On Wednesday, City officials proudly announced receipt of federal funding that will help pay for 25 additional police officers. While this is good news, the fact that Mayor Quan is trying to parlay this into support for her misguided parcel tax, Measure I, is not.
In her recent newsletter, Quan claims that despite the multi-million dollar, three-year grant, financially strapped Oaklanders should still be asked to pony up $11 million a year for the next five years. She mentions the need for additional police academies at $4 million each. But nowhere in Measure I is there any reference to additional police academies. Nowhere in Measure I is there any reference to police staffing, or hiring of any additional police officers. The fact of the matter is that Measure I is just the City asking us for a blank check. Keep in mind that with this COPS grant the City is obligated to use those additional officers for specific types of duties (e.g. gang prevention and intervention). The feds have "strings" attached to the funds. But this new parcel tax? No strings whatsoever. Don't buy Quan's claims of new police academies. They are just as false as her claims under Measure Y that we would have 803 police officers from 2004 until 2014.
The fact of the matter is that the City has no plan at all for how to spend the money it is asking for. This is putting the cart before the horse. The City needs a workable plan, and needs to articulate exactly why it needs the money, and include real, meaningful guarantees for how those funds will be spent. Voting NO on Measure I sends a message to City Hall that long-term planning and accountability are critical to the long-term financial stability and success of Oakland. Vote NO!