A community news source for residents of the HarriOak neighborhood in Oakland, CA.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ignacio De La Fuente's Excellent Stand on the Police Tax

City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente gets criticized a lot. Still he deserves major props for the stand he has taken on the police tax. As A Better Oakland notes, the League of Women Voters asked for this tax to have a sunset provision so Oakland residents wouldn't find themselves paying for this forever. The League representative was ignored and there is no sunset provision in the measure, which Oaklanders will be asked to vote on in the fall.

Here is De La Fuente's letter. If only our representative, City Council Member Nancy Nadel wouldn't take as principled a stand. The council passed the police tax proposal on Tuesday, July 17. Nadel voted for it. De La Fuente and Delsey Brooks voted against it.

City Hall should clean up its own house, before it taxes yours

Dear friend and neighbor,

There is no way that I can in good conscience support the police services parcel taxes
proposed by the Mayor and other council members for the November ballot. The simple
reason is that until we here at city hall get our own house in order, we should not be
raising taxes on your house.

I do not believe that we have earned your confidence in our fiscal responsibility to ask
you for more money for police services. We have yet to even fully implement Measure
Y and we have been collecting those taxes since 2005. I am currently working on three
critical reform measures to "clean house" including a whistleblower ordinance, an antinepotism
ordinance and a hiring practices audit. think we must make a determined
effort to pay for increased police services with the money you already give us. Given
that we are experiencing a budget deficit, doing more with less and prioritizing spending
are more critical than ever.

In fact, I encourage you to defeat any City parcel tax measure put on the ballot. I need
you to help me send a strong message to everyone here in City Hall that we need to
clean up our own house first. The recent controversy over the voting process with the
Landscape and Lighting Assessment District (LLAD) also raises serious concerns that I
will express fully at the appropriate time.

All city leaders need to roll up their sleeves to cut unnecessary spending, conduct
performance audits of all departments, implement performance standards and practices
to improve efficiency, and negotiate effectively with our unions to ensure City employees
get a good day's pay for a good day's work. With these efforts, we can deliver higher
quality services to you without raising your taxes.

For several years, I have emphasized reform within city government, before it became
popular to do so. I even made accountability a cornerstone of my mayoral campaign.
But it wasn't until now, because of the recent events at City Hall, that we are getting
united around this cause: true government reform that leads to responsible use of our
tax dollars.

I have pushed for performance audits of all city departments, but the bureaucracy has
aggressively pushed back. The opposition to my re-election campaign by Local Union
1021 representing city employees was grounded in resentment of my efforts to bring
accountability to the city bureaucracy. I have pushed for investigations of wasteful
spending by city agencies, individuals, and city contractors. I have been pushing to
install GPS equipment in all city vehicles, especially police and fire, to ensure that we
manage our resources and be able to effectively respond to emergencies.

In this moment of public outcry, several elected officials including me are putting reform
proposals forward. We can't allow any excuses such as cost or past practices or other
delay tactics to stop the immediate implementation of these reforms. You must also hold
us all accountable to see reform efforts through after the excitement has died down.
Let us also work together to grow our budget through economic growth so we don't
have to continually pay more taxes. With leadership and vision, I believe it is possible to
have more police, more money for affordable housing, improved parks, and improved
services to seniors and youth, without constantly raising our taxes.

I ask you to hold us accountable as your leaders, and force us to get our own house in
order, before we tax yours again.

Ignacio De La Fuente
P.S. Thank you to the 533 of you took my on-line survey on the proposed police tax, and
the hundreds of you who left heartfelt and informative comments. Only 31.3% of you
said you would support the proposed tax as initially proposed (the proposal has been
modified since that time). See the survey results and comments here.
Ignacio De La Fuente
Council President Ignacio De La Fuente
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza 2nd Floor | Oakland, CA 94612
Office: 238-7005 | Fax: 238-6129
idelafuente@oaklandnet.com | www.idelafuente.com

Image courtesy of Gwen on Flickr.

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