ORPN Website Will Close June 30
This website will close on June 30, 2016. Eleven years ago Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhood began documenting issues of public safety and other problems in the civic life of our city. Public officials would not admit that Oakland has a seriously understaffed police department and an exceptional crime problem. Today, few dare deny these facts.
We take a bit of pride in having contributed to the recognition, however reluctant, that the residents of our city suffer two and three times the robberies, burglaries, and assaults of other U.S. cities. We take some credit for the general agreement that Oakland needs two to three hundred more police officers.
Although our impact was large for a small group of concerned Oakland residents, the problems themselves have not been solved. This work remains for us and those who follow.
The reports on the ORPN website during the past eleven years are a rich resource for anyone who wants to know how Oakland and its officials operate. You can download the entire website to your computer before it closes June 30. A free program that we tested is available at
https://www.httrack.com/page/2/en/index.html. (We have no relation to the organization that offers the program.)
If you use the option in the program to exclude video and audio files, you will have a 55 MB download that takes about 38 minutes over a typical DSL broadband connection.
–––––––– ORPN: Reporting and advocating since 2005
What We Are For
Oakland could be a great city to live in. It has gorgeous weather nearly year-round; the city participates in the cultural riches of the San Francisco Bay Area; and the population is a talented mix of long-time residents and eager new arrivals.
Yet living in Oakland brings too much pain throughout the city's broad flatland districts: Maxwell Park, Dimond, San Antonio, Laurel, Fruitvale, and north Oakland, not to mention west Oakland and deep east Oakland. Boom cars disrupt peace in our homes throughout the day and evening; then they gather for gunshot-punctuated sideshows at night. Oakland is one of the top cities for vehicle theft; it is not safe to leave your car parked on the street. Our children walk to school past aggressive thugs dealing drugs openly. Armed robberies and violent burglaries are rampant.
City government has not responded. The mayor and city council maintain only half a police department, comparing Oakland on a population basis with Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland and most major cities.
On the other hand, the City acts as though it can take the place of county, state, and federal social programs. The city council turns again and again to financially strapped homeowners for additional parcel taxes and other levies on homes. But the City does not spend the money well, often not even as promised. Sometimes the handouts are disasters, like the $185,000 embezzled by PUEBLO officers. Overall, too many private agencies are badly supervised, uncoordinated, and inefficient. One operation, Youth UpRising, has received millions of dollars in virtually unconditional grants while promoting the sideshow culture whose celebrants make our streets unpeaceful and unsafe.
Our Contributions As The Opposition
Eleven years ago Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods was almost a lone voice calling attention to understaffing of the police department. Today most people acknowledge that Oakland has far too few officers. ORPN played a role in the growth of awareness, primarily by drawing the lessons from one outrageous wave of crimes after another.
When we fight bad proposals from a council that is supposed to craft good legislation, we think we perform a public service.
We warned Measure Y would not provide 802 police officers. Events confirmed that supporters of Measure Y were either irresponsibly ignorant or just plain lying when they insisted its language guaranteed 802 officers.
We helped defeat permanent annual increases in the Landscape and Lighting Assessment, simply by publicizing the city council's unashamed provision that it would put 55 cents of every dollar back in the general fund, to be used for anything but landscape and lighting.
Our critics are not happy with the odious but accurate picture of a City Hall that disappoints and betrays residents time after time. The charge is that we are always so negative. What are we for?
Let the aroused residents of Oakland say what we are for.
- We are for restoring public safety in Oakland. That means at least 1,100 police officers, and therefore a solid plan and commitment to rebuilding what is currently half a police department. That means bringing closure to the crippling "negotiated settlement agreement" that continues to enrich a couple of attorneys year after year.
- We are for City leadership that insists everyone in Oakland observe simple respect for the community. We must turn around the attitude of making concessions to boom cars, open street dealing, sideshows, wrecking of public events, and disruptive party houses. There is no "cultural" excuse for making the lives of innocent residents all across Oakland miserable. City leaders must draw the line, not give Oakland a national reputation for thug rule of the streets.
- We are for the City providing efficient basic services first and foremost. In addition to public safety, that means maintain the streets and sidewalks, do garbage collection right, keep the traffic lights working. These are the first jobs of government, even if they are not exciting like grandiose schemes for a Coliseum deal, a palace library, and Fox Theatre restoration. Do first things first; you can play later if there is the money.
- We are for imposing accountability on social programs. From the PUEBLO scandal to the latest illegal raid on the Measure Y fund, social programs in Oakland are scattered, overlapping, inefficient, out of control, and a breeding ground of political corruption. We are for fewer, consolidated programs run by public departments, not by half-secret nonprofit agencies. The City should largely confine itself to helping implement county, state, and federal job training, probation, and other programs. These levels of government have a broader tax base and the responsibility to run their criminal justice and penal systems well to achieve real rehabilitation.
City officials cannot explain why they deny Oakland residents a peaceful, efficiently run city. We are already paying for it. It is for the good of all.