Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oakland's Blue Flu

This is pretty amazing. Oakland, like all of California's municipalities, has to balance their budget. And from what little I see in the article here, they are actually making a good faith effort (compare and contrast to Illinois). Having already cut back on other sectors, they are now making cuts in the police budget. If no agreement is reached between the parties, the OPD would have to cut 10% of the workforce - 80 officers:

The Oakland City Council voted June 25 to eliminate the positions to help close the city's $32.5 million funding gap. According to the city of Oakland, each of the 776 police officers currently employed at OPD costs around $188,000 per year. . . .

The sticking point in negotiations appears to be job security. The city council asked OPD officers to pay nine percent of their salary toward their pensions, which would save the city about $7.8 million toward a multi-million dollar deficit. The police union agreed, as long as the city could promise no layoffs for three years. No dice, says city council president Jane Brunner.

"We wish we could offer them a three-year no layoff protection we just can't financially. It would be irresponsible of us," Brunner said. The city agreed to a one-year moratorium on layoffs, but it is not enough for the union. . . .

In these dire economic times, it would seem that the City of Oakland is acting with both restraint and prudence. And as seems to be the norm for public sector unions, they are overreaching, irrespective of the effect on the community at large and the taxpayers who fund their salary.

And now into the mix to clarify the situation comes the Oakland Police Chief:

Oakland's police chief is making some dire claims about what his force will and will not respond to if layoffs go as planned.

Chief Anthony Batts listed exactly 44 situations that his officers will no longer respond to and they include grand theft, burglary, car wrecks, identity theft and vandalism. He says if you live and Oakland and one of the above happens to you, you need to let police know on-line.

Some 80 officers were to be let go at midnight last night if a last-minute deal was not reached. That's about ten percent of the work force.

"I came here to build an organization, not downsize one," said Batts, who was given the top job in October.

Here's a partial list:

•grand theft
•grand theft:dog
•identity theft
•false information to peace officer
•required to register as sex or arson offender
•dump waste or offensive matter
•discard appliance with lock
•loud music
•possess forged notes
•pass fictitious check
•obtain money by false voucher
•fraudulent use of access cards
•stolen license plate
•embezzlement by an employee (over $ 400)
•attempted extortion
•false personification of other
•injure telephone/ power line
•interfere with power line
•unauthorized cable tv connection
•administer/expose poison to another's

This sounds like the Chief of Police is trying to hold the City hostage with a bad case of the blue flu. Indeed, some of the crimes to which he will refuse to respond, in particular burglary and extortion, are potentially quite dangerous indeed. It would appear that the Chief is simply not up to the job. The first person the City of Oakland needs to cut back is Chief Batts.


suek said...

I wonder what they _will_ respond to. After all...if your police force won't police, maybe they should fire _all_ of them.

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to get my brain around the $188,000 a year!! Let me understand this... Are you telling me you cannot hire people for a policeman job for less? Are we getting our money's worth here? The state, the counties, the cities are going bankrupt and they can't find anyone who would become a policeman for less then $188,000 a year!! We really need to vote these people out of office. Our politicians have failed us horribly.