At this week’s City Council Meeting, which lasted well past midnight, the Oakland City Council and grassroots community advocates accomplished some major milestones. The Council passed the midcycle budget amendments for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, including significant improvements that we advocated for. We made important progress on independent community oversight of the police department, and placed a proposed Measure on the November ballot to allow Oakland to amend the cannabis tax rate.
The revised budget adopted by the Council addressed many community concerns, including increased funding for homeless services, adding a new crew for illegal dumping remediation to focus on pro-active cleanup rather than waiting for complaints, and adding an analyst to do gun tracing, per Councilmember Kaplan’s request. Councilmember Kaplan says: “I am thrilled that with strong community input, the City Council came together to amend the budget to serve vital needs for the public – including helping our unsheltered residents, cracking down on the flow of illegal guns, and a new, pro-active illegal dumping crew to clean up our streets.”
The Council also passed the Police Commission implementation ordinance, which Councilmember Kaplan amended on the floor to address community concerns about its strength and independence. A large number of speakers from a wide range of backgrounds, including members of the Police Commission and community advocates who had helped fight for its creation, all strongly urged the adoption of an independent Inspector General, who would work for the Commission. Councilmember Kaplan amended the proposed ordinance to ensure that the Inspector General would be truly independent, rather than being hired and fired by the City Administrator.
Councilmember Kaplan said: “I am happy to advance these amendments on behalf of Police Commission, Selection Panel, and larger community – to ensure that the voters’ intent of an independent Police Commission becomes a reality.”
Finally, Council approved a proposed ballot measure, asking Oakland voters to give Oakland more flexibility with cannabis taxes. Currently, Oakland’s cannabis tax rates are at set levels for all categories, and, in some cases, higher than other similar jurisdictions. By having more flexibility, we could adjust rates to maximize our ability to support small and local businesses and jobs in Oakland.
Councilmember Kaplan says: “Tuesday night, which became Wednesday morning, is an example of community members and City Council working together to pass a budget and legislation more reflective of our City’s values, and our constituents’ needs.”
Rebecca Kaplan is the Oakland’s 3-Term At-Large Councilmember