Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Then Councilmember, At Oakland Global Intermodal Groundbreaking In 2013

Remembering The Time I Had To Tell The Fox Theater To Let Libby Schaaf In For Her Own Inauguration

Oakland News Now may be Oakland’s current, popular, active blog, but Oakland Focus, which I built on the Blogger.com platform in 2003, is Oakland’s first true blog. As such it contains a number of posts which now help chart and understand part of Oakland’s history.

Take the post where my long time friend (who’s currently not happy with me for being critical of her handling of Howard Terminal, let alone leaving the person best able to solve her problems on the beach – eh, me), was sworn in as Oakland’s new District 4 Councilmember. On that day in 2011, she joined Oakland’s first Asian female Mayor Jean Quan and Oakland District 2 Councilmember Pat Kernighan at the event.

This is what I wrote:

Oakland, CA: Live From The Fox – Today’s a special day in the City of Oakland, because Jean Quan, formerly District 4 Councilmember, then the (to some) surprising new Mayor-Elect of Oakland after beating front-runner Don Perata thanks to Ranked Choice Voting, today becomes Mayor of Oakland.

Quan started the day with a walk from Chinatown through Oakland, and ending at the Fox Theater, where we are for the inauguration ceremonies. She held an inpromptu “thank you” chat with supporters and onlookers in front of the Fox, and was joined by Assemblyman Sandre Swanson.

Sandre, a protege of former Congressman and now outgoing Mayor Ron Dellums, issued what in retrospect, was the first sign that Dellums wasn’t going to run for reelection: he announced his support for Quan. Moreover, Sandre’s support for Jean never wavered. Now, today, he looks like a proud papa, grinning from ear-to-ear.

Libby Schaaf, Pat Kernighan, and Courtney Ruby Take Office

Today’s also the day my long-time friend Libby Schaaf, who I said should run for Mayor, ran for City Council, and won in a landslide. She’s now the new councilmember for District 4 (Oakland Hills – Montclair), replacing Quan.

With all this, Libby’s still new to Oaklanders. I had to get the Fox Theater usher to let her in without a ticket, explaining Libby was one of his new representatives and she was about to be sworn in. That problem won’t last for long.  Libby’s going to make a big name for herself.

Pat Kernighan, the incumbent District 2 Councilmember (Chinatown – Lake Merritt) also won big over her challenger Jen Pae. For a while, it looked like Jen might upset Pat, but Councilmember Kernighan’s vast set of long-established relationships formed a base that was hard to overcome. Here’s Jen in 2010 in a video that also features Phil Ting, who’s currently California Assemblymember for the 19th Assembly District.


And here’s then Councilmember Kernighan in 2009:


Courtney Ruby, the incumbent City Auditor, also won over a challenge from Michael Killian. Moreover, Killian’s focus on auditing issues at CEDA, the Community and Economic Development Agency of Oakland, may have caused her to release her study on CEDA loans and fiscal reporting. One that Oakland City Administrator Dan Lindheim took offense to.

Right now, Oakland School Board member Chris Dobbins is doing his best Sarah Palin impersonation, even to the point of bring up his entire family, “from Wasila, Alaska,” he said.

And now we have Sanjiv Handa,long time journalist and City Council “whip”, if you will, giving a speech to the Council. He is starting a new precedent. There are 100s and 1,000s of PTA’s that are doing the things the city used to do, he says. Who ever is elected can revisit the basic purpose of government interaction: every aspect of public business must be discussed on public. He also wants an extension of time for speakers.

Handa was making good points, but is now putting the crowd on edge with some hissing, as he recounts his version of what now Governor Jerry Brown did to Oakland’s School system while he was mayor.  That’s not something Gary Yee cares about; today, he’s the new President of The Board of The Oakland Unified School District.   He says that the Oakland School Districts on the right path and is on a mission to graduate every student.  Yee also says we have a long way to go.

Fox Theater Attendance OK

With all of this, you’d think the Fox Theater would be filled to the brim, but no.  Even in the lower level area, there are empty seats.

Stay turned for Part Two.

How Times Have Changed Since Then

How times have changed since that point about 10 years ago. Councilmember Schaaf is now Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Pat has retired from politics and Nikki Fortunado Bas is the current District 2 representative. But one thing is the same, after being different for a while: Courtney Ruby is the Oakland City Auditor. That’s just fine with me as long as she doesn’t run for Mayor again. On second thought, maybe time and tide have made her a better candidate. I’ll have to think about that. Since she’s never sold me, or tried to sell me, on why she should be Mayor of Oakland, I’ll stand pat with my opinion.

Stay tuned.

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