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Appointment puts Oakland on the brink

Yesterday, deeply unpopular Mayor Ron Dellums named his long-time aide, Interim City Administrator Dan Lindheim, permanent City Administrator. Nevermind that the interim appointment of Mr. Lindheim was illegal, or that Mr. Lindheim has no experience as a city manager, or that his seven months as interim administration have been among the city’s worst. His appointment must be confirmed by five members of the City Council, and it is up to them whether Oakland continues its deeply frightening downward spiral or demands professional, competent, and qualified management instead of cronyism.

The City Administrator is the single most powerful official in the City of Oakland. He has power over all 5000 city employees and every department’s budget. The Chief of Police, the CEDA Director, and the Budget Director are among the top administrators that report to him. It was former City Administrator Deborah Edgerly’s intimate involvement in the Police Department that allowed her to allegedly tip off a relative that he was under surveillance. Oakland simply cannot afford a subpar City Administrator in charge of everything from parking tickets to gang investigations.

Dan Lindheim, Dellums’ longtime Congressional aide who later worked for the World Bank, does not meet the most basic qualifications to be the top official of this troubled 420,000-person city. He has been the Interim City Administrator for almost seven months, during which time he has overseen the complete meltdown of city functions from policing to labor relations to parking, including several public-safety scandals that contributed to Chief Tucker’s resignation. Appointing Mr. Lindheim City Administrator is entirely unacceptable, and activists are asking citizens to write their Councilmembers in opposition.

Mayor Dellums claims he used public funds to conduct a nationwide search for City Administrator. How did Dan Lindheim, who has no relevant experience, win that competition? The public deserves a real City Administrator with a successful record, and our representatives need to know. Oakland’s only hope is for a public outcry to prevent the Council from approving Dellums’ unqualified crony to run the city including its police department. Please email your Councilmembers asking for them to oppose the appointment of Dan Lindheim as City Administrator because he is utterly unqualified, and Oakland deserves better.

UPDATE: Becks at Living in the O also calls for citizens to urge their representatives to oppose Lindheim’s appointment, and A Better Oakland agrees.

At Large: Rebecca Kaplan, rkaplan at oaklandnet dot com


District One (Rockridge – Piedmont – North Hills – Golden Gate): Jane Brunner, jbrunner at oaklandnet dot com

District Two (Grand Lake – Chinatown – San Antonio): Pat Kernighan, pkernighan at oaklandnet dot com

District Three (West Oakland – Downtown – Adams Point): Nancy Nadel, nnadel at oaklandnet dot com

District Four (Montclair – Dimond – Laurel): Jean Quan, jquan at oaklandnet dot com

District Five (Fruitvale – Glenview – Jingletown): Ignacio de la Fuente, idelafuente at oaklandnet dot com

District Six (Millsmont – Seminary – East Oakland): Desley Brooks, dbrooks at oaklandnet dot com

District Seven (Outer East Oakland – Airport – Coliseum): Larry Reid, lreid at oaklandnet dot com

Posted in budget, california, citycouncil, cityworkers, dellums, edgerly, oakland, opd.

9 Responses

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  1. Max Allstadt says

    We have a mayor who is perpetually evasive, invisible and unaccountable.

    The last thing we need is a city administrator who has 20 years of loyalty to an incompetent Mayor.

    The last thing we need is a city administrator who has never lived in Oakland.

    The last thing we need is a city administrator who has learned all he knows about transparency and accountability from his previous job… at the World Bank!

    Plus, the junior staffers at CEDA don’t exactly have a wealth of nice things to say about Lindheim. I’ve gotten to know a few of the younger 250 Frank Ogawa workers over the past year. For the most part, when I ask them about management, I hear good things. But when I’ve ask about Lindheim, on more than one occasion, you know what I’ve heard? Swearing. Lots and lots of swearing.

    Seriously. Write your council member. The only explanation I have for how complicit the council is being is that they think that their relationship with the mayor will become impossible if they vote against Lindheim. Well guess what, the mayor will be impossible and inept either way. Voting against Lindheim is a way to save us from doubling the problem.

  2. dto510 says

    I’m surprised the Charter doesn’t require the City Administrator to live in Oakland, but it’s certainly a good point that someone who does not live, and has never lived, in the city should disqualify him. Here’s what the charter says about the City Administrator:

    He shall be a person of demonstrated administrative ability with experience in a responsible, important executive capacity and shall be chosen by the Mayor solely on the basis of his executive and administrative qualifications.

    Doesn’t sound like Lindheim, does it?

  3. OaklanderOnline says

    Thanks for posting this!

    I will do so, and in my emails, comment on how Dellums’ firing of the city’s Neighborhood Services Manager, Claudia Albano, is unwarranted. Her hard work is well-regarded in Oakland and her position is the most vital right now.

    I will be sure to also contact Marisol Lopez, Executive Assistant to the Mayor: MLopez at oaklandnet dot com, (510) 238-3120.


  4. SA says

    I wrote my council members (District 2 and At-Large). Here’s the disappointing response I got from Pat Kernighan:

    As disappointed as I am not to have a professionally trained City Administrator, I think Dan Lindheim is the best we can do under the circumstances. I don’t think he was picked because he is “crony.” He was picked because he’s been holding down the fort pretty much single-handedly since Deborah Edgerly left. He does have a Ph.D in Economics and a law degree, so he’s no dummy. He also is the one who exposed the true state of our finances and the huge deficit. He may not be perfect, but he’s honest and is motivated to act in the best interests of Oakland. The truth of the matter is, no one qualified wants
    to come work for our Mayor. Why jeopardize your career with this crazy Administration?

    Pat Kernighan

  5. V Smoothe says

    If Lindheim was able to expose the “true state of our finances” on his own, how come we had to pay a fortune to outside consultants to do it?

  6. Chris Kidd says

    “he’s honest and is motivated to act in the best interests of Oakland”? **That’s** the bar we’re setting now for the top administrative position in the city? “Just don’t lie to our faces and rob us blind! Whatever else you want to do is up to you!” Well, I also love Oakland; can I haz a job?

  7. SA says

    I pointed out in my reply that I am also smart and honest – I have a PhD and a Mensa-level IQ, but I know better than to try for a position that involves running a city of 400,000.

  8. Max Allstadt says

    Wow. PK called Dellums “Crazy” on record. And she’s the mellowest member of the council by a long shot!

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Take Action: Ensure Top-Rate Management for Oakland « Living in the O linked to this post on January 30, 2009

    [...] dto510 at Future Oakland is also asking you to contact your Councilmembers about Lindheim’s [...]