Dellums Administration Answers Critics

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday June 22, 2007

In response to criticism that his administration has been relatively inactive in its first days, the office of Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums has released a report outlining its accomplishments and activities since the January inauguration. 

The document, a June 20 memo from Dellums to “the Citizens of Oakland” entitled “Six-Month Recap of Activities In The Mayor’s Office,” outlines initiatives in the areas of public safety, health, and economic development. It is posted on Dellums’ website at www.mayorrondellums.org/ home/. 

Most of the information in the report had been released earlier in announcements at the District 6 Town hall meeting in late April and the Marriott economic summit in May. 

In the area of public safety, for example, the report notes that 55 new officers have been added to the police force (including 15 recently transferred from Oakland Airport work in a trade with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department), and hiring has begun for latent fingerprint examiner positions at the Oakland crime lab after criticism over the closing of fingerprint processing in Oakland under former Mayor Jerry Brown. The report also notes the agreement with the Alameda County District Attorney to deputize “several” Oakland city attorneys for the purpose of prosecuting misdemeanor “quality of life” crimes in the criminal courts. 

The report also details a partnership with the Oakland Unified School District to provide school-based health centers in city schools. 

In economic development, the report notes the creation of the Oakland Partnership, “a public-private collaborative effort to shape a workplan for creating a vibrant economy” in Oakland, the PG&E $3 million “Green Initiative” partnership with the City of Oakland to bring jobs and job training to Oakland, and the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program committed to identifying 200 public, 500 nonprofit, and 300 private-sector jobs for Oakland youth over the summer. The report also mentions the administration’s ongoing work to clean up the city’s zoning ordinance, which had been suspended during the Jerry Brown years. 

In the area of appointments to boards and commissions, the report notes that “when [the Dellums Administration] took office in January, the Board and Commissions’ process was in total disarray. It was difficult to determine who was appointed and what their terms were. … Within three months we had the beginnings of a clean set of records and were able to commence making appointments,” including new board members to the Citizen Police Review Board, the Civil Service Board, the Public Ethics Commission and the Planning Commission. 

Meanwhile, the Dellums Administration has begun posting reports of the 41 mayoral task forces convened between September and December of last year. Two of those reports, in the areas of Economic Development and Health Care, have already been posted online, with seven others—City Government, Education & Community Learning, Housing, Public Safety, City’s Diversity, Neighborhood Organizing & Civic Participation, and Transportation—expected to be completed and posted by the end of the month. 

Allegations of a lack of activity by the Dellums Administration began surfacing in early April, when the mayor refused to answer questions raised in reporters’ stories about his accomplishments in his first 100 days of office. 

“He’s not committing himself to an arbitrary timeline,” Dellums spokesperson Karen Stevenson was quoted as saying in the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Following that article, the Chronicle published a blog that included comments from a number of Oakland citizens rating Dellums’ early performance, starting out with Nachele Jackson who wrote “Who? I haven't seen hide nor hair of the man. Jerry Brown was more visible than Mr. Dellums,” and Leslie Pahl, who added “Dellums seems to be keeping a low profile, with little or no presence to speak of. He was a very effective representative back in the day, and I voted for him every time, but he doesn’t seem to have found any traction with his new role. But maybe I just live in the wrong neighborhood.” 

The mayor’s office has remained relatively quiet in the face of the criticism. But after the Montclarion published an article by Oakland resident Amanda Acheson earlier this month that began “So, Mayor Ron Dellums, you’ve been mayor for quite a few months and I have seen NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING that you have done or proposed or even discussed that benefits Oakland,” Dellums decided to respond. In a letter entitled “Oakland Is Moving Forward” and published in the Montclarion on June 15, the mayor answered specific concerns addressed in Acheson’s letter about his salary raise, his proposed staff increase, and problems of crime in the Rockridge community where Acheson lives. 

“That was the genesis of the six-month report,” Dellums spokesperson Stevenson said. “We had wanted to do something shortly after the 100 days were completed, but we haven’t had the time. We wanted something that could be reported to Oakland citizens, as well as to be placed on the mayor’s website so that potential visitors, investors and developers could get an idea of what is happening in the city. So we expanded and rearranged the Acheson reply so that it didn’t focus so much on Rockridge, and it didn’t emphasize Oakland’s problems so much as what we are doing to try to solve them.”