Take Action: Ensure Top-Rate Management for Oakland

30 Jan

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!

UPDATE: dto510 at Future Oakland and V Smoothe at A Better Oakland are also asking you to contact your Councilmembers about Lindheim’s appointment.

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

20 Responses to “Take Action: Ensure Top-Rate Management for Oakland”

  1. dto510 January 30, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    Not only does Lindheim not meet the job description Dellums created for his alleged nationwide search (for which he was appropriate public funds), but Lindheim doesn’t fit the job description in the charter:

    He shall be a person of demonstrated administrative ability with experience in a responsible, important executive capacity and shall be chosen by the Mayor solely on the basis of his executive and administrative qualifications.

  2. Max Allstadt January 30, 2009 at 10:43 am #

    I’m beginning to wonder how sincere the council was when they voted for Nancy Nadel’s cronyism ordinance. That vote wasn’t even 3 months ago. I believe it was unanimous.

    And now next week, they’ll start voting to confirm a crony. The ordinance forbids “the hiring or promotion of a close friend or business partner”. Lindheim fits that description.

    The council has a choice on how to deal with this cronyism. They might try let the issue languish at the public ethics commission. Not cool. Pass a law against cronyism with deliberately slow and ambiguous consequences? Very not cool. Use those slow and ambiguous consequences to slip through a blatantly cronyist appointee? SUPER not cool. The cool option? Easy. Vote to deny confirmation.

  3. OaklanderOnline January 30, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    Thanks for posting this!

    I will do so, and in my emails, comment on how Dellums’ firing of the city’s Neighborhood Services Manager, Claudia Albano, is unwarranted. Her hard work is well-regarded in Oakland and her position is the most vital right now.

    I will be sure to also contact Marisol Lopez, Executive Assistant to the Mayor: MLopez at oaklandnet dot com, (510) 238-3120.


  4. Andy January 30, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    How about phone # of the council members? A ton of phone calls might be a better way to reach these people.

  5. Becks January 30, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    Good idea Andy. I’ve updated the post with their numbers. I couldn’t find Rebecca Kaplan’s office number anywhere though so if someone knows it, please let me know.

  6. Max Allstadt January 30, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    238-7008, no? That was chang’s number.

  7. Becks January 30, 2009 at 12:48 pm #

    Thanks Max. I’ve updated the post.

  8. SA January 30, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    I wrote my council members (District 2 and At-Large). Here’s the disappointing response I got from Pat Kernighan:

    As disappointed as I am not to have a professionally trained City
    Administrator, I think Dan Lindheim is the best we can do under the
    circumstances. I don’t think he was picked because he is “crony.” He
    was picked because he’s been holding down the fort pretty much
    single-handedly since Deborah Edgerly left. He does have a Ph.D in
    Economics and a law degree, so he’s no dummy. He also is the one who exposed the true state of our finances and the huge deficit. He may not be perfect, but he’s honest and is motivated to act in the best
    interests of Oakland. The truth of the matter is, no one qualified wants
    to come work for our Mayor. Why jeopardize your career with this crazy Administration?

    Pat Kernighan

  9. Becks January 30, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    That is disappointing! I don’t know why our Council thinks they must settle for a second-rate administrator. It seems like they’ve all given in to trudging through the next two years and not making real progress until Dellums is gone. That’s a terrible attitude!

    Imagine if the Democrats, after taking power in 2006, had approved everything Bush proposed because they were waiting it out. That’s essentially what our Council seems content to do.

  10. Dave Pratt January 31, 2009 at 7:59 pm #

    I can’t believe that this appointment can stand, because the minimum requirements for the job qualifications are not there for Dan Lindheim, and the last few months of his being put in as interm show it isn’t getting better in our city his lack of experience are showing all over the place. I hope our Council will get to the people’s business and reject this appointment..
    the last few days under this Mayor are really showing it is time for the Council to reject his appointments and starting here would be good.

  11. len raphael February 1, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    actually i see PK’s point about how hard it wb attracting someone qualified to work under Dellums and I’d add for this city council.

    but the part that is really worrisome is PK saying it took Lindheim to “uncover” the size of the deficits. Taking PK at face, somehow the entire council and mayor’s office believed that we were in decent fiscal shape amidst a collapsing real estate tax bubble and consistently high union and management compensation increases. ie. somehow the council didn’t realize that the only way Edgerly could give them the funding they demanded was to do inter fund loans?

    I had assumed that the fiscal shortfalls were just another open secret of oakland govt which everyone was keeping quiet about until after the June 08 council elections. That’s just politics.

    But if they were truly ignorant of the fiscal situation, that means the council members are not paying attention to our muni finances. deja vu the OUSD board before it went bankrupt.

    How much time do these council members spend on their city job?

  12. Gil Batzri February 2, 2009 at 11:26 am #

    Reading the council person’s response “The truth of the matter is, no one qualified wants to come work for our Mayor. Why jeopardize your career with this crazy Administration?”

    Makes me wonder why there is not a more vocal movement to recall/remove Mr. Dellums from office.

    Am I the only person thinking this?? I find the notion of “trudging through the last two years” of this nightmare abhorrent. Oakland is a great place and the residents deserve much better.

  13. Becks February 2, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    Gil – good question. Unfortunately, the time for a recall has passed. It would be kind of pointless now and probably wouldn’t be worth the chaos it would cause. Back in November, dto510 explained why time was running out on a recall campaign. Well, the time has run out.

    That doesn’t mean that the Council needs to just accept everything Dellums proposes though. They have the power here and I hope they realize that soon. The Council is made up of intelligent, experienced people who care deeply about our city. They just need to realize the position they’re in and stand up to Dellums. The next two years need not be wasted.

  14. Gil Batzri February 2, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    I see what you mean about the recall. It is unfortunate that Mr. Dellums reputation has blinded so many people to his incompetence.

    I don’t have a lot of faith that the council will move strongly the way they need to. I just moved back to the city after watching from afar for a few years (not that afar but afar enough that I couldn’t vote)

    I am going to email my councilmen and see what they say..

    Keep up the good work on the blog..

  15. Joanna February 2, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    If the Council was planning on taking a no confidence vote on Chief Tucker, can anyone say why they won’t do the same to Dellums? It’s not as if the relationship could be much worse, and maybe by publically calling out on him, they could have more influence?

    That’s what I would do if *I* were a council member, but I’m no politician.

    I understand why no one would want to work for the Mayor, or much of anyone else on Council (R. Kaplan, excepted).

  16. Becks February 2, 2009 at 5:55 pm #

    It seems as if Pat is the only one who followed up with her constituents about Lindheim. Has anyone else heard from their Councilmembers?

  17. Chris Kidd February 3, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    I haven’t heard diddly from Ignacio on Lindheim.

    I *have*, however, heard back from Ignacio’s office on the very scary, very urgent, very pressing possible loss of 30 parking spaces in Jingletown when Union Pacific reactivates their southern spur down Glascock Street. Oh, the humanity!! We must have immediate action now! Drop everything and get UP on the line!

    Way to set priorities….

  18. len raphael February 3, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    Jane Brunner issued a news release lauding the selection of Lindheim.

    Maybe the council members want Dellums to fail or more likely they figure they have to work w Lindheim, so they might as well pucker up.

    -len raphael

  19. Becks February 5, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    Thanks to everyone who contacted the Council. Unfortunately, they voted unanimously today to confirm Lindheim’s appointment (Larry Reid was absent).


  1. Appointment puts Oakland on the brink « FutureOakland - January 30, 2009

    […] Becks at Living in the O also calls for citizens to urge their representatives to oppose Lindheim’s appointment. At Large: […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: