Monday night, I attended the Town Hall meeting with Oakland’s new Police Chief, Anthony Batts, at Prescott Elementary in West Oakland. It was okay.
I did enjoy listening to Batts speak, but everything else about the night was annoying. Before the Chief started talking, we had to listen to a long series of speeches about how great the Mayor is and a bunch of self-congratulatory nonsense about the Mayor’s task forces and how amazing they are. Personally, I think it’s kind of pathetic if three years into your term, the best accomplishment you can point to is something that nobody ever really cared about and that happened before you even started, but that’s just me.
The Mayor promised to give Batts a brief introduction, and then talked for like half an hour about how great he is, and how he’s been such a great Mayor, and great Oakland is doing, and so on and so on, to the point I made myself dizzy trying to get my head around how it is even possible for someone to be so completely disconnected with reality. Anyway. Eventually he got around to letting the Chief talk, but only after forcing everyone to sit through a stunningly boring litany of all the ways Oakland and Long Beach are similar (highlight: we both have an airport).
The Chief promised to keep his remarks short so there would be plenty of time for questions, and he totally did not do that at all, but nobody minded (well, some people probably did, but not me), because he is just such an engaging speaker. He didn’t say much about his plans for Oakland – it was all pretty general, stuff about his background and why he decided to come to Oakland. Apparently his remarks last night at the OPOA/UNCO event were a little more interesting, but since I wasn’t there, I’ll leave it for readers who were to share their impressions in the comments.
At the end of the Town Hall meeting on Monday, there was time for questions, but the whole thing was just impossibly poorly coordinated, and instead of hearing the Chief answer people’s questions, we listened to a series of people ramble at length about whatever their pet project is. In a few cases, the diatribes were punctuated with a half-hearted question (“Blah blah blah, me, blah blah blah, I’m so great, blah blah blah, this organization I work with is so great and everyone should come to their event next week, blah blah blah blah. And so, do you think we should have more police officers on the street?”), but mostly it was just people babbling at the room in general and the Chief didn’t really have an opportunity to say much in response. It was kind of disappointing. I ended up leaving early cause I was just so irritated.
Anyway, there will be two more Town Halls where you can hear the Chief talk – one on Monday from 6:30 to 8 at Cesar Chavez Educational Center (2825 International Boulevard) and another on Wednesday, November 18th, again from 6:30 to 8, at the Tassafaronga Recreation Center (975 85th Avenue). I’d advise showing up a little late so you don’t have to endure the Dellums campaign rally, and unless they restructure the way they do the Q&A, it’s probably not worth sitting through that part either, but I do recommend going just to watch Batts, who is extremely impressive.
But if you can’t make it to either of those (or if you can, but are still left curious afterwards), I have another opportunity for you.
The Oakland Tribune Editorial Board will be sitting down to talk to the Chief in a couple weeks. Naturally, we’re all bubbling over with our own questions, but what we really want is to make sure that our interview reflects what readers want to know. So we’re soliciting questions from the community.
Big picture stuff is welcome, but we’re also looking for questions based on your experiences in your own neighborhood. Just anything you want to know, basically. We’ll collect all the questions we receive, pick out the best ones, and ask as many as we have time for. You can send in your question via the contact form here, or just leave a comment on this post.
We’re really interested in what you want to know. So please, start firing away.