Budget Matter: Keep Park Rangers Alive

Another budget head-shaker?  It sure looks like the Oakland Park Rangers will die, following their slow fade over the past few years.

The Friends of Oakland Rangers have been keeping up with the budgeting travails of the proud lone rangers.  There are three positions and two are currently filled.  According to Mayor Ron Dellums’ budget plan, all the positions will vanish and the Oakland Police pick up the slack.

Friends of Oakland Park Rangers

From now through July 1st, the two rangers are supposed to cover West and East Oakland.  Oddly enough, they are not supposed to focus on the central part of the city – where the largest parks are located like Dimond, Lakeside and Joaquin Miller.  The ranger station at Joaquin Miller is officially closed as well.

The Friends of Oakland Rangers are strongly advocating the City Council to keep the ranger station, fund the three ranger positions, and shift the group to Parks and Recreation.  (The rangers used to be part of the Parks department until 1992, when the Police department took ’em over.)

We’re gonna have a serious mess on our hands and will settle for something.  Even scaled back, the current rangers have been responsive and aware of what’s happening in the parks.  Now the full range of park problems will go unnoticed.  Care for an out-of-control bonfire, on a windy day?

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Budget Matter: Keep CORE Alive

This Oakland budget cycle is pretty nasty, and the metaphor that comes to mind is getting blood from a stone.  One head shaker for all Oaklanders should be our CORE program, which stands for Citizens of Oakland Respond to Emergencies.

With the first responders getting hit in the Fire Department, it seems even more important to keep our CORE program live.  As you likely know, CORE trains citizens to help themselves.  Further, we are talking about a rounding error for the City of Oakland.

Oakland CORE

Who is behind the scenes?  The CORE program is essentially run by the Emergency Planning Coordinator, Kaity Booth.  Many folks have communicated with Oakland City Council members already, and there are plans afoot to speak up at tonight’s council meeting.  Even at this late stage, I think it’s worth sharing how one volunteer feels:

We are now organized, we are now focused and we now have the knowledge and confidence to effectively take care of ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our fellow Oakland citizens WHEN (not if) disaster strikes as first responders.

Oakland has a winning program in CORE and a real jewel in Kaity Booth.  As one of the recent graduates of the CORE program, I have seen Kaity in action.  She is knowledgeable, organized, supportive of the participants and her colleagues, articulate and 100% responsive.  She is the glue that holds all the great pieces of this program together.

I am impressed enough with her leadership and the CORE program that I have already volunteered as a victim and have indicated my interest to lend my training expertise to the program.

It’s a tough time, and every interest group is going to try to “save” their special areas.  The CORE program seems like a low-cost insurance policy which supports neighborhoods and blocks – plus contributes to overall civility.

June 5th Update:  Kaity Booth and her emergency planning coordinator position will not be cut by the City of Oakland.  Also the Fire Department will have some firefighters offering additional training around our city.