Oakland Voter Guide: Why Oakland Sucks & How We Will Improve It

Oakland has lots going for it, except for a dysfunctional OPD and City Hall. And ultimately, voter ignorance of both. Here’s how you can make a difference and actually change your city.

The short and long answer: spend 30 minutes reading about your city council candidates before filling in your ballot every four years. City Hall affects you far more than national policies will. If you can’t control your own neighborhood and city, what chance do you have to affect national decisions about how the federal government spends our income taxes?

Read up on the people (and organizations backing them) who will be holding power over you and deciding where our tax money goes in Oakland. Is that too much to ask?

* * *

Oakland can’t afford more cops or proper cop training because we’re not paying them, firemen and every other city employee at affordable levels.

OPD pay package: $200-250,000 per year. This is according to the Len Raphael campaign website.

Minority communities don’t cooperate with police partly due to many incidences of actual and perceived police brutality and profiling.

*** We could FIRE repeatedly abusive OPD cops IF city council would repeal “binding arbitration.”

*** We could pay police/fire (75% of city budget*) less and use the savings for better OPD training, and hire more good police, IF city council would repeal “binding arbitration.”

*$170k-250k/year total compensation package for every police and fire guy/gal. Not sustainable! Most other Oakland city employees are overpaid by 10-20% vs other bay area cities too.

With all the savings from actually adjusting pay packages down to Earth, we’d have money to immediately hire more police.

“And this is why we can’t have nice things.”

The city used to publish an internal salary survey on its website, but lately that’s too embarrassing so they removed it in 2009. Sounds just like Deanna Santana’s plan to limit public access to Oakland city council meetings.

* * * * *

What is “binding arbitration”?

It’s part of Oakland’s city charter (our “constitution”) and prevents city council from re-negotiating any city union pay packages or firing Oakland cops for flagrant, repeat abuses.

Average Oakland city employee costs over $7,000 per MONTH – federal government stats:

Are we getting adequate basic services such as proper police response to crime?

Are we getting well-paved streets aside from around election time? Properly trimmed trees? (No, not those kind.)

We need to fire the bad apples to turn around OPD, hold them accountable, and that means voting for politicians who will do these things. Nobody in office now will do it. They haven’t.

Why not? City unions contribute to their election campaigns. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you, even if it screws over all your constituents. (But who’s paying attention?)

We also need to change how “anti-violence” nonprofits use our Measure Y tax money, instead of the current who-will-bring-us-the-most-votes patronage system that Measure Y anti-violence programs are today.

“Povery pimps” as Charles Pine and Marleen Lee appropriately call them… nonprofits with executive directors earning fat $180-250k/year salaries…sound familiar? Oakland’s 1%? Sound progressive? Is violent crime actually falling because of Ella Baker Center or Youth Uprising? You tell me. And keep in mind: nonprofits don’t pay a dime in taxes. Like some other things in our country that started out with good intentions, it’s become a racket.

Bottom line:

City unions and politically connected nonprofits with no-bid contracts and “suction” at City Hall run this town. Not residents.

Voters are too uninformed so we keep getting union-friendly City Hall politicians. City workers (including police/fire) get cushy treatment and don’t serve the people, leaving the rest of us go buy tasers, Bay Alarm subscriptions, tree trimmers, spray paint for potholes and pepper spray to fend for ourselves.

Every Oakland councilmember and the mayor are in the pocket of special interests.
Special interests: city unions, no-bid nonprofits, developers, corporations, Wall Street.

Voters: spend TEN MORE MINUTES before filling out your ballots!
Ignorant voters = politicians run wild = Oakland government providing poor service.

Ask your city council candidates where they stand on “binding arbitration.”

If they publicly support “binding arbitration” then they strongly support:

1) NOT firing bad cops, ever, no matter how many unarmed young black men they shoot and kill.
2) NOT ever lowering pay packages for police, fire and all other city employees.

Is it progressive to keep our bad cops?

Ask Gary King’s parents how progressive that is. Or Raheim Brown’s parents. Or Derrick Jones’ family. All these unarmed black men were shot by OPD. All of the officers in these shootings are still in OPD, continuing their dirty work.

Be truly progressive. Ask your City Council candidates if they support “binding arbitration.”

In North Oakland (District 1) all frontrunner candidates – Amy Lemley, Dan Kalb, Richard Raya – publicly support binding arbitration. They’ve said so at candidate forums.

Remember points 1 & 2 above.

These three candidates therefore fully support OPD’s bad cops repeatedly shooting unarmed black men in Oakland without being disciplined or fired.

These three candidates therefore also support racial profiling and flagrant abuses such as stripping men down in public, beating people on the sidewalk, “Riders” type behavior, and rough handling of “Occupy” protestors.

When you think Lemley, Kalb or Raya, think Oscar Grant.

Finally, none of these three candidates are for adjusting city employee salaries down to affordable levels so we can ACTUALLY hire more cops, pave more streets, train cops properly on cultural sensitivity (we essentially have “680” patrolling “580 and 880”), keep up proper tree maintenance to keep trees from falling on people, cars and homes.

Although I am biased (toward maximizing the best possible civic good, which is why I chose to volunteer my time for Len Raphael) please do vote for any candidate but these three in District 1.

Ken Ott
Campaign Manager
Len Raphael for City Council

4521 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland CA 94609

(510) 788-2700


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