When I was elected to the Vallejo City Council in 2005, the City was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Former city councils had been kicking the budget can down the road in order to stay "solvent" by making deals with the Vallejo Police Officers Association (VPOA) and the International Association of Firefighters #1186 (IAFF). They kept agreeing to give these public safety unions (PSUs) raises and other extra benefits in exchange for agreeing to defer payment of previously given raises for the next couple of years. As councils kicked the can down the road year after year, these deferred raises and other contract sweeteners kept compounding. When I was elected, 12% was due. We didn't have the money to pay for those deferred raises -- though the PSUs "generously" offered to defer again if we gave them another sweet deal for a couple of years.
I will say that I am very heartened by all the people showing up and demanding changes to the corruption and excessive use of force in our VPD. The people following the money, researching the budget, participating in meetings, watching what they're doing. I can only tell you from my experience, that while it may not feel like it does any good because the council majority just does what they want, it matters. Daylight matters. Your voices matter. It may not be instant gratification...but your pushing impacts them. There is such strength in a loud, vocal citizenry. I was in the minority on the Council for six of my eight years. But I was a strong, dogged, vocal minority, and I was able to make changes. And when I couldn't effect change, I spoke the truth about what was happening, and that made those who were serving the PSUs instead of the people of Vallejo mighty uncomfortable.