By Ken A. Epstein
As a member of the over 60 generation, Oakland attorney Dan Siegel dabbles in social media but had found no reason to make use of it.
Until this week, he had two people who followed his tweets, and one of those was spam. “I sent out this message about resigning my job with the mayor, Monday at 10 a.m. Now, 1331 people are following me.”
Until this week, he had been Mayor Jean Quan’s volunteer legal advisor, a position that he held for many years. “It has been a very long and close friendship,” Siegel said.
“I met her and Floyd (Quan´s husband) in 1968, when they were undergraduates and Asian leaders of the Third World Strike (at UC Berkeley). I was a law student and a supporter of the strike,” he said.
“In 1969, Floyd and I flipped a coin. I won and ran for president of the student body. He ran for vice president.”
The reason he resigned and made his decision public was because of the importance of the Occupy protests, he said. “I am extremely enthusiastic about this Occupy movement, and think it’s the most important thing that’s happened in this country since 1970. (Therefore) how people orient themselves to this movement is very important. In a situation like this, it’s very important whether you’re for it or against it. – There’s no sitting on the fence.”
Oakland is suffering from poverty, unemployment, foreclosures, lack of college opportunities and school closings, Siegel said. “Government is cutting money for all the things that Jean wants to do as mayor. This (movement) is something we should get behind, not simply tolerate.
“I really disagreed with the decision to send police to essentially attack people who are trying to make the world a better place,” he said. “When the decision was clear where they were going, that was when I had to make my decision and take a stand. I did it publically because I wanted to give my support to the movement.”
Quan is in a hard spot, and people are making demands on her, he said. “There were people who clearly wanted the camp to end, including several members of the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce and people in her own administration: the city administrator and the police chief.
“She was pushed back and forth and ultimately decided to do what she did. I’m really sorry about that. I feel that it’s contrary to her own values and beliefs.”
However, Siegel is opposed to the move to recall the mayor. He believes a recall is likely to paralyze government for the next year and could lead to a mayor picked by the most conservative elements
“I don’t like it,” he said. “I think it’s mean spirited and politically unwise at the same time.”