Public safety, the likely signature issue of this year’s Oakland mayoral election received its very own candidate’s forum Thursday night. Nine of the expansive list of challengers to Mayor Jean Quan offered their solutions for reducing violent crime in Oakland while sharply criticizing the current leadership at City Hall.

“You’ll know it’s safe when you don’t have to have public forums on public safety,” said Joe Tuman, a university professor who finished fourth during the 2010 mayoral campaign. In the meantime, polls repeatedly show Oaklanders rank public safety, or the lack thereof, as the city’s most pressing problem. Although nearly every candidate is running on a platform to reduce crime, few described specific approaches or how they would fund the costly expenditure with Election Day just over eight months away.

Some — like Port of Oakland Commissioner Bryan Parker — said Oakland’s understaffed police department should increase its number of officers to 800. But when asked how he would pay for the expensive process of conducting police academies and graduating enough cadets to fill those slots, Parker said, “The money is there, but it’s being wasted” on multi-million dollar legal settlements stemming from the crackdown on Occupy Oakland, a resident injured in a gaping pothole, and salary spent on the federal overseer appointed to reform the OPD.

Tuman estimated the number of cops needed to keep Oakland safe is more like 900, while Dan Siegel, a well-known Oakland civil rights attorney, offered a more modest estimate of 650-700 officers. “It’s not a question of how many, but how smartly we use them,” he said. Siegel’s plan would assign nine officers and two detective to 60 beats across the city. He says the arrangement will help foster better understanding and knowledge of the each specific neighborhood.

Others were deeply critical of Quan’s leadership over the last three years.

City Auditor Courtney Ruby said Oakland has a “leadership deficit” and added, “as auditor, I look at the hard numbers, not excuses.”

Jason “Shake” Anderson, a Green Party candidate and member of the Occupy Oakland movement,  called Quan’s administration “dysfunctional” following the the departure of yet another top city official this week. “Right now, we’re failing at government.”

In fact, three of the first four candidates to open the nearly three-hour forum took direct shots at Quan, who often appeared to be staring blankly with arms crossed.

Oakland activist Nancy Sidebotham said Oakland’s political machine has run the mayor’s office for the past three decades. “I’m running for mayor because I’m angry. I want change,” she said.

Quan reacted to the comments by saying she takes every homicide personally. “Crime is trending down. It might not be enough, but it’s a beginning.” Quan later deflected suggestions her administration should hold off hiring a permanent police chief until after the election. She says reforms required in the police department’s negotiated settlement agreement will be fulfilled much sooner with a new chief.

Councilmember Libby Schaaf said compliance with the consent decree will only improve the OPD and potentially help reduce crime. Other cities like Los Angeles, said Schaaf, were able to greatly lower crime in the midst of federal oversight. Crime, she noted, is not an “urban tax for living in Oakland.”

However, Parker, Ruby and Siegel pointedly called for a change of leadership at OPD. Parker said police and residents are afraid of each other.

“The first thing I would do is hire a competent police chief.” Ruby added, Oakland already had a fine police chief in Anthony Batts, who resigned under Quan, but lost him to City Hall’s micro-management of his department.

When a panelist asked Siegel about the city’s poor record of proving cases of police misconduct, he said, “Not only do we need a new chief, but we need some new lawyers.” Siegel said the city’s next chief must make officers accountable for their actions and called for greater civilian oversight.

Patrick McCullough, an attorney known for shooting a 15-year-old who attacked him near his Oakland home, sat quietly for much of the forum as panelists repeatedly passed him over for questions. “You talking to me?” he responded with laughter from the audience when a question was finally posed to him. McCullough said youth today are unaware about how they should behave with each other and parents and government are to blame for failing to reinforce common decency. Later, he said private security guards should be allowed to carry firearms to protect themselves. “Ideally we would have police doing that,” said McCullough. “Right now, we don’t.”

57 Responses

  1. r2d2ii

    One wonders from this report whether the writer actually attended the “debate.” The writer, however, did make it quite clear that he knows very little about Oakland and Oakland’s politics so it’s understandable that his view is particularly superficial.

    As for the candidates offering specifics regarding various questions, my fundamental observation is that for the most part, they did not even answer the question asked. Quan in particular was evasive and unresponsive. A couple of times she asked that the question be repeated because she either didn’t hear or didn’t understand, or both. There was laughter from the audience when this happened, suggesting that she is playing exactly the buffoon that they know her to be. When Quan was asked by the Oakland youth panelist how she would deal with the problematic relationship between OPD and City Hall generally, Quan talked about her take the relationship between the community and OPD. Pure outer space.

    Ruby and Tuman were quite specific about providing more funding for improving public safety. Tuman even brought up the very important problem of continuing OPD funding through the resurrection of Measure Y in the fall (Measure Y parcel tax funds pay for 60 cops and Measure Y expires this year). With City Hall so mistrusted about parcel taxes and spending generally it’s quite possible that a new Measure Y will not pass and we could lose 60 cops. Tuman pointed out that this is out of his hands because he does not yet hold any public office. Guess who will be conjuring up a new Measure Y? Quan and Council member (and mayor candidate) Schaaf, both of who were responsible for the original Measure Y mess. Getting change downtown in Oakland will not be quick and easy.

    I would point out that to my ears candidate Tuman took pains to address each question asked of him as specifically and completely as he could within the time allotted. Whatever one may think of Tuman, at least he has thought through many of Oakland’s major safety problems. This is a very new approach for anyone running for elected office here where promises are many and their execution remarkably vague.

    Interesting to hear Council member Schaaf respond to a question about completing the implementation of the NSA police reform after ten years of failure. She says that the reforms will themselves make OPD a more effective police department. We should note that this is simply what the NSA Monitor Warshaw has said repeatedly about his work and this response simply avoids answering the question about what Schaaf herself would do to improve implementation of police reforms. My answer: absolutely nothing. Schaaf has been in city hall for a decade with very little to show for all this time.

    One has to like much of what Dan Siegel has to say about the unfairness of the justice system. On the other hand Siegel has made it clear that he knows almost nothing about the organization of Oakland’s police. Briefly, Oakland has 60 police beats set up under Measure Y to provide something like “community policing” with Problem Solving Officers assigned to various beats. Siegel would base his reorganization on these 60 beats. Unfortunately the beats themselves were designed to provide a political solution to the failed promise of Measure Y to provide some semblance of community policing. It hasn’t worked. Basing yet another reorganization of OPD based on failed Measure Y makes absolutely no sense at all.

    The format of the “debate” seemed to me completely inappropriate and inadequate. The moderator, Sheila Young, a former Mayor of San Leandro was pompous and narcisstic. Clearly she was enjoying her time on the stage but I doubt many other were. She’s clearly in the same league as Jean Quan. The panel of questioners including Robert Gammon, Chip Johnson and Matt Artz of various local and regional media were not exactly up to the task of asking hard questions of the candidates and following up with questions that would force respondents to stop their evasions. The youth panelist Bianca Brooks did ask a tough question or two but more out of naivete than incisive thinking. One reason Oakland has had such a poor group of elected officials for so long is, I think, due to the lack of competent media attention to local politics. It’s all far to kissy-face for me.

    One last word: before moderator Sheila Young clamped down on any audience spontaneity, the audience loudly cheered the introductory statements of both candidate Tuman and candidate Bryan Parker. Why? Tuman was very specific in what he said. Bryan was very passionate in how he spoke. Oakland badly needs both specifics and passion in its leaders.

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  2. Eric K Arnold

    r2d2ii wrote: “Guess who will be conjuring up a new Measure Y? Quan and Council member (and mayor candidate) Schaaf, both of who were responsible for the original Measure Y mess.”

    this is incorrect.

    Measure Y was approved by voters in 2004, when Jerry Brown was mayor and Quan was a City Council member. Schaaf wasn’t elected until 2011.

    Please do your homework before posting erroneous information.

    http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CityAdministration/d/MeasureY/

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  3. Dan Siegel

    r2d2ii’s comments are thoughtful, but on the issue of the 60 beats s/he is wrong. When we drafted Oakland’s community policing ordinance in 2006, we created the 60 beat system. Each beat was designed to correspond to an elementary school attendance area with the idea that the beats would represent actual neighborhoods rather than computer generated areas based on calls for police service. I continue to believe that policing should be based on the 60 beats because my vision of community policing requires the organization of people in their neighborhoods.
    Dan Siegel

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  4. r2d2ii

    “Please do your homework before posting erroneous information.”

    I would suggest you do the same.

    Fact: Current Council member Libby Schaaf was the city hall staffer in 2003-2004 whose job was to put together Measure Y while working under Jerry Brown .

    Fact: Schaaf has been a steadfast defender of Measure Y throughout her time on the City Council.

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  5. Matt of Uptown

    r2d2ii.. “One reason Oakland has had such a poor group of elected officials for so long is, I think, due to the lack of competent media attention to local politics. It’s all far to kissy-face for me.” YES! YES! YES!

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  6. r2d2ii

    Siegel: “Each beat was designed to correspond to an elementary school attendance area with the idea that the beats would represent actual neighborhoods rather than computer generated areas based on calls for police service. I continue to believe that policing should be based on the 60 beats because my vision of community policing requires the organization of people in their neighborhoods.”

    You support my point very well. Organizing police beats around elementary school attendance areas is not the same thing as organizing beats around neighborhood centers where feet on the street will result in the most citizens having the most opportunity to get to know their local cops well.

    Elementary school locations are not the locations in Oakland where there is most crime and most potential friendly mixing of cops and citizens.

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  7. Eric K Arnold

    r2d2ii , while it is true Schaaf worked for Brown, you imply that she and Quan are solely responsible for MY, an assertion which cannot possibly be true. That plan had input from many sources, and most would agree shows a “too many cooks in the kitchen” approach. Also, it was a ballot referendum, and thus approved by a majority of voters. Schaaf and Quan may have their weak points, but to nullify their candidacies based on some involvement with MY is kind of a head-scratcher. Conversely, how would someone with no experience in drafting such a measure be qualified to modify it? Are we assuming that only someone who has never actually written policy can write policy? Or are we assuming that Schaaf and Quan would automatically fail to draw on their years of experience and 10 years of having MY in place and automatically draft the same measure again? Anyway you slice it, your comment cannot be taken at face value.

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  8. r2d2ii

    Arnold: “your comment cannot be taken at face value.”

    Certainly not when the “reader” in question is mostly concerned about his own vanity (I’m right; you’re not) rather than what the writer actually put down on the page.

    Again, some relevant facts:

    1. Measure Y is widely recognized as a failure among both ordinary voters as well as community groups concerned with public safety, policing generally and police reform specifically. At least two reasons for this: there has been and there is no demonstrable benefit in violence reduction and clearly no benefit in maintenance of police numbers at 800 sworn officers. Voters know well that some $150 million has disappeared down the municipal toilet in the past decade due to poor policymaking in Measure Y.

    2. Both Quan and Schaaf have publicly claimed credit in recent public statements for Measure Y despite its at best questionable benefits. Both steadfastly refused to consider input from concerned individuals and community groups in the past two years to modify and reform Measure Y so it not only might actually provide better violence-preventing social services (if not more cops) but also so that it might be supportable by voters when it comes up for renewal in the fall of 2014. Of course Schaaf wasn’t talking about running for mayor when we approached her then. Now she might have another story to tell. Ditto Quan.

    The bottom line remains that both Schaaf and Quan were, have been and are currently complacent (or worse) about the performance of Measure Y and, thus, how effectively money is spent in Oakland on public safety.
    I think this complacency or worse speaks loudly and clearly about their policymaking skills, as well as their ability to listen to informed citizens and community groups which make efforts to improve Oakland governance.

    Lastly, regarding Schaaf’s performance as an elected official over the past four years. I would recommend that the “reader” or anyone else as in love with Schaaf as she constantly says she is with Oakland, ask anyone who lives in the Dimond or the Laurel how much life has improved since Schaaf took office in District 4. Ask for specifics please.

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  9. Oakie

    Perhaps Mr./Ms. Arnold misspoke? “shows a ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ approach.”

    Didn’t you mean to say too many crooks in the kitchen?

    Without delving into the history of the origins of MY, perhaps the most salient fact is the crookedness by which the promises were made as to what was to be done by the collection of this added on tax and what they did with it, and furthermore how little they measured and evaluated the effectiveness of the expenditures.

    It got so bad that the heroic Marlene Lee sued the city for not obeying the ordinance and the promised auditing, and the stupefying insanity of their defense that they were not required to be held to the contents of their very own words in the ballot arguments that they put forth to get it passed. That the crooks (not cooks) needed to pass Measure BB in order to lock in the ability to collect the money without regard to whatever were their ballot measure arguments/promises. In others words, from that day forward, the voters of Oakland were put on notice to completely disregard what is said in their arguments for any ordinance. That’s one hell of a state of governance.

    And, I think, that is why MY Version 2.0 will go down to an inglorious defeat. And that will be justice served.

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  10. Eric K Arnold

    r2d2ii, obviously your opinion is always right, even when it misstates facts, implies huge assumptions, jumps to dubious conclusions, or relies on half-truths. there, feel better?

    as far as MY is concerned, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about it. for one thing, it was never set up to deliver measurable results as far as violence reduction; there’s no standard metric for collecting data across the array of programs funded by it, of which 60% off the top goes to police and fire services. but to say everything funded by it is a failure is a vast oversimplification. if violent crime is down, which it is, and murders in particular, which they are, that cannot be directly attributed to MY. but by the same token, you cant say for certain MY has had no effect.

    your second point is more valid, since MY is clearly in need of reform at the administrative level, since it is too top-heavy and not nearly enough community-based.

    on your third point, can you name one effective policymaker among elected officials in the entire city government? singling out Schaaf and Quan as particularly ineffective seems unfair, given that not a single elected official has done a better job of promoting public safety.

    on your fourth point, i have no direct comment since i dont live in the Laurel and am not “in love” with Schaaf.

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  11. Eric K Arnold

    “Perhaps Mr./Ms. Arnold misspoke? “shows a ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ approach.”

    Didn’t you mean to say too many crooks in the kitchen?”

    that’s one way to look at it. but as i said in the last post, only 40% of its funding goes to the actual programs outside of police/fire services [which can be seen as a concession to their respective unions], and of that 40%, a significant portion of that goes to administrative overhead, while almost 0 % is devoted to tracking programs’ success. yet people tend to blame the programs themselves for the lack of quantifiable results. so i think when we say it’s a failure, we need to be clear about what was missing from inception or was never addressed.

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  12. r2d2ii

    Arnold: “as far as MY is concerned…it was never set up to deliver measurable results as far as violence reduction [sic]”

    This is essentially correct but also fundamentally misleading.

    The original legislation for Measure Y had a requirement for assessment of violence-prevention programs including assessment of the actual effectiveness. This requirement was provided as means to garner public support for the parcel tax. Voters do want to make sure their money is used well and the authors of the measure, including Schaaf and Quan, had to play at that game.

    The actual Measure was indeed not written adequately so as to actually provide for useful data collection. The private agency which has had the assessment contracts was financially captured by their contracts so that their output has been, shall we say, not exactly the best. The agency claims, quite accurately, that the data is poor, and says that it cannot provide any conclusions regarding actual violence reduction, but (though data manipulation which has been, at best, of questionable quality) that the programs are nevertheless helpful. Believe it or not!

    Those of us who approached the Council a couple of years ago asking that data collection and analysis be improved were essentially ignored.

    Arnold: “there’s no standard metric for collecting data across the array of programs funded by it, of which 60% off the top goes to police and fire services. but to say everything funded by it is a failure is a vast oversimplification [sic].”

    Again essentially correct but this time completely missing the point. If the measure had been well-written, a standard for adequate data collection could have been provided. Politically it was not useful for Schaaf and Quan to write such a measure. Schaaf, as well as her mentor Quan, is most definitely a politician and much less, if at all, an actual problem-solver.

    Yes, it’s true that a big chunk of Measure Y funding goes to pay for fire services. The additional funding for cops has essentially not provided the actual additional cops or violence reduction as promised. The real politics of all the Measure Y funding has not been the way Measure Y has been promoted by the establishment. The establishment promoted the measure as a violence reduction effort.

    Thus, promoted as a violence reduction effort, Measure Y has been seen by the voting public as a complete or near-complete failure. Thus my statement. Technically it has been, for political purposes, something quite different. It’s important to try to see Oakland politics in their essentially self-serving mode vs a mode in which the public interest is actually served. These are not, believe me, the same thing.

    The chickens have come home to roost on Measure Y and we will have to see how the pols, especially Quan and Schaaf, come up with a new package for a failed policy initiative which really has been nothing more than a major source of money poorly spent. Only one mayor candidate, Joe Tuman, has taken the trouble to point this out. Too bad your political biases don’t allow you to attend to any sort of anti-establishment views.

    Incidentally I am quite struck by your oxymoronic “vast oversimplification.” Something both overly simple and vast. I know that an ocean is vast, but is it also simple, even overly simple?

    Arnold: “if violent crime is down, which it is, and murders in particular, which they are, that cannot be directly attributed to MY.

    Murders are down? Compared to the same period as last year–the numbers are, in fact, up. Last year the numbers were down as compared to the year before. Look at the 40 year figures. The numbers go up and down year-to-year but a running average taken for any five-year period is 100 or more homicides per year. When we see a five year period with a significant reduction in homicide numbers, then we have a statistically-valid measure or reduced violence. I won’t ask if you ever took an introductory course in stats.

    Arnold: “by the same token, you cant say for certain MY has had no effect.”

    That introductory course in stats that you didn’t take would have covered, probably the first day, the logical impossibility of proving that something didn’t happen or had no effect.

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  13. Eric K Arnold

    “The actual Measure was indeed not written adequately so as to actually provide for useful data collection. ”

    i would agree with this 100%.

    i’m going to pass on responding to your other comments, since your reliance on assumptions, projections, and insults doesnt really advance the discussion, and suggests that your frustration with the system may be clouding your rational judgment.

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  14. Oakie

    In fact, with yesterday’s murder where the body was dumped near Lake Merritt, that makes 26 so far this year. That’s a 26% jump in murders compared to last year to date of 19 murders. But what’s 7 dead bodies when they’re all minority and the mayor’s reputation can be polished if it’s ignored. Let’s keep our priorities straight.

    If Queen Quan is going to make claims that violent crime is down 28% in 2013, again and again at every opportunity, let her and her sycophants include the fact that it’s up 26% in 2014.

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  15. OaklandNative

    Oakie,
    You have a good point. What the mayor means to say is that crime rate against hipsters has gone down. She doesn’t count the “other crimes.”

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  16. Nathan Laurie

    Snarky snark, Quan, snark Schaff and snark Tuman. {insert demeaning comment about other commenters}

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  17. Len Raphael

    Dan Siegel does make many valid criticisms of OPD.

    But his comment that the bad cops have not been fired because of bad City attorneys neatly sidesteps what would be an inconvenient truth for labor union attorney Dan Siegel to publicly state:

    The biggest obstacle to firing abusive OPD officers is the city charter’s “binding arbitration” clause for all personnel including compensation matters for police and firefighters.

    Very difficult in binding arbitration to get an officer fired no matter how good the city’s lawyer is.

    The SEIU and other city unions back up the the OFA (firefighters), the OPOA (police) in quashing even bringing up the discussion of amending the charter to repeal binding arbitration.

    It was proposed once by Pat Kernighan a few years ago and quietly withdrawn.

    Other N California cities have done so. eg. Palo Alto.

    Repealing binding arbitration for police and firefighters would both make it easier to fire bad cops and give the city more bargaining power in setting pay and benefits for uniformed employees.

    Dan, how about stepping up and at the very least proposing amending binding arbitration so that it only covers compensation?

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  18. Len Raphael

    A couple of observations about measuring the impact of Measure Y on reducing violence.

    A few years ago I was pleased to hear that City Auditor Ruby would be releasing her performance audit of Measure Y. To my disappointment the 50 page audit report was mostly bureacrateze about how MY programs should document their activities with more paperwork. Completely missed the forest for the trees that MY was a massive performance failure at reducing violence. http://www.oaklandauditor.com/images/oakland/auditreports/measurey809.pdf

    I’ve been critical of the performance of Measure Y programs to reduce violence ever since I viewed the testimony of Dr Patricia Bennett to the City Council Public Safety committee a couple of years ago. Dr Bennett, CEO of the firm that still evaluates Measure Y, flat stated MY did a good job at helping participants but a bad job at reducing violence.

    That’s precisely the type of “performance” which Auditor Ruby should have focused on.

    Recently, after listening to a pitch by City staff and MY staff at the Chamber of Commerce for renewing MY a few months ago, I got the impression that MY people finally got the message that they better target their efforts very directly at violent likely residents instead of anyone who could use social services etc. Staff belatedly realize that voters won’t automatically renew MY, let alone increase the parcel tax, unless staff can document violence reductions.

    Better late than never. I’ve gone from opposing renewal to keeping an open mind.

    The City Auditor’s office should be the one to hire the firm that evaluates MY. The Auditor should produce hard hitting audits no matter how many politicians and non-profits are called out for the unknown percentage of MY programs that are pure pork barrel.

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  19. Michele

    L. Raphael make some thoughtful observations. I would point out however that the folks who are going to create the new Measure Y are essentially the same folks who wrote the last one. And their bosses, unless and until we get a new mayor and some more thoughtful city council members, are exactly the same folks who came up with the old Measure Y.

    I think mayor candidate Tuman has pointed this out. Until we get new leadership, any new, potentially productive policy can go nowhere. That puts us in a quandry regarding what might be useful in a new Measure Y. But maybe a quandry is exactly what Oakland needs to change direction.

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  20. Eric K Arnold

    Len said:

    “Dr Bennett, CEO of the firm that still evaluates Measure Y, flat stated MY did a good job at helping participants but a bad job at reducing violence.”

    Len, this isn’t a verbatim quote, so I’d be a little wary of advancing the discussion through it. FWIW, my analysis of MY is based on interviews i did two years ago with Bennett and staffers at RJOY and Youth Uprising — people who work with the bureaucratic/administrative limitations of MY on a regular basis, and are perhaps better-qualified to assess its effectiveness than outside observers and politicians who aren’t hands-on in any of its programs.

    I’m also not convinced its the City Auditor’s job to set policy or monitor anything other than expenditures.

    In order to document “reduced violence,” you have to have metrics which reliably track data, as well as effective data collection across all stakeholders. this includes OUSD, OPD, AC Social Services, AC Health Services, and Probation, as well as all the individual non-profit recipients of MY funding. That’s an inherent challenge, since the institutional cultures of each of these stakeholders is different, and sometimes beholden to other agendas.

    So we have to be clear on what we are asking for, and understand the difficulties involved with such an ask. There is no magic button.

    By the same token, we also need to consider decoupling the youth-based services funded from MY from the fire and PD services, since this conflation makes accumulating accurate data even more difficult and confusing.

    If we say MY is a $150m failure, is that really fair to project that onto programs which only received 40% of that funding in total, and which weren’t set up to accurately provide comprehensive data collection?

    Should we judge OPD’s violence prevention efforts by the same standards as a non-profit like RJOY? After all, implementing community policing on the streets is entirely different from administering restorative justice programs in schools and youth centers, isn’t it? These efforts shouldnt be viewed as interchangeable; each has an entirely different set of factors to consider.

    Michele said:

    ” I would point out however that the folks who are going to create the new Measure Y are essentially the same folks who wrote the last one. And their bosses, unless and until we get a new mayor and some more thoughtful city council members, are exactly the same folks who came up with the old Measure Y. ”

    So, meet the new boss, same as the old boss? while i understand Michele’s skepticism, the hope of public government is that it can and will learn from its mistakes. Even if we get a new mayor and Council, will their newness make them any more effective at understanding the intrinsic issues involved with MY and lend itself to fixing it? Or is the hands-on experience of folks who actually deal with MY daily more valuable, and thus should be weighted more heavily?

    IMO, it’s just as much a fallacy to think that replacing politicians with other politicians guarantees the right choices will be made, as it is asking the same politicians to address the same issues and expect different results (assuming nothing else has changed). We can go back and forth on these issues superficially all day, but nothing is gonna change until we start looking at issues of substance. City government in general tends to be a revolving door, and one built on relationships and insider knowledge. That’s why Schaaf –just to give an example; this is not an endorsement–might be more qualified than PArker to address reforming MY, since he’s an unknown quantity, and she’s been part of the system for years. The same could also be said of Siegel, who was creating policy while Tuman was lecturing on it.

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  21. Len Raphael

    Eric, I stand by my paraphrase of Dr Bennett’s remarks.

    I just went back to the KTOP video and found the section where Dr Bennett spoke. I’ll put quotes around these words though I might have missed some connectors:

    “I want to say something that is not on script here and is not actually in this report. …”

    “MY is doing a good job for the individuals it serves….. “But unless MY is part of a “structured, strategically planned, data-driven program consistently applied over many years. .. we won’t see the kind of results we hoping for in terms of city wide effect. “ … “It is working in other places.”

    http://oakland.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1063
    listen to the 49 minute to 51 minute section for her recording.

    (Don’t bother reading the official minutes. 0 detail about what was said. Is that standard operating procedure for Committee meeting minutes?)

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  22. Len Raphael

    I agree with the other commentators here that it’s time to throw the bums out of City Hall. Very decent, pleasant, well intentioned bums, but time for them to make room for different approaches.

    Familiarity with the players, issues, and what’s been tried before would be great if it weren’t too often offset by too many political favors owed and so low of an expectation for something better than the past.

    Mayor Quan is the quintessential example. One of her campaign pitches was that she could hit the ground running (not a quote) because of her decade on the Council and years on the OUSD Board.

    Just before the first OO raid was executed, Mayor Quan ran just fine.

    She got on a plane to Washington DC the day before the week long planned raid went down in flames.

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  23. Len Raphael

    if my memory serves (but I’m not putting quotes around this), Dr Bennett also stated at the 2012 session that her firm was not hired to evaluate how well MY reduced city wide violence but how well it served it’s individual clients.

    Fast forward to the May 2013 evaluation presentation.

    I just listened to the MY section of the KTOP video. I also skimmed the entire evaluation report.

    Patricia Bennett, the head of the company that has conducted the MY program evaluations for the past several years diplomatically kept her mouth shut and didn’t make any broad criticisms of MY’s failure to make a dent in city wide crime levels the way she did in extensive remarks at the May 2012 evaluation hearing.

    The only hint that MY programs are anything other than wonderful were the acknowledgements that MY only serves about 2,000 residents/year and for comparison there are approx. 10,000 parolees (or was it people on probation?) in Oakland. Many of the MY programs are anti-recidivism but substantial number are aimed at victims and family violence prevention.

    With exception of Ceasefire and the parolee programs, there doesn’t seem to be the exclusive focusing on the most people most likely to be shooters, the way Richmond does.

    At the start of the evaluators’ presentation, they declared that this year for the first time they were going to answer the question “Has MY been a wise investment of the City’s resources. Will look at program efficiency.”

    I had to skim the entire 200 page evaluation to realize that all that meant was giving each program’s cost per person served per year. Average was about 2,500.

    Since council members and speakers were quick to point out the cost of incarceration a big multiple of that, as if incarceration was the only alternative.

    No discussion in the report or the committee about whether MY programs were a “wise investment” compared to alternative programs or more policing.

    For sure that’s closer to qualifying as a performance evaluation that Auditor Ruby’s 50 page report on how well the MY staff fill out paperwork.

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  24. Len Raphael

    As in so many Oakland public policy discussions, the choices are framed by the Mayor and the Council to choices that have failed before. Often we hear that the programs were fine but underfunded.

    Recognizing the limits of how deep residents are willing to dig into their pockets for more parcel taxes and more fees and fines, we have to consider alternative ways to spending the money that we probably will get by renewing some form of MY.

    If I were queen/king of Oakland, I’d rewrite Measure Y (MY) so that half of the annual 20 mill collected went toward funding universal pre-school instead of anti-violence programs even though some of those programs are somewhat effective at reducing violence; and some of the programs do good stuff for some individual participants.

    The money from MY, even when leveraged with other grants, is probably not enough to make a serious dent in the conditions that foster violence here.

    Maybe we have to consider focusing on deterrence by more efficient respectful policing, and long term economic development and education for real jobs.

    (When Dan Kalb asked one of last May’s evaluators what we should spend our money on, the evaluator stated that more jobs and cheaper housing would do more than anti-recidivism programming to reduce crime.)

    Repeal binding arbitration entirely and cut police and fire retirement benefits significantly so we could afford to hire more cops to assign to local beats.

    And I wouldn’t hand the money over to OUSD unless OUSD cut it’s admin costs by at least 25%.

    But of course that’s not what the new and improved MY will do. That discussion would be given short shrift at the upcoming hearings by elected officials. It would unite all the non-profits receiving MY funds in opposition.

    And of course no candidate for Mayor or Council is ever going to get elected on such a seemingly cruel platform.

    Reply
  25. Eric K Arnold

    ““MY is doing a good job for the individuals it serves….. “But unless MY is part of a “structured, strategically planned, data-driven program consistently applied over many years. .. we won’t see the kind of results we hoping for in terms of city wide effect. “ … “It is working in other places.””

    That’s essentially what i said too, that MY wasnt set up to deliver the kind of results its critics expect of it, perhaps unfairly. i dont think you can understand how unfair those criticisms are, however, without digging deeply into the available data yourself.

    it’s easy to be an armchair QB, Len, and in that regard, you are the Tom Brady of Internet posters. if you were in charge of actual policy, however, i think your tone (and spiel) would be much different.

    “Patricia Bennett, the head of the company that has conducted the MY program evaluations for the past several years diplomatically kept her mouth shut and didn’t make any broad criticisms of MY’s failure to make a dent in city wide crime levels the way she did in extensive remarks at the May 2012 evaluation hearing.”

    Probably because to do so could have been extremely misleading. In addition to MY, couldn’t we also point to the mayor, city council, and OPD’s “failure to make a dent in city wide crime levels” just as easily? is it MY’s fault that OPD has such a low clearance rate on homicides and won’t even investigate most minor crimes? If we’re blaming MY for not doing something it promised but was never actually designed to do, are we also giving a pass to elected officials and ineffective police for not doing what they were elected and/or paid to do?

    “Many of the MY programs are anti-recidivism but substantial number are aimed at victims and family violence prevention.”

    There are also job training and placement programs funded by MY, while restorative justice falls under “anti-recidivism” but can also impact other factors, such as graduation rate.

    “No discussion in the report or the committee about whether MY programs were a “wise investment” compared to alternative programs or more policing.”

    By more policing, do you mean hiring/training more officers? Or something else? More police won’t reduce school violence, which leads to suspensions, which leads to drop-outs, which leads to crime, which leads to recidivism. Also, even if Oakland had 1000 officers, there’s no guarantee that that would be a “wise investment” or result in more community members coming forward to report crimes.

    “Often we hear that the programs were fine but underfunded.” How is this not true in the case of MY? i’ve already noted twice that only 40% goes to actual programs, and of that 40%, a relatively small % is devoted to tracking and data correlation. OTOH, where are the performance metrics for the 60% of MY that goes to police/fire? How much of that 60% went to overtime or administration for those departments? If we took away that 40% that funds Youth Uprising, RJOY, YEP, and other programs and gave it to police instead, how would we be better off? The likely scenario is that dropout rates would soar, recidivism would rise, and we’d be back at square one. Not funding social programs should not be an option; if anything they need to be funded to a level where they can work, and also have measurable performance metrics built into the administration of these programs — which is a failure of city government’s application of MY, not necessarily of MY itself.

    “Maybe we have to consider focusing on deterrence by more efficient respectful policing, and long term economic development and education for real jobs.”

    actually, maybe we have to examine community-based solutions which dont involve any additional expenditures to law enforcement. Consider that after a youth-run community garden was planted next to Tassafaronga village, crime in the immediate area dropped 25% — without any additional resources being directed toward police. Maybe investing in community solutions is indeed the answer.

    Reply
  26. Len Raphael

    Sure it’s easy to armchair Oakland elected official’s policy decisions over the past several decades.

    But just maybe that could be because they have made such impressively bad policy decisions in the absence of public scrutiny and yes, interest.

    Regardless of how MY was implemented, the voters who approved it thought it ws designed to reduce city wide violence, not provide services, how ever worthy, to a small number of city residents. But that’s so typical of how the pols also lied to the voters about MY guaranteeing the funding of community cops. Oops, we forgot to put on our lawyer hats and read the fine print that said “appropriated” for fundnig community cops.

    If officials and non-profits want MY renewed, they might consider apologizing for lying to the voters in the past.

    Reply
  27. Len Raphael

    Just one recent example of egregiously bad public policy making: the DAC. My lord, I’m sure you realize how close we came to getting saddled with that privacy invading financial boondoogle? That was not an outlier.

    Reply
  28. Eric K Arnold

    “If officials and non-profits want MY renewed, they might consider apologizing for lying to the voters in the past.”

    that seems reasonable, except i dont think the non-profits lied to voters, seeing as they are not elected officials. but i keep coming back to the 60% funding for police and fire off the top for MY. stands to reason that if we’re looking for funds that could have been invested more wisely, we should start there. Does Ruby also audit OPD?

    Reply
  29. Len Raphael

    As far as dissing armchair quarter backs of Oakland public policy, your’re doing a disservice to yourself and the hundreds of other private citizens who organize, blog, post, attend meetings, work for candidates.

    People as different politically as Charlie Pine is from Rashidah Grinage, who put a hecka of a lot sweat and brainpower into examining city policy makers’ decisions.

    Yup, try to get elected without making contradictory promises or owing favors to individuals and groups for whom you’d rather not be beholden. Try to make policy within the constraints of extremely divided Oakland voters who want it all but can’t/won’t pay for it.

    That’s no excuse for consistently mediocre public policy decisions and even debates. That’s lack of leadership.

    Reply
  30. Eric K Arnold

    just curious, len, is it fair to say you have no interest in answering the questions i’ve put forth based on your comments? changing the subject to the DAC doesn’t explain how we’d be better off with “more policing” than the current programs funded by MY–or underfunded, that is, since 60% of those funds already go to police, as i’ve noted repeatedly.

    Reply
  31. Eric K Arnold

    “As far as dissing armchair quarter backs of Oakland public policy,”

    oh, so now i “dissed” you, and by extension, everyone else involved in policy discussions who is not an elected official? that’s certainly an interesting take, len, but that’s’s a helluva reach, there.

    in actuality: you brought up a lot of points which i followed with questions seeking further clarification of your POV, which you, thusfar, haven’t addressed.

    my point was that it’s easy to criticize MY as ineffectual and make mass generalizations and broad assumptions without specifically looking at what is working and why it’s not working better.

    but a “diss” ? i don’t think so. i’ve been entirely respectful of your POV, i just asked for more clarification of your comments, that’s all. if you’re going to be an armchair QB, you need to read the whole playbook.

    Reply
  32. Eric K Arnold

    if you really want to be a policy hack, len, you should answer these questions:

    1) In addition to MY, couldn’t we also point to the mayor, city council, and OPD’s “failure to make a dent in city wide crime levels” just as easily?
    2) is it MY’s fault that OPD has such a low clearance rate on homicides and won’t even investigate most minor crimes?
    3) If we’re blaming MY for not doing something it promised but was never actually designed to do, are we also giving a pass to elected officials and ineffective police for not doing what they were elected and/or paid to do?
    4) By “more policing,” do you mean hiring/training more officers? Or something else?
    5) If we took away that 40% that funds Youth Uprising, RJOY, YEP, and other programs and gave it to police instead, how would we be better off?
    6) where are the performance metrics for the 60% of MY that goes to police/fire?
    7) How much of that 60% went to overtime or administration for those departments?
    8) Does Ruby also audit OPD?

    these are the questions which need to be addressed if we’re going to drill down and come up with a solution for MY. merely claiming it’s ineffective doesn’t mean anything unless you can also articulate why it’s ineffective, as well as outline what needs to happen to make it more effective.

    Reply
  33. Len Raphael

    Good questions you raise, which I’ll address when I get a chance afther April 15th.

    No, I didn’t take your comment on armchair quarterbacking very personally, I’ve been called worse. But really I thought you weren’t giving all of us armchair qb’s enough credit, including yourself. Collectively, we really are much better than most of the people we have elected over the years to run Oakland.

    Bringing up the DAC wasn’t to avoid answering your specific questions. It was an example of yet another Oakland piss poor public policy decision. We could all give a long list of them, but that was most recent.

    Now that you mention OPD overtime, that’s precisely the big impact item Auditor Ruby should have been auditing instead of expense reports or Brooks pulling strings to get a worthy community project completed in our lifetime.

    Reply
  34. Eric K Arnold

    “Bringing up the DAC wasn’t to avoid answering your specific questions. It was an example of yet another Oakland piss poor public policy decision. We could all give a long list of them, but that was most recent.”

    FWIW, i thought the DAC was a huge mistake too. I was actually proud of Oakland for saying “no” to that, and for the City Council members who came to their senses and showed leadership.

    “Now that you mention OPD overtime, that’s precisely the big impact item Auditor Ruby should have been auditing instead of expense reports or Brooks pulling strings to get a worthy community project completed in our lifetime.”

    It’s such a wicked game. Say you can’t investigate crimes because you dont have enough cops because the city cant afford them, then run up huge overtime tab’s on the city’s dime because there aren’t enough cops.

    Reply
  35. r2d2ii

    About Measure Y:

    “merely claiming it’s ineffective doesn’t mean anything unless you can also articulate why it’s ineffective, as well as outline what needs to happen to make it more effective.”

    It’s important to read the report produced by the city’s consulting firm Resource Development Associates. This gives you a clue about what Measure Y mostly does and does not do. And it helps to have some fundamental sense of what early human psychological development is all about.

    Essentially the Measure Y interventions have delivered not-very-thoughtfully-conceived services to some several thousand “at risk” kids of middle school or high school age. The actual delivery of services amount to a few hours of groups sessions for each “at risk” youngster.

    Problems: 1. The “at risk” determinations were, at best, of questionable merit. 2. Services are not effective in any clinical sense and not delivered at a time appropriate to youngsters’ developmental needs. 3. Two or three hours of interventions don’t scratch the surface of the needs of kids who are well along the path of being poorly socialized or traumatized or cognitively or developmentally impaired and thus likely to be victims/perpetrators.

    What to do: 1. Intervene early with parent(s) in dysfunctional/violence-afflicted families. The U.S. military has had for decades a very effective, model program for doing this. Young mothers are given help in taking care of infants in a way that supports normal development and avoids lifelong destructive effects of stress and trauma. Military families are constantly stressed just like poor Oakland families. 2. Set up programs in elementary schools to treat youngsters already subjected to trauma and stress at home so that the kids can learn to recognize their high level of arousal and calm themselves sufficiently so that they can be socialized and can develop emotionally and cognitively in school. East Palo Alto has such a program.

    All this kind of program-design information is available from developmental psychology consultants and family therapists. Of which there are very very many in the East Bay.

    The problem is that Oakland’s electeds seldom take the time to inform themselves on the myriad of topics on which they know absolutely nothing.

    Reply
  36. Eric K Arnold

    So, essentially, R2, you’re saying that intervention programs should start in elementary school, not middle school. that’s not exactly proof of MY’s ineffectiveness. actually, it kind of suggests the opposite, some of the programs funded by it are effective in limited use, but were those programs more comprehensive, and better funded, best practices could be integrated into curriculums at an earlier developmental stage. The data i’ve looked at suggests underfunding is one of the main reasons for perceived ineffectiveness — programs need to be given a chance to work.

    one of the problems with your analysis, R2, is that you are lumping all MY programs together. But not every program does the same thing.

    Just looking at the interventions, MY funds OUSD’s alternative education program as well as RJOY, which has documented success in reducing suspensions and truancy through restorative justice. RJ was so successful at middle schools that it was implemented in high schools and is a big part of the Cal Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative. Obviously, it takes time to evaluate these programs and collect measurable data, before implementing best practices in a more widespread fashion.

    MY also funds MISSSEY, an organization which advocates for female sex workers and against sex trafficking and violence against women. It also funds Youth Uprising, a young people’s center which offers job training, career counseling, and pregnancy clinics, in addition to interventions. MY also funds Youth Employment Program, Unity Council, BAWAR (Bay Area Women Against Rape), Men of Valor, California Youth Outreach — and the Ambassadors program.

    So, simply saying its “ineffective” is entirely misleading, because many of these programs do reduce violence and the risk of violence. There’s no metric, however, for determining violence which doesnt happen–as an RJOY staffer once told me–so that’s part of your problem right there. If you are correct in what you surmise, that PTSD among youth is far greater than anyone could have imagined, then cutting anti-violence programs would be a complete disaster.

    When i interviewed some of the fundees of MY, what they told me was where MY could be more effective is in integrating more community-based feedback and being less top-heavy from an administrative standpoint. It also needs to do a better job of data collection and tracking across all its various programs. And it needs to be decoupled from police and fire services, so these programs can be evaluated on their own.

    By all means, MY is in need of major reform. But to simply defund it would be akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    Reply
  37. r2d2ii

    “But to simply defund it would be akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

    The forest for the trees chum. Maybe a new prescription for your glasses.

    Most of Measure Y does not work as violence prevention. Period. You admit it. Look at the actual numbers in the Patricia Bennett RDA report. Results barely discernible as positive and the data manipulation used wouldn’t pass muster in high school stats. But I already explained this to you. Maybe you need a new hearing aid too.

    My points were to show that a well-designed early-intervention program could be cost-effective and could actually render moot all largely-ineffective late-intervention stuff. The phrase to use here is “bang for your buck.” Translation: spend your limited money as effectively as you can and you may well be able to solve your difficult problems. Continuing to spend money relatively ineffectively will get the money spent but won’t get your violence reduced and won’t save your traumatized young people.

    What planet you from man? You about as dense as it gets.

    Reply
  38. Eric K Arnold

    r2d2ii , resorting to cheap insults is usually a sign that you have lost an argument. which is too bad, because i thought you made a couple of valid points (after being prompted to elaborate on your earlier statements), though your caustic sarcasm tends to overshadow those points..

    Obviously, the real problem with Measure Y is that nobody put you in charge of allocating funding and determining program parameters.

    Reply
  39. r2d2ii

    Franz Fanon: “There are too many idiots in this world. And having said it, I have the burden of proving it.”

    Ericanold: “the real problem with Measure Y is that nobody put you in charge of allocating funding and determining program parameters.”

    I have no functional or amatory connection, unlike Ericanold, with Measure Y, nor do I crave any such connection. Neither with Oakland’s city hall nor the destructive political status quo here which is Ericarnold’s bed. May he lie there as long as it pleasures him.

    I would like to see Oakland change, its government grow more efficient and its youngsters succeed in school and in life.

    Reply
  40. Eric K Arnold

    R2, on another thread, while making a pro-gentrification argument, you blamed poor black people for poverty: “The bottom line is that many poor AAs in Oakland do not or cannot look out for themselves.”

    No need to add any further comment.

    Reply
  41. r2d2ii

    Ericarnold: “R2, on another thread, while making a pro-gentrification argument, you blamed poor black people for poverty: “The bottom line is that many poor AAs in Oakland do not or cannot look out for themselves.”

    “No need to add any further comment.”

    Pure racist innuendo Mr. Old Style Oakland.

    I said above that many poor AAs in Oakland do not or cannot look out for themselves. That is not blaming poor or black people for poverty.

    Read it again, out loud, and try really hard to think what I actually said.

    Translation: many poor AAs in Oakland do not have the resources, personal, public, community or otherwise, to look out properly for themselves. That. Mr. Old Style Oakland, is what poverty is all about.

    And I have never stated that I am pro-gentrification. I have commented on various aspects, good and bad, of gentrification.

    Mr. Old Style, you are the epitome of the deeply-uninformed and deceptive reactionary. I know you consider yourself to be something else, but look in the mirror one morning.

    Reply
  42. Oakie

    I have noticed a pattern of Epistemic Closure at the drop of the hat by, ahem, some. The PC police are always on the lookout for opportunities to ‘Book Em on Murder One, Dannel.’

    Reply
  43. jmundstuk

    I was there and I thought the writer hit the sound bites, as it were, pretty well. I wasn’t there the whole time, however. I was very impressed with Tuman’s specific answers, public speaking ability (that’s not nothing!), and passion. I expected to be impressed by Ruby. but wasn’t. Her opening statement was just full of generalizations and cliches; I expected more. Libby Schaff’s main argument is that she has a great resume (Jerry Brown!!). Finally, I had to laugh at your psychiatric diagnosis of the moderator!

    Reply

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