Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is facing two things: a recall signature gathering process and the wrath of Oaklander Ken Pratt. This blogger literally ran into Mr. Pratt at last night’s benefit for Occupy Oakland, and he gave a video interview that can only be called searing. Pratt’s massively pissed off that Mayor Quan’s aide Sue Pier was, Pratt claims, gathering information about him, and in the wake of Pratt’s attacks on the Mayor calling her “The Queen Of Blight.”
Pratt came to the September 20th Oakland City Council meeting and showed photos of Quan’s house that were taken by real estate agents and that show Quan’s property in a condition Pratt calls blighted. The Pratt blast caught the attention of the local media, and caused a lot of embarrassment for Mayor Quan. Seemingly in retaliation, the City of Oakland in the form of Sue Pier and assisted by Oakland Communications Officer Karen Boyd, brought to the attention of the Oakland Police claims that Ken Pratt himself maintained property in blighted conditions, and maintained abandoned autos.
According to The Oakland Shadow, the September 22nd email read:
The Mayor is holding a media briefing this afternoon at 2:30 and we anticipate that there will be questions about Ken Pratt calling the Mayor “the queen of blight’ at the Council meeting Tuesday night. KTVU did a story last night and Sue (Piper) is getting calls from the media for a comment today. It appears that there have been numerous allegations against Ken Pratt for blight, abandoned autos, etc.
If you could please provide all records you have on file about complaints against Ken Pratt. We need to have the information by 1:30 this afternoon. His address is…
We’re not going to get into a public tit for tat, but it would be helpful to have the facts at hand regarding the situation so the Mayor is fully briefed before walking into the briefing.”
In other words, this reads as if the Mayor was getting ready to, indeed, rip Ken Pratt before the cameras, but ultimately did not at the time. Quan simply acknowledged that she had failed to clear her home of overgrown ivy and brush.
But the fight wasn’t over.
Ray Derania, Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development, and chief building officer, provided Boyd with a lot of information on Ken Pratt. Allegations are that a neighbor’s complaining about Pratt, but Derania said there was no pending blight complaint against Pratt.
Since then, Pratt says Oakland Police have targeted his cars to be towed and The Oakland Shadow’s account of how Piper and Pratt worked to basically point out Pratt to Oakland Police supports that claim. In all, this is an ugly use of taxpayer dollars – using city time to work to retaliate against an Oakland resident because that person is a whistle-blower.
Pratt has, by his own admission, never liked Jean Quan and fired off some choice words about her and Oakland District Two Councilmember Pat Kernighan on camera that are incendiary. That episode combined with Pratt’s assertion that Quan is incompetent and has been since her Oakland City Council days, is what caused him to get behind the Oakland Mayor Recall Effort.
But he’s doing it without Gene Hazzard, who started the initial recall effort. Ken regards Gene as “nuts” and says the effort is all about Gene Hazzard and that Hazzard feels others are working against him. In perfect Oakland fashion, Gene and Ken are working on their own versions of the recall, with Pratt announcing that “7 or 8” people were out gathering signatures on Tuesday, but that number could swell to 50 people over the weekend.
As to who Pratt favors as the next Mayor should the recall effort proceed (the signature gathering process will go on through May or until they get about 30,000 signatures, a number over what they need to overcome bad signatures), Ken mentioned that Joe Tuman, who ran for Mayor and lost to Quan in 2010, is still out there and has expressed interested. (In this space Tuman did not publicly commit to the recall.) Whoever the favorite, the voting process will not include Rank Choice Voting due to state election rules that govern local recall elections.