Ella’s Voice

By: Nwamaka Agbo

The June 30 deadline is fast approaching for Oakland City Council and Mayor Jean Quan to pass a budget that closes the $58 million budget deficit looming over the city.  And organizations and staff of the Oakland Rising are pressing our elected officials to pass a budget that minimizes the sacrifices for low-income, immigrant and communities of color and makes sure that anyone who works, lives or plays in Oakland take part in the shared responsibility and contributions in making our city financially strong.

Oakland Rising educates and mobilizes voters in the flatlands of Oakland to speak up for and take charge of the issues impacting their lives.  The coalition partners of Oakland Rising (Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, East Bay Alliance for Sustainable Economies, Causa Justa::Just Cause and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network) are all working towards a vision in which Oaklanders can realize our shared dreams of health, happiness, safety and opportunity for all.  An Oakland that stands for progress and sustainability, that models what is possible in American cities of the 21st century.  And in order to accomplish this, Oakland Rising is advocating for a budget that maximizes the funding for core, quality of life services that the most impacted residents of Oakland depend on.

For the past few months now, Oakland Rising has been in conversations with the city staff regarding the disastrous $58 million budget deficit city.  Working with labor unions, community residents, the libraries, senior centers and other community organizations, the coalition developed and put forth framework, as guiding principles for city leadership to uphold when drafting their budget proposals for the June 28 City Council meeting earlier this week.

Oakland Rising has worked with community and labor organizations to call on the City Council to:
1)   Collect on revenue currently on the city’s accounting books, before cutting vital Quality of Life services
2)   Prioritize Quality-of Life services as core services that contribute to a holistic approach to public safety
3)   Shared responsibility and contributions by everyone who works, lives and does business in Oakland.
4)   Prioritize progressive measures that bring new money into Oakland.

The budget problems in our city are difficult, for everyone.  Public sector employees, service providers, community residents and others, are all scratching their heads trying to figure out how to solve this problem.  It will take all people from around the table to come together and recognize what they can contribute in order to build a better Oakland for everyone.

This week the City of Oakland is in negotiations with 5 major labor unions to determine what contributions can be made in closing the budget gap.  Once negotiations are final, the City Council can then move forward in voting on a budget maxmiizes funding for core services.  And from there, the city can then begin pursuing progressive revenue generating measures that bring new money into Oakland.  Members from each union will vote in the coming days to approve the terms of the negotiations before City Council can vote to pass a budget by the June 30 deadline.

Once again, there is no easy fix to the budget problem in Oakland. There must be a combination of short-term solutions to put Oakland on track as a high-functioning city that takes care of its impacted communities, and long-term sustainable solutions that keep Oakland from falling back into the problem year after year.

If you are in support of the work of Oakland Rising, in urging the City of Oakland to pass a Fair Share Budget, join us at the Ella Baker Center Action Center and take a stand for Oakland.




570 14th Street, Suite 1
Oakland, CA 94612

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