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Opinion: Oakland Needs A Jobs and Justice Budget

Opinion: Oakland Needs A Jobs and Justice Budget

In order to strengthen quality of life and opportunity for all of our communities in Oakland, we need to look not only at what we say, but also whether we put our money where our mouths are. When the Oakland city government adopts a budget, deciding which programs to expand, which to cut, which to eliminate and which to add, these actions show where our values really are.

We must adopt a City of Oakland budget that gives real priority to jobs and justice.

This means doing more to help support our homeless neighbors get the services and support they need, and protecting our vital career centers and job training programs from cuts.

It means that we should stop wasting so much time and money having police stop and search people – mostly Black people – for no particular reason – and instead devote these resources to programs that uplift and support our communities, and respond to growing problems of blight, potholes, and illegal dumping that disproportionately impact parts of Oakland.

This means cutting the extra police academy the mayor added, and putting the money towards stopping the rampant violence in our communities. For example, we must crack down on gun violence and illegal gun dealing.

However, the mayor’s proposed budget not only “does not include any additional resources for efforts to crack down on gun violence and illegal gun dealing,” it also does not renew the funding for the staff who are specifically assigned to this important task.

We need to keep and strengthen our tracking down of illegal guns and putting gun dealers out of business. And, we must build a future of jobs and justice by investing in youth summer jobs, and taking this program seriously.

During our summers, many young people are not provided safe and productive places to be.  This can result in young people getting endangered by or recruited into crime.

And, when our young adults don’t have access to the jobs they need, this hurts their own immediate finances, the finances of their family, and their long-term job prospects.

For too long, the Oakland administration has treated this vital program as an optional charity case – instead of as a real, ongoing, staffed part of the City of Oakland budget, the youth jobs program has depended on the rise and fall of the inclination of the mayor for private fundraising.

And, last year, by failing to complete required paperwork on time, the Oakland Administration lost our community over $2 million in youth jobs funding from the Federal government – funds we will never get back.

We need to fund this program and make clear that we want it to have ongoing support so that our young people are provided better opportunities.

That is why Councilmember Brooks and I, along with Community Coalition, have submitted a budget proposal, “Community Coalition Budget,” based on these goals.

The Community Coalition Budget addresses all the above mentioned goals and values.

I hope the citizens of Oakland will also support our budget by coming out to the special City Council Meeting at City Hall in Council Chambers on Monday, June 26 beginning at 5:30 p.m. to speak in support of the “Community Coalition Budget”, to make sure the City funds these vital needs in order to create a prosperous and humane Oakland.


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