Friday, September 19, 2008

Pay Your Taxes, Chip

By Chris Thompson
Fri, Sep 19, 2008 at 7:47 AM

Chron columnist Chip Johnson has done some excellent work identifying and shaming elements of corruption and nepotism in City Hall, but his latest piece continues his odd practice of sacrificing Oakland's only realistic chance of fighting crime on the altar of public indignation.

Johnson spends the first part of his column demonstrating how much Oakland needs more cops, and the second part explaining why he won't vote for Measure NN, the property tax ballot measure that would put an additional 105 cops on the street.

Look, we have as much contempt for mayor Ron Dellums' record as the next guy. When he isn't polishing the brass on his humanitarian awards, he's rolling out do-nothing, fuzzy-wuzzy manifestos on how we can fight crime by opening "healing centers," strengthening community engagement, and hugging strangers or something. In eleven days, the City Council will take on the toughest job they've faced in years: figuring out how to resolve a $50 million deficit, a figure that exceeds ten percent of the entire budget. Where is the mayor's plan? Oh, right: He doesn't have one. Yeah, this is the mayor we've got.

But that's life. Meanwhile, the bodies are piling up, people don't feel safe going out to dinner, and the cops are desperately understaffed. We need more police. But unless you're Deborah Edgerly, you can't wave a magic wand and make money appear in a puff of accounting. You're gonna have to raise taxes.

Chip Johnson has so little faith in Ron Dellums that he won't trust him with more tax dollars, so he'll be voting no. That's a mistake. Although Oakland has a history of misusing the public's money, the voters have two choices: hiring more cops, or living with the crime we've got. Pay your taxes, Chip.

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