What is Ron Dellums’s vision?

I have no idea why there was nothing to write about for a month and now there’s like ten zillion things going on at once. So by my count, I’ve promised and not delivered three posts just this week – affordable housing, the financial issues with Ron Dellums’s police recruitment funding request, and commentary on the industrial land use resolution that the Planning Commission endorsed last night. And there’s like 6 other things that came up this week that I didn’t get to. Anyway, I’m not getting any of those done today. They’re all complicated enough to deserve more time than I have right now. At least one of them (maybe two) will hopefully go up tomorrow.

Anyway, at the Planning Commission meeting last night, I heard reference after reference to Ron Delllums’s vision. At least six people said something about how it’s so great that the Mayor has this clear vision for Oakland and now we have to implement it or something to that effect. So this got me thinking, and I realized that I don’t have the faintest idea what Ron Dellums’s vision for Oakland is. And I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I think I follow these things a lot more closely than most people. What is this vision? I’m not being snotty – I really just don’t understand. What is there to implement? Am I missing something? Can anyone help me out here?

22 thoughts on “What is Ron Dellums’s vision?

  1. masb

    I think we all have to be just a little cautious when we are promised that we will get what we want…..but there are no specifics to back it up. Throughout history people have glommed onto the guy who promises to “make the trains run on time”….and then have regretted it later.

  2. pallewog

    I really question whether this would be good for Oakland but I’m beginning to think we don’t have a choice at this point. It’ time to start the recall process. After reading Chip Johnson today I just can’t take it anymore. Let’s give Don Perata or someone else a shot. The down side is that we will continue living with inertia but at least it will be with some sort of hope involved. I’ve been waiting for eight years for Bush to leave but I just don’t think Oakland has the stamina to survive this void ot leadership.

  3. len raphael

    vs, pls post the names/affiliations of the people singing praise to our Mayor. curious if they’re dependent on his patronage or might know something the rest of us don’t.

    i bought into jerry brown’s phoney baloney promises when he ran, and later most voters swallowed dellum’s “message of hope”. probably because Oakland’s problems are so Intractable we vote for faith healer mayors.

    but please look up Perata’s role in the Raiders deal and the incredible financial cost to Oakland from that deal before you try him out as Oakland’s next savior.

    “We won’t be fooled again”. Yeah, sure.

  4. John

    Just let me know where to sign or where to help get signatures. We need Dellums out ASAP, hes just closing out his pathetic “career” and ensuring his pension.

    Let release the potential that Oakland has and get the trash out of office and out of Oakland.

    -John in Montclair

  5. Jonathan C. Breault

    First of all, Ron Dellums has no vision. Period. Secondly, there is a reason that the word sycophant exists in the English language. And sadly, there are grown ups whose estimation of their own self-worth, critical thinking ability and uniqueness is so miniscule and adolescent in it’s formation that they actually are convinced that Dellum’s “vision” is something to be esteemed and revered. It is a form psychosis akin to hero worship of rock stars or movie stars or athletes. Thinking in the abstract is too challenging and conforming to another’s “vision”, no matter how obtuse and addled the vision might be, is preferrable to creating a unique personal view. Those who revere Dellums are sad, little people who ingratiate themselves with whomever they deem necessary to further their own personal, trivial agenda.
    Dellums is not worth anyone’s time or attention or fielty. Anyone with a dispassionate point of view who cannot recognize the absolute vapidness of this man is in urgent need of remedial education.

  6. Deckin

    As with most elections, different people probably voted for Dellums for different reasons. The sad fact is that is that none of these reasons could bear any critical scrutiny and those who had them did their best to keep themselves from having to face scrutiny of any kind. It’s a commonplace that people, in the main, tend to get the politics and politicians they deserve, at least in the short term. I’m hoping the short term is about over and that the people of Oakland, in the main, have realized that they deserve better. We’ll see. What I’d like to know is where are those with interests frustrated by the Dellums non-administration and why aren’t they putting any resources into a recall campaign? There’s no doubt it would collect enough signatures to get on the ballot; why the sudden pusillanimity? Makes one wonder if there isn’t something afoot behind closed doors.

  7. len raphael

    biggest reason not put energy and money into recalling our mayor is that we don’t have any eager qualified replacements. de la fuente is damaged goods because of his son and his wife’s website, perata is worse of a carpet bagger than brown and has his raider and his past FBI investigation, nadel makes dellums look like chuck norris on crime. at best, you’ll get another version of jerry brown who wants to move on to bigger positions if he doesn’t rock the boat of the various power factions here.

    even though this mayor isn’t capable of running oakland’s govt he is certainly capable of hiring people who could. dellums is smart and buried deep within has street smarts. looks his protege b. lee has her ticket out w barack. dellums is motivated to salvage his reputation.

    the best punishment for our mayor is to keep him and embarrass him until he changes course and gets some results. that gives us time to look for his replacement.

  8. V Smoothe Post author

    Len –

    I’m not a fan of Perata for Mayor, but I wonder what makes you call him a carpetbagger? The man has been representing Oakland for over 20 years.

  9. len raphael

    careless remark of mine since i went on memory, but since i “recalled” that he started as an oakland resident, moved to alameda, and now lived in piedmont.

    quick search supports me on Alameda http://capwiz.com/sacbee/bio/?id=1430 but show i’m wrong about piedmont, your favorite newspaper ebexpress says he lives in montclair.

    btw, what is the status of the investigation into perata’s former family owned ? consulting firm?

  10. V Smoothe Post author

    The FBI investigation? I have no idea. I mean, the thing has been dragging on for years. I imagine that if they were going to find anything, they’d have found it by now, but that’s just my completely uninformed speculation.

    Anyway, that’s just one example of why I would rather not see Perata run for Mayor. He just has too much baggage.

    I don’t see the fact that he used to live in Alameda as a problem, however. He’s an East Bay native, and it’s natural for people to move around during the course of their lives. During his time in Alameda, his supervisorial district included big chunks of Oakland, so he was still dealing with our interests way back when. And he’s been living in Oakland for what, like 12 years?

  11. len raphael

    “dealing with our interests” is the operative phrase. i’ll always picture him as getting “kicked upstairs’ for doing the Raiders deal and sticking Oakland and the county with the bill to pay. though he was only one of several, my impression is that he was the key player.



    The former Alameda County supervisor is a longtime driving force in the effort to bring the Raiders back. Ed DeSilva, owner of a Dublin construction company, member of the Coliseum board and political benefactor of Perata’s, headed up negotiations with Raiders general manager Al Davis. On May 1, with PSL sales faltering and a 1997 taxpayer bailout looming, the Oakland Football Marketing Association hired Perata as its rainmaker for the dollars of corporations and high rollers. Perata quit on August 30, saying the association is too messed up to get any work done. One critic called that masterful Perata spin: “Everyone was chuckling at how gracefully he managed to turn it around on the people who hired him.”

    His defense is partly ‘everyone was mistaken”. Nonsense. You would enjoyed taking apart their fantastical projections and voodo math.


  12. len raphael

    The recent Oakland gun buyback program shows that Perata hasn’t changed that much since his Raider dealing days. He’s first in line and gets cash for one (or was it four guns?), many of the other people only get IOU’s, and the taxpayers are left with a fat debt to pay.

  13. Steve

    For the record, another source (http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neighbors.php?type=name&lname=perata&fname=&search=Search)
    gives Perata’s listed address in conjunction with his Q4/2007 donation to Hillary’s campaign–though it appears on the map to be in the town of Piedmont, it probably does qualify as Montclair (pretty close to the border). Regarding Perata’s “baggage”: his intimate relations with developer buddies/donors like Jim Ghielmetti, Jim Falaschi, Ron Cowan (who seem not-so-concerned with the well-being of Oaklanders over the next several decades), and Phil Tagami (who does seem somewhat concerned I wager) are well-documented by Robert Gammon. (See: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/SearchResults?keywords=perata). There’s also the somewhat strange story of Perata’s “helper” Sandi Polka, who made $747,754 in 2007, and was recently fired.

    Though VSmoothe is not a fan of Gammons’ regarding BRT/VanHool opinions, I would be curious to see her interpretation of the telling public records Gammons brought to our attention for his “Living Large” article last year. Though it’s certainly plausible that the federal investigation hasn’t uncovered anything because there was no wrongdoing, it seems more plausible that such wrongdoing is quite difficult to prove (judge for yourself and read the article).

    As to Mr. Breault’s adept use of SAT words in his ad hominem attack, his response is about as useful to current and future Oakland residents as me uttering “Jerry Brown is a poopy-pants attorney general and his adherents are pig-eared”. Given Mr. Breault’s and Deckin’s apparent intentions toward Thomas Paine mimicry, or VSmoothe’s silly baiting of such responses, a policy-oriented “dialogue” would seem more productive. I thought Mr. Breault had an inkling of one (to start) in reference to “abstract visions”, but he quickly turned to kindergarten antics.

    There is clearly a (wide) gap between the public face that Dellums has shown and what those who “revere” him apparently see as a “hopeful/symbolic figure”. While Ignacio may have been a rather competent administrator when it comes to day-to-day administrivia and strong-arming the City Council (obviously not Dellums’ approach), it’s likely he would have continued Brown’s aggressive development agenda. In doing so, however, he would likely have been apt to under-prioritize the needs in education and healthcare and police recruitment as Brown CLEARLY did, and he certainly would not have had the long-standing relations with the federal government legislature that Dellums has (note: this is not to advocate mayoral requests for earmarks/handouts or absentee-ism in the face of killings). It’s also hard to see Ignacio providing a similarly hopeful message as Dellums’ to young African-Americans who might eventually turn to crime. My main point is such statements are (cursory) attempts at a discussion.

    As to VSmoothe’s original question (what is Mayor Dellums’ “vision”), I suggest she visit his website. Or more precisely (and recently), she should listen to his interview with KALW (http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/kalw/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1239652) and speak to some of the statements he makes, in a substantial way. Most of her analyses are useful and substantive, this one was not (really). It would have made for a more productive discussion to ask what is his vision “on development” or “on education”, etc. By keeping the discussion at the lofty and abstract level that is found in the speeches of orators, the implication is that there is no policy or direction evident. But I think speeches are less useful than, say, mayoral websites, or even excerpts of city staff members at City Council meetings, for example.

    I suggest to those who feel Dellums has informally abdicated his responsibilities that they SHOULD start the recall effort (and then this website can be the Official Recall Dellums site)–this is a democracy right? Merely whining loudly or cheerleading is the stuff of Rush Limbaugh, one whom I assume VSmoothe or dto510 or Deckin or Mr. Breault do not emulate.

  14. len raphael

    stv, i think you captured the pro’s and con’s of ignacio well. my sense of him was that even if i didn’t agree with his vision, he was a pol who served his big contributors and balanced those against the desires of the residents of the districts that voted for him. that’s would have been an improvement over the last several mayors.

    so i took your suggestion and listened to the entire kalw interview. fascinating and depressing. i had never heard dellums speak before, but now i understand why people voted him. its that message of hope that all good pols have to peddle. he comes across as a caring, thoughtful guy who should have retired from congress to a position at uc berkeley not running our city. at best a naive idealist, at worst a left wing dreamer, who believes that the Great Society Program and the later Model Cities Program was the pinacle of American government action.

    before listening to that interview, i didn’t understand why he hasn’t shown any leadership with poor young african americans and their parents, to turn off the hip hop gansta music and buckle down to schoolwork; and yes to snitch on local drug dealers and killers.

    but now i realize that this former psychiatric social worker truly believes that that the dysfunctional family life of too many poor am’s is completely beyond the power of those families to improve. that only big huge goverrnment funded programs will make any significant improvement.

    He was completely candid about his measure Y proposal: he wants to coopt the demand for more cops so that he can get back to what he considers important in helping people here. That’s must be why he’s not bothered by vs type criticism of his plan’s details, because he is sure that more cops won’t fix anything anyway.

  15. Deckin

    I absolutely agree with Len Raphael on this. Dellums has been nothing if not consistent in his committment to a large government paternalism since his first foray into public life in the 60s. The idea that individuals and individual acts of concern (for themselves, for their families, for their homes and properties) could, if adequately supported by a more limited state, actually solve the problems that the Great Society has absolutely failed to do, is about as remote from the Dellums ‘vision’ as anything could be. His view is statist, through and through. Steve talks about promoting more development, as if that were the moral equivalent of Nazi fascism. Never mind that ‘development’ built the houses that virtually everyone lives in; that ‘development’ ultimately is what brought the jobs that virtually everyone has; that development is ultimately what’s supposed to pay for the Great State that Dellums worships to. Never mind further that the by their own standards of promoting education, healthcare, and the like, the great State programs have been, for sure in Oakland, a dismal failure. Oakland spends about the most per capita of any school district in the state, quite possibly the country. And the answer is to continue that?

    One thing that needs mentioning is why I said, above, ‘virtually’. The one class of people to whom those generalizations don’t apply is exactly why we have Dellums in the first place. That relatively large percentage of the Oakland electorate whose jobs aren’t with private industry; whose lot isn’t directly tied to development. Those public workers and their absolute fear of anything that may cut off the gravy train that is public employment is why this man no longer resides in Washington doing piece work for GE and Rolls Royce.

  16. Jonathan C. Breault

    An active, concerned and partisan citizenry irrespective of one’s political leanings ought not to be dismissed. People are entitled to their opinions about public figures and ought to be allowed to express them without being subjected to inane comparisons or sophomoric put downs.

  17. Steve

    Len–thanks for the response. I agree that Dellums is not our ideal mayor and might make a more significant contribution, for example, if he took part in policy discussions in a more academic/research-like setting (also given his age and long career in congress). I also agree that “big government programs” are along the lines of what Dellums aims for, and to speak to Deckin’s point about the Oakland electorate, that is the case for many Oakland voters as well (i.e. they want those kinds of programs, too). Such is the difficulty in democracy.

    As to Deckin’s response, I am not quite sure how my statements equate “promoting more development” with “nazi fascism”. Quite the contrary, many developments in our city excite me–for instance, I regularly drive by the Forest City Uptown development or Jack London Square’s tall Ellington building to see the progress. Likewise, I am happy that Andrew Brog is creating several NY-style units within the Cathedral Building downtown, and I have toured the Il Piemonte and Broadway Grand developments to see what they’re like. So your hyperbole is not an accurate description of my feelings on the subject (Notice I’m even willing to plug for those developments).

    I think development is critically important in our city. I still am trying to get my arms around the inclusionary zoning and condo-conversion policies that are bandied about, so I am not sure of my opinion on those topics. What I am leery of is the overly strong influence of *some* developers, i.e. well-connected individuals that oftentimes do not live here and who are not accountable to the citizenry yet carry a great deal of sway in decision-making. In my part of town, for example, the decision-making and abilities of some developer(s) of the distant past to build on non-compacted fill on a hillside have had disastrous consequences (see http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/PrintFriendly?oid=430089). What is instructive in this example specifically is that overzealousness or greed can cause harmful situations down the road for some people (even homeowners). Not to mention unaffordable housing for even those who make a decent living.

    Not all developments and developers are created equal and my reluctance is to “turn the keys over” to any developer unconditionally. The other factor is that our schools are not performing competently and our crime rate is very high–these are problems that in my mind have gotten worse since Jerry Brown had taken over. Whether or not this was because of his focus/prioritization on development is not as relevant/pressing as how best to make substantial steps toward progress in these brutal areas.

    No politician (whether a proponent of socialism or libertarianism) wants the problems our city has because they take too long to solve. In the case of Jerry Brown and Don Perata specifically, Brown is our Attorney General and he lives and works (mostly) in Oakland, Perata lives in Oakland and is the most powerful member of our State Senate–as far as I am concerned they haven’t really fulfilled their roles effectively with regard to these problems. And while we’re on it, neither has the City Council (yes, including Ignacio).

  18. Steve

    Mr. Breault-well put. If I caused offense I sincerely apologize, though I would claim that your previous use of “sad, little people” and “urgent need of remedial education” qualify as “sophomoric put downs”.

    My underlying assumption with regard to “active, concerned citizenry” is that we are committed *as much or more* to the issues/policies/solutions (in the abstract and concrete) vs. only expressing our strong opinions about an individual. And yet if we’re going to express opinions about an individual, which we are right to do, why not also focus on other relevant individuals (e.g. Perata and Brown), since they, too, have a great responsibility to our city.

    I think the popularity of politicians like Obama and Schwarzenegger point to the fact that partisanship is less in fashion today than it was during the Clinton (White House) years. You have a right to partisanship, and it’s all in good fun, and given that I value your opinions expressed (else I would not read them) I prefer you value you mine: let’s get back to the (perceived) focus of the blog. Given VSmoothe’s ample and appreciated coverage of political minutiae in our city, the overriding point of my comments is that my opinion is we should keep the discussion at a less obtuse level than “what is [our current major's] vision?”

  19. len raphael

    still chewing over the past, current, and future residential growth/density issues, in the context of oakland many dysfunctions. at it’s most simplistic it seems we had brown’s “build the 10k units and oakland will automatically flourish” field of dreams. at another end, apparently some people want low height maximums in parts of downtown.

    i suppose brown was figuring eventually somethnig like what happened in SF would occur in Oakland: all that residential growth would push out the poor people and their high cost problems to say Pittsburg or Richmond. Brown was too smart to assume that merely increasing residential housing stock and at best dramatically increasing retail sales tax revenue, would cover the costs of proving decent public services here.

    there is a mostly under 30 group who’s ideology seems to be a cross between ayn rand (unleash the power of developers to provide cheaper housing and vibrant high densities) with almost a Soviet confidence that competent central planners know what’s best for us (transportation choices, inclusionary zoning). Maybe that’s what Robert Moses was also, with the twist that the current group is convinced that only their way will significantly reduce global warming, and all nimbyism is bad.

    could make an econominc analysis of motivations, instead of examining the substance of the arguements, in that many of the proponents because of their age and or life choices have economic motives for cheaper housing much the way some opponents have economic motives for nimbyism, and at the risk of sounding my age, some of this is youthful idealism (heck, it’s been years since i was accused of that) where you eventually figure that theoretically good policy often gets screwed up by normal human greed and incompetence. not a reason not to try to push for new policy, but prepare for unintended consequences.