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Joe Tuman - What does he really stand for?
These days I'm focusing more on my professional career than on blogging as a Kossack but given I also happen to be involved in the Joe Tuman for Mayor of Oakland campaign, I figured I'd write this one since I've gotten to know Tuman quite a bit since I last wrote a diary on his campaign.

Over a year ago, around July 2013, I wrote a diary on Daily Kos mentioning Joe Tuman and why I believed he’s the best choice as the next Mayor of Oakland to replace Jean Quan.  This was before Tuman officially announced his second Mayoral run.  Now of course we have just a bit over two months before the election.

Since the time, several diaries later and for the last several months, I finally got reacquainted with Tuman after 14 years since I was a student in his “Issues in Free Speech” class back in the Fall 2000 semester at San Francisco State University.  I have to say, in getting to know him better, he’s smarter than I imagined.

In understanding Tuman better in the last number of months and who he is personally, I’m still very much convinced he is the real choice for Mayor of Oakland and even more so for others in general desperate for a change not just from Mayor Jean Quan but also from the Ron Dellums years and so on.

Let me first set the record straight:  For some bizarre reason, the East Bay Express depicts Joe Tuman as a moderate although I sense that perhaps in a purist sense his agenda and way of talking doesn't jive with them by-the-book:

Moreover, since taking office in 2011, Quan has gradually moved from the left toward the political center in apparent response to criticism leveled at her by moderates and pundits concerning her record on crime. In addition, many liberal activists still have not forgiven her for the police department's harsh crackdown on Occupy Oakland under her watch.  As for Schaaf, Tuman, and Parker, they're generally a bit more moderate than the mayor, although Schaaf has moved left over the past year.
Schaaf's candidacy, however, likely will make it much more difficult for Quan to win, particularly if no true progressive candidate emerges in the months ahead. Indeed, if the race comes down to Quan versus the more moderate Schaaf and Tuman, many progressives may decide to sit out next year's election.
Now East Bay Express has their own interpretation but I know about Tuman in a different sense as they do and as far I can tell, he's NOT a moderate.  He’s very much in the liberal end but not exactly the typical kind of liberal you might think.  Tuman’s got a long history in academia, thinks very much objectively, bases a lot of his arguments more from data, math and real, unfiltered information and tends to dig deeper into very difficult issues without sugarcoating the truth.  If he speaks differently than what liberals & progressives want him to, it’s just because he thinks deeply about the issues and typically looks in things beyond just simply political viewpoints or to please anyone of a political persuasion.  He just wants the truth and to fix things in the most practical way as opposed to pandering to any political persuasion.  I guess simply put, Tuman is a realist as opposed to an ideologue.  So if you think he’s “moving to the center,” “moving to the left,” or whatever as a means of appealing to voters, he’s not moving himself in any direction.  He’s just speaking his mind.

Plus, East Bay Express has some explaining to do when they endorsed Tuman in his first run for Mayor in 2010, along with Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan as they believed they were all great candidates (before Quan really screwed things up when she became Mayor).  As far as I know, Tuman's platform hasn't changed much since 2010, except that the situation has gotten worse in Oakland than in 2010 and his platform has adjusted accordingly.

As for Tuman, he shares many of Kaplan and Quan's best qualities. The San Francisco State political science professor and former news analyst for KPIX TV and KCBS radio is disarmingly intelligent, and like Kaplan, he's a gifted public speaker who has a positive vision for Oakland. He's also very persuasive one-on-one. And like Quan, he's extremely hardworking and tough as nails. We also like the fact that as an outsider who says he has no ambitions for higher office, he will be beholden to no one if elected and able to take the strong, courageous stances needed to turn Oakland around.
Also, there's this I just don't buy:

Until last week, it looked as if the 2014 mayor's race might include no true progressive candidate despite the fact that Oakland is one of the most liberal cities in America. Mayor Jean Quan ran as a progressive in 2010, but since then she has moved steadily toward the center of the political spectrum. And the three people who've announced that they're running against Quan this year — Councilmember Libby Schaaf, university professor Joe Tuman, and Port Commissioner Bryan Parker — are more moderate than she is.
Their claim that Dan Siegel is the “true progressive” and the one that can capture disenchanted progressives who voted for Jean Quan in 2010 is a bit stretching it.  From talking to Joe Tuman, I view him as having progressive ideas and who just happens to approach things differently than Siegel does in his campaign.

Yes, I understand why certain purists out there don't believe in say Tuman's proposal that police numbers should be increased up to 900 because "more police officers isn't the answer."  However, with the crime situation the way it is and more Oakland residents depending on private security, would we be absolutely CRAZY not to add more police officers on the streets to prevent more burglaries, gun shots and violence?

And really:  When did Joe Tuman ever say more police was the answer to all the problems that ail Oakland?  Are we to assume he would just immediately add 300 or so  police officers soon after he got elected and then think that would be the end-all-be-all?  Who ever said he was insensitive to concerns of Oakland residents of all stripes?

As far as I know, Tuman's platform is more expansive than just one statement.

One of the reasons why my Issues in Free Speech class with Joe Tuman as professor years ago was involving was because it gave me and other classmates new and challenging ideas to think about applying in the real world, as well as ways to engage my critical thinking in a way that very few classes in my college experience have ever done.  Here I was introduced to Justice Antonin Scala and it was Tuman who said in class, "If you're getting into a debate with Scalia, you have to be very prepared."  The goal in class wasn't for me to support Scalia's ideology but in this situation, I would have to place myself in the context of arguing my perspective on issues of free speech with a conservative like Scalia who is obviously very rigid and can often win the debate in the U.S. Supreme Court, even if he's wrong on the issues (like Citizens United and the Voting Rights Act).  The same process applied in a number of different free speech cases but the goal was not to put ideology in place of rhetorical arguments when arguing for the merit of a free speech case in court.  

In other words, the class was not about siding on one side of the free speech issue but how make a good argument in a very divisive topic.  And as I stated in my first diary on Tuman, he did moderate the Issues in Free Speech class well.  And from what I remember, the goal wasn't for everyone in class to agree with everything he said but to back up their arguments, think outside of their own mindset and defend their views in the context of free speech cases.  As a candidate running for political office, he's demonstrating the same kind of teachings I've learned in class, just in a difference situation:  Improving the City of Oakland.

The origins that signify who Tuman is go back to his long history as an academic at SFSU in the communications department, as a teacher and also as a political analyst for KPIX-TV, KCBS and CBS5.  For those of you Kossacks who crave for good journalism, Tuman's days reporting on TV have been pretty straight to the point and non-biased unlike what you see these days on “news stations” like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.  He digs deeply into the truth, such as in this video where he's examining Middle East terrorism and government reactions to terrorism in general.  Pretty profound discussion.

Although the video above is a long video, if you view it carefully, you'll see how Tuman examines the deep social issues behind terrorism and an in-depth comparative analysis, an indication that he really does think about the world around him.  One would only imagine that if Tuman can dig down into the tough discussion as he did in the Commonwealth video, he could certainly understand problems in Oakland in a social issues front as well as far as why Oakland is the way it is these days (and has been for years), why it isn't enough to simply staff the police department and hope all will get better through the process of osmosis.

This is why I think Tuman's one of the more unique candidates running for Mayor of Oakland.  As for the argument on whether he has any liberal/progressive views, for the current Oakland Mayoral Candidates that are considered progressive (Siegel and Kaplan included), I think Tuman examines the issues they discuss at far greater detail and analysis in context to the broader picture in Oakland and what may be the most practical and realistic approach to resolve them.  Does that mean he's more progressive than say Siegel?  I'm not comparing but then again, I've always thought liberals and progressives ideologically have never been rigid and come in all shapes and sizes.  Everyone in this realm has similar political viewpoints for the most part but perhaps just different approaches to resolve them as candidates.

Does Tuman's proposals indicate he's going to get a yay from everyone?  Sure, there's some naysayers out there who don't agree with his proposals but then again, I've known Tuman to being inclusive who formulates his views well.  In general, given the nature of Oakland politics these days (which also affect surrounding cities like Berkeley, San Leandro, etc.) divides residents more now than before, it's important the next Mayor be able to understand and deal with the complexities facing Oakland in a mature, inclusive manner.  I think Tuman is already demonstrating this at the Mayoral debates and his campaign.

Based on the Mayoral debates, Tuman so far has shown to have good debating skills, is confident as a public speaker, has real fire in his belly and talks about the same issues Siegel does, just in a more universal, broadened discussion to the whole electorate in Oakland.  Tuman is also very receptive to the liberal and progressive community and their views, far more than people think and does listen to their concerns (hell, I'm sure he's paid close attention on Daily Kos as the concerns a number of Kossacks in my previous Tuman diaries as he mentioned to me his campaign staff has read them).  Much in contradiction to East Bay Express, Tuman’s supporters are broad and there are progressives supporting him.  I happen to be one of them.

Here are some of Tuman’s viewpoints that Kossacks and those in the progressive community can be receptive to:

•    Joe Tuman believes in the trans-formative power of education, which ties into how much he values education and particularly his decades in the teaching profession and what it can do to impact a person in the positive way and lift people out of poverty.  He’d much rather money be spent on education than on prisons.

•    He’s very much anti-privatization on security.

But while crime may be down in these select neighborhoods, other city residents are concerned about what private patrols in the hills may mean for the rest of Oakland.

“It sets a dangerous precedent,” Joe Tuman, a professor of political and legal communications at San Francisco State and Oakland mayoral candidate said. “When people with means can afford security, what happens to people without means?”

“I understand why they want to do this,” he said, “but they’re letting public officials off the hook. They should be demanding public officials devote resources to safety so that everyone gets it.”


But according to Tuman, public money isn’t the only component of the private patrols.

 “It’s also about socio-economic class,” he said. “Goes back to the responsibility of government. They must be able to guarantee the safety of everyone who lives here regardless of class. If you live here you deserve the same kind of protection that everyone else gets. We shouldn’t put people in a situation where they go without police protection.”

•    He’s strongly against Stop & Frisk and wants racial profiling to end.  At a one of the Tuman campaign’s house parties back in April, Tuman was emotional in front of a crowd in one of the wealthier parts of Oakland hills just above the Berkeley border near CA-21, making the argument that racist and bias-minded police patrolling will end in his administration if he’s elected, especially with regards to the African-American/Black community.

•    His campaign has been very ethical and clean for the most part.  Of course, there was the incident a number of months out of Tuman’s control where his car ended up hitting a dog by accident and killing it but that incident went away overtime.  Tuman also was very upfront and non-evasive in his reaction to the incident:

In a statement to KTVU, Tuman wrote:

“Recently, I had a very unfortunate accident when an off leash dog ran out in front of my car on a street near my house. I was driving within the speed limit, and the dog was struck by my car. I immediately pulled over and offered what assistance I could--including helping to carry the fallen animal back to its home--but regrettably, the dog died. As a dog owner myself, I am saddened by this loss, and have extended my sympathies to the dog's owner.”

•    Tuman and his family are very much community-based, less corporate.  Tuman’s wife, Kirsten, is an Executive Vice President at Richmond-based Mechanics Bank, one of the community banks in the Bay Area noted for being a strong survivor of the Great Recession and one which was reported for withdrawing its application for $60 million US government bailout money back in 2009.  Helena, his daughter, helps run an organic farm.

•    Like Dan Siegel, Tuman is sensitive to the issue of gentrification, something that Siegel has been vocal about for his campaign as well.  Tuman does want businesses of all kinds built in Downtown Oakland and areas where there’s clearly needed economic development but not at the risk of people losing their homes or other mom ‘n’ pop shops & small businesses getting the short end of the stick.

"For some of you who have not read my posts before--let me stress that I do NOT believe that only hiring more police officers will solve our crime problems. Doing that by itself is only a suppression strategy; it does not address the systemic causes of violence or violent crime. We need many tools in the toolbox to address and solve crime. These include an educational system that serves every child, a city and private sector development strategy that supports existing businesses and attracts new business, providing jobs with living wages for all who want work, housing supply and strategies that allow for new population growth--but not at the expense of pushing the poor out of Oakland, and programs that address the needs of our young people--as well our adults who may have returned to Oakland after time in prison. The long term solution requires attention to all of these details.”

October 20, 2013 at 5:20pm"

•    Tuman does support a living wage and wants the minimum wage in Oakland increased although how he and Dan Siegel (who has been reported on Daily Kos to be the only candidate to support an increase to $15 per hour for minimum wage) communicate this may be different.  Siegel just wants the wage to be increased without realizing non-corporate businesses might not be quite ready for such a high increase and that they may need time to voice their concerns.  Tuman on the other hand, while he supports increasing minimum wage and the November ballot initiative in Oakland to raise the minimum wage to $12.25 per hour, has pointed out that in conversations with restaurants, small businesses and non-profits (not corporations in this case) they felt shut out of the discussion within City Hall to raise the minimum wage and that the initiative was being pushed down their throats.  Tuman would support more dialog with these businesses as point of keeping everyone on the same page.  However, he’s not one of those ideologues who believe minimum wage increases would kill jobs.  He just wants the whole community of Oakland to have a say in things.

Interesting enough, Tuman may not be the only one who believes further dialog is merited with all sides with regards to minimum wage increases.  Gary Jimenez, head of the Lift Up Oakland coalition and VP of SEIU Local 1021 points out union members admitting they needed to do more work with the minimum wage proposals:

Several council members blamed themselves for not taking the initiative on minimum wage and crafting a proposal that would have addressed concerns from small businesses and nonprofits.

But Gary Jimenez, who heads the Lift Up Oakland coalition and is vice president of SEIU Local 1021, said his members were unhappy with minimum wage increases passed by city councils in Berkeley and Richmond and will push for ballot measures in those cities, too.

"We think they took the easy way out of passing something that won't really help workers the way it needs to help them," he said. "It fell way short of what they needed to do."

•    Tuman is noted for making public safety a centralized part of his agenda but wants to make Oakland safe, not safer.  For him, it’s a quality of life issue that goes beyond just simply making the count of police officers 900 as he has proposed (which Tuman mentioned is a goal but cannot be achieved overnight but gradually overtime).  Addressing the crime problem and police staffing levels would also be done by increasing business tax revenue by supporting business of all kinds (yes, including mom ‘n’ pop shops, small businesses and other varieties of businesses with employment opportunities).  He also wants to overtime allow available tax revenue for anti-poverty & essential services, addressing root causes of crime in general (including gun violence), dealing with issues in the African-American/Black & other minority communities and allow regular community input, dialog and action as key components of addressing the crime problem while police forces are gradually responding more efficiently to requests.  It isn’t just staffing police officers and improving response rates to crime but serving people in all levels of income and making sure their needs are met.

NOTE:  At a May 2014 debate, Dan Siegel challenged Joe Tuman’s assessment that Oakland needed 900 police officers, saying it was a number that came out of his head.  As it turns out, the 900 number came from NYC Police Chief Bill Bratton (who Tuman tried reaching several times initially when he was in Oakland until he finally found Bratton at a country club and got the information).  Bratton as it turns out was hired as a consultant by the City of Oakland some time ago and was appointed NYC Police Chief by progressive NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who Siegel has praised at the same debate.  Tuman by the way mainly went after Bratton at the country club to find out what he believed would be adequate staffing levels.  Other than that, that was it.  

         In addition, there's more than just police staffing numbers that Tuman is after.  Months ago, he traveling with cops in a police car as they were patrolling late at night, analyzing exactly what was going on in the scene and coming back after 2 am in the car giving a full assessment of the situation at hand and describing all of what was going on, particularly with the problems of police response rates and such.  It seemed Tuman wanted to know as many details about the problems in the police department as he could know.  At a house party I went to, from what I remember about what Tuman described about the patrolling, at least half of the calls that came in to the police that evening were not responded to.

          Tuman’s crime plan is here:  If you read it carefully, you’ll notice that Tuman is talking more than just police officers but social issues such as poverty, unemployment, etc. which quite a lot of progressives want addressed.  Doesn't sound like what a law-and-order moderate would propose, does it?

1.    Poverty is at the root of much of Oakland’s crime, with a growing gap in the income levels of poor and wealthy individuals in the town, a stubborn unemployment problem that, while better than during the recession, still means that Oakland’s recovery of jobs lags behind the pace for jobs growth of other cities in our region—including most of Oakland’s neighbors. Poverty also means that people left in the poorest parts of town are those who lack social mobility, and any capacity to move away from poor schools, or run-down neighborhoods. Many of those in this situation are people of color, and it should be of little surprise that the truancy and eventual dropout rates for the young people in these same populations is exceedingly high. Without education, and little opportunity for social mobility, crime becomes an option for some as an alternative to their situations.

2.    Oakland is the county seat for Alameda County, and as such is also the location for most re-entry felons. Nevertheless, the city is not fully equipped to handle the flow of formerly incarcerated prisoners, as they attempt to transition back to normal life in Oakland. There is no one-stop center in East Oakland or in the downtown that combines probation and parole, with other wrap-around services including jobs training, wellness, psychological therapy and counseling, or even physical fitness. As such, many of those who re-enter are at great risk for recidivism.

•    Another side note to mention is that a friend of mine, a Green Party member and someone who staunchly hates President Obama (in the same sense that a number of you on Daily Kos do as well for “abandoning his progressive principles”) gave Tuman high marks for his bluntness and being truthful.  Now, I’m not suggesting my friend speaks on behalf of the Green Party but when was the last time a moderate won support from Green Party voters?  Yes, I know, I’m thinking the same thing you are:  Never happens, unless you're trying to defeat George W. Bush for re-election.

Here’s some aspects about Joe Tuman and his campaign to know as well aside from where he lies on the political spectrum:

•    Most of Tuman’s contributions come from within the City of Oakland, as opposed to the other current major contenders Libby Schaaf, Bryan Parker and Jean Quan (yes, there are still crazies who support her) who have more contributions raised outside of Oakland.  In perspective to the percentage ratio of Oakland-based contributions, this may suggest that Tuman's message is resonating across the board in neighborhoods in Oakland although there’s a bit over two months still in left in the campaign.  The race is also very unpredictable given there are many candidates running.

NOTE:  It is true that Libby Schaaf out raised Joe Tuman significantly as of recently in fundraising (particularly with itemized contributions).  However, according to the independent Open Disclosure, Tuman's donations to date still come from within Oakland are at nearly 74% and just 26% coming outside of Oakland.  Schaaf's got 55.5% of her donations within Oakland with 44.5% coming from outside of Oakland:

       By the way, I do recognize that Rebecca Kaplan did officially enter the Mayoral race this past June so her fundraising totals have been reflective of a shorter period of time vs. most candidates.  However, Joe Tuman and Bryan Parker (the ones in the race the longest) have been campaigning for a bit over a year so Kaplan has a lot to catch up with ground-game wise (although I will be transparent by saying I know nothing that is going on in her campaign).

•    Visibility-wise, whereas Oakland Mayoral candidates like Libby Schaaf and Jean Quan might just have volunteers holding tables and passing out leaflets, Tuman himself is typically at every single campaign event, even if the events are small and not high profile.  This means he’s also going after every single voter he can and not afraid to target any specific demographic in Oakland or resident with point of view.

        In this picture, Joe Tuman’s pictured at July’s Temescal Street Fair.

        I was at the fair and saw most of the candidates with tables out (Libby Schaaf, Jean Quan, Rebecca Kaplan, etc.) standing behind their tables or sitting down.  Tuman on the other hand never does this and stands up most of the time, in front of the campaign table and even brings people in a group for discussion, giving the impression to people walking by that he’s approachable and isn’t necessarily sitting behind the table waiting for people to come up to him.

•    He’s pretty tough in that he can take on pretty much any question and response from Oakland residents, regardless if the person asking the question agrees or disagrees with him, and give a direct answer while at the same time also thinking about the person at the same time.  One person in particular on the Tuman for Mayor of Oakland Facebook says while he didn’t agree with everything Tuman said, he believed his arguments were well thought out and as a result, he’s supporting him.  

•    Tuman genuinely likes talking to people and learning more from Oakland residents, so much to the point where on occasion he’ll spend more time than the average politician on just one person or a group of people listening, talking and hearing them out regardless if they have a different view than he does, followed by additional questions to the residents to understand them better.  For example, I had the liberty of doing some precinct walking for Tuman and his campaign at the neighborhood near Telegraph Ave. in Oakland a bit over a month ago and he would spend more than 20 minutes talking to just one family, as well as others in the neighborhood for that amount of time as well.  And the funny thing about the situation was that Tuman never rushed the conversation.  If there were any additional concerns, Tuman would continue to talk and approach things with humility until those were concerns were addressed, forgoing using any talking points.  I believe the bottom line is that Tuman wants to give residents the assurance that he is listening to their concerns.

•    Tuman is not a self-centered Mayoral candidate in that he’s fully transparent with where he stands and never tries to evade questioning.  He also is not someone who I see as shooting from the hip and making rash decisions like Mayor Jean Quan (like the Occupy Oakland fiasco).  He also never thinks “What’s going to happen to my political career if I say something different?”  He just has a blunt, “tells it how it is” persona, is direct with people and isn’t really afraid of saying anything on his mind.  In fact, I don't think he's worried about what people think of him but he does listen to what others think and learns from conversation as well.

OAKLAND | MAYOR | There were few fireworks during a two and a half hour Oakland mayoral candidates forum last Thursday hosted by the grassroots #Oakmtg Twitter hashtag group and even less new information on the candidate’s positions. However, one brief statement from Joe Tuman may have attracted the most positive response from the online community and represented the most poignant moment of the night.

After Oakland Mayor Jean Quan trumpeted her mayor’s summer job programs had put a record 2,100 youths to work, she then suggested it was a factor in lowering crime in Oakland. At a forum, when just three of the mayoral candidates were randomly picked to answer each question, unfortunately for Quan, Tuman was in the trio chosen to respond and he was ready to pounce on Quan’s assertion.

“We in this city often times equate children with violence, forgetting, more than likely, they are the victims of violence more than perpetrators,” said Tuman. “The vast majority of the violent crime in this city is done by adults, not children. To suggest the 2,100 jobs that we’re talking about is responsible for the decrease in violence again promotes a myth that children are responsible.”

The Twittersphere agreed with Tuman’s rebuttal. “Tuman’s comment about not blaming kids for crime is dead on,” said @FruitvaleLocal. Davida Small tweeted, “'Violent youth’ should not be an acceptable phrase bandied about so casually.

•    In talking to Joe, you’ll find that he's actually a pretty approachable, patient, laid-back guy and seldom gets angry.  He may get angry but for the right reasons.  Even when he does, he moderates himself very well without losing his temper.  I know in my “Issues in Free Speech” class at SFSU Tuman didn’t raise his voice a single time.  So it's safe to say he hasn't changed at all since 2000, except become wiser.

Anyhow, there's more I could share but I'll leave it up to any of you to ask questions.  Note Joe Tuman and his campaign have seen my articles on Daily Kos so they are reading and paying attention to what ever your concerns are re: Oakland.

If you desire to support Joe Tuman for Oakland, links are below:

Joe Tuman for Mayor of Oakland:



Facebook: (best way to touch base with Tuman)


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