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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Alameda County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Mayor; City of Oakland


The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Oakland and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Climate change, Issues and Ideas, Crime Rate, Economy

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. Oakland sits on the Bay, and the waterfront, downtown, and West Oakland areas are particularly low-lying. With climate change bringing major changes, including sea level rise, what are your plans to bring this to the forefront of the Oakland mayor's agenda?

Answer from Jean Quan:

1)Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing energy efficiency; shifting to clean, renewable energy sources; and achieving our zero-waste goals-I was one of the first mayors to support Community Choice Aggregation which holds the potential for producing clean energy for our local economy. 2)Given the likelihood of climate change, continue preparing Oakland for emergencies and disasters through our partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation on the 100 Resilient Cities program-working with other cities in the region and partner cities across the world to develop resilience in the face of potential disasters such as a major earthquake, as well as ongoing concerns including the impacts of global climate change.

Answer from Joe Tuman:

As a City, Oakland cannot fight climate change on its own. The City of Oakland would need to work on the Regional, State and Federal levels to cut carbon dioxide and other climate changing causes in order to preserve not only West Oakland but all low lying area's along the Bay. Knowing what will work and be affordable will then need to be expedited to assist again not only West Oakland but all parts of our State and Country.

Answer from Jason Kane Anderson:

Communication is a key skill in the Mayor's job description.As,Mayor i would use KTOP (city's local cable access) and other media outlets to promote community meeting to prepare and discuss emergencies like earthquakes and other natural disasters.Also,to develop and improve community and police relations by promoting the city's NCPC (Neighborhood Community Policing Council) project which has fail to work due to lack of promotion.

Answer from Peter Liu:

None. If parts of Oakland is going down into salt water, I am leaving for high grounds. If God does not save those places, then it weren't meant to be saved.

Answer from Pat McCullough:

My plans for Oakland's betterment include managing the impact of environmental change before problems become acute. Our seaport, neighborhoods and recreational areas are so valuable because of the nearby sea. This essential resource can be held back from engulfing us + if need be.

Deciding upon our solutions from among the many complex social, engineering, ecologic and economic issues in responding to environment change will be a very interesting process I'll enjoy participating in. But as yet, I haven't seen the credible evidence to convince me that Oakland is so endangered by sea level rise that sea level rise should displace other items at the top of my agenda, which includes waste and pollution management. I'll adjust when facts change.

Answer from Charles R. Williams:

First of all we are sitting on landfill, within the next 10 to 15 years we could be wiped out. It is imperative that we build a Sea Wall or Quay Wall similar to those in Holland as soon as possible.

Answer from Bryan Parker:

As mayor I would partner with regional government agencies, including the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to address the potential impacts of sea level rise due to climate change in Oakland. I would push to make sure Oakland has adequate representation in these agencies, and that the concerns of Oakland are addressed by existing and future risk assessments and environmental plans. This will allow the City to secure regional, state and federal funds that are made available to invest in protective measures over the long term to reduce potential impacts. Oakland's waterfront, downtown, West Oakland, and the Port are all vital to Oakland's economic success and must be protected.

Answer from Ken Houston:

As a community advocate, I have already been working with the Port regarding this issue, and we both have plans to adjust the land level to address climate change and rising sea levels.

Answer from Saied R Karamooz:

To address the impact of climate change properly, we must embark on a comprehensive regional approach that addresses the needs of all cities with a coastline. Based on my research and knowledge, the most optimal solution is one that manages the flow of water under the Golden Gate bridge into the bay. As such, I would reach out to the mayors of other impacted cities to convene a meeting and define a long-term solution that is devised and supported by all.

Answer from Libby Schaaf:

In 2012, I voted with this rest of the City Council to adopt the Energy and Climate Action Plan (ECAP), a visionary, aggressive and comprehensive plan to reduce Oakland's contribution to global warming.

I find the ECAP provisions related to transportation and land use to be particularly promising. Not only are they areas over which the city has actual control, but the benefits of transportation and land use strategies, while very significant, are realized on a longer timeframe. We need to sow the seeds now to make these efforts bloom as soon as possible. I also feel residential energy efficiency measures, particularly for rental properties, are very important. Not only is energy efficiency our cheapest avenue to reduce emissions, but the benefit of lower energy bills can make a big difference in the lives of thousands of Oaklanders.

The number one priority, however, is ensuring that Oakland has an aggressive and active presence at the regional and state levels to take advantage of grant programs pursuant to the AB 32 cap and trade program. Oakland can be extremely competitive in many of the areas prioritized for funding, including infill development, transit and alternative transportation measures, and climate action plan implementation. Oakland will also stand to benefit from the environmental justice set-asides within cap and trade, which will allow us to target investments into East and West Oakland.

While we move forward with our efforts to reduce GHG emissions we must also become every more cognizant of the need to adapt to the likely impacts of climate change. For Oakland, as noted, a major issue is sea level rise. I look forward to working with the Bay Conservation and Development Commission to create regulations and design standards that make sense for Oakland.

Answer from Dan Siegel:

Climate change appears to be a slow and steady process, one that unfortunately will not be reversed anytime soon. We have a responsibility as members of the world community to minimize our negative impact on the environment and support others to do the same. We also have a responsibility to our current and future residents, to prepare for possible negative eventualities in the present and future.

The Siegel administration will implement an array of climate change strategies, including programs to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and develop and promote renewable energy. Our commitment will be to lead a continuing process to understand and respond to climate change challenges; we will identify and consult with experts, and collaborate with local, national, and international stakeholders. We see an opportunity in the area of economic development, to develop Oakland as a "green city" and foster the opening of a high quality solar panel construction facility within the city limits. We will invite architects and engineers to join us in advancing our local policies and practices in order to promote sustainability and improve the ecological impact of existing and future buildings. We will build on existing efforts to make better use of public land and other open space. In regards to the specific issue of potential flooding in West Oakland and other low-lying areas, the Siegel administration would not delay in working with the Port of Oakland and the Army Corps of Engineers, among others, to identify the present threat and create models for how to prevent loss of life and property.

? 2. What is your vision for Oakland, i.e., what issues are of special interest and concern and what ideas do you have to put Oakland in the forefront?

Answer from Libby Schaaf:

It's time to believe in Oakland again.

Oakland can be safe -- protecting our people with cops in our community, lessening gun violence, building a responsive 911 system, and implementing smart community-based crime prevention.

Oakland can provide high-quality public schools, and stop the truancy epidemic. Oakland can create new jobs and a thriving economy. This is one of the most innovative and creative places on earth. We are going to open our doors to the small businesses and growing industries that will support good jobs and help our neighborhoods flourish.

Oakland government can be transparent, innovative, and efficient. We need budgets that are accessible, understandable, and accountable to the citizens. And we must start delivering the essential services such as road repair and maintenance that will ensure our community thrives.

Oakland can achieve its promise -- Oakland can, and I know Oakland will.

Answer from Jason Kane Anderson:

A prosperous city with high employment rates and thriving art & culture environment. Oakland has the potential to be a progressive city with a hometown feel.Oakland,needs a strong leader to balance between welcoming new residents,idea and economy and keeping the city affordable so you can raise a family in a city with a hometown appeal.As,a Oakland Native,Veteran & Artist my skill sets give me the experience to be the type of Mayor who can balance the "Town" atmosphere.

Answer from Peter Liu:

Through using my Community Empowered Safety Plan, Oakland will be minting many millionaires. We will be an armed populace protecting our wealth against terrorists and criminals.

Answer from Jean Quan:

We are in a transformative moment where we believe we are able to offer opportunity to our young people through equitable economic development, instituting a school to career pipeline, encouraging entrepreneurship in the arts, tech and sustainability policies and programs while reducing violence in our neighborhoods and promoting family sustaining careers. Oakland is rising and it's important that we all rise together.

Answer from Ken Houston:

Oakland is a great city that does not know its potential. I plan to change the face and image of the city through eradication of blight and by creating jobs. All of the problems in Oakland are a result of these two problems -- high unemployment and image of the City. As a contractor I have already been instrumental in creating jobs for re-entry adults and youths without high school diplomas. I was also instrumental changing policy from 30 to 50% local participation. As Mayor I will raise that to 75%.

Answer from Dan Siegel:

We believe Oakland is a beautiful and amazing city, and one that should continue to inspire the world for our work in art, politics, sports, economic innovation, and more. At the same time, as Oakland continues to draw attention, attract investment, and invite new residents, we must ensure that all of the people here with us have a chance to enjoy the gains we have collectively worked for.

The Siegel campaign has identified four primary issues of concern: employment, housing, education, and public safety as the foundation of our campaign. We also believe that these issues are inextricably intertwined: by providing employment and housing we will reduce the prevalence of crime; by investing in public education we will invest in a safer Oakland. Dan Siegel as Mayor will meet with the Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District every week, to ensure coordination of efforts regarding the young people in our city. We will address employment through varied initiatives, by encouraging investment in green industries in East and West Oakland, by promoting and supporting small business and worker cooperatives, and by collaborating with community colleges and other education agencies to develop our workforce and train for high-demand industries in the new economy. We will also raise the minimum wage as part of this effort, which will promote further economic development in Oakland, as working people are those who are most likely to spend their money within the city.

We have created several detailed "policy papers" on these topics and others that are available for reading at http://www.siegelforoakland.org/materials.php.

Answer from Charles R. Williams:

The present dropout rate from OUSD consists of our youth not having enough free or affordable recreational and vocational activities, along with the lure of the city's underground crime. I feel that businesses, schools, and other community organizations should work together for establish centers where they can learn how life skills, inter-personal communication, and how to obtain a job, part-time apprenticeship programs, more sports programs (i.e. midnight basketball), mentor programs such as Jr. Achievement and MESA , as wells as the promotion and instilling the importance of higher education. Also programs need to be initiated to keep those coming out of the prison from returning and those who seem to be going in that direction from ending up there.

It is essential that we bring back quality long-term jobs. And I hope over a very short period of time that the total rebuilding of downtown Oakland along with the training centers and with the involvement of churches in the area that we can alleviate a lot of crime. I would like to see a city administration with heart and right alongside the church community.

Answer from Saied R Karamooz:

Oakland must rise to be the Crown Jewel of Bay Area. In every respect, Oakland has distinct advantages over every other city in the region, such as a vibrant and diverse community, superior climate, excellent access to transit (roads, BART, ferry, AC Transit, etc.), and a large land mass. The only obstacle in Oakland's path to achieve its rightful magnificence is a city government that is beholden to deep pockets and special interests instead of its citizens.

As my first initiative, I will bring 100% instant transparency into the mayor's office by instituting a program whereby 5 citizens (who have previously registered) are selected at random to accompany the mayor each week.

Secondly, I will assign one individual on my staff to be solely focused on housing issues for the low income. This role would be funded by a 50% reduction in mayor's salary during my term. The initial assignment of this role would be to inventory the current volume of affordable homes by type and by neighborhood so that we can enforce a no net loss policy for affordable homes. In addition, this role would work with other city departments to ensure that all rental homes are compliant with all building, safety, and health codes.

Finally, I will work to strengthen a spirit of cooperation and community throughout the city by implementing a 1-day-a-year volunteer program to enable our citizens to work on Public Works Project to beautify our city. In addition to seeing a markedly more attractive city, we will forge friendships at these volunteer events that will enrich our lives immensely.

I am certain that within 6 months we will see a more energized, enthusiastic, and optimistic Oakland.

Answer from Joe Tuman:

Oakland has many natural advantages that other places lack, including our location near San Francisco's booming tech industry, our 19 miles of shoreline with a port, an airport, rail and public transportation, our people, our diversity, our entrepreneurial spirit and our arts and sports teams. You would think that people would be clamoring to move into our underutilized commercial and retail spaces. Some are. But, not enough. There are a number of reasons why. Primary among them is what the Urban Land Institute found to be a complete lack of leadership and an onerous zoning and building permit process.

No doubt about it. Oakland enjoys a host of natural advantages: redwood forests, acres of open spaces and parks, one of the best climates in the nation, 19 miles of shoreline with a busy port, railways and modern broadband highways. Perhaps our biggest strength is the people who live and work here. We are diverse, well-educated and innovative.

Natural Advantage - Location

Over 150 years ago, our redwoods were used to build San Francisco and the East Bay, and again to rebuild after the 1906 Earthquake. Farms replaced forests, and from the late 1800s to today, food processing has remained one of our leading industries. In the 1860s, we became the western terminus of the Transcontinental Railway. We have 19 miles of waterfront, and the fifth busiest port in the nation handling 99% of all containerized goods moving through Northern California. We can move not just goods, but people with easy access in most districts to both BART and AC Transit.

And, Oakland sits across the Bay from the fastest growing, most dynamic economic engine in the country: Silicon Valley and San Francisco's high technology epicenter. Hundreds of Bay Area businesses are seeking affordable commercial space. The good news for them is that Oakland has acres of development-ready land, and thousands of existing, rentable square feet.

Natural Advantage - People

Our biggest strength is the people who live and work here. Our nearly 400,000 residents are among the most culturally diverse and well educated in the nation with 38% of Oaklanders over 25 years old holding college degrees. Oakland's community colleges are the best in the Bay Area (with some of the highest transfer rates to four-year institutions in the State.) Our excellent community colleges are ready to train our young workforce who are ready and willing to work.

We're also innovative. Believe it or not, in 2014, Oakland ranked 5th in the nation in total venture capital investment in technology startups. Our challenge is to promote not just job growth, but income growth, and to make certain that everyone who lives here and every district shares in the benefits of economic improvement.

Natural Advantage - Art and Sports Draws

In 2013, Oakland attracted 2.5 million visitors. Hotel demand is up. People are drawn to our growing arts and entertainment scenes in Uptown and elsewhere. Oakland is home for thousands of artists, many of whom are nationally and internationally known.

And for over 100 years, we've been home to major sports franchises, such as the Oakland Oaks, Seals and Skates. For most of the past 50 years, the Oakland As, Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors have resided here. Today, Oakland is the only California city with three major sports franchises.

We have failed to build on our Natural Advantages

The well respected Urban Land Institute (ULI) came to Oakland between 2011 and 2012 to try to understand why the natural advantages of the Broadway Corridor + "Oakland's main street" + were not being realized. ULI looked at why the Broadway Corridor was leaking retail despite numerous advantages, including: thousands of new residents, an entrepreneurial culture, 180,000 daytime workers, a connection to the waterfront, expanding medical facilities, and tremendous transit links. Their conclusion? Lack of leadership. ULI found that Oakland has an "unpredictable," unwieldy, "onerous" business and zoning approval process. When redevelopment efforts were eliminated in 2012, the City should have, but did not step up to craft alternative ways to support new investment. Finally, there is a perceived and real problem with crime that must be addressed sooner rather than later. (Click here to read the "Tuman Crime Plan.")

ULI's observations were written about fortifying retail along Broadway, but similar barriers and recommendations could just as easily be (and have been) drawn about Oakland's inability to add jobs, keep sports teams, and improve the economic quality of life citywide.

It all boils down to leadership. If city leaders lack a vision, then city staff operates without one. Our current elected officials tend to approach economic change in a piecemeal and disjointed way. We need leaders who are unafraid, and willing to tackle big challenges. The current bureaucracy is not collaborative; I will change that.

We need to create a business friendly city that attracts new businesses, cultivates home grown small businesses and helps train our residents to find jobs locally.

Answer from Bryan Parker:

We must reduce our robbery and murder rates and improve police response times to make people safe again. As mayor, I would focus city spending on more police and anti-violence programs that are proven to combat crime. Investment in school activities would increase graduation rates leading to good paying jobs. More police are needed, but we also need to keep kids in school and off the streets so they can achieve a better future. Also growing the economy and adding jobs.

As an Oakland Port Commissioner, I understand how to leverage our port to grow jobs and our economy. As an experienced businessman and entrepreneur, I know that expanding our healthcare, technology and retail sectors will also increase investment and drive job growth in Oakland. Economic growth must be enjoyed by all Oaklanders if we are to make real change in our city.

I would work closely with the school district to protect and nurture our children. I would focus on safety at schools and using school sites as community centers where kids can learn, grow and lead happy lives. I would partner with the school district and teachers to make sure we are innovating and using new technologies to better educate our children.

Answer from Pat McCullough:

It's not my intent to put Oakland in the forefront of anything, as the ideas I have are for our own satisfaction.

I know how to bring the police and residents into greater harmony and maintain a high level of mutual trust and cooperation. The anti-snitch culture will succumb to a shared sense of civic responsibility while the peace and absenting of fear I'll shepherd will improve the quality of life for all residents.

I will use volunteers, retired people, non-governmental organizations and privately held resources deliver to augment the delivery of city services, thus reducing the size and growth of our debt obligations.

I will use the power of my office to attract businesses and ensure Oakland residents are hired and have their basic needs met and that Oakland resources are put to good economic use.

I have two visions for Oakland. I see peace, prosperity, and the strengthening of our community upon my election. I see the continuation or worsening of many problems unless I'm elected.

? 3. How would you address continuing high rates of crime in Oakland?

Answer from Pat McCullough:

In a nutshell:
1. Using my unique personal experience as the basis for authentic empathy, understanding and direction, I will directly meet with most of the people in Oakland and converse with them about the crime problem and ask for their help. I will regularly be at the schools, the crime scenes, the churches, in the streets, the boardrooms, the city council meetings, the clubs, the parks, and at all hours, working on this.
2. With appreciation for the holistic interrelatedness, dissect the problem into separable but related components, then publicize the progress we're planning and its relationship to the overall problem and quality of life.
3. Implement solutions for each component.
4. Increase number of officers to 900, including maintaining over 100 retirement-eligible officers.
5. Ballot measure, increased revenue, economy & efficiency to make cost affordable.

Answer from Jason Kane Anderson:

First,i would hire a chief of police that agrees with community policing,and building better relationship with people of Oakland.Second,I would use his expertise to develop a crime plan we agree with and implement the plan.Be open to community input and flexible so we can adjust to the needs of the community.Third,Trust the Chief of Police i appointed can carry out the plan,and give him or her to space to do so.

Answer from Libby Schaaf:

As mayor I will bring a holistic approach to public safety, including enforcement, prevention, intervention and addressing root causes. I'll work to hire more police officers so we can implement community policing and particularly hire more civilians to serve every Oakland neighborhood. We must speed up police investigations and keep police officers out in our neighborhoods while building an improved 911 system to speed up response times - so the police come when you call. By improving neighborhood policing we can reduce violence by building trust, identifying the specific needs in the neighborhood, and using proactive problem-solving to know where to step in before crime happens.Oakland won't be safe as long as our children aren't succeeding in school. I will work in partnership with the school district and county to make it an Oakland priority to increase graduation rates in city high schools with successful dropout intervention and truancy prevention strategies. And by working with Oakland businesses I know we can create job-training pathways for Oakland high school graduates to help them gain practical skills. It is essential that we aggressively pursue strategies to ensure ALL Oakland kids succeed in school -- with special focus on correcting unacceptable disparities for under-served communities.

Answer from Charles R. Williams:

I would like for inform the public to be aware that the underground economy in east and west Oakland is approximately a 60 million dollar per year industry. This is where the killing and violence is coming from.

Public Safety improvement would have start with our current officers. There are some that should be let go due to fact that have vigilante or god-like mentalities causing them to unnecessarily take human life. Also professional intervention is required after these officers have spent countless hours on the street and suffer psychologically and upon their evaluation, unions and administrators must improve working conditions accordingly. However, before this is done the current staffing levels should be brought up to 900 with a core force of 150, the re-establishment of forensics teams (convictions are being lost without it) along, a volunteer public safety program, and an officer mentor program. This would send a message that Oakland is serious about the business of public safety, crime prevention, and overall enforcement of the law.

Answer from Saied R Karamooz:

As for violence in our neighborhoods, I believe that it is predominantly a function of frustration in our low-income communities due to lack of employment opportunities and inadequate living conditions. Therefore, I genuinely believe that addressing the two key issues of Quality and Affordable Housing and Full Employment will result in a precipitous reduction in crime.

Furthermore, I believe that we need to address crime with a different fundamental approach. As such, I would expand the Community Policing to embrace the Community Prosecution model that has proven effective in many cities around the country and some success when piloted in Oakland previously. It is commonly accepted that Community Prosecution has 3 distinct characteristics that render it far more effective in controlling crime than traditional prosecution as listed below:

1. Community Engagement. Establish a connection between the prosecutor's office and their constituents to improve neighborhood safety and confidence in the justice system.

2. Partnership. Expand involvement of other government agencies, community-based organizations, and local residents to define and execute more robust crime control strategies.

3. Problem Solving. Instead of sole focus on prosecuting offenders, use the data to formulate programs that prevent recurrence of crime.

Answer from Dan Siegel:

The crime rate in Oakland is unacceptable, and has been so for many years. We know that in times of economic improvement, the crime rate goes down, so a foundation for the Siegel administration's crime reduction strategy will be programs that foster economic development, job creation, and worker education. We also know that there is a public health crisis affecting poor and working people, and that lack of access to mental health and wellness services further drives social disorder. We must address the root causes of crime, not just in a trite and piecemeal way, but with a driving and comprehensive commitment to build a better Oakland in the future.

In regards to law enforcement, the Siegel administration will restructure the police department in a fiscally responsible way that makes better use of the current number of officers serving on the force. We need to reduce the expenditure of scarce resources on police overtime, civil rights lawsuits, and expensive sworn officers who sit behind desks performing administrative duties. We waste millions of dollars every year due to poor planning, poor police training, and weak accountability for those who create liabilities for the city government.

Perhaps most importantly, the Siegel administration will change how we police the Oakland streets. I co-drafted Oakland's community policing ordinance in 1996, and I will implement this ordinance in conjunction with other efforts that aim to reduce antisocial behavior through a personal and tailored strategy for each community in this city. We understand that there are hardened criminals on our streets, individuals who have spent so much time in the criminal world that they will not be easily brought back to productive society. At the same time, we also understand that there are many young people are wrongfully criminalized by our current police practices, simply because of their economic status, or the color of the skin. We need to make sure that our police work is focused on reducing criminal activity and investigating and solving serious crimes.

Answer from Jean Quan:

I've worked closely with the Oakland Police Department to implement real community policing, through 5 geographic areas with Area Captains who are accountable for working with neighbors to bring crime down. Diversifying the police force is also critical to effective community-based policing. We have made progress to re-organize the police department to be more effective and it's brining crime down, but we have much more work to do. My goal is to continue funding at least 2 new police academies each year to reach the necessary levels of staffing to meet the high need for 911 calls,responding to and solving crimes. We'll with continue targeted recruitment for women, multilingual, LGBTQ, local and people of color officers who can deepen the implementation of neighborhood-based policing and work closely with residents to better prevent and solve crime.

We will complete implementation of the remaining handful of federal court-ordered reforms in the police department, which will end direct federal oversight and re-build the Oakland Police Department as an accountable, effective, forward-thinking police department working with the community to reduce crime. We will promote OPD leadership who believe in this vision, led by Chief Sean Whent who was the Director of Internal Affairs and has been praised by federal monitors for his commitment to reform.

Answer from Bryan Parker:

The city's crime rate and its reputation of being one of the crime capitals in the nation. That stigma alone is what cripples this city economically. We have to change our story and not allow others define this city's potential and its beauty. Oakland is a diverse culturally, racially and even its economic development where both small and large businesses can co-exist.

The destruction that the downtown area endures each and every time there is a protest sends messages to outsiders not come to our city and challenges our already overworked police force and potential discourages future recruits from wanting to serve and protect Oakland.

This needs to change and it will change under my leadership. I would do the following:

  • Work with OPD to expand community policing and obtain targeted training on best practices to handle protests

  • Promote economic growth to fund increasing the level of police officers to 800

  • Promote public-private partnerships for job training and linked learning programs to steer people away from criminal activities

  • Streamline business permitting and licensing processes

  • Improve positive marketing and branding of the City

Answer from Joe Tuman:

Staff within the Oakland Police Department (OPD) currently numbers in the low 600s; however, city consultant Bill Bratton said in August 2013 that adequate staffing for our city needs to be 900 plus. Of the 600 within OPD, there are only 235 police officers available to patrol our city of over 400,000 at any given time. To make matters worse, we have 153 officers approaching retirement age (50 years old) with two-thirds of those eligible to retire beginning in 2016. Oakland's current police staffing level of about 15 officers/10,000 residents is about half of San Francisco's and a third of New Orleans.

The solution.

In order to increase police staffing, and especially patrol officers, we need more money and more "academies" to train new officers. As the new officers are trained and hired, we need plans in place to boost morale and retain qualified staffing at the 900-1000 person level.

Immediate Action Steps +

Hold three academies a year
Add approximately 50 officers/year net of attrition and achieve 300 new officers within 6 years
Retain existing officers
Contain costs for new officers
Pay for the new officers by selling surplus public lands, growing existing tax bases, expanding business license taxes on new businesses, and collecting hotel taxes on newly built rooms.

The Problem - Police Understaffing

With a staffing level approaching the low 600's (estimates vary from month to month because of normal attrition), the city has seen a steady decline in the size of the department for many years, and only in the last year and a half began addressing this with new academies. The small number of police staff is compounded by the fact that only 235 officers are available for patrol--and not all at the same time--in a city with a population is excess of 400,000 people. While the city is to be praised for reinstating the academy process to recruit new cadets/officers--the reality is that the city's current commitment to only 2 academies/year through 2014 is simply inadequate to meet the obligation for safety and protection of the public. These academies, thus far, have started with 55-60 students, but eventually graduate less than 40 before field training begins. The most recent academy graduated more, but we have yet to see how many will remain after field training. For our previous two academies, after field training (a 16 week period), that rate dropped to approximately 35 cadets/class. Two classes/ year means 70 new cadets for the city--which would be wonderful but for the fact that normal attrition of existing police staff in Oakland is 5 officers/month--for an average total attrition of 60 officers /year--owing to a myriad of causes, including retirement, death, disability and lateral transfer to other police departments. If the academies add 70 cadets, but we annually lose 60 officers to normal attrition, the net addition of new officers is only 10/year. We are barely covering for attrition with this approach.

New Special Attrition Challenges to the department exacerbate staffing challenges for Oakland this year. According to estimates provided to me by Cee Belue, Director of Personnel for OPD, a cohort of approximately 153 officers is approaching retirement age (50) at the same pace, and be eligible to take retirement by 2018. Of that total, up to 101 officers may be taking retirement by or before the end of 2016. Given the current low morale of OPD[1]the probability that all eligible officers could take retirement simultaneously within their eligible year raises the specter that normal attrition may spike to more than 5/month--and the possibility looms that even with 2 academies, the department may contract to less than 600 officers--and potentially even less than 500.

Adequate Staffing for Oakland Police is at least 900-plus officers, according to no less a source than Mayor Quan's own consultant (and the new Chief of Police for New York) Bill Bratton, in comments he made to an audience of 500 Oaklanders in a speech delivered at the Claremont Country Club in August of 2013. At the current pace of academies, it would take nearly three decades to reach full staffing--and that would assume that the current special attrition challenges described above were somehow mitigated. Stated simply, we need more officers than we have budgeted for, and the Mayor's plans to increase staffing will not even cover for attrition.

The Solution

Getting our staffing to the correct levels. With the beginning of the new mayoral administration in 2015, the city will commit to a program to rebuild OPD by adding up to 300 new officers net of normal attrition, taking total staffing to greater than 900 officers. This program will phase in over the years gradually by hosting three academies per year (2 to hold us even with normal attrition and 1 to make incremental gains). Once this approach is fully engaged, the city will add approximately 50 officers/year net of attrition and achieve 300 new officers within 6 years. At the end of this rebuilding phase, there must be a permanent line item in the budget for 1-2 academies/year as needed, to keep staffing even with normal attrition. Oakland must never allow its police department to shrink to such low numbers of officers again.
Additional Academies. Two academies will be held within Oakland, and one may be outsourced to Dublin (the Sheriff's basic academy) if the outsourcing helps scheduling and cost containment. Otherwise, all academies will be held in Oakland.
Retention of Existing Officers. Commensurate with the hiring and training of new officers, the city will commit to retain an adequate supply of veteran officers who may be eligible for retirement. Ideally, we would like to see a situation for our department where most of our officers are between the ages 30-39, or 40-45, with (respectively) minimums of 6 or 11 years of experience. As we add new officers, we want our newest recruits (who may be as young as 25 years old) to be trained and supervised by veteran, experienced officers.
Cost Containment for New Officers. If budget constraints require this, third tier hires (new cadets) may be brought in at a slightly reduced base salary, with identifiable step increases to allow them to get to the same salary levels as other officers once they have put in their time, post-academy. Cost savings from reduced salary may be reinvested into the academy process, or go to help fund another initiative designed to help new cadets with housing.
How to Pay for it. The cost of new officers (assuming total annual cost/officer--including salary and benefits--of $180K and an additional $4MM/academy) will be provided in the following ways:

Effective immediately with the start of the new administration, the City will identify and evaluate all public land assets which are currently unused, and which may not provide a service to the community or a revenue source. Whether by sale, or public/private development, or via lease agreement, any land which can be monetized will be converted to create revenue stream for the city. Examples of this can include parcels as small as a portion of a driveway at a gas station on San Pablo, or buildings as large as the Oakland Kaiser Convention Center. The latter of these, e.g., could retain the fašade of the original building and have a hotel placed atop it. The hotel would help provide a revenue stream (via an existing 14% room rate tax) to the city.

A blend of existing tax bases--sales tax, business license tax, and room rate taxes for hotels--will be engaged to grow a significant amount of new revenue for the City. These include the following:

a) Starting with development of a new retail district in the downtown containing at least four large box retailers (e.g., Macy's, Nordstroms, JC Penny's, Target), and a much larger number of existing and new small retailers, restaurants and bars, the city will embark on an ambitious campaign to recapture lost retail leakage (which currently is in excess of 3.5 billion dollars/year). The sales tax loss to the city is approximately 35 million dollars/year. My goal will be to recapture 80% of that leakage--which amounts to $2.7 billion in retail spending by Oakland residents in other cities. Giving Oakland residents a reason to spend that money here would translate into a recapture of lost sales tax in the amount of $27 million dollars per year. Similar retail strategies will follow in each of the city's districts. In some places, it may reference city support for existing retail (e.g., by changing parking policies), while in others it may include the recruitment of more grocery stores with good quality and affordable foods.

b) Recruitment of new businesses to Oakland in the following sectors: technology and innovation, food production, hotel and hospitality, and the aforementioned retail businesses as well. The dual purpose of new businesses will be to create a new base of business license taxes and grow new job possibilities for Oakland residents. We will target the attraction and development of 500 new businesses within years, to grow business license tax revenue.

c) Building at least three new hotels capable of housing 200 rooms each. On a Monday-Friday basis, those who recruit convention business to Oakland believe we have demand for an additional 600 rooms. The rate for the rooms can range from $100 to $200 dollars/night. If we assume a 52 week year, and five days occupancy/room--we should be able to sell 260 days (Monday-Friday, weekends will vary). Assuming a room rate tax of 14%--with distribution to the zoo, the museum and the observatory of approximately 3% of that--the city would still derive a healthy 11% tax from the rate on these rooms. Each room, thus, would bring the city a minimum of $11 to an assumed maximum of $22/night. At 600 additional rooms, that would be 600 x 22--for an additional revenue of $13,200/night. Multiplying that total by 260 weeknights would deliver an additional $3.4 million dollars of room rate tax to the city.

Where possible and appropriate, civilianization of positions currently occupied by police officers capable of serving in patrol can reduce the number of police officers that need to be trained in an academy. Careful inspection of this reveals at least 30 positions that could be replaced by a civilian at a reduced cost. Examples of this include replacing police officers with civilians for the animal control center, creating more civilian lab technicians so that officers would not have to be pulled from the field, and perhaps creating more civilian positions in Internal Affairs. Note: reassigning 30 officers for patrol means we must only "grow" our department by 270 officers. While we do have to pay for the civilian replacements, they come at a 50% less cost--creating a savings $90,000/individual x 30 or $2.7 million dollars.
Additional revenue will be derived from the ongoing housing boom in Oakland--with transfer tax and limited property taxes.

Answer from Peter Liu:

My Community Empowered Safety Plan will bring world peace to the world. Peace is not free, to maintain the peace, citizens must be armed at all times readied to defend the peace. Citizens must be armed to protect our love ones.

Answer from Ken Houston:

Jobs is the first thing -- put a hammer in their hand and they'll be too tired to pick up their gun! Construction jobs is more than hammers and nails -- there is opportunity for all, including administrative work, engineers, lawyers, the whole nine yards. As Mayor I will ensure that Oaklanders get the work on the many upcoming construction jobs coming to Oakland. Secondly, I am a strong advocate of community policing. Until the marginalized communities areas have a better relationship with the police, the civil unrest and the crime in Oakland will not be reduced substantially. Education is also key, and as Mayor I will work with the schools to find ways for the city to assist the at risk youths and bring opportunity and inclusion to those who have been consistently excluded for decades. The exclusion needs to end before crime will go down.

? 4. While most of the Bay Area has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, Oakland is still in trouble. How do you plan to stimulate the economy in Oakland?

Answer from Saied R Karamooz:

Our economy will get stimulated when we have a broad employment base that benefits all of our citizens. As such, I will embark on a multi-faceted approach to address our immediate and medium term needs while building the foundation for our future. Initially, I will work with local and large national employers to create immediate employment opportunities for our citizens. In particular, I would pursue 2 types of employment opportunities:

1. Call centers. Attract companies with large call centers to locate a portion of their operations in Oakland to take advantage of our high concentration of multi-lingual individuals.

2. Light manufacturing with an artistic flair. Small to medium operations with initial focus on bicycles and urban beautification equipment (e.g., park benches, bike racks, playground equipment, etc.). There is a rapidly growing national trend in high priced custom bikes and bikes targeted for the Bike Share programs. The added benefit of targeting the Bike Share programs is that we would be able to expand into other aspects of the value chain (e.g., installation, membership services, repairs, etc.). Manufacturing of urban beautification equipment is in many ways complementary to bike building.

To address our medium term challenges, I would work with local developers and academic institutions to ramp up vocational training for our young men and women who intend to enter the workforce after high school so that they have the highly needed construction-related skills to become gainfully employed upon graduation.

Finally, to ensure enduring economic vitality, I will pursue incubation opportunities with small companies in emerging technologies, such as renewable energy, bioengineering, and clean manufacturing. Each of these pursuits will not only present a substantial upside if/when the ventures expand, but also attract affinity services and commerce in the interim.

This multi-faceted approach is certain to have a profound impact on the growth trajectory of our economic viability.

Answer from Ken Houston:

Again, it is all about local jobs. As a community advocate I was instrumental in changing local participation policy from 30% to 50% on all construction jobs, and the was adopted by the Oakland Unified School District. We have not yet seen the effects of this recent policy change, nor is it enough. As Mayor I will raise the local participation to 75% which can be done through training and education in the trades industries. Oakland has the most construction jobs in Alameda County going down the pipeline yet the highest unemployment rate! This is a result of contractors consistently excluding Oaklanders from the work. As Mayor I will change policy that contractors give Oaklanders the jobs, and if they do not abide by policy, hey will not get the contract -- period. The City has for too long been allowing contractors to profit off the backs of Oakland residents, and it is time to end the exclusion and bring inclusion to Oakland.

Answer from Pat McCullough:

1. Make the city safer.
2. Get rid of stupid roadblocks
3. Along with the reality, change the bad perception people have of Oakland.
3. Publicize the progress we've made and convincingly pledge that more is coming.
4. We'll benefit from increased investor confidence in Oakland due to publicity and recognition of the voters' wise choice in electing me to begin my phenomenal 1st term.

Answer from Charles R. Williams:

I feel the new influx of technology businesses along with other supporting small businesses, and the construction of required for this would bring new jobs, new residents, and stimulate Oakland's economic growth. However, we should concentrate on those businesses than would stay long-term and not come and go as some technology companies will. Oakland could have growth up to 5% over the next five years just from new residents moving closer to public transit making transit accessible environments a necessary.

To attract business and workers to Oakland, we would have to start with establishing clean, safe, and desirable work and residential environments. Job Fairs and the creation of job banks also facilitating training programs for re-entry and part-workers. You'll find that quality people gravitate toward businesses that keep their needs in mind.

Answer from Bryan Parker:

I believe we should invest in attracting businesses that can leverage the existing assets and resources we have in place. These include the trade/logistics, healthcare, technology and retail industries. Trade and logistics businesses can leverage the infrastructure at the Port of Oakland. I would support expansion of public-private partnerships to attract more businesses that can leverage these unique assets.

There are several healthcare companies that are already located here in Oakland and we can attract businesses that provide complementary services, and encourage them to expand their existing services.

With the close proximity to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, we are already seeing growth in the technology sector. I would partner with existing firms and dedicate resources to expand our telecommunications infrastructure to expand the industry footprint in Oakland.

I also believe there is significant capacity to attract retail businesses based on the amount of money spent by Oakland residents in the surrounding cities. I would focus on addresses the public safety issues that prevent retail businesses from coming to Oakland and provide better marketing to build a more positive brand around retail experiences in Oakland.

Oakland's economic development plans must be inclusive of all residents of our city. Having unemployment rates of nearly 30% in east and west Oakland is unacceptable. The level of African American contractor participation on large projects like the Oakland Army base is similarly unacceptable. Economic development starts with skills, training and education.

As Mayor, I would make sure all of our schools, no matter where they are located in our city, were funded and performing equally. Second, I would set up apprentice programs with our unions, and partnerships with our workforce development providers and community colleges to that the focus on skills building and development with adults (including re-entry). Third, I would make sure there were real metrics and goals on the number of Oaklander's hired and minority firms that are invited to participate in big opportunities.

Under my jobs plan, we would strive to create 20,000 jobs by the year 2020. I would designate resources to focus on attracting business to Oakland and retaining existing businesses. I would promote code academies, partner with community colleges, and partner with unions on trade. My administration would make sure that traditionally underserved communities receive opportunities such that unemployment rates in these communities come in line with national, state and Oakland wide figures. Lastly, we will create support for small businesses who focus on hiring Oaklanders.

Answer from Dan Siegel:

For reasons both explained and unexplained, Oakland has for several decades been home to large numbers of poor and working class people. While San Francisco increasingly becomes a playground for the rich, Oakland continues to be an economically diverse city. The Siegel administration intends to maintain this balance, and prevent further displacement of Oakland's historic Black community in particular, by focusing economic development strategies on the unemployed of East and West Oakland.

We intend to create jobs in solar panel production, as described above. We intend to bring Oakland into the next digital era by installing citywide high speed broadband, as seen in other cities across the country. We intend to foster the development of cooperative businesses, including laundry and urban agriculture businesses to serve our town's growing hotel and restaurant industries. We will also explore how Oakland can attract state and federal funds to clean up Oakland's polluted and Superfund land sites, with the goal of training Oakland residents to learn trades such as environmental remediation in order to restore our land and create further opportunities for growth.

Answer from Peter Liu:

Through using CESP5, the knowledge of capitalism, communities will create jobs as teams.

"CESP5" (Community Empowered Safety Plan #5)

A game for people who want to be Rich. Playing the game teaches by experience: leadership, honesty, teamwork, responsibility and integrity.

created by Rags-to-Riches multi-millionaire Peter Y. Liu

Game Rules
1. Choose 7 or more people, preferably people you trust. Give them the game rules. Set a location where to have a meeting if they want to join in the game.
2. At the meeting, each person introduce themselves, their name and their phone number and email address. Each person write down the information. Take 10 minutes to brainstorm a business idea and write on a paper. EXAMPLE
3. Each person takes turn to share their idea to the group.
4. After all the ideas are heard, each idea is put to a vote by the group. Person with the best idea is the founder and President of a company, the rest are co-founders, then they vote on who will be the treasurer, secretary, etc.
5. Then the group makes up a business plan, to answer Who, What, When, Where and Why. Who are the company leaders? What is the company name and what does it do? When will they do it? Where is the company located? Why are they running this business?

  • How to win the game? You win as a team, you win when the company profits off the idea and proceeds are split according to the hours you've put in.
  • How to lose the game? You lose as an individual, you quit, you got voted off the company because you didn't contribute, stole money or lost trust due to unethical behavior. Your reputation will suffer according to the seriousness of your offense.
  • What if the company didn't make a profit? Then your group rethink the ideas, vote on it, maybe vote on another leader, maybe change the business name, adjust the business plan then retry.

Answer from Libby Schaaf:

As mayor, I will continue to work for living wages - that's why I was the first elected official to support the Lift Up Oakland minimum wage increase. I intend to make "Made in Oakland" real by growing local manufacturing and providing incentives and assistance to small manufacturing enterprises that hire Oaklanders as well as encourage new startups from high tech incubators and co-work spaces to mobile food vendors and pop-up stores. We must do more to help small businesses expand by cutting red tape and streamlining city regulations and permits and start serious funding of street and pothole repair.

Answer from Jean Quan:

I have successfully begun that work by getting the Port/Army Base project launched which includes a 50% Oakland hire requirement and the ground breaking of the Brooklyn Basin Project. With all the building of housing and opening of retail we'll need our youth to be prepared. The West Oakland Job Center and our community colleges are poised to reach out to unemployed or underemployed residents and youth. We are coordinating training with hiring needs and creating that school-including my Education Cabinet with OUSD-to career pipeline that will produce not minimum wage but living wage, family-sustaining careers and small businesses.

Answer from Jason Kane Anderson:

Work with corportations wanting to relocate to Oakland to create job guarantee's to hire oakland residents first.Streamline pre existing programs to optimize the services provided to public.Use the position of Mayor to promote jobs and training programs.

Answer from Joe Tuman:

Half of Oakland's top 10 biggest employers are public agencies, including the State of California, Alameda County and the City of Oakland. Our public sector employers account for 60% of the 34,562 jobs that the 10 biggest employers generate. As we grow, Oakland must shift the ratio toward more private sector jobs because public sector employers neither pay as many taxes nor inspire as many ancillary support industries as private sector employers do. And, in this era of shrinking government, sustainable economic and job growth is more likely to come from private business than from government agencies. As Mayor, I will add 500 new private businesses that generate many new jobs. I will focus first on industries where we already have some traction, including:

Health Care
Commercial Space
Technology
Neighborhood and Major Anchor Retail
Food Production
Hotels
Arts, Sports, Tourism
Green Jobs
Construction

We are committed to the economic development of Oakland, but we want it occur by keeping what has sustained us and what makes us unique. Here are some of the challenges we face.

Over half of Oakland's jobs are in public agencies[1], which neither pay as many taxes nor generate as many ancillary new businesses as private employers, and whose employees often leave at the end of the workday for homes in outlying suburbs.
While some retail districts are thriving, others like downtown, and West and East Oakland are not.
We want to add businesses and shops that will provide jobs and services for our existing residents.
We want to share in the economic development spreading across the Bay Area, but we want to do it Oakland style, without losing what makes our city as diverse and interesting as it is today.

With these overarching principles as guidance, I commit to attracting and locating 500 new private sector businesses in Oakland during my tenure as Mayor. I will start by focusing on the economic sectors where we have a natural advantage, and may already have some traction. We can build from there.


Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. References to opponents are not permitted.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.


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Created: July 23, 2015 14:55 PDT
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