It was sad to see Oakland reach a new low on Tuesday. The police chief resigns, but attempts to bring down the entire Council with him. At the same time, he takes onto himself to absolve the Mayor of all responsibility.
On the other hand, the Councilmembers and many of the city “insiders” (political, business and otherwise) have remained curiously silent about the absolute chaos that I hear about third-hand. Chip Johnson, try as he may, is starting to sound like he is on a one-person crusade. We wonder…if everything Chip says is true, then why is no one esle “in the know” supporting what he says?
There are four common excuses that people use to explain this conspiracy of silence and the absolute absence of whistleblowers:
- everyone wants to be “civil” and polite;
- we don’t want to cause conflict between the races;
- lest that the spotlight be turned on the whistlblower’s own skeletons in the closet
- because everyone has an interest to protect (political, business, job) and blowing the whistle does not serve that interest.
I’ve come to the conclusion that, in order for Oakland to progress, its next leader has to be free of all the above 4 restraints on speaking the truths.
The truths are:
- What is disguised as “civility” is really a conspiracy of silence to keep from the public how bad things REALLY are.
- The racial tension is about to blow unless someone exposes that the cause of “race relations” in Oakland is too often exploited for personal gain rather than used for serious reconciliation and conflict resolution.
- Everyone with skeletons to keep in the closet either need to get out of politics or fess up to them and move on (the public is surprisingly forgiving).
- People with influence in city politics should decide whether it is the city’s best interest they are working for or their own self interest. If it is the latter, they need to be either exposed or should depart the scene voluntarily.
The longer the conspiracy of silence remains in place, the longer Oakland will keep sliding deeper into the hole. In today’s economic environment, the slide is just that much faster.
Danny Wan is a former Oakland City Councilmember and the current City Attorney for Morgan Hill.