Madlibs Oakland style

In the new season of the FX show Sons of Anarchy, the police department of the fictional town of Charming, California (somewhere in the Central Valley) has been disbanded and replaced by San Joaquin County Sheriffs. We may be about to see something similar soon, only in a much larger place that is all too real: Oakland. The first shoe to drop was the resignation retirement of popular-albeit-embattled Oakland police chief Anthony Batts. Batts has encountered friction since Jean Quan became mayor, and there was a sense that he would be gone at some point, either by taking another Chief’s job (San Jose interviewed him) or something else – in this case, academia (Harvard).

Zennie Abraham (hold on, give it a minute) put up a blog post with his opinion on the subject, and like many, he feels the whole thing is a mess. It wasn’t his words that caught my attention, it was the quotes and musings from others close to the situation. From City Councilperson Jane Brunner:

“…in my opinion, he needs to want to be here. And if there are things that are preventing him from wanting to stay, he needs to be in the room to have that discussion…If he’s going to stay, he needs to work with us as a team.”

Does that kind of rhetoric sound familiar? It should:

“We all got this feeling, everybody who met with him, we all walked away thinking he was just not interested,” said Councilmember Jane Brunner. “When you negotiate with someone, you need a nibble. … There was just no nibble.”

That was Brunner’s comment about Lew Wolff five years ago. The difference between Batts and Wolff? Batts has more control over his future. Next in Zennie’s post is a quote by recently elected city councilperson Libby Schaaf:

I’m extremely disheartened by Chief Batts’ resignation. I can’t blame him for feeling frustrated by this City’s inability to unite around a shared vision and commitment to public safety for Oakland. I hope this experience inspires us all to work harder at finding consensus and providing support to our next Chief. Oakland’s future depends on it.

Now if I change this a little to this (changes italicized):

I’m extremely disheartened by Commissioner Selig’s decision. I can’t blame him for feeling frustrated by this City’s inability to unite around a shared vision and commitment to a ballpark for Oakland. I hope this experience inspires us all to work harder at finding consensus and providing support to our next team. Oakland’s future depends on it.

I say, that looks quite apropos right about now, given the lack of consensus over a site and the complete unknown that is the EIR. That’s not a direct quote from anyone above, but it is a reminder of what rhetoric looks like, even if it comes from a well-intentioned place.

According to Matier and Ross, a federal judge is threatening to put OPD into receivership, which could by default make Oakland the jurisdiction of the Alameda County Sheriff. I hope, for the sake of Oakland citizens, that City Hall can provide the leadership necessary to get OPD through this. In the past I’ve stayed away from the “Oakland has bigger priorities than the A’s” stance, but after seeing all of this develop, frankly, Oakland has bigger priorities than the A’s.

36 thoughts on “Madlibs Oakland style

  1. @ML–“Oakland has bigger priorities than the A’s.” And so does San Jose.

  2. JK leaves out the details that San Jose’s ballpark work is almost done while Oakland’s hasn’t started. Just one more property to buy. San Jose’s EIR – check; site assembly – almost check; cooperative owner – check; $120 mill naming rights agreement – check. Oakland has none of these things

  3. dream on Marine Layer. “Opinions are like @$$holes …. “.

  4. Jk, San Jose already has most of the work done, and it’s PD isn’t on the verge of being disbanded. Can you imagine Oakland without a PD?

  5. I guess sometimes in life the truth really, really hurts. (“And so does San Jose”..yeah yeah yeah) This is all I’m going to say about this (have at it fellas!).

  6. In the words of T.O.- “Get ya popcorn ready”

  7. I’ve said it many times before, the City of Oakland needs to decide whether or not they are a serious player in this game. If they are, then put forth the effort to move things forward. Otherwise, quit with the rhetoric and fake facades, and get out of the frickin way!

  8. FWIW, with VC apparently dead in the water and Wolff and MLB rejecting the Coliseum site, which the city wants for the Raiders anyway, I’m at a loss as to where exactly would Oakland put a new ballpark even if it had public $$ available, which it doesn’t. Oakland’s apparent striking out in the ballpark race puts A’s fans in a tough spot, since it looks like it leaves San Jose as our only hope left for keeping the team and we all know the issues with that.

  9. Batts leaving shows how hard it is to work with the Oakland City Council.

    Batts turned Long Beach around in his 20 years there (7 as Chief) because he had a supportive city council willing to implement his policies.

    For example Batts wanted a mandatory youth curfew and more gang injunctions. San Jose for example has had a youth curfew since the late 90s and is a far safer city than Oakland.

    Jean Quan and the council people outside of IDLF and Larry Reid were the only ones in support of Batts and the policies he wanted to implement.

    Jean Quan essentially refused to settle a tie breaker on the both policies and sent it back to the committee. Wow……how this crazy woman Mayor? She is a born moron.

    She is against a youth curfew because she thinks most homicides are people over 18. Hello Mayor Quan! By forcing youths of the streets it makes it tougher for gangs to expand their presence since their youngest members are at home.

    Police can then have an excuse to ID people to see if they are in violation and get them off the streets. It is a “long term” thing that reduces gang involvement over time.

    That was the straw that broke the camels back essentially and Batts had enough….I cannot blame him. He was being “micro-managed” by Quan and others.

    Now Batts is gone and OPD is about to be put into receivership. They have cut Police officers to levels that are unacceptable.

    Oakland has serious problems, you don’t hear San Jose having this kind of thing happening at all. I am sorry Batts did not get the SJ job…..It would have been justice for him.

  10. …I also lost more confidence in Oakland leadership when it was revealed a few weeks ago that Quan is known as Oakland’s “queen of residential blight,” with her property overrun with overgrown vegetation. When the news cameras showed up, she had conveniently hired someone to start cutting the mess back. I thought – this is the person to shepherd a $500 mill+ ballpark project in Oakland?

  11. @pjk- If Quan cannot handle the Police problem how can she handle anything else?? She cannot even handle overgrown vegetation. Ha!

    Oakland is in disarray right now and needs a leader to turn the tide. Forget the A’s and Raiders, they need to address several other things first.

  12. This blog is starting to sound like SFGate. Anonymous Oakland haters, free to run there mouth about “how bad the ‘town is”.
    Oakland is a great place to live. There’s a bad part of town, just like in every big city. The major difference is… the “bad” part of Oakland is not the safest place to own property, but the rest of the town is awesome
    SJ has thrown all of its eggs into this new agency (in hopes to lure the A’s). Other than that, SJ is in BIG trouble financially. How come Mayor Reed hasn’t gone to the SVLG for a city bailout?
    SJ is broke. SJ has laid off police. Interesting how there seems to be a lack of accountability and tough questions and accusation thrown at the civic leaders in SJ.

    • @David – The difference is that Chuck Reed is tackling the budget/pension stuff head on. Michael Lewis wrote a piece in Vanity Fair about it. Reed is taking a lot of flack from the police union and he’s willing to take it. He’s not hemming and hawing and hoping for a no-chance-in-hell parcel tax to save the City. Mayors have to make tough, ugly decisions. Reed has shown he’s willing to do that. Quan? Not so far.

  13. Oakland has some great things: the zoo, Children’s Fairyland, Lake Merritt, Chabot Science Center, the city golf course, JL Square, the view of the Oakland hills, etc etc. Unfortunately, it does not appear to have good leadership and that is Requirement #1 for getting something as massive as a $500 mill ballpark built….San Jose and pretty much all cities nationwide (including Oakland) are having financial problems. Fortunately, San Jose got most of its ballpark efforts completed prior to these problems. In Oakland, there’s no money and apparently no resolve to work on a ballpark there, unfortunately. We keep hearing the Oakland-only folks talk about San Jose’s financial problems while ignoring Oakland’s and dismissing all the work San Jose already has completed on its ballpark project.,,,

  14. @David- San Jose has laid off police but they do not have the crime rate even close to on par with Oakland.

    San Jose like Oakland is broke but that is every other city in the state. The recession did it to every municipality pretty much.

    San Jose unlike Oakland does not need public money for the A’s. San Jose is relying on their corporate base and affluent citizens to get the ballpark built. Not hard when you look at the fact the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area is the richest in the country.

    Oakland may have some good parts of town but in reality it is being overshadowed the the “overall” crime rate in the city. These are the facts that are all over the media.

    San Jose has a youth curfew and does gang injunctions….this stuff has been done for years. Yet Oakland with a much higher crime rate does not do the same? Wow……it boggles my mind.

    Quan is a big problem and she needs to go. So the Oakland can move forward and get the right people in place. Batts was a huge loss….I think that might even be an understatement.

    JK is right the Big O needs a break, but you make your own breaks in this world….No one hands them out.

    That is why the A’s are trying to create their own “break” by moving to San Jose and SJ is making it happen with an EIR, land, and a city council who is supportive.

  15. David: It’s sure starting to look like, barring some sort of Hail Mary pass, that Oakland cannot develop a new ballpark. If Oakland has to bow out of the A’s ballpark race, would you then support a move just 30 or so miles away or do you see that as the equivalent of the A’s leaving the Bay Area entirely? You can go to games in San Jose and wear the same A’s cap you have now.

  16. Wow, is this SFGate? Sad.

  17. Starting to sound like it’s election season (republicans vs. democrats) when the blog is “”, and I think the news (regarding police and public safety) does affect whether Oakland is able to get a ballpark from MLB/Oakland..

    Now I don’t care where in the bay area we get this stadium, as long as I can drive to it. But I do appreciate the news (“Rham”) Marine Layer.

  18. I just realized that has slowly morphed into

    not meant to be an insult… it’s just amazing how many perspectives you have to consider when following a seemingly simple topic: a new baseball park

  19. @eb–“is this SFGate?” That’s what it looks like to me. The Oakland and Jean Quan bashing is alive and well on here. Maybe put up a side by side picture of her and something ugly and nasty like the Al Davis one ML so proudly displayed on here 2 weeks ago. Maybe just take this post down or turn the comments off. Last one for me on this thread.

  20. @JK I’m surpirsed you wouldn’t want to dump on Quan too. She appears to take the pro-Oakland crowd as suckers.

  21. Why should Oakland prepare and EIR now or do anything until the territorial rights issue is resolved. All it would be doing is negotiating agains itself. It currently has the TR issue on its side.

    That said I think Oakland should reopen the evaluation of alternative sites, especially since land acquisition as well as traffic and parking impact mitigation would be cost prohibitive.

  22. Because Bryan, they’re going to need to build a new ballpark if they want to keep the A’s. Both if they want to give MLB a reason to not give the territorial rights to the South Bay to the A’s, and on the off chance they don’t to keep the team from any OTHER city that will steal them. Remember Oakland isn’t going to keep them in the Coliseum for long even if SJ isn’t opened to the A’s. So why not get it done now. The longer they wait, the more it costs.

  23. …the problem is, Oakland has the territorial rights issue on its side but nothing else. No site, no EIR, no cooperative owner, no naming rights deal, no $$. And no history of great fan support, either.

  24. re: Remember Oakland isn’t going to keep them in the Coliseum for long
    …yes, Wolff said a couple weeks ago that MLB doesn’t view a 45-year-old dual-purpose stadium as a viable option for the team. There MUST be a plan for a new ballpark, and that plan will require lots and lots of $$

  25. Yeah, Oakland should do nothing to show how it’s stance on a new stadium for the A’s has evolved from past mayors/city councils. If decisions cannot be made when there is competition, they most certainly will not be in a period of status-quo.

  26. @Bryan Even if we assume that you are right (you’re not), why would the city publicly state they are fast tracking the EIR and then sit on it for a year without doing anything? They haven’t announced a change in policy regarding the EIR and they won’t respond to requests asking for an update on the process. Talk about a lack of transparency! We have a right to know what the hell is going on here, do we not?

  27. Oakland has no reason to wait for a TR decision…It is because they reside in the A’s current TR right now.

    If Oakland showed something plausible MLB would force Wolff to deal with the city a long time ago and shot down San Jose or put it on the back burner as a last ditch site.

    Oakland has done nothing and is sitting in a holding pattern like San Jose when they have to reason to. San Jose need permission not Oakland to get a ballpark up.

    Oakland like Newhouse and the rest of the East Bay want Wolff to pay for the whole thing himself and do not care how the finance it……Not good.

    All good Pro-Oak guys…Selig will do nothing once again. He has more pressing matters.

  28. Is there concrete proof that the EIR hasn’t started or is this supposition? I submit to the lack of transparency from Oakland so this is really a rhetorical question. Spending an inordinate amount of time arguing about something that, at the present time, is uncertain at best and ensconced at worst is quite superflous, IMHO.

  29. @Columbo,
    Re Oakland VC EIR: IMHO completely irrelevant at this point, whether started, not started, framed, in the circular file, etc etc.

  30. @TonyD-well, MLB likes the VC site and has spent much time and money on it, so IMHO a EIR is very relevant.

  31. ” frankly, Oakland has bigger priorities than the A’s.” – In order of highest priority to lowest : High crime rates, lack of government leadership, RDA general fund switcharoos, education, the Raider’s new Coliseum, appeasing the W’s to stay later, how to keep the coliseum turf looking new, what to do with the excess parking, (does the Moneyball Beane hand gesture to the floor)… then there’s the A’s…….

  32. @ JK – SJ doesn’t prioritize the A’s, actually the opposite. All the land acquisitions, EIR, etc. was done on the side through decades of perparation and acquisitions. Reed and our council members understand the need for cost control pension funds, hence we had measure V and W on the ballot (which voters overwhelmingly passed). We also prioritize our police chief having interviewed many candidates including batts himself. To speak otherwise is very ignorant and just buying into the sensationalism of the media portrayal or denying yourself the actual state of Oakland. Remember, attacking SJ doesn’t validate Oakland. Showing actual financing, government and public support, and a business case as well as working with the A’s ownership will…..

    @ David – you must have a really big butt then….. 😡

    @ Columbo – Denial is not a a river in Egypt….

  33. @Anon–don’t want to bash posters, but dude, you have the biggest “ASS” on this site based on your opinions. Bartleby is a close 2nd.

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