June 2011 Tax Extensions Campaign
June 2011 Civic Engagement Program Report
By Jessamyn Sabbag, Field Director
For 4 weeks in May and June of 2011, Oakland Rising conducted an education and advocacy campaign about long-term and short-term state and local budget solutions. We contacted 8,863 voters and IDed 7,731 supporters of our tax and fiscal policy agenda. Talking with unlikely and occasional voters in targeted precincts in Oakland’s flatlands, we expanded and fortified our base of support around progressive tax and fiscal policy, and moved people towards greater civic engagement by asking them to commit to voting in every election. We continued to forward our narrative around both local and statewide budget solutions by advocating for tax increases on corporations and multi-millionaires, so they contribute their fair share of taxes and help end the negative consequences of Prop 13. We successfully deepened the electoral skills and capacity of our core partners and garnered attention from local decision makers.
June 2011 CEP Campaign Results:
|GOAL||ACTUAL||PERCENT OF GOAL|
|CA Tax Ext. IDs||7,093||7,731||109%|
|Foreclosure Fee IDs||5,856||8,075||138%|
Analysis of Results:
• California budget still in gridlock: Thanks to the passage of Prop 25 last fall, the legislature can now pass the budget with a simple majority vote. The majority party (Dems) submitted a smoke and mirrors budget to the Governor last week, which was vetoed because it was “not a balanced solution.” The Governor still has until July 30th to try to get the remaining four votes needed to move the “tax bridge,” and call for a special tax election this Fall. Since the state collected more tax revenue this year than anticipated, the state budget was reduced from $24 billion to $9.6 billion in mid-May, and since then the minority party (Republicans) have dug in their heels against any tax extensions. Legally the state needs to pass a balanced budget by July 1. We are likely to face several billion dollars in cuts to higher education and courts. The fate of redevelopment agencies is currently unknown.
• Oakland Rising increased support for the collection of Foreclosure Fee: Oakland Rising talked to 8,075 people who support the full enforcement and collection of Oakland’s blight ordinance/foreclosure fee from banks to the tune of $1,000 per house per day. The City is now “actively planning” to collect the fee in the face of a $58 million budget deficit. The City is also exploring the process of setting up a hotline and website for people to report blighted homes in their neighborhood. The work of Oakland Rising on the collection of the foreclosure fee as a package of budget deficit solutions has garnered the attention of elected officials around progressive revenue generating programs.
• Oakland Rising educated and motivated unlikely voters: During this campaign Oakland Rising talked to “unlikely and never” voters for the first time since the Census campaign. As we work to expand the electorate in Oakland, it is imperative that we start developing deeper relationships with unlikely voters, so these voters trust us and look forward to our calls and door-knocks as they start to move towards being likely voters.
• OR lead ID Rate in statewide alliance: Oakland Rising had the highest ID rate in California Calls at 87%. While we acknowledge that Oakland is one of the most progressive cities in the state, we see that people from the flatlands neighborhoods can become a mighty progressive force when they are activated.
• OR lead Volunteer Recruitment in statewide alliance: Oakland Rising had the most volunteer precinct walkers across the state. We held one large precinct walk on June 11th with 55 people in attendance, and CJJC also offered 3 volunteer phonebanks and walks that allowed people other opportunities to plug in. Offering volunteer phonebanks is a good way to involve people who may not be physically able to participate in precinct walks.
• Local connection to tax and fiscal policy resonates: Over the last few years the core partners in Oakland Rising have expressed a desire to pursue a local connection to the statewide tax and fiscal policy work. We were excited to be able to bridge that gap this campaign by including the foreclosure fee question, which tied to local tax and fiscal policy work and definitely resonated with voters and volunteers alike.
• Oaklanders want to get involved: This campaign also continued to shed light on the political gap in Oakland. With 1,069 volunteer sign-ups this campaign, we showed that Oakland Rising and the policy advocacy and base building of our core partners can fill the political gap. While most political campaigns and organizations do not do direct contact with people in East and West Oakland, the 1,069 people who signed up to volunteer demonstrate a hunger for a better Oakland, and a hunger to help make it happen.
• Oaklanders talk to Oaklanders: Working from an organizational philosophy that believes people from our community are best able to educate and inspire people in our community, Oakland Rising focuses on creating job opportunities for previously incarcerated, hard to employ or under-employed Oaklanders. We find that our hiring and geography philosophies are effective. We see increased rates of contact, higher number of inspired community members and greater organizational respect among hard to reach communities through hiring people from those communities. Secondly, we believe that in order to reduce recidivism, crime and poverty in low income communities of color, Oakland Rising must invest time and energy into employment and leadership development opportunities for our most vulnerable community members.
• Retention and Leadership Development of Daily Team: For the first time in OR’s history we had a returning Team Leader, Dayna Williams, who first worked with us over a year ago on the Census campaign. We had 17 returning Daily Team members, all of whom lead a daily check-in or check-out for the team over the course of the campaign. Five of the returning Daily Team members have been with Oakland Rising for 5 campaigns over the course of a year. Four of the returning Daily Team members provided the campaign training to Alternates who came into the program after it had begun. Given that 80% of the Daily Team members are previously incarcerated and 95% of them are born and raised in the flatlands, Oakland Rising continues to succeed at job creation for people who need it most (and are least likely to get it).
• Wrap-Around Services for Daily Team: While our organizational priority to hire people from Oakland’s flatlands who are previously incarcerated is critical to the success of Oakland and Oakland Rising, we have come to learn that in doing so we are also taking on elements of workforce development. Supporting the Daily Team in dealing with and resolving personal issues takes a significant amount of capacity from the Team Leader and Field Director, and often the Executive Director too. If we want Daily Team members to be able to complete an entire campaign, and keep coming back to Oakland Rising, we need to work with resources providers to provide wrap-around services including: housing assistance, domestic violence, trauma counseling, health care, substance abuse counseling, and more.