OAKLAND, CA – Last week an email from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (Mayor Schaaf) was sent suggesting the cannabis business tax adjustments would require the Council to make cuts to the recently passed 2019-2021 City budget. (Link to Email)
Mayor Schaaf has submitted a proposal to the Tuesday, December 10th Council Meeting to cut some important and needed City services. (Link to Council Agenda)
Mayor Schaaf is proposing to cut vitally needed funding to trace guns and solve gun crimes – as the report states: “Freezing of 2.0 FTE Crime Analysts in the Crime Analysis Section and 1.0 FTE Criminalist II in the Criminalistics Section will result in delays in the processing of evidence in crime investigations. Specifically, the freezing of these positions will slow OPD’s ability to examine and trace firearms recovered in connection with crime.” (Link to Cuts) We knows our gun tracing programs are effective and critical to solving gun crimes. (Link to Article) We must learn from known data – gun tracing and shutting down sources of illegal guns is essential to stopping the danger of gun violence in our communities. Oakland must not cut these vital efforts.
Mayor Schaaf is also threatening cuts to the cannabis equity program, public services, the City Clerk’s office, fire prevention and more. (Link to Cuts)
The real deal is that the Mayor and her Administration spent an additional $25 million on police – beyond the amount allocated in the budget. (Link to Expenditures) That over-spending was not authorized by Council nor was Council asked to make adjustments to the budget based on this gross overspending.
Per our Consolidated Fiscal Policy, “In the event that a department is projected to overspend in the General Purpose Fund by more than one percent (1%), the City Administrator shall bring an informational report to the City Council within 60 days following acceptance of the Revenue & Expenditure report by the City Council. The report shall list the actions the Administration is taking to bring the expenditures into alignment with the budget.” To date no steps have been taken to move the department into compliance and there are clearly policy initiatives that could yield cost savings – so this should be required of OPD as they have exceeded the threshold. (Link to CFP)
In addition there are two (2) legal settlements on the agenda for Tuesday’s Council meeting. Of the $5.16M total, there is a $2.5M settlement for an OPD vehicle collision that resulted in the death of one of our residents. (Link to Documents)
The fact is, the full Q4 Revenue and Expenditure report filed by the Finance Committee on November 5th (Link to Report) shows there is an $11.85M estimated current year surplus that was used to pay down the $25M overspent with OPD thus leaving the City with a deficit.
In addition, the cannabis tax policy adopted by The Oakland City Council is not an across-the-board cut – it is an equity incentive program. (Link to Equity Incentive)
But Mayor Schaaf is trying to scapegoat the cannabis industry and the cannabis equity tax incentive program – which is a tiny program compared to the huge and unauthorized over spending on police. And now vital services to protect our communities from gun violence and fire danger are being threatened, even as the administration has not provided the latest up-to-date revenue and expenditure data that would be needed to make sensible choices. Nor has the Council received the legally mandated correction plan for the police department over spending on overtime. None of these issues, nor the over spending on legal settlements, should be improperly blamed on the cannabis equity program.
Rebecca Kaplan is Oakland’s 3-Term At-Large Councilmember