by Rachel Swan
Van Jones protegé Jakada Imani released a statement today announcing his decision to withdraw his nomination for port commission, which became the subject of a long, mean-spirited battle within the city council. Mayor Quan had selected Imani, over previous commissioner Margaret Gordon, both for his progressive street cred — he's the executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights — his West Oakland roots, and his clear, vested interest in the city's future. That raised the ire of council President and avowed Gordon supporter Larry Reid, who tried to block the nomination. Although Imani was, indeed, confirmed for the port commission on October 18, in a 5-3 vote, his appointment was nullified the same night, due to a procedural error. Tonight would have been his sixth council meeting to fight for the appointment. Frankly, he's tired of it.
"This process started in August," Imani said in a phone interview. "It's now November. I run a 2 million dollar non-profit, I'm on the boards of several organizations, I have four kids, and now I'm stuck in the business of whether or not I can be nominated by the city council." Once Imani realized that the battle was more about political brinksmanship than actual job qualifications, he decided it wasn't a good use of anybody's time. He said as much in the official statement: "At this critical time in our city’s history we need to all be working together to forge a clear and unified plan to strengthen the economy of our city and the safety of our neighborhoods," it read. "My goal remains to serve the people of Oakland. I believe that the best way for me to serve our community at this time is to focus on my work at the Ella Baker Center and Oakland Rising." Imani added that he will continue to push for fair wages, environmentally-sound industry, and economic equality.