I knew he was unprepared, but this is just pathetic

22 Oct

I don’t know how many people caught the LA Times article yesterday about Mayor Ron Dellums and the trouble Oakland’s experienced during his tenure, but it’s kind of embarrassing. I grew up in LA and love to talk up how great Oakland is to all my friends down there. But if they read this, I don’t see how they could possibly believe me.

Though the whole article is depressing, this part particularly jumped out at me:

That said, Dellums acknowledged that being mayor is “absolutely” harder than serving in Congress, where he said he oversaw $300-billion budgets as chair of the House Armed Services Committee.

“I remember when I first got elected, right? I said, ‘Well, I’ve got a $1-billion budget. That’s cool,’ ” he recounted. ” ‘We can bring great change with a billion dollars.’

“And they said, ‘No, Mr. Mayor, half of that budget’s already earmarked, and that’s not in the general fund.’ So I said, ‘OK, I got a half a billion dollars, that’s still a lot of money.’ “

But police and fire department budgets had to come out of that, his staff told him, so there’s more like $100 million in discretionary funds. Great, he said, “I can create some new programs.” But don’t forget the museums, they said, the libraries, parks and recreation.

“I said, ‘OK, so what do I have?’ ” he continued. “It came down to . . . $2.1 million to create new programs to change the world.”

It really hurt to read that. It would have been one thing if when he first started his campaign, he found out this news, but to admit he didn’t understand even the most basic parts of Oakland’s budgeting process until after he took office is so embarrassing.

Also, how can a mayor describe the budgeting process as “cool”?!

I cannot wait until Dellums’ term is over. We need to make sure our next mayor at least has a basic grasp on his/her job description and on how the city functions. Luckily until then we have a council that’s ready to step up to the task of budgeting.


7 Responses to “I knew he was unprepared, but this is just pathetic”

  1. AustinOAK October 23, 2008 at 11:13 am #

    Yes sad situaction all around. I had no idea that he was not going to this type of position given his background. It seems almost shocking.

    Ok – Tar & Feather Me – (amongst others as well) I am responsilbe for Run Ron Run! netroots petition drive to get him in the race. I feel bad about it now. I had such high hopes given his talent. Look at that time there was the real threat the De La Fuente would have run away with that race without him in it. Nancy Nadel still is not regarded as strong enough city-wide to carry it. And that is why others looked to Dellums.

    I too want to find a better Mayor in 2010.

    Look – this is a Mayor who is the highest elected (Democrat) official in Oakland and didn’t even come to to the opening of his own party’s Democratic Headquarters. Unreal. I heard that he never even replied to the invite.

    He continues to dissappoint (cancel or decline) numerious public appearances. In a time when more face-time in the city is needed he is always noticably absent. I just do not understand it.

    Rumor is (an of course I am sure you’ve heard it as well) is there might be a recall in 2009. I am neutral on that now.

    Ron is Such a dissappointment. I want to stay true to him and just having one-hell-of-a-time doing so.

    Tar & Feather Away Folks…..I am guilty as charged…

  2. Becks October 23, 2008 at 11:23 am #

    Austin – There will be no tar & feathering here, at least not from me. I can understand why so many people were so hopeful about Dellums’ candidacy. He was a great congressman and made a lot of progress for both our country and region while in office. So I can see why people thought that would translate to him being a good mayor.

    Unfortunately, it did not. And I hope this teaches people a lesson that if someone does not want to run for office and declines again and again, drafting that person into the race might not be such a good idea. Dellums clearly had no idea what the job entailed, and once he found out, I think he decided the job is not for him. But it’s too late for that decision and now we’re stuck with him for another two years (unless he’s recalled, which I think at this point is unlikely).

    There’s no use dwelling on the past. Let’s just not make the same mistake twice and find a candidate to support in 2010 that wants this job and is ready to face mayoral challenges head on.

  3. AustinOAK October 23, 2008 at 1:27 pm #

    Thanks – yes – this next time MUST be different. We have to find the best candidate and get them elected.

    2010 – in reality in some ways this effort starts as soon as next year.

    I will definately be active in the Mayor’s race in 2010.
    Plus Gavin’s campaign.

  4. Navigator October 24, 2008 at 3:08 pm #

    Your recent article on the city of Oakland was a one sided negative hit piece designed to perpetuate unfair and long-held stereotypes regarding the city of Oakland. You decided to write an article with a negative bent while ignoring anything positive which has happened in Oakland in recent years.

    You ignored the thousands of units of new housing which have gone a long way to augment the existing housing which has always been in place in Oakland’s very vibrant downtown neighborhood of Chinatown. You also neglected the neighborhoods near Lake Merritt, Old Oakland, and the emerging Uptown District, when you claimed that downtown was deserted. Of course, those areas where office space high-rises dominate, are going to be deserted in any city after the office workers leave for the day. We can say the same thing about certain areas of downtown LA, as well as certain areas of downtown San Francisco. Furthermore, downtown Oakland has many well-to-do vibrant neighborhoods within less than one mile of City Hall. Neighborhoods like densely populated Adam’s Point, along with the English Tudors in Crocker Highlands, and the charming craftsman bungalows in the Piedmont Ave. neighborhood give Oakland a very diverse downtown environment.

    Ms. Lagana, you also took the liberty of taking the takeover restaurant robberies which occurred all over the Bay Area out of context. You neglected to mention that there were takeover robberies in San Francisco in the Mission District, in Daly City, in Hayward, in San Jose, in Castro Valley, in Emeryville, in Berkeley, etc. You also bring up a controversial crime study study for 2007, which states that Oakland is the “5th most dangerous city.” We have to take these studies with a grain of salt, when Orlando Florida, home to Mickey Mouse, comes in sixth place ahead of cities like Baltimore and Atlanta. Last year for example, the Quitno Press Study which placed Oakland fourth, included auto theft, which because of Oakland’s high ranking in that crime, brought the city’s ranking to number four. Having said that, I feel that your use of that study was used to paint the preconceived negative picture of Oakland you wanted to portray.

    Instead of disclosing all of the great things going on in Oakland, you decided on a negative hit piece to conform with the negative stereotypes. Instead of talking about the near completed restoration of the gorgeous Fox Oakland Theater at 19th & Telegraph to go along with the opulent Paramount Theater a block away, you decided to go negative. Instead of talking about the emerging art galleries in Uptown and the once a month art murmur which draws thousands of hipsters to downtown Oakland, you decided to go negative. Instead of writing about the 70 million dollars of improvements at Lake Merritt, you decided to go negative. Instead of writing about the 400 million dollar expansion of Jack London Square, you decided to go negative. Instead of talking about Oakland’s brand new 190 million dollar Christ the Light Cathedral on the shores of Lake Merritt, to go along with the beautiful Oakland Mormon Temple,and the ornate Greek Orthodox Church in the Oakland hills, which give Oakland some of the most interesting religious architecture in the Nation, you decided to go negative. Instead of writing about all of the great restaurants opening up in Jack London Square, Uptown, Rockridge, Lake Shore/Grand, Piedmont Ave., Temescal, Fruitvale, and all over downtown, you decided to go negative.

    It’s a shame that instead of informing readers about the positive things going on in Oakland, you opted for the easy stereotypes, and for negativity. Oakland and your readers deserve better. Thank you.

  5. Becks October 24, 2008 at 3:13 pm #

    Navigator – You should have been a bit more clear at the beginning of this comment that this was a letter to the LA Times, as when I first started reading it I thought it was aimed at me. That made me think you’ve never read my blog, as practically all I do here is talk about how great Oakland is.

    I presume you’ve sent this to the Times as well? I agree that there are dozens of more positive stories they could have run about Oakland.

  6. Navigator October 25, 2008 at 8:29 am #

    Becks, you’re right, I should have been more clear about the letter to the LA Times. I apologize for the confusion. I know you write about the positives in Oakland a great deal.

    I read the LA Times article, and the preconceived negative bent was clearly evident. For example, the emphasis on crime and the restaurant robberies which occurred all over the Bay Area, not just in Oakland, was a bit unfair. The fact that crime in Oakland is actually down from last year and they had to use an unfortunate occurrence last year in West Oakland to make their point, shows their intent to show Oakland as dangerous and crime-ridden.. The fact that Oakland recorded a record 175 homicides in 1992, when the city had only about 360,000 residents, should put the current 109 homicides in a city of 409,000 residents into context.

    Also, how come a 42 million shortfall in Oakland’s budget gets National attention, while San Francisco’s 330 million dollar deficit goes virtually unnoticed? How come the fact that San Francisco recorded an astonishing 17 homicides in September, along with another 7 homicides so far in October, goes virtually unnoticed? How come the fact that San Francisco is one homicide away from matching the 98 recorded in all of last year, gets no attention? How come the fact that the San Francisco Chronicle allows San Francisco officials to lose 5 documented homicides from the “official” count gets no attention?

    Distance: 0.88 miles
    Identifier: 080540064
    Time: 00:18

    October 10, 2008 4:40 PM

    19 Feb 2008
    Distance: 0.01 miles
    Identifier: 080502906
    Time: 16:23

    11 Jul 2008
    Distance: 0.98 miles
    Identifier: 081931823
    Time: 11:47

    07 May 2008
    Distance: 0.57 miles
    Identifier: 081280122
    Time: 00:39

    The LA times should be investigating these disappearing San Francisco homicides, which by the way, are still recorded in the “CrimeReports” site map, and were once on San Francisco’s very own Police Crime Map, but now have simply disappeared from San Francisco’s “official” count. San Francisco is covering up homicides for their tourist image’s sake, and the LA Times decides to run a negative depressing ad on Oakland? The LA times needs to do some real journalism instead of a stereotypically negative piece on Oakland.

  7. Becks October 25, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    Navigator – you’re right about this. It’s frustrating how much attention is paid to negative stories in Oakland. I think that’s where blogs have come in to fill the gap and tell the positive stories. When I tell people in other parts of the country that I live in Oakland, they ask me the most absurd questions about how dangerous it is.

    We clearly have a crime problem, but it would be helpful if the media would paint a more holistic picture of what’s going on in Oakland. There are so many wonderful stories to tell. Unfortunately, the negative stories are often the easiest to tell.

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