Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brunner Stands Up to Batts

By Robert Gammon
Sat, Jan 29, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Finally, an Oakland political leader has mustered the courage to stand up to Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts and call him out in the press. Instead of begging Batts not to leave, as other city leaders have been doing, longtime Oakland City Councilwoman Jane Brunner said in today’s Trib that she believes Batts “needs to want be here.” Brunner also noted that Batts has failed to express his concerns with the city council or help find solutions.

Brunner revealed for the first time that Batts showed no interest last year in getting involved in negotiations with the Oakland police union. Batts, she noted, may have been able to use his then-popularity to help hammer out a compromise deal. Instead, he remained on the sidelines, and stood by as the impasse led to 80 officers being laid off.

But now, Batts is complaining publicly about the layoff, calling it “a horrendous decision,” when he refused to get involved in finding a solution. Batts apparently also has offered up no other viable solutions to solving the city’s budget woes.

Brunner also noted that Batts would not involve himself in the campaign last fall to pass a large parcel tax measure that would have allowed the city to rehire the laid off cops. Brunner argues that Batts’ popularity might have been influential. Although, she’s arguably overstating her case here (the parcel tax had no chance of winning), there’s no getting around the fact that if Batts really wanted more resources, then he should have said so. Instead, Brunner was left to basically back the measure on her own.

It’ll be interesting to see if other city leaders have the courage to call out Batts for his “I don’t-want-to-help-find-solutions-I-just-want-to-complain” attitude, or if they’ll continue to beg him to stay.

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