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Finally! Ron Dellums’s Platform!

At long last, Ron Dellums seems to have blessed us with his much anticipated platform.

I’m going to take it bit by bit here.

He starts out with a little biography, and an explanation of how he entered the race due to a grassroots effort in the form of “the unprecedented 8,000 signature “Draft Dellums” community petition campaign.” I think deckin has covered this pretty well over at Common Sense Oakland, but to recap: the campaign was initiated by the city employees union in response to Ignacio De La Fuente’s refusal to fire Head Start teachers to balance the city budget instead of closing the city jail (which saved a tremendous amount of money and put additional sworn police officers back on the street), and the petitioners set up tables at outdoor concerts, festivals, and virtually every large public gathering throughout the summer of 2005 to collect signatures.

Dellums then moves on to brag about his widespread support:

I have been endorsed by every major political, labor, environmental, health, and education group as well as leaders and groups throughout the Oakland community.

I have already written a series of blogs about the candidates’ respective endorsements (with a few more on the way). When one inspects the lists of endorsers from each candidate, this statement does not bear out. Perhaps Ron Dellums doesn’t consider five out of seven city council members, and the Mayors of Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco major political figures. And perhaps he doesn’t consider nine different Oakland unions important. Perhaps he believes that the school board members who incurred such an enormous deficit that our schools were bailed out and taken over by the state carry more weight with the community than school principals and PTA presidents. His list of endorsements is admittedly impressive, but when it comes to choosing a Mayor, I’m more concerned with the opinions of real people right here in Oakland who are active in a day to day effort to make our city better and safer than I am with the opinion of Barbara Boxer in Washington.

Now onto his plans. Ron Dellums promises to make Oakland a more democratic city by

* governing as I have campaigned: with honesty, without deceiving the public or launching personal attacks on other candidates.
* insisting on transparency in government: with no backroom deals and no “pay to play” as currently dominates the policy environment. The citizens have a right to full knowledge and participation in decisions about how their money is spent and how decisions are made
* initiating a six month planning period to engage the whole city in discussing its future. 

Good to hear. I’m certain that we all applaud and strive for honesty and transparency in government – I know I do. I have a few questions, though. Does “governing how [he has] campaigned” mean that his tenure as Mayor will be marked by spending his time in Washington D.C instead of spending time with the community here in Oakland? Does it mean that as Mayor, he will deny access to reporters who write about things he would rather go unmentioned? Does it mean we can expect more secrecy and evasiveness about his work, the way he has refused to provide details about his lobbying contracts or release his tax returns?

Will his insistence on “transparency in government” extend to demanding accountability for and stamping out inappropriate use of taxpayer money, such as the way his lone endorser on the City Council, Desley Brooks, funneled money from her city staff accounts to groups that helped recruit Ron Dellums into the race? Or insisting that another of his endorsers, Gay Cobb, whose job training organization recieves nearly 3 million dollars a year in taxpayer funds, yet spends 5 times the amount per trainee as other organizations open her books to city review before assigning her funds? Will he take steps to prevent campaign code violations in favor of preferred candidates, like when the city clerk, a Ron Dellums supporter, allowed him, and no other candidates, to list the titles of his endorsers in our official voter handbook?” I certainly hope so.

The next section is about safety, but basically reiterates what the other candidates say in their materials, and provides no details. Nothing to disagree with here. I also want police on the streets during high crime hours, more community policing, and effective crime prevention policies.

Moving on to education, Ron Dellums tells us about:

* creating wrap-around services for each school to remove the barriers to learning faced by too many of our youth: providing health services, recreation, music, art, and sports activities, as well as adult literacy, second language classes, and senior classes.
* insisting upon a definite and shortened timetable for returning the schools to local control.
* bringing together elected officials and citizens to change the State policies which hurt urban schools, including lack of State funding and the State’s failure to create enough credentialed teachers 

Again, it all sounds wonderful. The wrap-around services at schools have been part of his promises for some time, but still no details emerge as to how he plans to pay for them. Perhaps he hasn’t thought that far yet. After all, as the Express notes, he’s “spent the last thirty years working in a town where deficit spending is a way of life.” Unfortunately, in a city where resources are severely limited, creating such an expansive program is slightly more difficult.

As for returning the schools to local control – this is another point he has mentioned repeatedly in debates and at his few public appearances, but he offers no explanation as to how he will accomplish this. I’m skeptical of his ability to do so, especially given his behavior in anticipation of the narrowly-averted teacher’s strike, where, rather than encouraging a compromise in light of our severely limited resources, he responded by actively encouraging the strike and insisting that the teachers be given everything they want. This is hardly a path that will lead us back to local control.

As for changing state policies, well, I vote for a Govenor, a State Senator, an Assemblyperson, and so on to do that, not my Mayor.

He then continues along the same lines. I encourage everyone to read it for themselves. But the breakdown is basically that he will promote development, preserve industrial land, develop our economic potential, ensure more market rate housing and more affordable housing, reduce pollution, pioneer the expansion of alternative fuels, expand access to the waterfront and more open space, expand health care services, renovate our infrastructure, fill our potholes, and so on.

Ron Dellums has finally provided us with his platform – a laundry list of everything everyone could want from their local government. Still, he continues to offer platitudes rather than solutions. If I had any faith he could do it all, he’d have my vote. But up to this point, his campaign has been notable for his lack of accessibility to our citizens, marked by multiple suspicious incidents on the part of city officials that favor him, and fueled by a uptopian vision and a complete lack of details. I’ve been given no reasons to believe him.

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Posted in dellums, elections, oakland.


7 Responses

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  1. Oakland Native says

    His platform said nothing he hasn’t said ad nauseum, with a few important differences.

    He completely lied in his introduction about his “grassroots” and “unprecedented” support, which we all know to be utter BS. Is he taken in by the city employees’ spin, or is he lying on purpose?

    His ridiculous assertion that everyone endorsed him is obviously untrue to anyone who has paid any attention, with Ignacio getting the lions’ share of endorsements from every conceivable interest group.

    But the lobbyist has given up on universal health care and the end of poverty. Looks like he’s waking up to the fact that he’s utterly powerless to deal with endemic social problems as mayor.

  2. Oakland Native says

    Oh, if you want some citizen access to Mr. Dellums, maybe you should go to his fundraiser next week, one of only five events he has planned for this entire month (including the two debates that he will probably cancel).

    Oh, but it’s in San Francisco. And costs $600.

  3. deckin says

    Nice new format! Looks like you’ve put in a lot of work. Yes, the ‘wrap around’ school stuff sounds nice, but just what the hell is it? It sounds very cushy and blankety, my guess is that it’s just what we already do except it’s accompanied by a visit from the great man.

  4. V Smoothe says

    deckin –

    Glad you like the new layout! I based it off a style sheet I found (credited in the right column), but modifying it to make it right took ages.

    The wrap-around services for the schools stuff is something he’s been talking about for a while: from my notes from the Marcus Foster institute debate, he wants to: “provide health care on site, family counciling, welfare offices; bring all city services to the schools”

  5. deckin says

    V Smoothe,

    There’s a new article in the SF Chronicle about the election; the gist is that it’s too tight to call, they think a run off is inevitable, but that the Dellums camp is showing cracks when poor St. Ron didn’t get his canonization from the poor people for whom he’s sacrificied so much. Poor baby!

    On balance, I think the news is actually quite good. Remember, DLF started out probably behind and it looks like he’s made up the gap entirely. Not bad against someone people take to be a legend. How cranky do you think Ron is going to get during the summer when he figured he’d be back in Washington planning on his coronation?

    Don’t even worry: the short guy with the thick accent is going to win–no one will work harder over the summer and people always respond to that. No one wants another aloof mayor.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Happy Birthday, Future Oakland! | A Better Oakland linked to this post on April 17, 2009

    [...] (in a really, really sad way) to look back and see how obvious it was that Dellums would be, well, exactly like this: Does “governing how [he has] campaigned” mean that his tenure as Mayor will be marked by [...]

  2. Three years of Oakland’s future « FutureOakland linked to this post on April 17, 2009

    [...] I don’t necessarily mean to take credit for the dozens of committed activists who have shaken up a complacent City Hall in the last few years, or for the New Media explosion allowing Oaklanders to understand the context and impact of city policy and cultural change for the first time in perhaps decades. Maybe I was just a little ahead of the curve. Of the four major Oakland blogs that predate mine, one is still kicking. But, as I am often reminded by longtime politicos, Oakland’s public discussion is light-years ahead of where it was when Ron Dellums was elected Mayor on a platform of nonsense. [...]