Monday, February 23, 2015

Proposed Oakland department on race would be one of its least expensive to run

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Councilmember Desley Brooks' proposal to create a new city department on race and equity in city government could cost over $800,000 annually to operate, according to a staff report, making it one of the least expensive at City Hall.

The Oakland City Council's Finance and Life Enrichment Committees will first hear the plan to create a Department of Race and Equity this Tuesday.

The proposed department would be divided into the areas of race and equity, Civil Rights, and equity and project Implementation, according to Brooks' draft work plan.

In addition, the department's function would include creating a citywide Equity Initiative Plan; working with all departments to focus on equity as a standard practice and promote social and racial injustices within the city and potentially the entire region.

The city nor the county currently have such an office dedicated to race and equity. Similar departments in San Francisco, Portland and Seattle were briefly studied by city staff.

The cost of establishing a new city department on race and equity has earned early support since Brooks first offered the proposal late last month. However, with a budget shortfall of nearly $30 million on the books, money for creating the department could be problematic.

City staff estimates the staffing and operating the department could run as high as $819,000 a year. The estimate includes a $232,000 salary for a director and three other full-time employees, according to the report.


  1. "Working with all departments to focus on equity as a standard practice and promote social and racial injustices.."

    Uh huh.

  2. Too little too late. Since 2000 Oakland has lost 1/3 of its Black population to rising housing prices, gentrification and ongoing neglect by City Hall.

    Not at all sure what the new city department would do and how it might enforce its findings. In general Oakland is mostly good at creating ineffective bureaucratic messes and throwing money away.

    Seems to me equity is tied directly to ethics and an equity effort might well have been combined with the new Public Ethics Commission. Keep in mind that the new Public Ethics Commission has been two years in the making, has been given a budge and has been supported by the voters. And the Public Ethics Commission is going exactly no where at the moment.

    Bottom line: this is yet another poorly-conceived, reactive, far-too-late proposal for improving what City Hall does or does not do. Reactive, short-sighted public policy, again, is our working method in Oakland. Thus we never move forward.

  3. By MW:

    While it might start out costing only 800K per year, however most likely eventually, and just like virtually all of the "wonderful" and "low cost" ideas government proposes, it will end up costing MANY MANY MANY times that, and also screwing up and making much worse virtually everything it touches or even gets slightly involved in.

  4. By MW:

    Just in case some people believe we cannot presently and right now afford to come up with the required 800K from this year's regular budget, we could always fund it from a special, one time, and only "temporary" tax.

    NOTE: The most permanent thing on earth is a "temporary" tax.