After Occupy Oakland, and the Tuesday police violence, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has a new problem: fighting calls to resign from people like Current TV’s Keith Olbermann.
There are times when the Lord puts you in a place to see how the sausage is made. As one who’s worked for two of the last four Oakland Mayors, I was placed in a position to see how our Oakland Mayor Jean Quan forms a decision: take a distances out of sight, get information from her people, deliberate over options, then take the safest of the selected choices of action. That was the way it came to Mayor Quan showing up at the small crowd point during last night’s Occupy Oakland General Assembly.
Note, I said “small point,” because prior to Quan’s arrival, this blogger left for dinner at Flora Restaurant, and because many of what I will call “Quan’s People” had departed and personally told me she wasn’t going to show up to speak to the Occupy Oakland protestors. Specifically, Dan Siegel (pictured) and Allan Brill, the former, the long time legal activist and adviser to Quan, and the later a well-known union activist and also an unofficial assistant to Quan.
It was Dan, Allan, and Quan’s daughter Lailan who were in almost constant contact with Quan on the phone. And how I know is because I was standing right in the middle of their small group of people, since I’d just finished interviewing Dan.
The initial talk was if Quan should come to visit at all. Where she was at the time isn’t clear, but there’s a report she as attending some kind of Karate class that doesn’t square with the reality of Quan being constantly on the phone with Dan, Allan, and Lailan.
What’s clear to this blogger as an observer is Quan’s in over her head. The Mayor and her entourage beyond the three I mentioned spends too much time collaborating, where Quan needs to just passionately move forward and act. Quan should have arrived (with protection) an waited her turn to speak earlier that evening. She issued a Twitter tweet, this one:
@jeanquan Jean Quan
I was told I could speak at the speak out but that was cancelled. Hoping to speak at the general assembly tonight
9 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply
That was retweeted 68 times, but still not enough because it lacked the hashtags #occupyoakland and #ows. If it had those markers, it would have helped cut through the anti-Quan tweets and perhaps got her some much-needed help in carving out a time to talk.
At a time when the Mayor needs to master Twitter, especially with the Occupy Oakland folks representing the Twitter generation, sadly, she’s not adept at it, and that goes for her staff, too.
Then, when Quan should up with her small group, she was booed, and some say a small group rushed her, causing her to run to the confines of Oakland City Hall. Jean really misread how upset people are over what happened on Tuesday.
But whatever the case, Quan’s in trouble.
Jean’s gone on a major effort to apologize for the actions of the police department on Tuesday night. It doesn’t matter where the police come from, San Jose, San Francisco, or Oakland, they would not have been there if Quan had said “I don’t want this.”
Regardless of what Quan tells you, it’s her call. What’s awful is to hide behind the actions of Chief Administrative Officer Deanna Santana and allow the idea that she was ‘in Washington” and didn’t know about the police action’ to get out is not the truth. But that’s the word – and one person close to Quan claims that Santana kept certain information away from Quan.
But, as another friend rightly said last night, “Do you think Quan would let Santana remain in her job if that was the case? She’s hiding behind Santana.”
All of this points to two words: failed leadership. Quan’s an activist at heart who’s growing into the position of Mayor of Oakland and at the worst time one could possibly select: in the middle of a set of economic disruptions and cultural divisions that have conspired to give rise to all kinds of movements and culture wars in America.
It’s a time where America is moving from racist to classist, as people of color (Quan) order police action against other groups that consist of whites and people of color. And all of this on a national stage. Everyone around the World is talking about Oakland, and about Quan, and it’s not favorable.
There an online petition by Change.org calling for Quan to resign. Already, in just the space of over one day, it had almost 3,000 signatures, and seeks 500,000. Considering that a recall effort takes 19,000 signatures to get started, the political earth under Quan’s starting to move.
Oakland will be forever marked by Tuesday’s violence. One Oakland councilmember received 14,000 emails asking for Oakland to stop police action against Occupy Oakland. Think about it: 14,000.
In all of this, I feel for the one person who I know is having a hard time with all of this: Jean Quan’s daughter Lailan. She’s right there at Occupy Oakland, trying to negotiate and pick up information, and understand better how her Mom can help right the ship that is the City of Oakland. And in all of that, hearing people call her Mom bad names and issue threats to her has got to be hard as hell to deal with.
I really don’t know where this is going to go. The only best course of action for Quan is to keep apologizing and mending fences for what happened Tuesday. She should also get the help of Michael Moore, who’s visiting Oakland today – uh, that is if he will agree to help.
The other option is for Quan to resign, but folks, here’s the question: You really think having Quan out will gain a person who’s better? And in the interim, we’re stuck with the other players in the decision making process, many who aren’t as willing to turn an about face and try a new way as Quan has proven to be able to do.
Give Jean another chance. Look, she screwed up, and in her better moments admits it, but the reason the Lord placed her, and not Don Perata, in the Oakland Mayor’s Office, is because she can usher in a new way of handling this matter that I don’t think Perata would have even considered doing.
Plus, with a recall election we get a new and unknown player as Mayor and even more instability. I have to admit, after yesterday, I’m on the fence about all of this, because SOMEONE SHOULD PAY FOR WHAT HAPPENED. Logically, it should be Jean or Santana or Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan, and in the form of a resignation.
Preferably, I’d like to see Mayor Quan stay, but that’s not up to me. Jean’s dealing with a massively pissed off Oakland city and on top of that, a nation, and a World, with many calling for her to step down, or some action to be taken.
Someone has to take the fall. Something must be done. Personally, I think Chief Jordan, who’s already the INTERIM Oakland Police Chief, should be the one to step down. Jordan would still have a job, just not be in charge any more.