Oakland faces tough challenges ahead

Oakland faces tough challenges ahead

January 17, 2012 9:00:23 PM PST
Oakland is making news this week on several fronts. The city is sending out layoff notices to more than half its employees as well as launching its latest crime-fighting initiatives. Also, Occupy demonstrators are making their presence known once again.

Occupy protesters had announced they were having a rally and that they were going to attempt yet again to occupy Tuesday night's city council meeting, but so far, there has been very little activity. Meantime, those who work for the city are bracing for pink slips. ABC7 learned there are about 1,400 full-time employees and another 1,000 part-time workers that will start receiving those notices on Wednesday.

Tuesday, city leaders also spoke about crime.

"These 100 blocks are where 92 percent of the murders have happened over the last five years," said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

This week, city staffers will start receiving more than 1,500 layoff notices -- that's more than half their ranks.

"The City of Oakland and the employees have been through layoffs a lot in the last three years, since the recession started, so I think there's a lot of fatalism now and resignation that if your number's up, your number's up," said Adrian Roe, an Oakland city employee.

The pink slips are supposed to arrive on Wednesday and by the end of the month, 200 employees will actually be let go. That's to make up for the $26 million lost, when redevelopment agencies are eliminated Feb. 1st.

"Our '100 Block' strategy goes beyond OPD enforcement," said Police Chief Howard Jordan.

Jordan emphasized the "100 Block" initiative will rely not only on added patrols in high crime neighborhoods, but also on support from departments across the city. Those include Public Works and Parks and Recreation -- two departments that could be hard-hit by the impending layoffs.

"Yes we will have cuts, but this is a question of changing how we do business and what exactly are the changes we need to make," said Oakland city administrator Deanna Santana.

Santana says it will be about channeling limited resources to those neighborhoods that need them most. For her part, Quan is optimistic that her crime-fighting plan will work, even though it's being launched at the same time her city has to cut, so deeply.

"It's challenging times. I have no idea what other cuts are going to happen, but we will prioritize these 100 blocks," said Quan.

With the 2,400 layoffs already in motion, those workers will receive a courtesy notice, then a certified letter at their homes. The mayor and city administrator will submit their proposed budget over the weekend and then the decision of which 200 people will actually lose their jobs will be made next week. Those layoffs would be effective Feb. 3.