Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Tonight, the Public Safety Committee approved $150,000 of Measure Y funding for a Project Ceasefire manager. Now, I don't know a lot about Ceasefire, I will admit. A lot of people seem to think it could be an important tool in fighting crime. However, I cynically suspect that Ceasefire gets a lot of support because (a) City folks can claim they're trying something new; (b) it doesn't cost nearly as much as hiring more police; and (c) it doesn't involve Oakland "arresting" its way out of the problem.
Under the original wording of Measure Y, using Measure Y funds for this purpose would never have been permitted. That's because Measure Y violence prevention money could only be used for four specific purposes. But then the City conned Oakland voters into supporting Measure BB, which basically gave the City carte blanche on how to spend these funds. So let's pay attention to how this Project Ceasefire plan works out.
Also at the Public Safety Committee meeting tonight, Measure Y Oversight Committee member Ryan Hunter revealed that the MYOC had uncovered that the Oakland Fire department mentorship program (gasp!) never existed! You heard that right - a program that was guaranteed to be funded by Measure Y has, seven years later, never been instituted! Now, this did not go unnoticed by me. In fact, I did a public records request on this topic years back and revealed, by the absence of records, that the program didn't exist. But the City continued to claim that it did, citing annual "open houses" at various fire houses. Oh, give me a break. But even after I brought the complete absence of such a program to light, the City STILL never created it. And, to make matters work, they defended this legal violation by simply denying that there was a violation. Now, finally, the City appears to realize that a promised program was never delivered. Whether or not they'll actually do anything about it remains to be seen. But given all of the "oversight" Measure Y was supposed to have, with outside evaluators, oversight committees and whatnot, it is appalling that this situation has been allowed to continue for SEVEN YEARS without any attention. Other than the attention I gave it, which was ignored.
Lastly, since the Ceasefire funding issue made me think about Measure BB, I decided to revisit the language of the measure and what was promised to convince voters to support it. (Notably, nobody, unless they had read the entire measure, would have had any notice of the changes that will allow Measure Y funds to be used for such projects as Ceasefire.)
The introductory verbiage of Measure BB provided: "To restore community police officer positions...." The Argument in Support of Measure BB reads: "Measure BB simply suspends the minimum police staffing requirement so that the City can fund the 63 community policing positions...Measure Y has demonstrated clear results, with crime declining consecutively for 3 years.." Well, the community policing positions weren't restored. We were promised one community policing officer per beat - 57 PSOs. Since passage of Measure BB, the number of PSOs has been cut in half. And crime has soared, contrary to the rosy statements in the City's arguments.
In my argument against Measure BB, I warned that passage of the Measure would allow the City to continue collecting Measure Y taxes and allow the size of the police force to drop even more, and not hold regular academies. Unfortunately, history has proved me right.
Posted by MarleenLee at 7:09 PM