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I've had the pleasure of being in Joseph Tuman's speech class, Issues in Free Speech, back in the fall of 2000 when I was a junior at San Francisco State University.  Unlike most classes at SFSU, Tuman's was involving and thought-provoking in a way where you could never be bored and not learn something new every day.  You definitely learned a hell of a lot about the meaning of free speech, how to apply it in the real world and how to deal with it in the context of a legal case or controversy.  This also happened to be the time when I was introduced to Justice Scalia and the approach he's always taken in court cases as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

I also remembered Professor Tuman as being a calm person in answering questions, being supportive for us in class.  He was a genuine teacher and really made sure the class wasn't just simply a lecture:  We had to do our own group discussions and analyzed a number of different issues on very thought-provoking questions pertaining to free speech and how to place it in the context of the public, how people react to one's statement or actions, etc.

When I found out that Tuman in 2010 ran for Mayor in Oakland, California, I was quite intrigued because I didn't think for a second he'd be the type who would run for political office.  For any of you who are local to the Bay Area, you'll noticed that Tuman is a regular political commentator on CBS5, KCBS radio and KGO television.  He offers a rather objective and insightful analysis on politics.  

In general, I also thought Tuman is more of a scholar and teacher and less of a politician.  I thought while I supported his candidacy for Mayor of Oakland in 2010, I wouldn't have been depressed if he didn't win because there were other candidates who might be more qualified than him and have more drive to being Mayor.

However, that was before Jean Quan took office.  Since then, Mayor Jean Quan has been a disgrace to Oakland with her handling of the Occupy Oakland protests and with her inability to really change anything about the political or city government culture (or apparently lack of giving a damn).  The city has been through two previous Mayors whose accomplishments haven't done diddlysquat to change it (Jerry Brown and Ron Dellums) and while there are new tech start-ups and business (Sungevity's headquarters is in Jack London Square), the whole city is still in as much of a disconnect now as it was years previous.  

Now may be the time where Oakland should finally get real about getting a serious Mayor of Oakland who is going to actually think about the outside world and think carefully before shooting from the hip.

In my view, Joseph Tuman is the right choice and probably the only choice at this point (until someone else comes in) who can offer much needed dialog and strengthen relations from city government to residents in Oakland (regardless of whether you're living in Montclair, West Oakland or Fruitvale).  Indeed, Tuman is considering a second run for Oakland and I don't think he's thinking lightly:


In the Twitter age, anybody with Internet access and half an opinion can be a political pundit. After writing and editing 16 books, spending two decades teaching political and legal communication at San Francisco State and offering political analysis from CNN to KPIX TV, Joe Tuman packs old-school-pundit street cred.

But three years ago, the 54-year-old Oakland resident did what few pundits would dare: He became a candidate. Frustrated by the city's lack of leadership, he jumped into the mayor's race late in the game. With next to zero name recognition despite his TV persona, he finished fourth behind three longtime politicians, including the eventual winner, Jean Quan.

As Quan's disapproval rating spiked to 60 percent in a Survey USA poll of Oakland residents last month, Tuman said he is "exploring" another run when her term ends in 2014.

"It means he's running," said Hank Plante, a longtime Bay Area political reporter and Tuman's former colleague at KPIX.

Tuman's maiden run was unusual in that it was a rare example of the transformative power of a political campaign. During his 11-week sprint of 55 house parties and countless debates and door knocks in 2010, the genial Tuman rediscovered things about himself in his leap from pundit to candidate.

Tuman has analyzed crime in Oakland for years but as the article points out, crime in this city has affected his family in a personal way:
This month, after years of analyzing Oakland's crime, Tuman felt its impact on his family.

His 22-year-old son, Nate, a bartender at a restaurant in the city's up-and-coming Uptown neighborhood, was beaten by four males.

Nate Tuman chased one of his attackers six blocks after seeing the man steal his co-worker's purse as she took a break outside the restaurant. After confronting the alleged thief, three others kicked and punched the younger Tuman, leaving him with two black eyes.

"It was a teachable moment for him," Joe Tuman said. He was proud that his son would stand up for a co-worker. But he was upset that his son didn't use his best judgment in chasing someone who could have been armed.

Here's a hint to Tuman's character and how he would approach things if he became Mayor of Oakland:
"Joe is not happy unless he is working, and he's not happy unless he's competing," said Weisser, an executive vice president with Mechanics Bank who has been named three times to the East Bay Business Times' list of "100 Most Influential Women."

In a city where crime has spread to upscale neighborhoods - Quan's neighbors in Montclair have hired private security patrols - Tuman is focused squarely on public safety. He outlines plans to put at least 300 more police officers on the street. Getting the money to do that would require making tough cuts in the city's general fund budget that past generations of city leaders have avoided.

"Everything is a choice" on the budget, Tuman said. "Everything you've done you can undo. This isn't the Ten Commandments."

Here's the latest announcement from Tuman on him going through the exploratory phase of considering a run for Mayor:


In the months after the 2010 mayoral campaign, many of you asked me to stay involved with Oakland. I promised you then that I would remain engaged, and for nearly three years I have kept that promise, serving on multiple nonprofit boards, and involved with organizations dedicated to public safety, economic development, infrastructure improvement, transparency and fiscal reform, education and the arts.

In recent months, many of you have asked if I would be running for Mayor in 2014. I know there has been speculation about this in the news media. Here is what I can tell you today: I am exploring a candidacy for the 2014 race. What "exploring" means is although I have not filed papers, opened accounts, solicited money or declared for office, I have had a significant number of meetings and conversations with individuals and groups from all parts of our city for the last six months. Key to my decision about whether to run has been the need to identify and prioritize all the challenges facing Oakland, and more importantly to assess what I could commit to deliver as Mayor in solving these problems. Oakland is a tough city to govern. It's very important to possess institutional knowledge, have forged relationships with the necessary stakeholders, and have a clear vision about solutions. The details matter.

While some important conversations remain, for me this process of exploration is nearing a conclusion. I fully expect to announce a decision about my candidacy in mid-July. It's easy to get swept up in the excitement and momentum of a campaign-believe me, I know that. But running for office and governing if you win are two different things. If we're going to really change Oakland, it's critical to have a candidate and eventual mayor who gets the details right. I am a detail-oriented person. You'll have my answer in less than two weeks.

Please let me know your thoughts at joeaboutoakland.com.

Joe Tuman

Here's some videos on Tuman so you can get an idea of the kind of person he is should he run again in 2014:

Here's Tuman at a 2010 Oakland Mayoral Debate Responding to a Question on Low Income Communities Having Resources to Grow their Own Food:

Tuman here Again Addressing the Need for More Police Officers in Oakland.  You can tell this guy is very knowledgeable and detail-oriented:

Here's some videos on Tuman so you can get an idea of the kind of person he is should he run again in 2014:

Here's Tuman at a 2010 Oakland Mayoral Debate Responding to a Question on Low Income Communities Having Resources to Grow their Own Food:

Tuman here Again Addressing the Need for More Police Officers in Oakland.  You can tell this guy is very knowledgeable and detail-oriented:

Here Tuman is asked questions on a local reporter on public safety:

If Joe Tuman announces he'll run in 2014 for Mayor of Oakland (and I expect his final decision very soon), I plan on volunteering for his campaign, not just because I believe he's a great teacher but he's also what I believe the city of Oakland desperately needs:  A change in dialog.  And for matters Occupy-related, I think Tuman is smart enough not to pull a Jean Quan.

I welcome any comments or suggestions on what you think the next candidate of Mayor of Oakland should address, whether it be Joe Tuman or anyone else.  As a long time East Bay native, I think it's more important then ever for Oakland's atmosphere to be improved as what goes on in Oakland can trickle down to cities like San Leandro and Castro Valley.


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