31 thoughts on “Edgerly on paid administrative leave

  1. Colin

    Okay. I give up.

    V, your argument against a recall was that Dellums was ineffective, but benign. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that that is no longer a valid argument.

    Is there any reason that you can come up with against it – other than Don getting the job? I can see a lot of reasons for it, not the least of which are:
    * He’s got another 2+ years in this term, which I’d rather not see wasted;
    * It’s not going to get better with him in charge, and he seems eager to make it worse;
    * Nobody has any faith in him, which makes it harder to get things done

    I’m now solidly in the recall column, my self.

  2. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    I must admit that as of Tuesday I was again thinking recall would be a good idea. Because now he is doing damage. Putting her on administrative leave today is an improvement – better late than never? But I don’t know. At some point we need to seek improvement. Can we wait another two years? Some districts already have to wait four.

    If only 19K signatures are needed, it seems that it wouldn’t be so difficult. But would we end up with something worse?

  3. V Smoothe Post author

    Edgerly out is good. But Lindheim replacing her, while predictable ad unsurprising, reflects incredibly poor judgment.

  4. Chris Kidd

    Dr. No is the new admin?

    Great, are we going just stop funding departments because “he doesn’t feel like it”? If he is to city administration what he was to project development, we’re going to have city lockdown before August.

  5. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Okay, now I’m leaning towards recalling Dellums. After reading more about Lindheim and specifically his behavior at the CED meeting, I’m more convinced that we need Dellums out sooner rather than later. With Edgerly out we’ve gone from bad to just as bad if not worse. (imho)

  6. californio

    I just finished listening to the entirety of Michael Krasny’s Forum program, and, my God, the situation with Dellums and his lying minions seems much worse than it did before.

    I and others on SF Gate have been asking Chip Johnson to run for mayor for a year or so now. No, he’s not a politician, but given Oakland, maybe that’s a good thing. He’s new, he’s strong, he’s sharp, he’s relatively visible, he doesn’t mince words, and he obviously cares about the city he lives in. He’s the only answer I can come up with to the “Who else is there?” refrain.

    The only reason I see not to recall Dellums is that if there were an interim election for a new mayor (is that what would happen? Or?) the time pressure would favor the most visible candidates, in other words, people we already know and know we don’t want.

    If any of you are in a good mood, don’t spoil it by listening to the Forum program.

  7. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Thanks for the warning Californio! I was going to listen this afternoon, but today’s my day off and I’m going to bake instead. I’ll listen tomorrow while I’m at work. ;)

  8. Chris Kidd

    Well there’s always DLF for mayor. It might be a developer’s playground, but at least work would get done.

    Chip could work. The only thing that worries me about a political outsider is their not knowing the byzantine procedures and inner-workings of the civic buraeucracy. Maybe he should ask V to be his chief aide. I’d vote for that.

  9. californio

    V, you listening?

    Next election, Oakland voters are going to listen to the appeal of the outsider, the Obama of the East Bay, and in that sense maybe Dellums is doing us a favor. The question is, Who are the competent outsiders? Chip Johnson is the only name I can come up with. And maybe this lady with the V Cool name.

  10. masb

    Ordinarily I feel that recalls are a waste of time and money, however, there are times when they seem to be the only solution. I am beginning to think that there is somewhat of an emergency going on in the Oakland City gov’t. I had hoped that the last election would go some way toward fixing problems but, alas, we all know what happened there. I think Dellums needs to go before his term is up. He’s not only ineffective he is dangerous.

  11. hedera

    I’m more and more strongly in the recall column, especially after reading the (new to me) report of Mr. Lindheim’s responses to the council. A response like that would have gotten me fired in any job I’ve ever had, and I don’t see why it’s getting him a promotion.

  12. oakie

    Welcome to those finally seeing a recall as suitable for our city. If someone would get a recall document (petition?) to pass legal muster, I’m ready to start collecting 19,000 or 40,000 signatures. Guess what: it ain’t going to be that hard.

  13. VivekB

    I used to own recalldellums.com, but gave it up after I realized I couldn’t think of a more qualified replacement. Dellums is a do-nothing guy, but i’m more afraid of some of the mega-liberal and mega-stupid City Council or other folks getting in charge. They’d turbocharge Oakland’s descent into chaos, and the criminals would get hugs and love because the guilty liberal would feel that implementing law & order would be too discriminatory.

  14. Max Allstadt


    Here are three people who’d be qualified replacements. I say this based mainly on how practical and real they’ve come across in a few conversations I’ve seen, and based on their lack of enemies and lack of general baggage:

    Phil Tagami – I love Tagamivision! If they sold Tagamivisions at best buy I’d get one!

    Pat Kernighan – Smart. Full-time public servant. Least baggage of anybody on the council. Least combative. Smoking ban shmokingban.

    John Russo – The Zenni Abraham interview (that none of you watched) was what won me over. Smart cookie. He’s like Eliot Spitzer with charisma, no hookers, a sense of humor and… Ok, come to think of it he’s nothing like Eliot Spitzer. Chris, where the hell did you get that idea anyway?

    Now I fail to see the point of a recall at the moment, especially when we’re looking at less than two years at stake. Still, I hope all three of these folks seriously consider running.

  15. OP

    Congrats V! Thi is probably old news, but I just picked up the East Bay Express and saw you got the Readers’ vote for best local blog, with a nice quote by Sean Sullivan no less! I’ve never even heard of the Express’ choice…

  16. Robert

    I think we are actrually slightly over tow years left of Dellums. And while I don’t want to lose Pat Kernighan as my councilmember, I guess it would be OK in the big scheme if she became mayor.

  17. GilbertTucker

    I used to work with the City and know the structural problems well in terms of nepotism and the like. I don’t know Lindheim, but in terms of the report he didn’t turn in, I have total sympathy. The way the report writing structure is laid out, each report has to go through about 5 layers of review AFTER it leaves your department (which takes awhile for the big boss to finally approve it.) Then, the Finance People need to see it for a week to clear it for financial impacts, the City Attorney’s office almost always has to see it for a few days, then the City Administrators office wants to see it for at least a week before DE signs it and THEN it needs to go to printing, which takes a few days and then the packet needs to go out two weeks before the hearing date. So, this means a report needs to be totally done by the staff member at least six to eight weeks before the meeting. I say Bravo to Lindheim for taking the heat about the report, rather than let whatever minion who had to write it twist in the wind, which is what usually happens. If you want a thoughtful report, complete with analysis and graphs, etc., it takes more than a day or two to complete. Often Council wants a report in a time frame physically impossible to produce because it would have required submission to the various levels of review weeks before they asked for it— and no department head speaks up at Rules committee. So if someone wants a report in two months at Rules Committee — that means the staff member has less than a few days to write the report. If it languishes on one of the many reviewer’s desks and doesn’t get to the printer on time — no report.

    Oh — and any investigation into Edgerly’s hiring practices needs to go back to when she was appointed because thats when the gravy train started and it needs to include Cheryl Thompson as all her relatives and friends are on the payroll, too.

  18. V Smoothe Post author

    Gilbert –

    I can’t really see how a single one of those complaints applies to this situation. First of all, Lindheim, as CEDA director, is entirely responsible for this report and it was about performance, not an action item, so the layers of review you use as an example don’t apply in this case. Additionally, he was very clear in the meeting that the delay had nothing to do with review time – he said that he hadn’t even begun writing it, or even begun looking at the information. The report was requested at Rules in March, three months ago. When Jane Brunner told him he had two staff members who are trained at doing exactly this, and asked why didn’t he give it to one of them, he just shrugged. Then, when the Committee directed him to return with a report in September, he basically said he wouldn’t do it by then either.

    There is simply no excusing his behavior.

  19. VivekB

    Don’t get me wrong – i’m not condoning Lindheim’s behavior. But seriously, have you seen our City Council? They haven’t added value in a long time and god knows they’ve got no real power, nor do they inspire enough confidence for me to want to give them any more, so I can’t say that I’d behave much differently if I was being raked over the coals by them.

  20. Max Allstadt

    I am growing more and more appalled as I learn about how much power is vested in the office of City Administrator. No one should have that much power and that little accountability.

    I’m with V- charter reform now.

  21. Chris Kidd

    Just imagine, Max: Before the strong mayor initiative, the city manager had even MORE power than they do now. Not that the strong mayor initiative has turned out gangbusters or anything…

    Now imagine what a driven, competent, fair, moral, intelligent person could do as city administrator. The first strike against deborah should have been the fact that she had to be persuaded to take the city administrator position. We should have only brought in someone who had a burning passion for the job.

  22. len raphael

    a recall campaign personalizes the problem and diverts attention from fix the same stuff from occurring again after who ever took over from dellums. but it does remind councilmembers and mayors that they are the servants of the voters instead of the other way around as it done here.

    apart from charter reforms re campaign finance, and maybe term limits, you’re still left with an amazingly entrenched powerful bureaucracy that like some really tough intelligent vine (what was that musical?) is confident that it can outlast any four year or 8 eight year term mayor. that confidence is well deserved.

    (btw, why does it seem that civil service and merit promotions are mere formality in oakland govt jobs?)

  23. PaulineZ

    Per the Chronicle 6/28, Edgerly will collect a pension of more than $150,000 a year. How can that be in a city as “poor” as Oakland

  24. Andy

    Reading these comments and the CED write up by V, I am even more depressed about Oakland govt. The situation is totally unbelievable.

    As for a recall, I think it is time. Not because I believe that it would directly change anything, but it would put our elected officials on notice.

  25. Deckin

    I think some are confusing good policy with good governance. Neither is either necessary or sufficient for the other. This city had, as of about 25 years ago, a solid reputation for effective, if not transparent, government. Crime was kept in check, streets were lit and parks were cleaned (without bond measures), the library was well stocked (again, without bond measures), all with a city charter with far fewer ‘structural problems’ than what we have today. Policies are words on a page; people are what make for good governance. Right now we have a perfect storm of massive incompetence, large quantities of malfeasance, a substantial hint of criminality, and a citizenry that is more consumed with a presidential race on which we, as citizens of a thoroughly Blue state, will have little to say, than it is with a local government that touches our lives daily.

    Thinking that a recall ‘personalizes’ things gets it precisely backwards. It’s always personal in politics. And it’s time to get those people out of government. All the CEDA minutia and zoning issues are just flim flam until we get the people necessary and sufficient for good governance. A recall election is the political analogue of a busload of lawyers heading over a cliff: A good first start.

  26. V Smoothe Post author

    Deckin –

    I think perhaps you’re painting too rosy a picture of Oakland 25 years ago, when we had the exact same structural problems we have today, and as well as the same issues of crime, poverty, and unemployment, although perhaps at that time, crime was more limited to certain geographic areas.

    I would argue that without sound policy, what you refer to as “minutia,” we have no hope of good governance, no matter who’s running things.

  27. californio

    You can argue this both ways. Honest, hardworking public servants don’t need reams of guidelines and regulations to do their job right. Well-written guidelines help keep people honest and hardworking. On balance, though, it seems to me that, as Deckin says, the character of the human being outweighs the influence of paper regulations; as any barfly will tell you, ‘You can’t legislate morality.”

    The question then becomes, how do we find someone decent for mayoral candidate, and after that, how do we go about changing the city charter for the better? Does the Edgerly mess represent enough of a scandal to energize Oaklanders or their representatives to begin work on, say, limiting the scope of the city administrator’s power? Is this important enough to make a campaign issue? Doubtful, given the state of things.

  28. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Oh, now it gets really interesting. First DE appoints Cheryl Thompson to replace her and says that Dellums doesn’t have the authority to name someone else. (who wrote this freaken charter?)

    Then, she says she was out Friday at a funeral and a doctor’s appointment. I hear workers’ comp claims can be lucrative…

    And oh yeah, she wants to move her retirement to December 31st – so that she can get even more paid administrative leave! Yeah, and I’m sure she’ll want a bonus to go with that.

    It just doesn’t end, does it? Go away and be happy that you’re getting PAID administrative leave. Please. :)

  29. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    What was I saying earlier? It indeed doesn’t end, but at least she was terminated so she can take her wishes to the legal system. No more paid administrative leave! I guess Dellums realized that it was a no win situation, so better to pay her less now (more later?) and perhaps (?) save his reputation. He must have been feeling some serious heat on this.

  30. len raphael

    Has William Noland, the finance director who offered the cash “reimbursement” to the (ex) controller, been put on administrative leave or is he still overseeing our city’s money?