Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has a terrible habit of operating the Office Of The Mayor Of Oakland as if it’s Mayberry RFD: a small town where she drives herself around, or has her husband Dr. Floyd Huen do it. All of that would be fine for a town of 5,000 people, but Oakland is not that; it’s a city of 400,000 and within it contain some people who don’t always conduct themselves with the Mayor’s best interests in mind. Under such circumstances, a mayor needs a driver / bodyguard, and her husband can’t be that person.
That much was clear last Friday night at Art Murmur, as the video to start this blog post shows. According to videos by an organization called WeCopwatch, and that this blogger is not affiliated with, Floyd Huen can be seen in an active verbal argument with one of the video-bloggers. As the vlogger follows Mayor Quan and Dr. Huen to their car, one can hear the man first saying that Dr. Huen was drinking, then asking if he was getting behind the wheel after having been drinking.
The argument isn’t whether or not Dr. Huen had looked like he had a few – the point of my blog post is that he should not have been in that position, and it was Mayor Quan’s poor judgment that caused the good doctor to be in it, as much as it was his own terrible decision making.
This isn’t the first time Dr. Huen has been in the position of driver / bodyguard for his wife, Mayor Quan. I personally recall Dr. Huen in a similar capacity during the Temescal Street Festival last year. Dr. Huen was with his wife, and drove her to the next event after the street fair; I was her last press interview before they left.
In fact, a number of city officials have talked about this habit with me, and one said that getting Mayor Quan to stop doing this and have a more professional approach “is a challenge.”
Well, it’s something she’s got to do, first, because she’s currently operating in violation of the Oakland City Charter, and second, because a woman named Nyco Hackett has said on video that Dr. Huen was “in her face” after she went up to ask Mayor Quan what she thought of a young black man being arrested during Art Murmur.
Quan Violates City Charter’s Anti-nepotism Section
Section 907. Nepotism. The Mayor or City Council shall not appoint as an employee or officer, to receive any compensation from the City, any person who is a relative by blood or marriage within the third degree of the Mayor or anyone or more of the members of the Council, nor shall the City Administrator or any other appointing authority appoint to any such position any relative of his or of the Mayor or any member of the Council within such degree of kinship.
When Dr. Huen acts as Mayor Quan’s driver, then bodyguard / antagonist, he’s acting as the Mayor’s representative, even if she does not officially have him on her payroll. And the very minute Dr. Huen uses even $1 from Mayor Quan to get, say, a cup of coffee for her while at Art Murmur, she’s in the act of compensating him if he is in the process of being her driver as well. Thus, the Oakland City Charter violation.
The only way to avoid how bad this looks is to keep Dr. Huen from behind the wheel. Mayor Quan needs an official driver and protector – he can’t be it, and not just for that reason.
Dr. Huen is not the focus of Ms. Hackett’s “he said, she said,” and regardless of who you believe, the bottom line is he should not have been in a situation such that any encounter like that could happen.
From what Ms. Hackett says in the video, her own daughter had to come and step between the two of them and break up what could have been a more terrible encounter for Mayor Quan and Dr. Huen. Ms. Hackett said that she thought Dr. Huen had been drinking, even though she says he denied it when she asked him.
Mayor Quan Must Keep Dr. Huen Out Of The Driver’s Seat
The bottom line is this looks real bad for Mayor Quan, and for our City Of Oakland – and that includes me. We all bear some level of responsibility for this, especially those who are closest to Jean and claim to be her friends. Also, Oakland’s Administrator, City Attorney, and even Courtney Ruby, the Oakland City Auditor (and rumored candidate to run for Mayor in 2014) are to blame for allowing this to happen. Friends don’t let friends who are mayors make huge mistakes while in office.
Moreover, I known Dr. Huen’s acted as Jean’s driver going all the way back to when she was Oakland District Four councilmember, and making surprise appearances as places like the “Save The Parkway” Community Meeting. But this is a different level than that – she’s the Mayor of Oakland now. And even then, Floyd should not have been her driver, but he was.
I like Jean Quan, even if I don’t like what she occasionally says about me when I’m not around (hey, Oakland is a small town). On a personal level, the Mayor’s engaging and interesting to talk to. I particularly recall one night at Awaken Cafe during Art Murmur last summer when she and I talked about almost everything under the Oakland sun. Jean Quan’s a good person. She’s also Oakland’s first Asian and female Mayor, and it’s for those reasons, in addition for my love for the political protocol in Oakland, that I am asking for Mayor Quan to change.
Please just get an Oakland police officer to be your driver / bodyguard, and not your husband. He can ride along, but have him stay out of confrontations with people on the street.