Oakland News: Rebecca Kaplan In, Courtney Ruby Plans To Quit Mayor’s Race

rebeccakaplan Greetings from Suburban Atlanta, Georgia, where I spend about half my time when I’m not in Oakland, and to keep my Mom company. She turns 80 this fall, October 1st. Now, turning to Oakland…

Rebecca Kaplan’s being feted by what little media exists in Oakland and the Bay Area, after she held a press conference on Thursday to announce that she is entering the Oakland Mayor’s Race (although the paper’s she is to file have not been officially recorded at the City of Oakland website as of this writing).

So now, the Oakland Mayor’s Race is rocked by the entry of yet another big or semi-big name local incumbent or politico.  It  seems every time someone enters the race who fits that bill, someone in the mainstream media annoyingly tags them as the new front-runner.  It happened with Bryan Parker because he raised $24,000 in about a day, then Joe Tuman because it was his second bite at the apple;  then Mayor Quan; Oakland District Four Councillmember Libby Schaaf made a huge wave; Dan Siegel blunted that; Courtney Ruby jumped back in, after jumping out, after saying she was jumping in; and now here it’s Rebecca turn.

But with each one of these events, notice that the half-life of that so-called status gets shorter and shorter. And on top of that, we also seem keep adding candidates you never knew about until they filed their papers with the City Clerk’s Office, like Larry Lionel Young.  And its his second try, too!

Kaplan’s press release said “I’m running because our city needs strong, stable leadership — for safe neighborhoods, for local jobs and for a fresh start for our city,” Kaplan said. “Oakland isn’t ungovernable, it’s just ungoverned.”

UPDATE: Joe Tuman, who’s running for the second time, immediately issued an email which said “I find it ironic that as a governing Councilmember who has occupied the citywide council seat for 6 years, Councilmember Kaplan would choose to emphasize Oakland is “ungoverned” as she asks voters for a promotion.”


And then she went on to say that the Jobs and Housing Coalition Poll showed that Kaplan would lead the field with 26% of first place votes to the incumbent’s 20%. Rebecca also believes she would win with 59% of the vote.

Personally, I think the Jobs and Housing Coalition Poll can’t be taken seriously because it’s sample size is massively small (about 400 people, they say) and the organization doesn’t share its raw data so you can go over it yourself. It’s like the firm puts out this press release announcing the results of a poll, and a couple of mainstream media news organs lap it up like pablum. Maybe it’s a trick? Maybe there’s no real poll at all and just a one sheet of talking points with numbers?

If I go to the Oakland Jobs and Housing Coalition website, I can’t even find the poll listed, let alone mentioned. Nothing to download. No PDF.

What’s up with that?

Rebecca’s using the poll press release as spin, which is about all it’s good for. I just hope, for her sake, she doesn’t believe her own press. But even if she does, Rebecca’s got such a positive attitude, and warm heart, she just might be able to turn fiction to fact. Still, she’s got a giant mountain to climb.

As much as I like my friend, the fact is, Rebecca walks into this Oakland Mayor’s Race late, and well-under-funded. As a friend of mine who’s a big political player around town said “Where’s she going to get her money and backing? A lot of people are already committed.”

(And as a note, no one runs around town is actually using the term “Oakland Mayoral Election” in conversation, so forget seeing me use it here.)

Kaplan is now running for an Oakland office for the forth time in seven years (hat tip to Don Macleay for the correction). She ran for the At-Large seat in 2008, then for Mayor in 2010, and then for At-Large reelection in 2012, and now she’s back in 2014. I’ve interviewed her at least six times, and made videos about her 14 times. Want to have some fun? Here’s the first talk we had in 2008, when she was a member of the AC Transit Board and running for Oakland City Council:

And this was from her 2010 run for Mayor of Oakland:

And this was my talk with her when she ran for At-Large reelection:

But the fact is, Kaplan’s entry (she becomes the second lesbian in the race along with Oakland tax accountant Nancy Sidebotham) makes a large field larger. There are, as of this writing, 17 candidates (though my friends tell me Courtney Ruby’s planning to exit the race and run for the open City Auditor’s seat) making this election campaign much larger than any other in Oakland’s history. And Rank Choice Voting makes predicting the exact outcome, for all practical purposes, impossible, when the formula of picking the candidates with the most first-place, then second-place, and then third-place votes.

See, the more candidates there are, the harder it is for any one person to gain enough first-place votes to have a majority over 50 percent. That’s especially true if the candidates are all unknown; the ideal condition for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan would be for the other 16 candidates to have the name ‘Jack Smith.’ In that scenario, Quan would get a clear majority of first-place votes, and end the contest.

But the problem for Mayor Quan, and why I say Kaplan’s entry has effectively killed any chance she has of winning reelection, is that Kaplan has a Google Trends Search ranking that’s competitive with Quan’s – in fact, so does Schaaf and Ruby, with Joe Tuman, who’s running for the second time, but enjoyed television exposure on KPIX in between 2010 and 2014, pulling up 4th place.

And while it looks like Jean’s trend line is taking off, consider that the June data is partial, and the one news story that happened to get enough of a combination of media coverage and search activity was Joe Tuman’s police plan. Quan appears to move up to a high ranking in June, but, again, that’s a dubious outcome given the fact that the Google data’s not complete.

But the point is, Jean’s not the only name in the game, and even though she’s Mayor of Oakland, she’s not wildly more popular in search than her challengers – what you see is the result of a combination of the volume of content written about her, and what’s searched in terms of keywords that pertain to her.

And what’s not revealed in the Google search trends is how people feel about Mayor Quan, and that’s not good most of the time. But the bottom line is Mayor Quan has true opponents that do gain online search attention, and that can drive votes away from her. Rebecca Kaplan just happens to be Quan’s most dangerous competitor not named Dan Siegel; Courtney Ruby can’t seem to make what little search trend celebrity she has translate to fiscal support, and because of that, according to friends, she’s planning to exit the race.

And here’s what makes all of this even more complicated: Bryan Parker and Dan Siegel have enough money to generate Google Search trends of their own, once they discover television. Siegel benefits from past online and offline popularity associated with his quitting Mayor Quan’s staff during the height of the Occupy Wall Street / Occupy Oakland movement in 2011.

If Bryan Parker adds a more effective television campaign to his Internet efforts, in one month, he could take over the Mayor’s Race. He’s part inside, as an Oakland Port Commissioner, but really seen as an outsider with a tech bent – you can even use Bitcoin to donate to his coffers.

What Rebecca Kaplan has to worry about, now, is the Oakland Police Officers Association. She was seen as having dissed them last year, and so now, as a candidate for Mayor, may have to answer for that. But if she can get Oakland A’s Owner Lew Wolff to endorse her for Mayor, as Rebecca managed to get a complement from him during the Oakland A’s lease talks, and because she sits on the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, it would be a massive, huge boost for her effort to be elected, and render Quan inert.

On paper, Rebecca takes votes away from Libby and to a lesser extent Jean, but if Libby nails down the backing of Oakland’s cops, and channels her inner Skyline High School (if I were her, I’d call alumns Tom Hanks and John Langraf), then she can overcome Rebecca’s efforts in the other areas Schaaf has focused on, specifically bikes, the Oakland budget, and transportation.

The Oakland Electeds Could Cancel Each Other Out

But you see how the insider group of Oakland elected incumbents start to eat away at each other, right? That leaves Parker to get the emerging Oakland Tech vote, and Siegel to nail down the labor vote. It all gets really divided, really fast. (But that whole Tom Hanks / Libby thing…)

And here’s what makes this even more complicated than that: between Shake Anderson,Peter Liu, Patrick McCullough, Nancy Sidebotham, Jesse Smith (who is said to be out, but is not), Joe Tuman, Gregory Wade, Sam Washington, Charles Williams, Margaret Wade, and Larry Lionel Young, any one of them could do something that gains enough attention to gain popularity, and with that first-place votes, and alter the course of the Oakland Mayor’s Race. Indeed, Ms Sidebotham has told me she thinks Kaplan entering the race improves her chances to win.

And that doesn’t even include the second-place and third-place voting outcomes. See, with so many candidates, all it takes is one with a smaller majority to win. And the way this is looking, there’s room for at least two or three, or even four more people, pushing the tally to 20 candidates to be Mayor of Oakland.

In short, this 2014 race, is twice-more complicated than the 2010 version, when we had 13 candidates, 10 that anyone really knew about, and of that 10, five who mattered the most. The vote trading then was largely between a smaller number of known candidates, and those that could have increased their visibility complained of lack of money, and failed to use social media to make up for that problem.

But let’s put it this way: just entering the Oakland Mayor’s Race, or the Oakland District Two and District Four and District Six City Council Races, gives a candidate a chance to build celebrity that they did not have before. (And yes, I did say celebrity: politics, the saying goes, is show-business for ugly people. Not that I’m calling anyone in this race ugly.)

What many candidates aren’t doing is effectively using social media to announce and record their event activities. The fact is, if you’re going to hold a rally and aren’t putting out press releases, blog posts, YouTube videos, Twitter Tweets, and Facebook Pages and Facebook comments, and web pages about that event, and if you’re not using social media to show folks that the event is going on, and then if you’re not installing updates to show people what happened at that event after it was over, you really do deserve to lose whatever election you’re in.

Too many candidates are counting on mainstream media to do their work for them. That’s a bad idea – you can’t control what may come out, if it does – you can influence it, but that’s about it and even then, that’s a crap shoot.

And then, just because you want coverage doesn’t always mean you’re going to get it. With that fact, the number of people who wait for a newspaper or TV crew to come by is staggering. We might as well be in 1999, and not 2014.

The San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, and East Bay Express are too caught up with the idea of making sure you know they practice journalism to be truly effective at reporting the news. Yet, Oakland politicos act as if those organization still really matter, when in point of fact, they don’t. Media is way too fragmented today for that approach to work. But, candidates leave media making to the old media types, and do nothing to use digital media to get out their message.

For example, Rebecca Kaplan held a press conference on Thursday, yet there’s not one video about it up on her YouTube page. An effective effort would have been such that there were several short videos up, like 10 of them, and seach one auto-posted to her blog, and then auto-distributed to her Twitter account and Facebook Page.

And she could have thrown in a set of cool Vine videos for extra media reach, and Tout or Vidoco 13 second videos as well.

And in the Oakland District Two Race, Andrew Park had a rally June 5th , and at The Oakland Parkway Theater (and in the process actually putting in action something I said to him about the importance of working to revitalize the intersection of Park and East 18th Street) and at least had two tweets up about it, with photos – no video (that I’ve seen). By contrast, I could not find anything about Anne Campbell Washington’s rally she held over a week ago.

And when someone does post content, it’s only on their Facebook page, and not where a search engine like Google or Yahoo, or Bing, can grab it and post it. All of that, when the person could make a website that’s then listed on Google News, and effectively overcomes SFGate.com and InsideBayArea.com. Yes, you did read that correctly.

But, no.

So, the event’s like the proverbial tree falling in the forest.

For those of you who say I’m giving away a blue-print, my response is that I am, and for a purpose: I’m trying to push the transition of media into the 21st Century and show people that they really do have the power to make a difference without spending a dime. A person running for office has a platform where people have to pay attention to them – to not use the latest in digital technology is just plain laughable, to put it kindly.

Courtney Ruby Is Planning To Quit The Oakland Mayor’s Race

Shifting gears, we have Oakland’s current City Auditor Courtney Ruby planning to quit the Oakland Mayor’s Race, and (hopefully) move to run for her present seat again. Regardless of how I feel about her now-infamous report, Ruby will run without opposition, unless Michael Killian actually does jump in. But if he does, the feeling is, he’ll lose to her anyway. Complications aside, Courtney’s campaign for Mayor never caught steam, and so she never gained enough fiscal support to really take off.

She has not found her voice, and because of that, she was ambushed and hammered at the 100 Black Men Debate about the very report that has been considered racist. That was damaging, but it would not stop her from being re-elected as Oakland’s Auditor, because there’s no one to challenge her who’s a CPA and as politically well-known as she is.

Lewis P. May Fund, Community Partner Grant Program RFP

This has appeared in my email box:


Dear Community Member,

For over thirty years the Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation have worked to strengthen local communities by enhancing Oakland’s diverse parks and recreational activities.

To further this mission, Friends developed a micro-grant program for Oakland-based community groups.
Grant monies will be drawn from the Lewis P. May Fund, which was established to honor the memory and work of Lew May, an early and key board member of Friends. Community groups whose work is mission-aligned with the Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation are eligible to apply.
Micro-Grant Criteria:
Mission Aligned. Grant funds must be used to facilitate work to beautify or restore parkland located in Oakland, CA.
Greater priority is given to groups with Custodial Accounts at Friends, but all are encouraged to apply.
Greater priority is given to projects that leverage additional resources.
Copies of receipts of items purchased with grant funds are to be given to Friends within two months of receipt of grant funds. Grant recipients are not eligible for future grants, until this step is accomplished.
Grant amounts range between $100-$500.
The deadline to submit a completed application is Thursday, July 3, 5:30 PM

Click here to download a PDF of the full RFP. For a word version of the RFP, please send an email request to [email protected]

Please call the Friends office at 510.465.1850 to discuss any questions regarding this RFP and your proposed project



Stay tuned.

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