I’m astounded by the ever-increasing number of hits I get on this blog from google searches on some variety of “recall dellums.” As regular readers know, I’m no fan of Dellums. I didn’t vote for him (in fact I volunteered quite a bit of my time for another candidate), and I didn’t expect much at all from him as a Mayor. Of course, after he won, I hoped I had been wrong and that he would defy my expectations. Sadly, his tenure thus far has been pretty much what I anticipated. (Of course, there’s still ample time for him to turn that around. Hope springs eternal.)
Still, I think a recall is a terrible idea and I sincerely hope that no serious movement for one gets off the ground. Offhand mentions of a Dellums recall campaign are growing increasingly common in Trib and Chronicle comments, and of course there’s the Recall Delllums website I posted about last month. And who could forget Dellums’s invitation to recall him at last week’s charter-mandated town hall?
I said to people straight up I came home to do this, 71 years of age. I’m giving it everything that I have. If that’s not enough, that’s cool. Recall me. and let me get on with my private life.
I agree that Dellums has failed to offer any constructive approaches to ameliorating Oakland’s most pressing problems. Despite what Chip Johnson says, I’m skeptical of claims that such plans are forthcoming. After all, it was over a month ago that Dellums’s website promised a complete public safety agenda would be available. The promise has long since been removed, and of course, we have seen nothing concrete from the Mayor about addressing the issue. (And no, I don’t think that an unfunded proposal to hire 25 street outreach workers counts as a concrete step.)
But as far as I’m concerned, whether or not Dellums does anything whatsoever doesn’t really matter. There is no reason the Council cannot move forward with policies addressing housing, safety, and other pressing issues facing Oakland. (Well, no reason other than their own ineptitude and apathy, but that’s really a different problem.) Leave him be, if he does decide to do something, great. If not, whatever. Ignore him.
Recalls are a sideshow. They distract attention from the serious issues at hand. The absolute last thing Oakland needs is yet another election that will eat up everyone’s time and attention. People who are unhappy with Dellums or their Councilmembers should be putting their time and energy into activities that might make Oakland a better place to live. Find a cause you care about and volunteer your time to advance it – whether that’s literacy, food security, mentoring at-risk youth, crime reduction efforts, housing, whatever. E-mail your Councilmember and tell them what you want them to prioritize. Start keeping an eye out for people who you think would be good legislators, and work at convincing them to run. When the next election rolls around, sacrifice a couple evenings a week and volunteer for the person you want to see in office. But don’t waste time or money on a recall.
Speaking of recalls…Last Tuesday was a big day for Oakland. The other Oakland, I mean. After a petition drive earlier this summer succeeded in gathering significantly more than the 59 signatures required to recall four out of five of Oakland’s City Council (including their Mayor), Oakland voters faced their fourth recall election since 1996. The effort was spearheaded by two former City Councilmembers, both of whom lost their seats in 2005′s recall, and focused on the Council’s treatment of their police chief. The Council had placed the chief on administrative leave earlier this year while he was being investigated for improprieties, a move that some in the city claimed was nothing more than a politically motivated witch hunt. Tuesday brought good news for Oakland politicians, who survived the recall by a 2 to 1 margin, although now they have to look forward to an investigation by the State Ethics Commission. In short, the town is a mess. The seemingly endless political fighting has prompted some local activists to opine that perhaps the best solution would be to simply dissolve the city.