Tag Archives: Mayor Ron Dellums

February 22-28 Oakland Political & Community Events

21 Feb

Monday, February 22 – East Bay Young Democrats’ February Confab

On Monday, February 22nd, EBYD will be holding our first membership meeting of 2010. This will be an exciting meeting that you don’t want to miss. We’ll be determining priorities for the club for the year, reviewing our endorsement calendar, making plans for the CDP/CYD convention, and hearing from a couple of guest speakers about statewide initiatives. We’ll also be electing a new At-Large Executive Committee member, as Christine Smith has resigned after moving to Pennsylvania. Current nominations have been submitted for Anthony Sanchez and Dorian Peters. Please join us to shape the direction of the club. All are welcome and encouraged to participate! The meeting will take place from 6:30-8:30pm at Spice Monkey, 1628 Webster Street (Btwn 15th & 17th and 3 blocks from 19th Street BART). For more info and to RSVP, visit the Facebook event page.

Monday, February 22 – Mayor Dellums’ State of the City Address

Mayor Ron Dellums will address Oakland residents during his third State of the City address, likely trying to convince the audience that his tenure has been successful and Oakland is improving because of him. The address will be held at 6pm in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. You can read my brief review of last year’s state of the city address and V Smoothe’s in-depth review of the first state of the city address.

Wednesday, February 24 – League of Women Voters Forum: Do Oakland Citizens Need a Public Ethics Commission?

The Public Ethics Commission (PEC) administers Oakland’s Sunshine Ordinance. What does “sunshine” mean in the affairs of our city and our rights as citizens to know what and how city government is doing? Andrew Wiener, past PEC chair, will lead off what should be a lively discussion. The League of Women Voters of Oakland sponsors monthly HOT TOPICS roundtable discussions to inform members and the public, and to seek ways we can come together to address important issues facing our community. This forum will be held from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at Redwood Heights Community Center, 3883 Aliso Avenue (Off Redwood Road below Highway 13).

Wednesday, February 24 – Missing Links Town Hall

Join The American Institute of Architects, East Bay, for a panel discussion and town hall forum discussing missing vital transportation links between Oakland and Alameda. Wine and cheese will be served after the program. Citizens of Oakland and Alameda are strongly encouraged to participate! Panelists include Patricia Kernighan, Oakland Council Member; John Knox White, Transform; Jeff Cambra, BikeAlameda Board Member; and John Eddy, ARUP. The event begins at 5:30pm and will be held at AIA East Bay Chapter Office, 1405 Clay Street, Oakland. The event is free and open to the public, but registration required. Click here to register.

Thursday, February 25 – The Worst is Yet to Come: An Economic Budget Forum

The Alameda County Budget Workgroup and its Chair, Supervisor Keith Carson, are hosting a free public forum that will examine how Alameda County finances are being squeezed by the current Federal and State Budgets and the effects on residents, community-based organizations, and service providers. This forum will be held at 9:00am at the Elihu Harris State Building Auditorium, 1500 Clay Street, Oakland. To RSVP, please visit www.acgov.org/budgetforums.htm.

Thursday, February 25 – AC Transit Community Forum on Line 1R Service and Reliability Study

The results of the Line 1R Service and Reliability Study will be presented at a community outreach forum. The study, which began in October 2008, was designed to yield data and analysis that could help improve the line’s reliability, overall efficiency, and customer satisfaction. Bus riders and members of the general public are invited to attend, hear about the study’s findings, and discuss with AC Transit planners how best to apply the results to improve the service. The forum will be held at AC Transit’s General Offices, 1600 Franklin Street in Oakland, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Read the full study at AC Transit’s website.

Thursday, February 25th – Walk Oakland Bike Oakland Meeting

Meet Michael Flocchini, AC Transit’s Education and Training Manager, at the next WOBO Member Meeting. Michael will share AC Transit’s current project to update driver training to improve bike/ped safety. We’d love to have you there, because Michael wants to learn from you – he’s interested in your constructive ideas on how buses, bikes and pedestrians can all share the road! This meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 pm at Bay Area Wilderness Training, 2301 Broadway, Suite B – enter on 23rd Street. For more info, visit WOBO’s website.

Opportunities to engage in politics this week

16 Feb

It seems like nearly every week, there are a multitude of opportunities to engage in politics so I thought I’d make this a regular blog feature. Please let me know if you have meetings or events you’d like me to include in future blog posts or any additions to this week’s post.

Tuesday, February 17th – Oakland City Council Meeting

There’s nothing that jumped out to me on this week’s agenda as particularly exciting or controversial, but I’ve been trying to get into the habit of watching council meetings and committee meetings when possible. Just turn on your TV or computer and listen to the meeting while you make dinner or relax after work. Even if you can’t watch the entire meeting, it’s a great way to get to know your council members and to understand Oakland politics. Check out my post last month about how to watch and understand City Council meetings if you need some guidance. The non-ceremonial parts of the meeting start at 7pm, and if you’d like to see the meeting in person, head to the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Thursday, February 19th – Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting

I attended my first Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meeting last month and found it fascinating. As the name suggests, the committee discusses bicycle and pedestrian issues. The BPAC is extremely inclusive – any Oakland resident who attends three consecutive meetings becomes a voting member of the committee – so if you’re interested in bike and ped issues, you should consider attending. Among other agenda items, this month the BPAC will be nominating committee officers and discussing the Bicycle & Pedestrian Facilities Program one-year plan. The BPAC will be meeting from 5:30-7:00pm in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Thursday, February 19th – A Progressive Perspective on the Economic Crisis

Back in January, I mentioned this event, but it was postponed because of the Oscar Grant protests. Council President Jane Brunner, Mayor Ron Dellums and Assembly Member Sandre Swanson are hosting a roundtable discussion titled, “A Progressive Perspective on the Economic Crisis.” This should be an interesting panel discussion, but I can’t help but think that this will be a somewhat depressing event (unless of course one of them has a miracle solution they haven’t yet shared with us). I’m particularly interested in hearing our elected officials discuss how the federal stimulus package will effect Oakland. The panel will run from 7-9pm (right after the BPAC meeting) in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

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

Dellums’s State of the City in 100 Words

27 Jan

A few years ago, in a writing class I took at the Writing Salon, we had to do an exercise of writing about something in 100 words exactly. It was one of my favorite writing exercises so I thought I’d do it again today, with Dellums’s State of the City address. It’s kind of amazing that everything Dellums said can be condensed into a hundred words:

Dellums shares lofty words from Obama, MLK, and Kennedy, but not much else. We face challenges, like the recession and crime, but we’ve made unprecedented progress. “Peddlers of doom” said we couldn’t, but we got to 803 police officers. We just need another commission to oversee police, creating transparency and trust. The federal government and state will save us – I met with important government officials who promised they would. Now if the rest of you would just get active and start doing your part. As for city staff, stop worrying about making the trains run on time and start innovating.

The next step in this exercise is to condense it down to 50 words, 25 words, 10 words, and finally 1 word. If anyone has the time and inclination, feel free to complete any part of the rest of the exercise in the comments. Or share your own hundred word version of Dellums’s speech.

For a more thorough analysis of the State of the City address, head over to A Better Oakland later today. V Smoothe took copious notes so I’m hoping she’ll post something about it. But you should be cautious when reading her writing, since she’s a “peddler of doom.”

A week full of politics, planning & transit

26 Jan

If you are interested in politics, planning, or transit, there are several events happening this week that you should consider attending. Tonight, Mayor Dellums will be giving his annual State of the City address. V Smoothe shared her predictions of what Dellums will say tonight, and last year, she wrote an incredibly thorough report of the 2008 State of the City address (if you haven’t read this, it’s long, but a must read). Last year’s event filled far past capacity, and many people were turned away so this year the speech will be broadcast at several satellite locations. You can find out info about where to watch it here.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission will be holding public hearings on its 2035 Regional Transportation Plan. If you have no idea what this plan is about, not to worry – Eric at Transbay Blog poured over the plan and picked it apart for us. Check out his analysis and then head to one of the hearings this week to tell the MTC what you like and don’t like about the plan. Though the MTC is not closely followed by Bay Area media (or activists for that matter), the decisions it makes are important and far reaching so please consider weighing in on this process. You can find some suggested talking points at TransForm’s website.

Big public hearings aren’t what you’re looking for? Then maybe the more intimate Walk Oakland Bike Oakland meeting is where you should go on Tuesday night. I went to last month’s WOBO  meeting, and though I got hit by a car after leaving the meeting, I plan to be back. WOBO works on all sorts of pedestrian and bicycle issues in Oakland and has been very successful so far. Whether you’re an expert on these issues or just interested, this meeting is right for you, and I can tell you from experience that you’ll be welcomed and will learn a lot.

Though there’s no Planning Commission meeting this Wednesday, you can still get your fill of planning and development issues by going to a community meeting held by Alta Bates. They are beginning the planning process of upgrading several buildings and building a few new structures at the Summit Campus in north Oakland. You can find the details for this meeting (and most of the events mentioned above) at my Events page.

Get out and enjoy Oakland

14 Jan

UPDATE: The economic forum tonight has been postponed due to the protest scheduled in front of City Hall for Oscar Grant. I’ll post the new date and time of the forum when it is rescheduled.

There are a lot of great events going on in Oakland in the next week. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get out and have a good time (if I could ever recover from this nasty cold).

Tonight, there are two very different options – you can check out a forum about the economy presented by several Oakland politicians or you can can watch a ballet that features fire performances. Council President Jane Brunner, Mayor Ron Dellums and Assembly Member Sandre Swanson are hosting a roundtable discussion titled, “A Progressive Perspective on the Economic Crisis.” I think I’ll stop by after work to see what insight they have to share, but I can’t help but think that this will be a somewhat depressing event (unless of course one of them has a miracle solution they haven’t yet shared with us).

If you’re looking for something more artistic and fantastical, the “Dracul: Prince of Fire” fire ballet at the Crucible might be a better option. I haven’t seen this particular production yet, but I’ve always been astounded by the Crucible’s fire arts performances. Oaklander Online checked out the dress rehearsal and “was blown away by the pyrotechnics and aerial choreography. It’s so much more than fire eating and pirouettes; it’s a cast that does double duty as dancers and acrobats.” Sounds good to me. You can catch Dracul Wednesday-Saturday nights this week – I have tickets for the Friday night show.

On Friday night, head to downtown Oakland to support local businesses, many of which were vandalized last Wednesday. Some Oaklanders at Yelp are planning to show their support by shopping, eating, and drinking at these businesses. The plans still sound a bit nebulous, but check out the Yelp page for details.

If you missed the Art Murmur earlier this month, there are two great opportunities to appreciate art this Saturday. Johansson Projects is hosting an artist’s reception for its new exhibition, Collective Compulsions: The Winter Group Show in the afternoon and early evening. When that’s over, hop on the AC Transit 1 bus down to Blow Salon in Berkeley for their new art opening. There’s unfortunately no info about it on their website, but it’s from 7pm – 10pm. The show features six talented artists, and there will be plenty of wine and beer to enjoy.

Whatever you do this week though, save some energy for the Barack n Roll inauguration party hosted by the East Bay Young Dems at Z Bar next Tuesday evening. We’ll be replaying Obama’s inaugural address, and DJs will be spinning well into the night. Arrive early, as there will be free drinks for the first 150 guests.

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.

Obama: A bit too much like Dellums for my taste…

18 Jan

On Monday night, I joined hundreds of Oakland residents to listen to Mayor Dellums’ state of the city address. I’m not going to get into the details too much here, mostly because V Smoothe already did a much more thorough job then I could ever hope to. Really, go read her analysis if you want to know the real facts behind what Dellums said on Monday.

But something clicked for me on Monday night. Watching the crowd hang on his every word, as Dellums threw out clever lines and attacked the evils of the media and crime, I finally realized why I’m worried about the possibility (maybe probability?) of Barack Obama being our president.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike Obama. I think he’s overall been a good senator (much as Dellums was a great congressman), and I’d choose him over Hillary any day, but what scares me is how he speaks and how his supporters speak about him.

Just as Dellums campaigned on making Oakland a model city, Obama is heavy on the rhetoric of hope, change, and unity. But what does this really mean, if anything? Hope alone is not going to get us anywhere, as we’ve seen in Oakland. And unity with right wing Republicans and corporate lobbyists isn’t going to get us the change we’re looking for (at least not the change I’m looking for).

But his supporters (and the media) constantly fawn over his inspirational speeches. On the night of his win in Iowa, the pundits couldn’t stop praising him, saying it was the best speech of his they’ve ever heard (it sounded to me like the same speech he gave at the DNC convention in ’04). At a progressive event here in Oakland, one of his supporters kept going on and on about how if we would all just attend an event and hear him speak, we’d  put our support behind Obama.

You know what? I’m not interested in a president who’s inspirational without being specific. And I’m certainly not going to support a candidate whom you have to see in person to be convinced about his/her message.

And on Monday night, I saw such a similar phenomenon. Before Dellums spoke, a young African-American man (sorry, I didn’t catch his name and he never explained his affiliation) got the crowd pumped by talking about “getting down to town business” and how he “hella loves Oakland”. Dellums followed, talking about setting the record straight, and saying that Oakland is and can be a model city.

I looked around me, and really, people were eating this up. I’m not going to lie – for a bit there, I was reminded of my pride for this city and was falling into the trap of equating this city pride with support for our mayor.

But all of this inspirational speaking is ultimately just talk. And I’m worried that an Obama administration would look all too similar to a Dellums administration.

So on February 5th, I’m voting for John Edwards. I don’t care if people think he can’t win. The truth is that Edwards has been shut out of the race by the media, much more than Dellums has ever suffered from. And he talks about real issues – like health care, poverty, agriculture, and labor conflicts and I believe he brings real solutions to the table. And regardless of whether he wins or not, he’s done a great job of forcing both Clinton and Obama to at least talk about the issues I care about and to keep them from swinging even further to the middle of the political spectrum.

I’m guessing there are some Obama supporters reading this so go ahead and have at me – I’d be happy to be convinced I’m wrong, especially since I’ll eventually be voting for him if he’s the nominee.

Dellums Stands Up to DEA Attacks on Medical Marijuana

21 Dec

A few weeks ago, the DEA sent letters to dozens of landlords of medical marijuana dispensaries in the Bay Area. These letters are aimed at intimidating landlords into evicting their tenants, and they understandably scared many providers in activists in the area. Instead of giving in to intimidation, advocates immediately began reaching out to Bay Area mayors to ask them to speak out against the DEA raids and support efforts in Congress to hold investigative hearings on this issue.

I’m happy to say that our own Mayor Dellums was the first to publicly voice his support for providers and to strongly question the tactics of the DEA:

As the mayor of a city that believes in compassionate care, we support Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. We are discouraged to learn of the DEA’s actions that appear to be in opposition to the will of the residents of this city. Rep. Conyers, Chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, expressed deep concern over the DEA landlord threats and other efforts to undermine California law, and committed to sharply questioning these tactics as part of the committee’s oversight efforts. I am grateful for and supportive of Rep. Conyers’ concerns.

Dellums also sent a letter to Rep. Conyers, urging him to “expeditiously hold hearings and examine this very important issue.”

In the past, I’ve expressed some concern here about the Oakland PD assisting with medical marijuana raids and have questioned whether Oaklanders would stand up for medical marijuana in the case of a DEA attack so I was pretty ecstatic to see such strong movement from the Mayor’s office.

I think Dellums’ statement is a great step towards protecting safe access to medical marijuana for Oakland patients. Hopefully other mayors will follow his lead and push our federal representatives towards standing up for patients and California voters.