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.