In office I will work closely with other Council members to:
- Reduce the pay of Council members and the mayor by 25%.
- Declare a health emergency because of the violence here.
- Declare a fiscal emergency so that all contracts can be renegotiated.
- Repeal the binding-arbitration clause that prevents police and fire pay cuts and protects bad cops.
- Reduce police and fire pay (which now averages $200,000 per year) to affordable levels. Police and fire costs consume more than 75% of our General Fund.
- Fire bad cops with a record of repeated flagrant abuses.
- Manage and monitor OPD more effectively.
- Double the number of police as quickly as we can afford to.
- Sunset all anti-violence programs and replace them with ones that are effective.
You know how bad the crime is. The City’s fiscal situation is even worse. Our dire fiscal condition will prevent us from doubling the number of cops and implementing the effective anti-violence programs needed unless we take steps now. If the City’s fiscal condition is left unchecked we will have to gut all city services just to pay for a skeleton crew of police and fire, and to make payments on our more than $2.5 Billion of unfunded retirement and infrastructure debts.
That is unfair to younger residents, who will be stuck with paying for the costs of retired employees.
I won’t sugarcoat the crime or the fiscal problems like most of the other candidates. Unlike what some of my opponents claim, there is no magic anti-violence program that will reduce our crime levels. There are many effective anti-violence programs and strategies available, but none will work here as long as our politicians use them to reward their supporters.
The fiscal problems are much too big to “outgrow.” All the easy cost-saving moves have already been made. Residents can’t bear an additional parcel tax that would be big enough to fix our fiscal problems. Such a tax would also make it impossible to pass an additional parcel tax for schools.
I will encourage the other Council members to make the tough choices to cut police and fire compensation and adjust pay for all other employees to sustainable levels.
Three of the other candidates -- Amy Lemley, Dan Kalb, and Richard Raya -- are supported by the very public-employee unions whose contracts they will be approving if elected. They have pledged to continue the average $200,000-per-year pay and benefits package of police and firefighters. Adding just 200 more cops at $200,000 each would amount to an additional $40 Million a year. That is a race to bankruptcy.
These other candidates have also pledged to continue the protection against departmental discipline given only to cops and firefighters by the City charter’s “binding arbitration” clause. Binding arbitration means that many times, when a cop is so bad that even OPD wants to fire him or her, the arbitrator rules in favor of the cop. Binding arbitration also means that every time we try to reduce fire and police pay, an outside arbitrator does a compensation survey of nearby cities, such as SF and Berkeley, that happen to be wealthier and can afford higher rates of pay, and the arbitrator denies the pay cuts.
We have to reduce our city’s labor costs in order to provide the services we need to thrive.
We can’t grow our way out of our fiscal problems fast enough to afford to pay for 500-600 additional police, let alone pay down more than $2.5 Billion of unfunded retirement and infrastructure debts.
Tough questions. No easy answers. No magic bullets.
Nothing will change here unless you elect candidates who are not part of the clubby group of insiders that for three decades have prevented this city from realizing its potential to be a much better Oakland.
My wife Betty, a nurse and CNA member, and I raised our two sons, who both graduated from Claremont Middle School and Oakland Tech. I’m a certified public accountant who has lived in various parts of North Oakland’s District 1 for 35 years, studied sociology at Columbia, and earned BS and MS degrees in accounting and taxation from UC Berkeley and Golden Gate University.