Let’s get ready to rumble

Oakland Councilmember Nancy Nadel, who has always marched to the beat of her own drummer, announced her bid for the council presidency Tuesday night by giving each of her council colleagues a holiday present — a book on restorative justice.

Nadel has long championed restorative justice to address gaps in the criminal justice system and end the criminalization of young people. Saying she was frustrated by all of the backroom dealing for the job, Nadel said she would be an inclusive council president by respecting all opinions and would govern with generosity.

While her announcement makes me look smart, the vote isn’t scheduled until Jan. 8 — the same day Mayor-elect Ron Dellums gets to drop the elect from his title — and none of her colleagues even thanked her for her gift, much less pledged their support. But as the meeting dragged on into the wee small hours of the morning, they had more to say about De La Fuente’s fate.

Despite his difficult year, De La Fuente notched several crucial victories last night. His proposal, authored with Vice Mayor Jean Quan, to hire four more legislative analysts passed, 5-3. Nadel voted no, along with Councilmembers Desley Brooks (no surprise there) and Patricia Kernighan, who typically votes with De La Fuente. She said the city had more pressing needs and a looming $13 million deficit to consider.

In addition, De La Fuente got another term on the board overseeing the Coliseum Complex. Brooks abstained, saying the decision should be made in January, after the selection of the next council president.

“You assume the council presidency will stay the same,” Brooks said, pausing dramatically. “It may not.”


  • Nadel is an unlikely Council President. She came in a distant third in the mayoral election. In October, she gave Aimee Allison a high-profile endorsement, and then watched Allison get creamed despite outspending Kernighan. Given the sharp disagreements between Nadel and Brooks on the Council’s biggest issues of the fall (condo conversions and “inclusionary zoning,” ie a $100k/bd condo tax), she probably can’t count on that vote (not to mention her EBX argument with Keith Carson, Brooks’ old boss). So, Nadel’s candidacy probably just means that she’ll lose her chairmanship of the Public Works Committee.

    I don’t know much about restorative justice, but Nadel’s a bit out-of-touch on crime issues, and prone to flubs (like when she told KTVU that the answer to a murder in her neighborhood is conflict-resolution classes in kindergartens). Her interests seem to be on a slightly larger scale. Given the debate she had with Keith Carson in the EBX, maybe she should be angling for County Supervisor, not Council President. Good quote from Brooks, though.

    BTW, your link doesn’t work.

  • Heather MacDonald

    Thanks for the thoughtful response, dto510. The link is fixed — guess I’m still getting a hang of this blogging thing.

  • Thank you for the entertaining and informative post! Without an editor over your shoulder, this news item is refreshingly frank. I look forward to more coverage of City Council meetings on this blog.