Oakland – Tuesday, July 21, 2020, the Oakland City Council Equity Caucus (Vice Mayor Larry Reid, Councilmembers Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Noel Gallo,and Loren Taylor) ushered a unanimous vote to immediately begin the effort to redirect $150 Million from police
to fund Oakland’s Black community, improve public safety and meet other critical community needs.“Yesterday’s debate provided the public an opportunity to see that Oakland is serious about moving forward the question of how to right size our police budget,” say Vice Mayor Larry Reid, the most senior member of the Council. “Our citizens want informed decision-making that produces results, not knee-jerk policy making that may do more harm than good,” the six-term Councilmember said.
The Equity Caucus, joined by Councilmembers
Sheng Thao and Dan Kalb, rejected a proposal brought forward by Council President Rebecca Kaplan and Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas to make additional cuts to OPD ahead of the community-led process. “I came to the meeting prepared to make revisions to our adopted amendments and was deeply disappointed that my colleagues did not do the work to bring forward a fiscally sound proposal that we could adopt ingood conscience. Black people deserve leaders who will tell the truth about service impacts and not exploit our pain for political gain,” says Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who currently chairs the council’s Finance and Management Committee.
On June 23, the Oakland City Council adopted a balanced, $1.7 billion mid-cycle budget covering the fiscal year 2020-2021, the second year of the two-year budget, which began on July 1. “The Equity Caucus’ adopted budget, directly responds to the needs of Oakland’s most vulnerable residents – the majority of whom reside in districts were present in the Oakland flatlands” says Councilmember Loren Taylor. “I overwhelmingly support the community focused programs identified by the Kaplan/Bas proposal but know that it is imperative that we move forward a responsible, honest budget,” says Taylor, whose district is heavily impacted by the health and economic disparities of COVID19. “In the final analysis, we must do what is right, the right way,” said Councilmember Noel Gallo.
Gallo who chairs the Public Safety Committee says “We’ve been at this a long time. We
have to make sure that what we do is fiscally sound and in compliance with the court, Measure Z and what the taxpayers need. With a rise in gang violence, break-ins and human trafficking, we can’t just cut something and not know the impacts.”
Budget Mid-Cycle Amendment Averts Service Cuts, Helps Workers
As adopted, Oakland’s mid cycle amendment averted service cuts and concessions by city workers and:
•Closed the $122+ million revenue shortfall caused by COVID-19;
•Redirects $14.3 million from the Oakland Police budget to community investments;
•Investsan additional $50 million to address significant racial disparities and provide relief to Oakland residents and small businesses who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The final vote for adopting the Task Force framework will be on July 28th, after the public has a chance to provide feedback on the draft. The Task Force will study how to increase public safety in Oakland and achieve that by implementing alternative responses to traditional police responses with a goal of reducing the City’s General Purpose Fund allocation to the Police Department by 50 Percent.“I look forward to supporting the critical work of the Taskforce that will build on the ideas from the proposal in a better thought out and responsible way,” stated Councilmember Lynette McElhaney who was the driving force behind the establishment of the City’s Department of Violence Prevention, the earlier attempt by the Council to implement alternative responses to police for crime reduction and prevention.
The Equity Caucus encourages all Oakland residents who would like to contribute their time and energy toward developing a more appropriate, efficient, and equitable public safety system to send an email to [email protected] expressing their interest in helping Oakland reimagine Public Safety by participating in the Taskforce.
Post based on press release sent to Zennie62Media from Oakland Councilmember Loren Taylor, District Six, with photos from Zennie62Media files.