Oakland Mayor Jean Quan finally rid herself of the albatross at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, but it appears her troubles did not end with the Occupy Oakland camp.
Jakada Imani, Quan's nominee for the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners, withdrew his name from consideration Tuesday afternoon, a few hours shy of a confirmation vote scheduled at the City Council. It did not appear that Imani had the votes.
Imani's announcement follows the resignation Monday night of Deputy Mayor Sharon Cornu and the news earlier Monday that Quan's close friend Dan Siegel had quit his voluntary legal advisory role over the mayor's second eviction of the Occupy Oakland encampment.
And those followed the earlier, high-profile resignations of police Chief Anthony Batts and elected City Attorney John Russo. Public relations guru Nathan Ballard, a respected crisis communication expert hired by Quan in the wake of Batts' departure four weeks ago, also quit last week.
The resignations aren't the only things dogging Quan; she also is facing a possible recall effort and a growing tally for costs associated with the Occupy movement. City Council President Larry Reid said that number would be closer to $5 million than the $2.4 million figure released Monday, and that doesn't include lawsuits the city might face over use-of-force claims.
"We'll have to tap into our reserves," Reid said. "We just laid off people, and next year we'll have to do the same because
Reid said the tab will grow because of the 24-hour security required to make sure campers do not return to the plaza, as well as for future police escorts and mutual aid for marches and protests. He also said it will cost about $100,000 to restore the plaza.
Quan defended her decision to work with the encampment to ensure there were fewer people there when the camp was dismantled and said she does not think the city's tab will be as high as Reid fears.
She admitted she is worried about the recall but hasn't had much time to think about it with all that has been going on. She said she would definitely fight it.
As for staff turnover, Quan said Cornu's departure was planned and had nothing to do with the camp or politics, while Siegel's was a surprise.
"It's not the world's best timing, but I didn't win an easy race, and everything has been tough," Quan said. "A month ago, I had a 71 percent approval rating (in one poll). I think we learned from the mistakes this month."
Quan said her administration has made a lot of progress on reducing crime and promoting community involvement in the city's most dangerous neighborhoods. She also has secured COPS grants to put more police officers back on the streets.
She said she selected Imani because she wants a strong presence on the port commission, but she realized the council would block it. She said she has made 90 other commission appointments without controversy.
In an interview, Imani said he withdrew his name from consideration because the mayor's foes, who preferred Quan reappoint Margaret Gordon to the port commission, were using his nomination to stir up controversy that detracted from important work.
"People were using this appointment to derail her broader agenda and my broader agenda," Imani said. "We actually have work to do putting the city back together. ... So that's what I decided to do, out of respect of the mayor, and frankly for the people of this city who need the mayor to focus on a lot more than getting Jakada Imani elected."
Unlike Siegel, who was publicly unhappy with Quan's decision to allow the first camp eviction Oct. 25 and whose disgust grew when the camp was dismantled again Monday, Cornu did not cite dissatisfaction with the mayor in her decision to step down from a post she had held for less than a year.
"I felt I wasn't being effective," Cornu said, adding that her work didn't seem to be meshing well with the style of Quan's existing team.
She declined to comment on opponents' statements that Quan is difficult to work with, but she did say that the mayor needs to put together a more effective team that can "really help her project her voice. It's a unique voice among mayors, coming from where she's come from and having led the fights she's led," Cornu said, referring to Quan's history of activism for civil rights and equality.
"Oakland really needs a political center, and I don't mean ideologically," Cornu said. "I mean a central place where people come to do the community's work and where people work together. That's going to be an enormous task, to build the relationships and create the trust that really launches Oakland into the future it can have. That's going to take a very different approach from everybody in City Hall, in labor and business and the community."
Staff writer Sean Maher contributed to this story. Contact Cecily Burt at 510-208-6441. Follow her at Twitter.com/csburt.