Shortly before Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums withdrew his nominations of two local activists, Victor Uno and Margaret Gordon, to the Board of Port Commissioners after it became clear that at least one would be rejected.
The nominations reveal the tension between the Mayor’s dual public devotions to labor activists and the city’s economic development. He frequently speaks of the need to expand the Port’s operations and promote Oakland as a center of international trade. He
visited China earlier this year to promote our Port (corrected, thanks to RodeoClown), and is a strong backer of the proposal to build a World Trade Center in Oakland. Meanwhile, both his nominees advocate large-scale reforms that could damage the Port’s competitiveness.
Dellums says that he will return with the same nominations when the Council resumes their meetings in September. Mr. Uno will likely be accepted, but the other nomination remains in question. There is no question that Ms. Gordon should be commended for her tireless work fighting the health impacts of the trucking and shipping on West Oakland’s residents. It is partly due to her efforts that Oakland remains a leader among the nation’s ports in environmental responsibility. Our experimentation with mobile shore-side power and truck replacement program might not have happened without her advocacy. Whether that is enough to make her an appropriate candidate for the Port’s governing board is another matter entirely, and one the Council will deal with in the fall.
What concerns me more is the joke of a nomination (PDF) Dellums presented to the City Council. Normally, the Council receives a resume, letter of interest in the position, and, in the case of high profile positions like Port and Planning Commissioners, responses to questions explaining their political outlook and how they would view their new responsibilities. Perhaps Ms. Gordon gave these to Dellums. If so, he did not feel compelled to share. Instead, he submitted a single page of incomprehensible nonsense. Here’s how it begins:
Margaret Gordon is the winner 2004 award winner given by the Easy Bay Community Foundation. The ” Effect Giving “honor represent volunteer work for all of Alameda County. Ms. Gordon is one of the founding members of West Oakland Environmental Indictor Project, she also, as member she contributed to the development of two community-base participatory research reports and the publication “Neighborhood Knowledge for Change” and “Reducing Diesel Pollution in West Oakland.” Her concerns with asthma in West Oakland as lead to the strengthen health education for people with asthma by supporting and bring the West Oakland Asthma Education Center, and the West Oakland Asthma Coalition. Ms. Gordon was diagnosed with asthma and allergies as child.”
I have no idea what happened with this. Was it the result of some terrible copy and paste disaster? Was it prepared by someone with a poor grasp of English? I tend to be pretty forgiving of minor errors in city reports, but this borders on complete incoherence. It is offensive that Dellums would expect the Council to accept his candidates in the absence of a remotely legible explanation of her qualifications. If Dellums is truly interested in progress, he needs to realize that the Council is not going to simply rubber stamp whatever jibberish he feels like handing them. He needs to stop spending all his time doing God knows what in secret and start working with our other elected officials to get things done.
One staffer remarked “He has had a year to come up with appointees the City Council would accept and couldn’t. It’s pathetic.” Word.