It is the tale of two cities. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums said image is the big problem for his city although the road to recovery goes straight through Washington D.C. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom pointed out that the board of supervisors is the big road block to progress and said that economic diversity is the future, especially online gaming.
There was an overflow crowd at the Oakland Convention Center, there to share the vision of a number of economic movers and shakers, most notably Newsom and Dellums. They agree that 2010 is a year of rebound and as far as Oakland is concerned, Mayor Dellums says the more helpful the federal government is, the better the rebound will be.
"The federal government has to continue to play the role of an activist in the context of our economy until and unless we get to the point of economic rebound where the economy can take off on its own," Dellums said.
Newsom said San Francisco's groundwork for recovery has already been laid by its economic diversification. It is a city no longer so dependent on banks or Chevron for its economic vitality. High tech is here and a slew of online gaming companies are about to give the city a big boost.
"Companies like Zynga, which you saw up on the screen a moment ago, Playdom, Playfish, are both announcing they're coming into San Francisco, a real high concentration of these very creative companies that are moving into the city. So, we have a remarkably diversified economy," Newsom said.
Oakland has an image problem. As a high crime city, it is true, but the numbers are moving in the right direction and perhaps the image will follow.
"Oakland reduced its crime rate by 10 percent," Dellums said. "It exceeded that in certain categories. For the first month of this year, our crime rate is down 38 percent."
Newsom said the biggest roadblocks to economic prosperity in San Francisco are certain members of the board of supervisors.
"Ready, fire, aim," he said. "As opposed to ready, aim, fire, where things are making their way through the legislative process and the political process, and in some cases on the ballot, without consideration of consequence."
Newsom sounded a bit harsh and in an aside he shared with those in the crowd, he admitted he was up for much of the night with his 4-month-old daughter and did not get much sleep. He told the crowd he was not even sure what he was saying.