OAKLAND — City Council members widely praised the success of youth programs funded through the city's 1996 Kids First! ballot initiative Tuesday night — and they voted unanimously to extend funding for them another 12 years, beginning in 2009.

The Kids First! initiative, also called Measure K, established the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth and required the city to reserve 2.5percent of its unrestricted general fund dollars for youth programs including after-school programs, mentoring and job training.

But now comes Kids First! Two. And some council members said Tuesday they liked the original more than the sequel.

The Kids First! Coalition announced its intention this week to place a question on the November ballot to further beef up city funding for youth programs. The initiative would double funding for children and youth services by 2011 without raising taxes, the coalition said.

The idea raised red flags with Councilmember Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel), head of the council's finance committee.

"I'm going to say tonight that I'm not going to vote for Kids First! Two," she said. "I'm not going to support it."

She cited years of work, going back to her time on the school board and continuing through the inclusion of violence-prevention programs in the 2004 public-safety ballot measure she championed, saying she's long been an advocate for youth programs.

The problem for Quan: To her, the dollars and cents don't pencil out.

She said the city could be looking at $50 million in budget cuts this year.


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And, she noted, another group of residents is trying to place a measure on the November ballot to increase the Police Department by nearly 300 officers.

Quan's math tells her if both measures passed, the council would have about 8 percent of its general fund revenue for everything other than police, fire and youth programs.

"Running the city by initiative is really not a good idea," she said. "We might as well just go home if we only have 8 percent to run the rest of the city — senior programs, public works, you name it."

Councilmember Nancy Nadel (Downtown-WestOakland) said she campaigned for Measure K, but agreed with Quan's comments. She said setting aside the original 2.5 percent was what the city could afford.

"That's the way you plan your household budget as well," she said. "If you have more money, you spend it. If you don't, you don't expand."

The council's vote extended the 2.5 percent set-aside through 2021.

Armael Malinis, one of the organizers of the initiative, said city leaders made similar arguments back in 1996 — and that Measure K has been a success since it was approved.

"I definitely think there needs to be a continued investment if we really want to address the root causes of crime," he said.

Organizers with the Kids First! Coalition said this week, a survey the group conducted showed 71 percent of voters support doubling the money that funds programs and services for children.

"There are a lot of programs keeping young people off the streets in Oakland," Malinis said. "But it's not enough."

Guards for East Oakland

With the Police Department stretched to the limits, city officials are hoping armed security guards will give commercial corridors in East Oakland a much-needed public-safety boost. The council voted unanimously Tuesday to spend $210,000 in redevelopment money on an

18-month pilot project to put four private security guards on duty to help protect merchants and their customers.

"We're doing this as a pilot," said Larry Gallegos, East Oakland redevelopment area manger. "There's definitely some effort throughout redevelopment to provide additional patrols. We've worked with OPD in the past in providing that security."

The logic behind using redevelopment dollars is that reducing crime reduces economic and social blight and, therefore, increases economic development and business retraction, Gallegos said.

Fifteen Oakland police officer positions, previously assigned to the Oakland International Airport, are now paid for by redevelopment funds. But the use of public money for regular private security patrols is a first, Gallegos said. 

The guards will patrol International Boulevard between 23rd Avenue and the San Leandro border, Foothill Boulevard between 23rd and 73rd avenues and parts of MacArthur Boulevard and Bancroft Avenue.

The guards should be walking the beat by fall, Gallegos said.

Dellums praises gun restrictions

Mayor Ron Dellums praised an agreement this week between a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Wal-Mart to tighten up the retailer's gun-sales policies.

"As a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, I support initiatives, such as this, that responsibly safeguard and prevent the illegal sale and purchasing of weapons that are undeniably wreaking havoc on communities across America," the mayor said in a statement.

Wal-Mart's new gun-sales rules will include storing video of gun purchases and logging which types of guns are later used in crimes.

The retail giant made the announcement in Washington, D.C., where the mayors group was meeting. Dellums did not attend the conference.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken gun-control advocate who put together the organization, joined Wal-Mart in making the announcement.

That drew the scorn of the National Rifle Association.

"None of these joint Wal-Mart/Mayor Bloomberg initiatives will lower crime, because they ignore the real cause of crime — criminals," said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, in a statement, adding, "NRA will continue to oppose any scheme that puts burdens on law-abiding Americans and not on criminals."

Mack honored

Call them the pride of Oakland.

The state champion McClymonds High School boys basketball squad was recognized in council chambers Tuesday night after a perfect 32-0 season.

Nadel, whose district includes the McClymonds campus, called it an honor to introduce an "awesome" team and its coaches.

A statement from Nadel, Quan and Councilmember Larry Reid (Elmhurst-East Oakland) said the team will graduate eight seniors, all of whom will attend college, three on athletic scholarship. Nadel congratulated the team as much for its work in the classroom as on the court.

"We need a lot more recognition of our youth than we have in this city both in this chamber and the newspapers, anywhere," Nadel said, surrounded by the high schoolers. "We have some amazing young people in our city whose achievements, as I said, (are) awesome — and we need to recognize them."

Correspondent Sean Maher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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