This morning, the City Council’s Rules Committee will consider placing a parcel tax for police services, requested by the Mayor, on the November ballot. I’ll be on an airplane, and therefore tragically unable to watch the discussion. Curses!
Anyway, here’s what Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums is asking for. The idea is to add an additional 35 police officers and 25 police service technicians (PSTs) every year for the next three years. By the end of that period, we will the have an additional 105 police officers, bringing the total authorized force to 908, and an additional 75 PSTs, who can perform department jobs that don’t require a sworn officer. They’re cheaper. It’s a refreshingly realistic timetable.
The additional officers would be funded through a new parcel tax, which would phase in over the course of the three years. For a single family home, the tax would be $106.66 in the first year, $177.40 in the second year, and $266.96 in the third year. That is expected to generate for the City $15.8 million the first year, $26.4 million the second year, and $39.7 by the third year. $266 is a lot of money, especially considering this won’t be the only tax on the ballot this November, but there seems to be a widespread consensus that we need more officers, and we’ve got to pay for them somehow. You can read the details of the Mayor’s proposal here (PDF!).
Councilmember Jane Brunner will be requesting a number of amendments (PDF!) to the proposed ballot measure. She wants the additional police officers added per year increased for 35 to 50 (that would be nice, but it’s not a realistic goal), wants to require the police department to fully staff the investigations division (laudable goal, but unclear. Does she mean fully staff the positions that exist now and aren’t filled? Because even fully staffed, we still wouldn’t have nearly enough investigators. We need to increase the positions in the division, then fill them.), adopt CompStat (I’ve been saying we should do this forever, so hooray!), and “include a independent evaluation ad performance standards (again, laudable, but vague). Brunner’s version would cost, for single family homes, $143.69 in the first year, $241.52 in the second year, and $360.25 in the third year.
Anyway, like I said, I won’t be able to watch, but I’m sure it will be an interesting discussion. We all want more police, but many Oakland homeowners already feel heavily overtaxed, and I’m fairly certain that Oakland voters are probably feeling less generous than usual about giving the City their money, in light of recent events. If any readers can watch and give a little report in the comments, that would be awesome. Rules Committee is at 10:30 in Council Chambers, and you can also watch it live, streaming, over the interweb.
UPDATE: So here’s what happened, according to one of my helpful correspondents. Jane Brunner compromised with the Mayor, measure will include investigations, 35 cops, CompStat. Ignacio De La Fuente and Henry Chang voted no, Jane Brunner and Larry Reid said yes, meaning it was not going to advance. Larry Reid was upset that it wasn’t going to get out of the Committee and Jane Brunner threw a temper tantrum and stormed out, then Larry Reid asked nicely for it to at least get heard by the full Council, so Henry Chang changed his vote to get it out of committee, and it will be discussed at the City Council meeting next week. Exciting! Apparently earlier in the meeting Jean Quan threw a temper tantrum over Kids First 2. Why do I always miss the best meetings?
UPDATE 2: Apparently, Quan ended up getting her way later on, and with the assistance of Pat Kernighan and Nancy Nadel, has arranged for a special Council meeting on the 22nd to try to put a Council supported compromise version of Kids First 2 on the ballot. Kids First 2 is an attempt to basically double the amount of money the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth gets, and would take an insane portion of the already tiny discretionary section of our budget, forcing the City to scale back basic services even further. It’s awful! And to think, I’d been meaning to write a post about how awesome Pat’s been lately. So much for that!