Marleen Sacks, a Pleasanton attorney who lives in Oakland, sued that city a second time Thursday, charging that it is continuing to violate terms of a voter-approved public safety measure by diverting funds intended for use to improve the Oakland police force.
In her lawsuit, Sacks claims that Oakland continues to collect $20 million annually in taxes from Measure Y, which was approved by nearly 70 percent of voters in 2004, but isn't appropriating funds to maintain the number of police officers required by the measure.
Sacks said Measure Y was supposed to fund 63 problem-solving officers in addition to the 739-officer authorized strength that existed in 2004, for a total of at least 802 officers.
She said the Oakland Police Department briefly had more than 830 officers in 2008, but through attrition the staffing level has dropped to about 770 officers. Sacks said the department hasn't held any police academies to train new officers since late 2008, apparently because of budget considerations.
Sacks, who filed the new suit in Alameda County Superior Court with co-counsel David A. Stein, said: "There's no dispute that the city has budget problems, but then the city shouldn't collect the tax. They owe it to their citizens not to collect the tax."
She said the suit alleges numerous other violations of Measure Y and related illegalities, including the city's failure to assign dedicated problem-solving officers to each beat, awarding grants to violence prevention programs in violation of competitive bidding requirements, awarding grants not authorized by the measure and failing to comply with the California Records Act.
Alex Katz, a spokesman for Oakland City Attorney John Russo, said the city attorney's office doesn't have any comment on the new suit at this time because the city hasn't been served with the suit and he hasn't seen it yet.
Sacks filed her initial lawsuit against the city in April 2008 after the Oakland City Council approved Mayor Ron Dellums' plan to use $7.7 million in Measure Y money to help the city's Police Department reach full staffing by the end of 2008.
On April 2, 2009, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled that the city of Oakland acted illegally by diverting the $7.7 million to recruit and train new police officers who weren't specifically assigned to neighborhood problem solving.
Sacks is senior counsel in the Pleasanton office of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, which located in The Atrium office building at 5776 Stoneridge Mall Road.