Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Questions and Answers On Measure BB

Q: What is the purpose of Measure BB?
A: Measure Y, approved by Oakland voters in 2004, requires that the City appropriate funds for and/or staff at least 739 non-Measure Y officers as a precondition for collecting Measure Y taxes. Measure BB will eliminate this requirement, thus destroying any incentive for the City to maintain an acceptable or tolerable authorized strength for OPD. It will also reduce accountability by giving the City more latitude in how violence prevention dollars are spent. It eliminates the previous requirements for the fire department. It allows the City to incur additional debt. It allows the City to use Measure Y funds to repay certain expenses from the General Fund. Most of these changes are a result of past litigation against the City.

Q: What will be the impact on public safety?
A: Passage of Measure BB will have a disastrous impact on public safety. The Grand Jury, Chief Batts, and professional consultants agree that even with an authorized strength of 803 officers, OPD is understaffed. Passage of Measure BB will allow the police force to drop indefinitely. Voting No on Measure BB will give the City a true incentive to maintain our police force at 803, as we were originally promised.

Q: What is the cost of Measure BB?
A: Contrary to what advocates are claiming, Measure BB will cost homeowners over $90 per year, the same as the cost of Measure Y. Currently, the City cannot collect Measure Y taxes because it is not complying with the minimum appropriation/staffing requirements. So homeowners' taxes will increase by over $90 annually if Measure BB passes.

Q: Who supports and opposes Measure BB?
A: Oakland officials who got us into this fiscal mess and who want to be bailed out by taxpayers are supporting it. Violence prevention program managers, whose salaries are paid by Measure Y, are also in support. But true public safety advocates, who want the size of our police force to be maintained at the levels we were originally promised, are opposed.

Q: Is this revision necessary because of the global economic crisis?
A: No. Virtually every city has been negatively impacted by the recession. However, Oakland passed Measure Y in the "boom times," based on arguments that it did not have sufficient funds, even then, to properly fund public safety. The City's fiscal problems are due to the City's own fiscal mismanagement, not outside factors. No other Bay Area city has laid off more than 10% of its police force, and is threatening further cuts. No other City has lost a $15 million lawsuit filed by a private citizen over violations of a public safety parcel tax. Only Oakland.

Q: Supporters claim if this doesn't pass, they will have no choice but to lay off more officers. Is this true?
A: No. There are numerous other alternatives to prevent additional layoffs, and to restore police staffing. Specifically, the police currently do not contribute anything to their own pensions. All of the other city unions do. If the police union were to agree to contribute 9% to their own pensions, this would save the City millions of dollars a year.

Q: Supporters claim that if BB passes, the community policing officer positions will be restored. Is this true?
A: Who knows? It took more than three years for the City to fill the positions originally. If that pattern is repeated, the positions won't be filled again until after Measure Y (BB) expires, at which point they are likely to be eliminated again, because the funding will expire.

Q: Is the City still collecting Measure Y taxes?
A: No. Because the City tragically decided to lay off 80 police officers in July, it failed to "appropriate" the required funding for 739 officers, and is now legally precluded from collecting Measure Y taxes.

Q: If we pass Measures BB and X, will that address Oakland's public safety and budget crisis?
A: No! Neither of these tax measures promise no layoffs or prevent against further reductions of the police force. Moreover, they are "temporary," and the City has no long-term plan for how to adequately fund public safety in the future. Next year, a balloon payment of tens of millions of dollars comes due on outstanding pension obligations, and the City will be in an even deeper financial hole. City officials have actually refused to ask the City Administrator for a report on how bad the financial situation is! http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/05/05/BARQ1D7JUI.DTL&tsp=1

Q: What is the status of the litigation?
A: The City appealed the ruling in the first case. The second case is pending in Alameda Superior Court, and should be ready for a full hearing in March, 2011.

Q: Where can I find out more about the lawsuits?
A: Check out http://defendingmeasurey.blogspot.com. The links to the lawsuits are there.

Q: What level of support is required for Measure BB to pass?
A: As with any parcel tax, a 2/3 majority is required for passage.

Q: What can I do to help defeat Measure BB?
A: Tell your friends, neighbors, listserve groups, to all VOTE NO. Forward them a link to this site. Write letters to the editor of local publications. Feel free to contact me at MarleenLee at att dot net