It was déjà vu all over again for the Oakland City Council Tuesday night.
For the second time in six weeks, council members failed to pass a resolution aimed at preventing future protests from disrupting the Port of Oakland -- but not before once again getting a mouthful from dozens of boisterous Occupy Oakland supporters.
The nonbinding resolution, needed five votes for passage, but only got four as two council members abstained and two others voted against it.
"I'm disappointed we couldn't give port customers the assurance that we value them and Oakland residents the assurance that we will protect them," said Councilmember Libby Schaaf, who co-sponsored the resolution.
Opponents said the resolution would have amounted to micromanaging city administrators, risked violating the civil rights of protesters, and distracted the city from more pressing issues.
"As a policy matter, I would be happy to support a resolution to say it was the council's priority to take every measure to stop gun violence against the people of Oakland," Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan said.
The resolution, just like its predecessor that the City Council tabled on a technical issue in December, called on the mayor and city administrator to "use whatever lawful tools we have ... to prevent future shutdowns or disruptions of any port operations."
But in a departure from the original resolution, it also would have directed the city
Port officials spoke in favor of the resolution, while several union leaders and dozens of Occupiers spoke against it.
Police didn't confront protesters at two demonstrations late last year that disrupted the port and resulted in more than $4 million in lost economic activity.
Port officials had warned that although they didn't lose customers because of the protests, the specter of additional disruptions made it harder to recruit new business.
But Occupy protesters argued that the resolution risked further confrontations with police. "Blood is on your hands. Why would you want more?" Oakland resident Molly Batchelder told the council.
Councilmembers Desley Brooks, Ignacio De La Fuente, Jane Brunner and Schaaf all supported the resolution. Councilmembers Nancy Nadel and Kaplan voted against it, and council members Larry Reid and Pat Kernighan abstained. The abstentions meant that there was no 4-4 deadlock that Mayor Jean Quan, who didn't attend the meeting, could have resolved with a tiebreaking vote.
Much like when the resolution was discussed in December, council members sparred with Occupy supporters, who struggled to keep quiet when opponents and council members were speaking.
"I'm pretty disgusted with the lack of respect," Councilmember Kernighan said after being shouted down by Occupy supporters even as she was announcing that she wouldn't support the motion.
The council took a 10 minute recess after Occupy supporters shouted down De La Fuente, but Brooks managed to shout over Occupy supporters, telling them, "You believe in freedom of speech but only for yourself."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435