Yesterday, our California in Crisis series reported:
California is controlled by the Democratic Party, and the California Democratic Party is controlled by the state’s government employee unions. You can’t win a statewide election there without at least the tacit approval of those unions. And for decades, the cost of their friendship has been protection from spending cuts in lean times and generous retirement package increases in good times.
California actually has fewer state government employees per capita than the national average, but its employees are the best-paid in America. This often has a negative effect on government services. It is hard, for example, to hire enough cops to keep violent crime down in Oakland if the city can’t afford the six-figure compensation packages of the existing officers.
Yesterday, KPIX reported:
Oakland’s crime problems have gotten so bad that some people aren’t even bothering to call the cops anymore; instead, they’re trying to solve and prevent crimes themselves.
KPIX 5 cameras caught up with a half dozen neighbors in East Oakland’s Arcadia Park neighborhood Monday as they walked the streets on the lookout for crime. The vigilance has never seemed more necessary than now; 25 homes in the neighborhood have been burglarized over the last two months alone.
In a neighborhood that has started to feel like the wild west, people have even started posting “wanted” signs.
“You have to walk around in your house with a gun to feel safe here,” said Alaska Tarvins of the Arcadia Park Board of Directors.
This November, The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
Oakland’s over-the-top homicide rate is only the most obvious problem when it comes to the city’s explosion in crime.
Although killings are tragic and make the news – and Oakland has already exceeded its total for all of last year – many more residents are falling victim to auto and home burglaries. Those are up a stunning 43 percent from last year.
“It’s horrendous,” said City Councilwoman Pat Kernighan, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee.
She suspects there’s a direct correlation between the crime spike and the city’s steady loss of police officers in recent years. “That’s the issue we all should be focusing on,” Kernighan said.
Back in 2010, Alan Lopez reported:
The average annual cost of salary and benefits for one police officer is $190,589 compared to $177,888 for one firefighter, according to a letter written by Councilwoman Pat Kernighan. … During good economic times, the Oakland Police Officers Association negotiated a contract in which police officers do not pay money into their pensions, unlike civilian employees and firefighters.
Under the current “3 percent at 50” pension formulas, a 30-year police veteran can retire with close to 90 percent of their last year’s salary. Paying the police pensions costs the city $8 million to $9 million a year, said City Councilwoman Jean Quan.
“That’s why we can’t balance the budget unless we cut the police somehow,” said Quan, a candidate for Oakland mayor in this November’s election.
On June 24, the City Council voted to lay off 80 police officers, which will go into effect on July 12.