feed, “Chief Batts’ job hunt a disappointment.”

  51. DontBotherDelores

    Something is wrong with that lady at the Tribune.

    What would Drummond have done if the Tuman supporter (re: monsters) that got on this site during the elections had come after her. Here V just takes it and for free.

    There, Drummond actual wades into the comments section and attacks them. Thin skinned much?

  52. Colin

    I don’t have anything much to add to this discussion (I can see both sides and can’t pretend to prognosticate or have any inside knowledge), but I do want to make one point on Max’s comment:

    I have no idea what you do for a living, but at a certain level of employment it is entirely unacceptable to not tell anyone you’re looking at other positions. When you play a central role somewhere, you are obligated to make sure there is continuity, not just to give minimal notice and split. If a headhunter approaches you, you let people know regardless of whether you’re interested or not. Because it’s not about you moving on in your career, it’s about the job you’re doing.

    I’ll speculate that how this was handled will negatively affect SJ’s consideration of hiring Batts. Not to say he won’t get the job (I don’t know), but it’s going to affect how he’s regarded.

    He may have shrewd political reasons for doing things this way, but it’s entirely unacceptable at his level of employment, and I fear that it’s going to backfire on him.

  53. len raphael

    Greg, now that i read your piece completely, good to see better late than never that an active member of the real estate industry here has finally taken a position on how f’d up the crime situation has on all economic development here. A depressing force much greater than any zoning decision.

    Over the past three decades the real estate sector’s attention to politics was limited to supporting incumbents who didn’t directly frustrate developers and landlords. The first sign of moving away from that was a few big real estate players support of the lame Measure N (?) that was a creature of those same basically crime do nothing incumbents.

    You’re gonna have to hold your nose and support candidates for public office who don’t agree with you on all development matters, but are strong supporters of adequately staffed OPD, better schools, and solvent government.

    -len raphael, temescal

  54. Max Allstadt

    Colin, I’m a carpenter. I would assume that the standards of behavior you’re talking about are typically contractually enforceable. Did Dellums or the City Council sign a weak contract in desperation to get Batts to take the job?

  55. livegreen

    Colin, If I decide to look for a new job, I typically tell my boss first. That way he/she will get pissed off and fire me immediately.

    On the other hand, if I were to tell them afterwards when I know I’ve got the job (or a close potential to have it) I have a better chance at getting an improved offer or conditions from my current employer. And they will be much more likely to negotiate before kicking me out.

    Of course this isn’t just a job. This is politics. The City & the OPOA have been playing politics with Public Safety for years (and changing OPD policies every time somebody comes to City Hall and screams anti-police rhetoric, whether there’s proof or not. Apparently even when Gang supporters do).

    If this is one of the few hands he has, he should play it. & if the City choses not to work with him (because he’s been disloyal or whatever) then he’s got his options open, and that’s one more dumb move by City leaders.

  56. len raphael

    Colin, chief of police is basically a political appointment with the twist that oakland was so desperate for a strong candidate, that they gave him what every political appointee wants but never gets, a one way contract.

    three years from now, he could devote one sentence on his resume to Oakland and no one will bother asking him why he left.

    its not like he’s a line manager in middle of a project that only he can finish, or an attorney in the middle of a major case.

    more like a skipper of an old sailing ship in hurricane who can only lash himself to the rudder and hope for the best.

    we just have to find someone willing to let the mayor and council lash them.

    -len raphael, temescal

  57. Colin

    Carpenter, eh, Max? We should talk.

    First up, he doesn’t have another job, so it’s not like he waited until he had something and then announced it. Second, being the Chief of Police isn’t a job in the same sense that working at TGI McFunsters is. You take on more responsibility, and part of that responsibility is not leaving places in the lurch.

    I’ve never heard of anyone being contractually obliged not to seek other employment. That’s probably illegal, but also irrelevant because nobody who is doing a big job would be willing to just walk. You take ownership of the position and don’t treat it like a job. If there are problems, those are your problems – not the company’s, not the city’s. Yours.

    If there are things making your essential job undoable coming from above your head, you bring them up and put them on the table because they are your responsibility. If things really can’t be resolved and the cause of your problems is entirely outside of your control, you ask your boss how long they will need to replace you and you stick around for a few extra months to make sure there’s a smooth transition. At that level of employment it’s not like you’re worried about keeping money rolling in or need to send out resumes.

    Some jobs it’s fine to just leave – I did inside sales and printed t-shirts and gave notice at those places once I had something else lined up. Those are jobs, and it’s fine to treat them as such. But if you’re literally responsible for a city’s police force, you don’t look for a job and then announce that you’re being considered somewhere else afterwards. If you’re unhappy and planning on moving on, you tell people and make sure that you get out of there smoothly. There is no retaliation and there is no firing – you’re the chief of police, and therefore essential to basic operation of the department. It’s bad enough that you’re admitting that you failed to understand the scope of just how hard the job would be and could not execute it, but you don’t want your other eye blackened because you left your last boss in the lurch because of it.

    Batts is responsible for the department. All of it’s woes sit on his shoulders, not just the ones he wants. He knew that going in and he’s being compensated based on that fact. It is in the definition of the position that it will be harder than you think and that you will feel defeated by forces outside of your control. That doesn’t justify bailing.

    If the cool, well-adjusted kids up the block ask you to come be their parents, you don’t get to just dump your inferior kids and move in with your new, improved family. Yes, high profile positions do rise to this level of commitment – it’s part of the deal.

  58. livegreen

    Colin, He’s not alone in being responsible for OPD or safety in the City. SO are the City & City Council. & if they’re not heading his recommendations, or are micromanaging him (which they are, at every tip of the political scale), HE is not to blame for their actions.

    And if you expect any really good police Chief who is one of (if not THE) most popular public official in Oakland to continue being undermined and sit there and take it, well,
    he doesn’t have to. And that’s exactly the kind of expectation that got us into this mess.

    Sure, blame the guy for being put in an impossible situation by our City leaders. That will help him stay. And it should really help Oakland’s recruitment efforts.

  59. ralph

    I think reaonable minds can disagree, and I disagree with everything Colin said about the chief’s actions.

    I think Batts is a stand-up guy, who under very difficult circumstances, has done an admirable job. He has handled this potential new opportunity with grace and been very respectful of all. I am sure, should he not get the SJ Chief’s position, there are some who would like for him to be dismissed, but I believe Batts is sincere in his commitment to improve the outcomes for young men. Do we really want to cut off our nose to spite our face?

    Chief Batts is a good man.

  60. Colin

    Ralph – don’t you dare go calling me reasonable.

    I should clarify that I have no real insight into whether the job was undoable or not, or whether he’s making the smart decision to leave. While I have my opinions, I just don’t know. I also don’t know him so won’t pretend to have any insights into his character, but my impression of him is that he’s a good guy – smart, articulate, and very capable.

    None of that is the issue.

    There is a reasonable expectation of anyone in a position of authority to take responsibility not just for their position as they serve, but also how they leave it. Batts is leaving this position the way you would leave a job at Denny’s. Perhaps that is an expression of his anger at how he’s been treated. I can certainly build a scenario in my mind where that is the obvious reason for his desire to leave. But perhaps he sees himself as a man on the rise who can choose whatever position he wants based on his reputation. I can also build that scenario. I don’t know what the truth is and won’t pretend to. But I do know that the manner in which he is choosing to leave doesn’t shine well on him.

  61. Livegreen

    “There is a reasonable expectation of anyone in a position of authority to take responsibility”. But apparently not our elected officials…

  62. Mry

    Is everybody forgetting, that it was a huge
    surprise to the Long Beach community that he was leaving to come here? If my memory serves me correctly, they found out when Dellums announced it.

  63. Oakland Space Academy

    We Fight Blight: I wasn’t a huge Jean Quan fan during the election, and little of what she’s done so far appeals to me. But I think it is entirely unfair to characterize her position as being “an apologist for crime and criminals.”

    I mean, I don’t agree with her on the effectiveness of social policies versus more police officers (to be simplistic) in reducing crime, but that does not make her an apologist, she just has different ideas than you (and I) about what to do to reduce it.

    Mis-characterizing the positions of those you disagree with is not only an ineffective way to win arguments, but more importantly, to craft better policies in the future.

  64. Oakland Space Academy

    Colin: You have odd notions of the responsibilities of someone looking to change employers. Would you explain how you arrived at them? I’m not being facetious, I’d really like to know.

    I can’t imagine notifying an employer the moment I am looking at other positions. In fact, “at a certain level of employment,” one is always looking at other positions. I actually don’t know enough about the specific situation to know, but my guess is that Batts feels a bit like this may not quite be becoming what he signed up for (for a variety of reasons), which I think will be an easy case for him to make with future employers. So I just don’t think this hurts him.

  65. len raphael

    Sounds like Batts didn’t get good intel before he moved to OPD, because low as city and public moral support of public safety is now, it wasn’t any higher when he decided to come here.

  66. ralph

    Colin – you are right. Calling you reasonable is a huge leap on my part.

    First, the Denny’s comparison is way off base. Second, alternate theories need to be viable.

  67. gregory mcconnell


    Pubic Safety has been a core issues for the Jobs and Housing Coalition since it was founded. We have been involved in every major issue since we launched the Safe Streets Committee to increase the number of police and led the discussion about the importance of addressing crime in the city.

    I am mystified by the “late rather than never” comment. But back to the issue at hand, we need to come together to solve Oakland’s unrelenting crime problems and Batts is an important part of the equation. This city will never meet its potential al long as the criminal element is give a free hand.

  68. We Fight Blight

    Oakland Space Academy,

    My characterization of Jean Quan as an apologist for crime and criminals in Oakland is based on the mutliple reports of her comments she has made over the years on crime, as well as witnessing her statements personally, where she consistently downplays the severity of our crime problems in Oakland and the severity of crimes committed by criminals. The definition of an “apologist” is one who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something. In this case she defends the idea that we really don’t have a significant crime problem and that all criminals really need are jobs. When she was robbed at gunpoint she downplayed the mugging by attributing the crime to a lack of employment opportunties. The culture of violent crimes that make Oakland one of the most crime ridden Cities in the United States is more complex than Quan portrays and cannot be defended on the basis of a lack of jobs. My comments stand. They are not mischaracterizations of Quan, but simply a reflection of her position honed over many years. BTW, I do disagree with her focus on social programs versus police to address crime. I would challenge anyone to provide a serious study that shows the effectiveness of social programs in reducing crime–e.g what is the cost per unit of crime reduction? You will likely find the outcomes are vague and the costs high. Some of these social programs are nothing more than jobs programs for those who run them. Oakland will continue to have unacceptably high crime rates compared to other cities until it provides a police force that can respond to crimes in progress and patrol the streets and act as a deterrent.

  69. Naomi Schiff

    WFB: It is not an either/or. We need social programs AND we need a strong police department. The issue is how we get there given our woeful budget and our problematic pension deals. I appreciate that Jean is working to improve the perception of Oakland as a liveable place beyond its crime rate, much played up in the media, but not the whole story. One of the most important things the mayor can do is to spearhead improvements in Oakland’s self-perception and its image to the outside world. We need to improve crime statistics, but we also need not to promote some notion of how terrible we are. We can hate crime, support social programs, strengthen the police department, and support the mayor’s efforts too, without contradiction. What we need is to figure out the budget, and get real with our police union, as well as the other groups making outdated demands on funds we don’t have. Police staffing is not the only factor.

  70. Anders


    It’s not that WFB doesn’t understand the complexity of our situation, it’s that Quan misses the complexity of our situation.
    And that’s frightening.
    When I watched her swearing in on KTOP, she started talking about crime and one sentence in she went to talk about kids and my heart sank. She doesn’t seem to get that an army of social workers and mentors are not going to solve Oakland’s crime problem. Her response to Batts potential has been a big “Whatever”. It’s frightening that she takes none of this seriously.

  71. livegreen

    Naomi, I agree with most of what you said, but I’m not sure Jean does. Again, I heard her say 2x during the campaign that she thinks she can bring crime down without hiring more Officers.

    So how is this strengthening the police department?

    I’m willing to be proven wrong in this. But the proof I need is action from the Mayor and City Council. And right now I’m not holding my breath.

    The fact is that Chief Batts has concentrated on doing more with less, by targeting gangs and known criminals. & now what does the City Council Safety Committee promise to do? A top to bottom review of that strategy.

    Who does the Mayor bring on as an advisor? The lawyer for one of those gangs.

    When it comes to public safety, I fear that City Hall makes decisions based on who yells the loudest. And right now it’s people defending the gangs and calling the Police (and Chief Batts policies) racist because the gangs are mostly latino and black.

    The Mayor and City Council must step up to the plate, show leadership, and address this now. The situation is at a logger head. It won’t simply go away by finding a new chief (even if it becomes necessary).

  72. Colin

    Space Academy et al -

    One of my close friends was a VP at a large tech company just south of here, responsible for all of their product development. Another was an art director at one of the largest design firms in the world. When they left their positions, it was a year-long process for both of them, following a couple of years of trying to right the ship.

    Another friend currently runs all of the TV commercial production for one of the biggest ad firms on the west coast and, after years of struggle, has put the option of him leaving on the table with his employers. He expects to be leaving in a year or two. He’s hugely respected in his field and could have a job anywhere tomorrow, but he’s eager to make his transition out smooth because he doesn’t want to crap all over what he’s spent the last 15 years doing. He feels responsibility for the team he’s put together and the company which he has represented for so long.

    In certain roles, you’re hired to take responsibility. You’re not hired to do a job as outlined with a skill set listed on your resume, you’re hired to take control of a department/company/force and lead it. You define what that position is and therein define the company. You’re also expected to bring stability and focus, and when you leave it has to be with an eye to the department’s continued success, not ones own gain. Who in their right mind would hire someone for an important position when they know their commitment level doesn’t run deeper than their own self interest?

    The Chief of Surgery at the Mayo Clinic doesn’t just announce that he’s fielding other offers. He discusses it well beforehand and, once a plan for his departure is in place, he announces it. Robert Gibbs didn’t announce he was going to leave the Obama Whitehouse, he likely talked about it for months beforehand and is making sure that the transition is smooth.

    If it’s true that Longbeach found out Batts was leaving when he announced that he was coming to Oakland, that’s a problem.

    Again, though – I have no idea why he wants to leave, and don’t begrudge him that desire no matter what the reason. No issue with that what so ever.

  73. Dax

    If Oakland continues to have a *70% dropout rate in groups of its young men, and yet continues to facilitate more and more unskilled, entry level labor to enter the city’s labor pool, can there be any other expected outcome except more crime by those who have fewer hopes of employment.

    (* as cited by Jean Quan last weekend)

  74. CitizenX

    Colin, I understand your point, but most higher level government employees are “at will”. Jean Quan just let the Asst City Administrator and Budget Director go — poof! Jerry Brown did some of his own housecleaning. I’m not sure that it is reasonable to expect a certain standard from the employee, when the employer feels free to dismiss at a moments notice.

  75. Colin

    Any of my friends could have been fired at a moment’s notice and had contracts that reflected that reality. If that were to have happened, the respective companies would have had transition plans in place by the time that happened and there would be some continuity.

    I get that it seems unfair to suggest that someone can be fired but can’t quit, but it’s a reality. It’s also about professionalism. No surgeon would quit in the middle of surgery, no matter how much back pay he may be due. Some jobs can’t be treated as just another job.

    Anyway, agree or disagree I think I’ve made my point and don’t want to distract for the more important theme of the post.

  76. ralph

    Colin – thank you. I have yet to buy what you are selling. So, I am glad you have decided to stop selling it.

  77. We Fight Blight

    So this seems to be a chicken and the egg dilemma. More police or more social programs. Which comes first. Frankly, you can’t have it all given Oakland’s severe budget crisis. Social programs are paid for by taxing residents and businesses. Taxes are generated from those desiring to purchase property, hold property, improve property, open businesses, buy goods and services, and recreate in Oakland, among other activities. If Oakland continues to have both a real crime problem, demonstrated by its absurdly high levels of crime, and a perception that it is dangerous (just ask about anyone that does not live in Oakland), then we will have problems with foregone tax revenues because we will continue to have a significantly lower demand for people to locate their homes and businesses in Oakland and shop and recreate in Oakland. The only way, at least in the short term, to address both the reality and perception of our crime problem is to hire more police so that there is both a deterrent to crime from the visible presence of more police on the street and so that the police can actually respond faster to crimes in progress and catch and lock up the criminals. If people feel safer because of the presence of more police they are more likely to want to do purchase homes, conduct business, etc. in Oakland. Generate more tax revenues and it gives the City more money and opportunities to pay for social programs–hopefully ones that have well thought out performance measures. Or you can spend lots of money on social programs with dubious performance measures and hope for long term outcomes that do little in the short term. The focus for Oakland should be growing our tax base because frankly that also involves job creation and business development.

  78. len raphael

    WFB, maybe that physicist in NM is on to something when he claimed recently that every citiy can be summarized by the same set of complex equations.

    less of a chicken or egg thing, than a state of equilibrium.

    somewhat insulting to every city’s belief in exceptionalism.

    hard to see the current mix of city government controlled factors changing much over the next 4 or 5 years.

    the cost of hiring new cops will drop sooner than later, social outlays will also decline, but the general fund outlays for all employee retirement costs will more than offset those drops.

    this makes me sound more of redneck than i am in person, but i think the only hope in the next 10 years are changes in the demographics of people most likely to do bad stuff.

    I get a headache trying to second guess what the effect of Brown’s budget cuts or a tea party influenced Congress immigration policy will have on the demographics.

    Time to check out that physicist’s models.

    -len raphael, temescal

  79. gregory mcconnell

    Today, a good friend and a smart guy wrote to me and said: “Maybe someday we will get to the underlying cause of Oakland’s huge crime problem, unemployment and hopelessness.”

    I found that statement stunningly simplistic and right on target.

    I have been looking at the posts and there are many really good ones. Perhaps, there is a silver lining to this Police Chief problem. It is causing us to think through a lot of complex issues on the public safety front. I hope we can distill some of this into a plan of action that survives the immediate issue with Chief Batts.

  80. Livegreen

    Maybe Greg. But I think a big partof the challenge is that the voices who yell “racism” at everything that moves, including black police officers, don’t have to prove their claims and yet r taken at face value by our elected officials.
    Probably for fear that they will b the next target of such claims.

    I know that racism exists. I know that minorities experience it far more than caucasians. But I don’t believe that categorically all OPD officers r racist.

    When activists can encourage a large group to city hall and charge an African American Chief of Police’s anti-gang policies as being racist, without proof & simply because members of that gang r Latino or African American, we’ve got a problem that is not going away any time soon.

    Especially when the Chief and City Attorney have repeatedly addressed how they’ve addressed this specific concern, and it falls on def ears…

  81. Naomi Schiff

    It is not necessarily the case that more cops equals less crime, in a linear relationship. Effectiveness is also related to what those cops are doing. Remember, we have a lot fewer people on patrol than people think. Many of the other functions police perform may be needed too, but it just isn’t a matter of cops or no cops. What type of police activity is it that is wanted? How much of it can be preventive rather than defensive? What should we do about the counterproductive heavyhandedness that sometimes undermines the effectiveness of police work? How do we get the community support that is needed for truly effective policing? I agree with Greg M. that it’s complex. We need nuance, not polarization.

  82. Oakland Space Academy

    WFB: I agree with most of what you write. But Jean Quan does not “speak or write in defense of crime.” She just has different ideas of how to combat it. You and I disagree with her. Mis-characterizering her position leaves you and I in a worse position than if we characterize it correctly, and then refute it. Period.

  83. Oakland Space Academy

    WFB: Just so we are all clear, police officers (like social programs) are paid for by taxing residents and businesses. And police services (like social programs) need to have performance measures. Better government services, whether they be police or social services, is something toward which we should always strive.

  84. Oakland Space Academy

    Colin: I understand where you are coming from, but I think your analogies are unwarranted. The examples you cite are much longer timelines. Batts has been here a yearish; he looks to be giving a monthish notice. Especially because I’m not sure this is what he signed up for, it certainly seems about right to me.

    And he definitely isn’t leaving in the middle of surgery.

  85. Oakland Space Academy

    Naomi: Great points at 71 & 83. I used to discount the notion that Oakland’s poor image was largely media-driven, but having been here for 5 years now, I’m not so sure. The crime in Oakland is certainly too high, but so is crime in all central cities. And there are large parts of Oakland that are as safe as anywhere, especially when you factor in traffic accidents.

    I too think an important aspect of being Mayor is to be your city’s champion to both residents and neighbors. I wish Quan well, though I’m not sure she has it in her to do that effectively. I hope I’m wrong. Though I can’t imagine we can do worse than how we became a ‘model city’ the last 4 years.

  86. We Fight Blight

    Naomi no matter how you cut it we have too few cops. Period. Of course we want all of our public employees, including cops, working at the most efficient and effective levels. We have been strong advocates for government accountability, transparency and efficiency–which, in general, the City of Oakland does not achieve.

    Naomi when you talk about this amorphous, counterproductive heavyhandedness can you cite an example or two. Crime is disproportionately concentrated in certain neighborhoods in Oakland. There are certainly some in those neighborhoods who would prefer less of a police presence so they can continue their illegal and anti-social behaviors. Are those the ones who are suffering from counterproductive heavyhandedness? Or is it the protestors that destroy downtown Oakland over the Oscar Grant incident? Nuance hasn’t gotten Oakland very far. Reminds me of Dellum’s initial claims that Oakland doesn’t want a police state so we shouldn’t hire more cops. He was roundly lambasted by the public and changed his position 180 degrees by hiring more cops.

    Perhaps we should try a more conventional approach to crime prevention which is to staff up our police force so that there are an adequate number of police who can bring our response times to crimes more in line with the average City in California. Is that really asking too much? Is that polarizing?

    Suggesting that a bigger police presence to act as a deterrent to criminials and to respond promptly to crimes is a polarizing position, is, well a little polarizing. We for one want to feel safer in our community. Having more, rather than fewer, police achieves that for us.

  87. Max Allstadt


    “It is not necessarily the case that more cops equals less crime, in a linear relationship.”

    Do you have data to back that up, or did you just pull that notion out of thin air? SF, Long Beach, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Seattle…. all have many more cops per capita than Oakland, and all have far lower rates of violent crime.

    Can you come up with a bunch of examples of large American cities with fewer
    cops per capita than Oakland, with lower crime rates?

  88. V Smoothe

    A couple of years ago, I ran the numbers on per capita crimes and sworn officers for all US cities with a population over 300,000. I found that Oakland’s police officer to population ratio was roughly equal to that of the lowest crime cities. Higher crime cities for the most part had far more officers per capita, which makes sense when you think about it, since the more crime you have, the more police officers you need to respond to crimes and so on.

  89. MarleenLee

    As was recently pointed out to me by an Oakland official trying to defend Oakland’s abysmal police staffing, San Jose has few cops per capita, and a much lower crime rate. Which in my mind proves nothing other than Oakland desperately needs more cops; we’ve been ranked the fifth most dangerous City in the country, while San Jose is among the safest. Oakland has a different population, different cultural issues, whatever. Unless you don’t have the faintest clue about what is really going on in Oakland, you will recognize we desperately need more officers.
    I read a study recently regarding the correlation between crime and police staffing. The numbers get skewed, because when everybody knows there’s understaffing, they don’t even bother to report a huge percentage of the time. When staffing goes up, people are more likely to report. So the inaccuracy in reporting and actual crime makes it difficult to actually correlate improved staffing with crime reduction. Trust me, the “drop in crime” Oakland is claiming right now is likely largely a result of the fact that people are not bothering to report stuff. Just last week a guy I know had his car window smashed in broad daylight and his backpack was stolen. He didn’t bother to report it.

  90. len raphael

    Max, what’s your anecdotal impression of crime in your part of town and DTO?

    Temescal/North Oakland yahoo groups report increase in just what seem to be a new crop of inexperienced burglar’s. Muggings seem about the same level as last few years.

    I get the impression that people are reporting the crimes, because they report their surprise that OPD doesn’t respond to not in progress property crimes for several days, if at all.


  91. Dax

    gregory mcconnell

    “Maybe someday we will get to the underlying cause of Oakland’s huge crime problem, unemployment and hopelessness.”

    Meanwhile, over the last 15 years, large groups of young men in Oakland have essentially been supplanted in the lower skilled, lower wage, job market. The only job category for which they are qualified.

    The city continues to facilitate this process while ignoring the obvious consequences when there is no other option for these young men.

    Or should I say, no other legal option.

  92. Max Allstadt


    My immediate neighborhood has more street drug dealing, more vacant homes being occupied by pimps and addicts, more blight.

    When Batts came on board last year and had close to 800 sworn to help him, there was a noticeable period when my neighborhood was dramatically changed for the better. It ended pretty much at the same time Quan and friends laid off 10% of the force.

  93. livegreen

    At a recent neighborhood NCPC that borders the foothills & flats, several longtime residents agreed this is the worst they’ve seen it in 10 years.

  94. len raphael

    Haven’t seen the crime stats for north oak/temescal, but ncpc said there was an increase in certain categories. consistent with residents reporting.

    would think the underreporting is in the poorer areas. somehow i’ can’t visualize a lot of residents in east and west o rushing to their laptops to file online police reports for property crime or muggings.

    somehow i don’t expect JQ or any other pol to make a big push to encourage residents to report all crimes.

  95. We Fight Blight

    We noticed a palpable difference in police presence on the street, especially along the Telegraph corridor from DTO to Temescal, when the City had hired 800 officers. The police appeared to be making far more stops of those exhibiting anti-social, quality of life crimes, in addition to responding faster to crimes in progress.

  96. Mike

    Greg McConnell’s point is fundamental:

    “Today, a good friend and a smart guy wrote to me and said: “Maybe someday we will get to the underlying cause of Oakland’s huge crime problem, unemployment and hopelessness.”

    Virtually no one in government in Oakland wants to hear this, or to explore it fully. Most of us citizens, too, are in denial about it. We’re in denial because the situation points directly to our community failure to be socially responsible. All of us need to do what we can: elected officials need to step up and formulate and administer long-term policy that provides adequate resources to deal with these problems. Those of us who are anti-police, who may well have been victims of bad police behavior, need to stop blaming police in general. Those of us who can afford to pay more taxes to provide the social resources that our poorer neighbors require need to find a way to support those services.

    We really do not know the depth and true character of our crime and related social problems. They are Oakland’s own and come out of a difficult history of racism, inequality and governmental incompetence that goes back decades.

    Blaming and coming up with simplistic “solutions” to problems that are as yet poorly defined will get us nowhere. More cops won’t necessarily reduce crime–cops process crime, they don’t cause it. “Correlations” between police staffing levels and crime levels are usually meaningless. A correlation is not the same thing as a well-defined cause-and-effect process. Remember Mark Twain’s comment that there are three types of lies, lies, damned lies and statistics.

    Emblematic of Oakland’s official attitude about our serious social and economic problems is the newly-elected Mayor’s Washington D.C. junket. After her holiday we can only hope she will spend the rest of her time in office getting real and doing something useful.

    Dealing with Oakland’s problems is going to be a matter of priorities. If everything is a priority, then nothing is. Dealing with Oakland’s social and economic problems in an effective way is going to be very tough. It may well require neglect of parks, funding for the arts and things that are very important to most of us. But that’s the nature of a priority.

    Oakland’s elected officials and citizens need to get on the same page about crime, violence and social and economic inequity. This is real work and is not nearly as much fun as blaming someone else or talking up the latest trendy watering hole.

  97. livegreen

    V’s post from a couple years ago shows OPD is staffed average compared to low crime cities, but very low compared to high crime cities:

    I don’t think we need to analyze WHY we’re a high crime city, or why there are such differences across the country, to know that we ARE a high crime city and, therefor, OPD is greatly understaffed.

    (I think looking at why we’re a high crime city is a valid subject to analyze and discuss, just a broader, separate-but-related topic to our current discussion).

    Of course there are other factors that go into the mix, as there are some cities that have more Officers per capita and have higher crime rates. I was trying to find a NY Times article I ran across a few months ago which discussed a study documenting the complex mix that goes into high crime rates and the specific affect of Police Staffing. The conclusion was that Police staffing was not the only factor but one of several factors, and it was one of the more important of those factors. Unfortunately I can’t locate the article…

  98. Dax


    “Virtually no one in government in Oakland wants to hear this, or to explore it fully. Most of us citizens, too, are in denial about it.”

    As they are about some of the main features in our current unemployment profile.
    Oakland is not excluded from the laws of supply and demand.

    City policies have encouraged the continual increase in labor supply in the very entry level, lower skilled, employment areas that previously supplied a safety-valve for those needing basic employment.

  99. We Fight Blight

    All too often we neglect or reject the fundamental truth which is individuals make individual decisions to commit crimes.

    Where is the concept of individual responsibility both for the crime they commit and the consequences of their crime? We all have choice no matter how dire our circumstances. We all have choice to try to make our lives better or to take the so called easy road of crime–though the reality is that it is no easy road.

    While most would agree that society, in general, has a role and responsibility to help those who are less fortunate, we have to ask what responsibility does an invidual have to society to make their own lives better. Some blame racism, some blame lack of jobs, some blame the crack epidemic, some blame poverty, some blame school funding, some blame the police–there is always someone else or something to point to as excuse for an individual’s failure to be a productive member of society.

    For some individuals who commit crimes part of their decision is based on their perception of whether they will be caught or not, and if caught, whether they will be punished. Individuals can also choose not to commit crimes because of the values they hold about their role in society. Many of the violent crimes committed in Oakland are not because someone is starving, but is over gang affiliations and drug turf, the desire to feed a drug habitat, or simply a wrong look. It is a culture of violence manifested by individuals who decide that is how they want to spend their lives and that is how they want to treat others.

    Society also has a responsibility to protect innocent citizens who suffer the indiscretions of these individuals. So when we talk about the needs of society and the need for social programs, lets not forget about the innocent bystanders who need the protection of the police.

  100. Max Allstadt

    As far as job opportunity goes, I think it’s wildly simplistic to say that a lack of good jobs within the municipal boundaries of Oakland is a direct cause of our crime problem.

    First of all, there are good jobs within easy commuting distance in other Bay Area municipalities.

    Second, a point based on anecdotal evidence, but a fairly large sample: I have dozens of friends who work low-wage jobs, or who are unemployed or who are underemployed. None of them are muggers, none of them are selling heroin on a street corner, none of them are burglarizing cars.

    I think our crime problem is, as Chief Batts has said repeatedly, a product of a culture that accepts crime as a fact of life in Oakland. It’s a culture of despair, a culture of apathy, combined with a misguided anti-police attitude.

    The only way I can see to defeat it at this point is for those of us who have hope to organize. For those of us that believe that responsible policing is a positive force to organize. For those of us who think that public safety is a priority to organize.

    We need to win elections and replace a few more of our irrational councilmembers if we want to see change. Libby Schaaf replacing Jean Quan was a start, but we need to do more.

  101. Dax

    We Fight Blight..

    OK how about a individual who can’t find a job.
    So he takes illegal action to gain money.

    Then we have a employer who won’t hire a individual because he can illegally hire another worker to gain a edge.
    He also takes illegal action to gain money.

    There are consequences when significant sectors of the population are essentially left out of the employment hiring loop in many areas of commerce.

    Certainly, as is the case today, we had inexcusable crime even 30 years ago, however in recent years there has been a significant shift in the labor market where a important portion of the population has been all but excluded from employment consideration.

    How do Oakland’s practices encourage or discourage this situation?

  102. Livegreen

    Max, I’ve heard it mentioned on several occasions that most crime in Oakland is being performed by a comparatively small group of criminals. The recent arrest of 3 criminals for over 100 robberies is further proof.

    That is one of the reasons the Chief is focussing on gangs and individuals with a long record.

  103. Navigator

    I like what Ron Oz had to say about Vallejo Police Chief Robert Nichelini. I like the idea that Nichelini is a proud Oakland resident who seems to care a great deal about the city. Oakland needs more department heads who genuinely care and take pride in Oakland and who are familiar with every sqaure inch of the city.

    As far as the alarmist post about crime driving businesses out of downtown Oakland, I haven’t seen crime being a huge problem in downtown Oakland. Clorox is going to Pleasanton to be in a campus like setting in a very White communitty. Rich White executives like to be where they’re comfortable. It’s a shame that instead of investing in a growing Oakland, Clorox decides that it’s best to contribute to suburban sprawl.

    ABAG and other government offices have mentioned relocating to that crime free utopia known as downtown SF where there have already been 5 homicides in the first two weeks of 2011. Attempting to lay blame on crime in downtown Oakland, where the crime level is much lower than in thriving downtown SF, makes the crime argument completely rediculous.

    Oakland is full of alarmists ready to denigrate the city for their own agendas. Oakland needs a good PR campaign to let people in the Bay Area and throughout the region know that homicides have come down in Oakland for 4 consecutive years. Overall crime has also come down for at least two years. In 2010 there were 89 non justifiable homicides in Oakland which is a far cry from the 175 homicides in 1992. While certain individuals cry wolff other cities with higher crime rate downtowns are taking Oakland’s busnesses. When Oakland starts losing government offices to crime plagued downtown SF, we know we have an image problem.

  104. ralph

    I think it also worth noting that a fair number of people who commit crime in Oakland are not from Oakland. I think you are referring to the 3 individuals who targeted Oakland residents because they were betting their legal status would deter them from reporting.

    This would seem to indicate what a number of believe that more officers does not necessarily make a difference. It is a factor for certain street level crimes that Max is referencing.

    A city like SF, San Jose and probably a others can get away with fewer officers for one or two reasons. First, the level of education is substantially higher. Second, hopelessness. You do not see the large number of indviduals who when you look into their eyes see hopelessness.

    What can we do. First, we can support the gang injunction. Chief Batts and his team have done the work to identify the handful of individuals who cause a neighborhood to live in fear, prevent our children from playing outside for fear of being hit by a stray bullet.

    Most people are good. High unemployment does not result in an increase in crime. It is people who either have or perceive that they have no alternatives are the ones we talk to. And for the young ones we need to provide them a safe place with love, a place where they feel like they belong. Social programs are good, but if the child is still living in a modern day Beirut how effective is the social program. (I think WFB addressed this above.) Far as I know you can not do nation building while the dictator is still in place. You need to create the safe environment.

    Second, we can put money into the most damaged communities. By money, I mean sending PW out there on a daily basis to clean up the graffiti, remove broken cars and debris. Ask OUSD to invest in our schools. Communities know when they have been neglected we need to do a 180.

  105. We Fight Blight


    We do not disagree that public policies can influence both postively or negatively the opportunities of any one individual in the employment market. However, individuals have a responsibility to determine what line of employment they want to enter into and obtain the skills necessary to enter that line of employment. That’s called being a responsible adult.

    Everyone gets free public education through high school. Everyone has the opportunity to go to a junior college, college or university. There are student loans, scholarships and internships available. There is also the old fashion work your way through school program.

    Where is the responsibility of an individual to figure out where they want to be in life and pursue that opportunity? There are plenty of people who have come from poverty, and have availed themselves of educational opportunities, and have become highly successful professionals in changing labor markets. They chose not to be victims and chose not to be criminals. They chose to work hard and ecome successful.

    We all face adversity and life is not totally fair–but that’s life. What is most troubling to us is that in Oakland there is a huge, huge investment in the victim mentality that results in the abdication of individual responsibility to the point of utter dysfunction.

    Labor markets have changed considerably. We are not producing steel and cars. We are processing information, developing digital technology, providing health care services, and generating entertainment. Those who stay in school and get an education understand this and make employment choices accordingly. Those who drop out of school, do drugs, run with gangs, and cause havoc in our community and get a rap sheet don’t understand that. They either end up dead, in jail or living in mom’s basement. But that was their choice.

    As a local government, why on earth is the City of Oakland itself responsible for job programs? Isn’t that the private sector’s responsibility? Perhaps if Oakland had fewer criminals running amok and we addressed our terrible reputation as a crime ridden city by actually brining the crime rate down then perhaps more investors would invest in Oakland and generate more jobs that can put more people to work–even those you claim that are being intentionally excluded from the labor market.

  106. Max Allstadt

    Another anecdotal account of the state of street crime and quality of life in Uptown: I just walked home from a friend’s house on 14th st., West of Broadway. For three blocks I was followed by an older white gentleman who was loudly repeating “I AM CRACKMAN, USA! I AM FERAL, LOOK AT MY CHEST”, over and over and over again.

    So, yeah, I can understand how Clorox might decide there was a better place to be.

  107. Matt C.

    Sorry it took me a while to press send on my earlier comment, but it’s an issue that needs to be discussed. We could hire those 70 rookies back to tomorrow, one I know personally, if the OPOA would come back to the table and act like mature adults.

    As for why Oakland is the way it is… the city isn’t managed well. Perhaps Quan can work on that.

    It’s easy to feel that anything goes when you’re in some parts of Oakland. You cannot simply blame the residents for this. If you do then why haven’t you fixed the situation yourself? If the city vigorously enforced basic laws about dumping and graffiti, maintained the infrastructure better, enforced building codes and zoning laws better, and made it easier to improve property then you’d see the residents behavior change. If the residents saw the city doing its part then they/we would more often do our part, too. This isn’t rocket science.

    The reason downtown is so much more alive today is because there are more people living there -this isn’t rocket science!

  108. Matt C.

    Max, ditto that. Last Thursday the 13th I met friends at Flora for drinks. About 8:00 we started down Broadway towards Chinatown. At about 14th things got weird. I lived in Miami just after the Liberty City riots, a bad part of Santa Ana, the Loin, and Western Addition. I’m not skittish and it still didn’t feel good about what I saw. There were droves of people just standing around giving sinister glances, including prostitutes. The occational young dude yelling right when they passed you by. It was all typical low-life crap. Cops were nowhere to be seen. I kept thinking: why is it like this? Clorox did the right thing, people shouldn’t have to deal with that crap walking to and from work.

  109. Dax

    We Fight Blight,

    Well, almost everything you say sounds very good.
    Yet it still leaves Oakland with tens of thousands of young men who have left the education system without even a basic high school diploma.
    You can say all you want about personal responsibility but they are out there and continue to be generated each and every year.
    At last official count, from the spokesman for the OUSD, the dropout rate for African American males is currently 65%.
    Next year, who knows, perhaps it will be reduced to 62%.

    In times past, when as you put it, the economy produced other goods, these unskilled workers could still find employment.
    Even today, there are still many categories of jobs to which they might gain entry.
    However, if you hadn’t noticed it, over the past 15 years, the makeup of the work force in many fields of employment has completely changed.

    I have often cited the residential construction field. As I always suggest, even when the times were good, you could go by a dozen sites ( as I did many times each week) in the Oakland hills and not find one…..not one… young African American male being part of the 120 or so construction workers on those dozen sites.

    They were and are systematically excluded form employment consideration in those areas.
    The aren’t even in the loop.
    You could find similar situations in many other business areas.

    In many areas of business we have essentially replaced young African American males. If you are one of those 2 out of 3 young males I spoke about above, it would seem you are no longer needed in any capacity.

    I think that condition is a prescription for crime and creates the need for ever greater police.
    I also think other city policies have made Oakland a more accommodating location for many workers arriving from elsewhere.
    Almost a encouragement for a ever greater supply of labor to compete with those already unable to find gainful employment.

    You know, it is possible for city policies to have a adverse effect on the economic environment of its own citizens, especially those at risk.

    I would ask, for whom does the city have a greater duty? There are actually times when it can be a “zero sum” game.
    The laws of supply and demand do exist.
    They exist for jobs, they exist for wages, they exist for benefits.
    I don’t doubt for a second that the conditions I describe above account for some portion of the crime problem we currently have in Oakland.
    Some ….not all, not most, but they do increase the hopelessness and grim outlook so many young males carry with them daily.

    No, we don’t owe them everything, but as long as we’re talking about their criminal activity, it might be suggested we owe them a playing field where all the laws are enforced, not just the ones they break.

  110. diane

    Interesting discussion regarding the Police department, wages, pensions, health benefits and staffing. Same discussions in my city, my sister’s city, and my father’s city, all different. Police were the last group touched in all cities, but with depleted revenues, dried up “grants” and specially funded projects, all cities first retired positions which were vacant, then those positions paid with grant/special funds, then the hard part: ask employees to pay something or more towards their pensions and take over more of the health premiums, and zero out raises, and accruing sick time. With contracts in place, if the employee group does not agree, either the city breaks those contracts or the $$ stays the same and then people will be layed off. All departments are hit, except for fire and police. Then when there are no more people who can be layed off in the other departments, the fire department is hit. And then, the Police. Oakland is no different. Police have been last, refused to take certain concessions, specially funded positions are gone, and with a bleak future, many took retirement or quit, and 80 were layed off. A sad part of this story is that Chief Batts wants to leave; it will deplete moral even more. But even with crime rates that they are in Oakland, did Batts, or the Oakland Police Department or union really think they were immune to the realities of this economy????????????????????? It’s time for solution oriented people to figure out ways to do more with less.

  111. len raphael

    Dax, i’m not so sure that government action or inaction continues to support the displacement of blacks and whites by latinos in the construction biz.

    for the first few years, yes, zero enforcement of immigration laws resulted in a literal flood of cheap mexican and central american laborers and contruction workers that quickly displaced much higher paid residents.

    but something changed over time where construction employers came to prefer foreign born construction workers and laborers even at the same wage levels (lower than pre latino influx) as native born workers simply because they worked much harder for the same money.

    -len raphael, temescal

  112. Navigator


    So you think that the corporations in downtown SF should also relocate to the suburbs because downtown SF is so dangerous. Comparing downtown Oakland to the frequent killings and general mayhem in downtown SF makes downtown Oakland look like Walnut Creek. Six homicides in the downtown SF area including one inside a cafe and we’re talking guys talking to themselves as justification for Clorox taking 500 jobs from Oakland? Also, there’s prostitution in front of the Oakland Convention Center? I could see that in the Tenderloin, or 6th Street or Mid Market, but at 14th & Broadway? I’ve never felt like that in that area. Besides Clorox gets to enjoy City Center, Preservation Park and Frank Ogawa Plaza. They also have direct access from their building to the 12th Street BART station. They don’t need to associatte with the riff raff at the bus stops. That’s a week defense of Clorox and their desire for needless suburban sprawl instead of bringing more jobs to a rejuvenated downtown Oakland. No, Clorox did the wrong thing by leaving a central core city with excellent public transportation at their door step.

  113. ralph

    I can appreciate the safety concerns that the employees of Clorox have voiced. I hope that the ambassadors have been able to deter some of the low level street crime.

    But I think it is also important to note that there are no shortage of facilities serving the reentry population and homeless in the downtown area. Nothing like a half-way house to draw out the professional women.

    I suspect as we continue to place more residences and people in that area, there will be more effort to curtail this activity. Jerry Brown was onto something we need to continue.

    As for the homeless, I don’t think the homeless in Oakland are any more aggressive than SF homeless. I will admit to wondering if their numbers are higher on a per capita basis.

    That being said, we need to be more aggressive in addressing these issues because individuals perceive Oakland to be worse.

  114. len raphael

    diane, sure much of the fiscal mistakes made by oakland’s pols and the economic forces they now face are the same as in other larger cities.

    there are unique oakland twists on those themes where the bay area focused dot com boom then real estate boom gave our officials the dutch courage to pay some of the highest wages and benefits in the country to a wide range of muni employees. It fueled competition with other Bay Area cities for overpaying public safety employees. The wages also reflected the demand of residents in Bay Area for highly professional cops who are combo emt, family counselor, lawyer, and professional wrestler.

    another more unique aspect is the outright hostility of elected officials towards cops over the last 3 decades. That was reflective of a wide range of residents opinions who kept voting for incumbents and machine candidates. maybe you would expect to find that in Madison WI, or Santa Monica. But you didn’t see it in Berkeley.

    We are the birthplace of the Black Panthers, the SLA, the scene of the Oakland Army Base anti war protests, Earth First explosion and charges of police involvement, and the Riders. I’m not sure of the details, but there were very heated strikes here post WWII also.

    to that mix add the former left wing students of the 60′s who settled in oakland because they loved the bay area but couldn’t afford Berkeley or SF. No idea about their personal finances, but council members Nadel, Brunner, Quan, and attorney Siegel come from that background and have retained many of the ideals of their youths.

    So it’s a particularly wierd situation to be a cop in Oakland where the officials overpay you to get you to work here but have always made it clear that you’re an uneccessary evil.

  115. ralph

    Technically, Clorox did not leave downtown. Clorox relocated 500 employees to a facility that they have and always had further out.

    If one pays attn to development, Oakland is at risk of not attracting business because cities like Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon and others are building office parks to draw new businesses.

  116. Livegreen

    Diane, Further to Len’s comments, as I stated before, the OPOA gave up a 4% pay increase that was IN their existing contract, while other city employees agreed to pay an additional 5% into their pensions (which technically was part of the employee contribution, only in Oakland the City was paying part of that…also a history of prior negotiations). So similar % just not in the same way.

    So OPD is not the last ones to give back. And all of these give-backs were negotiated by the City Council. So it’s not like the Council was not a decision maker in these weird mixtures of concessions, which were negotiated individually with each union.

    I agree the OPOA should pay more. But if everybody keeps insisting they’re the only ones that haven’t contributed (they did, just not to the same pie) I doubt the OPOA will cave.

    On the other hand, if everbody gets treated equally (or maybe even contributes), it might b different. The real challenge is the City Council is both scared of all the Unions coming to protest, and finds it easy to scape goat just one Union (they do it all the time after all). Which the cops r tired of.

    Unless there’s some give and take then we’re in for a long haul. At least until contracts come up for negotiations, or somebody decides to hold out an olive branch.

    I’m still waiting for the grownups to show up to the meeting.

    PS. The OPOA is a part of these temper tamptrums. They badly overplayed their hands with the robocalls about Jean and other Council members. That was way over the top, and I’m sure hasn’t made compromise any easier for the Mayor.

  117. V Smoothe

    Livegreen –

    In addition to all the other givebacks outlined already, the rest of the City employees also consented to going several years with a COLA. So OPOA has no high ground on that front.

  118. ralph

    I have tried to understand your logic, but I continue to come up short.

    The other unions have given back. The COLA is a non-starter. Would it have made more sense to do a comprehensive package with OPOA? Yes. We didn’t so we are where we are.

    Others have forgone wage increases, endured furloughs and have increased their contribution to their pension. They have nothing left to give. Because you have not heard about it, does not mean it has not happened.

  119. Livegreen

    My understanding was the 4% wage increase was a raise separate from the COLAs, that it was previously arranged a couple years before (during which time other employees actually got their COLAs). If that’s incorrect then I can appreciate your point.

    As far as the things I supposedly haven’t heard of, that’s interesting when I’ve previously listed two of them. Sometimes, Ralph, it seems you try to provoke rather than share and exchange.

  120. Dax


    I see, native born workers are lazy and unqualified.
    Funny how they were capable only 15 and 20 years ago for all manner of jobs.
    Construction, janitorial, warehousing, etc.
    Also interesting they seem more than qualified to do those same jobs when working for public agencies, counties, cities, and such.

    Better to break the law and hire other workers for several reasons.
    Cost less, avoid messy government paper work, less benefits, less taxes, minimal or zero workers comp, and very compliant.
    AS well as what you mention, they work very hard. No one disputes they work hard.

    So for a multitude of reasons the employer favors them over the stereotypical East Oakland young man. And after years of this trend, they are indeed more skilled since they’ve been doing the work.
    Cheaper, more skilled, hard working.
    The whole package to justify continuation of the trend.

    Oakland City council facilitates and encourages such hiring and passes measures to make life even easier for such workers. Oakland’s new ID card etc.

    Unemployment rate in certain portions of the community continues to climb, so the city spends most of its time debating police department staffing levels and costs.
    Or social programs aimed at keeping unemployed youth out of trouble.

    So we have law breaking on two levels. We have cost structures on two levels.
    On one hand employers save some money via lower wages, lower benefits, and claimed more productive and compliant employees so they break the law for financial gain.

    On the other hand Oakland needs parcel taxes, more police, more courts, more jails and prisons to handle and incarcerate their unemployed citizens who engage in crime for financial gain.
    Of course some insist that there is no connection between lack of jobs and and crime. The crime difference between Danville and East Oakland is all due the the morality of the residents, not lack of employment.

    One wonders what the true costs are of those hired in place of available legal workers after you factor in all the costs for property loss, fear, quality of life, policing, courts, jails, guards, parole officers, and the like.

    Now looking at it just from the perspective of the potential criminal, one might conclude that he might say if its OK for that business man in concert with the city, to hire in a illegal manner, then it must be OK for me to live my life in a illegal manner.
    So why not rob and steal.

    Or are these young men too unsophisticated to get the big picture of the dual standard when it comes to breaking the law?

    I think the above picture I portray is a “element” in the crime problem in Oakland.
    Over the long term it is a significant element.
    However it is a element that is not politically acceptable to be discussed in public. Though I can tell you, it does not go unnoticed or un-discussed in local neighborhoods.

    I can’t tell you what portion of the problem it is, but I can tell you that over the past 10 to 20 years it has led to a “writing off” of a portion of our population as lost.
    They have effectively been replaced in our economic system.
    You don’t just allow 65% of a certain population to go down to a near guaranteed dismal future without alarm bells going off.
    Unless you have simply given up on them.

    65% effectively lost. City programs to help perhaps 15 of every 65 headed down.
    The other 50… go forth to become the most costly citizens we live with.
    Essentially unproductive, but still breathing.
    Rather than producing a positive financial flow for society, they will cost $15,000 to $40,000 per year well into the future.

    I don’t have the answers, but I see our current path leading to a built-in crime problem as far as the eye can see.
    You simply cannot produce, year after year, segments of the community where 2 out of 3 are not only uneducated, but practically excluded from the work force.

  121. ralph

    Basically, I fail to see why you think the cops are being picked on unfairly. I seem to recall a city council meeting which pretty much summed up the problem as follows: the only way to make up the budget shortfall is to trim the police. Council could eliminate all the other programs and still come up short. You and I know the city is not going to eliminate all of those services. At best, we will trim on the margins; so, why am going to spend significant effort to do that?

    Outside of the budget issue, the OPOA contract is out of whack with other Bay Area PDs. On this basis alone, we need to bring the compensation in line with industry standard. We can not afford to be the high payer. Heck, look around the country, every major city has been able to renegotiate a closed contract with their PD except Oakland.

    I don’t know what the difference is between a 4% wage increase and 4% COLA. 4% is still 4%. I am rarely in favor of any guaranteed wage increase. Foregoing the 4% is a start and it should be acknowledged. but more is required.

  122. lovica

    Dax -

    I think you’re spot on with the critique of Oakland’s “sanctuary city” policy, and refusal to deal with illegal hiring practices, as a contributor to the crime problem. While I don’t think anyone wants to see California become less tolerant of minorities ala Arizona, it seems like our current unwillingness to deal with undocumented workers does as much to hurt the workers themselves as it does to the existing low-skilled, undereducated population that they displace. The only people who really benefit from us looking the other way are the large corporations who can exploit this cheap labor pool.

    Case in point – the recent Bay Bridge repairs were actually done in part by Thai workers who were brought here illegally and not even paid for their work (i.e. modern day slavery):

    The ‘sanctuary city’ concept only makes sense to me if it is paired with a robust enforcement of hiring laws to make sure companies who do business in Oakland are only hiring legal residents.

  123. len raphael

    Dax, i wouldn’t disagree with you that there is an astonishingly high percentage of Oakland residents who are permanently stuck in an underclass except for the exceptionallly talented or lucky ones. Theoretically and morally that doesn’t justify individual decisions to do bad things to other people.

    I don’t compare the behavior of decendents of multi generaltions of hopeless poverty to the underemployed offsrping of the middle and upper middle class to prove that everyone has free will. My impression is that there are large swaths of Northern English formerly industrial cities with high crime rates among the grandkids of very white natvie born English skilled and semi skilled industrial workers.

    Read that interview the other day with the recently paroled King of Crack Cocaine. Born into middle class, that jerk would have made it to the top of Goldman Sachs.

    I don’t know if the stats even exist, but many of the illegal Mexican and Central American construction workers have returned to their native countries. The shrunken construction employment market here now wouldn’t be enough to employ more than a fraction of our permanent black and latino underclass.

    The restaurant and food industry has taken up some of the resulting unemployed latinos but at even lower wages than construction.

    btw, to say that only employers benefited from cheap illegal construction labor and the city from permit fees, transfer taxes ignores that many homeowners and property owners and even tennants benefited from getting rehabs and repairs done for cheap. A devil’s bargain for sure.

    You’re overlooking the effect of legal immigration on employment in the health care industry. One of the few expanding (for now) job markets.

    Don’t know how time you’ve spend around hospitals, but the employees in many of them are disproportionately legal immigrants from SE Asia or Filipino, some from Africa.

    That’s a result of a combo of our school systems failure to overcome the effects of multi generation culture of poverty. Not to mention, many immigrants have an amazing self help network that rivals the good old boy network of say Yale’s Skull and Bones.

    My take is that the employment problems are far too difficult for any action by a city government to have much effect, other than vastly improving education and smothering crime in all parts of town with sheer numbers of cops and smart policing.

    That at least will protect the lives of poor residents trying to escape their circumstances and improve the attractiveness of the city to employers.

    -len raphael, temescal

  124. Livegreen

    I agree the OPOA needs to give more, and that they have been just as unreasonable as the other unions in their demand and unwillingness to make concessions (perhaps more if their political tactics are taken into consideration).

    My reply to Diane was mostly to point out that they weren’t the last to give. As far as the OPOA forgoing their contracted 4% raises, I agree that that’s not much, the same way I view the other employees contributing an added 5% to their pensions isn’t much.

    I’ll do some more research into whether the 4% was a raise or a missed COLA. If indeed it was similar to COLA givebacks other unions made then I agree they don’t have an any higher ground.

    Either way all unions r going to have to contribute, or services will have to b cut back more. And if 5% contribution to pensions + temporary furloughs = “tapped out”, the unions don’t have much empathy for their tax base.

    Compare this to neighbors who lost 100% of their income and house was forclosed on, three families at our elementary school (that I know of) who lost their houses in this way or others, or the 50% loss of income that we had…

  125. Livegreen

    The further union contributions r unless the City Council decides more services should b cut, whether it’s closed Parks & Rec, libraries or fire more Officers). And this doesn’t include th coming year’s $40 million PFRS pension bomb.

    Now that will b an interesting discussion, if Jean tries to pass a 2nd bond on the PFRS, and if IDLF will have none of it. Or if they decide to wait for another election to see if a bond will pass, then make the hard choices after.

  126. len raphael

    Anyone know if electoral approval of any plurality is needed to refi the zillions of pension obligation bonds coming due july 1? if the ‘tax overrides” approval doesn’t expire till 202something? why would “merely’ rolling over the bonds presumedly borrowing even more to cover the market losses, require voter approval?

    Pity we can’t just let the bondholders foreclose on city hall and be done with it.

    Hmm, what do you figure the city properties on Frank Ogawa Plaza are worth in a foreclosure?

  127. ralph

    While you are doing this research, can you get the definitive employee pension contribution. Don’t care about FF. I am just curious what the others contribute I thought they were double digits.

    In other news, I found this nugget in a 12/31/10 Chip column:

    Big loss: Unless Mayor-elect Jean Quan can dedicate new resources to bolster police staffing, the city risks the loss of popular Police Chief Anthony Batts, who is in the second-year of a three-year contract. Batts is media-savvy, strategic in his work and well respected by colleagues. His departure would be a big loss, and I sure hope I’m wrong on this one.

    What did Chip know and when did he know it? :)

  128. len raphael

    Ralph, i get the impression the only people surprised are the general public. The politicians put on their outraged, sad, regretful etc faces but that was for the sake of keeping the voters happy (and dumb.)

    Johnson probably held off writing about it till after the election. Maybe because it was just a rumor.

    If it had come out before the election, would just have put a dampener on turnout to hear rumors of that our shining knight was planning to vote with his feet.

    Whatever dept.

    JQ has one thing partially right: ask not what the shining knights can do for Oakland. She left out the part about normal residents reordering their government’s priorities.

  129. Livegreen

    Len, If I understand the PFRS bonds correctly (& it’s possible I don’t) the funding period the bonds pay for comes to a close now, but our property taxes keep paying for the bonds through whenever. So if our leaders decide they don’t want to pay what’s now about to come due, they’ll have to work out a new additional set of bonds and taxes to pay for them (not a rollover). I’m sure you and V can correct me if Ive got it wrong.

  130. Mry

    @Ralph, can you please provide some evidence to support your claim that OPD is being paid so much more than other officers in the bay area? I think JQ did her best to make thevpublic think that, but all I have been able to find is that they are up there, but by no means the highest.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but they gave back more than 4%. some of the officers gave back as much 18%

  131. ralph

    I am specifically referring to total compensation and the pension boost. The employer paid benefit is a boost to pensionable salary. If OPD were like all the other PDs in the area and contributed a minimum of 9% towards their pension, OPD would come down in total comp. Probably need to change post-retirement health benefits as well.

    I agree with you that on a straight salary basis that they are among the highly compensated but may not be the highest. And I am sure you can search this board where I have said as much. I think I may have even posted the cities with the highest straight salary, but contracts change over time so the results may be different today.

    Have no idea on the 18%. I have heard that the dept did forego a 4% increase.

    I have long been in favor of a DC – function of when I entered the workforce.

  132. Charles Pine

    Max Allstadt commented on how his neighborhood got better then worse in step with the Dellums short-time boost in police, then worse with the city council’s layoff and no-academies decision.

    Our neighborhood had a similar experience. The PSO told us how he put together a working group of officers to visit parolees simultaneously on a morning. If the police visit one after another, the cellphone alert network scatters the parolees faster than the police can move. Our PSO could organize this action when there was a staffing bump. Then it all fell apart.

  133. Max Allstadt

    Thanks for that piece of technical explanation, Charles.

    I will say that I’m much more curious about the way the staffing changes have played out in more insulated neighborhoods than my own.

    I live a block from the 980 overpass at 23rd and MLK, which is a highly visible litmus test of the state of policing. It’s very accessible and it’s easy to sleep under it, easy to get a free meal near it, and as such, it attracts heroin dealers and users.

    I realize Charles that you don’t live in some highfalutin hillside retreat, so your anecdotal reports are important to consider too. Just curious if the uphill crowd has seen any similar fluctuations, and if they haven’t, how we can reach them and get them to demand more police staffing in spite of their safe isolation.

  134. Matt C.

    Nav… my arguement is no larger than what was in the text. I’m disapointed in Clorox’s move, really disapointed. I want downtown to grow. That’s why I’m airing my opionion on the present state of Broadway near 13th. The area is not interesting or dynamic, there’s not a lot going on, but there are a lot of low lifes loitering around. That’s just how Matt C’s it.

  135. Dax


    “I don’t know if the stats even exist, but many of the illegal Mexican and Central American construction workers have returned to their native countries.”

    True, but of all the jobs in California, at last count, 9.8% are held by “unauthorized” workers. Perhaps its only 9.4% now.
    BTW, I am NOT limiting my discussion to construction workers.

    ” The restaurant and food industry has taken up some of the resulting unemployed Latinos but at even lower wages than construction.”

    Exactly. Other areas of employment and at even lower wages. Tell me, who was doing those jobs 20 years ago, and who might hold them now, but for all the individuals you speak of.

    Now for a section of your response that really makes me take a deep breath.
    To hear it run up the flag pole, as though, living in this area, I might not have been aware of it.
    “You’re overlooking the effect of legal immigration on employment in the health care industry. One of the few expanding (for now) job markets.

    “Don’t know how time you’ve spend around hospitals, but the employees in many of them are disproportionately legal”
    immigrants from SE Asia or Filipino, some from Africa.

    Please, please don’t say that. I am a long time Kaiser member. I am MORE than aware of staffing at Kaiser as well as throughout the health care industry.
    My brother in law worked for Kaiser for over 30 years.
    Every area of business I have worked in for the past decades has had more than a fair share of immigrants. Half my friends are couples where one of the pair is a immigrant. I deal with the city, my mailman, and many of my own neighbors, all immigrants. My grand parents, 3 of the 4, immigrants.

    Please, please don’t suggest that people who question the current situation I speak about in Oakland are not well aware that immigrants are all around us and contributing in exactly the same manner as my grandparents did.

    If what is happening to the occupations of lower skilled, less educated Oakland residents were happening in fields held by nurses, teachers, public works staff, police officers, firefighters, long shore-men, you can be darn sure their unions and associations, NEA, CNA, CTLA, OPOA, ILWU, would be marching around the offices of every single Bay Area legislator around the clock, until enforcement was made serious and effective.

    But no one, not even city leaders, stick up for the rights of those workers who have essentially been replaced in our workforce.
    Instead they actually take steps to ease and accommodate the job transfers.

    I’d be a bit more understanding if the city in its own hiring practices allowed the same substitution to take place.
    But the city does not hire unauthorized workers. Hospitals don’t hire unauthorized RN’s. The state bar doesn’t allow unauthorized lawyers to practice.

    Yet in the occupations held by the lower class, the poor, the lesser educated, those who are least represented and powerful,….. YES, in those occupations, all of the above look the other way and allow anything and everything to take place.
    Undercutting wages, benefits, and even the ability to be considered for the job.

    The poor workers are told, well why aren’t you out there on the street holding a sign.
    Taking a job without all the normal legal rules that we’ve all passed in our protective wisdom.
    Workmans comp paid, overtime rules, collection of social security, medicare, ….
    NO you should go out and take anything, regardless of whether the employer abides by those rules and covers you with the basic minimums that have been in place since FDR.

    I will state it again, even if nothing can be done about it, the impact of the above kind of wholesale job substitution where wide swaths of young Oakland men are effectively eliminated from the economy, will inevitably lead to unending crime and the need for ever greater police enforcement as well as all the associated costs of incarceration and loss.
    That, not even considering what happens in the lives and families of those men.

    I don’t expect anyone to jump to action or to solve the problem overnight.
    I’m just tired of this realty being a subject NO ONE in the city is even willing to discuss.
    It isn’t politically acceptable to discuss it in open company.
    Just don’t talk about it. Don’t admit it is really happening.

    BTW, lest you think my attitudes on this are tinged with “red neck” philosophy, I agree in principle with all 8 points made by Ruben Navarrette in his column on The Path to Immigration Reform.
    He is one of the best, if not the best known Latino columnist in the country.
    His columns run in the Oakland Tribune from time to time.

    Only differing on the magnitude of his eighth point, with regard to the needs in any one particular year in the economy.
    I might add, that I also agree with the principles of the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan who 15 years ago foresaw the very condition that is taking place in Oakland’s poorer communities over the past years. She knew what would happen to disadvantaged workers if unlimited numbers of substitute workers were allowed to compete for their jobs.

    Now, if someone thinks Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and Ruben Navarrette are 100% wrong, then they really want to just ignore the issues they raise and the solutions they offered.

    But of course, this isn’t a topic to be discussed in Oakland.
    Better to limit the debate to crime and the need for more police as the trend rolls onward.

    Anyway, I appreciate your responses.
    Just seems like its a topic that gets shoved aside in Oakland political circles. Everyone assumes its a group-think where no alternative views need be considered.

  136. gregory mcconnell


    I would bet a good number of people are listening to what you are saying and thinking about it very carefully.

  137. MarleenLee

    Max, all I can say is my house was just burglarized for the first time in around 10 years. I’ve spent the last three years “demanding” increased staffing from Oakland officials, and it hasn’t done any good. They’d rather quote statistics like “San Jose has fewer officers per capita than Oakland!” and work on improving the “perception” of Oakland, rather than actually addressing the problem with more officers. They’d rather blame the problem on a lack of jobs, rather than the fact that many of these people come from a culture that has no respect for the law, and where getting in trouble with the law is a badge of honor. If Batts has no leverage, then we definitely have no leverage.

  138. Livegreen

    I think Charles example is good because it demonstrates that even when OPD knows who and where the criminals of record r, they’re still too understaffed to deal with it. Some degree of good, targeted policing can b done without having to broaden it to the whole cultural thing. But OPD is too short staffed even for that.

    Max, I’m in a solid middle class foothill neighborhood, & I’ve often wondered the same question. It seems most residents r just too busy with their own families (especially if they have children) and blocks to do anything active. Also, a lot of people just aren’t interested or if they r, limit it to reading the news. They don’t necessarily know how to address the problems and, if they form any opinion at all, it’s not one that they take any political action on, or r even interested in discussing with others. The most they’ll do is vote accordingly.

    Between the fact that these issues r complex and not fun, unless there’s an immediate necessity most middle class people will remain totally passive. & they’ll move before they’ll take action. Which many do. This is probably part of the reason Oakland is more liberal, and substantially more tolerant of high crime, than Contra Costa or eastern Alameda Counties (or even San Leandro for that matter).

  139. Livegreen

    Greg, I agree with you about Dax’s comments. But they’re not actionable because the person who does just gets called a racist. Even though it’s describing an economic policy that affects all people of all races, and especially minorities.

    In fact it affects poor Latinos as much as it does poor or ex-union blacks, whites, etc. An open border immigration system will ALWAYS replace the currently employed low skilled worker with the latest low skilled immigrant willing to work for less.

    That pushes the previous immigrant or low skilled U.S. worker out of their job, often just when they were making progress. Forget their children for the moment.

    Latinos r as affected by this as poor blacks, whites or asians.

  140. len raphael

    Max, I’ll forward Karen Ivy’s contact to you, she’s active in Rockridge NCPC to ask her.

    Conversations I’ve had with people in upper Rockridge a couple of months ago was that crime levels still seemed acceptably low even though police presence had dropped.


  141. Naomi Schiff

    I don’t actually think it’s nearly as bad in Oaktown as it was years ago. Last night walked home from work about 3 a.m., which was interesting. Yes, drunken people out in the street. No, no threats, no interaction, no problem. I of course belong to the invisible sector, that is I’m an older woman. But still, I never would have done that when I first came to Oakland, and people told each other not to go near Lake M. after dark.

    Also have had house break-ins, none recent though. Can’t tell if anecdotes amount to statistics or not.

  142. annoyed

    And yet not one word about the innocent people who die every year in this city. When I see the people here take to the streets over crime in Oakland, I’ll believe you actually give a damn. This is an academic exercise for you. I suspect not one of you has lost a loved one to senseless violence. So I’ll just a list a few of the folks that most of you didn’t even care enough about to remember.

    A single mom working her way through nursing school who catches a stray bullet while at home asleep in bed.

    A man watching television at his mom’s house who catches a stray bullet in Fruitvale.

    A teenaged girl who managed to survive Katrina catches a stray bullet while riding her bike on San Pablo.

    A EBMUD security guard catches a stray bullet while on duty in West Oakland.

    A man shot to death during an armed robbery in a Qwik Stop parking lot. He made the mistake of stopping on his way home from work.

    One summer, three women in their 50′s shot to death in West Oakland. One as she was stepping from her car after a family shopping trip, another on a bike and the last waking home from a friend’s house.

    A teen who is studying engineering shot to death for no reason.

    Those are just the ones off the top of my head.

    I had a picture of an 18-month old child shot to death back in 1992, one of Oakland’s deadliest years. He was playing on his front stoop with his mom and caught a stray bullet. The East Bay Express did a feature on the ass who shot him and he had no explanation for why he wanted to be a thug. He came from a two-parent home with two working parents. I believe the dead little boy’s name was Jared.

    You folks don’t really give a damn about these people. They don’t look like you and you figure anyone who is murdered probably deserved it beause all these faces look exactly the same to you.

    This city is never going reduce to crime because half of it makes excuses for crime and the other half just doesn’t give a damn. The hand full of folks who actually try to make this city a decent place to live get no respect form the former and no support from the latter.

  143. ralph

    I understand your frustration most people associate murder with turf wars, drug deals gone bad, and realtionships gone south so it has nothing to do with them. And while some will argue that the number of murders is only a small part of the Part I crimes, we need to remember that bullets have no names and any day any one of us could be an unintended victim.

    It has been 3.5 years but the memory of the woman who was shot while riding her bike on MLK is as fresh as if it had happened yesterday. I was vacationing out of the country when I read the news. It is something that should never happened. We need to do something to get the guns off the streets.

  144. Max Allstadt


    I think it’s more than a little unfair to say none of us care. And it’s unfair to say none of us have taken to the streets. I campaigned in 2008 for Sean Sullivan, who I dare say would have been the deciding vote against police layoffs, had he won.

    I also took to the streets for Kaplan, if she’d won, we’d have someone who Dom Arotzarena would at least be talking to about a renegotiation. He told himself, before the election, that even though he was backing Perata, he thought he could work with Rebecca.

    If that’s not what you mean by taking to the streets, I’ll also have you know that I’ve driven off a club-wielding thug on my block, broken up a domestic beating, and fought off a guy who slashed my friend’s hand open with a buck knife.

    You think you’re sick of hearing about it? I’m sick of dealing with it and watching it unfold in front of me. Some wretch of a man set his 87 year old aunt on fire on my block in ’07. I’ve had more than too much of this.

    But what do we do? It’s one thing to bitch about it online. It’s one thing to refuse to turn a blind eye. But what will really make things change is if we organize. There needs to be a large push to cut every pet project and paygo account, and hire some cops back. And if we don’t do it, who will?

    But who’s actively organizing around this? I know MOBN wants to push for a rehiring effort, I know folks like Charles Pine would like to see it happen. But are there other organizers? Can we all get together behind one issue, create an informal alliance, and get this fixed?

  145. gregory mcconnell

    Annoyed said: “You folks don’t really give a damn about these people. They don’t look like you and you figure anyone who is murdered probably deserved it because all these faces look exactly the same to you.”

    As the author of the piece that started this comment chain, let me say your frustration is misplaced and your comment is wrong. I am African American. My children, my wife, and my entire family look just like many of the people who are the primary victims of crime in East and West Oakland. While I don’t live there now, I grew up in Washington, DC, right in the middle of the kind of crime, despair, poverty and chaos that plagues Oakland.

    More to the point, I believe that people who have commented on these pages, no matter their color or ethnic background, are just as outraged by crime as are blacks and browns. Part of the problem is that people are too often mistrustful of others and it is easy to make assumptions about motives by citing racial and ethnic differences, but I ask you, where does that get us? Who really gives a damn about the color of a person who comes to our rescue when we are in trouble?

    I have friends of virtually every race, and I have not heard any of them say, “let black and brown people die.” Sure, there are racist who hide behind the white sheets that the Internet provides who say these things, but who cares about their perverted views. They are not the ones commenting here. Please do not make a blanket indictment on the motives of people searching for an answer to a problem as complex as trying to end murder and mayhem in Oakland.

    There have been many really thoughtful comments on this page. Some have pointed fingers at elected leaders, and I don’t really want to get into that either. I would prefer to come up with a commitment to addressing the problems that exist. No matter how we got here, the question that is most important to me is where are we going to go.

    My goal in writing this piece was to say that we have a fine police chief who needs resources and community support to stay and work on the problem of ending crime in Oakland. I am willing to work with anyone in this community who wants to bring closure to this ongoing problem. I don’t care what they look like. I just want to see and end to Oakland’s unrelenting crime.

    Please don’t take this as a personal rebuke. I understand your frustration. Nevertheless, racial finger pointing is not going to help us solve this problem.

  146. annoyed

    Racial finger pointing is what you got from my post? I’m not interested in your ghetto credentials.

    All I know is that people in Oakland make more noise about parking fees and the assassination of Bambi than the killing of innocent. That is simply the truth. It’s too bad people aren’t as motivated to cut crime as they are about cutting parking meter fines.

    The chief of police has publicly commented about how public meetings are under attended. He has publicly expressed dismay about more concern shown over the shooting of a deer than a five year old child. Is he racial profiling? How many times in the last year have people who post here seen something that looked uspicious but didn’t report it to the police because they didn’t want to be bothered (so they could then come here and bitch about how crime is underreported)?

    Resolving crime is a citywide effort. I don’t see any community initiatives addressing this except from churches and some youth organizations. And the youth organizations are mostly sneered at by the goo

  147. Max Allstadt

    You’ve got a point, annoyed: the only city wide crime reduction efforts that I see are a little myopic. We have organizations that do youth violence prevention, and plenty of them. But there’s no organization leading the charge to increase police staffing. There are scattered voices and so far they’re ineffective.

  148. Navigator


    The cases of violent crime that you site from throughout the years are very sad. Unfortunately, anyone in any large city in the US has the same horror stories over the years. Violent crime is a natiopnal problem and unless we address it as a national problem we’re just putting band aids on the situation. This country is a war zone. We have too many guns. We have kids shooting kids. We have a massacre just about every week. Nearly 50 people per day are killed in the United States. Thirty thousand people per year die because of guns. As long as we keep loving our guns, arguments will turn to homicides, despondent people will commit heinous acts, kids will shoot kids, etc. Maybe if we had a ticker at Times Square with the ongoing daily body count, maybe this country would get as serious about 30,000 Americans losing their lives to guns every year as we do about foreign terrorism which amounts to a fraction of the homegrown carnage. Oakland’s violence is a pimple on Americas cancerous crime ridden body. Cities trying to get a handle on crime peacemeal will never work. The more poverty the more crime. It’s that simple. Cities with high rates of poverty have higher crime rates.

    People talk about San Jose being a “safe” city and forget that San Jose has a low poverty rate and is suburban in nature. It’s like going to central Contra Costa County and drawing a border around an area with 900,000 suburban middle class residents and then proclaiming you’re a “safe city” because you only had 30 homicides in a year. Well,you can draw in an area of Central Contra Costa with that many residents and fewer than 30 homicides per year. I

    It’s the poverty and education rates that predict a high or low crime city. It’s not the number of cops. Look at Detroit and Saint Louis which have many more cops per capita than Oakland and have higher violent crime rates.

  149. Matt C.

    annoyed, Mr. Michaan had a passion for lower parking rates and he did something about it. I wouldn’t say it was something a lot of Oaklanders (which Allen is not) got up in arms about it. So take that passion for a safer Oakland and do something with it. I’m sure you will find community support… like from many of the people who read this blog.

  150. Max Allstadt


    Detroit and St. Louis are among 4 cities in the entire United States that have a higher violent crime rate than Oakland. So right there, if you’re looking for cities with more crime than we’ve got, your sample size is automatically in the anecdotal evidence range, because the fact is practically nobody has it as bad as we do.

    Plus, if they have more cops than we do it doesn’t indicate that cops aren’t a factor in the crime rate… It indicates that they are trying to DO SOMETHING about the crime rate and we are not.

    Oakland’s crime rate per capita is approximately double the national average for cities within our size range. Prior to the layoffs, we had about 10% fewer police per capita than similar cities. Now we probably are at about 20-25% fewer.

    So twice the crime, 3/4 to 4/5ths of the cops, and dropping fast because we have no academies and serious attrition. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. It is unacceptable.

    How low can staffing get before there are massive protests at City Hall? That’s up to how much we’ll tolerate, and frankly, I’ve tolerated enough.

    There’s a house one block away from me, bank-owned, four stories tall. It’s been taken over by dealers and pimps. I’ve been offered a blowjob by a toothless heroin addict in front of that house twice this month. She’s apparently too strung out to remember I said “no thanks” the first time.

    I’ve called OPD about it, called the public nuisance office about it, called Law Corps about it. No response for a long time, most likely because they’re all completely understaffed and overtaxed.

    Today, a dude in front of the house pulled a knife on me, apparently just to spook me for his own entertainment. Calling that in to OPD finally got a response. As for whether they’ll take a report and leave it at that, or clear the house out and secure it, who knows?

    Seriously, tell me that if we had more cops this wouldn’t be better. Explain why it wouldn’t be better, please. I would love to hear the spurious logic that you’ll weave to answer this.

    Last year, we had more cops, and it was better. End of story.

  151. Navigator


    I woudn’t put a lot of weight on those crime rankings. Even the FBI says they’re not reliable. Remember auto theft is a part of the equation and that’s one of the reasons Oakland ranks so high. Cities report crime in different ways and some cities like SF have admitted to leaving 1100 cases of aggravatted assault off the books for a number of years. Chicago for example doesn’t report rapes in thier figures. To say that Oakland is the 5th most dangerous city based on all the variables is debatable. It is true that crime is too high in Oakland and we can safely say that Oakland has been in the top 20 cities consistently in the last 20 years. However lets keep in mind that Oakland’s homicide numbers for 2010 were 89 non justifiable homicides which would put Oakland’s homicide rate lower than it was all the way back in the 70′s when Oakland had between 90 and just over 100 homicides with a smaller population. How many cops did Oakland have back in the 70′s and back when we had 60 homicides in one of Jerry Browns years?

    Max I understand the frustration with crime. I hate crime as much as anyone. However, I feel that OPD has used crime in the past as a political tool to get what they want. I feel that OPD has stood down on fighting crime in Oakland at times to make political points. After the Rider’s verdict OPD stopped aggressively fighting crime to make a political point. After the layoffs OPD tried to make political hay in the media by publizing crime in Oakland to the SF media. Throughout the years OPD has been more interested in taking care of their senior membership with cushy overtime generating special units at the expense of patrol officers on Oakland’s streets. They had a “side show unit.” Interesting that the sideshows would never be put out of business but were just contained until Chief Batts came to town. It was an overtime opportunitty for the sideshow unit and they weren’t about to get rid of the problem. OPD has been a disfunctional self-serving police department which has been much more interested in generating overtime for their membership along with creating specialized units instead of putting cops on the streets. Even when they had 800 you never saw a cop in Oakland. What good is having 800 when only a few hundred patrol the streets. OPD has been a huge boondoggle which has never been held responsible for their failures to bring Oakland’s crime rate down. It’s been a poorly run archaic Department which has drained Oakland’s budget with nothing to show for it except consistent high rates of crime. And now they’re crying foul. They should have been doing their jobs years ago instead of milking Oakland’s budget dry. If they trully cared for the city and their fellow officers they’d agree to pay into their pensions like everyone else.

  152. Max Allstadt

    When they had 800, they were doing what they were supposed to do with the new manpower. They sent it to my neighborhood in order to help make it go from barely livable to tolerable.

    I saw cops all the time until the layoffs happened. Today, it took a 911 call about a threat with a weapon to get much needed attention.

    But yeah, you have a point about auto-theft. Having your car stolen is no big deal. Ask my friend Ms. P., she’s had her car stolen three times in five years. Not a big deal at all. All you have to do is walk everywhere until OPD finds your car full of cigarette butts and poop, then you go get it and clean it up.

    Or, the last time it happened and the car didn’t come back, there was a really easy solution for her: she got a bike. No big deal at all.

  153. len raphael

    Nav, no question that like many other departments of our city, ousd, oha, and the port, there are many examples of inefficiency and poor management and unreasonably high compensation/benefits.

    An acquaintence was telling me tonight about his section of East Oakland where the crime and gunfire have increased dramatically from what it was last year.

    I asked him if he noticed a lot fewer cops and his reply was that it’s still a common sight to see three or four cop cars pulled over and the cops bs’ing with each other.

    He made a bad joke that the layoffs the cops never solved murders and they still don’t.

    it wb great if OPD became the leading police dept to get the same results as much higher staffed cities. But that isn’t gonna happen fast enough to offset the effects of a rapidly shrinking police force.

    also not likely to happen when we have little money to spend on technology and tracking systems, let alone fix old cop cars.

    I don’t see how we can hire cops until we have renagotiated the existing contract to hire back or entirely new cops at substantially lower cost than existing cops.

    My impression only, is that the binding arbitration provision in (state law?) or city charter? would have to be repealed first.

    I personally wouldn’t support it’s repeal unless the city council also repealed the prohibition on outsourcing other city dept functions.

    -len raphael, temescal

  154. len raphael

    Nav, there’s an alternate explanation of why the Rider’s NSA reduced agressive policing.

    Street cops weren’t passively agressing against the NSA. They were simply adjusting to the NSA reality that every time you confront a resident, you can expect a complaint to be filed that will take hours of your time to document and respond to. If you’re the unusual cop who loves doing paperwork, no big deal. After all, you do get paid for it. But many cops hate it and instead avoid confrontations unless they have iron clad justifications for same.

  155. Mry

    Why everybody fails to recognize or discuss publicly what a disaster the settlement agreement has been, is beyond me. It has cost and continues to cost the city millions of dollars. Not to mention, it has turned our police department in to a passive group who are constantly being investigated for the most trivial accusations.
    If I understand this correctly, we pay these “monitors” millions, what is their motivation to stop being paid?

  156. Livegreen

    Good question Mry. Also, the City Attorney has a legal obligation to defend it. So if the moniters or the judge isn’t being fair (and I don’t know that they aren’t) there’s nobody to argue the law on behalf of the citiznes of Oakland.

    It’s kind of like OPD Investigations has been taken over by and is being managed by the courts.

  157. Naomi Schiff

    Let’s not forget that some (not all) police officers have indeed overstepped or mistreated residents. There was a reason why they came under scrutiny. I think it is pretty darn easy for people to assume that the police are always right and the accused are always guilty. But having witnessed my own share of police abuses, I would caution against that assumption. A much more productive approach is to improve the police behavior AND to fund the department adequately AND to come to some better agreement with the union. Racism and police misconduct are not sheer figments of the imagination. Yes, they can be overstated, but they can be understated too.

  158. Mry

    @NS, I’m not saying that it’s not the case. In an organization that large, it is a sad reality. But, the pendulum has swung to the opposite side. We are left with a department where they are afraid to anything for fear of being investigated or fired. We the citizens are the ones that suffer as a result of it. We have a city where crime is off the hook and is becoming more liberal about it by the day.

  159. Naomi Schiff

    Thanks for your comment, MRY. As a person with liberal politics I am also an anti-crime person, and as someone involved in improving my community for more than 30 years, I would ask that you look for some other adjective. It’s absolutely not the case that liberals are pro-crime. This is a kind of false polarization we don’t need. It is unhelpful and inaccurate to equate varying approaches to crime prevention with larger political groupings and self-identification as liberal or conservative. It’s more paralyzing than effective. We can move past this kind of thinking and it would improve our lives to do so.

  160. Mry

    @NS, please do not take offense. I also consider myself somebody who has very liberal views (except around crime) perhaps I used a poor choice of an adjective, but I do mean to associate it with political association.

  161. Livegreen

    Naomi says “Racism and police misconduct are not sheer figments of the imagination. Yes, they can be overstated, but they can be understated too.”

    So, for the record, which are the Gang Injunctions? Police racism (as says the Mayor’s advisor, personal lawyer, & lawyer for documented gang members)? Or legimate anti-gang, anti-crime tactic (as says our Police Chief, a minority and successful product of the inner city)?

    Are these injunctions examples of overstating police racism or understating them?

    & please don’t try to duck the issue by defending Mr. Siegel while ignoring the question. Like our Mayor is doing.

  162. ralph

    Racism is an overused and overapplied term by generally well meaning, long memory individuals and individuals who profit in this concept.

    Yes, in the past police departments have been known to abuse power. Residents want convictions and they want to live in a community free of crime. We address these issues in the way we police. What we do not do is call every police tool or action racist because we think that they are going to abuse powers. We do not call every police officer a racist because of the actions of a few who may have abused power.

    And LG, to your point, I have no doubt that had Batts been white with the best in law enforcement training and the highest approval ratings from every segment in society, loved by Obama, Ghandi, Bush, King and Mother Theresa and the guy he just arrested, the gang injunction would have been a non-starter. At some point, we need to examine ourselves.

    In other news, I find it somewhat sad that the innocuous use of the word liberal quickly becomes politically charged.

  163. Naomi Schiff

    I am no lawyer, and not enough of an expert on the gang injunctions to know whether they are a good idea or not, having neither read them in detail, nor studied their legal status. Maybe like many things they could either be useful or be abused, depending upon how they are implemented. I will note that it wasn’t Batts who came up with the gang injunction stuff, it was Russo, wasn’t it? A white guy, to address Ralph’s point, and yet apparently not a nonstarter. I don’t think every police officer is racist, as I stated clearly, above. I don’t think that we are free of abuse, either. These things are just not so simple.

  164. livegreen

    Agreed, Ralph.

    No, Naomi, it was Chief Batts and, through a collaborative process with Russo, my understanding is, it was narrowed down so that specific names were added so the Injunctions would NOT be reduced to descriptive terms (gang colors, etc.)or misinterpreted, by the public OR the police, along racial lines.

    So Naomi, which is it for the Gang Injunctions?
    Racist as the Mayor’s advisors & accusers? (Mr. Siegel and those who stormed City Hall recently and successfully got the City Council to review them). Or a useful tool to be used in a narrow way by law enforcement? (As the Chief & City Attorney have constructed).

  165. Max Allstadt

    Actually, Naomi, the gang injunctions were originally pushed by several NCPC chairs. It began as a grassroots suggestion. Russo and Batts just listened to citizen volunteers and acted.

  166. ralph

    At the 30K level the gang injunction prevents specified individuals from engaging in certain activities and socializing with other gang member typically within a specified area. They are much like restraining orders in that try to limit the abusers destructive impact on a person/s (the community). Typically, the only way to find your way on the list as a named individual is to have a current gang affilitiation and a well documented history of heinous bad acts.

    Without the financial support to enforce the g.i., I don’t know if they do much good. Batts has used them in LB and he is neither 100% for nor 100% against.

    I think they are like any tool. If the resources are provided to support it, the g.i. may make a difference. But if no resources are provided, I don’t think you can toss out the g.i. as being non-effective. I am of the mindset you need to need to shock and awe – disrupt the gang activity, clean up and invest in the neighborhood.

    Naomi, I don’t know the timing of the initial g.i. and Batts arrival. I understand that the PD needs to have rock solid evidence against the named individuals and the PD needs to be on board for it to work. (My frustration is due more to the kids who spoke at the public safety commission. They basically concluded that the g.i. is just racial profiling.)

  167. annoyed

    Max, are you building a nuisance case for small claims court? You’ve notifed Arturo Sanchez in the nuisance abatement office. Does your council aide know about it? Do you have a PSO? SOme are back, does the PSO know about it? DOes your NCPC know about it? Does your NSC know about it? Does your area Captain know about it and the lieutenant? Have you made an effort to find out who your regular beat officer is so you can talk to them about it? Have you tried to get a no trespass order for the property? That order empowers anyone to call the cops to force anyone on the property to leave. This is what it takes to clean up a problem property. You can’t make a couple phone calls and post here and expect it be resolved. It will take hours of your time over months if not years of repeatedly calling, keeping a log of what you have done, and sending out e-mails to everyone I listed above. That’s what it takes to clean up a problem property. And you will need support from your neighbors because it’s hard, but not impossible, to do this alone.

  168. Max Allstadt

    Well, seeing as my PSO has been back on the job for about a week, no. I’ve got some work to do, I guess. But if we had a functional city with a properly staffed police force, this house would have been emptied and secured weeks ago.

    Thanks for your advice, I’ll follow through on it.

  169. livegreen

    I’ve brought up the Nuisance Dept. before. How many people are in that department. 1 or 2 people? Ridiculous.

    I see Arturo is on Jean’s list of advisors. That’s a positive…

  170. len raphael

    Mry, wierd isn’t it that there’s never been an accounting to the residents of the total monetary cost of the NSA.

    Seems like the Bart Connector to Nowhere super boondoogle: the defense lawyers made (do they get paid for every hearing? a bundle, our attorneys get paid for showing up at hearings, the cops get ot for filling out reports, other cops get desk jobs to investigate complaints, outside monitors get paid, even the retired judge assumedly gets paid.

    One hears people say how the mandated changes were needed for any well run PD, but then somehow we keep failing?

    And years late this little police dept still can’t get a passing grade?

    Sounds like OUSD. Is it the fault of the admin, the teachers, the kids or the parents (us) for not demanding they deal with the NSA and wrap it up already and move on.

    if the NSA is inherently flawed, appeal the darn thing to a higher court. This long drawn out expensive process is bleeding us.

  171. ralph

    Earlier today, I took some time to review the Emphasis of PD Reforms. In reviewing this list, it is easy to understand the people’s distrust. The required reforms are SOP, and have been for decades, for almost every PD I have ever encountered. So, I am with you where is the resistance and why aren’t we there yet.

  172. Mry

    Exactly!!! I’m going to see what more I can find about the costs. I believe LAPD was in a similar situation at one time.

  173. Livegreen

    First, a private lawyer like Marleen would have to sue to get any changes/relief from the NSA because, as I said before, Russo is legally obliged to defend it. So resistance could have limited affect, unless we’re able to convince Judge Henderson or the moniters that we need at least partial relief.

    2ndly more than one OPD Captain has told me that OPD instituted the recommendations on paper, but not in practice. So they would often check the right boxes on the checklist but not implement in practice. Finally Chief Batts stated that many of the items in the NSA other departments had experience doing as a regular part of business (this did not endear him to some officers).

    On the other hand there are items in the NSA that seem untenable.

    For example making a supervisor go to the seen of every arrest and, as I understand it, every complaint or use of force (even when there’s no complaint). Then extra paperwork needs to b done for that use of force, leaving less and less time not just for officers to b in the field, but for Sgts to command those forces.

    Finally I saw somewhere a chart on the amount of time OPD officers spend on paperwork. It was signicantly more than other Depts.

    This means there r legit parts of the NSA that OPD needs to improve on, while there r other parts where OPD is unnecessarily constrained that limit the crime deterent effectiveness of both individual officers and the entire Dept.

    Things r not black or white, but shades of grey, which as we know is sometimes the most difficult.

    But this situation leaves me with these questions:
    –Is there any way the moniters and Judge would b willing to amend or provide relief from supervisors being forced to attend to EACH use of force? While simultaneously retaining tight monitoring of where OPD is still falling short?
    –Same for #s of Investigators (more in internal Affairs-IA- than for muders or any other area);
    –Is there a way for Russo to ask for some of these limited changes? If not is ther a private Attorney who would b willing?
    –Is there anything an organized group can do?

  174. MarleenLee

    I don’t know much about the NSA, but I do know it stands for “negotiated settlement agreement.” Therefore, as far as I know, this was a settlement agreement entered into between the City and the plaintiffs, in order to avoid litigation and possibly millions more in damages. So I would assume that the City actually agreed to all of these conditions. You can’t generally sue to get out of a settlement agreement. Nor could a private citizen sue to get the City out of a settlement agreement. It’s a binding contract. Just like the contract the City has with its public sector unions. A contract is a contract, however unpalatable it may seem now.

  175. livegreen

    Could the City ask for modifications or relief in some limited areas?

    Does the City have a legal obligation to provide police & safety services to the rest of it’s citizens (within any constraints, like financial)?

    I’m not questioning it’s existence, just how it demands a level of allocation of OPD resources that prohibits OPD from providing sufficient services to everybody else. If OPD’s only obligation were to the NSA it wouldn’t be a problem. It isn’t but its practical affect is that this is OPD’s primary purpose right now.

    Well, don’t the rest of us the citizens of Oakland have any rights to protection from citizens? Right now that seems to be secondary.

    So much for “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare”…

  176. MarleenLee

    The City agreed to the this allocation of resources. If you don’t like what the City agreed to, then your remedy is to throw the knuckleheads out of office who approved the agreement. But those knuckleheads apparently never get thrown out of office. Right now, one of the biggest burdens on OPD is Measure BB’s requirement that 63 Measure Y positions get staffed, including all the PSOs. If the force drops down to 500, which is pretty likely now with the passage of BB, that means pretty much no investigations, no nothing, except Internal Affairs, PSOs, and maybe a few patrol officers. The BB restrictions are outrageous with such a small force, but hey, you guys voted for it.

  177. CitizenX

    Physically throwing the knuckleheads out of their offices would be satisfying on many levels. Unfortunately, pretty much the only way to get them out of office is to vote them out of office. Problem seems to be, every four years, is a lack of promising candidates to run against said knuckleheads.

    To get anywhere, the job of all disgruntled citizens should be to identify and recruit viable candidates and get them out in the public, into Council meetings and make them known entities, before ballot time comes. I admit, finding people crazy enough to run for office in Oakland is one tough job.

  178. livegreen

    “Viable candidates” is key. For example, the last candidate to run against Ignacio was Mario Juarez (MJ). Who tried to steal money from the City. A candidate worse than the incumbent. We have to be careful about reducing it to “throw the bums out”, no matter who their replacement might be…

    MJ is now on the Board of Directors for the Sierra Club’s East Bay Chapter, and probably preparing to run again. Especially if Ignacio doesn’t.

    On the other hand it also takes a lot of money. I think between that, all the dirt under the hood, and the vocal minority, it’s unfortunately often interpreted as a thankless job and so keeps a lot of capable people from running.

  179. livegreen

    The spillover of Dan Siegel being an advisor to Jean Quan, because he is a vocal critic of Police in general and specifically on the Gang Injunctions is:

    –helping to create long-lasting disfunction in the relationship between this Mayor & this City Attorney:

    –helping create disfunction between the Mayor and an OPD that can be effective while it is short staffed. If, for example, the Mayor orders this or a future OPD chief to stop the Gang Injunctions, that will be taking away one of the few tools an ever-shrinking OPD has (especially with the NSA already tying one arm behind it’s back).

    –if she orchestrates a stop to the Gang Injunctions it will be contradictory to the legal advice of the City Attorney. Then who’s advice will it be based on? (The City Attorney seems to have a point).

    –Either way, she is using her personal attorney for advice on public policy, then claims whatever he tells her is private. Huh? This seems incongruous (& reminds me of a certain President).

    –It also seems incompatible with Jean’s promises to be more open to the public.

  180. Max Allstadt

    Ralph, this was just released:

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Joshi, Holly J.
    Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2011 5:52 PM
    To: OPD Media

    On January 27, 2011, Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts announced that he will not be stepping into the role of Chief of Police in the San Jose Police Department. Chief Batts came to the City of Oakland with the intention to make the Police Department stronger and more efficient. “I continue to have concerns surrounding the support and resources being provided and am committed to doing whatever is required to fix the broken systems within this agency.”
    Chief Batts is in continuing conversations with the Mayor and City staff concerning his future with the Oakland Police Department. “I have not made a final decision as to my future with this agency. It still needs to be determined if I am a fit for the City of Oakland’s vision of the future. The demands on the Oakland Police Department are great, youth violence is of great concern, and we have experienced a recent spike in violent crime. In order to make significant improvements to the quality of life for the residents, collective coordination and cooperation must be a priority for ensuring public safety.”
    Chief Batts wishes his good friend and colleague, newly appointed Police Chief Chris Moore, the best of luck.

  181. Dax

    “I have not made a final decision as to my future with this agency. It still needs to be determined if I am a fit for the City of Oakland’s vision of the future”


    Imagine if a husband had been openly pursuing another woman.
    Then after that woman decided to marry another guy, the husband returns to the house and issues a statement.

    “I have not made a final decision as to my future with this family. It still needs to be determined if I am a fit for this family’s vision of the future”

    Well uh, yes… now can we just make this whole episode go away…like it never really happened.

    I hope he can stay with the original vigor and vision that we saw up until now.
    Of course, that was prior to the election and the layoffs.
    Hey, its tough all over.

    Right now, he is certainly the best person we have. We don’t need a Al Davis solution to this position.

  182. MarleenLee

    Dax, your analogy is leaving out a few important facts. First, the wife hed him to believe that she was loving and supportive. As soon as they got married, she took all his money and spent it on herself, without consulting him, leaving nothing for food or rent. Then she suddenly got all chummy with a guy who had stabbed him in the back. When he told her up front he was thinking about leaving her, she said, “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, you incompetent lout.” I think the wife needs to mend a few fences and get her priorities in order.

  183. Dax

    You’re right, that wife can certainly be difficult.
    No wonder he got wandering eyes.

    But if he leaves, its the other family members who will suffer.

    I sure hope they can reconcile.

  184. Mry

    What a great comment ;) perhaps that “wife” should do some soul searching if she wants it to work. Maybe she should take a look around and consider she plays a huge role in creating the contentious relationships in her life.

  185. len raphael

    at the end of the day, how do we pay for hiring a 100 more experienced cops who can be effective in this town?

    are the laid off cops covered by their old contract such that before anyone rehired, the laid off cops have to be offered their jobs back at their old pay?

    or can any hire back terms be changed by renagotiation w OPOA

    no way another Measure N cop only parcel tax is going to generate sufficient money with the cops conceding only a 9% pension contribution.

    there have been 5 burglaries within a half block of me in the last 4 months. That’s 4 more burglaries than we’ve had in the past 20 years.

    still, i won’t vote for a cop parcel tax when it’s clear an additional 100 cops would have to be thrown into the murderous breach of East, West, and NW sections and never set foot elsewhere.

    before raising taxes, a comprehensive long term budget and labor cost reduction plan is required. otherwise we’re just chasing our tails.

  186. Mike

    Hey folks have I ever got great news for those of you who may be concerned about crime in Oakland.

    The Mayor and the City Council are working on a secret plan that is really thinking out-of-the-box. About time, right?

    Since the current police staffing policy will soon lead us to the point at which we have only one Oakland cop, the Mayor and the Council have been working behind our backs negotiating with…


    That’s right, and you heard it right here on ABO. With Robocop, no layoffs, no pension problems, you just program in NSA compliance, 24/7 service.

    And just remember, a laugh a day keeps the murderer away!

  187. Frustrated Resident

    Tired of Mayor Quan’s little public spate with Russo and her ill-conceived idea of using Siegal as her quasi City Attorney, I submitted the following request for records from Ms. Quan. I have to get any acknowledgment of the request. The clock is ticking. Wonder how long it will take for her to comply?

    Mayor Quan,

    I hereby request under the Public Records Act request any and all documents and records, meeting notes, voice-mails, emails, written notes, meeting minutes, recordings, photographs, calendar appointments, and any other form of communication that have been generated between you and Mr. Dan Siegel, your adviser and volunteer, on any matter, but particularly the existing and proposed gang injunctions in the City of Oakland. This would include any records generated in your official capacity as an Oakland City Council member and as Oakland Mayor. This is for any records for the time period between January 1, 2008 to the the present, January 26, 2011.

    Should you elect to determine that some records are exempt from the Public Records Act I am requesting you provide a list of the records and the reason they are exempt. Should you elect to determine that some records are exempt due to an Official attorney-client privilege relationship between your former Office as an Oakland City Council member or your current Office as the Mayor of Oakland with Mr. Dan Siegal, I would request you list the date and subject of each exempt document. Any documents with exempt information should still be provided with the exempt information redacted, such as protected personal or personnel information.

    I understand you are an advocate of an open and transparent government. Consequently, we anticipate your prompt and complete attention to this important public issue. You can notifiy me at my email address when the records are ready.

    Thank you.

  188. annoyed

    Today’s shooting in Rockridge is yet more proof about residents’ goofy attitudes about the police. A man dressed in camouflage is reportedly strolling around a Rockridge street with a weapon. The police arrive and encounter what they believe is an automatic weapon and a knife. The man had reportedly threatened his girlfriend. They order the man to drop the weapon, he doesn’t, the cops shoot, the man is no longer with us. The gun turns out to be a fake.

    Two residents of Rockridge were on camera today denouncing the shooting. Genius Number One said the cops should have shot him in the leg. Can we finally come to terms that this stupidity only happens in Hollywood? Real cops are not trained to wound or shoot at a limb.

    Genius Number Two, while holding his child, states he doesn’t know all the facts but he HEARD the guy only had a knife and it sounded like just another senseless police shooting. This is the kind of stupid shite one would expect to hear from young men who hang out on street corners for their whole life.

    All I know is this: If I look out of my window and see someone brandishing a firearm, I want the police to use any means necessary to disarm him. Just last week, a car full of clowns opened fire on an East Oakland neighborhood for no reason. It wasn’t a driveby, they just shot up the neighborhood for no apparent reason. This isn’t a movie, this is real life. I don’t expect the cops to play games. I expect them to make reasonable decisions when they choose to use deadly force and a guy with what looks like an assault weapon is a threat to the officers and, despite the ignorance of Rockridge residents, is a reasonably perceived threat to them also.

    I don’t think people in this town really want a police department. When people in an upscale part of town make the kind of statements that were made today, I really believe it’s time to leave this place. It’s not the crime, it’s the utter ignorance of the people who live here that make crime reduction an impossibility.

  189. annoyed

    Brick City is running a second season on the Sundance Channel. Take a look at how Newark has reduced crime. Season one is on Comcast On Demand. It took the sheer will of the mayor, his tireless outreach to the community, an effective police commissioner, and the backing of his staunchest supporters, despite the usual cadre of naysayers. I envy communities that have really had enough of crime and roll up their sleeves to clean up the mess.

    By the way, for those who say gang injunctions are useless: Tell that to the folks in the Pico-Union section of LA during the 18th St. gang injunciton. Before the injunction was lifted due to the huge Ramparts Division scandal, that area was transformed.

  190. navigator

    That’s three police killings in Oakland in one week. Oakland law enforcement is really driving Oakland’s homicide rate through the roof. Unfortunately, it looks like Oakland has quite a few cops with itchy trigger fingers. Spraying at least ten bullets in a residential neighborhood isn’t going to make the residents very happy. OPD loves to blast away. At least ten shots were fired at a man who wasn’t able to fire back because his gun was a toy. Ten freekin shots by these cowboys who only know how to shoot to kill in order to “defuse” a situation. Obviously this guy had mental problems but the answer to any confrontation by OPD is to blast away as soon as they some one moving. They shot that kid in East Oakland as he was running away. This department is poorly trained and only knows how to shoot up neighborhoods. What do you expect when you get a bunch of conservatives with guns from Pleasanton, Castro Valley, Alameda, and San Ramon running around Oakland with itchy trigger fingers. Three killings in one week and at least ten rounds fired in Rockridge without a single round from the suspect who was obviously mentally ill.

    These guys blasted the guy as soon as they saw him.
    This reminds me of what I saw back when I attended Claremont Middle School many years ago. The cops were running around with shot guns and high fiveing themselves after shooting a kid down like a dog near the Rockridge BART station parking lot. These guys have no tact, don’t know how to deal with situations, and only know how to shoot to kill. Some of them even seem to get off on it.

  191. Mry

    I have read many of your postings, and you CLEARLY are not a fan of the police. Your statements are usually filled with generalizations that I usually do not take you seriously. I think the news does a great job of just picking out the statements that will get a reaction, because I as a resident in a “nice” neighborhood do not feel like those they reported.
    I’m bothered by your smug criticisms, please tell me how you would have done it? A heightened situation and wether they were mentally ill or not, pointing an assault weapon at you? There is probably no way of knowing it’s not real until you touch it.

  192. navigator

    There are ways to evaluate a situation before coming in like Rambo. You talk to people. Did they talk to the ex girlfriend who lived in the house? The guy was on the street and ran behind the house when he saw the cops. Did the guy have a working assault rifle or any other weapons? Was he mentally ill? You evaluate the situation and ask these questions. You don’t just blast away with at least ten rounds in a residential neighborhood before analyzing the situation. These guys have itching trigger fingers and people, deer and dogs in Oakland, are all targets.

    I don’t know if its the lack of training or that some of them are wannabe Rambos.

    I don’t know guys. That’s just how I feel. Maybe seeing that kid lying in the bushes next to the BART station near College Avenue as I was leaving Claremont Middle School and the cops running around with their shotguns with smiles on their faces and high fiving themselves, left a very negative image with me.

    Mry, I take you seriously all the time.

  193. navigator


    Thanks for the link. That was a very enlightening article. The stress issue is very real for an officer. I like to think that it’s a training issue. It’s a systematic problem with the training methods of Oakland cops in particular and cops in the United States in general.

    In this particular situation the stress level should have been lower and more manageable. This was not after a high speed chase at night in a high crime neighborhood where cops have their adrenalin rush, are angry that the perp defied them and put their lives in danger, and sometimes fire their weapons out of anger and to hand out instant justice.

    This was a situation at 9:30 AM in a quite residential neighborhood, no shots had been fired, and the situation was relatively stable. There was time to ask questions and evaluate the situation before storming the porch and doorway with guns a blazing.

    Cops are way to quick to fire their guns in many situations. Sometimes you need to take a step back and slow things down a little bit so that rational decisions can be made and the loss of life can be avoided.

  194. MarleenLee

    Annoyed: I wouldn’t take those “man on the street” interviews too seriously. I don’t think they are representative of Oaklanders, and most particularly Oaklanders in Rockridge. They air those interviews to be provocative. I guess some people just enjoy making fools out of themselves, neighborhood residents and reporters alike. But I do think that the rational, law-abiding citizens of Oakland are just sitting around doing nothing while the supporters of gangs, Lovelle Mixon and deranged ex-boyfriends carrying faux assault rifles are loud and organized. When are the rest of you going to take a stand?

  195. len raphael

    From a friend who lives very close to the Taft shooting:

    “Dozens of cops, cop cars, rifles,OPD brass, DA, homicide investigators, all day, whole block cordoned off. Chron got it wrong – he went inside the house of the girlfriend, not some random house. He wasn’t an “intruder” in the normal sense of the word. He knew his victim (whom he threatened to kill, allegedly), then he went outside and committed suicide by cop. It was very clear.”

    Nav, you’ve been out of Oakland too long. You’re romanticizing what daily life is like here. And you also suspended your usual skepticism towards the media.

    -len raphael, temescal

  196. navigator


    This isn’t about supporting deranged ex-boyfriends. This is about questionable police tactics and three police killings in one week in Oakland.

    The family inside the house had already left the house through the front door as the guy with the fake weapon had come in through the back. There was no possible hostage situation. Why did the cops not ask questions and instead decided to storm the house firing away like Rambo with ten rounds in a quiet residential neighborhood at 9:30 in the morning? They put an entire neighborhood at risk by firing those ten rounds.

    You have to ask these questions.

  197. navigator

    What is daily life in Rockridge like? I spend a lot of time in Oakland. I don’t think I’m romanticizing. I just choose to look at the positives in this city and the great strides which have been made in the last ten years. I think Oakland is a great town with tremendous potential to be even greater.

    There are too many people on this site who really don’t like Oakland and constantly see Oakland in a very negative light and have very little regard for the city. More Oaklanders need to take pride in their city.

    Let’s look at the transformation of downtown, Temescal, Dimond, Fruitvale, and Laurel in the last ten years.In the 80′s Lake Merritt was filled with drug dealers and thugs sitting around the bird sanctuary area blasting their radios and intimidating people passing by. No families would venture to Lake Merritt in the late 70′s and 80′s. Now, you have a nice family environment at Lake Merritt and you see kids playing in the playgrounds, mother’s pushing strollers, walkers, joggers, bikers, etc.

    You have too many transplants that “settled” for Oakland who think that SF and Berkeley are better. I’m not one of them. People need to take pride in their city and understand the history of what came before. There’s too much anti-Oakland negativity on this site at times.

  198. Max Allstadt


    This is a youtube video of an airsoft gun, a replica M4 carbine that shoots 6mm plastic BBs which can raise a welt but won’t pierce the skin. It is legal in california. Technically, the law has required a blaze orange tip on the muzzle for a couple of years not, but there are many older models on the market, and many owners simply paint the orange black because it makes their expensive toy look cooler.–HfwK4

    An unmodified M4 carbine that fires real bullets is a banned assault weapon in california.

    In all likelihood, the weapon used by the guy who got shot was some kind of airsoft. Probably not as schmancy as the one in the video, but build for realism none the less.

    If a guy has an assault rifle, or something that looks this much like an assault rifle, and he emerges from a house where women are screaming, and refuses to drop his weapon when confronted by police, the correct thing to do is to shoot him many times.

    A real M4 or AK47 variant is capable of shooting through two or three houses easily. It takes less than 1 second for someone to raise and fire a rifle. It takes slightly longer than that for a police officer to acquire a sight picture on his sidearm and fire.

    That means that if they tell him to drop his weapon and he starts to raise it, they have to shoot him, or else they or anyone in any wood framed structure within 200 to 300 feet could end up dead.

    I also forgot to mention that they can shoot through most body armor. I don’t know if Sgts. Romans and Sakai were wearing helmets when Lovelle Mixon killed them, but if they had it wouldn’t have mattered.

    Am I making any progress here? Or would you like to present another under-informed hypothetical argument to me, so I can use more facts about firearms, replica firearms, police tactics, and force science to refute you and make you look silly?

  199. Dow Chemical

    Those airsofts are designed to fool people, that is a fact. This time the weapon fooled the wrong people. I don’t always side with the police, that is for sure, but this guy, who was doubtless out of his mind, asked for it & got it. Save your knee jerk cop bashing for when it is actually valid. You’ll have plenty of opportunity.

  200. livegreen

    I’d like to know how the Police are supposed to do a mental health evaluation on a guy who they believe to have a gun? & how are the Officers supposed to know the gun is a fake before hand? Ask him to see it, then hand it back? And handling the stress of cops (ie. not knowing if you’re going to get shot or not) is simply a matter of training?

    Nav, I suggest you go and look for a gang member or an incident involving a crime with a gun while it’s transpiring, ask to see their gun, see if it’s real, ask them to come with you for a psych analysis, etc. (all the other things your asking Officers to do).

    Let us know how it turns out.

    BTW, this is without addressing how you could care less about actual victims or potential victims. Like the woman in question, or the countless minority men and women who have been killed by gang members.

  201. navigator

    The article in the Chronicle states that both women were out of the house when the guy was shot on the porch. How about the danger to the neighborhood because of those cops squeezing off numerous rounds before any shot was fired? Do cop bullets go through wood frame houses? How many bullets does it take to disable a man? Is it 10, 20,30?

    Also, in light of Oakland’s cop shortage why are there 10 cop cars parked on Taft at 1:30 PM, exactly 4 hours after the shooting?

  202. Max Allstadt


    More detailed factual answers to your ludicrous questions.

    First of all, I don’t know if OPD uses 9mm or .40 caliber service weapons, but the penetration of either of those is far less than what you get with an assault rifle. Pistols use weaker explosive charges in their ammunition, have shorter barrels to build gas pressure in, and the bullets themselves are wider and have flat noses in contrast to narrow point nosed rifle bullets.

    An AK47 variant will shoot through a concrete block. An M16/M4 variant doesn’t quite do that, but will certainly shoot clear through both sides of a patrol car. My guess is that a police sidearm will penetrate an exterior wall or roof and possibly 2 interior walls. Dig around at if you want a better understanding of ballistic penetration, presented in an entertaining format.

    As for 10 shots: in high stress situations, marksmanship ability drops dramatically. Also, in order to incapacitate a threat, you have to either induce rapid loss of blood pressure or hit them in the brain. The brain is harder to hit, if someone is facing you, you have to hit a 10-12 square inch area to hit the brain. So cops aren’t trained to shoot for the head, they’re trained to shoot for “center of mass” or the torso, which is a 180 to 280 square inch area. Beneath it lie multiple organs, arteries and veins, which if hit can create a rapid loss of blood pressure. But it’s also quite easy to hit the torso and not hit anything that causes incapacitation.

    Because of all of these factors, shooters are trained to A. fire more than one round in a salvo. B. Keep shooting until the target goes down.

    Three cops on scene, firing 3 or four rounds each, you’re up to ten shots. That’s actually showing a lot of restraint if you ask me. If the man who they shot had what appeared to be an assault rifle with a california-banned magazine, the cops would be under the impression that he could put between 20 and 30 rounds into them and the neighborhood in a very very short period of time.

    Any other questions?

  203. navigator


    I believe Lovelle Mixon shot the two motorcycle Officers with a handgun. The assault rifle was used inside the apartment building to shoot the other two Officers.

    Again, this was another tragic example of horrible tactics by a police department which makes tactical mistakes and puts Oakland in the National spotlight on a consistent basis. Storming that apartment building cost OPD the lives of two more Officers.

    How many incidents have come to National attention because of lousy police tactics? We have the shooting of Bambi, we have a family pet dog shot for no reason with a note left on the front door, we have questionable crowd control tactics during the Oscar Grant demonstrations, we have an incredible number of police shootings. I don’t know of another Department in the country which embarrasses its city on such a consistent basis. And, OPD does it at a premium price as the most expensive police department in the country.

  204. Mike

    Max is right, but some folks really need a full explanation of police shooting policy.

    Cops are people like us. With wives, kids, dogs named Bunky, house, morgage, the whole bit. No human being is going to be a cop if he cannot defend himself definitively when threatened with violence.

    I want to see how many people like “navigator” are willing to do police work and deal with really nasty people for other than a substantial paycheck.

    Keep in mind that life expectancy for cops is about 58 years; that’s significantly less than for the rest of us.

    Regarding shooting, the general rule here in the US is a minimum of two shots to the center of mass (chest). With a 9mm or larger bullet, this has a reasonable chance of rendering a man incapable of firing back, but it’s not absolutely reliable. A drug addict or nutcase amped up on speed or adrenaline can keep going long enough after he has been shot in the chest a couple of times to keep on shooting long enough to injure or kill anyone else around. Especially if he’s got a semi-automatic or automatic gun.

    It is a nasty business. I wouldn’t like to be a cop. I especially wouldn’t like to be a cop if I were told I could only shoot a perpetrator in the leg, so he could continue to threaten me. My wife wouldn’t go along with this, either, or my kids, or even my dog.

    The fact is that we’ve got plenty of nuts with guns on the streets of Oakland. Pretending there is some magical way to deal with them isn’t going to work.

    Oakland as a whole has a lot of waking up to do about the reality of violent crime here. It’s going to take a government that is unified with a long-term plan, with the integrity to follow through by allocating resources (more cops and more violence prevention and more community resources for at-risk kids, parolees and others). We citizens are going to have to pitch in rather than scoff and blame. And it’s going to cost us lots of money.

    Good luck, right?

  205. Max Allstadt


    Romans and Sakai were the officers that he murdered with an assault rifle. He also attempted to murder Sgt. Pat Gonzales at that time.

    And now apparently, you’ve decided to list incidents other than the one we were discussing in order to somehow conflate it all.

    I don’t see the point in going any further, because there’s plenty of analysis of the errors made in some of the incidents you bring up, and PD openly admits to some of the mistakes you’re talking about.

    I also don’t see any point in going any further because I mainly chimed in to point out just how little background knowledge you have about use of force.

    Or to put it more succinctly, the stupid stuff you said above is still stupid. I rest my case.

  206. len raphael

    in a city with this much violence, would seem that our Mayor should widely publicize OPD rules of engagement including use of firearms, so we know and maybe reach some minimal consensus on the standards. Nothing secret about them?

    Background info on when tasers are effective, why cops are trained to shoot at torso’s etc. would help too.

    Poorly attended public hearings aren’t enough.

  207. navigator

    It seems like no one is willing to hold the Oakland Police Department responsible for the level of incompetence and the lack of effectiveness in bringing crime down in Oakland like New York and LA have been able to do. Oakland spends a huge amount of its budget for mediocrity at best while pro Police conservatives never hold the Department accountable for its performance. They’ll rail against Quan or who ever the Mayor is at the time, but holding the police department accountable for the level of crime is unthinkable.

    Also, the Oakland Police Union loves to denigrate the city in order to give themselves street cred and for political reasons. The OPD union reps love to go to the media about how “dangerous” Oakland is and how hard they work. Well, if Oakland is “dangerous” its because OPD has been doing a crappy job for over 20 years despite being the most expensive cops in the nation. If I were the Oakland Union rep, I’d stop denigrating the city because all you’re really doing is denigrating your job performance.

    Mayor Quan is right, these mercenaries don’t like Oakland and denigrate Oakland to the SF media for street cred and for political opportunism at every opportunity.

    The OPD union rep in his haste to denigrate Oakland as a city, called Oakland the “most dangerous city west of the Mississippi.” I guess in his zeal to run Oakland down, he forgot about Saint Louis.

    Oakland needs to hire Oakland residents who have a stake in the city and who’d work for 60,000 per yea,r instead of the outrageous salaries which are taken to the suburbs by individuals who don’t like the city in the first place.

  208. Livegreen

    Nav, You r more full of it than you’ve ever been. I’ve agreed with you in the past when u talked about negative publicity about Oakland, but not when you said that’s all it is (one of the reasons u got a warning on this blog). Now u jump around linking three different shot-by-cop incidents as if a) They’re all related; b) These incidents have any similarity to issues that occurred years and decades ago; c) incidents when cops were the victims which would otherwise show the opposite of your argument (ie. they were showing more restraint than they should have) d) Most victims r murdered by cops (they r’nt, they’re killed by gang members of their own race or that of their rival gangs), e) You don’t know either the race or residency of the cops in question; f) Prove that Jean Quan called the cops merenaries? (You’re not doing her any favors here either).

    I agree with u that we should have more Oakland residing Officers (which should b true for other Depts too), but Ive known cops who live both here and in the burbs and BOTH sets I’ve met care about the job and the residents they’re fighting for.

    I can refute EACH unrelated argument u post here, but what’s the point when u continue to shovel shit and splatter it everywhere u can, and call it something it’s not?

    You make me think you’re biased against all cops (no matter where they live or the color of their skin) or that you’re Dan Siegel. Same difference.

  209. Livegreen

    Oh, BTW, in each situation referred to the Officers gave detailed explanations that can b backed up both by facts and by an investigation process Oakland has in place monitered by an Oakland investigative board, internal affairs, and supervised by both independent monitors and a federal judge (and lawyers who don’t like the police). So if u never hear about these incidents again, it’s not because the cops got away with murder, it’s because they were cleared by all these investigative bodied and the press didn’t see fit to report on those boring facts.

    We have layers of investigative tools and boards to investigate Police Officers. In fact we have more of then than we have to investigate crimes by gangs or any single category of crime in the City. We have gangs taking over Flatland schools. Those r FACTS.

    And yet Dan Siegel and Navigator feel OPD is the bigger problem. I’m curious if the Mayor agrees with them?

  210. len raphael

    Though I think Nav knows just enough about the OPD and crime situation here to get it dangerously wrong, I’ve met many middle and upper middle class residents here who would voice similar opinions, but not as articulated as Nav.

    A lot of people who voted for JQ really do agree with her and Siegel that OPD is part of the problem not part of the solution to violence here.

    -len raphael,temescal

  211. ralph

    If one believes that OPD is the problem despite changes and reforms, then we will never make progress. At some point the residents of Oakland need to give the Chief, the officers and the reforms a chance to work.

    I fully believe that the officers are commited to the community, but I question how commited the community is to the officers. One does not become a police officer just to carry a gun. Individuals become officers because they are commited to making a difference. If you doubt this look at the what is expected of an officer in terms of skills and education.

    Max and LG, thanks for being the voice of reason

  212. Mry

    Agreed! Thanks Matt and LG. I’m starting to think navigator is Jean Quan.
    Navigator, you are just like fox news, a one trick pony. I am pretty sure your gig is up. See ya.

  213. gregory mcconnell

    I went to an event at the Rotunda Saturday night and there were two police officers standing outside. I walked over and one of them asked me if there as a problem. I said no, I just want to thank you for what you do and the tell you that people support your efforts. We shook hands and left it at that.

    Cops are like the rest of us, they need support and recognition. If you get a chance, say something encouraging to one today.

  214. Livegreen

    Agreed Greg. I saw an Officer a couple weeks ago going into a gas station I was at and said “Thank You for the hard work you do for us” he replied “Thank you”. I added in quickly “Hope the Chief stays”, and he replied “That’s the key right there”. Sure some Officers r challenged by what he’s asking the dept to do, but others know it’s essential to continue improving the dept while doing good work and outreach to the community. BOTH not either-or.

  215. Dow Chemical

    I deal with OPD quite a bit, & I also deal Oakland criminality quite a bit. I have dealt with cops around the country, I find that dealing with the police can be pretty trying, by & large, they are NOT interested in citizens. There are exceptions, but they are far between. Oakland cops are BY FAR the most engaged, concerned, & sharp. SF cops are just about the worst. Oakland criminals are pretty standard, the big difference is that they are pretty sure nothing much is going to happen to them, until they are murdered by some other asshole. The law is the least of their concerns.

  216. annoyed

    I’m not sure I understand the significance of 10 shots but let’s be clear about one thing. Police are actually trained to fire weapons. They weren’t Larry, Moe, and Curly shooting wildly in the neighborhood.

    Other than that, I can’t respond to Nav’s truly stupid ravings. Except to say, which corner are you slinging on, buddY? Because those are the folks most invested in the eviseration of the police depatment.

  217. ralph

    Agreed. Every time I encounter an officer, I make a point to thank them for their service and all they do for our city.

  218. Matt C.

    I cannot see how, with all the evidence brought to air, the officers overreacted.

    I think a very important aspect to this story is being totally missed. It is very, very sad that there was apparently no way to get Mr. Cicelski help before he did all this. As a survivor of domestic violence I’m very happy for his ex-girlfriend, because she no longer has to worry about him creating terror in her life.

    I agree with the other readers, there is a need for some OPD appreciation right now. Especially after the effing gang injunction rally as City Hall last week -that was an embarrassment.

  219. Max Allstadt

    What part of the injunction rally was an embarrassment? If I was one of the organizers I’d certainly be embarrassed at being able turn out barely 100 inarticulate people who didn’t even know exactly what they were protesting.

  220. Matt C.

    Hahaha, uh yeah.

    Someone already said it, but it bears repeating. The average law abiding citizen in Oakland doesn’t get their voice heard. City programs are like that, too. If I made $30k less a year I’d qualify for some great home improvement loans from the city. I have no idea how I could afford to own a property if that were the case, anyway. If I were someone like Phil Tagami I’d be rolling in city sponsored loans. The whole dang system is guilty!

  221. Mry

    Wow, I just read that the mayor found money. They are hiring back 10 of the officers and improving cars, computers and radios.

  222. livegreen

    About the money being found, I wonder. That part of it is a headline, details of which might or might not be true in the future (when that part of the headline gets forgotten).

    This is a fig leaf, which is a step in the right direction. But considering it only makes up for 2.5 months average attrition, will soon be meaningless.

    Oh. Maybe that’s where the money was “found”.

  223. Max Allstadt

    A promise of increasing authorized force size by 10 is a start.

    Next we need funding for at least one academy per year (this may actually be more important than 10 rehires).

    And then, we need a sustainably budget process that isn’t driven by panic. If Chief Batts hadn’t almost quit, if OPD hadn’t had to justifiably shoot two wingnuts in the last week, if a reporter hadn’t been mugged, would we be getting these 10 rehires? I hope so. But I think not.

  224. Rick


    A .40 or .45, such as most cops use, will generally not penetrate through walls, or one at most. Being a larger caliber, and with a larger weight, means it has a slower speed, which is the main determinant of penetration.

    The damage a bullet does is a product of speed, weight and aperture. You want to either lower BP or induce hydrostatic shock. For that you have to make – as cops like to say – a big messy hole in the bad guy.

    A 9mm – the gangsters favorite, is higher speed, lower mass ammo, and can penetrate through several walls and typically travel up to 500 yards. This is why it’s not uncommon for people to be killed in their houses from drive-by’s.

    Of course, a richochet can kill anyone in the vicinity but again, is unlikely to penetrate most walls.

    Seems to me these cops were fairly restrained and accurate in their response.

  225. navigator

    Oakland is doing its share despite a very tough budget. Now let’s have the Oakland Police Department and the Oakland Police Union start doing their share in order to bring crime in Oakland down.

    The Oakland Police Union needs to make some concessions just like every other city department has done. If the senior membership of the Union really cares about Oakland like they claim, they need to stop denigrating the city to the SF media in order to get some sort of political advantage. I’m sure most Oakland residents don’t enjoy hearing the head of the Oakland Police Union running their city down at every opportunity.

    The head of the Union needs to put a lid on it and work with the City to find away to get the other 70 cops back patrolling the streets.

    The reason the money was found is because the outrageous milking of overtime, which has gone unchecked for year after year, has finally come down a bit.

    Id love to see Oakland with a modern, innovative and effective police department whose number one goal is public safety in Oakland. Unfortunately, what we’ve seen in the past is a self-serving police department run by the Oakland Police Union as an income generating entity for its membership, with the goal of reducing crime in Oakland, a distant second.

    After Jean Quan’s positive gesture, let’s hope the Oakland Police Union is receptive to negotiating in good faith so that Oakland can rehire the other 70 officers.

    Also, can we stop with the silly personal insults because we may not agree on certain issues?

  226. navigator

    I have to say that so far Jean Quan has been great.

    She’s out there picking up trash in the neighborhoods, working to save the A’s, she understands that Oakland has an image problem that many people on this site have refused to acknowledge for years, she’s being pro active in trying to improve public safety, etc. In my book she’s a breath of fresh air and its obvious that she loves this city.

    Keep up the great work Jean!

  227. MarleenLee

    The promise to rehire 10 cops is just a gimmick. It does NOTHING. The reality is that with attrition, that keeps the force even for a mere two months! According to the City’s own records, in order to maintain staffing, they need at least 2-3 full academies per year. The cost of each academy is around $3 million. The cost of the 9% pension contribution for OPOA is around $7 million per year. So if OPOA contributed the full 9% toward its pension, that still would not be enough to cover the cost of just keeping even with attrition. The City finds it very convenient to blame OPOA for not contributing to its pension, but that is not the real source of the problem. What the City really needs to do is commit to a particular staffing level. Otherwise we’re going to keep having this same problem over and over and over again. Without a commitment to a particular staffing level, I say Batts should walk. The offer of 10 officers is an insult.

  228. navigator

    Marleen, You know what the real insult is? The real insult is the attrition rate after Oakland spends millions to train these guys. What should Oakland do? Should Oakland close all the libraries and all of the parks to feed the insatiable appetite of this police monster which devours the city budget at will.

    Yeah, let’s invest in more academies so that these guys can get on disability, retire at an early age with a great pension, or go to a neighboring police department, all on Oakland’s dime. Sounds like a great gig.

    If Oakland is going to invest millions training cops they better get a guarantee that these cops are going to be Oakland cops for a good long time.

    Ten officers is more than certain small cities have in their entire force. Piedmont might not even have 10 officers. An insult? I sure hope the Oakland police Union doesn’t come to the table with that attitude.

  229. Mry

    @navigator. Historically in OPD attrition was almost mostly due to retiring. The stuff we are seeing now, where senior officers are leaving is almost unheard of. I do not not blame them one bit for not wanting to work in a city that seems to be more anti police every day. Jean Quan out there picking up trash does not impress me one bit. I think it’s great that she loves Oakland, I think she is a very hard worker. But I just do not happen to think she is qualified to be mayor. I think one of her HUGE downfalls is her ego, and how she comes off to people. For instance, when OPD had the issues with the radios, she pops up right away and blames it on a training issue. Far from the fact. But, you are never going to catch her accepting responsibility for anything.
    Who exactly do you think is denying we have an image problem?

  230. Max Allstadt


    I won’t argue technical points too much, ’cause we’re mainly in agreement, but two quick quibbles: I’m almost positive that very few departments use .45acp. As for penetration, check out tests on multiple layers of drywall at But yeah, in substance, we agree.

    @nav, @marleen,

    Marleen is right. This rehire is a symbolic move. Net result: ten steps back, one step forward.

    Also, Nav, once again, you’re just making up conclusions based on facts you know little about. That attrition rate isn’t atypical, and to presume it’s about disloyalty is flat out obnoxious. Where do you live again? Danville?

    You sleep soundly in a safe place and make pronouncements about things that endanger us every day and every night of our lives. It’s repulsive. Even more repulsive considering the stunning number of factual errors you weave into your screeds.

    To my Oakland friends: this is the last time I’m responding to anything Navigator says. I suggest you do the same. Do not feed the troll from Danville.

  231. Mike

    “Navigator” lives in Danville! And spews nonsense in a blog about Oakland! Sounds like this “navigator” is lost!

  232. CitizenX

    Rick, .40 and .45 rounds, while slower than 9mm, carry more weight and will penetrate walls quite nicely, as Max’s link points out. Many law enforcement agencies are taking a new look at .45 caliber guns and switching from the more common .40 caliber, while the european standard remains the 9mm. As the Tucson incident shows, even the smaller 9mm rounds can be very effective.

  233. FloodedByCEDA

    Our Police department has the best shooters in town. They never miss their target be it Deer, Barbers, Dogs or “Wingnuts” with fake assault rifles. OPD is not the source of the stray bullets flying around town and we don’t need to waste money rearming them with .45 AK47 or something. They shoot quite well with the guns they have.

  234. navigator


    Don’t worry so much about where I live. It’s not Danville and despite being in the suburbs I do hear gun shots every once in a while. As much as you may not believe this, people in the suburbs also hear gun shots.

    Where do the majority of OPD cops live? Are they qualified to have opinions about Oakland, since some of them live in Danville , San Ramon, Pleasanton, and Castro Valley? You should be worried more about where they live then where I Live.

    Also, I’ve lived more years in Oakland than you will if you stay in the city for the next 20 years. I have family in Oakland, my parents were laid to rest in Mountain View Cemetery.

    Don’t come telling me I have no right to have opinions about Oakland. Stop trying to be some sort of two bit dictator exercising his censorship authority and trying to foment an insurrection. You need to be a little more tolerant of people who have different views than you. I’ve taken your insults long enough. It’s not just me that you do it to. Grow up!

  235. gregory mcconnell

    MOBN made good presentations at Oakland Council meeting tonight. I believe the entire community will need to come together on public safety. Residents, business people, and every elected official. We can do this if the will is there.

    It is time for everyone to step up!

  236. len raphael

    Marleen has a point. Stepping up to the mike at a council meeting in support of properly managed, staffed and equipped OPD is fine, but all for naught unless you’re speaking up to cut other city services or raise parcel taxes.

    Greg, where does your organization stand on cuts vs taxes?

    -len raphael, temescal

  237. lovica


    Several years ago at an NCPC meeting the question of getting actual Oakland residents as officers came up, and we were told OPD has a policy of NOT hiring Oakland residents because it is more common for criminals to retaliate against OPD officers and their families when they live in the same city. However, despite hiring from neighboring cities, many OPD officers have histories in Oakland, whether or not they live here now. Much like yourself, they may have grown up here, or have other ties to the city, and can certainly have a deep commitment to the place without being current residents.

  238. Livegreen

    Services have already been cut, which is why we’re here. As Officers retire the budget becomes available to hire replacements who are layed off (until that pool dries up and they have to pay for a new Academy).

    Unless the Mayor and City Council plan on balancing the budget by not rehiring replacement Officers. That is something that can occur wihout any action, and because they can just let it happen, doesn’t get ANY press.

    The Mayor alluded to this when she was talking about the affect on the budget and deficit while rehiring the 10 officers.

  239. gregory mcconnell

    Len, and others, in response to your question about our position on taxes . . .

    We have seen hints in the papers that some people are thinking about new tax measures. They seem to think that voters might support a measure if the ask is reduced and the tax is more affordable than the $360 parcel tax that was recently crushed by the voters.

    At present, it does not appear that the primary question for voters is the amount of a potential tax measure. The primary question in voter minds is trust.

    Too many people feel that money has been squandered, unions have not paid their fair share, pensions are out of hand, and there are still too many sacred cows that are spared the ax. Whether these feelings are reality based depends on whom you talk to, but it may not matter because perceptions will carry the day if a measure is introduced.

    My group, the Jobs and Housing Coalition (JHC), favors budget balancing through a combined approach of looking at the performance of the various departments in the city to get more efficient use of available resources, and increasing revenues through business attraction.

    JHC will look at potential tax measures as they may come up, but we believe tax measures have little chance to pass unless the city first establishes credibility with residents and businesses by reforming operations and making real efforts to increase revenues through business attraction.

    We like what Jerry Brown is doing. He is taking significant strides to reign in spending before he goes to the voters. When we see that in Oakland, we may take an objective look at a tax proposal.

    JHC does regular research on voter attitudes and we base our positions on a combination of what we think is right and fair to residents and businesses, and what is doable given voter sentiments as expressed in polls we conduct. We won’t issue a “read my lips statement” against new taxes because we do not view this as an ideological issue. But we will not support a tax that is just business as usual in Oakland. We have had enough of throwing good money at bad practices.

    I hope that gives some perspective on our views on new tax proposals.

  240. Mike

    I appreciate Greg’s and the JHC perspective very much.

    Greg points out a critical point: “At present, it does not appear that the primary question for voters is the amount of a potential tax measure. The primary question in voter minds is trust.”

    This fact reflects the deep leadership gap among Oakland politicos. Hopefully the new Mayor can rise to the occasion.

    Government not only needs to make an real effort, but citizens’ groups also need to get together and agree that we need to do very many things well to reduce crime. Right now it’s one group against another–one wants more cops and gang injunctions; another group wants fewer cops and more resources for young people who are now violence-prone. And so on.

    The bottom line is that our outstanding crime level (irony, folks) is an enormous social and economic cost and this in turn keeps us from being able to provide the resources we need to provide more jobs and other things we need to move forward as a city.

    It’s been a seemingly endless destructive cycle in Oakland.

  241. livegreen

    Greg is right on the money.

    I will add two POV:
    -The City Council will make any new Property Tax retroactive. Then they can pretend it’s there now and use it as income against this years deficit.

    -Many people get tired of this, and just move. Especially those with young families who have additional concerns.

    What is galling is not just the City’s mismanagement, disfunction, & sacred cows. It’s also that they know their policies force the tax base to move to Contra Costa County AND THEY STILL DON’T CARE, OR CHANGE THEIR POLICIES.

  242. Naomi Schiff

    Please note that the current Brown-State of CA budget proposal would really harm Oakland by cutting In-home Support Services and SSI. This is a recipe for putting elderly and mentally disturbed people out on the street, or in more costly care institutions. We already house quite a few out there on the sidewalk. It would add to the burden on police services, not to mention on quality of life here.

    As to the tax base causing people to move, maybe, but other jurisdictions are raising taxes and cutting services too. We are not the only ones with these problems. Concord and El Cerrito passed sales taxes, several local cities have furlough days, and San Jose is short 110 million.

  243. livegreen

    Come on Naomi. Your comparison with other cities is ridiculous. They have a much larger middle class than we do, a much bigger retail base, and a lot less crime.

    If we have a greater % of elderly who need public service and mentally disturbed, it’s because we’ve made a big effort to increase our low income housing and NOT our middle class housing. Yes we should be sympathetic.

    But increasing middle class housing gives us a bigger tax base and MORE money to pay for services to those same people.

    But what does the far left say? Build more low income housing. Geez. How’s it working for us now?

  244. livegreen

    Naomi, Apologies. You were referring to Jerry Brown, not Oakland. Though my point still stands for Oakland development.

    Curious though about your link. It talks about Social Security not being good enough for San Jose city workers. How’s that apply to your post?

  245. Dax

    livegreen, Naomi’s link is good in that it points to the disconnect between various city councils and reality. Not unlike Oakland’s refusal to address its own pension disaster.

    From the article

    “Other (San Jose) council members, including Xavier Campos, Ash Kalra and Nancy Pyle, dismissed Social Security as a mere “safety net” program and said the city must offer something better to compete for talent, even with high unemployment.”

    Oh yeah, like if you offered 95% of city jobs, even with only Social Security and a 401K plan, that you wouldn’t get 100 applicants for each and every job.
    20 of whom would be more than qualified to complete any and all duties required.

    How many city jobs are on par with “brain surgery”.

    The San Jose and Oakland city council members simply have fully inflated idea about their need to attract that 1 job candidate in 1,000 when 100 in 1,000 would be vastly more than qualified to complete all duties in a more than competent manner.
    It laughable that during the period from 2002 to 2010 their plush pension boosts increased city employee quality.

    Go to city hall and find 100 employees hired since the 2004 35% pension boost.
    Is anyone seriously suggesting that those new employees are of a higher caliber than those hired in the 10 years leading up to that pension change.

    But the real story is that EVEN in this dire economic period with city deficits as far as we can see into the future, these city councils JUST DON’T GET IT!
    They are going under and still think they can get by with more taxes and minimal cuts and almost no pension changes.

    I seriously don’t think the math skills of almost all of these council members is that of even the basic high school requirement level.
    Their ability to extrapolate into the future ends at about 24 months out.

  246. Livegreen

    I hope the City Attorney appeals this:

    Lawyers with City Hall ties OKd for gang case

    Also, in “unrelated” news (at the bottom of the article):

    “Complicating matters, attorneys for the city told the judge that the City Council had the authority to force Russo to drop the lawsuit. It’s not clear how the council would vote in such a scenario.

    At City Hall on Thursday, Quan said she was frustrated that the council had not weighed in on the Fruitvale injunction or a previous one that a judge approved in the northern part of the city. She said such a court order may be effective in the short term, but asked, “Does it make sense to have the entire Fruitvale district off-limits?”

    Quan said she would sit down next week with Police Chief Anthony Batts – or his successor, if he leaves – to discuss whether the injunctions are a valuable tool for officers.”

    Sounds like Siegel’s advising the Mayor is a conflict of interest to me. Is shthe Mayor going to recuse herself?

  247. gregory mcconnell

    Chief Batts has announced that after discussions with the Mayor, City Council Members and community people, he is staying in Oakland. I am very pleased by this announcement.

    Thank you to all who helped make this happen. Now let’s get serious about Safety First!

  248. MarleenLee

    According to one news report I read, Quan committed to not allowing police staffing to drop below 666. Let’s see if the City makes good on that promise!

  249. avis

    Marleen is right, as long as Oaklanders elect officials who support looters and gangbangers nothing is going to change. For many years I owned a successful Biz in SF, when asked by Oakland to open an office here I just had to laugh. What sane business owner would want to open a Biz in Oakland?

  250. J

    Im opening a Biz in Oakland because its much cheaper than opening in SF and much more convent than oping in SJ. Oakland’s failings aside its all about location, and the center of the Bay Area is a pretty good location.

  251. avis

    I agree, Oakland is a great location, I own property in Oakland. However, as an SF recruiter I had a hell of a time getting folks to work in Oakland. I remember one company in downtown Oakland that I dealt with, the candidate loved the job and the company. The company felt the same way about the candidate. Unfortunately, right before the candidate was to accept the employment offer there was a weekend where about 5-6 folks were killed in Oakland. The candidate called me first thing Monday morning and told me his pregnant wife begged him not to take a job in Oakland, she was afraid of what might happen to him if he worked in Oakland. When I called the HR manager at the Oakland company to tell her the bad news, she said “God, not another one.” If Oakland wants to attract more business they need to clean the place up.

    J–good luck to you in your new biz, running your own biz is hard work, but so satisfying.

  252. ken o

    this is the worst looking website ever.

    and it’s so obvious it’s trying to be a makeover for oakland. plus it’s terrible – aren’t businesses supposed to NOT shine all their office lights at night to save energy?

    should have been named Dim Oakland, Dark Oakland, Dim Downtown, Dim Sum Party, or some such.

    even SF can do better ( )

    way to go quantum tech the private contractor who got the bid with oakland public works… their own homepage is slow to load too.

    linked from Oakland PW:

  253. ralph

    I agree that you can not judge a city by the news reports but I bet my bottom dollar there are far more people who who do not want to reside/work in Oakland based on perceived danger.

    I’ve had conversation with people from Balto and SoCal, people waiting for a bus on Geary Blvd, and people at a church in Danville all of whom perceive Oakland as dangerous. Something is wrong when people living in a city with a murder rate of 37/100K perceive a city with a rate of 25/100K to be more dangerous.

    Thing is, Oakland is not competing with Baltimore, Detroit, Camden, St. Louis for residents and businesses. It is competing against MV, WC, Dublin, Pleasanton etc. We need to improve the image.

  254. Naomi Schiff

    Agreed. The image needs improvement (and the reality can always be improved, too). I hope everyone will be mindful of portraying a true picture as they speak to people. Word of mouth is our strongest advocacy. Living here turned me into an incorrigible Oakland-booster and I hope others are too. It’s okay that Oakland has failings and owns up to them. But we have wonderful assets too.

  255. matt

    Avis, my office has been in Downtown Oakland for 11 years. In my experience when we have a position to fill our location is an asset . None of my friends that work in other Bay Area cities get to jog around a beautiful lake on their lunch hour (and they’re jealous).

    Today when I tell someone I work Downtown they usually gush over a nearby bar or place to eat, or the Fox or the Paramount -and the list is growing.

    Honestly, your experience sounds ridiculous.

    I’m very excited to see that the mayor will take a pay cut, the chief of police will stay with us a little (hopefully a lot) longer and some rookies will be again reporting for duty!

  256. Navigator

    I have to agree with Matt and Naomi. Last night my wife and I went to see Casablanca at the stunning Paramount Theater. The 3,000 seats inside this Oakland treasure were nearly all filled. There must have been at least 2800 people for an old black and white movie classic.

    I’ve never seen downtown Oakland look better. The streets were clean, the restaurants like Plum, Lukas, Ozumo’s, Piccan, Flora etc, seem to be doing great business, there were people walking the streets with no apparent fear, and young woman were riding bikes at 10:30 PM.

    What a contrast to what I saw in San Francisco when I took family and friends to see Wicked at the Orpheum Theater. We had family from out of State and they were scared. We had to circle blocks to finally find parking near Civic Center. They got an eye full. The first thing you notice is the litter flying in the wind. Then as soon as they found their parking place they had to step over three sruffy guys sitting on the sidewalk. The next thing they hear is a very loud noise which to me sounded either like a gunshot or an M-80. My sister in law calls me on her cell phone since we parked on different streets and asks me ” did you hear that loud noise? Was that a gun shot? You could hear it in her voice that she was nervous to be in that environment. We then met up and proceeded to walk to the theater. We saw more litter blowing in the wind. We saw people sleeping on the sidewalk on old mattresses. We heard mentally deranged people asking for our clothes. We could smell the urine stench as we passed doorways. We saw groups of young men with their pants near their calfs congregating on Market Street. It was quite a show for our out of State guests.

    After having these experiences, it amazes me that the city with the clean modern downtown with fewer homicides and crime in downton proper, is the “dangerous” place were workers are scarred to come too, while the city with the dirty crime ridden downtown is a “safe” place to go shopping, the theater, and to recruit people to come work. Reality seems to have been turned on its head here in the Bay Area..

    This is what happens when a riot in one city is covered at nauseum while a riot in another city is covered up. This is what happens when a public official in Oakland has her purse stolen and gets huge media coverage while on the exact same day a woman in San Francisco on Portrero Hill gets her purse stolen while being stabbed in the neck and sent to the hospital in critical condition and the SF media completetly ignore it. This is what happens when crimes in one city are identified as occuring in “Oakland” while crimes across the Bay are idnetified as occurring in “The Tenderloin, Bayview, Western Addition, Mission, Visitation Valley, etc.

    Of course, when some uninformed people hear the word “Oakland” they’re petrified because of the image created by the SF media by out of context crime reporting. That’s why in the Bay Area up is down, black is white, and safe is dangerous when it comes to downtown Oakland and downtown SF and their respective images. Oakland needs to get started on a creative PR and advertising campaign to get the word out.

  257. Matt C.

    Nav, your analysis of Bay Area media coverage is dead on. Every once in a while I’ll do a little excel spreadsheet of negative, neutral, and positive stories with Oakland in the headline and produced by Bay Area media outlets. The first time I did this I was thorough and the results were clear. Now I may start a sheet and a few entries into it I figure why bother -I’m beating a dead horse. When I heard Mayor Quan was making Oakland PR a priority I was very impressed, she’s focusing on issues she actually has the resources to address.

  258. Navigator


    I also did a little research a couple of years ago and the media slant and media bias was obvious. I counted the times the word “Oakland” was used in a crime headline and then compared that to the times “San Francisco” was used in a crime headline in the San Francisco Chronicle. The criteria were things like “Oakland man” Oakland shooting” Oakland homicide” Oakland’s —homicide of the year” Things of that nature. I believe it came back as 35 headlines dealing with crime and homicides with the word “Oakland” in the headline versus 5 with the word “San Francisco.” in the headline.

    I also counted the number of times a scorecard was used for counting homicides either in the headline, or in the body of the article, and Oakland had an ongoing scorecard kept by the SF Chronicle while SF’s murders were not numbered. They’ve toned down the Oakland scorecard thing a bit recently. I don’t know how many emails I’ve written the San Francisco Chronicle crime reporter asking why the Chronicle refused to use a scorecard for SF homicides but used one for Oakland on a regular basis. Jaxon would never answer but it was obvious that there was a policy not to scorecard or make an issue out of San Francisco homicides.

    On another occassion I was watching KRON going on and on covering the Giants victory parade. My daughter come in and asked me if I had heard about the riot in San Francisco. She told me to go to youtube. There it was. A police line in riot gear, bottles being thrown at cops, bon fires in the middle of the street, occupants of a car being pulled out and beaten, cars being vandalized, a bus having its windows broken etc. I called KRON and asked why they weren’t showing the riot in the Mission that I was watching on youtube via a Dallas TV station. His answer was “we decided not to buy the footage” The guy seemed emberassed and apologetic. I made the point that they covered the Oscar Grant disturbances extensively and yet they were ignoring this riot. He said that I had a point but that “the people who run the station have their own ideas” and that “these people think Oakland is this terrible place, and it’s really not.” Obviously this guy was sympathethic and understood what was going on but he wasn’t in charge and there was nothing he could do about it.

    So Matt, I assure you that your research is absolutely correct. You were not imagining things. Oakland has been run thru the ringer by the SF media for years.

    Also as Naomi mentioned, Oaklanders who talk to the SF media be carefull of what you say because if you make a careless general negative comment about Oakland as a city, you can be sure that the negative comment will find its way in the story and any thing positive you may have also included may not be there. Even “positive’ news about Oakland is usually prefaced by negativity or ends with a negative coment.

  259. Charles Pine

    Compared with San Francisco, Oakland residents suffer two to three times the robberies, muggings, burglaries, and vehicle smash-ins.

    Furthermore, under-reporting of crime in Oakland has increased recently.

    Yes, I’d get into a crowd of 3000 going to the Paramount (if I do not have to leave my car in a vulnerable spot). But as Kang Jinghong found out, you risk your life walking alone in downtown Oakland at night – and huge parts of the flatlands.