As if the robbers were gainfully employed in real estate until a few months ago

So Oakland is currently dealing with another string of restaurant robberies, ten in the last couple weeks. Just like last time, I’m starting to hear people talking about being afraid to go out for dinner in Oakland. Restaurant employees are afraid when they go to work. It’s awful. And who does Mayor Ron Dellums sympathize with in this situation? Well, the robbers, of course. Go listen to him say, on KCBS:

When you think about the desperation and the daring of these types of kinds of crimes, it speaks to the broader issue of where we are in terms of this economy. When people become this desperate, then you realize that times are very troubled.

OMG, you can’t blame every damn thing on the economy! This is happening in Oakland, and not in Albany or San Leandro or Hayward, for a reason. It happens here because Oakland’s police department is ineffective and unresponsive, and our district attorney in uninterested. People don’t rob restaurants in Oakland because of the economy, they rob restaurants here because they can.

Don’t worry, though. The Mayor is on the case. He’s going to have a “comprehensive response” soon. Let’s hope this plan materializes more swiftly than the “comprehensive affordable housing plan” that he delivered to the Council five months after he had promised it would be ready “soon” or his “complete public safety agenda”, which, as far as I can tell, never ended up being written at all.

I’m not the only blogger feeling particularly frustrated with Dellums today. Check out East Bay Conservative’s Mr. Dellums, have you left no sense of decency? Thank goodness we have Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor to remind us that despite a year and a half of completely ineffective and misguided leadership, everyone still loves Dellums.

29 thoughts on “As if the robbers were gainfully employed in real estate until a few months ago

  1. Deckin

    I’m pretty much past the point of outrage at St. Sleepy. He’s so much worse than I expected that my outrage gland has already been maxed out. I guess just numb to it is where I’m at right now. But you’ve got to love JDAT still spinning away. Wow, Dellums visited four whole parties! In neighborhoods where he carried 80%+ of the vote and what a shock, people there still like him. Of course the visits to parties in other areas were cancelled without any explanation, but far be it for JDAT to raise a cynical eyebrow at Our Lord and Savior proving again he’s only comfortable where he’s worshipped. It’s hunker down time–watch the clock, watch your back wait for Jan 1, 2011.

    Anyone taking bets he pulls his old Yeltsin resignation trick ahead of time?

  2. Moschops

    Exactly, you wouldn’t see this s**t go down in Alameda and go unsolved for very long at all.

    After watching the latest Bat Man movie with its crime wave in Gotham City I have a new name from Oakland – “O-tham City” and shocker we seem to be headed up by Mayor Do-nuthin’ Dellums. The only problem with this conjecture is who’s the Bat Man? (or woman)

  3. oakie

    I noticed earlier this week another story (maybe Channel 5) that framed the run-up of takeover robberies by a Serious man talking about a Scientific Study Proving that bad economies cause increased crime. Of course they did not mention this statistic about Oakland: between 2000 and 2006 the percentage of population below the poverty line when down by 6% while crime went up by 50%. But that wouldn’t follow the meme.

    It should be clear to people paying attention that what is really happening is that the bad guys have come to realize how uninterested the citizens of our city are in putting a stop to the level of crime and that our public safety net is so weak now that they will not get caught. The bad guys are not stupid, and they are logically evaluating their chances of getting caught. And they act based on those judgments. And, of course, when they see stories about how crime is because of the economy, and now Mayor Sleepy opens his mouth and reinforces this frame, we get the results we get.

    Compare this to New York, where the people got fed up with crime in 1994, made it clear to the political system that they wanted something done about it, and within 4 years of that change crime was down 40%. And they didn’t stop pushing, either, and now their crime rate is 80% lower than when this remarkable change happened, and now the state prison guards are litterally worried about losing their jobs. And no one hear seems to be interested in what they did and how we can do it. Talk to a New Yorker who lived there over those early years.

  4. oakie

    I just Ron Oz’s white papers and actually, between 2000 and 2006, crime increased 51% and the number of individuals living under the poverty line went down by 8.5%. Now explain that Mr. Serious (Social) Science who can stand before the TV cameras! Oh, and a sleepy mayor who reinforces the meme.

  5. mark

    At least the mayor was in town and responded to the crime wave. Better this than have him completely ignore the situation, which has become his MO. Unfortunately, the crime situation will only get worse as the cities budget crisis gets worse. Hopefully, this will force the city to deal with its employees and unions.

    Oakland is going in the wrong direction. This will not end well.

  6. Doug Boxer

    I know it’s not the Mayor’s style but he should be headed out to dinner in Oakland every night for the next two weeks and ask the media to tag along. Pick a different neighborhood each night. Don’t bring along a huge police presence but just he security detail that can sit in the back of the venue.

  7. Doug Boxer

    And hey V, a bit off topic, but I know you blogged on the Zoning Update Committee’s hearings on the downtown zoning.

    Just an FYI to you and your readers — on August 18, the ZUC will conduct a “walking tour” of a part of the downtown area to see how proposed zoning might actual impact the area. (link to agenda)

    Anyone interested should attend. That will be followed by a hearing on Aug 20 on the proposals.

  8. V Smoothe Post author

    Perhaps the Mayor should eat out at Oakland restaurants the same way everyone else who lives here does – with no media, no police, and no security detail.

  9. Rebecca Kaplan

    Compiling a list of problems to solve related to crime in Oakland:

    This wave of robberies highlights some real changes Oakland needs to make in how we are dealing with crime and policing. Some specific solutions (or specific problems in need of specific solutions), that I have identified in my conversations and research thus far include:

    1) OPD does not currently have access to a functioning jail in Oakland. As a result, if they want to take a suspect to jail, they have to waste time schlepping to a distant County site. If the Officer chooses to do this, it means less time spent patrolling the streets of Oakland. Often, it has been reported to me, they may just decide it is not worthwhile to take someone in. This impedes our actual ability to fight crime, solve crimes, and prosecute offenders. It also creates a “reputation” problem, which probably encourages more people to think they can get away with crime in Oakland.

    2) OPD does not currently have enough evidence technicians. As a result, there are not enough people to gather and/or analyze evidence. This means crimes are less likely to be solved, and offenders are less likely to be prosecuted (if they are prosecuted, the prosecution is less likely to succeed). Reducing crime in Oakland requires improving our capacity for evidence gathering and analysis.

    3) It appears that something bad is going on in terms of the relationship with the Alameda County District Attorney and City of Oakland. With crimes in Oakland not being prosecuted sufficiently. If elected, I will use my role to meet with the D.A. and leaders within OPD, and others who have been involved, to identify in more detail where things are not working, so we can improve this. (For example, is the DA unhappy trying to prosecute Oakland cases because OPD doesn’t have enough evidence gathering capacity? What else could be done to improve this situation?)

    4) I believe that in order to prevent crime (not just be able to solve/prosecute after the fact) we do need more visible police officers who are assigned to a specific beat, and walk a specific area, getting to know it more fully, and being seen by anybody who might be looking for a “crime of opportunity.” This approach is sometimes called “community policing” – but, no matter what we call it, the goal of regularly having police officers visibly walking a beat, being out in public not only in response to a call, is important to crime prevention. This type of visible, “prevention policing” will also help with the “reputation” problem. Seeing police officers present in public regularly will help remove the image that Oakland is an “easy mark.”

    In terms of long-term efforts to build a healthier society with less crime, it is also true that job programs and related efforts are important. I am focusing on policing issues not because they are the only part of crime prevention, but because that is the area urgently in need.

    For example, Measure Y (which passed in 2004) included funding for both prevention programs and more police. For a few years now, the prevention programs have been funded, but the promised extra police have not shown up yet. Even though I also support other kinds of programs to prevent crime, I recognize that policing is an essential part of a ‘comprehensive’ vision, and policing is the component of it which has arguably been the most “behind ” — and thus, most urgently in need of immediate attention.

  10. dto510

    Rebeccca – thanks for your willingness to articulate substantive ideas and identify problems, even though most campaign consultants would say that you should stay off of blogs. But I do think you’ve been misled by the city employees’ propaganda, on #1: there is a jail in downtown Oakland, right next to the old city jail, that Oakland would be able to use if it weren’t for the city’s rules against “outsourcing:” we’re not allowed to collaborate with outside agencies, so that’s why we’re not using the County jail to the fullest. I am told that OPD does use the County’s facility and doesn’t drive everyone to Santa Rita. The problem is with the city’s rules that protect the employees, not with the lack of facilities.

  11. dto510

    Mr. Boxer, unfortunately many downtown residents will be unable to attend the walking tour because it’s at the same time as the Old Oakland Neighbors’ meeting, downtown’s only regular gathering of residents and merchants. It is frustrating to those who actually live downtown that the ZUC process continues to favor people who don’t actually live in the affected area – from CBD meetings in Adam’s Point to conflicts with downtown neighborhood meetings, public input appears to be stacked against residents and to favor out-of-downtown activists who hate highrises and don’t share downtowners’ goals for residential, job and retail growth.

  12. John

    Mr. Boxer: thanks for the post and the info on the walking tour; it is a great way to publicized the CBD rezoning process – I’ll be there. So many people have criticized the outreach, or lack of, for the rezoning process. I dare say that the Old Oakland Neighbors group could hardly do themselves a bigger favor than finding a way to attend the ZUC walking tour – especially since it is “their” neighborhood.

  13. dto510

    It is outrageous to ask neighborhood groups to cancel their long-standing meetings because planning staff is too disrespectful to include actual DTO residents. On August 18, Old Oakland Neighbors will be discussing renovations to Jefferson Park with city staff, crime-prevention strategies with the police, and ways to continue our quest for a Community Benefit District (which has been set back because the slowdown in condo construction limits our ability to raise revenue). The meeting was noticed and agendized far ahead of time. I know that people who don’t live downtown and don’t care about renovating downtown parks think that bickering over building height is a good use of time, but residents who are actively involved in creating a better downtown should not be left out of ZUC meetings in favor of out-of-downtown anti-development activists.

  14. Doug Boxer

    DTO, you should know that Planning Staff proposed a series of dates for the walking tour. Given the schedules of the Commissioners it just turned out that Aug 18 was the day that worked best for all of us. Certainly, this wasn’t intentional by staff. That date has been publicly noticed and all three ZUC Commissioners are available that day.

    If you feel that you or others have not had an opportunity to discuss the CBD zoning update issues with me (and I think I know your identity so I think you have expressed your opinion at various meetings — if I’m wrong then I apologize), please feel free to email me at and I will make time to visit with you and/or anyone else you’d like to include.

    The process is not perfect but I think we do our best to give everyone an opportunity to be heard — we have held at least three ZUC meetings on this issue already and will hold two more this month.

  15. Max Allstadt

    These people aren’t desperate. They’re assholes. Teens and late teens who are in no danger of starvation, robbing for the thrill of it. Robbing to buy stuff usually reserved for disposable income.

    Still, there is some relevance to Dellums thoughts if you just alter them to account for my correction above.

    Here is my revision of the quote:

    When you think about the assholery and the daring of these types of kinds of crimes, it speaks to the broader issue of where we are in terms of tour priorities. When people become such total assholes, then you realize that times are very troubled.

  16. Moschops

    Exactly V – if Peralta can drive in the ‘hood and get car jacked like the rest of us (might) then why shouldn’t the Mayor risk a restaurant robbery like the rest of us.

  17. avis

    Unfortunately over the many years I have lived in Oakland I have come to see that Oakland is run by the criminals, for the criminals. The rest of us are just P-R-E-Y.

  18. Jonathan C. Breault

    Mayor Ron Dellums patronizing minimizing of the crime epidemic is typical. Forever on message, no matter how convoluted, illogical, and fanciful to point of surreal, Dellums clings to his archaic prattling about criminals being victims of societal injustice. “It is the economy, stupid” says this cipher. I hate listening to this man. He is a disgrace and his unbelievably ill conceived, repetitious nonsense is insulting to any thinking person; especially those who reside in Oakland and whose misfortune it is to be directly affected by Dellums mind boggling ineptitude and stupefyingly ignorant remarks. I cannot conceive of how anyone could be less engaged, more out of touch and ineffectual than Dellums. His comments make me sick. If ever a Mayor deserved to be recalled for the crime of abject incompetence it is this awful Mayor Ron Dellums. Many cities that are healthy and vibrant can tolerate such a buffoon but Oakland is not such a place.

  19. Max Allstadt

    Did anybody notice that the first wave of robberies this summer was liquor stores and restaurants?

    Now it’s just restaurants.

    Does anybody remember any details about the liquor store robberies that might shed some light on why they don’t seem to have been repeated as much?

  20. Born in Oakland

    Two of the liquor store counter people pulled guns out and shot the robbers. One of those happened in my neighborhood.

  21. Max Allstadt


    people don’t go on restaurant takeover robbery sprees in places like Texas because the sprees don’t last very long.

  22. Brian

    There was an article in the Wall Street Journal last week about how Richmond, VA has decreased their gun violence by prosecuting even minor gun crimes. It made me wonder whether anyone in our city government looks into how other cities deal with similar problems.

    Check it out:

    If I were Dellums, Iā€™d be on a plane to VA tomorrow.

  23. Max Allstadt

    Brian, do you mean to tell me that we don’t prosecute illegal gun possession rigorously here? Anybody at the DA’s office or OPD reading? now’s the time to chime in anonymously and tell us what the sentences average for someone in Oakland who carries illegally in public…

  24. Farrah

    I agree that this isn’t just about the economy. However, I don’t think that it all can be chopped up to the failings of the City or the police. Of course we need better city leadership and better response to crime but we need to also be looking at why people commit crime.

    Since I’m African American and have lived in another major city with a large African American community, I can compare the two. I’m from Detroit which is also known for having issues with crime. A big difference is that there is more support from within the community and in general for African American children and culture. It’s not that there weren’t any single parents or povery, but there were better role models and a better image in general of African Americans, particularly of men. I don’t feel the same thing here and it makes me sad. In this place that is supposed to be so liberal, I hear horrible things about African Americans, particularly young Black men. For this reason, I don’t think poor young African American kids in Oakland generally grow up with a positive self image. Gangs only exacerbate the issue.

    This is in contrast to the support and love that you see for other cultures here. People of all races attend the Chinese New Year parade and Carnaval. People love to celebrate Day of the Dead, you’ll hardly see anyone who isn’t African American at Juneteenth festivals.

    So regardless of the economy (which is suffering), you still have undereducated and underemployed poor and largely of color kids with a sense of hopelessness. I think that this is the reason for a lot of the crime.

  25. Steve Lowe

    I wonder whether this blog is having any effect, since the respondents seem to be but a handful of folks, mostly those who still feel that Ignacio or Sean should have been elected, when in fact their solutions for Oakland’s huge problems had little to offer.

    Ron’s belief in democracy ā€“ unique among American politicians, it seems ā€“ resulted in the Task Force process, plumbing the depth of Oakland’s pools of expertise and arriving at solutions that were, warts and all, a whole lot better than the top-down process of yore that has brought its citizens the Oakland of today.

    Happy that, all during his stay here, Jerry refused to talk with the A’s about staying on in Oakland? Or that the august President of the Council was unable to get Jerry to the table in spite of his supposedly superior effectiveness at rolling up his sleeves? Happy that the CED Committee can gut any group or individual who crosses it? Happy that undercutting the Mayor’s programs so that some future candidate can be Mayor maybe, come 2011? That seems to be what most in this blog really support, as opposed to sitting down and coming up with something that has a chance of working for everyone.

    Let’s just take the Oakland Commerce Corporation for instance: little or no complaints noted on this blog about CED’s wish to destroy Oakland’s only business retention service. If you don’t believe it, somebody please show evidence of another such service contracted to help with such a needed, indeed essential effort (and while you’re at it, count up the businesses besides the A’s which have left the city over the last decade because there was zero response from the Council, our former Mayor, CEDA staff, etc., a momentum that is coming to a halt under this Mayor).

    Sanjiv’s comments in front of Council as to exactly why OCC was being punished were right on: it’s personal between those on Council who support their pet projects and those who stood up for the Industrial Land Use Policy worked out by the Zoning Update Committee, considered by most folks to be a victory of this administration after almost eight years of being cloakroomed by the previous administration.

    This time next year, earthquakes notwithstanding (and even that will be blamed on Ron), everyone on this blog, guaranteed, will be rooting for Mayor Dellums, with the probable exception of Breault. My guess is that you’ll be cheering louder if you give something positive in terms of constructive policy or projects to present to your city instead of carping because your guy didn’t get even close to a majority of votes.


    – S

    [With respect to Farrah's comments, who is working on the issues she addresses? Oh, that's right, Dellums' Education Task Force.]

  26. dto510

    Steve, many people are working on little ways to make Oakland better, despite what you seem to think, and we get frustrated when those who could bring great change don’t do anything at all to help. I cannot imagine how a year from now Dellums is going to have accomplished anything to make this blog’s readers appreciative.

    I thought Farrah’s comment raised some interesting issues, and you asserting that the Education Task Force is already addressing them just highlights this mayor’s failures. What are these “programs” and “solutions” from Dellums and the task forces that you accuse critics of “undercutting”? How will they be implemented, and when? Are the task forces having ongoing meetings (I hear they are not), and how are these mysterious meetings democratic?

    It’s been more than two years since the mayor was elected, and it’s time to put up or shut up. Complaining about the last years of Jerry Brown is tired: it’s past time for Mayor Dellums to deliver on his promises and responsibilities.

  27. Max Allstadt


    The people who’ve commented on this blog recently include:

    Kerry Hamill, Rebecca Kaplan, Doug Boxer, Phil Tagami, Pat Kernighan, and a number of others far more important than you or I are to the workings of this town. Some anonymous posters are known to me from various social encounters, and a few of them are rather important too. There are also, I understand, a huge amount of people who read this blog but don’t comment. One person from CED once phoned me withing minutes of a post I wrote about planning.

    There is certainly an ebb an flow to the relevance of this website, but it seems to coincide with seasonal politics and the amount of activity in the news.

  28. Max Allstadt

    I also think that Farrah is raising some very interesting issues. I remember discussing some of these with Greg Hodge at one point during the campaign. In that case it was about white and black artists and musicians of my generation being very isolated from eachother.

    The fact that non-blacks in Oakland are disengaged with black culture is depressing. It’s really depressing in my generation of white artist/bohemian types. We’re insular and incestuous. But this is also a part of the ongoing fragmentation of subcultures in America. The melting pot is now an hors d’ouvre platter. Lame.

  29. len raphael

    steve lowe makes a good point that i’d carry further: that us wannabe reformers are a bunch of losers at the polls, and haven’t learned diddly from our june 2 defeat.

    as an interim tactic, yes in the nihilist tradition, we should go back to our neighborhood blogs and talk up the kids first ballot measure. i’d rather see our money spent on ineffective ngo programs for kids than for city employees and especially managers. might even have the salutory effect of forcing our chicken little city council to act in concert to oppose it.