Education in Oakland

Archive for November, 2007

Measure Y Bureaucrats Thrive

Posted by novometro on November 19, 2007

There’s more bad news on the Measure Y beat. It’s well known that the Violence Prevention and Public Safety Act approved by Oakland voters in 2004 has failed to deliver the promised increase in sworn officers. But a rather thin report from the City Administrator shows that there has been no corresponding difficulty finding bureaucrats to gorge at the Measure Y trough.

Of the $20 million spent on Measure Y annually, around 5 percent goes to the equivalent of around 10 full-time employees “charged to Measure Y funds.” The roughly $1.2 million in salaries includes six positions dedicated 100 percent to the administration of the failing measure. Still, this might not be enough City Hall employees to get the job done.

Jeff Baker, the person in the city administrator’s office whose full-time job is making sure the Measure Y Oversight Committee operates smoothly, did not find the time to post the agenda to Monday’s committee meeting as the law requires. The assistant to the City Administrator may want to consider hiring an assistant himself. The cops can’t seem to find anyone willing to take the money.

But bureaucratic bloat is to be expected at Oakland City Hall. The real sad news at Monday’s meeting comes from a 229-page report from Berkeley Policy Associates and the RAND Corporation. The researchers made a detailed evaluation of Measure Y’s various programs and found that “the effectiveness of Measure Y implementation is not altogether positive.”

There is one piece of good news for Oakland City Hall news junkies. Monday night’s meeting of the oversight committee will be the first to be broadcast live on KTOP. If you don’t have cable television, you can watch streaming video here.

What: Measure Y Oversight Committee Regular Meeting

When: Monday, November 19 6:30 pm

Where: Hearing Room One, First Floor of City Hall


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The Nashville Solution

Posted by novometro on November 15, 2007

Earlier this month, Oakland police brass told the City Council that no one has a clue how long it will take for the police department to reach the mandated force level of 803 sworn officers. As anyone who has been paying even casual attention to the city’s rising crime rate knows, OPD is about 70 cops shy of that goal. OPD’s research predicts that in 2009 Oakland will still not have the police department voters asked for when they approved Measure Y in 2004. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we are in Oakland with the police force we have, not the police force we want.

It’s time to recognize that, at least for the next two years, Oakland will have to fight crime with an undermanned, and demoralized police force. It’s pointless to squeal incessantly that Oakland needs 1,100 cops, or attack a youth center that youth actually like going to.
Instead, the Oakland Police Department, City Hall, and citizens determined to feel safer in their city, should set goals that have a prayer of being reached. As a model, there’s Nashville.

V Smoothe at A Better Oakland crunched the numbers this week, and showed that Oakland is the fourth most violent big city in the country. It also has the smallest police force of the 10 most violent big cities. Only Nashville is in that unfortunate list with a comparable number of sworn officers. We have 18 sworn officers for every 10,000 residents. Nashville has 21.

But there’s a difference. Nashville also recorded fewer violent crimes in 2006, according to numbers V Smoothe got from the United States Department of Justice. In Nashville, there were 153 violent crimes for every 10,000 residents. Oakland had 191.

Somehow, Nashville, a less eduacated and less wealthy city than Oakland, is doing more with less. If Oakland were able to bring its violent crime rate to Nashville levels, it would represent a drop of nearly 18 percent. Over the course of a year, that’s 1,600 fewer armed robberies, rapes, and murders.

The mayor and the police chief say that putting the police department on a 12-hour shift, and reorganizing command to a geographic division will improve policing in Oakland. City Hall and police brass should put a number to this promise. Committing to cut violent crime by 18 percent in two years is a fair place to start.

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