Don’t look to one person, Oakland.

A recurring theme of the 2011 City of Oakland Inauguration was “It’s up to all of us.” Told to us in various speeches from the school board and council members, asked of us by Mayor Jean Quan, and demonstrated by the protest of Oakland Resident Sanjiv Handa.

Beginning with a slide show of Jean Quan’s campaign accompanied by Oakland Tech’s Jazz Ensemble, the Inauguration was filled with excitement, pageantry, pomp and circumstance.

Cute kids sang about hope. Handsome men in uniform marched with flags. Uplifting speeches were riddled with reports of an improving Oakland School system and other pleasantly surprising statistics.

Forbes ranked Oakland as the 5th coolest city in the nation.. Word? Word. Though Forbes’ photo slide show indicates San Francisco and Oakland, we forgive.

See Slide show of Inauguration and City Hall Open House here!

Pride in Oakland and hope for the future was only slightly tempered by foreboding messages of the economic struggle and cuts to services expected to come this year.

Not only can we expect budget cuts, but a little bit of controversy too. Sanjiv Handa, a longtime Oakland resident and City Council watch dog took the opportunity to remind the council of it’s duty to include the public in their decisions, along with a lecture of proper Council Meeting Procedure, which newly appointed Council President Larry Reid seemed to have forgotten. He also let us know that this is the year of litigation and various City of Oakland offices will be sued for corruption (and probably lack of knowledge of how to run a meeting).

Sanjiv Handa’s speech was polarizing, yet highly entertaining. Learn more about Mr. Handa, here.

His interruptions did not dampen the excitement of electing our first female Asian American Mayor, though. Mayor Jean Quan was sworn in with frequent applause and plenty of infectious admiration.

Yet, we were admonished not to place all of our hope onto one person. Jean Quan has big plans for the city, like improving attendance in schools and bringing money into the city by increasing local shopping which will provide revenue to hire more cops and improve public safety.

She does not plan on doing it alone. She wants YOU..or two thousand other Oakland residents to volunteer and mentor the kids.

Perhaps the most inspiring for me was the words spoken by Councilmember Desley Brooks. She reminded us that one of the simplest things we can do to improve our city was to help change the conversation about Oakland. Yes, Oakland has a bad rep, but that is partly do to us talking bad about our own city. It’s also due to the media perpetuating what’s wrong and not talking enough about what is right, like all of the good people who volunteer their time and energy every day to improve Oakland.

It’s not up just Jean Quan or the City Council to make changes necessary to improve our city. It’s up to all of us. Let’s work together and do more, Oakland!

What shall we do? Jean Quan wants us to:

Organize our neighborhood blocks,
in Oakland,
and most importantly.. SHOP OAKLAND.


However, only a fraction of Oakland’s population was there to hear that message..and the media seemed to care more about Jerry Brown’s inauguration.

How can all of us work together to improve our city when a lot of residents don’t know or even care?

2 responses to “Don’t look to one person, Oakland.”

  1. Council and JQ have more enthusiasm than brains when it comes to Buy Oakland boosterism.

    Both new vehicles I’ve bought in the last few years I bought at Oakland car dealerships. Car dealers have been the largest source of sales tax revenue and high paying benefited working class jobs for many years.

    But the Council jacked around the whole Army Base redevelopment to the point where the few dealers that were allowed to squeeze in there, dropped out when the economy tanked. Before betting on foodie restaurants and industrial mj to “recapture” that billion in retail sales, maybe our officials should have just taken better care of what few retailers we already had.

    Over the last 20 years Oakland leaders went whole hog encouraging government and large non profits to move to DTO. During the same period many of the remaining large for private employers departed. Basic muni finance would have told our officials that non profits and governments don’t pay Oakland biz tax, ofter dont pay sales tax, and never pay property tax on buildings they own. To assume that their employees would spend the big bucks at non existent retailers would be funny if it weren’t pitiful.

    Unless JQ is planning to raise a citizen’s militia to patrol the streets, she might have some difficulties reconciling her policy of balancing the budget by laying off cops while chanting for more shoppers to buy Oakland. Shoppers don’t enjoy shopping if they have to watch their backs when returning to their cars and buses and bikes. They get nervous of lingering at stores and restaurants when they face higher parking fines than SF.

    Retailers really don’t like to eat high shoplifting costs.

    -len raphael, temescal

  2. I will spend the next four months helping spread her message of change at City Hall and in order to help her get Oakland back on track I have to work for her message and not my own though of course they align quite a bit ..It has been incredibly rewarding to join civic life these last four years. Working for Rebecca Kaplan is a chance to see Oakland embrace its future as a transit-oriented prosperous and healthy community……….Posted in ….. Improve Oaklands environment while creating opportunities for job growth and public health.

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