Thank you, Ignacio! Thank you, Jane Brunner!

So Dellums’s new parcel tax for police on the November ballot will be discussed at Rules Committee on July 10th, then at the City Council meeting on July 15th. I look forward to hearing the details. I’m highly skeptical at this point of the City asking Oakland residents for any more money at all, given the way they spend what we’re already paying, but I was much heartened by comments on the issue from City Council President Igancio De La Fuente and from District 1 Councilmember Jane Brunner at Rules Committee this morning.

From De La Fuente:

The same concerns I had with the LLAD, I have with this. I know that the majority of us and the majority of the people want to make sure that we have enough number of police officers, that we have this on the ballot, and I’m not committing myself to that – I’m committing myself to making sure that we make a decision, but I can tell you that unless there’s real performance measures attached to it that will be on the ballot, unless there’s specific timelines, that we’re going to have what many have suggested, CompStat, GPS, management systems that allow us to make sure we’re actually managing those resources within the ballot measure so the voters can actually specifically see that by, just as an example, by December 2009, this piece must be implemented, otherwise the allocation of those resources will be either held up or withdrawn. By June of 2010, this other piece will be implemented. Unless we have performance measures like this with specific timelines, I’m sorry, but I think that I will have difficulty supporting it unless we do that, because I think sometimes when the best intentions don’t allow us to manage those resources.

From Brunner:

Let me say very clearly I support everything you’ve just said. I just came back from LA with the three captains looking at Bratton’s CompStat. There has to be language about CompSTAT in this. That is really, it’s not only the future, it’s been the past in some cities, it’s been very successful. There has been money connected to it, timelines connected to it. I want to see information about investigators included in this, and I support performance measures absolutely, and I have given Lenore a few other items that I want to see in this, so we will either work with the Mayor’s office to make sure they’re in the proposal, if they’re not, all of us will add to what needs to be in there.

The comments suggest to me that the Council is finally willing to take implementation and accountability seriously with respect to the police department and finally starting to realize they should take lessons from best practices in other cities. Obviously, I can’t make any judgments about the measure until we actually see the details. But at least we’re starting off partly on the right foot this time.

One thing that really disturbs me is that the Mayor’s office waited so long to introduce this. At this point, it will have to be rushed through approval in order to make it onto the November ballot, with extremely limited time for feedback from the public and alterations from the City Council. This is, of course, typical behavior from Dellums, who, ironically, ran on a platform of transparent and inclusive government and increased collaboration, but, once in office, could not be more clear about his complete disdain for Oakland’s citizens.

Also, CompStat! OMG, I’ve wanted this in Oakland for soooo long.

UPDATE: You can read the Mayor’s proposal here (PDF!).

5 thoughts on “Thank you, Ignacio! Thank you, Jane Brunner!

  1. Charles Pine

    Yes, De La Fuente insisted on a piece of paper called performance standards in the LLAD tax hike package. Turns out the City already has standards on paper from 1979 ( So real people repeated their 2006 verdict: no LLAD tax increase. This year, though, the council, the Port, and the school district rigged the vote to pass the increase (

    A Son of Measure Y tax hike on the November ballot is not acceptable from this city government, with or without more pieces of paper. The City has violated one provision of Measure Y after another. Let the mayor and council give budget priority to more police, and let the bureaucrats follow through. The mayor demanded a salary hike as soon as he came into office, not after performing to earn it. Now the officials think they can demand a tax hike up front, too? Hah.

  2. len raphael

    give me a break, council members calling for gps and reporting systems like bratton used in nyc as a panacea for oakland crime is fantasy. you don’t fix the mismanagement of opd and the lack of political leadershipl to fund and and support effective aggressive policing by buying gadgets or implementing any particular information systems.

    all the information systems and real time tracking systems in the world ain’t gonna make up for a city council and mayor that created much of the conditions that led to the current situation by freezing cop hiring since 2002, supporting the worst possible implementation of the Riders settlement, and accepting abysmal performance of the police chief.

    yeah, one could only hope that brunner read the writing on the wall and she’ll stop rubber stamping every pork barrel patronage contract that comes up in return for her tree planting and school playground financing. but my hunch is that after the current media attention on oakland govt dies down, it wb business as usual in oakland government unless residents come together in a non partisan reform movement to overhaul Oakland govt.

    -len raphael

  3. V Smoothe Post author

    Len –

    I don’t really think that’s fair. Nobody is saying that CompStat and GPS are a panacea – they’re saying that we should emulate best practices from cities that have been successful in reducing crime. If the problem with OPD is two-fold, poor management and not using modern crime-fighting technologies, then the appropriate solution is to deal with both issues, not ignore the latter.

    In any case, I just don’t think it’s productive to endlessly bash the Council for the hiring freeze. Such criticism is appropriate at times, say during election season, as it speaks to the incumbent’s record and decision-making skills. But now that the decision has been made, we’re stuck with the Council we have, and I think that all we can do is look at their decisions going forward. I don’t disagree that the hiring freeze or the way the Riders settlement was implemented were mistakes, but what good does it do to complain about them now? We just have to do the best we can with what we’re stuck with, and I personally think that doing so involves CompStat and GPS.

    In any case, the discussion is rather academic, since I can’t imagine Oakland voters would say yes to the tax increase.

  4. len raphael

    the very fact that city council members are micro managing the opd down to the level of recommending a particular piece of hardware gets to the crux of the mismanagement of the opd and lack of effective oversight of the opd’s management by the council.

    most participants on this blog know that of course widgets aren’t panaceas, but listen to the city council techno illiterati gush over gps units: they really do believe they’re panaceas. never underestimate the power of techno illiterates to believe in salvation by technology. and compstat? except for bratton’s most ardent supporters of years ago in NYC, it seemed to me that compstat was an adaptation and compilation of several approaches/techniques converted from private industry operations.

    and oakland has a dismal record of properly absorbing/taking advantage of technology.
    not that many years ago, vast amounts of money was spent installing pc’s and networks throughout the OUSD only to have them disappear, or sit unused or misused for years.

    wish i were as optimistic about oakland voters refusing to vote for big parcel tax increases to pay. most residents are renters. and most renters believe that parcel taxes are only paid by homeowners and businesses. yes a disproportionately high percentage of voters are affluent homeowners, with many of them are would be willing to roll the dice on spending another 500 bucks/year to see if they got the promised security.

    all depends how the parcel tax is marketed, and whether parcel tax overload on the ballot from other tax proposals. but when the pols line up and solemnly swear that we’ll have to close all libraries, turn off the street lights, and let the streets collapse in order to pay for a 1,000 cop staffing level, then yes the tax increase will pass.

  5. Robert

    len – I agree that the city council needs to get out of the business of implementation. HIre a police chief and hold him/her responsible for improving the security situation in Oakland. And if they don’t produce, fire them. Just don’t try and force particulatr solutions on the person you hired, let hem tell you what they need.