Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oakland City Council Rejects Port Protection Law

A resolution that would have required the city of Oakland to use stronger measures to protect the port in the future in the event of disruptions like the recent Occupy movement demonstrations, was rejected by the Oakland City Council this week.

The proposed legislation, which would have mandated that the city use any and all lawful tools at the city’s disposal to keep protesters from shutting down the port failed to move forward after half of the eight Council members – Jane Brunner, Rebecca Kaplan, Pat Kernighan and Nancy Nadal – voted not to hear it during the Dec. 20 Council meeting.

Brunner indicated during the meeting that her opposition was due to the potential cost the city would incur. She said she’d been told by Oakland police chief Howard Jordan that protecting the port during a two-day protest would cost the city about $1.5 million.

“Police really help us in this city, but they’re not the answer for a social movement,” she said.

The item needed at least six votes to move forward for full consideration by the Council because it had been placed on the agenda less than 10 days before the meeting.

Despite the failure of the proposal, Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente – who wrote the proposal with Councilwoman Libby Schaaf, a former Port of Oakland public affairs director – has said he will reintroduce the legislation at some point in the future.

The proposal was created in response to two recent protests at the port. During the Dec. 12 “Occupy the Ports” movement, where major ports along the West Coast were targeted, four of the Port of Oakland’s seven shipping terminals were blocked by protesters throughout the day.

Port officials said the disruption cost the port and its companies between $4 million and $8 million in lost productivity.