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Don Perata And The Oakland Police Layoffs

Anybody But Perata Website
July 8, 2010

How a political candidate acts during their campaign for office can often tell us how they would act if they won. And so how Don Perata handled the struggle this summer over the Oakland police layoffs probably tells us a lot about how he would handle the job of Mayor of the City of Oakland. It's another good example of why we don't want Don Perata for mayor.

The East Bay Express ("The Perata Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight") and the Oakland Tribune ("In Oakland, Perata Supporters Tied To Mailers On Police Cuts") both published excellent articles on this situation, and we refer you back to them. But it's a complicated story, so we'll take some time and go over it again.

In late June, facing a $31 million deficit in Oakland's budget, a coalition of four Oakland City Councilmembers—Council President Jane Brunner, Council Budget Committee Chair Jean Quan, and Councilmembers Ignacio De La Fuente and Pat Kernighan—proposed, among other things, police layoffs as part of the solution. De La Fuente proposed laying off 150 police officers while the other councilmembers proposed an 80-officer layoff in order to close the budget gap. Brunner released the layoff proposal under her name and the name of the other three councilmembers.

Late in June, the Oakland City Council passed a city budget that included the proposed 80 police layoffs.

Voting Yes on the budget and the proposed police layoffs:

Councilmember Jane Brunner
Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente
Councilmember Jean Quan
Councilmember Pat Kernighan
Councilmember Nancy Nadel

Voting No on the budget and against the proposed police layoffs:

Councilmember Desley Brooks
Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan
Councilmember Larry Reid

Several days following the June 24 budget vote, Oakland residents began receiving two items in the mail in opposition to the police layoffs. Both of these came from a Sacramento-based organization called the Coalition for a Safer California.

One of the coalition's mailers had a cartoon of a uniformed Oakland police officer standing in an unemployment line, with the headline reading "Is this the future of Oakland?". The other was a letter under the letterhead of the San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA) police union and signed by SFPOA president Gary Delagnes.

Who is the Coalition for a Safer Organization? The full official title of the organization is the "Coalition for a Safer California sponsored by Public Safety Organizations." Documents filed with the California Secretary of State's office list two groups as sponsoring committees for the coalition: the San Francisco Police Officers Association and the San Jose Police Officers Association.

But both the East Bay Express and the Oakland Tribune articles showed that the Coalition for a Safer California is largely funded by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the prison guards union that has close longtime ties to Perata.

Both the Coaliton for a Safer California "Is this the future of Oakland?" brochure and the SFPOA letter had identical errors about who was behind the police layoff proposal on the Oakland City Council. And not surprisingly, these errors seemed designed to help Perata in his campaign for mayor of Oakland.

The Coalition for a Safer California brochure said that "[l]ed by Council members Jean Quan, Rebecca Kaplan and Pat Kernighan, the city is planning a vote [on the layoffs] on Tuesday, June 29th" (emphasis added; the date for the vote was incorrect).

The SFPOA letter said that the organization "would encourage you to voice your opinion to the Councils Chair of the City's Budget Committee, Jean Quan... We understand that [Quan], along with City Council members Rebecca Kaplan and Pat Kernighan are behind the effort to weaken Oakland's public safety program." (emphasis added)

So what were the errors in the two Coaliton for a Safer California mailers that helped Perata's mayoral campaign?

The first was in leaving Council President Jane Brunner out as one of the Oakland Councilmembers in support of the police layoffs. Remember, Brunner was the leader of that effort, and the proposal of the four Councilmembers for the police layoffs was sent out in an email under Brunner's name. But by taking Brunner out as the leader, the Coalition for a Safer California mailers made it look like Jean Quan was the leader of the police layoff effort. And Jean Quan, of course, is running for mayor of the City of Oakland against Don Perata in the November election.

Second, the Coalition for a Safer California mailers both included Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan as a supporter of the police layoff plan, even though Kaplan was not a member of the four-Councilmember coalition supporting the layoffs, and even though Kaplan voted against the budget that included the 80 police layoffs. Rebecca Kaplan, of course, is another candidate running against Don Perata for mayor of Oakland.

Finally, the Coalition for a Safer California mailers did not include Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente as a police layoff supporter, even though De La Fuente was a member of the four-Councilmember coalition calling for the layoffs, and even though De La Fuente was proposing a larger police layoff (150) than the other Councilmembers were proposing (80).

If the Coalition for a Safer California was really interested in public safety in Oakland and how many police we have in our city, they would have asked voters to put more pressure on De La Fuente, who was proposing the largest police layoffs. But De La Fuente is Perata's closest ally on the Oakland City Council, and is expected to be one of Perata's strongest supporters in Perata's race for Oakland mayor. We don't know if that's the reason, but we know that the Coalition for a Safer California left De La Fuente's name out of their mailers.

Perata told the Oakland Tribune through a campaign spokesperson that "Sen. Perata has had no involvement with the mailers," but then used the mailers to promote his own campaign. Perata "shares the concerns raised by many Oaklanders," his spokesperson was quoted as saying. "The City Council has proposed another band-aid solution and their hand-to-mouth approach has Oakland strangled."

So how do we sum up the story of the Perata campaign and the proposed Oakland police layoffs?

An organization from outside of Oakland with ties to Don Perata—the Coalition for a Safer California—sent out mailers in late June asking Oakland voters to oppose the proposed layoffs of 80 Oakland police officers.

But the mailers misrepresented the position of Oakland City Councilmembers on the police layoff issue. These misrepresentations helped the mayoral campaign of Don Perata by making it look like one of his opponents—Jean Quan—was the leader of the Council police layoff coalition when she was only a member of that coalition, and including another one of his opponents—Rebecca Kaplan—as a police layoff supporter even though Kaplan was never a member of the Council police layoff coalition, and voted against the police layoffs. In addition, the mailers left out mention of the Councilmember who was in favor of the most police layoffs—Ignacio De La Fuente—possibly because De La Fuente is a longtime supporter of Perata.

The conclusion is that the organization putting out the mailers appeared more interested in getting Don Perata elected mayor than they were in actually getting the Oakland police layoffs overturned.

Meanwhile, Perata's campaign took advantage of the mailers by agreeing with their complaints about the police layoffs, and failed to criticize the Coalition for a Safer California for the misrepresentations against the Oakland Councilmembers in the mailer.

Misrepresenting the facts. Failure by Perata to take responsibility for actions. Putting the future of Don Perata ahead of the welfare of the City of Oakland and its neighborhoods and citizens. We have seen this pattern of actions many times before in the career of Don Perata. This is a good example of why we are opposed to Don Perata's election as mayor of the City of Oakland.

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The Perata Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
June 29, 2010

If the events of recent days are any indication, Don Perata’s candidacy for mayor is off to a very shaky start. Not only have the major dailies noted the many ties between the ex-state senator and a shadowy political group that blanketed the city with two political hit pieces over the weekend. But the glossy mailers sent by the Perata-linked group — Coalition for a Safer California — are full of ridiculous errors that raise serious doubts about the intellectual capacity of Perata’s close associates, while offering potential insight to how a Perata mayor’s office would function.

For starters, the mailers urge Oakland residents to call councilmembers and voice their concerns about the cops’ layoff plan before a “Tuesday, June 29th” vote. But the council already voted for the cops’ layoff plan on June 24 — before the mailers had even arrived in peoples’ mailboxes. In fact, there is no City Council meeting on June 29 (today). It was canceled last week, before the mailers hit Oakland.

In addition, the mailers target Councilwomen Rebecca Kaplan and Desley Brooks, criticizing them, along with Councilwomen Jean Quan and Pat Kernighan, for the Oakland cops’ layoff plan and the city’s financial woes. However, Kaplan and Brooks voted against the cop layoffs on June 24 — again, before the mailers arrived in Oakland.

In other words, if the purpose of the mailers was to convince residents to put pressure on the council to not vote for the cop layoffs, then the hit pieces completely missed the mark. Pathetic and amateurish are two words that immediately come to mind.


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In Oakland, Perata Supporters Tied To Mailers On Police Cuts

By Kelly Rayburn
Oakland Tribune
June 29, 2010

OAKLAND — A group of organizations and individuals with long-standing ties to mayoral candidate and former state Sen. Don Perata are among those behind mailers attacking four City Council members after the council voted Thursday to lay off 80 police officers, records show.

The pieces hit mailboxes late last week and Monday after the council's vote on a 2010-11 budget plan and in the middle of negotiations between the city and the Oakland Police Officers Association aimed at securing concessions from the union and possibly saving jobs.

One mailer shows a police officer standing in an unemployment line above the words, "Is this the future of Oakland?" Residents also received a letter from Gary Delagnes, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, comparing Oakland's police staffing level unfavorably to San Francisco's. Both were paid for by the Sacramento-based Coalition for a Safer California.

The group singled out council members Jean Quan, Pat Kernighan, Rebecca Kaplan and Desley Brooks — even though Kaplan and Brooks voted against the budget. City Council President Jane Brunner and Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente, who voted for and played a key role in crafting the proposal, were not mentioned in either piece, however.


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80 Oakland Police Officers Get Layoff Notices

By Matthai Kuruvila
San Francisco Chronicle
June 29, 2010

[Anybody But Perata website note: This is an excerpt from a San Francisco Chronicle article on the proposed police layoffs in Oakland. We have printed the portions that deal with the mailers sent out to Oakland voters by groups with ties to Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata. The entire article is available on the San Francisco Chronicle website here.]

Oakland sent out pink slips to 80 of its 776 police officers on Monday as negotiations between the police union and the city languished for another day.


[A]lthough [Oakland Police Officers Association President Dom] Arotzarena and [Oakland City Council President Jane] Brunner tried to put a positive spin on the talks, police groups have been filling residents' mailboxes with mailers criticizing three City Council members, particularly mayoral candidate Jean Quan.


The mailers sent out in recent days seek to take the issue to voters.

Each of the mailers was sent by police groups, which have strong ties to former state senator and mayoral candidate Don Perata, though he denied any connection to either mailer.

One of the mailers is a letter from the San Francisco Police Officers Association. It criticizes Councilwomen Quan, Rebecca Kaplan and Pat Kernighan. Kaplan is expected to announce her candidacy for mayor Wednesday.

The letter, from union President Gary Delagnes, states those council members are "behind the effort to weaken Oakland's public safety program."

"Gary Delagnes believed that those three council members were an impediment to the officers' problems," said Officer Kevin Martin, vice president of the San Francisco police union. Martin said the letter was based on conversations with Arotzarena, which Arotzarena denied.

"Gary Delagnes did not call me and get that information from me," Arotzarena said.

Quan noted that San Francisco police officers pay 7.5 percent into their pensions, and, next year, new hires will pay 9 percent. In Oakland, she said, "the current police pensions are not sustainable."

The other mailer was sent by Coalition for a Safer California, a coalition of public safety groups. It is run by a Sacramento law firm, Olson, Hagel & Fishburn. Lance Olson, a managing partner in charge of the coalition, did not return calls.

That mailer singled out the same three council members - Quan, Kaplan and Kernighan - and accused them of wanting to cut police units that specialize in gangs, sexual assault, child abuse, and auto and residential burglary.

In fact, no one on the council has publicly suggested cuts to specific units. The decision has been left to Police Chief Anthony Batts. The letter also claimed the council was considering 197 layoffs tonight, but there is no council meeting tonight and only 80 layoffs were approved Thursday.

Brunner was dismayed by the letters.

"We're working really hard to balance the budget," she said. "I don't know if these leaflets are that helpful."

[To Complete Article]

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Kaplan And Quan Disagree With Perata On Cop Pay Cuts

By Robert Gammon
East Bay Express
June 18, 2010

Oakland Councilwomen Rebecca Kaplan and Jean Quan believe that the city’s well-paid police officers should agree to compensation cuts to help balance the city’s $31 million budget deficit, but ex-state Senator Don Perata indicated in a recent interview that cops have already sacrificed too much. The sharp disagreement among the three leading mayoral candidates offers insight into how they would deal with budget crises in the future, and it reveals their political allegiances.

Earlier in the week, Quan voted to begin the process of laying off 200 Oakland police officers if cops refuse to start paying 9 percent to their own retirement plans. Currently, police pay nothing toward their pensions, while firefighters contribute 13 percent and other city workers pay part of their retirement plans as well. A majority of the council wants that to change. And they note that because police and fire take up 75 percent of the city’s general fund budget, there are few other places to cut.

Kaplan also pointed out that Oakland police, whose salaries start at $71,000 annually, make more than their counterparts in other cities. The Tribune noted that starting pay for NYPD is about $44,000. “We shouldn't have to pay double what New York City has to pay,” Kaplan said, according to the Trib. “We shouldn't have the highest-paid workers paying a lower percentage into their pension than the lowest-paid workers.”


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You can contact the Anybody But Perata For Mayor website at admin@notdon.org