Oakland is down to 730 sworn police officers for a population that some police officials say should have around 900. Oakland scheduled a police academy to replenish the ranks that have dwindled due to attrition, but the effort has not been sufficient to grow the force to where backers would like.
Councilmember Dan Kalb is proposing to fund a second police academy to fortify the police's ranks.
Kalb said he will formally make the proposal during the mid-cycle budget revision talks coming next May. He hopes that funding an additional academy will at least fill the police department's current vacancies.
He said residents are asking for additional street patrols to combat a rash of recent crimes, primarily home and vehicle break-ins. Such crimes are often never investigated by the Oakland Police Department.
His proposal comes after the issue of the short-staffed police department was highlighted by the recent theft of a laptop computer at a Starbucks in the Montclair District of Oakland that resulted in a homicide.
Bauer-Kahan's Bill Would Close Auto Burglary Loophole
East Bay Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and a Southern California Republican joined forces last week to introduce a bill that would change the definition of an auto burglary and increase jail time for its offenders.
"Every smashed window and every piece of stolen property is both costly and a personal violation of our residents," Bauer-Kahan said in a statement. "For far too long criminals have been abusing a loophole in current law that requires prosecutors to prove that a car was not unlocked at the time of a break-in. This bill would close that loophole and ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable."
The bill was introduced on Jan. 13 as a number of Bay Area communities are facing growing concerns over a spike in auto and home burglaries.
Bauer-Kahan, a first-term Democratic assemblymember who represents the Tri-Valley and Contra Costa County's 16th District, is the principal author of Assembly Bill 1921, along with Republican Assemblymember Tyler Diep of Westminster.
San Francisco state Sen. Scott Wiener is a principal co-author of the bill. In addition, Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk is a co-author.
The legislation also proposes to increase jail time for those convicted of misdemeanor and felony auto burglaries of up to one year in county jail.
Skinner's Plan to Tax CEO Pay Moves Forward
East Bay Sen. Nancy Skinner's latest attempt to raise taxes on corporations that pay astronomical compensation to their CEO was approved by its first legislative committee last week, keeping the bill alive as a key Jan. 31 deadline approaches.
The bill authored by Skinner, and co-authored by East Bay Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, was first introduced last April, but stalled in the state senate. The two-year bill has until the end of this month to make it out of the chamber.
If approved and signed into the law, Senate Bill 37 could be a windfall for the state treasury. A legislative analysis estimates the tax on CEO pay would generate more than $4 billion a year in new tax revenues.
Skinner's bill would apply a progressive tax on corporations with at least $10 million in net income generated in California. Corporations in the state currently pay a tax rate of 8.84 percent. Under Skinner's plan, the corporate tax rate would jump to 10.84 percent for all such corporations. Those that pay their CEO more than 50 percent of their average worker's pay would have an 11.84 percent tax rate. The rate would gradually increase up to 14.84 percent for corporations that pay their CEO more than 300 times their average worker's compensation.
Skinner said the impetus of the bill is to discourage excessive CEO pay and encourage corporations to return some of their earnings to workers. But it's unclear whether this type of tax scheme will do the trick. Portland enacted a similar tax tied to CEO pay in 2016, according to a legislative analysis of SB 37. While the tax generated new revenues, the jury is still out on whether the tax regimen has discouraged skyrocketing CEO pay.
In Other News ...
Oakland became the first city in the state to prohibit landlords from conducting criminal background checks on prospective tenants, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Berkeley will take up a similar items next month. ... The Berkeley City Council approved a plan Tuesday night for a homeless encampment pilot program under the freeway at University Avenue, Berkeleyside reported. ... Is Hayward the next millennial haven? A survey found the self-proclaimed "Heart of the Bay" is one of the most popular cities for millennial homebuyers in the country, Curbed SF reported. The median home price in Hayward is under $650,000, but that's a pretty good deal in the Bay Area.
The University of California ended a lengthy stand-off with union custodians, truck drivers, and cooks on Wednesday, the Sacramento Bee reported. ... The UC Board of Regents postponed a vote on Wednesday for a pair of proposals to raise tuition, the Associated Press reported. ... A proposed $50 million grant tucked within Gov. Gavin Newsom's proposed state budget could help prevent animal shelters from euthanizing dogs and cats in the state, the Chron reported. ... Berkeley's Memphis Meats received $161 million in funding recent for its burgeoning method for creating meat from cells, SFGate reported. ...
It's either great ballpark news for A's fans or famous last words. A's President Dave Kaval told a gathering of fans at last weekend's FanFest to "Get the shovels ready!" the Chron reported. Kaval said he hopes the team can begin work on its downtown ballpark at Howard Terminal by this summer. ... Remember that football team that used to play in Oakland? It was officially renamed the Las Vegas Raiders during a press conference in Nevada Wednesday, AP reported. ... Almost in time for Super Bowl Sunday, a truck carrying 16,000 pounds of avocados tipped over on Highway 13 near the Mormon Temple in Oakland, Bay City News reported.