According to Council President Jane Brunner, if Measure BB on the November ballot is defeated, Oakland will have to lay off 122 police officers. Added to the 80 that were fired this summer, the police force would be reduced by a total of 202 cops, or nearly 25 percent. If BB passes, Ms. Brunner says the city could limit the number of cuts to 27 and save 95 positions.
In an Oakland JOBS PAC survey of 500 likely Oakland voters completed on August 24, 45 percent of the respondents said they will support BB, while 40 percent said they will not. Since BB requires a two-thirds vote, these results do not bode well for passing Measure BB.
There are many reasons for these poll results, including the bad economy, foreclosures, job losses, etc. But the most telling reason in the poll was that 53 percent of the voters believe that even if BB and other tax measures pass, Oakland’s deficits will continue to grow. Voters said they want “new leadership who will look at alternatives to taxes, such as growing Oakland’s economic base, pension reform, and structural changes in the way the city does business.”
The Oakland JOBS PAC shares the concerns of the voters. We too look forward to new leadership, new ideas, and better management of our city. Meanwhile, we believe that Oakland cannot afford to reduce its police force by another 122 cops. Without glee or fanfare, we encourage voters to pass BB.
Let it be clear that we understand and empathize with voter anger and frustration. Measure Y was intended to add cops. The “fix” in Measure BB keeps the tax, and does not add cops. It merely reduces the number that would be laid off. Many people also cite a credibility problem caused by the fancy footwork performed by city leaders, who claimed that under Measure Y they only needed to budget for cops, they were not required to actually hire them. Lastly, we recognize the public’s concern that police officers don’t contribute to their pensions, as do other city employees.
Despite these very legitimate concerns, we still must ask, can Oakland afford to lose 122 more cops?
Here is the choice we see for Oakland voters. On November 2, you can vote no on Measure BB because of your distrust of city leaders, your antipathy towards taxes and your frustration about police pensions. The result will likely be the loss of 122 more cops.
Or, you can vote yes on BB to “fix” Measure Y, keep your tax liability the same as it has been over the past several years, and save 95 cops from the chopping block.
In a city as crime-challenged as Oakland, it is unthinkable that we would reduce the police force by 25 percent. Yes, we need change and we need new leadership, but in the meantime we need to be safe.
We can’t afford to say no to Measure BB.
Executive Director, Oakland JOBS PAC
The Oakland JOBS PAC is an independent political action committee that takes positions on candidates for office and significant ballot measures.
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