UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who contacted the Council. Unfortunately, they voted unanimously today, February 5, to confirm Lindheim’s appointment (Larry Reid was absent).
As you might have heard by now, Dellums has finally appointed a new city administrator, Dan Lindheim. What you might not know is that this decision is not yet final. Much like Congress has to confirm Obama’s cabinet appointments, the City Council must confirm Lindheim’s appointment on Tuesday. Rumblings from City Hall suggest that the Council is leaning towards approving Lindheim, but this would be a terrible mistake.
Why? Well, for starters, Lindheim is not qualified for this job. As Carlos Plazola pointed out at A Better Oakland earlier this week, “he does not have anywhere close to “12 to 15 years of senior level executive management experience preferably in a large sophisticated diverse urban governmental organization” (a primary qualification excerpted from the Mayor’s own job description (PDF) for the City Administrator position).” This job is the most important appointed position in the city, and, arguably, the city administrator has more power than many elected officials in Oakland. From supervising departments, including the troubled police department, to creating budgets in times of economic crisis, the city administrator is responsible for making the city run smoothly. Lindheim has been the interim administrator for the past 6 months, and I think we can all agree that the city has not run smoothly.
Beyond Lindheim’s qualifications (or lack thereof), what really upsets me about this appointment is that Dellums had a year to do a nationwide search, and it is abundantly apparent that he did not conduct one. At the press conference yesterday, he mentioned plane flights and long distance phone calls as reasons why the search took so long (as if long distance phone calls take any longer than local calls), but it seems that the only plane flight that was taken was by Robert Bobb to come to Oakland. Dellums forewent the search and instead hoped Robert Bobb would take the job, knowing that if he didn’t, he could always fall back on Lindheim.
And now, that’s what Oakland could be stuck with if the Council confirms Lindheim – the second choice among only two candidates. Luckily, the Council has an unprecedented opportunity right now – Dellums’s approval rating is at 25%, with 60% disapproving of his job performance. The people of Oakland clearly do not approve of Dellums’s decisions, and the Council should respond to this sentiment by denying Lindheim’s appointment and asking difficult questions of Dellums.
Unfortunately, I’ve heard that several Councilmembers are leaning towards confirming Lindheim. That’s where we come in. Please take five minutes of your time to call and/or email your City Council representatives. Ask them to deny Lindheim’s appointment on Tuesday and to demand that Mayor Dellums turn over records of his “nationwide search” so we can see what really happened.
This is one of the most important actions you can take this year for your city and all it takes is two emails. Oakland deserves an experienced city administrator who can get us out of the mess we’re in, not a friend of Dellums who is not qualified for the job. Please email your Councilmembers now!
If you need any help with your emails, feel free to contact me at oaklandbecks at gmail dot com. And if you’re unsure which district you live in, you can find out here.
Rebecca Kaplan, At-Large (she represents the entire city)
RKaplan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7008
Council President Jane Brunner, District 1
JBrunner@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7001
Patricia Kernighan, District 2
PKernighan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7002
Nancy Nadel, District 3
NNadel@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7003
Jean Quan, District 4
JQuan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7004
Ignacio De La Fuente, District 5
IDeLaFuente@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7005
Desley Brooks, District 6
DBrooks@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7006
Larry Reid, District 7
LReid@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7007