Oakland Lawyer Dan Siegel Posts Political Call To Action For January 5th; Running For Mayor?
Oakland’s Future is at Stake
By Carroll Fife and Dan Siegel
Everyone agrees – Oakland is poppin’. The Town is the place to be. Telegraph, Old Oakland, Grand Avenue- Downtown is no longer the ghost town of 15 years ago, there are crowds of young people drinking, eating and cruising Broadway every night. Piedmont and College Avenues are also bustling. Farmer’s markets have popped up everywhere, competing with Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
Not only restaurants and bars, but the real estate developers and landlords are really making it big. Can you purchase a home for less than a million? Let us know. Can you rent a decent studio for less than a grand? There’s a line waiting outside.
But there are also 2500 of our former neighbors living in their cars or in tents and tarps under freeway overpasses. The streets are filthy and deteriorating, especially in the flatlands of the city.
Affordable housing is Oakland’s biggest problem and Mayor Libby Schaaf and the City Council majority fall all over each other to encourage the speculators and developers working to turn Oakland into Walnut Creek West. They give lip service to the image of Oakland’s diversity but are oblivious to the trends that have reduced the City’s African-American population from about 43 to 28 percent in the past 15 years. While some Bay Area cities are working to create affordable housing, discourage real estate speculators, and protect tenants from rent increases and unjust evictions, our elected representatives appear to have other priorities.
Our school district is about to be declared bankrupt, thanks to a succession of locally and State appointed superintendents who have wasted tens of millions on administrative salaries and get-rich-quick schemes that have predictably failed to boost student achievement. The elected school board lacks even the slightest leadership ability and any idea about how to carry out its responsibilities to improve Oakland’s schools.
Much of the current budget mess can be laid at the feet of former Superintendent Antwan Wilson, whose greatest contribution to Oakland was increasing per capita income by hiring his cronies as $200,000 per year administrators. Wilson resigned in January as the financial crisis began to unfold, but the Board must share the blame. Several board members – Jody London, James Harris, and Jumoke Hinton-Hodge – adamantly suppressed criticism of Wilson’s processes for fear that it would drive him away. The Board has elevated being nice to its highest priority, but nice did not change the system for our children. It IS possible to analyze, critique and supervise without being disrespectful.
Mayor Schaaf promised during her 2014 campaign to help improve student performance by helping to create pre-school programs for all three- and four-year olds. She is 3 years into a 4 year term and we are still waiting. Her upcoming childcare ballot initiative will, once again, utilize a regressive tax to put Oakland voters on the hook for education reforms. We’ve seen the bait and switch with the recent Sugar Tax initiative and cannot risk further enrichment of City coffers to mismanage tax payer dollars.
Meanwhile, back at the Oakland Police Department, they continue to grossly overspend the OPD budget by the millions. The Department remains under federal court oversight for the 15th year. This continues because the City’s political and administrative leadership is incapable of running a police department minimally respectful of people’s rights, particarly those of African American residents. Our latest chief – the umpteenth since the Allen settlement agreement was signed in 2003 – is the first female chief of the city, but honors her predecessors by copying their dishonesty and lack of accountability. Chief Anne Kirkpatrick explained that her false statements about OPD’s cooperation with the federal immigration service in violation of Oakland’s sanctuary policy were not her fault. And no-one has explained why several high-ranking police administrators identified for covering up officers’ sexual exploitation of the teenager Jasmine Absulin, commonly known as Celeste Guap, continue in leadership positions, with some being promoted.
Oakland needs new leadership, and that will not come from the group that has dominated Oakland politics for decades. Now is the right time for new leadership. 2018 can begin a new era for Oakland, or it will end with more of the same.
Many key positions will be open, including the Mayor, City Council members for Districts 2, 4, 6, and School Board members for the same districts. Our elected officials do not deserve a free ride in 2018. Who is ready to step up?
Please join us for a meeting on Saturday, January 6, 10 am, at the ACCE Office, 2501 International Boulevard, to plan our strategy to begin turning Oakland around in 2018. via IFTTT