OAKLAND -- With the pressure already on, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan spent her first full day in office dropping in at the early morning police briefing, firing the budget director and assistant city administrator, and announcing her own hand-picked staff.
Quan, facing a multimillion-dollar budget deficit in the coming year, promised in her inauguration speech to propose a new budget by March, which her office says will require some cooperation with the police union and a diligent, reliable core staff.
Assistant city administrator Marianna Marysheva is out, effective Friday, as is budget director Cheryl Taylor. Marysheva was budget director under former Mayor Jerry Brown. She left the city in 2005, but was rehired in 2008 by then-Mayor Ron Dellums. Taylor also had previously worked for the city, before returning to work for the Dellums administration in 2008. Sabrina Landreth, an analyst in the budget office, will replace Taylor as budget director.
Marysheva and Taylor are the only two high-ranking department heads let go so far, although other changes are likely to happen as the new administration settles in. Quan has named a transition team, headed by former City Manager Henry Gardner, to help set priorities and guide changes. An executive search is also under way for a new city administrator to replace Dan Lindheim, who also served under Dellums. Lindheim has agreed to stay on until his replacement is found.
Quan also announced her mayoral staff, which includes some familiar faces, one new one, and longtime aide and spokeswoman Sue Piper. Two remaining positions -- senior policy analysts for economic development and intergovernmental affairs -- are still in the hiring process, Piper said.
Quan started her first morning on the job Tuesday at the 6 a.m. daily police lineup, getting a personal introduction to numerous officers in what appeared to be an effort at getting off on the right foot with the department.
The new mayor and Oakland police have had a rocky relationship in the past few months: Quan voted in favor of laying off 80 police officers when she was on the City Council last year, and the Oakland Police Officers Association endorsed her chief opponent, Don Perata, in the mayoral campaign. In July, Quan and Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan locked arms with several other people at a protest against the police shooting of Oscar Grant III, standing between the crowd and the line of riot officers in what the department called interfering with police and the council members called an effort to keep the situation peaceful.
Most recently, Quan has called on police to pay for 9 percent of their pensions, which union officials are resisting, saying residents or other departments should also pay in order to "keep things fair."
In her first visit as mayor to OPD, Quan apologized for the layoffs and asked each officer for a little of his or her background. Piper said Quan hopes to meet every city employee -- or as many as possible -- and felt it was important to start with police.
"She's a hands-on kind of person," Piper said.
Quan did not take questions and union officials were dismayed, OPOA President Dom Arotzarena said, when she left and soon after told reporters, "I actually like the police; they are the ones who spent a couple hundred thousand dollars to beat me up."
What Quan was referring to, Piper later said, was a series of robocalls OPOA made in late June before the layoffs vote, with a recording by Arotzarena who said in the messages, "The City Council Finance Committee, led by Jean Quan, has refused to consider other viable options, or even to consider making cuts to nonessential city services."
Arotzarena said OPOA spent about $5,000 on the calls and that he felt exaggerating how much police had spent showed Quan was "still in campaign mode." He said he hoped the working relationship between the mayor's office and the OPOA will improve. He said, however, that the first step still needs to come from Quan.
"It's time now to move on, I think," Piper said. The mayor is "very interested in moving on. We've got to deal with what's ahead of us, and the budget issue is on top of us right now."
Quan's whirlwind first week will continue with a spate of meetings today. She will speak publicly at 8 a.m. Thursday to the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club at 666 Bellevue Ave., Piper said.
Contact Sean Maher at 510-208-6430 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Sue Piper, mayoral spokeswoman