Inauguration surprise: Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was right behind me at the Presidential Inauguration. We were both seated in Red Ticket Zone Section 16. Turns out that was a really awesome place to be, with both the Mayor of Oakland and the Mayor of Livermore, as well as the legendary former Supreme Allied Commander Of NATO and presidential candidate Wes Clark.
I took time to go over and talk to Mayor Quan and she was kind enough to give me an interview in the middle of all the pre-inauguration pomp and circumstance. We talked about the Obama Inauguration, and then turned to Oakland crime, specifically guns and gun control, and the question if Chief Bratton’s the answer for Oakland’s departmental crime solving problem. The Oakland City Council votes on the Bratton contract at tonight’s Oakland City Council meeting.
On the Inauguration and the turnout: “You know,” Jean Quan said,” people were saying that a lot of people weren’t going to come, but I’ve ran into a lot of grass roots people. Maybe they’re not staying at the hotels, but I think you’re going to have a great turnout. Look, you can already see people back to the Washington Mall.” She equated the turnout to that for the Democratic National Convention, where there was a huge grassroots attendance rate.
“I’ve met people from all over Oakland,” she said, “A lot brought there mothers and daughters, and I’m stiting with Dolores Huerta’s daughter, over there.
On Chief Bratton:
“He’s not the answer. You know, people are looking for saviors, or people are looking for booking people. The reality is to bring down violence and crime, and one way is to bring everybody in. Chief Bratton is part of our consulting team and is one of a number of top chiefs – he’s not going to be running our police department. But the reality is he helped invent the ComStat system, which Oakland has been implementing. It’s absolutely critical for us, if we’re to go back to community policing. The city is divided into zones, and I have squads of police responsible for specific zones that I can hold accountable. That’s critical.
On Gun Control In Oakland:
Quan could have talked for hours about this: “You know one reason I’m here is because I knew the U.S. Conference Of Mayors was going to take this up nationally. It’s not going to be easy. But quite frankly, we cannot keep our cities safe. I mean Oakland has strict gun and ammunition laws; the state has relatively strong gun laws. But they keep coming in from Nevada and other areas, and kids can buy them online.”
She continued: “I’ve had children, basically people under 18, with assault weapons. This last time when we had the (weekend) violence, we found them with (the program called) CeaseFire, and when we went to visit, they would tell us where the guns were. Of the 11 guns (used) three of them were assault weapons. One was an AK-47, another was one of those converted automatic weapons with 100 rounds of ammunition. We’re not going to bring down the murder rate in Oakland unless I can get a Federal solution to control the guns and control the ammunition.”
I asked if gun by-back programs help? “We’d like more buy back programs,” Mayor Quan said. “I know some of my other colleagues in government are looking at that. One idea posted on my website was that we would like a fee on bullets that we could then use for gun buy backs. We had a tremendously successful buy back program because we had a wait list (based on a) donation of $100,000 that was split between Oakland and San Francisco.”
Mayo Quan favors gun control programs that call for peer-pressure, like where a girlfriend will bring in a boyfriend’s gun, as a solution to the problem (but not the only one). She says people are tired of the violence and shooting. But she notes that the shooting is said to be less, but the deaths more because of automatic weapons. “Children with automatic weapons are dangerous to us all,” Mayor Quan said, “We had 12 children murdered last year.”