Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dellums: More Taxes for More Cops

By Chris Thompson
Tue, May 20, 2008 at 7:59 AM

Ron Dellums announced yesterday that he would consider a November ballot initiative to expand Oakland's police force by raising property taxes, and the Chron and the Trib immediately disagreed on what it meant.

First here's Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson: "If he can pull it off, it would be the best thing that's happened to the city of Oakland for years. And in my eyes, Dellums will have made the transformation from Oakland's mild-mannered Quiet Mayor into the mayor with a big red "S" on his chest. ... It's not clear whether Dellums will support the ballot measure or just place it before voters because he believes it's an issue for them to decide. I'm betting I'm with the majority of Oakland residents in saying, 'I don't care which side of the issue Dellums is on, but I certainly respect him for keeping his word to citizens.' ... Monday's announcement did more to influence my opinion of him in a single morning than everything he's done as mayor since taking office 16 months ago."

Jeez, Chip, who knew you were such a cheap date? As for whether Oakland votes will back the tax, Johnson's feeling no pain: "When you consider all the things that Oakland residents have approved, from bond measures to bail out the ailing school district to a $200 million construction bond to renovate Lake Merritt, the discussion about hiring more police will be a short one."

The Trib ain't so sure about that. Measure Y, the parcel tax that was supposed to put 63 more cops on the streets, has been in effect for almost four years, the paper notes, and no new officers have been found. According to Marcus Johnson, who sits on a public safety committee and is helping to push the initiative to require Oakland staff the cops up to 1,075 officer, the city's not really in a tax-me-more kind of mood. "I think unless people start feeling that what they voted for in Measure Y is delivered, no one's going to vote for another tax increase," he told the Tribune.

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