Monday, June 27, 2011

The Oakland Mayor's Office Must Clear-Up Its Communications Process

This blog post comes as an advisory to the Oakland Mayor's Office, and it's done not for malicious intent, but to bring a stop to a growing problem that's reared its head twice in five days.

To cut to the chase, the Oakland Mayor's Office needs to determine what it's going to sent out in a communication to this blogger, and then make sure that message is consistently delivered, and without potential for misunderstanding, or appearance of subterfuge.

First, I must take time to thank the Oakland Mayor's Office under Jean Quan for at least trying to communicate with the public - it's a far cry from the previous administration. But, Mayor Quan's approach still appears as if it's confused and all too reactive to what's written in the press, well, OK, what's blogged by this blogger.

After trying to deal with this behind the scenes, I've just plain had it.

The first episode started when I received an email from Susan Piper, Mayor Quan's Special Assistant, who played a key role in Quan's successful candidacy. I like Susan, so this doesn't come from a point of dislike, but one of extreme disappointment, so deep that this blog post is the best, last resort.

It appears Piper, the Mayor herself, and the City of Oakland's Communications Office are on a different page at times. Take the issue of the announcement that the City was prepared to make former San Jose Deputy City Manager Deanna Santana, City Administrator.

I received two emails on this subject: one from the City of Oakland's Communications Office, the other from Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, via her newsletter.

Both emails had misinformation that P. Lamont Ewell was Oakland's City Manager, rather than Assistant City Manager, thus effectively removing former Oakland City Manager Craig Kocian from the city's history. The first email contained a press release attached and dated June 21st which called Ewell "Oakland City Manager."

Then, the second email, which contained Quan's Newsletter, had not just the same reference to Ewell as Oakland's City Manager in 1995 (when it was Kocian) but also called Deanna Santana the Deputy Mayor of San Jose.

I called out the Mayor's Office for the mistake and reminded anyone, regardless of whether they were paying attention, that Kocian was City Manager. (Momentary aside here: I blog to strategically seed the Internet for revenue gain, message control and real estate development, not to gain attention. Only a lobotomized knave would think other wise.)

Piper contacted me via email demanding to know where I got the information that the Mayor's Office said Ewell was City Manager in 1995. I sent the evidence to Piper along with a request for a bottle of wine. Piper admitted I was correct, but did not apologize for the error, just told me to have a virtual glass of wine.

That was on Thursday, and I was willing to overlook that issue. After all, I made my point and there's now a clear Internet record to counter all of the incorrect press content created because of the Mayor's Office's mistake. (Well, I hope it was a mistake. Again, to communicate to the media that one person was City Manager, when someone else really was, is a pretty big error to make.)

So, I was done with it, it was behind the scenes, and in the past. Fine.

But this week, it happened again - and it's a young week. Today's Tuesday.

On Monday, I made a blog post of two events the Mayor was set to attend this week, and did so completely based on another press release I was sent. The blog post called "Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Announces Plans For Week," came from a note called "News from: The Office of Mayor Jean Quan" and was in no way communicated to me as a non-public document with privileged information.

So, I shared it with the public. After all it was called "news," right?

Piper pipes up with an email that was just plain, down-right, ill-advised. She wrote that "Zenie- the About Oakland is not a "public" document. It is a media advisory for the press so that they know where they can catch up with the Mayor. We would appreciate it if you would not repost the content to your blog.

My email reply consisted of one word:


After this, I've had enough. Alex Katz, who served as former Oakland City Attorney John Russo's press aide, has never in something like three years, made that mistake. Any press contact knows that as the representative of a high profile elected official, you don't send an email out to a blogger regarding events the official's expected to attend and think the blogger's not going to post the information or mention it.

That's...Well, a number of choice words I'm not going to print.

The Oakland Mayor's Office under Jean Quan has to stop playing games. They're bothered by the idea that, unlike the standard press, they can't control me (Which has always been Oakland's problem with me, come to think of it.)

During the election, Quan wanted to know who my boss was and who gave me assignments. She couldn't wrap it around her mind that I was self-motivated. And now, I see what the game is from them: try and say that I'm consistently making errors, by issuing denials of my reporting of what they sent out.

That's a dangerous game to play if the Mayor's Office is not even reporting the right information to start with. I hope the Mayor's Office can see now, that it won't work.

But let's say they're not doing that. Let's say that Quan doesn't want information on, as Piper put it, her "whereabouts" out there for this week?

Given that there were just two items noted, the City Team Ministries Breakfast of Champions (9-11 am Tuesday) and the Ribbon Cutting of the new East Oakland Sports Center, maybe Mayor Quan doesn't want to go to one of them for some reason?


Well, either way it's spun, it doesn't look good at all.

Wow. It gets deeper.

Well, either way it's spun, it doesn't look good at all. After all, the Mayor has more to do than just those two events.

What To Do?

The best solution is, first, to craft a full media strategy that starts with one word: reputation. And it should consistently as the question "Is what I'm sending out something that I will not have to recall?" And care should be taken to be as open with information and its dissemination as possible.

I work with some of the most powerful communications people in Hollywood and in the Tech Industry. The people I know would never make a mistake like that; the Oakland Mayor's Office should study how they operate.

Stay tuned.

Rod Blagojevich Verdict - President Obama Must Be Smiling

In the last video on the subject of former Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich, I said he was lucky to get away on no charge, but one charge; this time, the Government got Govt. Blagojevich on 17 counts, and he's reportedly stunned.

If Blagojevich is shocked, he has a weird sense of history. There are tapes of the Governor openly trying to sell the Senate seat that was once held by now - President Barack Obama, saying that it's "fuckin" golden. Moreover, then-Governor Blagojevich was all-but openly hostle to the former Illinois Senator, and just as that person, Mr. Obama. Barack. Was taking his place as the most powerful representative of the free World.

Blagojevich should have said "Whatever you want me to do, Mr. President, I'll do it," and left it at that.

Instead, perhaps because he didn't have respect for Obama because he was familiar with him. Or maybe that Blagojevich wasn't used to being in a position below, not at, a politician who happened to be black. Whatever the reason, Blagojevich pissed off President Obama, and set in motion the wheels of justice that find him where he's at now: starring at doing some jail time.

Blagojevich was lucky last year. Not this time.

Obama got him. And while it's not on the level of Osama Bin Laden, for Barack Obama, it constitutes the ultimate pay back.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Stay tuned.

British PM Cameron's Joke Brings Down House Of Commons

In this video posted today at itNews on YouTube, British Prime Minister David Cameron issues a joke about it being his duty to "give pleasure" to a constituent who was pleased at England would not get involved in the bailout of Greece. It's a hilarious blast that brought the "house" down - literally.

It's good to see a PM with a sense of humor. Remains to be seen how England't decision, or his joke, will impact its relationship with Greece.

Still, even if England and other nations took action, the Bank of England governor warned that it would not stop the European Debt Crisis.

Stay tuned.