With 4 homicides last week, among them the 16-year-old mother of an 8-month-old, Oakland has had 69 killings in 2012, including the 7 slain in the Oikos massacre in April. That is 69 killings in the 32 weeks of the year so far.
I interviewed Oakland Mayor Jean Quan on August 10th, for an upcoming profile in San Francisco Magazine. I think it will be in the October issue. We spoke in her office at City Hall for over an hour and covered a wide range of issues, including economic development, crime, the effects of mayoral fame on her life and family, the differences between life in the hills and life in the flatlands and what, if anything, connects or could connect the two seemingly alien parts of Oakland.
Mayor Quan talks quickly, swallows words, and sometimes follows whatever stream her consciousness takes her down. She is capable, in answer to any question, of demonstrating insight and a keen awareness of Oakland's problems before very quickly saying something that sounds like she's in denial.
I don't think her denial is necessarily reflected in her policies or her work. And maybe she sees it as necessary to her role as booster-in-chief of all things Oakland. But I wish she would stop it anyway.
The following Quan quote from the interview is an example that shows 1) how well she understands the depths of the city's generations-long problem with violence; and 2) her willingness to use vague numbers to, at least verbally, brush aside what I believe she knows is Oakland's open wound.
"I think for the kids in the poorest neighborhoods we're really talking about people who for now a couple of generations who just are, their families have been under attack for one thing or the other. You know, have kids who grew up without parents who were lost to the crack epidemic 20 years ago when I became a school board member; the murder rate was twice as high in the city. And a lot of people, so a lot of people think 'oh, it's really high now;' well, it was, it used to be much higher and it's been coming down so that if you look at a map (I think she means "graph" - JO'B), it's like the murder rate's been going down, hit an all-time low the last year of the Dellums administration when we had the most police, it's a little bump up and now I'm trying to get it back parallel, and then on track to being where [we were?], I don't know, we just had a murder today... no informatoin, no information, we've been having about 1 a week, and last year we were having about 2 a week."
- Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland