The Oakland City Council has decided to appeal a judge's ruling that, if allowed to stand, would force the city to make at least $10 million in debilitating budget cuts, and could result in the police department assigning rookie cops to key positions that they're not capable of handling. The court's ruling, issued earlier this year, was the result of a lawsuit brought by an Oakland resident, Marleen Sacks, who claimed that the council illegally used funds from Measure Y, a citywide community-policing ballot initiative. The council and City Attorney John Russo, however, contend that there was no misuse of the measure's funds.
In the end, the council had no choice
but to appeal the ruling. The judge's decision put the city in an untenable situation: It would to have to repay the Measure Y account $10 million or more from the city's general fund and thus force Oakland to close libraries and further slash vital programs. And, it could result in the police department putting inexperienced rookies in community policing positions -- if the city wanted to use Measure Y funds for recruiting, hiring, and training officers.
Moreover, the council is right to appeal because the funds it authorized from Measure Y were put to good use. The police department spent the money on recruiting and training rookie cops so it could transfer veteran officers into the community policing positions that the measure is designed to fund.
Correction: This post was corrected to accurately reflect the Oakland City Attorney's position on what the judges' ruling would mean for the city, if it withstands the appeals process. According to Supervising Deputy City Attorney Kevin Siegel, who helped litigate the case, the judge's ruling means the city would not be able to transfer rookies who were hired last year and trained with Measure Y funds into Measure Y positions and have Measure Y funds pay for it because the officers were first sent to patrol. The judge's ruling explicitly states that the rookies must be sent "directly" to Measure Y positions if they are hired and trained using Measure Y funds. The City Attorney's Office had stated before the judge's ruling that city should be able to transfer the officers into Measure Y positions and charge the Measure Y account for their hiring and training.