Politics

Phil Matier: Santana Would Return To Oakland Politics, But Not With Mayor Quan

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Oakland City Hall. (CBS)

Oakland City Hall. (CBS)

PhilMatier01-370 Phil Matier
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OAKLAND (KCBS) — Oakland’s recently departed City Administrator may be returning to city hall. Deanna Santana says that she is willing to work as a consultant for the city, but only if she doesn’t have to have any contact with Mayor Jean Quan.

Santana’s position was basically as the city manager, who runs the day to day operation of the city, but her relationship with Jean Quan was so strained that she was looking for jobs elsewhere. The politicians decided to part ways and even that got messy.

The former city administrator was asked to sign a 22 page legal document that included a clause that she would never say anything bad about Oakland. She wouldn’t agree and ended up packing in the middle of the day instead of taking part in a six-week transition they had hoped for.

The next thing she knows, Santana gets an email inviting her to come back as a consultant. It really just goes to show how goofy that city hall is.

Media, politicians and constituents alike may wonder if this whole episode will create backlash in Quan’s re-election campaign.

Originally, Santana was brought on as someone who could shape things up in Oakland from their budget problems to the administration problems. She oversaw the really painful budget cuts in the city, including the exit of many police officers.

She also endured the Occupy Oakland protests along with Quan. When protesters camped out and overtook the front lawn of city hall and renamed it “Oscar Grant Plaza”, it was Santana that said the protesters had to go. Quan had initially said that they should be able to stay. Santana put her foot down, police came in to evacuate and that’s when we had a series of tumultuous showdowns between demonstrators and police, who eventually cleared the area.

It’s sort of been sour grapes between the two ever since.

My Chronicle colleague and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown seems to think Quan is headed for re-election because ranked choice voting may be her savior.

I think it may be early to say, but I know Jean Quan will try to keep things as quiet as possible in Oakland and will point to the good things happening there, which there are a lot of. But while it becomes one of the hot bedroom communities because of people fleeing from San Francisco’s high rental prices, there still remains Oakland’s high crime rate that must be dealt with.

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