I’m seeking election because the needs of Oakland residents, particularly in North Oakland, haven’t been met by the incumbent and I’m sure my presence on the City Council will lead to improvement.
Oakland voters need to replace city officials who have not performed well in solving our problems and the issues facing us. The issues that most affect our lives, particularly crime and the budget deficit, are out of control after Jane Brunner’s eleven and a half years in office.
While Brunner sat in office, Oakland, instead of fulfilling its potential to be a great city, became the fourth most dangerous city in the country. Innocent children and adults were injured. Armed robberies, assaults and sexual crimes, burglaries, and strong-arm robberies terrorized residents of North Oakland and beyond. Now, murders are 50 percent higher than at the same time last year.
Brunner’s approach to the crime crisis—one she helped create by leading the 2002 decision to freeze police hiring—has been to ignore it until it reached her own neighborhood, to wait for the police chief to write his latest plans, and, at election time, to make disingenuous statements claiming she has been working on it.
Under Brunner, the budget deficit has grown due to poor planning, inefficiency, and unwise spending. The same causes that threatened Vallejo with bankruptcy loom over Oakland, too, like a dark cloud.
Brunner’s response has been to vote for more pay increases, ignoring her responsibility to stop waste and provide solutions.
After years of talk about their importance and of throwing money at them, anti-violence programs have mostly floundered. Some are duplicative, poorly focused, top heavy with administration, and not reaching the target groups or producing the changed lives they were supposed to. As a result, our children are left to lives of despair and crime.
Although Brunner trumpets her responsiveness to constituents, many residents know her mostly by her disinclination to take a stand on their behalf. With scant meaningful accomplishments, her record in office has consisted of neglecting residents from the flatlands to the hilltops. One of her proudest accomplishments has been the planting of trees, some of which have caused sidewalk and sewer damage.
After 12 years of this, we deserve a change.
This race has had some deplorable aspects, including the Uhuru/African Solidarity Alliance campaign’s use of libel in its attempt to defeat me, and Brunner’s failure to distance herself from that organization, going so far as to set up her campaign table within feet of theirs at the Temescal Farmers Market.
But I have no personal grudge against Brunner. It is her record—or lack of one—that I object to.
Evidently, others agree. While Brunner touts her many endorsements, some organizations and individuals who have endorsed her in the past refuse to do so in this election.
As a progressive who actually makes progress, I will handle things differently. I am independent and not controlled by power brokers. Having grown up Black, poor and often surrounded by true ghetto conditions, and having overcome that by self-responsibility and receiving help from others, I, better than the incumbent, know the importance of providing opportunity, guidance, and rehabilitation.
But I also believe that we must also aspire to higher standards. I don’t accept that lack of productive circumstances is a license to hurt and victimize residents of Oakland.
And residents cannot afford to idly wait for long-range programs to have an effect. While working to help people find alternatives to the criminal life, in the short-term I will work with my council colleagues and with county, state and federal officials to increase the number of law enforcement officers on our streets and the judges in our courts.
As it stands now, many generous people are too afraid to mentor or donate time and funds because they fear being victimized by the very people they would otherwise help. The willingness to help is available, and you can be sure I will work to obtain this help for Oakland.
I will personally visit and monitor anti-crime, training, and education programs to make sure they are effective and meet our needs.
Often crime victims are left to fend for themselves and heal their wounds without as much as a phone call from city officials. I will visit crime scenes and contact the victims of crime to make sure that appropriate steps are being taken and that they know Oakland officials care.
I’ve studied economics and business. I will be honest with the taxpayers and frugal with the money they entrust to our government. A lawyer for 14 years, I’ve also been a blue-collar tech worker and union member for 25 years and a union steward for 10. I’ve been classified “surplus” and unemployed. Once oppressed, underappreciated, and virtually powerless against economic forces, I know how the working person feels.
But while revenues are declining and funding of vital services threatened, leaders and employees in government should personally share the burden of the taxpayers who pay their salaries. It’s time for Oakland government leaders to lead the change from what sometimes looks like public pimping back to public service. I’ll work with my colleagues to end waste in government and reverse the growth of exorbitant salaries for administrators.
When push comes to shove, as in the hard economic times we now face, if workers see waste trimmed and high management salaries cut they would rather keep their jobs and forego raises rather than face being laid off.
Collaborating with city workers and their union representatives to guarantee no layoff or reduction in benefits, freezing workers’ wages for two years, and cutting waste and exorbitant salaries of management will help balance Oakland’s budget.
Crime reduction will encourage the growth of business, revenue, opportunity, and hope in Oakland.
I will set a new standard for caring, cooperation, and responsibility that will result in the improvements Oakland residents need and deserve.
Patrick McCullough’s website is www.pat4oakland.com. His phone number is (510) 655-7284.