Sometimes the decisions and actions of a single individual can lead to disaster. It does not happen often, because most good leaders surround themselves with people who help them compensate for their blind spots.
Mayor Jean Quan is not one of those people.
The decision to clear Frank Ogawa Plaza was hers. I originally admired her for enforcing the law despite her obvious kinship with the OWS movement. In her mayoral campaign biography, she notes, “My husband, Floyd, and I met as student activists at UC Berkeley…”
Well it turns out that she ordered the police to clear the park only to decide to allow protestors to occupy it again the next day. This flip-flopping cost Oakland taxpayers about $1 million in a single week. Then she encouraged city employees to take the day off to protest against…well…themselves. The police, of course, were not allowed to show their solidarity. They needed to be on hand to crush any “rebellion” if the city’s protesting of itself got out of hand. And crush the “rebellion” they did, which led to today’s shut down of the Port of Oakland.
Mayor Quan’s incompetence runs much deeper, of course, but the Oakland Police Officer’s Association does a much more eloquent job of describing it than I ever could. Yesterday it posted An Open Letter to the Citizens of Oakland from the Oakland Police Officers’ Association detailing Quan’s bizarre and irresponsible decision-making:
“We represent the 645 police officers who work hard every day to protect the citizens of Oakland. We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families. We are severely understaffed with many City beats remaining unprotected by police during the day and evening hours.
As your police officers, we are confused.
On Tuesday, October 25th, we were ordered by Mayor Quan to clear out the encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza and to keep protesters out of the Plaza. We performed the job that the Mayor’s Administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence and destruction of property.
Then, on Wednesday, October 26th, the Mayor allowed protesters back in – to camp out at the very place they were evacuated from the day before.
To add to the confusion, the Administration issued a memo on Friday, October 28th to all City workers in support of the “Stop Work” strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off.
That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against “the establishment.” But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest? Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?
It is all very confusing to us.”
You can read the rest of the letter here.
Either way, the movement shut down the Port of Oakland today. It doesn’t matter that port activity generates over 73,000 jobs in the region and is connected to more than 800,000 jobs nationwide. Nor does it seem to dawn on protestors that the port is $1.4 billion in debt and has annual debt service payments of over $100 million a year. Shutting it down will only serve to imperil its very existence.
Again, Mayor Quan allowed public employees to take the day off to protest – except cops.
People want more entitlements and jobs. What better way to fix that problem than by disrupting critical economic activity that…well…creates jobs?