We owe nothing to Wall St.; to our families, friends, and our communities we owe everything

One of the most important hurdles many of us must overcome before we can achieve personal financial independence is debt.  Before we can build up savings to protect us from a crisis of insolvency, we have to make payments on student loans, borrow to acquire reliable transportation needed to keep a steady job, or use a credit card to pay our taxes. We don’t make enough money to pay for the things we need, like safe housing, preventive health care, and the education required for decent jobs.  So we have to promise a lifetime of work to lenders for the things we need, which means we’ll never build up enough savings to buy a home, or start a viable business.  We won’t have confidence that we’ll be able to provide for our children’s needs, and we won’t have enough time and energy after work to contribute to the well-being of our communities.

Our candidate sees a solution that can start here in Oakland.  If those of us suffering from unreasonable debt can come together to form an organized union of debtors, then we can renegotiate the terms of our debts with the collective bargaining power of a union.  Such an organization will take time to build.  It won’t win relief overnight.  But if we start right away to create networks for sharing resources, to group individuals strategically by the institutions to which they’re indebted, and to speak with one massive voice to the bosses of high finance, then we’ll inspire people in other cities to do the same.  Together, we can succeed in demanding principal reduction and lower interest rates on what we owe. Collectively, we can command the legal and accounting expertise that corporations use to protect their profits.

Too often, we are ashamed of being in debt, because we think that owing our futures to lenders means we haven’t worked hard enough, or smart enough, or that we’ve been too impulsive to provide for the financial security of ourselves and our families.  But when so many are living paycheck-to-paycheck, it becomes evident that it is a priority of the powerful to keep us in debt.  Even those of us who owe nothing are a crisis away from bankruptcy due to an unforeseen gap in insurance coverage.  True independence has become a pipe-dream of winning the Powerball.

The cost of a college education goes up every year at a rate many times faster than inflation, while our wages don’t keep up with rising grocery and gasoline prices.  The monthly cost of housing often eats up more than half our incomes.  Insurance premiums, deductibles, co-payments, and prescriptions exploit our fears of disability to such a degree that the stress of keeping up with the bills makes us sick.  And, the way things are now, we face all these insurmountable challenges alone, as individuals, featherweights in the ring opposite giant corporations.

An Einstein Administration will build the Public Bank of Oakland, which will keep more of the profits generated by enterprises in this city from being siphoned off to Wall St.  Using this as a tool, along with an expanded and more directly democratic City Council, the City ofOakland will build networks of those in the quicksand of debt to compile their grievances. These networks will also make it possible to maximize the effective distribution of the resources they have to share, which will strengthen our collective resistance to the crippling debt suffered by too many Oakland residents.  Collective debt resistance is possible, and our candidate believes it can start to form right here in our city.

There is a culture of violence in Oakland, and too many of the agents of that violence wear the uniforms of the Oakland Police Dept., the Alameda County Sheriff’s Dept., and by the police departments of the Oakland Unified School District, the Oakland Housing Authority, and BART.  It would be irresponsible to speculate on what motivates armed and armored officers to beat with their fists people in handcuffs, to drag them by the hair, kick them, and shock them with tasers.  Einstein For Oakland can, however, state without doubt that such brutality is illegal assault on persons not yet convicted of any crime, in hundreds of cases, and illegal even after they have been convicted.  We know that brutality by police officers and prison guards drives victims further from respecting systems of law enforcement.  And we know that violence breeds violence.  The history of trampling on the right of Oakland residents to be respected as innocents until their guilt is proved must end.  Those incarcerated consequent to conviction must be held in safety from injury and from exposure to contagious diseases while in custody.  The period of near-absolute immunity for officers of the law must pass on to one where their violent impulses are restrained, first, by fear of prosecution and, second, through respect shared mutually by the police and those they are sworn to protect.

These statements are not radical, and we doubt that any of the other candidates for Mayor of Oakland would contradict them.  But if our candidate is elected, then an independent investigation will begin immediately into all reported incidents of brutality and other abuses in the last four years by all the law enforcement departments having jurisdiction in Oakland and by the staff of Santa Rita County Jail.  At its commencement, the investigation will focus on District Attorney Nancy O’Malley for the failure of her office to pursue convictions of reckless endangerment, assault, and murder against officers accused of these crimes by their victims and the families of those victims.  When there is evidence of injury or death caused by police officers, then the District Attorney must pursue convictions in order to establish public faith in Oakland’s system of justice – a faith that does not currently exist.  This investigation will demand the unredacted documents related to these accusations received and generated by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, by Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern, Asst. Sheriff Brett Keteles, Commander Carla Kennedy, Captain Dave Brady, former Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan, BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey, Oakland Unified School Dist. Police Chief James Williams, and Oakland Housing Authority Police Chief Carel Duplessis.  Recommendations for corrective disciplinary action will be made based on review of the threads of these documents in their entirety.  Failure to cooperate will be publicized.  The Mayor will direct the Oakland City Attorney to pursue civil redress on behalf of victims.  All subsequent incidents of negligence to properly respond to emergency situations by these departments will be seen as retribution for the independent investigation.

Our candidate anticipates strong resistance to this investigation, but the Einstein administration will use all of its power to change the culture of violent intimidation amongst officers of the law.  Mayor Einstein will not cease in his efforts to raise awareness that willful and negligent injuries caused by police officers along with immunities embodied in the CA Police Officers Bill of Rights are intolerable threats to public safety.