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Oaklanders decide the fate of local and statewide ballot initiatives

on November 3, 2010

On Tuesday, Oakland residents decided the fate of several local education and public safety funding measures, including Measure BB, which would restore community police officer positions. The measure handily got the two-thirds majority it needed to pass, scoring a “yes” from 70 percent of Oakland voters.

BB revises Oakland’s 2004 Violence Prevention and Public Safety Act, also known as Measure Y. Measure Y levied a parcel tax to collect funds for public safety initiatives and services not covered by the local government’s general fund, including specialized police officers, violence prevention programs, and fire safety crews. The measure stipulated that this tax could only be collected if police staffing stays above 739 officers.

Recent police department layoffs bring that caveat to the fore—as of this summer, Oakland only employs 696 officers. With Measure Y rendered impotent, BB strikes this requirement from the original legislation, allowing the taxes for public safety to be collected regardless of police staffing levels.

The passage of measure BB will allow the police department to rehire 60 specialized officers that were a part of the Oakland Police Department’s popular patrol of problem-solving officers. “It means less police layoffs,” said Oakland mayoral candidate Jean Quan at her campaign party last night, who was elated after learning the measure had passed.

“Looks like we won’t be laying off additional officers,” agreed Don Arozarena, president of the Oakland Police Officer’s Association, speaking by phone Wednesday. “Some people will be rehired depending on city leadership.”

A similar measure, X, was also on the ballot, but lost by a landslide, with only 30 percent voting in favor of it. Measure X would have enacted a $360 flat parcel tax for each single-family residence that would have been used in part to recruit and train more police officers.

Measure L, which would have imposed a $195 parcel tax to provide funds for students and teachers within the Oakland Unified School District, also failed to garner the two-thirds majority vote necessary for passage, capturing 65.24 percent of the vote.

Oakland voted in favor of Measure V, which would have imposed a tax of $100 per $1,000 in gross receipts for sales of non-medical cannabis, but was rendered moot by the failure of Proposition 19, which would have modified state law to allow recreational pot use and possession.

Statewide, four of nine ballot initiatives passed, with Californians voting in new rules regarding congressional redistricting, the state’s ability to borrow funds from local governments, and the margin needed for the legislature to pass the state budget.

Proposition 19, arguably the most controversial measure on the ballot, was rejected by 54 percent of voters statewide, although it received a warmer reception in Alameda County, with 55 percent of voters supporting the initiative. Had it passed, the measure would have legalized various marijuana-related activities in the state, including recreational pot consumption for adults. Proposition 19 would have taken pot “off the street corners and out of the hands of children,” and provided much-needed tax revenue, according to proponents like Oakland City Attorney John Russo.

But Ryan Landers, a medical marijuana and patients’ rights advocate, welcomed the initiative’s defeat. “Prop 19 was nothing but regulation and taxation,” said Landers in a video interview with Oakland North. “It’s just more rules and laws to follow.”

Proposition 23 would have suspended AB 32—air pollution legislation passed in 2006—until state unemployment figures improved, but was rejected by a large margin, locally and statewide. Overall, 60 percent of voters said “no” to 23, but in Alameda County, a resounding 75 percent of voters rejected it. These numbers, opponents say, signal a commitment to environmental protection despite hardship in the job market.

Proposition 25 passed, allowing the state legislation to pass the budget with a simple majority, rather than a two-thirds majority. According to supporters of 25, the two-thirds majority rule was responsible for battles in Sacramento that often ended in budget delays. Proposition 25 passed with 54 percent of the vote statewide, with nearly 70 percent of Alameda County voting in favor of it.

For the complete breakdown of the night’s winners and losers, visit the California Secretary of State’s web site.

Check out all of our Oakland elections coverage on our Campaign 2010 page.

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Oakland North

Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to:

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