Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Uber’s Head of People and Places can’t pronounce names of Oakland officials

Renee Atwood, Uber's global head of people and places
OAKLAND | Uber is coming to Oakland. The ride-hailing company will move into the vacant Sears Building on Nineteenth Street and Broadway in 2017, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced Wednesday. Or, is her named pronounced “Schoff”?

Schaaf trumpeted news of one of the most talked about tech companies moving to Oakland’s burgeoning Uptown District. Placating concerns Uber’s arrival could hasten gentrification in Oakland, Schaaf said during a news conference, the company will help the city achieve equity among its residents and fight displacement. In addition, no tax breaks were offered by the city to Uber, said Schaaf.

However, Uber’s nesting on a stretch of Broadway known for political protests will likely make it a target because of the company’s insistence its fleet of drivers are not recognized as employees, but contract workers. The latter classification allows Uber to not pay certain benefits to its workers.

Uber, meanwhile, apparently needs some time to get to know its new neighbors in Oakland.

In a quite ironic moment during Wednesday’s press gathering, Uber’s Global Head of People and Places Renee Atwood had great difficulty pronouncing the names of, well, people. People who aided Uber's arrival in Oakland.

Atwood thanked “Mayor Libby Schoff” and had great difficulty with Oakland Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney’s surname. She later paused before deciding the proper pronunciation of Assemlymember Rob Bonta’s District Director Jim Oddie is ODD-die. For clarification, Oddie's name sounds like Odie, the canine companion of cartoon cat Garfield.

Atwood, however, nailed the name of Oakland Congressmember Barbara Lee.


Those of us in the know in Alameda pronounce Jim's last name OD-ious...

Sometimes... od-IF-er-ous...

By MW:

Those of us who have gotten to know the Bay area's politicians, and including Oakland's, have some interesting things to call and describe them, and which goes considerably beyond just mispronouncing their names, however, and since this is basically a family newspaper, I cannot mention what hose names are.

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