This is a follow-up to this blogger’s earlier blog post on the effort to recall Mayor Quan, and focuses on two well-known Oaklanders. Well, at least to people who are intensely involved in Oakland politics in some way.
One is Joe Tuman, who started a rather late but successful run for Mayor of Oakland in 2010, coming up fourth behind Don Perata, then District Four Oakland Councilmember Jean Quan, and At-Large Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan. While Perata was the top first-place vote getter in the first Oakland Mayor’s Race to feature Ranked Choice Voting, Quan’s tag-team with Kaplan put Jean in the winner’s circle. Jean Quan became Oakland’s first Asian and female mayor.
Since that time, Tuman has remained active in Oakland politics, and has several social network pages, including a Facebook page that still (as of this writing) trumpets him as interested in being Mayor of Oakland. Thus, it’s logical to assume Tuman’s for the recall effort that Hazzard started. Well, hold on to that idea for a moment.
The other person is Gene Hazzard. I’ve known Gene since 1995, and an effort he spearheaded to have an outdoor chess program for Oakland youth near Lake Merritt. Gene has always been a kind man with a big heart but an aggressive disdain for anyone who he believed didn’t belong in a certain position of power in Oakland.
Gene, who’s a friend, is not a wealthy man, but he does have a wealth of contacts and, like many Oakland insiders including this blogger, a healthy ego. Gene’s biggest problem is that his constant attempt at a Machiavellian approach to a political issue often works against him, and from a preliminary look, that is true for the Oakland Recall Effort thus far.
According to sources, Gene Hazzard reportedly told Mayor Quan that he would back off the recall effort if she did “certain things.” This blogger knows that at least one of them was the reinstatement of legendary West Oakland activist Margaret Gordon to the Port Of Oakland Board of Commissioners.
With Mayor Quan’s removal of Gordon, and her placing Oakland liberals against each other by tossing the well-respected Ella Baker Center Executive Director Jakada Imani in to replace her, you could hear Oakland land-use activist Steve Lowe uncharacteristically cussing up a storm two miles away. A good portion of West Oakland was ready to take up arms against Quan – I’m kidding, but you get the idea. That was one major reason for Hazzard taking up the recall effort.
To a degree, Hazzard sees Quan as, well, not sincere in her treatment of Oakland’s black community and feels she needs to be taken to task for her actions. (For the record, Jakada Imani has withdrawn his name from Port Board consideration.)
But that Gene would offer to back off the recall effort, even if Gene doesn’t comment on it, sounds like something Hazzard would do. Gene’s history is one of trying to wield power more than any interest in real civic reform. Still, the idea that such a quid pro quo would be communicated to the public by Oaklanders who don’t have a positive taste for Gene has backed Hazzard into a corner, and hardened his stance for a recall – even if Quan gave in, it’s too late because Gene’s resolve has been challenged and he feels he has to prove he’s serious.
Watching all of this unfold is Tuman, but he told me he’s got no stomach to get involved in the recall process with the idea of running for Mayor again. He’s not publicly for the recall at this time. Joe says he “wants to take on actions to bring Oakland together.” That’s a new idea I’m hearing from a number of politicos around town. But it could be just as easily twisted to say ‘The one action that will bring everyone together is the recall,’ if Gene actually pulls it off.
That’s the problem: the recall is seen as Hazzard’s baby, and anytime someone in Oakland can pin an effort on another person, the project has already attracted people who want to work against that person. That’s standard operating procedure in Oakland; the best way to win is to form a large tent and make any initiative more about a larger group of people than one person. If Gene can do that, he wins the biggest political challenge of his life.
Let’s see how he does.
Note: The “Recall Quan” website is a one page deal using a font that looks like it was borrowed from Peter Jackson’s King Kong. It’s up here: http://recallquan.com/