Bob LaMartin 
Member since Jul 25, 2010


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Re: “Oakland Police Hurt Themselves

Well, anyone who believes this one sided rewrite of Council Member De La Fuente's press release has truly drunk deeply of the Oakland Kool Aid. Shame on the East Bay Express for this one sided editorial masquerading as a news story.

This story relies less on the facts than on the absolute credulity of the Oakland electorate, and their short memories. It's simplistic, one sided, wrong, and written for people who really are not paying attention.

Allow me to demonstrate by deconstructing the spin:

"The union's hard-line stance also is now jeopardizing the livelihoods of at least 120 additional Oakland police officers — and possibly more." The conclusion of the lead paragraph is that it is the "hard-line stance" of OPOA to blame, brushing off the contracts negotiated with OPOA when the City Council was telling Oakland that there was just no way they could hire the officers necessary to fulfill the mandate of Measure Y, and one of the reasons was that there was so much competition for officers that Oakland had to match other departments to even get recruits to train. Was that a lie, or is this a lie?

"Police officers were the biggest recipient of that generosity and so it was particularly ironic that the cops' union decided to point a finger at the council when it finally started showing some fiscal discipline." The conclusion of the second paragraph is that OPOA is overpaid and the city council is finally showing "fiscal discipline." The truth is that OPOA agreed to the same concessions that many other city workers agreed to, and that there is parity in concessions now. Why isn't the discussion about another round of everyone sharing the pain? No, OPOA is the sacrificial goat du jour, the cause of all our fiscal problems.

"The council now is considering several tax measures for the November ballot, and with police officers still refusing to pay any portion of their pensions, the proposals will be even tougher to pass than originally planned." This is an absolute misrepresentation. OPOA agreed to pay 9% of their pensions, but the author of this article would have you believe that not only did they demand no layofffs for three long years, they also refused to contribute to their pensions. It's an outright lie.

"The cops' union's intransigence also would have put Oakland on a path to bankruptcy." Again, it's not all the other overpaid city workers like Deborah Edgerly's gun thug nephew, still earning $57,000 per year (plus benefits and pension) for "fixing" parking meters, it's not the financial mismanagement by Deborah Edgerly who is collecting her six figure pension for driving the city omnibus into a brick wall, or the council who was asleep at the wheel, it's not all the useless, incompetent and uneeded city employees that no one is paying attention to, it's not the failure to collect revenue by incompetent city workers . . . it's the "cops' union's intransigence. "

But the best piece of disinformation in the entire article is this one: "Most importantly, the police union's actions have now seriously threatened any hope of tax measures passing this fall." How beautiful is that? The council was hoping that they could blame the citizens of Oakland for failing to tax themselves for more cops, and now they get to blame both the citizens and the cops! Its a win win for the council, but a lose lose for the citizens of Oakland. Never underestimate the intelligence of the Oakland electorate.

The City Council's plan is no different than what they did in FY 02-03 and 03-04. Allow OPD attrition to slowly but surely reduce staffing in OPD, then disband the Communiuty Policing Unit by returning those officers to patrol. When the hue and cry rose up from neighborhood activists who bought into "community policing," the City Council came to the rescue with a parcel tax measure to augment OPD. This time they had to goose the process by actually laying off officers, instead of relying on natural attrition, but in addition to the layoffs, they are also relying on reducing OPD by an additional 60 officers per year through attrition.

The City Council was hoping that this same strategy would work again. They relied on the memories of Oakland voters being so short that they wouldn't remember that they were already paying an "anti-violence tax" to fund a force of 802 officers. So what that over 5 years and $100 million collected that level has only been achieved for 5 months (if you believe they aren't juking the stats, which I don't).

"'It's probably impossible to get it approved now. And they have no one to blame but themselves.' " Ah, I love this blow off. Ignacio De La Fuente is to blame for those budget busting deals with OPOA, he gave away the store lock, stock and barrel! Now he gets to have it both ways, by coming out against the taxes, and blaming OPOA! What a turd.

Look, don't you get it? By refusing to guarantee layoffs, they are gauranteeing layoffs! The City Council has decided to balance the budget by simply cutting sworn officers. It is the new paradigm, and it appears, unbelievably, to be working. At least for some. It doesn't matter that they guaranteed you and I that they would maintain 802 officers, one of the measures on the November ballot will be to remove that guarantee, while still collecting the tax, another one will be to pay another tax of $365 per year to save 120 more officers.

Is anyone drinking this Kool-Aid? Seriously, I want to know, because if you can't see through this, I don't think there is any hope for Oakland.

Bob LaMartin

Posted by Bob LaMartin on 07/25/2010 at 12:15 PM

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