I've lived in Oakland for 15 years. My wife and I pay about $18,000 a year in property taxes. We are contributors to the economic survival of Oakland.
I am not complaining about that. I want Oakland to thrive.
What I have grave concerns about is the leadership in Oakland. It seems Mayor Jean Quan, with her supporters and advisers, have led us to the brink of a criminal state with a severely misguided and dangerous approach.
I have seen the videos of Quan walking arm and arm with Occupy protesters. I have seen the undue influence of Dan Siegel and other anti-police advisers. I have seen a significant increase in violent crime, home-invasion robberies, car thefts, carjacking all over the city, including areas that have had historically low levels of crime.
Clearly, Quan is not supportive of an aggressive, crime-reducing and motivated police force.
Meanwhile, the criminal elements of Oakland, of which there are many, are thriving and have become even more brazen and emboldened knowing the police force has been eviscerated and can provide only the most basic of public safety duties.
There is no excuse for this. The public has consistently deemed public safety its No. 1 priority, even over school programs, libraries and parks.
These various priorities are not mutually exclusive. It makes sense to support programs such as Head Start, and after-school programs, as the evidence shows these programs result in less criminal activity later in life. It is laudable to support endeavors to offer young people training, education and opportunities to succeed.
The real problem lies in not acknowledging that there are hundreds, probably thousands, of hardened, opportunistic gang members and other criminals preying on our citizens.
These law-abiding citizens are the very people who provide the economic engine that support those social, preventive and educational programs.
Yes, there have been problems with some law enforcement officers going beyond the line of acceptable behavior, but those are isolated events, most done by well-meaning officers fighting an insane system of protecting criminals.
The military has its problems also, but that does not mean the military should be severely cut, therefore, reducing the level of readiness to dangerous levels.
This current police shortfall is inexcusable and should have been predicted and mitigated years ago, and is now resulting in good people being injured or killed.
Just the other day, in the Oakland hills, a young paramedic, just accepted into Stanford's Physician Assistant program, was gunned down at a stop sign. Two days before that, three people killed within 12 hours in Oakland. This madness has to stop.
The current plan of slowly increasing police numbers is a sorry excuse and a too-little, too-late plan.
Quan has to be resolutely booted out of town, and her replacement needs to honestly and aggressively prioritize public safety as the paramount goal in this city. All other things need to take a back seat to this.
I will give the city another chance, but if we do not get changes implemented fast, we and many like us will be forced to seek relocation to a safer city.
Jim Morrissey is a resident of Oakland.