Dellums Watch: Keeping Tabs on Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums

Because we care deeply about Oakland, we want Mayor Dellums to succeed. However, we strongly opposed his election because he never held a municipal position in Oakland and has lived in Washington for the last thirty-five years. We are wary of some of his supporters, and wish to keep a close eye on local political machinations. This blog will be focused on politics and people, not policy perscriptions (unlike FutureOakland).

January 08, 2007

Dellums sworn in; De La Fuente reelected

Ron Dellums' formal inauguration kicked off only eight minutes late to a packed, but not nearly full, Paramount Theater. The School Board was sworn in, and they reelected District Two member David Kakishiba as President. City Auditor Courtney Ruby was sworn in, and gave a perky speech promising to work hard and dramatically expand public knowledge of "what works, and what doesn't work." Reelected City Councilmembers Pat Kernighan, Jean Quan, and Desley Brooks took their oaths of office; while the first two brought only immediate family members to stand with them, Desley Brooks asked 32 people to stand behind her. In her well-received speech, she thanked her district and her staff members.

The main event, of course, was the election of the City Council President. Nineteen speakers (and one speaker without a card) addressed the Council and the audience, with most of them urging a vote for Nancy Nadel (who was not nominated) or for "change." Several of the speakers were extraordinarily rude, going on well over their comment period while eviscerating Mr. de la Fuente for not involving "the public." The audience (though not me) may have found it ironic that, while speaking in favor of public comment, the speakers demonstrated the rude, disrespectful and unproductive nature of so much of the public comment the Council receives. Rebecca Kaplan, of the AC Transit Board, noted that her below-the-radar agency rotates the Board Presidency and makes committee appointments by consensus; while that may work for a public agency, the chaos of even this mini-meeting demonstrates that the Council, as a policy-making body, needs a firm hand on the reins.

Sanjiv Handa blamed Mr. de la Fuente (in whose favor only three people spoke) for what he said is "the lightest meeting schedule of any city council in the United States," which is hard to believe. Later, he called the councilmembers up for reelection in two years De La Fuente's "henchpeople," and accused them of "excluding the public every step of the way." Defending the city staff's report on the condo conversion act, he said that council did not need additional legislative analysts, since they do a "very poor job of analysis." Those of different political viewpoints may argue the exact opposite (ie, the poor staff report on condo conversions is a reason to hire additional legislative analysts), but of course Mr. Handa is entitled to his opinion. With the comment period concluded, Desley Brooks introduced a substitute motion to appoint Larry Reid council president, which failed. Ignacio de la Fuente was then reelected Council President on a vote of 6 - 2, with only Reid and Brooks voting no.* Nadel's vote for him was greeted with catcalls and cries of "coward!"

Mayor Dellums felt compelled to interject himself as the audience cried for Ignacio's head, saying that "we must go forward in a civil manner, with a civil discourse." It is this uncivil discourse that Mr. Handa and others (like Ken Katz) defended in their comments against Ignacio being council president. Larry Reid, appearing hurt that Ignacio voted against the motion to make him president, promised that we "will see a new Larry Reid," which met with applause from the audience. Ms. Nadel, defending her vote for Ignacio, said "the council isn't there yet," referring to the five votes leftist advocates would need for their divisive and radical agenda. Pat Kernighan told the audience that they shouldn't assume Ignacio is their enemy, since "the entire council is excited to support Mayor Dellums and work together."

Mayor Dellums' address, which refreshingly lacked many of his campaign-trail cliches, explicitly rejected laying out an agenda or priorities for his administration, since we "must focus on all the issues simultaneously." Perhaps referring to his narrow, racially polarizing victory, called for Oaklanders to "delight in our diversity but not be paralyzed by parochialism." He also committed to seeking additional resources from philanthropists like Bill Gates and from Washington DC. Acknowledging the important perspective of young people (among whom I count myself), he remembered that "when I was West Oakland Ronnie D, I knew what's happening," but now is mystified by the world of "instant communication" with which young people have grown up. He repeated his promise to "appoint young people to every board and commission in Oakland."

On the whole, the ceremony was lovely, but marred by the rude and divisive comments made by public speakers and through the audience's catcalls, particularly those made by Sanjiv Handa and other backers of Ms. Nadel. Her own vote and speech reflected the consensus of our elected officials that we do need to move forward effectively, and ignore artificial and ideological divisions. While she and some in the audience clearly looked forward to the elections of 2008, the newly elected officials on the dias are eager to get to work on the problems of today.

* I incorrectly reported at 2:43 that Ignacio was reelected 7 - 1 (Brooks).

34 Comments:

At January 08, 2007 5:32 PM, Blogger deckin said...

I just want to officially nominate Heather MacDonald as my candidate for reporter most in need of the California State Exit Exam. I read the Trib and see the in the first paragraph that IDLF 'narrowly' held on to his seat as President of the council. Then, a couple of lines down, we learn that the vote was 7-2. Wow, that's some narrow scrape! Considering that Brooks wouldn't vote for IDLF if he handed her a large check (oops, maybe she would), the only surprise is Larry Reid. I can't for the life of me understand what he's upset about. Did he and DLF have a deal worked out where DLF would vote for him in a largely symbolic move but against himself, realizing that, pace Heather M., the vote wouldn't be close? Is he losing it?

 
At January 08, 2007 5:40 PM, Blogger Oakland Native said...

MacDonald's article a few weeks ago kept saying that Ignacio's "future is far from assured," while at the same time quoting Quan saying he'll be reelected. Not only was the vote not close, it was 6 - 2; I don't know where her mysterious ninth councilmember came from.

Reid definitely distanced himself from Ignacio in front of the Dellums crowd. We'll see what Reid's new attitude means. I believe that committee assignments are announced tomorrow; Mr. Reid said that he didn't expect to continue being Public Safety chair.

 
At January 08, 2007 6:41 PM, Blogger deckin said...

Yea, I think Reid is engaging in some serious postering--the only question is for which upcoming election. The mayor's race in 2010? I mean, what's going to be his rationale for this volte-face? Has he stopped being pro-business and pro-development? He was just quoted in the East Bay Express praising Jerry Brown? Or, is he going to say he's just personally turned against DLF? But why now? I wonder if he thinks the progressives will rally to his side if he does a reverse Jerry Brown.

 
At January 09, 2007 3:47 PM, Blogger Oakland Native said...

Honestly, I feel bad for Larry Reid. He wanted to run for Assembly, but stood aside for Russo. He wanted to run for Mayor (he said yesterday), but stood aside for Ignacio. It was common knowledge last year that Reid would be City Council President if Ignacio became mayor. But all of that was for naught, and Reid is back to square one while has-beens took the big offices.

We'll see what this means as issues develop. Fortunately for everyone (except maybe BeyondChron), there are no divisive issues on the horizon, since IZ and Condo Conversions won't be back for awhile.

 
At January 09, 2007 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Katz is just the latest example of why Oakland needs to look beyond the polarizing, self-superior, mean-spirited, blowhard progressives. Their version of civic discourse consists of child-like public tantrums mixed with healthy dosages of angry criticism and rudeness directed at anyone who doesn't share their bonehead political agenda.

I wouldn't want to see it happen, but I wonder how they would handle it if people were to treat them the same way in public. Sometimes what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

 
At January 10, 2007 8:56 AM, Blogger deckin said...

So, Ron Dellums refuses to talk about specific priorities (indeed, claims that not doing so is a virtue), spouts forth nothing but worthless pablum about making Oakland a 'model city', and this bit of mumbo jumbo is greated in the local press with a kind of bended knee fealty usually the province of FOX News looking on with damp panties at the sight of Dick Cheney.

Meanwhile, a hardworking man is killed in my old neighborhood by some ignorant loser over a parking space. I guess this loser couldn't wait for the model city of St. Ron: Maybe some progressive should remind him that his real problem is a lack of meaningful employment and not, say, lack of self control, or perhaps some not inconsiderable brain damage brought on by bad and/or absent parenting, or just the fact that he's a loser, but, oh, that's right, that would be blaming the victim. Couldn't do that. Don't worry, St. Ron is going to keep talking till we understand. Understand what, Ron?

 
At January 10, 2007 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand it completely. The Model Cities program in the 60's in Berkeley was a program of temporary jobs that placated the poor for a minute, but always left the "recipient" with no job, no money and no real skills. Can someone tell this man what year it is?

 
At January 10, 2007 2:45 PM, Blogger deckin said...

To back up the last anonymouses claims about the threadbare origins of Dellums' 60's mentality, just look at this Wikipedia article on the Model Cities program of the War on Poverty and notice if you just throw in some environmentalism, you have the entire Dellums agenda and plan for action. Wow: Amnesia and foolish hope, the ingredients of the 'Dellums Solution'.

Even more pathetic were his comments to the Minority Chambers of Commerce about supplying San Quentin graduates with jobs as what they needed to do to step up. As if that's their biggest problem! Could it just possibly be that the reason these men are in San Quentin has a lot to do with why they don't have a strong employment record? Could it just possibly be that what's kept them off of the payrolls (anger issues; narcissistic personality type; poor impulse control) are the very things that tend to be selectively weeded out by most employers. Could it, Ron?

 
At January 12, 2007 3:39 PM, Blogger deckin said...

In the interest of giving credit where it's due, St. Ron's pledge to donate money to the Chabot Science Center is good news. Would that he married his apparent love of astronomy to an interest in the deliverances of other bodies of current research that have a much stronger connection to events in current Oakland: say, Economics or Criminology, to name just two.

 
At January 12, 2007 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that these boneheaeds that elected Ron Dellums like what they get. Words don't mop blood up.

Young black men are not very hirable, speaking as a small contractor in Oakland. I don't know what jobs Ron Dellums wants to give them, unless he is planning to have them steal, loaf, fuck, sell drugs or murder one another.

 
At January 13, 2007 6:20 PM, Blogger Oakland Native said...

Last anonymous, I don't think your tone is very productive, and certainly racial generalizations don't make persuasive arguments. But there is an issue here, that deckin raised.

Why is Dellums talking about San Quentin this week? Why not talk about Santa Rita, or North County? At the hyphy showcase (which described hyphy music incorrectly and was thinly attended), he said that a gang leader (!) who is soon to return to Oakland from San Quentin was just like the mayor himself but for one wrong turn. That comparison is either nonsensical or frightening.

 
At January 14, 2007 7:35 AM, Blogger deckin said...

Native,

I think an even bigger issue and something that I can't fathom except for the fact that a significant portion of this city engages in exactly the kind of hero worship that brought us the Iraq war is Dellums' utter lack of any plan, after a full six months to plan a transition and map an agenda. We hear from Chip Johnson that Dellums' team is talking about two months before their agenda is rolled out! We give the incoming President of the U.S. a transition of a little over 2 months and then we expect action. But Mr. Organization can't put together a plan to run a fairly small city in six months? Oh, yea, he has to wait for the citizen's committees. But that just raises the question: Why is it taking so long for that?

Once more, citizens of Oakland are among the few who can say that we are screwed by faith based politics at both the local and national level, from both political directions.

 
At January 18, 2007 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous: Your commentary about young black men is, Mr. Contractor, racist. This is exactly the kind of stupidity that worked against de la fuente during the campaign. Another reason to be glad that de la fuente lost. Buh-bye.

 
At November 20, 2008 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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