Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 26, 2020

Motion sensing

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

I realized I never wrote about the City Council meeting from last week where folks were mobilizing to try to get the City Council to not approve the mid-year budget unless the City Council was going to cut the police budget.

It was definitely a righteous movement, but failed to understand how municipal budgets actually work.  Vice Mayor John Knox White and City Councilmember Malia Vella came prepared to acknowledge the anger and frustration of members in the community looking to make some sort of change but with an understanding that business still needed to be done.  And honestly if folks want to expend in excess of 2000 words to try to diminish the fact that this motion was able to keep the business of the City operating AND actually show the community that their concerns were heard then that’s their own nitpicky political baggage and not anything untoward about the actions of the City Council that night.

The motion, which was voted unanimously by the City Council:

Motion to approve the proposed budget with the following direction:

  • A special City Council meeting will be called before June 30th with one agenda item:
    • City Council workshop on setting goals, discussing concepts and work planning in support of engaging the Alameda Community in discussions of transforming how our City provides community services, responses and law enforcement, including a policy review of existing policies.
  • The 20/21 budget is approved with the direction that it return for further consideration in October with proposed changes identified and developed during the Council and community engagement process
  • The council will hold special council meetings as needed and work through the August break to facilitate the process for transforming how our City provides community services, responses and law enforcement.
  • Staff will return to the council with a proposal for changing any response protocols for Alameda Police. Including any changes announced in May or June 2020.
  • All Policing policy changes will be brought to the City Council for approval before implementation. In the instance where changes in State or Federal law or courts rule that change is required, changes can be made and brought to the next available council meeting for ratification and if approved, posted onto the City website.
  • As the 19/20 budget had significantly reduced spending for the police department that resulted in a nearly $3million savings, the budget is approved with the following stipulations:
    • Hold current vacancies until October budget meeting.
    • Grant the city manager authority to shift funds as needed through October 2020, with continued public reporting, to cover changes in service related to service response policies that are approved by the City Council
    • Begin the process to sell the Ballistic Armored Tactical Transport response vehicle and return to Council with policies that outline collaboration with regional partners for the rare occasion when such a vehicle may be needed.
    • In an effort to demilitarize our police department, funds allocated to APD may not be used to purchase, procure, or maintain military grade equipment (Tear Gas, armored vehicles, etc.)
    • We support the proposed removal of City police staff from Alameda Schools per the agreement made with AUSD

What we got here was some solid policy moves that had never been addressed before because we’ve never had such a public reckoning with so much energy before.  I imagine the 1991 police scanner fallout was pretty big, but this feels like there is momentum because it’s not just a local issue but one that is being played out nationally as well.

While some may try to frame this as interfering in how the Police Chief runs the police department, it falls well within the scope of what the City Council has control over: policy and the budget.  These are excellent first steps to the larger conversation to be held on Monday.

6 Comments »

  1. The charter prohibits the city council from running the police and fire departments. Now I see why we had to pay a former city manager half a million bucks, the Fire Chief has been on “mysterious” leave and the Police Chief may be about to join him.

    JKW and Vella have moved to take over APD from the Police Chief, because he dared to support the former city manager during the embarrassing (to Vella and Oddie)Grand Jury investigation. They have imposed a police hiring freeze, when Alameda is already short of officers, and moved to halt any reforms they don’t control. This can’t end well.

    What will happen next is not theoretical. All of America is watching it or experiencing it. When you remove traditional riot control tools, your only other alternatives to protect people and property from a mob is to have police with batons confront crowds looting, breaking windows, defacing public property, throwing objects and Molotov cocktails, What we saw in Seattle and Minneapolis is that the mayor will then order the police to stand down and surrender their police station as well as the business district to be occupied and trashed by protestors rather than confront the protestors. Guess who will pay then? Alameda taxpayers.

    Trish Spencer’s suggestion for a citizen police commission sounds far better than putting Vella and JKW in charge of police.

    Comment by Nowyouknow — June 26, 2020 @ 7:48 am

    • Apparently our “riot control tools” aka our military grade vehicle has never been used in Alameda. What are we keeping it for other than for dick measuring?

      It would be silly to continue to hire police officers if the community discussion and policy decisions move toward funding non-armed community response teams. It would be irresponsible to bring on board officers we don’t intend on keeping. A hiring freeze until all of these POLICY and BUDGET decisions are made is the right call.

      Comment by Lauren Do — June 26, 2020 @ 8:30 am

    • Looks like your dear leader’s poll numbers are in the toilet these days:
      https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/?cid=rrpromo

      Comment by john doe — June 26, 2020 @ 10:20 am

    • Nowyouknow – Trish Spencer’s “suggestion for a citizen police commission” is a complete horseshit that attempts to airbrush history. Trish’s proposal came at a time when Alamedans were perceiving a rise in crime, when there was a noticeable number of break-ins and thefts happening around the island. The full name of her proposal was “Police and Crime Citizens Oversight Advisory Committee.”

      Notice the “crime” part.

      The oversight idea was primarily about getting tougher on crime, not about what is happening today. Yet Trish is attempting to repackage this idea into an antithesis of itself to politically capitalize on today’s Black Lives Matter movement, and I find that extremely shallow and opportunistic.

      Here is a key quote by Rasheed Shabazz in a correspondence sent to city council in 2017:

      “Since the motivation for this committee appears to be based on a perceived increase of crime in Alameda… If this proposal was for Police Oversight Committee, or if this Committee was being assembled to address racial profiling or bias-based policing, I would likely ask you to support this; however, as it is written, this looks like it would be a fear-based citizens council that could contribute to racial profiling.”

      https://alameda.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=5675806&GUID=93536749-7D7C-46FE-B700-3EB931D63A3E

      If you really want to take a gander at what might have been Trish’s true motivation for her tough-on-crime committee, councilmember Jim Oddie recently had this to say: “I know [the idea of a police commission] came before us a couple years ago, and I thought it was a bad idea because I thought it was motivated by retaliation by the former mayor for her husband getting pulled over by the police or a crime of driving under the influence.”

      Trish Spencer has never been an ally of the vulnerable members of our community (recall her vote against minimum wage workers, actively working to harm the wellness center for medically frail seniors, fighting against anti-bullying curriculum in schools, joining the out-of-town corporate landlords in their fight against Alameda tenants) so she is perhaps one of the last people we should trust with spearheading any kind of oversight commission that seeks to protect at-risk Alamedans.

      Comment by JRB — June 26, 2020 @ 1:33 pm

      • Once again, all fine and good, but I question this part: “If you really want to take a gander at what might have been Trish’s true motivation for her tough-on-crime committee, councilmember Jim Oddie recently had this to say: “I know [the idea of a police commission] came before us a couple years ago, and I thought it was a bad idea because I thought it was motivated by retaliation by the former mayor for her husband getting pulled over by the police or a crime of driving under the influence.”

        It’s possible that that is what was thought at the time, but it is not exactly what the minutes of the Dec 5 2017 Council meeting reflect as to the Councilmember’s spoken comments; to wit:

        “Councilmember Oddie briefly discussed the LPR scenario; stated the City is really not
        providing any information that federal agencies cannot already access; stated the
        matter will be discussed in more detail at another time; read from an email Council
        received regarding the matter; stated the Police Department is responsible for oversight;
        the City Manager reports directly to Council; the City is small enough to react quickly;
        discussed racial profiling and a recent neighborhood meeting; stated that he has not
        seen data showing there is a profiling issue; he is not sure the committee is needed at
        this point.” (Minutes, City Council 12-5-17)

        I still wonder about your point about how we should not trust a non-ally to “spearhead” a police commission, given that the non-ally was but one out of five votes on the Council, which, could have acted only as a body, and not mayoral fiat, to determine the direction of any such commission.

        Maybe, in the back of other Councilmembers’ minds at the time, was the idea that because Spencer (a non-ally or one with an improper retaliatory motive) raised the issue, that was enough to table it. That’s not what those minutes seem to reflect – nor do they reflect the idea that the only conceivable purpose of the idea under consideration was to simply increase police activity. Where the argument for non-action at that point was a lack of evidence showing a profiling problem, I would think that was an argument not against a commission designed to motivate increased police activity, but just the opposite. Nor was it an argument based on the suspected motivations of Spencer, who brought the referral. It sounds much more policy-based, as does “the Police Department is responsible for oversight; the City Manager reports directly to Council; the City is small enough to react quickly….he is not sure the committee is needed at this point”.

        Perhaps some of the meaning that one might pick up from the video of the 12-5-17 meeting was lost by the time it was reduced to the written minutes.

        Comment by MP — June 26, 2020 @ 2:36 pm

  2. “And honestly if folks want to expend in excess of 2000 words to try to diminish the fact ….. then that’s their own nitpicky political baggage”

    What is the reference there? General disapproval of what a random member of the public might say, 2000+ specific words by a specific person, or is it a reference to a cumulative word count on the multiple text/email messages, some anonymous, many similar in their wording, that were read by voice simulator while Councilmembers sat listening in front of their Zoom cameras?

    Comment by MP — June 26, 2020 @ 8:13 am


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