Public Comment

Comparing Jean Quan with the Other Frontrunners in the Oakland Mayor's Race

By Joyce Roy
Monday September 27, 2010 - 05:21:00 PM

Some assertions by Councilmember Jean Quan in her Sept. 20th commentary need to be corrected. 

“Montgomery Wards or Cesar Chavez Learning Center” was a false choice. It could have been: The original handsome portion of the Montgomery Ward building reused for 540 units of housing, 20% affordable for teachers, AND a new Chavez Learning Center AND, because the site would have been leased to the developer, a cash cow for the school district. Both would have been developed with union labor by a very respected developer from San Francisco (not Seattle), Emerald Fund. 

At the time, 2001, most elementary schools cost about $15 million; this learning center consisting of two K-5 schools with a total of 474 students cost over $50 million! That is $105,485 per student. The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles that has been in the news lately had a $578 million price tag for 4200 students, that is, $137,619 per student. So Oakland doesn’t have the honor of the country’s most expensive public school, probably just the most costly elementary school. 

This was the most idiotic, self-defeating action I have seen taken by the school district and the City. But I don’t expect a mea culpa from a politician. Look at Tony Blair who cannot admit that invading Iraq was a big mistake. 

So said, I will be voting for Jean Quan for Mayor because the whole tally for her is more positive than for the other two frontrunners. As a councilmember, two issues that come to mind where she exhibited leadership was on use of herbicides on public lands and against locating a casino in Oakland. She is definitely hard working and I think with her experience and maturity, she can be a good mayor. At this time we certainly need someone who understands the City’s finances. She just needs to learn to shut-up sometimes and listen to people. But that is a problem with all three frontrunners. 

Speaking of finances, an article in the Chronicle (9/25/10) on the mayoral forum stated, “(Rebecca Kaplan) argued that…as a board member at financially crippled AC Transit, she has learned how to find money where others haven’t.” She helped cripple AC Transit by approving “creative fund swaps” to pay for imported buses with funds that could have been used for service. Now service is being cut to the bone and they are stuck with junk buses that are more costly to maintain than older American buses. 

By serving on the AC Transit board, one can be an elected official without accountability. It is easy for Rebecca to misrepresent her actions on the board because who watches the board or even cares? Well, I have since early 2007 as self-appointed watchdog. She, along with most members, treated the agency’s funds like it was a big cookie jar, and riders are now paying the price. A few documented examples of her record: 


You should think twice before voting for Rebecca if you: 

  • are elderly or disabled or concerned about their needs (she gave them a deaf ear when they complained about the Van Hool buses.)
  • are a member of a union or think we shouldn’t be shipping good jobs overseas (she did that every time she voted for a Van Hool bus.)
  • think public agencies should practice fiscal responsibility.
But she has a very charming public persona that can be summed up with “can’t we just all get along.” 

Finally re the third frontrunner: I believe in Oakland, so I do not believe they will elect an un-indicted crook for mayor. 

Joyce Roy is an Oakland Activist.