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Friday, August 8, 2008

Meeting with the Office of the Mayor

It's been quite a week for me in terms of doing promotion for La Borinquena and local indie business. LakeFest '08 last weekend, National Night Out on Tuesday, Thursday Night Live/Oakland Local First Marketplace on Thursday and we are doing the wedding food for a regular customer this Saturday. I thought all of that was going to keep me busy enough but something came up a few days ago.

In May 2008, two Old Oakland Neighbors' board members and I participated in the City of Oakland's Neighborhood Summit '08 at Laney College. Our group was chosen to represent the newer community group in the workshop, "How to build a strong community." There I meet Jose Dorado, a member of the Maxwell Park NCPC. I got a call from him on Tuesday asking if I would be interested in meeting with Oakland Mayor Dellums as part of a group of Latino merchants to discuss crime prevention.

Meeting with the Mayor? Sure, why not? I had a phone conversation with Jose outlining my concerns and a plan of action to tell Mayor Dellums what commitments we NEED from him in order to become a thriving and safe business community. I mentioned that I am proud of being Latina but my main focus is not that of being a person of color but as an independent business owner and an advocate of building stronger communities that benefit everyone. My two demands from the Mayor's office: support for community policing including foot patrols and attention given to our small business commercial districts to keep the economic impact here in Oakland.

Unfortunately, a mere 30 minutes before our confirmed meeting time, we were informed that Major Dellums would not be attending the meeting with our group himself. Was I surprised? NOT AT ALL. We did meet with Arnold Perkins, Marisol Lopez and Josie Camacho from the Office of the Mayor to discuss what our group felt are the shortcomings of the promises not kept we are most concerned about and demanding change. It was a two hour meeting that flew by as issues mainly regarding the problems the youth of Oakland are experiencing and how that directly affects business districts.

How successful was this meeting? Too soon to tell and hopefully we will have a follow up with Mayor Dellums in the near future. We know that the Mayor is an elusive politician and we need to see him out and about conducting his day to day life side by side with his constituents. His appearance should not be a photo op but a regular occurrence. Marisol Lopez, his executive assistant, at least a couple of times during our meeting became defensive when we questioned where the Mayor is and why many of his campaign promises had not been fulfilled. Ms. Lopez felt that this Mayor has been effective in a way our previous Mayor had not even though we don't see him. It is my hope that his actions now will change my mind. That the work of so many volunteers on all the committees I am a part of and those that I am just now getting to know will have the full support of our City's government soon.

I just won't hold my breath.

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