Right now, the Oakland City Council has a choice to make. They can choose to stand with the hundreds of residents working to implement real renter’s protections, a civilian police commission, and a $20 minimum wage - or they can choose to maintain the status quo.
Since the beginning of 2016, Oaklanders have tirelessly canvassed our city, talking to Oaklanders and gathering tens of thousands of signatures for three important ballot measures. The Protect Oakland Renter’s Act would expand renter protections to cover more homes, stop excessive rent increases and protect vulnerable tenants from eviction. Measure X would create a civilian police commission with power to oversee police policies and discipline bad officers. The third would raise Oakland’s minimum wage to $14 an hour in 2017 and $20 an hour by 2020, keeping pace with the skyrocketing cost of living in Oakland.
These three measures were endorsed by the Oakland Justice Coalition, a community-led project designed to bring radical groups together to make real change through the ballot box. We decided to endorse these measures because they directly address three of the biggest challenges facing Oakland residents today: rising rents, police violence, and economic injustice. While gathering signatures for these crucial measures, we talked to thousands of Oaklanders facing these challenges. The need is real. Our City Council has failed to act to address displacement, police violence and scandal, and income inequality. Our Council hasn't even supported a $15 minimum wage, much less the $20 Oakland workers will need by 2020. That's why we decided to take this struggle directly to the ballot box.
But there’s one big problem. Oakland’s electoral laws are written to suppress direct democracy and activism. To get all three measures on the ballot, we need to collect over 100,000 signatures from Oakland voters - in a city with only 200,000 registered voters.
No measure in modern history has ever made it onto the Oakland ballot without paying signature gatherers. We don’t have a lot of money, but we do have a lot of people. So we gave it our best shot.
We haven’t given up yet, but we are tired. Exhausted by the weight of trying to do our elected leaders’ jobs for them, without the pay or the recognition. So now we’re asking the City Council to do one simple thing: #LetThePeopleVote.
The Council has the authority to place all three of these crucial measures on the November ballot without gathering one signature more. We’ve demonstrated that the community supports these measures. We’ve tried to work with Council to accomplish these goals legislatively. But we’ve gotten nothing but delay and doublespeak. Now it’s time for the Council to get out of our way and give Oakland voters the chance to decide for ourselves. If you agree, then get on Twitter, get on Facebook, get on the phone and tell your Councilmember - #LetThePeopleVote.
We’re not asking that the Council pass these measures into law. Just that they give us the chance to vote on them. We’ll fight the landlords who will spend millions to block rent control. We’ll fight the police union that will use fear and bullying tactics to oppose the police commission measure. We’ll fight the big bosses who don’t want to pay a living wage to their workers.
But first we have to get on the ballot. And that, the Council can do.
Do you hear us, Councilmembers? Do you see the tens of thousands of voters who signed the petitions to get these measures on the ballot? Because we see you. And if you don’t get out of our way and #LetThePeopleVote….
Then in November we're coming for your jobs.