In a press conference this morning, Oakland mayor Jean Quan defended her driving record in the face of questions surrounding her car crash on Sunday. Witnesses at the scene of the fender bender last night claimed that they had seen Quan using her cell phone while driving. But Quan denied that charge, saying that her phone "wasn't in my hands for sure."
Some facts have emerged. At 5:39 last night, Quan was involved in a traffic accident while driving in West Oakland at 26th and Market. Quan was driving between events when another car struck her left rear tire. The driver of that car has claimed that Quan was, "being very irresponsible." A witness at the scene said that Quan was looking down at the time of the accident, possibly at a phone. The driver of the other car and her passenger were both briefly hospitalized after the incident. Quan was unharmed.
If true, the incident plays into an emerging pattern of Quan's cell phone use while behind the wheel. Last week, she was caught by KRON's Stanley Roberts using her phone while driving. Quan later claimed that she was using the phone's navigation feature, which she said was legal. Quan was also ticketed for running a red light earlier this year.
It's not clear the extent to which this string of incidents will hurt Quan's rocky reelection chances this fall. Politicians have been hurt by situations like these in the past. San Francisco state Senator Carole Migden crashed her car while using her cell phone in 2007, and subsequently lost her seat to Mark Leno. But we know this for sure: Nothing like this would have happened under mayor Ron Dellums. He billed city taxpayers for the full time use of chauffeur.