Last week, I was very disappointed by the Council’s rush to approve a budget without transparency. However, after spending the weekend in the community with neighbors and grassroots organizations, I have renewed hope about reimagining community safety. See the first section below for more.
In this newsletter you’ll find:
- Updates on our city budget process and community safety efforts
- Updates on community wins for our students to experience police-free schools
- Preview of this week’s important City Council activities, including tenant and worker protections and directives to undertake a thorough review of 911 and non-emergency police calls for service towards shifting to alternative responder models
- An invitation to join a Community Town Hall to discuss my proposal to modernize Oakland’s business tax and make it more fair
- Call to action to support Oakland's LGBTQ Community Center
Update on City & Police Budget
Diverting Police Resources to Invest in Community
I was deeply disappointed by the outcome of last week’s Council meeting -- where we had, but did not take, the opportunity in our City budget to divert significant police resources and reinvest in community. I’m grateful for the advocacy of thousands of Oaklanders who’ve been calling loud and clear for change and working to hold our elected leaders accountable to stand on the right side of history, with the people and our movement for Black Lives.
The budget-balancing amendments that passed were not properly published publicly on the city website prior to the meeting and emerged as a surprise to the public, myself, and two other Councilmembers. Council heard hours of unanimous public testimony to divert police resources towards community services and programs, and the rushed action of some Councilmembers ignored these many voices. For a recap of last week’s meeting, see this article from Oaklandside.
Thanks to the community’s determined advocacy, Council President Kaplan plans to schedule a review of the final budget amendments to reallocate additional police resources to community. I will partner with grassroots organizations and leaders to design and implement a community-centered transition plan for a common sense, sustainable transition that reduces OPD's budget by 50% in our next budget cycle 2021-23 -- a policy directive in the approved budget.
Re-imagining Community Safety
With Our Neighbors and Artists
I’m so grateful to Eastlake United for Justice and the Cleveland Neighborhood Council for bringing neighbors together last Saturday. They shared vegetable seedlings, artwork, local resource guides, hygiene kits, and food. Together, we contributed to a vision board to share our ideas of community safety in our neighborhood. I hope we can do more of these community building events across our district.
I really enjoyed Saturday’s Porch Chat with House/Full of Black Women Project and Eastside Arts Alliance. We listened and shared thoughts about the idea of cultural spaces as places of community safety and the role of artists in not just re-imaging safety, but uncovering the dream of something that has not yet existed and using art, dance, performance, and music to cultivate relationships of care and prevention instead of harm and punishment. I look forward to building our partnership to dream about this future and help create it.
Keep Organizing, Fighting & Hoping For Better
When We Stand Together, We Can Win
Students win major victories for police-free schools
 Peralta Community College District’s Board voted unanimously to end its contract with the Alameda County Sheriff’s office and transition to a community-based safety model. Congratulations to the students, educators and community groups -- Anti Police-Terror Project, Ella Baker Center, CURYJ, Oakland Rising, Bay Rising and many others.
 Oakland Unified School District’s Board voted unanimously to remove school police and help dismantle the school to prison pipeline for Black & Brown youth. Congratulations to the Black Organizing Project who waged and won this 10-year campaign with many students, families and allies.
Tenant & Worker Protections, Review of 911 and Non-Emergency Police Calls for Service
At today's 1pm Special Community & Economic Development Committee meeting:
- We will vote on adopting new tenant protection upgrades that focus on conforming with state law and strengthening tenant protections such as limiting late fees and closing loopholes that prevent evictions. Thank you to City Attorney Barbara Parker and CM Dan Kalb for co-sponsoring with me.
- We will vote on a “right to recall” policy to help Oakland hospitality and travel workers reclaim the jobs they held before the COVID-19 emergency before companies begin hiring new employees. Thank you EBASE, UNITE HERE 2850 and many others for your leadership to support and protect our essential workers and to CM Thao, Kalb, and Gallo for championing.
Tomorrow, Tuesday’s 1:30pm City Council Meeting includes the following important agenda items:
- Item 3.1 -- Public hearing & resolution to allocate US Department of Housing & Urban Development Grant Funds towards local community development and housing programs.
- Item 9 -- Digital Inclusion Strategy to improve economic, educational, healthcare and employment access and opportunities for Oakland’s historically underserved and disadvantaged communities and small businesses, seeded with COVID-19 federal relief funding.
- Item 10 -- Directive to undertake a thorough review of 911 and non-emergency police calls for service towards shifting to alternative responder models, including mental health professionals; and evaluating the potential for creating a civilian traffic unit. I am introducing this budget directive with CM Dan Kalb.
Join Our Community Town Hall on Wednesday
Modernizing Oakland’s Business Tax to Support Small Businesses
Please RSVP to join me and the Lift Up Oakland coalition of labor, community, and small business advocates, for a community forum discussing my recently proposed legislation to modernize Oakland's outdated business tax and provide financial / tax relief to our small businesses -- so many women, African American, and immigrant owned.
The forum will take place this Wednesday, July 1 at 6pm on Zoom.
My proposal, if passed by Council, would put a measure on the November 2020 ballot for Oakland voters to decide on making our business tax structure progressive, meaning it would progressively increase tax rates for businesses with higher gross receipts. It would help 24,000+ small businesses and raise approximately $40M annually for vital city services like street and sidewalk maintenance, trash collection, and homeless services.
In case you missed it, check out my full announcement on the proposal here and recent coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Support Oakland’s LGBTQ Community Center
Condemn Homophobia, Transphobia, Racism
This past weekend, Oakland LGBTQ Community Center was violently and hatefully attacked.
Hate -- homophobia, transphobia, racism -- has absolutely no place in Oakland or anywhere, and have negative impacts on the health and wellness of our community. The Center is a gift to Oaklanders and the many Black, POC, LGBTQIA folks who access this safe space.
I send my love and support, and hope you will join the Center’s call this Pride month and year-round to advocate for supports to meet the needs of LGBTQIA residents -- youth, people of color, transgender people, elders, those with physical limitations, people living with HIV, people in recovery and other marginalized members -- in Oakland and Alameda County.