Weekend Family Fun, Oakland, Ca Style
Day full of crime no surprise in Oakland
In less than a 24-hour span, a motorist wearing body armor engaged in a gunbattle with police on Interstate 580 in Oakland, a Virginia man in the Bay Area for a job interview was slain downtown and a West Oakland sniper fired on police from a high-rise building.
Here in paradise, nobody even blinked.
With the layoffs of 80 police officers last week, and the threat of losing 120 more officers without a $50 million taxpayer bailout in November, Oakland residents don't really expect a whole lot. Our collective expectations have been downsized.
So while the most recent 24-hour crime-filled span that started Sunday morning shortly after midnight might have startled residents in other cities of comparable size, it's pretty much standard weekend fare around here.
Oakland residents aren't numb to violent crime. But over the years our tolerance level has slowly ratcheted upward.
It's a civic attitude that's been noticed by others.
At a community meeting soon after he took office last October, Batts was shocked by residents' apathy to the city's staggering crime rate. He wondered why residents weren't up in arms over the situation.
On the campaign trail, former state Senator and mayoral hopeful Don Perata said he's met plenty of residents with low spirits. People seem "beaten down" in their expectations of any reasonable standard of government service, he said.
City Council President Jane Brunner described Oakland as a city divided on how to combat its crime problems. She pointed out that voters rejected Measure Y, a public safety bond measure, until it was amended to include funding for at-risk youth programs.
This schism needs to be addressed by all candidates for city office, and it should be a deciding factor by Oakland voters.
Even in a gubernatorial election year that pits GOP self-made billionaire Meg Whitman against former Oakland mayor and Attorney General Jerry Brown, for Oakland residents the most important election will be right here at home.
Four years ago, Oakland voters, by a razor-thin margin, elected the populist candidate - Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums - and it has cost the city in ways it could never have imagined. There's not a self-aware citizen anywhere in Oakland who doesn't understand the cost or consequence of doing nothing for another four years.
In less than a year under new leadership, the Oakland Police Department has seen reductions in many areas of violent crime, but those gains are going to be difficult to sustain with fewer officers. And if the city ultimately loses 200 officers, or about 25 percent of its workforce, maintaining or building on that momentum will be impossible.
Four months before the election, Oakland residents are faced with one of two very distasteful things: Residents can either fork over another $360 per household to a completely inept local government or sit idly by while the Police Department is dismantled.
Oakland residents have an opportunity to correct the mistake made four years ago by demanding that candidates provide specific plans and concrete examples instead of vague, grandiose visions.