2018 Oakland Mayoral And City Council Candidate Questionnaire by Zennie62Media
This 20-question questionnaire was designed to give Oaklanders a chance to evaluate, at once, the plans and philosophies of all of the participants in the Oakland Mayoral Race and the Oakland City Council Race for District 2, District 4, and District 6.
This is 2018 Oakland City Council District Four Candidate F. Matt Hummel
1. Candidate’s Full Name and current occupation
F. Matt Hummel, Carpenter
2. Why are you running for office in Oakland?
I have served for the last nine years on Oakland’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, as chair for the last five. Under my direction, our commission has become a national leader. We led the way in bringing equity to cannabis permitting, now known as the Oakland Model. The commission also was the first of many to suggest the use of a public bank to solve the lack of banking for the cannabis industry and the danger of having an all cash business.
Around this time, Like many in our community I lost loved ones in the “Ghostship” fire. Needing to do something, friends and I formed the Oakland Warehouse Coalition. We wrote and presented to the city council an ordinance to protect warehouse residents from eviction, and went to the warehouses and did safety walkthroughs. We distributed fire alarms and extinguishers. Soon thereafter, an apartment building on San Pablo Ave. burned down. While distributing donations to those who lost their homes in the fire, it was crystal clear how much work there was to do. We pushed the city to bring porta-potties and sanitation stations to homeless encampments. Regrettably, many of the porta-potties haven’t been maintained in months.
I am running because we are in the midst of a moral and spiritual crisis. What we do next will determine if this city continues to have a soul. We must stop with the half measures and act with integrity. Acting with integrity to me means building a just and equitable city for all of us.
Some of the key components of my legislative agenda include, recognizing that housing is a human right and that we must build housing security for all, ensuring police accountability, ending deferred maintenance of our crumbling infrastructure, improving earthquake and fire preparedness and addressing the mismanagement of our public funds. Enacting a public bank of Oakland is the key to funding the good and defunding the bad.
3. Have you held an elected position before? If so, please describe.
4. Have you ever served on a public board or commission? If so, please list assignments.
I have served on the Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission for nine years and counting. I was twice elected Chair of the commission. I stepped down as chair through term limits in September, 2018.
I continue to serve as a Commissioner.
5. What endorsements have you received? If so, please list them.
Progressive California- 1st Choice, Brownie Mary Democrats- Sole Endorsement, Space Cat Voter Guide- 1st Choice
Oakland Management Related Questions
6. What are your top six Oakland Budget priorities, and why?
Enact a Public Bank, Housing Security, Pensions, Police Reform, Earthquake and Fire Preparedness, and Infrastructure.
These are my priorities because they are the voters’ priorities. I have conducted an informal straw poll on the issues voters care about most in district 4 throughout the campaign. I brought a cork board for folks to put a pin next to the issue they think is most pressing. Through many conversations with people all over District 4 and our poll, the consensus seems clear. Our city government is failing to address the above-identified issues in a substantive way. The results can be felt in the countless and unnecessary hardships faced by so many of us in Oakland.
7. There is a projected deficit for the City of Oakland through 2020. Residents want to close the budget gap via raising revenues. What would you do to raise more money for the City of Oakland?
Public Banking would generate a substantial amount of revenue. Millions of dollars that should be redirected towards solutions are instead handed over to private banks every year. I will work aggressively to enact a public bank. With the millions saved in debt service Oakland currently spends on its loans, as well as the additional benefit of providing low interest loans to local homeowners and businesses, the public bank would have an immediate and lasting impact.
Additionally, I would work to align the city budget with the ethics and needs of its people. To me, this means auditing and overhauling the police and city budgets completely.
8. How do you propose to solve the problem of the City of Oakland’s under-funded pension liability?
Pension benefits are in danger currently. I will not allow this wage theft to continue. Creating a public bank, as well as better management of public funds, would be significant steps toward long-term fiscal sustainability. I will also continue the fight to single payer health care.
Oakland Police-Related Questions
9. Does Oakland need to hire more police officers or reduce the number we have – please explain your answer.
Hiring more officers to join OPD without first addressing our needs as a city is a mistake. We must audit and overhaul the OPD budget to be in line with the priorities of the people of Oakland. We must invest more in restorative justice, community policing, and mental health support services to prevent over-policing of our youth, people of color and the mentally impaired.
If the police are the appropriate first responders, we need to know that they will respond in an appropriate fashion. This again requires major police reform. Many say the OPD is not as bad as it once was. This is probably true. But that bar is unacceptably low. Between the problems outlined in the Stanford Study and the new, better approaches to policing outlined in President Obamas Task Force on 21st Century Policing, we have all the tools we need to create a new way to approach safety. One that makes it safe for all of us.
10. Do you support the work of the current Oakland Police Chief, or is a change needed? Please explain.
I am concerned about several things Chief Kilpatrick has done in her tenure as Chief. Primarily the cover-up/sweeping under the rug of the sexual exploitation scandal involving the then-underage woman known as Celeste Guap. There are also the false statements she made in regard to the ICE Raid recently.
At the same time, I know that it will take much more than shuffling Chiefs around to make a real difference. Changing the Chief cant be just a press stunt.
11. Unreported “use-of-force” incidents are a major Oakland Police problem. How do you propose to solve it?
Officer accountability and discipline is the key to stopping police abuse.
If body-worn cameras were always on, and not turned off and on at the officers’ discretion as they are now, I think we would see a big drop. This would require staff to monitor the content to redact footage including domestic assault victims for example, but it would be worth it. With the cameras on whenever they leave their vehicle, officers will likely think twice about every interaction. Some would say that it would keep them from doing their jobs. The camera doesn’t lie. The camera would only hurt the officers who are not doing the job they are paid to do.
If the camera footage was archived for a reasonable period of time, it would theoretically allow victims of police abuse to file a claim and take them to court even if there was no report. I am convinced that, although reported use-of-force incidents continue to fall, many incidents go unreported.
Part of overhauling the OPD must include a system for firing officers who have proven to be sadists with a badge. Only so much can be done along these lines on a local level. Legislation such as AB 931 must be passed if we are to change the paradigm in which police officers have such a great responsibility to us, yet less accountability than any private citizen.
12. The Oakland Police Department is in its 13th year of federal oversight. What’s your plan to get OPD away from federal government watch?
The overall objective of the NSA was to “provide for the expeditious implementation… of the best available practices and procedures for police management in the areas of supervision, training and accountability mechanisms, and to enhance the ability of the OPD… to protect the lives, rights, dignity and property of the community it serves.”
As a result of the NSA, a comprehensive stop data study was headed by Stanford professor, Jennifer Eberhardt. This study produced a significant amount of data that proves the high level of racial disparity in policing in Oakland. This was a very important study. Unfortunately, it has yet to produce a significant change in the situation.
The OPD has “completed” the vast majority of tasks identified by the monitors. Yet clear racial disparity in who is being policed in Oakland persists. Use of force incidents of all levels of severity have gone down. But they still occur more than they should, which is almost never. The tasks still not complete have to do with insufficient reporting and accountability for officer misconduct. Without accountability and accurate reporting, the findings are of little practical use.
My plan starts with overhauling the OPD and working with the council, Police Oversight Commission, other organizations and Oaklanders to create a new directive. The OPD, like many departments, can’t or won’t follow the current rules and guidelines. We cannot expect an improvement unless our leaders point the way to better practices. This means real restructuring, not more recommendations.
13. The Oakland Police Department disproportionately stops more people of color, than whites. What’s your plan to stop this problem?
A cultural shift needs to occur. This will only happen with a multi-pronged approach.
The only hope for progress begins with accountability. We have the data that shows us OPD officers continue to police in a racially biased way on the whole. This is not a “few bad apples” scenario, it really never is. The culture of law enforcement in this country is steeped in racism and discrimination. As recommended by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, police departments must shift from a warrior to guardian mentality if we hope to address this. Part of that shift is treating citizens as the people for officers to serve, not a population officers must subdue. This is clearly going to take a lot of time, possibly a few generations. But we must address the culture if we hope to ever see real change.
In addition to addressing the culture, the OPD needs leadership and direction from the city in order to reassess how they police our city. Officers who have proven to disproportionately stop people of color should warned and monitored. If they continue discriminatory practices, they should be disciplined.
Homelessness, Affordable Housing, Quality of Life In Oakland
14. What’s your plan to stop or curb homelessness in Oakland?
We must have a housing first policy. This is a spiritual and moral crisis. No more half measures. We need to make available more public land and also work with churches to open up space for camping. We need to include clean water, on site toilets, laundry and washing facilities. To those who don’t want to or can’t live there we need to provide sleeping pads, blankets, water and portable toilets. These are short term responses. Long term we need to build more truly affordable housing.
15. What’s your plan to cause more affordable housing to be built in Oakland?
The public bank would fund truly affordable housing. This includes co-housing, single family homes, tiny home enclaves and land trusts.
I will push for an increase in affordable housing requirements for new developments and for lowering the limit on what is considered “affordable” to reflect the income of the people actually here. I will also explore incentivizing landlords to accept section 8 vouchers. Additionally, I will advocate that we make it even easier to build secondary units by lifting the many unnecessary restrictions on such units.
I will continue to fight for housing as a human right. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission was successful in ensuring that any cannabis business that evicts residents would not receive a permit. Before my time on the commission I was campaign staff for the first “Just Cause” ordinance passed here in Oakland. As a renter for almost all of my life, I know this too is a crisis.
16. What’s your plan to stop or curb illegal dumping in Oakland?
I would like to bring back the annual city wide bulky trash pick up as well as continuing to promote scheduled bulky pick ups. Public works cleaned up approximately 29,000 piles of debris in 2016. It’s a task that seems endless. We must keep on top of it and promote the reward for catching dumpers.
Economic Development In Oakland
17. Share with us your economic development plan and policy for Oakland.
My policy is Oaklanders first. We must invest in our local citizens and help build generational wealth. It is needed if we care to score more than 33.5% on the Equity Indicators Report in the future. I believe we need to walk the merchant corridors of districts 6 & 7 and ask local merchants and restaurants what they would do with a $10,000 grant, and then start cutting checks. If we did that for 200 businesses that would only amount to $2,000,000 and make all the difference in the world for these small businesses.
18. What industry should Oakland focus on developing, and why?
We need to design and build the green technology we will need to heal the world from climate change and get us back in balance with nature. Independent media creation is also vital and in alignment with Oakland’s core brand identity. Oakland should supply content for the world.
The Coliseum and The Sports Industry in Oakland.
(A special section because Oakland has a multi-billion-dollar facility called The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex.)
19. Where should the Oakland A’s new ballpark be: Coliseum or Howard Terminal?
20. What should the future of the Oakland Coliseum be, and do you have a plan to share with Oaklanders?
I would like it to be a mixed income community with homes, parks and commerce. The ball park needs to be integrated with the rest of the neighborhood no longer walled off.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media