An epitaph for Mayor Dellums

I suspect that when history remembers my Mayor, I expect they’ll just quote Chip Johnson’s summary of his state of the city address:

To say the least, if Dellums had a theme, it was lost in the chaos that converged around him.

I gotta say, focusing on crime was not the best move for Ron Dellums. Despite beefing up the police force, crime is basically constant in Oakland, and Dellums has shown no evidence of a clear plan to slow it. Bringing Guardian Angels in from LA is silly. It’s a temporary measure, and it treats crime as something Oaklanders can’t solve for ourselves. If the police were trusted, it would also undermine public confidence in them. As it stands, it just gives no one a reason to gain confidence in the police. Neither does a BART cop shooting a subdued suspect, nor does video of his partner punching another suspect. And the Oakland PD’s preparations for, and response to, the protests and violence which followed that event doesn’t help, either.

Dellums’ latest solution is a new Public Safety Coordinator, a position currently as unoccupied as the City Administrator and Police Chief. Perhaps if the city had a competent administrator or if the police chief had a mayor who could give him the resources he needed, we wouldn’t need a new box on an organizational chart.

The real tragedy is that this nonsense holds Oakland back. I love this town. It’s cheaper than San Francisco, but it’s easy to get to events across the Bay. Our farmers markets rock, we’ve got great music, great restaurants, and great people. There’s industry, and great neighborhoods.

There’re also neighborhoods where you don’t want to walk at night. And that’s the problem. Too much of Oakland isn’t livable. The city has written off too many neighborhoods, and let too many citizens live in fear. Oakland Streets did a great comparison of streets in Oakland with those in neighboring towns, showing the lack of security, confidence, and investment in this town. It’s a legacy of racism, but that’s a legacy we could overcome with good leadership.


  1. #1 SLC
    January 30, 2009

    When I was a student at UC Berkeley a million years ago, Oakland was considered by the inhabitants of San Francisco to be even lower on the evolutionary scale then Los Angeles.

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