A prescient slip of the tongue

So of course you guys probably all already heard that Dan Lindheim was confirmed unanimously by the City Council yesterday. This was totally expected, but still kind of sad, since the best anyone can come up with when talking about the choice is that basically we can’t do any better, and that nobody with any actual experience in municipal administration would ever be willing to come work in Oakland.

I find that incredibly depressing and obviously untrue (how come the Mayor was able to score such good candidates for the CEDA Director and Assistant City Administrator positions if nobody’s willing to work here?). Also, I wonder if the elected officials making such statements have taken so much as a second to think about how their defeatism sounds to potential investors in Oakland. The Council seems to have decided they’re content to let the City fall to pieces for the next two years, figuring they can just blame every problem on the Mayor being awful. The reality is that if they just sit back and give him everything he wants, they’re just as culpable for the sorry state of Oakland as he is.

Anyway, it seems like the Council wasn’t much more excited about our new City Administrator than the blogosphere, because the press release they sent out about it bizarrely doesn’t say a single nice thing about Lindheim, just that he’s allowed to fire whoever he wants.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out something that made me laugh at the Mayor’s press conference last week when he announced all his appointments. He kept talking about his reorganization of the City Administrator’s office, saying a bunch of unclear and also wrong things about the money funding all these new positions he’s creating. Anyway, in response to one of these questions about whether the staffing changes would be cost neutral or cost saving of whatever, the Mayor responded that his changes to the City Administrator’s would “result in further revenue reductions.”

53 thoughts on “A prescient slip of the tongue

  1. Michael H


    I’m not sure I understand what happened here. If like you imply much of the blogosphere, and many of the oakland residences are not happy with the nomination of Lindheim, then how come there was not more of an outcry demonstrated to the city council members regarding this nomination. I actually haven’t been following the matter very closely, but I guess I answered my own question. Hopefully, this fellow can do the job effectively. It’s a little disappointing after a nationwide search though.


  2. V Smoothe Post author

    In my experience, most people tend to take action with respect to local government only when they perceive something as having an immediate personal impact on their lives. The administrative experience of the City Administrator, no matter what the City Charter explicitly demands and how much of an impact it will have on service delivery, is an issue so far removed from daily life that it is unlikely to raise the interest of the average Oakland citizen.

  3. Chris Kidd

    Funny you should mention the so-called “nationwide search”. I’d love to see the results of said search. What’s that? The mayor won’t release it?

    Pretty much the only legit reason I’ve seen given to appoint Lindheim is that no one else wants to do the job. Now, if there was no concrete evidence of that, I would be inclined to give the city council the benefit of the doubt on the matter. After all, they are a lot closer to the situation than I am. **But this isn’t the case.** We supposedly have the results of a nationwide search, conducted over a 6 month period that spent $150,000, with real, concrete, verifiable evidence of whether or not qualified candidates would want to work for Oakland.

    It is criminal to deny the results of this report to the people of Oakland when our council members are asking us to give them the benefit of the doubt. Hey, city council: There’s no need to ask us to trust you!! The results are right there! And if the results of the report would validate the arguments they’re making, they should be clamoring for the report’s release even harder. The fact that everyone pretends it’s not there sends my imaginative conspiracy theories into hyperdrive: Maybe they just sat on the $150K as an under-the-table kickback to Bob Bobb, but he changed his mind at the last second because he didn’t want to kowtow to Cynthia Dellums? Who knows if I’m right? Since the report isn’t public record, no one can gainsay me. I’ve just as much chance of being right as our city council, seeing as neither of us have any verifiable proof out in the open.

    Relase the report, guys. For serious.

  4. Patrick

    And just how can they legally keep the results of that report a secret? I see nothing in the California Public Records Act that allows them to withhold this information from the citizen’s of Oakland.

  5. Chia

    I’m with you; show the report. We all paid for the search so show us what we paid for.
    Jane Brunner’s having a community meeting tomorrow morning at Peralta School in North Oakland. We can ask about this and other items. I hope some of you reading this will show up, 10am Alcatraz above Telegraph on south side of street.

  6. CitizenE

    V -

    Why do you believe the new Asst. City Administrator is such a great score for Oakland? From what I can see, the City is still dealing with fund deficit issues (as reported by the City’s outside auditors) created under her short time as Budget Director — her first job out of college.

    She then went to the So Cal town of Lynwood, where she secretly married the City Manager. When the Lynwood Council found out, she was spent packing after less than a year on the job. Subsequent Lynwood budgets mention the need to deal with…you guessed it….deficit fund balances. Appears she spent a short stint as interim Finance Director in Maywood, the 3rd smallest city in the LA area.

    What am I missing here?

  7. pointv

    Lindheim is the best hope Oakland has. Ms. Assistant City Administrator is a fraud. She does not have the experience nor the ability to fix Oakland finances Sounds like she is all about self……more waisted money.

  8. Carlos Plazola

    Since I spoke favorably of Mrs. Marysheva-Martinez (assistant CA) I’ll take this one. I speak purely from experience on this one.

    While working as an aide to De La Fuente, Mrs. MM was always professional, timely, and informative. We went though some challenging budget times during this period as well and she responded with thorough information and clear options for the council to balance the budget. Most important, every time I called her office with questions, her staff responded professionally and with a clear articulation of budget numbers. They were very transparent, forthcoming, and professional.

    Alex Pedersen, who was Ignacio’s budget guru at the time, worked closely with Mrs. MM and also found her to be extremely intelligent and helpful.

    In fact, my guess is that all the credit being given to the new City Administrator for his recent successes in helping find budget solutions can be attributed, at least to a great extent, to the presence of Maryanna MM as part of Robert Bobb’s consulting team.

  9. len raphael

    CE, were those fund deficits not recorded properly by the city accounting staff under MM’s supervision or were they undetected by her supervised staff? or were they recorded but the very borrowing violated legal restrictions on the use of those funds?

    or was it just a reasonable difference of opinion on how to report the items.

    are these the same interfund “borrowings” “discovered” after edgerly left?

    -len raphael

  10. pointv

    Sounds like you are in love. If you understand the city budget, then why did the City deficit funds continue to grow under her watch ? Better yet , why didn’t she fix the deficits last year? or will she really ever bother to address the deficits? It’s called pleasing Council member (staff). As long as you think things sound goood !!!!Do not rock the boat…let the other guy take the fall. It’s the oakland way.

  11. backroomdeals

    Its called being a lobbyist and hoping you get your personal agenda passed under the radar.Maybe She can arrange more back room deals for THE OBA.


  12. CitizenE

    MM was over Budget, not the finance department. The finance department recorded and reported the fund issues, as did the outside audit firm.

  13. Max Allstadt

    backroomdeals -

    Have you been reading Robert Gammon’s gossip column again? Can you point out ANY backroom deals that have been done for the OBA?

  14. V Smoothe Post author

    pointv, it’s difficult for me to respond to your comment, since it is nonsensical and you don’t seem to have the faintest idea what you’re talking about.

    Len, the fact that the City has and has had for many years multiple negative fund balances was a surprise to nobody but the Mayor. What was “discovered” after Edgerly left was that the projections used for the mid-cycle budget adjustments done in June was much more rosy than the reality, and that the General Fund would have a significant shortfall. Also, that in the last year, the City had spent most of its reserves.

  15. Victor Valerio

    It seems Oakland has everything on the right page- deficits, police brutality, oblivious mayor, and a show on pimps. Yes Oakland is on the right path to its renaissance.

    Then again, I don’t mind the show.

    I would insist how much was spent in Dellums scouting as most would demand to know- I don’t think requesting is an option for any Oaklander to ask.

    After Jerry Brown left, it seems the leadership went into a vaccuum, I am not saying Brown was the greatest mayor ever- but at least he had a vision where he wanted to be and tried to grab the reigns on the city. The key word is “tried”. I can’t really scrutinize too much on Dellums for the recent downturn on revenue, however his staff and ill-transperancy on how to go about it has not helped much either. It seems that city council isn’t able to come to a bypass on where to cut in expenses and develop reserve funds, and the mayor is solely focused on a possible exit to the DC. ( so it seems)
    If the mayor and council cannot see eye to eye in the next three months to tackle the budget and the basic functions of the city, the city itself needs an overhaul on its leadership and recapulate its goals and vision that are tangible in short term.

    Although, a benefit would be federal projects if Dellums does head back to DC, I presume.

  16. Max Allstadt

    backroom deals

    what meeting? and besides, councilmembers hold private meetings all the time.

    you referred to back room deals. plural. elaborate?

  17. backroomdeals

    A meeting of a of ceda commitee members with OBA members.If a quorum of coucilmembers hold meetings in private all the TIME without public notice why dont you elaborate. So once again Max,why would CEDA hold a private meeting with OBA? I thought you had read about it in the gossip column.

  18. Max Allstadt

    Um. What was the deal you imply happened? A few people in a room doesn’t mean a deal happened. It means a conversation happened. A deal requires a quid-pro-quo. “Backroom Deals” requires multiple quid-pro-quos.

    Tell me what those were, prove they happened, or stop making baseless accusations.

    Robert Gammon is very good at finding dots and connecting them in spurious ways. He also clearly has an agenda. He called Carlos Plazola “Oakland’s Top Lobbyist” which simply isn’t true. Oakland’s top lobbyist is a woman named Sharon Cornu who is much more powerful than Carlos and her full time job is to lobby, organize and create political power and influence. She also represents county wide interests, rather than just the interests of Oakland.

    That’s OK. Nothing wrong with it. Ms. Cornu serves her constituents and is legally entitled to do so. But let’s not confuse this with what Carlos does, which is part time, and solely in the service of Oakland-based builders, many of them small businesses.

    Gammon is so good at creating bullshit conspiracy theories that his articles about Ignacio De La Fuente duped me into voting for our incompetent mayor. He’s also good enough that when I first met Carlos Plazola, I was skeptical enough to look at the bottom of Carlos’ shoes and google the brand name. (Carlos, I appologize in advance for this one). I found his shoes online for $60. The guy lives in Fruitvale, not in Piedmont, not on a canal in Alameda, not in Orinda. The picture Gammon paints of a slick wheeler-dealer is just not accurate.

  19. Carlos Plazola

    Max, that was funny! My general rule of thumb is “If you’re paying more than $60 for a pair of shoes, then it’s time to re-prioritize your spending habits.” ;-)

    Yes, Gammon has it out for me because I don’t have a problem telling him he’s an a-hole, chicken-shit who hides behind a screen (especially when he demeans himself so much that he puts a picture of my super-sweet wife in his article…that one, I took personally). Take whatever he says about me with a grain of salt. Like everything else in life, the proof’s in the puddin’.

  20. backroomdeals

    Its very interesting Max, that You can only talk about a Robert Gammon article that I have not read.My opinions are from the public ethic commisions.Its not gossip, its a fact OBA had a meeting that was illegal.Ceda did a cure and correct.That my friend is not a baseless accusation,its on the record.

    OBA has 77 members.Over 50 % dont have Oakland addresses.
    Why would CEDA hold a private meeting with OBA?The proof is in the record .

  21. Carlos Plazola


    On February 9th, The Public Ethics Commission voted to dismiss all complaints against the OBA and its board members because, as we stated early on, the ordinance is poorly written and unclear about whether volunteers are supposed to register.

    They will now hold a special hearing to clarify the ordinance, which, as we stated early on, was going to be the natural outcome of this process. A bad ordinance is a bad ordinance, and apparently, people DO have the right to due process. Even the OBA board members ;-)

    John Klein: It turns out the 2-1 vote to dismiss all complaints against OBA and its board members passed. I checked with the city attorney’s office and they confirmed that a 2-1 vote, with one abstention, is a passing vote. (Wonder if Bob Gammon will now apologize for his slanderous attacks?)

    Backroomdeals: Your information about the OBA and our membership is inaccurate.We have over 120 members now, and growing at about 8-10 new members per month, and all of them either live or work in Oakland.

    Seventy five percent of our board members live in Oakland. The other 25% do much of their work in Oakland and employ Oakland residents. 100% of our board members are on the board, first and foremost, because they care about the future of Oakland, which is why we’re able to publicly take bold positions, even at risk to ourselves.

    In terms of how many of our general members live in Oakland–you’re not telling the truth. As long as they live, work, or employ people in Oakland, they qualify to join as members. So, unless you hired a PI to investigate every member, you have no way of knowing this statistic and are just making it up. And if you did hire a PI, you have way too much money and time on your hands, so you may want to consider joining the OBA and contributing some of either to Oakland :-)



  22. John Klein


    Interesting. However, my complaint has not been heard yet by the Ethics Commission. The complaint the PEC voted on this week concerned only the Sept. 12, 2008 MAP meeting – this is all that vote covered. The vote did not, and could not, include my complaint as my complaint has not yet come before the PEC and there isn’t even a staff report yet on it.

    But, thanks for the info.


  23. Carlos Plazola

    John, you probably should get the tape and review the motion.

    What the commissioners said in the motion was, in effect, if WE can’t even understand and agree on what the ordinance is requiring of the public relative to volunteer directors and officers, how are we supposed to investigate someone for violating this section? To do so would be a violation of their due process (the right to at least receive clear notification). Therefore, we HAVE TO dismiss all complaints against Plazola and OBA. The motion passed.


  24. Carlos Plazola

    John, to elaborate a bit more (and this is a very important public policy discussion so I think it’s fitting to post this publicly on this blog):

    The second motion, which you may be referring to, was nullified because the first motion (made by Alex Paul and seconded by Weiner) actually passed, contrary to what Weiner initially, and incorrectly, thought at the hearing. The first motion was more comprehensive and complex and recognized the following issues regarding Oakland’s lobbying ordinance and the First Amendment rights of citizens to Free Speech and to seek redress of their grievances.

    Commissioner Alex Paul, who actually teaches Ethics Courses for a living, recognized that there were two fundamental problems with your complaint: 1. there is a total lack of clarity about what the ordinance actually intends to achieve relative to volunteer directors and officers of organizations and associations, 2. there was never any notification/education to the public about this critical issue which could be an infringement on free speech.

    Commissioner Paul even clarified for everyone that the ordinance, as you are suggesting it be interpreted, would affect not only volunteer members of non-profits, but of associations. So, for example, you as a “director” (note the “d” is a small d so the definition would be broad) of CALM would be required to register as a lobbyist as well.

    In short, in my defending AGAINST you, I am actually DEFEDNING YOU and your right to free speech. This is the irony that most makes me smile. I’m defending YOUR right to free speech, AGAINST YOURSELF!

    Everyone who is a Director or Officer, or director (little “d’) of an organization or association in Oakland, whether a vice-chair of an NCPC, or Board Director of the Metro Chamber, should be paying very close attention to this. If you’re complaint had prevailed, every single one of these people would have had to register as lobbyists just for calling their elected official to get a blighted house on their block cleaned up, or a tree planted–in short, strangling democracy in Oakland. And the city would be hugely liable for violations of free speech as the ONLY REMAINING CITY IN CALIFORNIA STILL CONSIDERING REQUIRING VOLUNTEERS TO REGISTER AS LOBBYISTS–AND WITHOUT DUE PROCESS. Yikes!

    Paul understood the significance and severity of this.

    Take care


  25. Max Allstadt

    These laws are indeed poorly written.

    The simplest solution to lobbying reform is to make officials responsible for logging who they meet with, when, and what about. Sanction officials who don’t comply.

  26. Carlos Plazola

    Max, actually what you say makes a lot of sense. The intent of all of this should be that a society’s elected officials are held accountable. If so, the burden of disclosure and reporting should be on them, not us–the general public. I’m guessing this backward-ness of the current reporting system is a result of “they who make the rules, decide”.

    The end-result of what you recommend would be that there would be full disclosure by the electeds or the elected officials would face consequences, instead of putting the burden, and the punishment, on the people.

    Hhhhmmmm. Interesting.

  27. John Klein


    The complaint heard and voted on by the Ethics Commission this week was complaint number 08-12. My complaint is number 08-20, a separate complaint, was not on the agenda; nor has a Staff Report be produced for it. It is not possible for the PEC to have taken action on my complaint in that it was not on the agenda before them. Granted, the issues are related but the PEC is required to hear my complaint separately.


  28. Carlos Plazola

    John, On Tuesday I’ll go to city hall and listen to the tape and take down the motion verbatim and send it to you. The way I remember it, however, was that the motion was to dismiss ALL complaints alleging lobbying by volunteers, including your # 08-20, and to not hear additional complaints on the item until a clarifying hearing could be held to clarify the issue, because:

    * The instructional guidelines are inconsistent with the ordinance on the issue of volunteers.
    * The ordinance itself was confusing and overly broad on this issue
    * Oakland is the only city still considering having volunteers register as lobbyists. Even San Jose’s, on which Oakland’s was originally based, has since changed theirs to exclude volunteers.
    * The commissioners themselves couldn’t agree what the ordinance was saying on this issue, making it pretty much impossible to win in court on an enforcement action, since due process requires clarity.

    But since I think we may be wearing out our welcome debating this issue on this forum, I’ll send you the verbatim motion on Tuesday to your personal email, and I’ll include my cell number in case you want to call me and discuss.


  29. backroomdeals

    While you are reviewing the tape.I will be calling the state contactors license board for you hosting unlicensed contractors on your OBA site..By the way Terra Linda development is a business name that you have to file with the county.Correct?Did you forget that?
    Tomorrow I will follow up with OBA non-filing

  30. Carlos Plazola

    Backroomdeals: Good luck with that, but don’t let your spite ruin your day.

    And to all wondering “what the hell is going on with these folks going after the OBA?”

    Simple, the OBA is working to bring balance to this city, the balance this city needs to find real solutions instead of being run by entrenched idealogues. We’re pushing back against bad ideas and bad leaders. And we’re promoting job growth, smart growth, and economic growth, because we understand that to find real solutions to crime, to improve the quality of life for everyone, and to re-build some of Oakland’s most depressed neighborhoods, we need economic growth in this city to re-build our budget in the long term.

    We’re advocating boldly and without apology. We’re Oakland’s building community–from the blue collar plumber, to the experienced architect. And we’re not going anywhere despite petty attempts by petty people.

    On the other hand, we welcome engaging in debate with those who may not agree with us all the time, which is why we supported Rebecca Kaplan for at-large council, and why we’re meeting and debating with groups like OCO, Central Labor Council, Carpenter’s Union, and Urban Strategies Council. Oakland is at a point where different interests must engage, debate, and find compromise policies that are based on sound reasoning. We’re committed to this.


    Carlos Plazola

  31. Carlos Plazola

    By the way, last December, the Oakland Builders Alliance board created a new category of membership called the “Smart Growth Advocate” which is for anyone not in the building trades or professions interested in promoting smart growth principles in Oakland…think SPUR, but for Oakland. It is $50 per year to join. We are developing a newsletter focused on smart growth efforts locally and around the world. We’ll also be sponsoring forums and mixers where we’ll feature leading thinkers in New Urbanism and Smart Growth, as speakers.

    Some of our members are actually builders, architects, and planners who are local leaders in the smart growth and New Urbanism movements.

    To learn more, go to http://www.oaklandbuilders.net

  32. Max Allstadt

    Do you not see the irony of anonymously bitching about secrecy?

    Every faction in Oakland politics has conversations onstage, backstage and in deep secrecy. Every faction builds alliances in any way that works to get their issues dealt with.

    What nobody ever mentions, though, is that you don’t need money or power to get a backstage pass. Over the past year, I’ve become privy to many private conversations with influential Oaklanders. And all I ever did to accomplish this was to blog under my own name and introduce myself to people. I haven’t got money or power, and I own five pairs of shoes, more than half of which are pretty worn out.

    What exactly was the intent of posting your original accusation? Do you want more transparency in government overall, or were you just making a gratuitous jab at Carlos and the OBA? If you want change, talking shit while hiding behind a pseudonym will get you nowhere.

    If you want change, propose reforms and advocate for them. And while your at it, tell your Councilmembers to learn how to write an ethics ordinance that isn’t so weak and overly broad that it can’t stand up to it’s very first challenge.

  33. Max Allstadt


    what the hell are you talking about? who are you accusing of breaking state law, and what state law?

    and I really love how you’re ignoring the most direct questions I’ve asked you. I’ll ask them again, numbered for clarity:

    1: What “Back room deal” happened. Not “what meeting.” What deal?

    2: Do you or do you not feel like a hypocrite for accusing Councilmembers, CEDA staffers and OBA members of being secretive while you yourself hide behind a pseudonym?

    3: What state laws do you believe are being broken, and by whom? Statutes and names of violators, please.

  34. backroomdeals

    I dont need to talk shit,OBA violated the law.All contractors must list license #.with advertising.

  35. V Smoothe Post author

    backroomdeals, your bizarre vendetta against the OBA is growing tiresome. If you have something substantiated or on-topic to say, feel free to continue commenting. But if you can’t think of anything to contribute beyond unclear and unproven accusations of general shadiness, I urge you to find another venue to vent your complaints.

  36. V Smoothe Post author

    Nobody has any idea what you’re talking about. If you’re confident that the OBA is violating State law in some way you can’t seem to explain, I suggest you inform the appropriate authorities instead of spamming my blog.

  37. Max Allstadt

    Backroom Deals:

    No answer for question 1. No answer for question 2. Your answer for question 3 requires that a list of members be legally considered an advertisement.

    Actually, V, as annoying as this guy is, I’m all for letting him stick around for a while so he can continue to look like a coward for not identifying himself, and like an ass for repeatedly dodging questions he has no viable answer to.

  38. Izzy Ort


    3: What state laws do you believe are being broken, and by whom? Statutes and names of violators, please.

    Backroom Deals: State law requires all contractors to list license #

    I don’t buy it.

    Bus. & Prof. Code 7030.5 requires contractors to list their license number in various places such as on business cards, contracts and trucks. 7030.5(c) requires contractors to have their license number on all “advertising”, and gives the CSLB the authority to define ‘advertising”.

    Which they do under California Code of Regulations, which chapter I don’t know, but under a Section 861 which states:

    California Code of Regulations

    861. Advertising Defined. As used in section 7030.5 of the Code, the term
    advertising includes but is not limited to the following: any card, contract
    proposal, sign, billboard, lettering on vehicles operating in this state, brochure,
    pamphlet, circular, newspaper magazine, airwave or any electronic transmission
    and any form of directory under any listing denoting “contractor” or any word or
    words of similar import or meaning requesting any work for which a license is
    required by the Contractors License Law.

    The only place I found any names of contractors on the OBA site was under its “list of members”. The members include persons and entitites that are clearly not contractors, such as banks and architects.

    The only proscription under 7030(c) that’s remotely related to this list of members is a “listing denoting “contractor” or any word or words of similar import or meaning requesting any work for which a license is required by the Contractors License Law.” But the list of members is not such a listing. Perhaps the list of members is also in some way an “electronic transmission”, but that’s really picking the flyshit out of the pepper.

    Nor do a buy backroomdeals’ claim that Terra Linda Development must register its name with the county.

    Anyone in two minutes can confirm that Terra Linda Development is an active California corporation, by checking the Secretary of State’s California Business Portal website.

    A corporation doing business under its own name does not have to register its name with “the county”, or any county, in order to do business under its own name. It is only when the corporation is doing business under a different name that the registration is needed. This is clear from the fictitious business name statutes.

    If you know differently, backroomdeals, I’m all ears.

  39. Max Allstadt

    Wow, izzy. thanks for the factuals. I wasn’t really counting on this going that far, but I appreciate it.

    I am trying not to laugh here… but man, when someone says a bunch of dumb stuff immediately after I say I intend to goad him into saying dumb stuff…

  40. KenO

    (I emailed them to ask them for the report on Dellums’ CEDA DIrector search results, and to vote against Lindheim’s nomination.)