Two mayors, two different approaches

Some people are going to view this post as more piling on Oakland. It’s not. It’s a demonstration of what leadership is, and what it means to follow through. You’ve been warned.


Many of the mayors throughout the country are in Washington this week to attend the US Conference of Mayors, where the big topic is gun violence and how to reduce it. The big fish at the event is Vice President Joe Biden, who President Obama tasked with developing a plan for gun control and other related initiatives.

In the face of increasing criticism over her effectiveness in handling the crime and murder rates in Oakland, Mayor Jean Quan left for the conference earlier this week. Her office says that she is “hoping to have conversations” on how to reduce the crime rate, which frankly, sounds like a bad excuse for taking a trip to DC for the inauguration. Maybe she’ll get some kind of commitment from someone in a federal capacity, but VP Biden’s team put together the plan and President Obama signed 23 executive orders without needing Quan to be in DC.

Also in DC for the conference is MC Hammer, who became an employee of the city’s Convention & Tourism Bureau last November. Hammer’s position is to promote tourism, which I have to imagine is a difficult sell when everyday there are headlines about one shooting or another. So there are two Oakland leaders in DC at the moment.

Now all of this would be little more than your typical Washington hobnobbing session if it weren’t for the actions of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who abruptly canceled his trip to DC. Why would he cancel the trip even as he was scheduled to speak?

The things that KJ is referencing are his efforts to put together (in parallel) a competing ownership bid that would keep the Kings in Sacramento and an arena package that would be acceptable to David Stern and the NBA owners. KJ is working with a deadline of March 1st. Quan’s deadline for both the Raiders and A’s is effectively the end of the year, so she technically doesn’t have to act too swiftly. But it’s telling that while East and West Oakland are going to hell, Quan is in DC just a month after going to China. In both cases, she’s trying to find solutions, money, or both outside of the city. On the stadium front, Quan has created one task force or another and authorized money for a Coliseum City study which has not yet materialized. There isn’t much to show for Victory Court or Howard Terminal (so far) for that matter. Meanwhile, KJ is rallying forces in the Sacramento region to find a solution. It’s a stark contrast, and while there’s a good chance neither will be successful in the end due to circumstances beyond their control, it’s clear that there’s one mayor who’s trying, and another who’s simply asking for help and not actually doing much.

Then again, this is Quan’s last Twitter update (she’s more active on Facebook):


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