Rebecca Kaplan and Kerry Hamill at the JLDA forum

So on Monday I attended the Jack London District Association at-large candidate forum with Rebecca Kaplan and Kerry Hammill.

I missed my bus, causing me to arrive late (I think it was during opening statements), then an urgent personal matter forced me to leave for a while in the middle. Since I missed large chunks of the forum, I won’t attempt a detailed recap, but I will share my impressions about the parts of what I caught that I found the most interesting.

Okay, let’s get started. The first question I saw was about how they could show leadership that’s currently lacking in the City. Kerry Hamill said that leadership in the City appears to be lacking because the Mayor is a “thinker, not an actor” and has no visibility. She said that to fill the void, the Council need to start speaking collectively with one voice by passing unanimous resolutions saying what they want, and that if all 8 members of the Council give directives they agree on, the Mayor will go along. I think she’s seriously overestimating the Mayor’s ability to be a team player.

Rebecca Kaplan said that she sees the at-large seat on the Council as an opportunity for crafting policy and working on citywide issues. Then – and I swear, I got, like, stars in my eyes at this point – she started talking about the Housing Rescue Package, and what an incredible opportunity it is for Oakland and how it’s being squandered because nobody in the City is speaking up to make sure we get what we deserve out of it. (This is true! After I read this article in the Christian Science Monitor about how cities all over the country are busy lobbying HUD to make sure they get their share and to write rules for use that will be favorable to what they would like to do with it, I tried to find out what Oakland was doing. The Mayor’s office, CEDA, City Councilmembers – none of them seem aware of or interested in this huge opportunity, and certainly made no indication that they were trying to represent our needs to HUD or that they had any idea of how to spend the money.) Anyway, so Kaplan, I guess, had the same experience, but instead of just sitting there all frustrated like I did, she dealt with it by reaching out to HUD herself, getting a copy of the draft rules, and calling up Barbara Lee to get her to stand up and make sure Oakland got its share of the pie.

She stole my heart. Seriously. I was already planning to vote for Kaplan before this event, but if I hadn’t been, that would have been all I needed to hear.

Later in the debate, Kerry Hamill came back to the Housing Rescue Package issue, tacking onto the end of her answer to some other question that if there’s $4 billion available from the Federal goverment (um, there is), then making sure we get it is something we need to rely on our Federal representatives to do, and that people can’t expect everything from the City.

Kaplan responded to that by noting that other cities are asking HUD for what they want, so it isn’t like what she did was unique to Oakland, and said that people should expect more from their local government. She said that she saw it as part of the at-large Councilmember’s job to stay on top of State and Federal opportunities, and to work with those representatives to get what we need (and pointed out that until she contacted the Congresswoman about it, Lee had not been advocating for Oakland with respect to the Housing Rescue Package). More than anything else in this forum, I felt like this issue really crystalized the difference between these two candidates. One isn’t even elected yet and is showing initiative to get Oakland what we deserve and says we deserve better than we’re getting. The other warns that we shouldn’t expect so much from the City. Who do you want on the Council?

The next question was about attracting retail, and Rebecca Kaplan gave a long and wonky answer about how awesome the Conley reports are (and she’s so right!), and how Oaklanders have so much spending power that’s just bleeding to other cities. “Revitalizing our economy is central to everything else we want to do.” The problem of retail sales leakage is a “huge and solveable problem.”

Kerry Hamill responded that “it isn’t a question of what any report says, it’s a question of safety” and that she knows that from talking to people all the time and then she went on and on about crime. Of course, if Hamill had read the Conley report, she would know that they do identify public safety as a major barrier to retail. Her answer wasn’t terrible, but that line really just rubbed me the wrong way, indicating an almost Bush-like hostility to evidence and study. Of course there’s value in talking to people, and no public official should make decisions without soliciting direct input from the people they represent, but you need to look at research and data too. And it’s so dismissive of the complexities of the issue to say crime is the only problem with retail in Oakland. For example, as the Conley report points out, one of the major barriers is the lack of quality space. So you can make the City as safe as you want, but if there’s nowhere for retailers to put their stores, then we still won’t have shopping. You have to attack the problem from all angles, or at the very least be able to recognize that there is more than one part to the issue.

The candidates were then asked to provide a detailed, strategy and policy based answer to how they would address Oakland’s crime problem.

Kerry Hamill was vague once again. She started out by saying that the she wants to hold the line on police funding and thinks that the money we’re spending could be used more efficiently. I don’t disagree with that, but found the example she provided bizarre. She said that if the top brass in the department is spending a lot of money going to conferences, then we should stop that, and she doesn’t know if that’s the case, but we should find out. Huh? This really bugged, and it seemed to be a consistent theme over the course of the debate. Why doesn’t Kerry Hamill know anything? I mean, I’ll admit that I don’t know whether the “top brass” are spending a lot of money going to conferences either. I don’t really feel that bad about not knowing that since I’m not the one using it as an example how why you should vote for me. But if I had to take a wild guess, I think I’d venture that maybe they aren’t going to enough conferences, because they don’t seem to be aware of what any other city is doing. Maybe some more conferences would be good for them.

Anyway, then she said we need to have strategic deployment and to renegotiate the NSA because it costs too much and keeps us from getting officers because police don’t want to feel like they’re being watched.

Rebecca Kaplan said we need to challenge orthodoxies, look at what works and do more of it, have more evidence gathering and evidence analysis, hire more PSTs and so on.

When asked what transit-oriented development means to them, Kerry Hamill said that it’s any development within a mile of some kind of central hub like a BART station or other heavy rail. She said she saw the benefit of this as being that you can pour a lot of resources into an area right around a BART station, and it allows you to bring in outside dollars and get grants for amenities like lighting and such.

Kaplan said that development near transit was only the first ingredient of transit oriented development, and that we shouldn’t limit our idea of transit only to BART, and that other elements include transit passes for residents, lighting, and safety. She said that Jack London Square should have better connectivity to BART stations and that she’d like to restore the Broadway shopper shuttle and light to freeway underpass so people are comfortable walking under it.

Another example of how Kerry Hamill’s thinking is just so incredibly limited and, I don’t know, dated? Transit oriented means a mile from transit? That seems like kind of a lot. Also, heavy rail? An urban area shouldn’t just be a collection of little hubs around BART stations. It should be a continuous organism, with life and liveliness throughout. I don’t know, I just found the emphasis on BART so weird. I mean, I don’t have a car, and mostly I get around by walking. I end up using the bus maybe three or four times a week (I mean, it varies). I probably get on BART once a month.

Anyway, those were the parts that stuck with me the most. The overall impression I left with is that Hamill seems like a really nice, sweet, and genuinely caring person, but is far from detail oriented, hasn’t put much effort into learning about the City, and is just incredibly unprepared for the job. It would be hard for me to imagine anyone who watched the debate voting for Hamill over Kaplan, the contrast was just so stark. But then again, I don’t know what everyone else bases their voting decisions on, so who knows. And I know I sound like I’m being super harsh on Hamill, and I guess I am, but that’s just a factor of who she’s being compared to. Rebecca Kaplan is just exactly what we need in City Hall right now. I don’t think Hamill would be any worse on the Council than say, Jane Brunner or somebody.

Anyway, if you want to help out Kaplan’s campaign, you should stop by her office at 19th and Broadway and offer to volunteer. Also, they need money! The Oakland Builders Alliance is throwing a fundraised for Rebecca Kaplan next Tuesday, September 23rd. The address is 155 Grand Avenue, Suite 100. It’s at the Bank of Alameda. The event lasts from 5:30 to 7:30 PM.

49 thoughts on “Rebecca Kaplan and Kerry Hamill at the JLDA forum

  1. Becks

    Thanks for the write up. I’m a bit shocked by what sounds like the lack of specificity in Hamill’s answers. Also, I really can’t believe that she said that Congress needs to deal with getting Oakland money and it’s not Oakland’s fault! Really, that’s just absurd.

    I really would have expected her answer on transit-oriented development to be more comprehensive, but maybe working for BART has given her tunnel vision on this issue. I take the bus all the time but probably only get on BART once a month. BART (or any kind of rail) is not necessary for getting around Oakland – better bus systems and more focus on protecting bus riders and pedestrians is what’s needed.

    Thanks for the info about helping out. Also, I’m going to be hosting a fundraiser for Rebecca on Thursday, October 2nd at Geoffrey’s, which will double as a VP debate watching party. It should be a lot of fun – I’ll be posting details about it on my blog later today. I hope to see many ABO readers there!

  2. k

    darn, i wish i could have made it. i kno there have been a ton of head to head debates between the two-anyone seen any of the others?
    as well, i have no problem with you criticizing a canidate, its ur blog. BUT u only shared the parts of the debate where u thought rebecca was supreme in her answer. why not take down everything both canidates said so that we can form opinions as well? obviously there will be things rebecca says that you agree with, but to only write on those is a little unfair. its hard to get a grasp on hamill when you only show the negatives. not telling you how to do your job, but maybe we could see some on hamill as well?

  3. cassie m.

    v smoothe was an interloper at the Jack London Square candidates night – not a real attendee or responsible blogger

    she came more than 30 minutes late

    then, she left the event at least 3 X to have lengthy conversations on the cellphone outside – lengthy conversations

    she missed opening statements (10 mins each candidates – I probably spoke for 1 minute about crime and the other 9 about youth development, walkable cities initiative, my work on the school board, neighborhood revitalization, etc)

    and (as she always does) she falsified every statement I made – but her misrepresentation is understandable because she was outside the room more than inside

    if your mind is still open abut the race, please visit my website at if you want details about my crime and youth development strategy, why i am running, accomplishments, etc

    and there are many many more voter forums – this weekend at Allen Temple Church at 11 am, LWV at City Hall in October, etc

    kerry hamill

  4. Rebecca Kaplan

    Thanks for the write-up. For those who want to see both candidates more, there will be a League of Women Voters debate at City Hall, Friday Oct 3rd at 5:30pm (and on KTOP-TV).

    Also, I wanted to clarify something I said. I apologize if I mis-spoke, and implied that Congresswoman Barbara Lee was not putting in serious effort on the foreclosure issue. In fact, Barbara Lee is working very very hard on this, and I think I may have mistakenly said something about “local leaders” not doing enough, which might have been taken the wrong way. Congresswoman Lee is working very hard on the foreclosure issue, and I was trying to express that there is much more that folks within City Hall could do on this. Congresswoman Lee has devoted major effort and attention to stopping the foreclosure crisis here. And City Hall leaders could do more to help.

  5. justin

    Kerry Hammill works for BART, which probably explains her BART emphasis.

    A mile is too far from a rail station to be effective TOD on its own. The conventional distances are 1/4 mile for bus stops with 15 min headways and 1/2 mile for heavy rail and ferry. Densities are key

    I agree: BART and rail-centeredness is an obstacle to meaningful public transportation discussion in the east bay. That’s why I like BRT: it’s basically both bus and rail, functionally. I think people attracted to the “railness” of BRT will not be so reluctant to transfer off of it to a regular old bus once things get going.

  6. Colin

    cassie m (Kerry Hamil?) -

    It’s a big charge to say that someone falsified all of your positions, as they always do, and I’d appreciate it if you’d back that up by responding substantively instead of vaguely, otherwise it’s hard to find you believable. Here are some answers I’d like to hear you start with:

    1. Did you then/do you now know about the Housing Rescue Package? What are your thoughts on the subject? Is it too much to expect of a city council member?

    2. Have you read the Conley report? What do you agree with or disagree with in it? Do you think it’s a realistic assessment of retail development?

    3. In your opinion, does transit-oriented development need to be anchored by BART? If so, why?

    4. Per V: “Anyway, then she said we need to have strategic deployment and to renegotiate the NSA because it costs too much and keeps us from getting officers because police don’t want to feel like they’re being watched.” Accurate quote? Not accurate? Your site seems to suggest you want everything that’s been discussed so far by Tucker & co. to be continued, but, like, more so. This statement isn’t represented on your site, so I’d like to hear more about what you see this being about.

    5. What other issues did you bring up that you think V misrepresented you on, and what did you really say?

    If you’re going to attack anybody – especially on their own blog – please have some substance. People are opinionated here, but generally fair. I also would suggest that discussing issues will get you a lot farther around here than slander.

  7. Max Allstadt

    Wait a second, Cassie are you Kerry? Have you always been Kerry? Or are you reposting something you received from Kerry?

    I’ll forgo that question for a moment, and say that I was in the room for almost the entire forum, and that I’m about to fill in some of Vsmoothe’s gaps.

    The forum opened with the audience introducing themselves. It’s worth noting that when I introduced myself, Ms. Hamill acknowledged that she knew my name from the web. During the primary, I took advantage of the comments section of her site and posted a link to an unfavorable article about her. Given this I was pleasantly surprised by how incredibly polite and friendly she was to me the entire time. As a matter of fact the entire event was refreshingly civil compared to the District 3 forum I watched in the same room.
    I didn’t take notes on the introductions or anything else for that matter, so I’m kinda winging this. I’ll say that Kerry’s introduction was a little more coherent than Rebecca’s. Both were too long. Kerry said she cared about Oakland. Rebecca said she loved Oakland. Various other pleasantries. Kaplan pointed out that her current seat at AC transit is an at-large seat, so she knows how to pay attention to a wide constituency. Hamill emphasized experience at the city and state level. Introd were a draw because I got notes with both of them. Too long gals. Less is more.

    I am typing this on an iPhone at Mama BuZz and my fuckin thumbs hurt and I need a beer. To be continued…

  8. dto510

    Ms. Hamill, this report of the debate is certainly biased, because V responds to pretty much everything you said while agreeing with Ms. Kaplan’s statements. But V clearly separates what you said from what she thinks about it, which is in no way misrepresentative. We can’t expect or rely on V to provide a transcript of every campaign event she’s able to get to. You would have been welcome to elaborate on your statements which V didn’t find compelling, but complaining that she’s “not a real attendee or responsible blogger” doesn’t help us understand your positions better.

  9. cassie m.

    yea, sorry. kerry was on my computer. dont want any confusion, we are two different people.
    some of the comments being made are unfair and untrue about hamill.
    “hamill doesn’t know anything” really? that is a very low blow along with a couple things v smoothe said on her uninterest in the city and lack of qualification for the job. it sounds like the type of insults my daughter had thrown at her as a middle schooler on childish blogs. or it sounds like a republican tactic. i personally would be insulted as a canidate if i a good friend of mine was insulting my opponent in this way. i think we are adults and can at least be civil about people. i think rebecca is a woman who could handle the council fine, but kerry is the change we need. she is not the status quo, how can she be called that when shes never been on the council before? she’s ready to shake things up. to help improve our city. if there is a complaint on public transit in oakland shouldnt we be talking with rebecca. i mean isnt she on the ac transit board? how is an emphasis on bart so weird? its a form of public transit, isnt that what we want? i dont think kerry was insulting vsmoothe but simply asking people to be open minded. we dont believe everything we read, do we? i wasnt there and have no idea what happend but when i have seen kerry speaks she is confident and knows what she is talking about. rebecca seems to flip flop. did she even have a real crime platform during the primary or is she finally realizing that 100+ murders a year just isnt acceptable? and again, i’m just not seeing the qualifications. kerry has worked on city issues and state issues. and her committment to the public education of the youth in this city is tremendous. maybe if we educate them more they wont get guns in their hands! but how would someone on the ac transit know that or be truly invested? everyone is entitled to an opinion and i think debate is wonderful among citizens in a democracy, but the low blows from a blogger is really just mean. i went to a party for hamill tonight and was really inspired by her and everyone who came out in support of her including dion arioner and pat kernighan.
    at the end, i think the hamill campaign will be able to finish with some sense of dignity.

  10. Max Allstadt

    OK, part 2. Which will be short.

    Again, I didn’t take notes. I will say that I primarily agree with V’s characterization that Kerry segued from retail attraction to crime too quickly. I wouldn’t go so far as to call that segue “bush like”.

    After the retail question, I asked both candidates to give specific and “Wonky” crime platforms. Kerry talked about how Oakland has 5 or 6 law enforcement agencies that need to coordinate more, and I believe a little bit about prevention, youth programs. There was more to it, but that’s what I took away. Rebecca, among other things, and talked about more foot patrols, getting those foot patrols to establish neighborhood connections by keeping officers assigned to the same beat. She also pulled out a copy of the ridiculous chart from Mayor Dellums’ draft crime plan and was as incredulous, mystified, and disappointed in it as some folks on this blog have been. She did not, I repeat, did NOT, refer to it as “guano munching insane”, as some have. All in all I felt I got more detail and more wonk from Rebecca.

    I’ll skip ahead to the last question I asked. I said that people in Oakland have obviously been disappointed in Dellums, and that he probably won’t run again. I said I’d heard several names suggested and asked them to pick their favorites of four: Quan, Perata, De La Fuente, and Russo.

    Kerry, having heard the name “Perata” for the first time that evening (she seems to avoid saying it), was a bit daunted I think by the proposition. I didn’t “zing” her or anything though, and she was rather collected for someone who’d just been lobbed a hardball. She thought for a moment and answered very candidly about Don, saying she thought that if he “gets out of trouble, which I think he will” he’d be a good mayor. She had a lot of other nuanced comments about Perata, saying she thinks he dives into ideas and policies a little fast, and needs good staff to slow him down, but that he’s still a good leader. Hamill also praised De La Fuente, and her final answer was “Ignacio or Don”.

    Rebecca said “Can I say Robert Bobb?” first, to which I replied, “Well you just did, but what of the four?” She said something like, “Frankly if they were running I’d have to listen to their platforms first, ’cause that’s what matters, right?”

    She then said “If I had to pick today, without knowing platforms?… John Russo”, but that she also really admired De La Fuente and thought he got a lot done for Oakland.

    As public speakers, each had their faults. Rebecca took a little while to get warmed up, but was really charming thereafter. She’s a small woman with an alto speaking voice, so she seems to take a moment to find the right pace so as not to sound a bit breathless. 8 minutes in, she was fine, and on a roll. Hamill started out fine, but needs to learn to speak to the size of room she’s in. Mostly she was fine, but their were moments where overprojected and was a hair too loud.

    Overall, again, I feel like I got a lot more policy out of Kaplan than out of Hamill. Still, this is a close race for a reason. Hamill really didn’t do anything objectionable or foolish, I just felt she isn’t as studious or prepared. Kaplan also reiterated that what she really wanted to do was craft policy, and that the legislative branch of Oakland’s government was where she wanted to be, and that it wasn’t a stepping stone to greater ambition. “I’m a policy wonk”, she said. This is why I back her, I think she’s working her ass off to learn more an more every day, and I think she’ll keep doing it when she’s in office.

    So that’s my perpective on it. I wish I’d taken notes, perhaps we’ll video the next one. I will say that as a Kaplan supporter, I encourage anyone who’s on the fence or committed to Hamill to come watch the two of them talk, and see for yourself what I believe to be the key difference here. I believe you’ll end up supporting Rebecca if you hear them both out.

    Happy weekend everybody!

  11. cassie m.

    yea, a video would be great! i think there is effort being made to do this and start video taping more to include more and more people!

  12. Mark Silverman

    I’m not really familiar with the race but could I get some clarification. On the two candidates..and please can I get some honest factual clarifications….what experience do the two have in Oakland politics? I get that Kerry has been on the school board and worked with Oakland mayors and that Rebecca has some civil litigation experience and has an extensive educational background? Does anyone know some background on her to provide some insight on how she is in a position to be running in Oakland. I’m not for one candidate or the other I would just like some information on the two to help me make a decision as an Oakland voter not well versed in politics. People seem to be in favor of Kaplan on this site and I’d just like some insight on their opinions. From their backgrounds it seems Kerry is more versed in Oakland politics and I would thus assume more capable but this support make me question if this is a solid proposition. Also, what has Rebecca been doing to learn more about Oakland if she is less knowledgable about her. I only see her signs in some regions on North Oakland while Kerry’s seem to scour the city. I didn’t vote in the June ballot but apparently Kaplan won a plurality of the vote? Did she gain this advantage through a citywide campaign or did she just appeal to the North Oaklanders? If she has genuine insight on Oakland I’d love to become more informed but honestly I live at the 60′s and I just don’t think the opinion of middle-upperclass white voters pertaining to crime that affects them so little compared to the rest of the city should carry any weight. But I don’t want to let my political regional biases necessarily make me turn away a good candidate. Summary: How is she invested in Oakland?

  13. Max Allstadt

    Mark, watch this:

    And now a multi-part answer to your comments on crime and to your question of whether Rebecca just appealed to North Oaklanders:

    In the primary, Rebecca won most of the flatlands of Oakland, both the better off parts and higher crime/lower income areas. Hamill won primarily in the hills. Frank Rose won his home precinct and I think one other, and Clinton Killian won a few spots scattered in the far west and East Oakland flats.

    As for Kaplan’s competence and qualifications, watch in the video how her tone of voice grows stronger the more she talks about details and policy. She looks a little less comfortable with the typical introductory grandstandy stuff. I mean it’s a subtle difference, she’s not fumbling, but you can see she wants to get done with the window dressing and stick to talking shop and working through problems. This is what gives me faith. Lots of it.

  14. Colin

    cassie m. –

    Can you please get Kerry back on your computer, then? I think the sort of baseless b.s. she posted is insulting to all involved, but I’ll give her a pass if she will actually back it up with some content.

  15. Mark Silverman

    Okay so I just watched that video and I think I grasp her knowledge of economics and revitalizing the city through said improvements…but I don’t think I really caught anything on crime that would allow me to support her. Crime is something that affects my family in that we have had our car stolen 5 times and totalled two of them. In addition, people get killed all the time near my house and it is really depressing to hear girls on the bus saying how their patnas were killed and how they have to go to a funeral. I’m all for stimulating the economy but I need a more concrete crime stance before I can consider her, although I will admit she is a very convincing speaker and I’m sure her education has helped her in that respect. The difference I see in the two speakers is that Hamill at least emphasizes her crime prevention platform whereas Kaplan seems to be aiming for a more environmentally friendly city economic overhaul. I can appreciate her points but honestly, I’d rather have the city flooded with water and have to shop in Emeryville than listen to those girls on the bus. In addition, are either of the candidates aware of cultural divides that divide this city. People in East Oakland, mostly black and latino, barely vote when I work the polls and if Kaplan has won the flats she probably won about 200 votes in all of East Oakland because NOBODY CARES! People are too worried about how hopeless life is and how their friends are being killed to care about economic development. I haven’t watched any debates between the two of them but I would hope that one of the two can acknowledge this point and that is the one I will vote for. There are people in East Oakland who have never been to North Oakland. I have friends who didn’t know white people lived in Oakland until they went to high school with me. Now that I’ve invested myself out of my own curiosity I’m gonna look these two candidates up on youtube and hope one of them addresses it. There is no need to respond unless any of you know where I can find information on this or have special insight. Although there is no need to go about a philosophical debate on crime and poverty.

  16. cassie m.

    Mark! ur thoughts are quite insightful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! finally someone who truly understands whats up in this city! as someone who spends time in oakland schools every day, i see more rip shirts on teenagers than i do barack obama shirts! its horrible! and most of the people victimized by this crime do not vote, many because they are not 18, and many because they have no strong connection to city government. how terrible that these people will rep the dirty thirties or ghost town but dont even know their district representative! that is why i am supporting kerry. as a school board member she has catered to the needs of oakland youth, not just middle class white families. not that there is anything wrong with these families, they contribute tremendously to the city but more people need to be involved. so she knows who really needs help in this city. june’s election had a 20% voter turnout with most being in north oakland. i worked at lions center for the blind, we had about 200 people come in. my friend worked at the 98th ave firehouse, there were 20 people. that is why kerry has been all over oakland. i think you see her geographic diversity in where you see her signs. from east oakland to the hills to downtown. i too only see rebecca support in north oakland. kerry is talking to all the voters, not just the select few. i think she is someone who works well with EVERYONE and can really be a voice for ALL oaklanders not just a couple.
    here is her crime platform.
    as well, check out the site and if you seem interested just let me know, i can give you her email and you can let her know your thoughts. as well, check her out on tagami vision from both the primary race and this race. she gives some in depth look into how she will solve crime for all of oakland!
    and the environment stuff is great! i mean we all need to be making decisions to make the planet safer, but it doesnt do us any good to have a bad planet if all the people have already been killed off it! public safety comes first! some people i dont think quite grasp that, but i do as does kerry!

  17. Rebecca Kaplan

    Lots of strong views, and good questions.

    I’ll respond to more of the content questions seperately, but for now, I wanted to share a couple of things.

    First, in terms of having support throughout the city, I thought I would share the map of the June election results. I have uploaded it online at:

    In addition, I am quite honored to have the endorsement and support of a wide range of groups throughout Oakland — including OakPAC, the Labor Council, the Sierra Club, Black Women Organized for Political Action, the Democratic Party, Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus, MGO Democratic Club, the Oakland Tribune, and many more.

    Second, I have no doubt that dealing with public safety is absolutely essential for Oakland, and is a required primary step for everything else we want to accomplish. In fact, Oakland’s businesses also are quite clear that dealing with public safety is essential to business development, and I would never deny this. Oakland’s business groups which conducted endorsement interviews did endorse me — not because they disregarded public safety, but because they discussed it with me.

    I released a public safety platform very early, and it includes expanded police personnel, improved police deployment, as well as other public safety strategies. This is a “living document” — and I continue to welcome other suggestions and additions to it.

    Online at:

    (Nonetheless, when somebody asks me a question about a different topic, I think it is fair to give an answer on their topic. Public safety is one piece of an economic revitalization strategy, but also discussing the other components of our economy is appropriate when responding to a question about revitalization strategies.)

    Finally, even if public safety were our only goal, we could not solve it without also solving the foreclosure problem and our financial problems. Part of our difficulty in meeting our public safety goals is lack of funds. (This is not the only problem, but it is part of the problem — so efforts to bring more money to Oakland will help us do things like hire more police) . And, the wave of foreclosures is leaving some Oakland neighborhoods with large numbers of vacant, uncared-for properties which have become magnets for blight and crime. Helping residents acquire, re-hab, and re-inhabit these vacant homes will also help reduce crime — especially in some of Oakland’s hardest-hit neighborhoods.

    Thanks to everybody who cares enough about Oakland to be delving into this election, and this conversation.

    Best wishes,
    -Rebecca Kaplan

  18. Becks

    Carrie – this statement is absurd: “that is why kerry has been all over oakland. i think you see her geographic diversity in where you see her signs. from east oakland to the hills to downtown. i too only see rebecca support in north oakland.”

    Those signs that have appeared for Kerry all over town are not lawn signs put up by supporters. They were put up by a PAC and by paid workers, not by grassroots volunteers showing their support. So they don’t indicate anything about how widespread Kerry’s support is throughout the city, and Rebecca’s lack of PAC funded signs throughout the city similarly indicates nothing about her level of support.

    I’ve been volunteering for Rebecca since May and have continued to be amazed by how many people throughout the city, from all sorts of different backgrounds, support Rebecca. Though the June election had such a low turnout, winning nearly 22,000 votes and winning in the vast majority of the precincts is still significant and clearly shows Rebecca’s widespread support.

  19. Max Allstadt

    Yeah, Cassie…

    If you want to gauge real support based on signs alone, you have to look for signs on private homes and inside business windows.

    Kerry’s are on the fences of vacant lots, up lamp posts on public property, and also up lamp posts on private property, without permission. I think Developer Greg McConnell’s PAC actually hired a cherry-picker truck to do the job. Totally totally illegal, and totally not any sign of real support.

    Mark, look at the election results map Rebecca links to above and you’ll see I was pretty accurate in my description. I actually underestimated Rebeccas support though…hadn’t looked at the map since obsesing over Sean’s loss :<.

    Also consider that the areas in the hills won by Hamill are far less populated than the great swaths of working class, middle class Oakland won by Rebecca.

  20. cassie m.

    no, no no. i’m not talking about the PAC signs, i’m talking about hamill’s green and gold lawn signs that i see ALL over the city. i know the difference between the two! start driving through oakland, you will see many more signs in support of kerry. as a volunteer, i’m just wondering, if rebecca is supported all over the city, why aren’t more signs up? because i know how volunteers take signs to any house that wants one! and although she won most of the precincts, again, take into consideration the low voter turnout and my example i used previously of the turnout in an east oakland polling place and a north oakland polling center.
    it’s interesting how my questions about rebecca’s qualifications are never answered but any comment made on kerry is shot down.

  21. Max Allstadt

    As for Ms. Hamill’s crime platform, we can discount about 20% of it right off the bat.

    Kerry called for an audit of Measure Y. Guess what? We already do this. We already pay millions of dollars a year for independent auditing. Plus our elected city auditor, Courtney Ruby, is doing her own audit. One would hope that a public safety proposal would be a little better researched.

  22. Max Allstadt

    I haven’t seen any signs, Cassie. Are there any in any of the high crime neighborhoods that Ms. Hamill hopes to fix? That’s where I live. 24th and San Pablo.

    As for the qualifications, rather than listing them ad nauseum for Mark, I directed him to a video. As a matter of fact, hit youtube and search for both candidates. It’s a lot easier than squinting at text. If people want to squint, check the candidate’s sites.

    I will say this, the fact that Kerry is 14 years older doesn’t mean she’s more qualified or that she’d be any more effective. We’ve already gone through this sillyness in national politics for months on end. If people want a real chance to assess the candidates, they should come to the forums. Particularly the LVW forum.

  23. Becks

    Cassie – Rebecca has plenty of qualifications. You should check out her resume sometime, as it’s very impressive. Among some of the things she’s done: Served as an AC Transit Director, worked in the California Assembly, worked extensively in the legal field, worked with various non-profits, helped pass city and county measures, etc.

    I think Kerry has an impressive resume too, and I don’t think anyone here is arguing that she doesn’t. In fact, I don’t have anything wrong with Kerry. I just think Rebecca is exactly the type of council person we need right now. She’s incredibly intelligent, creative, and energetic, and she knows how to form coalitions with people and organizations from all realms of the political spectrum.

  24. ConcernedOakFF

    In order to curb the crime and/or gentrify it out, you have to have simultaneous economic development and crime prevention.

    If you concentrate on just one of the two, the other will fail.

    Just seems to me that Ms. Kaplan has a better combination of the two.

  25. Mark Silverman

    Well I plan on going to the next meeting if it fits into my schedule when? And I appreciate everyone’s willingness to explain their decision to support Ms.Kaplan and Mrs.Hamill. I think you all make valid points but to me it is just very hard to support someone who doesn’t seem to understand Oakland but just understands Oakland’s economy. The fact that she “loves Oakland” always seems to be obscured by her next sentence always being brought back to the economy. The economy is of course very important but it seems that Ms. Kaplan just doesn’t have the same depth as Kerry as far as crime prevention is concerned. The blog itself also worries me because in the body it accuses Kerry of being old and stupid, something that I find very childish and is not supported by the videos I watched last night or her platform. I won’t make a final decision until I can see these candidates in action but I think from Ms.Kaplans response on this blog I’ve seen enough. A humanist aspect is missing and that may be a shallow reason to choose a city council member but that is just how I am. Life in East Oakland can be a very depressing situation. I think if Ms.Kaplan spends a few years in the real world, or at least my interpretation of the real world, she will be far better suited to public office. Again though, I’ll wait a bit longer to make a final decision.

  26. Max Allstadt


    I think you’re really a bit nuts if you think Rebecca spends less time in the “real world”.

    Did you notice on the vote map…about the only place she didn’t win was outside of the “real world”. Clinton Killian won a few “real world” neighborhoods, but he certainly didn’t sweep the toughest parts of the flatlands. Rebecca won in Clawson and Prescott, for example, along with the scariest sections of West Street, and the area informally known as “Ghosttown”.

    Which one of these two women do you think would be more likely to walk alone from San Pablo and Grand up to San Pablo and 40th? I know my answer. And it ain’t Kerry.

  27. Mark Silverman

    but you see that map means nothing to me because as I have already commented nobody votes but white people…honestly that is the sad truth about politics in Oakland. However, everyone will vote in November because of Obama and that is what counts. Ms.Kaplan is still fairly young, in Plato’s republic it recommends the rulers be 50 before they take office. Ms.Kaplan is just coming down off the high of her education and needs a few more years to translate that knowledge into what I recognize is the real world which sometimes transcends political theory and books. And I don’t appreciate being called nuts, this is supposed to be a forum to transmit ideas, if someone has a disagreement with you then etiquette dictates that you do not insult the opposing view. How are you going to sway me to vote for Kaplan that way? I said I was leaning towards Hamill not that I was sold. And I doubt either candidate spends much time walking out into the bad neighborhoods but I would like to vote for a person who at least understands what it means to live in one, not have a theoretical views on the application of economics on social living.

  28. Jennifer

    I was at the JLDA forum, and going in I was truly undecided. I think both candidates are qualified and would be much better than most, if not all, the council members we have now. That said, I left the forum being about 90% sure I’ll vote for Kaplan. Why? Her passion and enthusiasm. After hearing both candidates I thought to myself — holy smokes, Kaplan is going to work her butt off for Oakland, 24/7. I did appreciate Hamill’s focus on crime, but I think Kaplan will also focus on that. I just need a bit of reassurance that Kaplan will stand up to public employees unions and management when tough reform and budget decisions need to be made.

  29. Max Allstadt

    Mark, where do you live, BTW?

    And what Neighborhood has Kerry Hamill lived in that would give her the experience you want? Did I miss something about her history?

  30. Max Allstadt

    Oh, and you’re wrong. Black people vote. Where do you go to the polls? If you went in West Oakland or East Oakland you would see plenty of black voters.

  31. cassie m.

    i will write more later, but just one quick thing.
    is it really necesary to ask what canidate would walk on san pablo at night?
    cause i personally have walked with kerry in some of oakland’s worst neighborhoods.
    if u cant picture kerry walkin in the hood, then i DEFINETLY cannot see rebecca.
    but thats irrelevant.
    yes, some blakcs in oakland vote. but not many. lets not kid outselves and think the majority of people truly effected by oakland crime even know who represents them on the council.
    i hope this election could bring more people into city politics, and i really think kerry has that power. she can unite people.

  32. cassie m.

    and why wouldnt she walk down san pablo?
    how can u say what she would/would not do when you dont know her?

  33. cassie m.

    i dont see as many of kerry’s signs in west oakland, which is why at 24th and san pablo you may not see many. but in north oakland and then extending into piedmont ave and grand her signs are present as well as up in the hills and east oakland. its not necesary for someone to live in the depressing areas of oakland to understand them. kerry is fortunate enough to live in a fairly safe neighborhood. but she knows what goes on. her children go to public schools, she walks the hallways where she sees these children that loose friends and family every day. she knows these people. rebecca’s stance on the economy is not bad, a good economy is good for safety. but we have to change the mindset of the young people in this city that murder is not acceptable. they have no future and so if they die at 20 it seems ok. kerry’s youth development policy i believe is phenomenal. because thats going straight to the source. we’re not relying on the economy to solve the problem, we’re taking the kids who are in danger and giving them something to work for, to live for! this economic-environemtal view is a good one, but not a realistic one in oakland! it shows a limited view of what is really happening in oakland!
    and please dont think i’m one of these people who thinks age is significant. our mayor is “older and wiser” and see where he’s taken us! but because rebecca is almost 1/3 kerry’s age im not sure if she’s had enough time to really put in the work that needs to be done. but both i believe are qualified. and both have impressive resumes.
    and like mark said, this blog needs to be respectful. if someone disagrees with you, there is no need for insults. disagreement and argument are key in a democracy but one’s views should not be insulted. as well, like ive said before, v smoothe, calling kerry old and dumb is just truly insulting and child like. and since your blog is about “a better oakland” what are you, as an individual doing to make oakland. im just wondering!

  34. masb

    Cassie – I don’t recall anyone calling kerry “old and dumb”. A lot of your remarks seem sort of off the wall. If you are supporting Hamill that is fine – you should do that. Walk the streets, hand out signs, do what you want but, please, don’t be quite so defensive when others support someone else. That is what democracy is about.
    I don’t hear as much disagreement and argument as you seem to. I just notice that some people seem to want to support Rebecca.

  35. Becks

    I wasn’t planning on weighing in anymore on this discussion, but Cassie, if Rebecca is only 1/3 of Kerry’s age, that would make Kerry 114.

  36. cassie m.

    1/3 of kerry’s age is about 15 years, rebecca is 14 years younger, thats what i was trying to say. sorry if the wording was incorrect.
    i’m defensive in the sense that some things in this post said i felt have been really inconsiderate to kerry’s inteligence and person. criticize her crime plan or what she did on something, but attacking her as a person i think is really insulting.
    and i have no problem with the arguments that occur.
    obviously this is probably a waste of my time, because most of you seem stuck on rebecca and are too stubborn to even consider other things. and that is fine. although it seems Mark seems to agree with me mostly!

  37. Eric

    Cassie, V’s post here seems to me a clear criticism of policy and thoroughness of answers to questions — hardly “attacking her as a person.” In fact, the only personal statement that V included about Hamill was positive: “The overall impression I left with is that Hamill seems like a really nice, sweet, and genuinely caring person,” and then the second half of that sentence (“but is far from detail oriented, hasn’t put much effort into learning about the City, and is just incredibly unprepared for the job”) is an impression formed by Hamill’s apparently inadequate answers to the questions posed to her. V also remarked: “This really bugged, and it seemed to be a consistent theme over the course of the debate. Why doesn’t Kerry Hamill know anything?” Once again, the clear implication here, combining both of those sentences, is that Hamill demonstrated a lack of knowledge on those topics mentioned in the debate, when compared to Kaplan. Also: “Another example of how Kerry Hamill’s thinking is just so incredibly limited and, I don’t know, dated?” (emphasis mine) Again — the criticism is of ideas, not the person.

    I didn’t attend the discussion and couldn’t vouch for whether or not I would agree with V’s assessments of the two candidates. Coming from a completely unbiased person with respect to this race: this post quite clearly seems to be a direct response to the forum and the answers both candidates offered there, rather than any sort of personal attack.

  38. Navigator

    If Oakland thinks crime is the main reason for the lack of retail in Oakland, then they haven’t been paying attention to what happens in San Francisco within a few blocks of the San Francisco Shopping Center and Union Square. Let me give you some stats from both the San Francisco Police Department Crime Map, and the Oakland Police Department Crime Map for serious crimes in Downtown SF and Downtown Oakland.

    These are stats for a one mile radius of 4th & Market in downtown SF for a 90 day period. This one mile perimeter encompasses perfectly every neighborhood in downtown SF. I will also include the serious crime statistics for Downtown Oakland for a one mile radius from 14th & Broadway. This area encompasses all of downtown Oakland bordered by Grand Ave. to the north, Lake Merritt to the east, Jack London Square to the south, and 980 to the west . The one mile radius from City Hall actually includes a small portion of West Oakland which is not “Downtown.” This makes downtown proper stats a little higher than they would be. But, in order to keep a one mile radius for both cities I decided to include the one mile radius for Oakland. Here are the stats side by side.

    Aggravated Assaults: SF 733, OAK 98. Robbery: SF 300, OAK 99. Burglary: SF 344, OAK 108. Auto Theft: SF 210, OAK 179.

    Also, the San Francisco Chronicle did a recent article detailing robbery in the Bay Area. The Chronicle detailed robberies in the most robbery plagued intersections in the Bay Area. In Oakland, it was 14th & Broadway and 13th & Broadway with around 27 robberies each. In San Francisco 4th & Market had 56 robberies. In short, the most robbery plagued intersections in Oakland would rank only ninth in San Francisco robbery plagued intersections.

    Anyone who thinks crime is the reason downtown Oakland suffers from a lack of retail is ill informed. When you look at the abundance of retail in a far more crime plagued downtown San Francisco, one has to come to the conclusion that it’s the “perception” of crime generated by the slanted and cherry picked reporting used by the SF centric news media which allows downtown SF to prosper while downtown Oakland struggles to attract retail. Also, I neglected to mention that downtown SF has recorded twenty homicides compared to two in downtown Oakland including a recent police shooting at 15th & Jefferson which is considered a justifiable homicide and will be deducted from the official count by the FBI at years end.

    As long as Oakland allows this slanted reporting by San Francisco media institutions to create the perception that downtown Oakland is unsafe nothing will change. Oakland needs to fight back and hire a PR firm to put out these statistics in order to educate Bay Area residents about the relative safety of both cities downtowns.

  39. Navigator

    Correction, here are the three top robbery intersections in San Francisco between June 2007 & June 2008: 1)16th & Mission, 58 robberies. 2) 6th & Market, 45 robberies. 3) 4th & Mission 40 robberies.

    Here are the top three Oakland intersections for robberies between June 2007 & June 2008. 1) 13th & Broadway 27 robberies. 2) Fruitvale & International 24 robberies. 3) High St. & International 18 robberies.

    Interesting how the No.1 intersection for robberies in Oakland, 13th & Broadway, would only be 9th in SF intersections. Also, the high density “high crime” intersections of International Blvd. in East Oakland actually have less than half the robberies that plague intersections in retail rich downtown SF. Amazing!

  40. Jennifer

    Are the stats cited in any way related to the number of people at the locations? There are a lot more shoppers and tourists in San Francisco, hence more opportunities for robberies. There are probably fewer people at the locations in Oakland, so the stats don’t really tell a complete story. But that’s the way it is with all numbers . . . you can look at them from a variety of angles.

  41. Rebecca Kaplan

    There are many ways to get to know Oakland — and many experiences and perspectives I bring. Both candidates are elected officials on local government boards which include representation of at least some Oakland residents. In both cases, we have been serving on boards of government agencies which are seperate distinct entities from Oakland’s “city hall” municipal governments, each of which has jurisdiction over a specific area (in one case, public education, in the other case, public transit).

    In my case, I have been elected by, and serving, all Oakland voters in the “at-large” seat on the transit board, and thus, I have been involved in a range of issues (transit, street and road maintentance, the relationship of transportation and land-use planning, solar power installation, job training and apprenticeship programs, budgetting, working to obtain funding from regional, State, and Federal government bodies for local projects, etc) throughout Oakland.

    I know Oakland needs major action to improve public safety, which includes policing and other strategies. When I include economic issues in my discussion, it is not to discount this. In order to effectively do what was suggested here, encourage young people to look to other job options, and not a life of crime, requires that we be able to honestly depict other life options. If we are going to say, “there really are other job options for you” — we need to make sure this is true.

    My knowledge of Oakland also comes from experiences beyong my elected role. This includes living for several years in each of: Fruitvale, Grand/Lake, and Temscal neighborhoods. Getting around Oakland myself on foot, bike and transit and thus seeing the situation “on the ground.” Working for a local project to protect Oakland residents from predatory loans and foreclosures (which included working in all areas of Oakland — and especially those hardest-hit by predatory loans).

    I have many stories of walking alone in various Oakland neighborhoods. I’ll share one for an example. When coming home from an out-of-town trip, I arrived at the Greyhound Bus station in downtown Oakland at around 1:00am. I then walked from there, (San Pablo ave at 21st street) to Temescal (Telegraph Ave), alone at that hour — in the middle of the night. It took about 45 minutes.

    While walking, I passed a bunch of people. Some seemed to be homeless, bunked down on a bench. Some were going home from bars and parties. A couple appeared to be sex workers, some appeared to be selling drugs, and some seemed to be on their way to or from work (e.g. nurses on night shift). At only one point during this walk was I afraid. One drunk man started yelling at me, something about me not looking like a “real woman” and various homophobic drunken slurs. In the end, I got home safely.

  42. Navigator

    Jennifer, there are 70,000 workers in downtown Oakland every single day. Those are plenty of “opportunities” for crime. The area around the 1 mile radius from City Hall includes residential areas in Jack London Square, Chinatown, Lake Merritt, Old Oakland, and Uptown. Also, the high robbery intersections in Oakland are full of people every day. The intersections of 13th & Broadway, Fruitvale & International Blvd., High St. & International are some of the more crowded in Oakland. Also we are talking about 733 aggravated assaults in downtown SF compared to 98 in downtown Oakland. We are talking about a 7 to 1 ratio. The point is there is a tremendous amount of crime in downtown SF and the shoppers keep coming. Oaklanders need to ask themselves why downtown Oakland suffers from an erroneous perception as a high crime area when the stats say otherwise.

    My theory is that the SF media has always focused on Oakland crime much more intensely in order to protect the San Francisco tourist and retail industries. Also, the fact that Oakland City Hall is derelict in their duty to maintain downtown Oakland in an acceptable manner, leads to the perception of a high crime area. Oakland can’t get away with graffiti and trash downtown when it already has an uphill climb dealing with the slanted SF media’s crime reporting. When visitors go downtown and see graffiti on traffic signs, garbage containers, traffic control boxes, parking meter boxes, mail boxes, benches, newspaper racks, along with litter near bus stops, it creates an unpleasant perception of neglect and crime.

  43. Navigator

    Rebecca, I hope you win the election and finally do something about the lack of maintenance in downtown Oakland. This is a travesty which goes on and on year after year. There is no comprehensive plan to deal with these vandals. I’ve taken pictures and sent them to the City Council to no avail. There is no leadership, no attention to detail, no proactive attitude, and no initiative. Public Works sits back and waits until there is a complaint. I’m sure by now, not many people complain since graffiti and litter have been ingrained in the minds of many residents as being a natural part of downtown Oakland’s landscape. Well, anyone who travels around the Country to places like downtown Chicago, Boston, DC. knows that successful downtowns are well maintained and do not tolerate this level of blight. Even locally we have examples like Walnut Creek on how to properly maintain a downtown in order to create a pleasant experience for residents and visitors alike. The mediocrity in Oakland has to end!

  44. Robert

    At the risk of sticking my neck out and getting my head chopped off by the partisans, here goes. So far, I have seen little to lead to a strong preference on policy issues between Kaplan and Hamill. While there are differences between the two, the preference is not there yet, although that could change. As a self proclaimed policy wonk, it is not surprising that Kaplan’s ideas are better thought out and better articulated. And while ideas are great, to me that is not the most important factor in which candidate to prefer. There are a lot of ideas out there for improving the city, so it is not a lack of ideas that Oakland is currently suffering from. In my mind, what Oakland is suffering from is the inability to implement ideas at the city government level, and a clear consensus among our leaders as to the direction the city needs to go.

    I think that it is easy to misunderstand the role of government officials, and managers in general. It is not primarily to, by yourself, come up with good ideas. It is to foster the environment that separates good ideas from bad, and then be effective in implementing those ideas. I do not expect either candidate to come up with the solution for effective crime fighting in Oakland. Neither has a background in law enforcement. Those ideas need to come from the police force itself, and if their leadership is not getting the job done, it is time to change the police leadership. Social policy and programs are more in the domain of the council, but those programs have timelines of years to see changes, not the months that we want to see changes in crime rates now.

    To me it seems that, based on endorsements, that Hamill is more likely to be able to work with the rest of the council to actually implement changes. At this point I am not sure that Kaplan will be able to build those bridges to the members of the council that have endorsed Hamill. Rebecca, now is the time to say how you expect to do that. Because, in my opinion, coming in as the outsider and saying everybody on the council is wrong, is not going to get them to change how they work. So if you can provide evidence of how you can work with people who do not agree with you to get things accomplished, let’s hear it.

    As I was writing this I realized that to me, the best solution might be for Hamill to win, and then hire Kaplan as her policy wonk to come up with the ideas that Hamill can then work to get implemented.

  45. DontBotherDelores

    Navigator is your real name Jean Quan?
    Your posts about San Francisco don’t note that San Francisco has nearly twice the population of Oakland.

  46. Navigator

    Delores, we are comparing downtowns and high robbery intersections. You want to talk about crime per square mile? Why is it hard for some Oaklanders to believe that downtown Oakland is a relatively safe area, while San Francisco has one of the most violent and crime plagued downtowns anywhere in the Country? I’m not making this up. These are the stats. SF’s downtown has 7x the amount of aggravated assaults as downtown Oakland. Downtown SF has recorded 20 homicides compared to 2 in downtown Oakland. You need to ask yourselves why SF has so much retail downtown, while downtown Oakland, despite being centrally located and having three BART stations linking it to the rest of the region, is a retail wasteland. It can’t be the crime as we’ve seen from the stats between both cities.