A Bay Area Journalist's First-Hand Account Of How Mayor Jerry Brown Screwed Over Oakland On His Way To Sacramento



J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Oakland Unwrapped Column
UrbanView Newspaper
March 13, 2002

Item from a longer column:

In the wake of Jerry Brown’s re-election as Mayor of Oakland, several local media outlets are reviving the charge that Brown is gearing up for a run for something else (most likely U.S. Senator) sometime during his second term. They are citing, in part, the fact that the day before the mayoral election voting, Brown put an American and California State flag up on his jerrybrown.org campaign website.

I’m still trying to figure out why this would be a bad thing for Oakland.

First, it’s difficult to see how Jerry Brown could spend less time in his duties as mayor. His strong-mayor ordinance actually only give him two legal responsibilities: hiring the City Manager and breaking tie votes in City Council. The City Manager was already hired when Brown got here, and Brown has managed to miss about half of the tie votes. We keep hearing that the Mayor spends his day on the phone talking to potential developers, but since he doesn’t get paid by piece-rate, we don’t require him to turn in his phone records at the end of the day (now there’s about the one place where that phrase is appropriate), so we don’t really know how much time that actually takes. And re: the Mayor’s continuing assertion that he is putting Oakland on the map, how many times do you have to call the folks at Rand-McNally before they get the message? So if Brown were to slip down to Modesto or Merced two or three days a week to campaign for the Senate, would we really miss him?

[Note to people who spent so much time last year speculating on how Mayor Brown would be succeeded if he resigned mid-term to run for another office: Mayor Brown certainly may run for another office mid-term, but why on earth would he resign in order to do so? That don’t compute.]

Second reason why Brown’s possible run for another office might not be such a bad thing for Oakland: The one time it is guaranteed that you can get a politician’s attention is when he (or she) is running for office. We certainly got more attention from the Mayor these past three months—during the Mayoral campaign—than we got in the entire three years preceding, combined. So a Senate-campaigning Jerry would have to do a little Oakland stuff now and again, if only to keep up appearances that he has a day job.

So on the theory that it’s got to get better because it can’t possibly get any worse: Run, Jerry, run.