The Mayor’s proposed budget is irresponsible and insulting. We need money to be going towards departments that will help our city recover from the recent pandemic, as well the decades long detriment cause by OPD on the black and brown members of our community. Not only does OPD constantly go over budget and prove again and again their own ineptitude, but the people of Oakland have fervently made clear our need to defund them. This budget would be a step backwards at a time when it is critical that we move toward.
My name is Rev. Kurt A. Kuhwald. I am a member of Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy & Economic Justice 4 Black Oakland. I live in District 3 commendably served by Council Member Carroll Fife.
First I want to express my dissatisfaction & anger that the mayor violated City policy by delaying submitting her budget for seven days. This irresponsible action represents elitist, and in fact, white supremacist behavior, that has no place in our City and its governance.
The faith community of this City is paying close attention to the budgeting process. Governmental budgets always reflect the morals upon which the community stands. we therefore call for a budget attuned to a moral vision.
A faith community forum was recently held in Oakland which drafted a letter to the Mayor. It was signed by 140 individuals & 28 faith institutions & organizations.
That Faith Community pinpointed four areas. We believe that they are so critical to the health of the City, that we state them as demands:
• Redirect resources from Oakland Police Department to community-led alternatives to public safety
• Reinvest in protections for frontline & essential workers
• Fund safe & secure housing for unsheltered population & affordable housing
• Provide immigrant support services
We believe that this Council has the expertise and the moral grounding to insure that all of the actions named in these four points can be adequately and wisely fulfilled.
Rev. Kurt A Kuhwald
The People of Oakland are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic and this budget would do nothing to help them recover. We need a proposal that prioritizes housing and services for the homeless, reinvests in adequate city services, and reimagines public safety by cutting millions of dollars spent on ineffective or unnecessary policing from OPD’s budget. But none of this has been presented to us. Instead, we have a mayor who insists that we give more and more money to the police every single year – even if it means defunding every other department in the city. The reckless overspending on police has done nothing to make the streets of Oakland safer. Police do not prevent violent crime; they only respond after the fact. Even then, OPD in fact spends very little of its time and budget responding to violence: only 4% of OPD calls for service were for violent crimes in 2019. Instead, it has actually drained resources from the services and programs that are proven to actually keep communities safe, like housing, mental health, jobs and community violence interrupters, so we can get to the gun before the bullet flies.
Yesterday on Park Blvd, a 41 year old man was killed by a speeding car while standing on the sidewalk. While Park Blvd may be treated as another highway between 13 and 580, Park Blvd is my home. In addition to many, many homes, the street has schools, daycares, a senior living facility, places of worship and much loved local businesses. Residents from throughout surrounding neighborhoods walk along Park to all of these locations. We deserve to feel safe walking on the sidewalk or waiting for the bus. Four years ago, the city identified a plan for Park Blvd that would calm traffic without impacting drive times. In the years since the city identified but failed to implement a solution to the problem, cars careening off Park have hit Glenview Lock and Key, a yard, and Corpus Christi school’s playground! Changes to Park Blvd are on the unfunded list for capital improvements. At page 122, there is $1.5 m for middle Park Blvd and on P. 124 an additional $1 m for upper Park Blvd. Together these projects would represent .06% of the budget. The statistical value of life used by the US Department of Transportation is $11.5 million. The city knows that Park Blvd as designed is unsafe. We have been telling you for years, your own traffic studies have been telling you for years. It is past time to implement the traffic calming measures, and city council should fund the Park Blvd Projects and prioritize funding for these desperately needed changes before another tragedy occurs.
I find that the mayors budget proposal has been thoughtlessly prepared without thought for moral consideration. Militarization to our community is liken to the Nazi mindset in the Jewish settlements in World War II. Anyone that has even a slight knowledge of Sociology knows when one is a[approached with violence begets violence.
Mayor Schaff's budget is out of step with the will of the people of Oakland and must be rejected.
We must end the state violence against Black and Brown people in Oakland. Implement the recommendations of the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force and reallocate funding from policing to community programs and services that support Oakland’s working families.
Reallocate and reinvest funds from the OPD budget into other areas that increase public safety (#50).
My name is Liz Jacobs. I have lived in Oakland since 1980, and am a homeowner in District 2. The Mayors budget is not based in reality. She insists that we must give more money to the police every single year in order to keep us safe – even if it means defunding every other department in the city. Her refusal to support the task force’s recommendations proves just how out of touch she is.
Our City and our Nation are involved in a racial reckoning. The movement to overall our approach to public safety, spurred by George Floyds murder, has gained traction in cities across the country. Support for defunding and reallocating funds from police to community have wide majority support throughout Oakland's neighborhoods. A recent report from Oakland Rising found 65% of people in Oakland support defunding the police by 50%.
The reckless and unnecessary overspending on police has done nothing to make the streets of Oakland safer. Police don't prevent violent crime; they often escalate the possibility of violence during routine traffic stops and mental health calls etc. OPD spends very little of its time and budget responding to violence: only 4% of OPD calls for service were for violent crimes in 2019. In contrast 12.6% were for traffic, 4.5% for mental health crises and 5.5% for Medical. Our communities have systematically been defunded by overspending on police. Reallocating OPD's bloated budget to schools, mental health, jobs, and affordable housing is the only way forward.
We are in a violence crisis, due to the pandemic’s effects and the interruption of the Ceasefire model as direct call-ins were halted.
Task Force recommendation #149 - asks-“Re- allocate ($20 million) from the OPD …to reduce shootings, homicides, domestic violence and commercial sexual exploitation… Fund proven intervention strategies based upon data and evidence…”. Ceasefire meets the data/evidence and target group requirement.
MACRO will prevent tragedies such as Mario Gonzalez' killing happening in Oakland. Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland must be implemented ASAP according to the Urban Strategies community table report - a response to all non-violent, non-weapons-related 911 calls - Rec #57.
Oakland and Alameda County must coordinate Services for Special Populations to provide wrap-around services for MACRO - for unhoused, for substance abuse and for mental health-related programs. (Rec #34)
NOAB has been turning youth’s lives around after arrests by offering mentoring, alternatives and restorative justice. It’s working. We need significant increase in resources for Neighborhood Opportunity and Accountability Board as well as Community Works West - existing, evidence-based youth diversion programs that can be quickly expanded. (Rec. #107)
Mandate OPD operational Data Transparency ASAP so that the public has the information essential to making any basic changes in the public safety system, including scaling alternate responses like MACRO.
Tone deaf in the wake of the George Floyd protests, the Mayor’s regressive police budget fails to implement the recommendations of the Public Safety Task Force and does not reflect the 12 reform priorities unanimously adopted by the Council. We need a progressive reimagining of public safety that reflects the values of the community of Oakland California, not Picayune, Mississippi. Ed Barnes, retired Administrative Law Judge, District 6.
The people of Oakland don't need more cops on the street. We need the city to slash the OPD budget and refund housing, mental health services, healthcare, union jobs, and education so we can all thrive.
The City should trust the experts from our communities on how to reimagine public safety and reinvest in services that actually keep us safe.