Enough with the recall Dellums talk!

Seriously, I’m tired of it. A recall is a pointless waste of time and money, and would be a terrible distraction from the important issues facing Oakland. If the Mayor is not doing anything productive to move the city forward, that’s unfortunate. But it also doesn’t mean that we can’t see any progress. That’s what the City Council is for. They’re the ones who pass legislation and fund programs, and it’s only their own inertia that’s keeping them from doing so now. I’m expecting that the City Council’s lethargic attitude will change next year when we (hopefully) get some fresh blood. I’m certainly not a fan of the Mayor’s performance, but the blame for our problems does not rest squarely on his shoulders, and people need to remember to spread it around fairly. If the Mayor submits a bad police recruiting strategy or a half-baked housing plan, or a ludicrous proposal for Army Base development, there is nothing stopping the Council from just voting no. And if the Mayor doesn’t do anything at all, there’s nothing stopping the Council from introducing their own business attraction incentive programs or whatever else it is we want to do and he can go spend all his time soliciting philanthropic money for school health clinics or whatever it is he does with his time and everyone will be happy.

And if that didn’t persuade you, maybe this will. If we recall Dellums, Don Perata will be Oakland’s next Mayor. A special election will take only a plurality, not a majority, of votes, and we all know that there will be plenty of hats in that ring, but only one with serious name recognition and serious money. Anti-Perata votes will get split among like ten people, and he’ll send out like ten billion mailers, and he will win. So unless you want Don Perata to be Mayor, stop talking about recalling Dellums and spend your time cleaning up your street or volunteering at the food bank or harassing your Councilmember for action instead. Then volunteer for someone else when the next normal Mayoral election comes around.

22 thoughts on “Enough with the recall Dellums talk!

  1. Max Allstadt

    Fair enough. The best recall plan is to just wait. I’m using the same plan to impeach Bush.

  2. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    “If we recall Dellums, Don Perata will be Oakland’s next Mayor.” YIKES!!! Now THAT is some incentive to stick with DoNothingDellums.

    I’m with Max and using that same plan to oust a Shrub.

    The only difference is that I didn’t vote for the shrub in the first place. I’m sort of embarassed that I voted for DND, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to vote for the other two. If I had it all over to do again today I’d write in Mickey Mouse. Or maybe Pat Kernighan.

  3. scottpark

    I, for one, would be very happy with Perata as Mayor. Can anyone imagine he’d be “do nothing?” Remember, before Dellums, people thought Jerry Brown didn’t do anything. Development, excitement, intrigue….Perata would be awesome.

  4. Max Allstadt

    Perata wants the job, for sure. Why else would he have done that gun buyback? He wanted attention. And unfortunately for us, he got it. He can recycle footage from KCBS of himself saving Oakland from guns.

    He also got a bunch of guns out of the hands of gun dealers from reno. He also got the OPD a bunch of debt. He also did nothing to make anybody safer. When the media called him on it, he artfully dodged all of the substance of the mistakes he’d made and basically said repeatedly, “guns are bad, i got guns off the streets”. So what does that say to me: all show, no substance. Reminds me of Bush, frankly.

    Anybody who claims to be serving the public and then uses a public stipend to buy a thugtastic gas guzzling sports car is betraying us. A man with integrity would buy a gently used, modest car and spend the rest of his allowance on his consituents.

    Your right, guy-who’s-name-isn’t-Scott-Park, he wouldn’t do nothing. He’d do all sorts of stupid shit.

    He’s still under investigation, no? And does anybody remember how he tried to push through a bicycle registration bill that would have directly benefitted his friend’s business?

    That all seems rather petty, but it’s really telling, and it’s really only a tiny sampling. Check the cited sources on Perata’s wikipedia entry. The pattern is ugly.

    If it looks like a fat cat, and it acts like a fat cat…

  5. frank C

    Bring Perata on. At least, until some actual other talent materializes. None on the horizon now. The city council is not chock full of mayors to be.

    I think Perata would be able to utiize state relationships effectively. Unlike Dellums, who had a semi-national DC career, he’s been in the state constantly. I also think the business community would be much reassured to have Perata, especially after Dellums. Perata strikes me as not the fearful type…..maybe he’d hire an outside police chief! One who has, you know, done stuff somewhere!

    As for the fat cat stuff, they are ALL fat cats. That’s an impossible standard.

  6. oaklandhappenings

    I agree that Perata would be more visible than Dellums, but he still made a stupid decision on the gun buy-back program, regarding the incentives–which ended up going to alot of wrong people.
    Also, the following link is 100% unrelated to mayors and this blog entry. However, considering what attention it will bring at the Oakland zoo in upcoming weeks, I consider it a small contribution to us really having a better Oakland’.
    Pardon my digression, V–I just thought that I would share.

  7. D. Whiting

    I’m a recent arrival to Oakland, so I may have this wrong…but doesn’t Oakland have a “weak mayor” governance structure? In our city’s charter the mayor has limited authority to hire/fire dept. heads and has little direct control of the budget purse strings.

    Everywhere I turn people are disappointed with Dellum’s performance and are trying to hold him accountable; but does he in turn have any real ability to hold individual city depts. accountable if he can’t threaten to replace them or reduce their budgets? He can propose legislation and new initiatives to the council and city administrator and attempt to rally support for what’s in the city’s best interest, and on the other hand he can veto bills put before him but that’s about it. That said, Dellums doesn’t do himself any favors with his out of town photo ops.

    The remedies to fix the crime rate, create jobs, provide affordable housing etc. are quite high, and so are the voters’ expectations for some demonstration of improvement. Oakland may be too large a city to be served by a weak mayor. Whether the solution to reducing crime is 803 officers, community policing, statistical analysis or something else, these and other challenges are only get fixed by a city council and mayor (whomever fills those positions) working much more closely with each other than they have been. Recalling Dellums would be a costly and timely distraction for hizzoner and the citizens.

  8. Allan

    We need to go back to city manager form of government. Most city’s of Oakland’s size use a strong city manager, a symbolic mayor. The mayor can represent us to the public, raise money etc.

    The nuts and bolts of running a city are best left to a pro. I’d favor hiring a manager who has had success in a similar (if smaller) city, not someone connected with Oakland.

  9. dto510

    D. Whiting – Oakland has a “strong mayor” form of government. Dellums has authority over the City Manager as well as individual department heads. I am not aware of any veto power held by the mayor, who can break ties on the eight-member City Council.

    Allan – I don’t think we need to go back. If anything, we need a stronger mayor to provide more accountability. Whether the City Manager is hired by the Council or the Mayor doesn’t make that much of a difference from the perspective of the structure of the government, but the city is hamstrung by what appear to be corruption-preventing measures that leave bureaucrats in control of basically everything.

    Just because Dellums isn’t doing his job doesn’t mean we need to get rid of the position. For more info on Dellums shirking his responsibilities, check out my most recent post on FutureOakland.

  10. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    I’d like to see the Mayor at EVERY single City Council Meeting. Visability, visability, visability.

  11. Rebecca Kaplan

    In Oakland, it used to be the law that the Mayor *had to* attend Council meetings. The Mayor was part of the Council, and attended all of the meetings, as a voting member, and as the member who presided over the meetings and had primary control over the agenda (those roles have now been shifted to Council President). The Mayor had the power to call on speakers at meetings, and also had to sit there (like the other council members) and listen to people speak.

    Jerry Brown decided he wanted this law changed, right before he took office as Mayor. He led an effort (ballot Measure X) to change Oakland law, (which the voters approved). So since 1998, Mayor has not been part of Council meetings.

    I do think it is worth exploring the question of the best structure for the role of Oakland’s Mayor, (though it is certainly not the most important problem facing our city, and the “legislative” branch can provide many more solutions than they do currently). When looking at this issue, the history could help inform decisions going forward. (Also, the law must be capable of functioning despite having different people in office at different times).

  12. Max Allstadt

    Thanks for chiming in, Rebecca.

    Here’s a thought on how we can have accountability for the Mayor’s office, and maintain the value of a strong executive’s initiative…

    Every watch Prime Minister’s Question Time broadcast from the British Parliament? I want to see something like that for Oakland. In the UK, the Prime Minister gets grilled periodically by the House of Peers. In Oakland, I’d like to see the same thing, only with both the City Council and the people asking the questions. I’d like to see it be boisterous, frequent, broadcast on KTOP and posted on Youtube.

    Quarterly attendance for the Mayor of Oakland should be mandatory and enforceable. Each Council Member should go through the same grilling annually.

    None of this would change the official power structure. It just changes the game a little. Here are some bullet points on the benefits:

    1. Lively Debate = Fun = Increased interest in government.
    2. You guys work for us. Most managers have one on one performance reviews with their boss.
    3. Transparency.
    4. Acountability.
    5. Potential for chaos is good. If you cannot manage chaos or dissent face to face, find other work.


  13. Max Allstadt

    Oh, yeah, and it should happen in Council Chambers. On a Saturday. And I should be allowed to bring snacks for everybody.

  14. Max Allstadt


    When I’m home I do. No cable here. But if people as uptight as the Brits can let it all hang out like that, seriously, why can’t we?

    I’ve had a problem with authority since I was 5, V. Of course I sit around watching C-span. It’s almost kinky, no? All that control…

    Anyway, for reals:

    Rebecca, I think you could handle a hot-seat style debate like this. Question-Response-Short Rebuttal. Real simple. And you should promise to do it because you’re capable of it. I’m going to ask other canditates to do it to.

  15. Ken O.

    I was thinking “what is Dellums doing” a while back and toyed with the recall idea, but see now that the alternative (Pirate) is worse.

    I have someone in mind for the Mayoral position, and he isn’t Perata. Down with the machines! Machines do not serve us, the commoners.


  16. Jason Gohlke

    I agree — a recall would be a waste of time and money that would be better spent advocating for real change.

    Glad to find out this blog exists and is generating lots of discussion. Keep it up!

  17. ConcernedOakFF

    A Strong City Manager Government? Are you kidding? After Bob Bobb and Miss Corrupt Edgerly, can you honestly say that would be a good idea? Good lord, who would they hire next?

  18. Allan

    Oakland doesn’t have a city manager, we have a city administrator. While I have a lot of respect for the incumbent, she is in a no-win situation.

    A city manager is a profesional, non-political (ideally) manager. This person should have had previous success at several cities. The manager has been exposed to a variety of ideas – not just the Oakland way of doing things. The manager’s career path is based upon accomplishment, not just fitting into local politics. With the current system, there is not much chance of focusing on improving the city’s operations.

    As for accountability – how is it working for you with the strong mayor? At least a manager can be fired.

  19. Robert Wiles

    Well, we’re past the point of a recall. Now we have a “choice” selection of candidates.

  20. len raphael

    Check out the expression on JQ’s face as the cops advance on her and RK. Pure bliss. Must be reliving fond memories of the Third World protest movement at Berkeley in the 60′s.

    RK, our other mayoral contender at the protests is more interesting. She’s too young to have participated in the the 60′s movement, but she’s doing her best to make believe she’s in the Selma to Montgomery march.

    I can understand distrust of OPD by people of color, but what i don’t understand is why the majority of our own city council doesn’t trust the police chief they selected to properly command and control their own police force.

    Or did they think they were protecting our police from violent protesters?

    if they believe Chief Batts is incapable of controlling his own officers then they should ask him to resign.

    if they believe Batts does not have sufficient cops to protect our city, then they should tell that to voters and should have asked for Federal and State reinforcements.

    -len raphael