The City of El Cerrito will be hosting a virtual town hall on the budget, Saturday, August 1st. At 10 a.m. More information on Town Hall We urge you to participate, and this is why:
- The city is facing a 5.5 million dollar budget deficit.
- The city called in consultants to handle the problem. The consultants recommended cuts in services, including library, recreation and senior services.
- Public outcry saved library services however, the City Manager and the consultants that presented the recommendations remained determined to place the lower wage workers on the sacrificial table. For example, it is recommended that some of the janitorial services be outsourced. This means layoffs for some long time workers who are making some of the lowest wages on city staff.
- The City budget currently spends over 50% of the budget on public safety. Here is your opportunity to shape a people’s budget. The people’s budget is basically your voice, your calls for responsible government, and your willingness to stand up to the “business as usual” and think about where we stand in this moment of time. Please see many of the blog posts for ECRG here: History of El Cerrito Budget Woes
- While El Cerrito as a city may not suffer from the same level of police violence, the same level of poverty and or crime as larger cities, and specifically cities with a large black population, El Cerrito suffers from being a part of the same system of policing, the same militarization, the same systemic racism that does not stop at our borders.
The Black Lives Matter movement adopted the call of “defund the police and reimagine public safety”. These actions go hand in hand. Isn’t it time we ask ourselves why we need a person with a gun to write a ticket, to talk to our neighbor, to remove the unhoused off the street, to do the work of a social worker, a crisis intervention counselor? When around the country and in our city the majority of crime is theft, and the police unusually arrive after the fact, and that most cases or materials are never recovered…should we not rethink this budget?
The Social and Racial Justice Committee of El Cerrito Progressives urges residents to use this opportunity to challenge the traditional notions of city management, where the police budgets remain sacred, and the very basic services that cut across income and race become cherished. Isn’t the protection of people’s well being as important as the protection of our property? And cannot both be done by rethinking how we view public safety?