Except when I don’t, of course. Desley Brooks makes me really mad sometimes (I strongly disagree with her positions regarding the Equal Access Ordinance, for example), but I really, really, really love that she consistently questions implementation and feasibility of the proposals that come before the Council to a degree that no one else on the Council does. She rocks! The proposal heard last night (resolution passed by consensus, but whether we actually do it or not will be decided during budget discussions) for a program authorizing the City Attorney’s office to prosecute infractions and misdemeanors (PDF!) is an issue that really deserves a long post of its own, and something I’ve been meaning to write about for a year now (Seriously! I found one of my old notebooks the other day, and I was reading one of my “blogs to write” lists from last summer, and this topic was on it with like three stars next to it.) and I will definitely do it post-election.
For now, you can read the staff report (PDF!), and I’ll just say that, having watched the discussion of this at Public Safety and Council, this program may be a great idea, but it really just isn’t ready at all right now, and we have no sense of how it’s going to work. Given that, it would be irresponsible to spend over $800,000 funding it at this time.
There was a decent discussion on the item last night, which made me happy. As usual, the quality and reasonableness of Councilmembers’ comments varied widely, but Desley Brooks was perfect and awesome, said exactly what I would have said if I was sitting on that dais, and I just have to share it now:
For those who don’t want to watch the whole video, here’s the highlights:
What we’ve been told by representatives of the DA’s office at numerous neighborhood crime prevention council meetings is that certain cases just aren’t being charged in Oakland. So if we’re using existing resources and a part of why they weren’t charging certain types of cases in Oakland was lack of resources, how does this program then fit in?
We’re going to say that we’ll put the money forward to have these attorneys prosecute these cases, but if we don’t have judges, then the program’s not going to work. And I don’t want to sell the public a bill of goods about what we’re going to do only to say that there aren’t sufficient resources there.
Will this program work? How is it going to work? What is the timeframe in which we expect this to happen? How will whatever program we fund or whatever ordinance we approve actually make a difference in people’s lives? These are the questions that the Council needs to be asking all the time. Real leadership demands more than good intentions, and real progress will never be made if we do not constantly keep our eye on implementation. Implementation! That’s basically the entire point of this blog.