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Oakland Councilmember Jane Brunner Wrong On Chief Batts

Oakland City Councilmember Jane Brunner (District 1 - North Oakland) is unfortunately just plain wrong in her comments on Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts, and shows why many say there has been a "leadership void" that Oakland's elected officials have not effectively filled.

This is what Cecily Burt quoted Councilmember Brunner as saying in The Oakland Tribune regarding why Batts elected to try and leave Oakland:

"I don't even know if that is the reason. We don't know if there are other issues, it's not clear...He is very popular, we think he is a good chief, but in my opinion, he needs to want to be here. And if there are things that are preventing him from wanting to stay, he needs to be in the room to have that discussion...If he's going to stay, he needs to work with us as a team."

No. Councilmember Brunner has it backwards.   It's her job to make sure working conditions are excellent for a person who is essentially one of her employees.

To ask the employee (think about that) to lobby for improved working conditions says little good about the employer.  The employer is supposed to take responsibility to improve working conditions for the employee.

And she wonders why Batts would consider leaving?

Chief Batts has talked to the media (including this blogger several times), to local officials, and to anyone who would listen regarding the Oakland Police financial situation and the need to improve it.  But it's Jane Brunner's job, as one of the Oakland Councilmembers who hired Batts let alone as a senior member of the Oakland City Council, to set up a meeting such that the Brown Act is not violated, and determine what problems there are and pledge to help him solve them.

That's what leaders do and Jane's certainly capable of doing that.  In fact, I'm surprised she'd allow herself to express such weakness.

Complaining about Batts in the media was the wrong action to take.   I understand what she's saying, but it didn't come out the right way.  Politically, it was better left unsaid.

Chief Batts is not some one to fear, and anyone who might paint him in that way, as someone that a person needs to "stand up to" - thus calling up age-old American white fears of black men - should be ignored and shunned.

That aside, Councilmember Brunner's job one is to set up a direct dialog with Chief Batts, and stop waiting for others to do it.

That's what leaders do.

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