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Time running out to recall Dellums

At the beginning of the summer, in response to criticisms of his productivity and his bumbling of the Deborah Edgerly affair, Mayor Ron Dellums announced a “top-to-bottom review” of the city budget, the mayor’s office, and candidates for City Administrator. Since then, he has once again turned in a late budget, produced no reports or initiatives, and failed to appoint officials crucial to the operation of the city.

It’s been 148 days since Oakland has had a permanent City Administrator, the most important job in the city (longer if you believe Dellums’ claim that Eagerly in fact agreed to resign in January), and most managers have “Interim” in their title. The Oakland Planning Commission has lacked its seventh member since May 6. This absence of leadership has made City Hall even more dysfunctional than usual. The reader need only watch one major public meeting to see how poorly staff is performing without direction or any authority.

I used to oppose a recall, but it is now clear that Dellums cannot even fulfill the most basic function of the mayor’s job, to appoint the powerful officials who run the city. Without a permanent City Administrator or a full Planning Commission, the business of city government is not accomplished. The situation is intolerable, inexcusable, and illegal – there is no provision in the Charter for a permanent Interim City Administrator! It’s time for a new mayor, because we don’t currently have one.

However, a recall campaign would take about five months from filing to an election (assuming signatures would be gathered quickly). Even if nicely timed to fit the very probable special election next June, a new mayor would get only a year-and-a-half jump on running the city, and since mayoral campaigns will begin in a year, it’s only six months before Dellums becomes an even lamer duck. Is it worth expending $100,000 or more only to move the next mayoral election up by less than a year? With every passing hour, a recall is less valuable.

Thoughts around City Hall are already turning to 2010, as Chip Johnson points out today. In the meantime, politicians, whether newly-elected or turning their eyes to a bigger prize, need to attend to the business of governing. If no-one starts a recall by the end of the year, the City Council will be the only body with any authority in 2009. Though we’re all looking forward to a future with a capable Mayor, some decisions need to be made in the present.

Posted in citycouncil, dellums, edgerly, oakland.

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2 Responses

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  1. Max Allstadt says


    A recall would indeed be a waste. I think we should appeal to all the people who signed the online Recall Dellums Petition, and get them to sign your letter instead. A letter from 1000 Oaklanders to Obama endorsing Ron Dellums for Ambassador to South Africa – it’s so crazy it just might work!

  2. Ron Dellums says

    Recall the Dellums?