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Dellums a Democratic sellout? Not really.

There’s no denying Ron Dellums ended his Oakland mayoral term last year under a cloud, his long legislative legacy having lost some of its luster, but new criticism that he has “sold his soul” by working for a former GOP congressman’s company seems like a stretch.

KTVU reported that Dellums, 75, a lifelong Democrat and a liberal lion during his decades in the House, has gone to work for Watts Partners, a lobbying and consulting firm co-founded and chaired by former Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla.

“It feels that he’s betrayed the party. He’s betrayed the public. He’s betrayed his ideals,” KTVU quoted Democratic activist and former Oakland City Council candidate Nancy Sidebotham as saying. “The bottom line with the economy the way it is today you’ve got to look for where the dollars going to come in and he’s hurting for money and that’s why he sold his soul.”

But while Watts and Elroy Sailor, the firm’s co-founder and CEO clearly are Republicans – Sailor worked for Republicans including Michigan Gov. John Engler and U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich. – there were Democrats on the firm’s senior staff long before Dellums joined up, bolstering the firm’s home page’s boast of “over 100 years of bipartisan experience.”

For example, managing partner Steve Pruitt previously worked as a senior aide and committee staff director for House Budget Committee Chairman and Majority Whip William Gray III, D-Pa. Senior advisor Tammy Boyd worked for Democrats including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. And senior associate Jaimon Jackson formerly worked for Democrats including Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Md., and Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening.

Considering that Dellums went stumping for President Obama in 2008 (albeit only after having endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primary), hiring him seems like a strategically sound choice for further beefing up Watts’ firm’s Democratic connections.

Posted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Under: Ron Dellums | 7 Comments »

Ron Dellums to sit for live TV interview Monday

Outgoing Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums will sit down Monday evening with Bay Area journalism icon Belva Davis for a live conversation about his term of office, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the city.

The interview will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. Monday on KTOP-TV Channel 10, Oakland’s government-access television station; it’s available to all Comcast Cable and AT&T U-verse subscribers. It can also be viewed as a live stream on the City’s web site.

The interview will then be rebroadcast at 3:30 p.m. next Thursday, Dec. 9; 8 p.m. next Friday, Dec. 10; and 5:30 p.m. next Saturday, Dec. 11.

Posted on Friday, December 3rd, 2010
Under: Oakland, Ron Dellums | 4 Comments »

Prop. 8, Ron Dellums and Prop. 209 on ‘TWINC’

I was on KQED’s “This Week in Northern California” on Friday night to discuss the big court decision on the constitutionality of Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage; other topics included Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums’ decision not to seek re-election, and the California Supreme Court’s ruling on San Francisco’s challenge to Proposition 209’s ban on affirmative action in public institutions.

Posted on Sunday, August 8th, 2010
Under: Ron Dellums, same-sex marriage | 2 Comments »

Oakland’s Budget Crisis: The Movie

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, whose seeming lack of public engagement in the city’s budget crisis and impending police layoffs has left some nonplussed, last week uploaded these videos in which he’s being briefed on the crisis by his staff:

What do you think – is this a mayor who’s adequately on top of the problem? Are these videos an appropriate and adequate way to communicate the problem’s parameters to the public, and to guide the process of solving the problem?

KTVU Channel 2’s Randy Shandobil aired a piece on Dellums’ apparent lack of engagement last night, and it sounds as if the often-prickly mayor had his dander up. It’ll be interesting to see what he has to say at today’s news conference; watch for our report from city hall reporter Kelly Rayburn…

Posted on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
Under: Oakland, Ron Dellums | 1 Comment »

Ron Dellums’ double-take on new police chief

(This just in from Oakland Tribune city hall reporter Kelly Rayburn…)

Mayor Ron Dellums believes Oakland’s next police chief, Anthony Batts, is “an extraordinarily capable police chief” and is confident the city’s “residents, police department staff and city officials” will find him a good fit for Oakland.

How do we know? Because Dellums said so.

Twice.

Here’s a statement from Dellums when he announced Batts’ appointment in August:

“Chief Batts is an extraordinarily capable police chief whose professional expertise, outstanding leadership skills and brilliant operational savvy make him the right choice for Oakland. Coming from a similar-sized port city with one of the most diverse populations in the country, Chief Batts understands the complexity of running an urban police department and implementing change to improve the quality of life in Oakland and engage the community to enhance public safety. I am confident that our residents, police department staff and city officials alike will find Chief Batts to be an accomplished leader and a great police chief for Oakland.”

And here’s the mayor’s statement from this afternoon when his office announced the mayor would be officiating a swearing-in ceremony for Batts on Tuesday:

“Chief Batts is an extraordinarily capable police chief whose professional expertise, outstanding leadership skills and brilliant operational savvy make him the right choice for Oakland. I am confident that our residents, police department staff and city officials alike will find Chief Batts to be an accomplished leader and a great police chief for Oakland.”

At least he’s staying on message.

Posted on Friday, October 16th, 2009
Under: General, Oakland, Ron Dellums | 2 Comments »

No state reward in Oakland Police slayings case

After Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums met with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger following last month’s slayings of four Oakland Police officers, Dellums told reporters March 22 that those who’d helped police that awful day might receive some compensation: “The governor did indicate that the state of California was going to assist in providing some reward money in that regard, but the details on that – I’m not aware of.”

So I checked in this week with Schwarzenegger’s office, and it turns out this isn’t going to happen.

“No reward was ever issued. The reward fund is only for unsolved cold-type cases,” Schwarzenegger press secretary Aaron McLear wrote in an e-mail, saying the governor’s office has had and will have no involvement in rewards in this case. “(I) don’t know what the mayor said but the law dictates that fund is only used for unsolved cases.”

Kelly Rayburn, the Tribune’s Oakland City Hall reporter, ran this past Dellums’ office.

“The possibility for reward money was one of a number of items discussed in requesting aid from the state. It was determined that the state reward funds are only used for cold, unresolved cases. I think at the time when the mayor made those remarks this was still an item up for discussion,” Dellums spokesman Paul Rose said Wednesday.

“The governor said he wanted to support Oakland in anyway he could as we go forward and this was one of those items that was discussed,” Rose said. “I don’t think there was a plan that said it could or it couldn’t be done. It was just an item that was being discussed.”

Posted on Thursday, April 9th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oakland, Ron Dellums | No Comments »

Bloggers not sorry to see OPD Chief Tucker go

Here’s some local blog buzz about Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker’s resignation — a move with distinct political implications for already-embattled Mayor Ron Dellums — this morning:

Brooklyn Avenue — “I have little to say about this except to point out that Dellums should have shown Tucker the door a long time ago, and the fact that he continued to defend Tucker and repeatedly persuaded Tucker not to resign (assuming the Tribune report is correct) speaks volumes about Dellums.”

Gene at Our Oakland — “Hmm…they’re properly funded, and according to Mayor Dellums’ address last night, properly staffed, so it seems more likely this was a case of quitting before being fired. Given the list of problems associated with his tenure, he probably decided it was time to get out of Dodge.”

Chris Thompson at the East Bay Express — “It’s not too late to revoke his pension, is it?”

V Smoothe at A Better Oakland (warning: explicit language if you click through): “The man has been an unmitigated disaster for four years, watched violent crime skyrocket at an almost inconceivable rate, and left our police department dripping with one scandal after another. The least he could do is have a modicum of grace as he leaves. But no. I couldn’t even imagine a worse thing to say? I’m shocked. Seriously. In total shock.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
Under: General, Oakland, Ron Dellums | 2 Comments »

Barbara Lee supports OPD probe of BART shooting

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, issued this statement tonight, hours after Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums declared that the Oakland Police Department will join the Alameda County District Attorney‘s office in investigating the shooting death of Oscar Grant III, 22, of Hayward, who died after being shot by a BART police officer while at the Fruitvale BART station in the wee hours of New Year’s Day:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Oscar Grant as they grieve the loss of their loved one. They deserve our support and assistance during this difficult period.

“I am pleased to learn that the Oakland Police Department is being brought in to conduct an independent, third-party investigation of this horrific incident. Hopefully, the Oakland Police Department will conduct a swift and thorough investigation into Oscar’s tragic death. I have communicated with Mayor Ron Dellums and the family’s attorney John Burris to offer my assistance.

“Our community is rightfully outraged by this deplorable act. We have a duty and a right to peacefully protest in an effort to seek justice. However in Oscar’s memory, let us not create more violence. Rather, we should continue to exercise our right to assemble peacefully as we seek answers to this deplorable act. We should also continue to insist that the investigation into the shooting be thorough and expeditious.”

Posted on Thursday, January 8th, 2009
Under: Barbara Lee, BART shooting, General, Oakland, Ron Dellums, U.S. House | No Comments »

What’s it like to be Fabian Nunez right now?

Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez has joined that small, sad fraternity of elected officials whose children stand accused of heinous crimes.

Esteban Armando Nunez, 19, and three others were arrested in Sacramento on Tuesday and charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the Oct. 4 slaying of a college student from Concord in San Diego. According to the arrest warrant, “Nunez said whatever happens, he would take the rap for it” and that “hopefully his dad would take care of it and could get them off on self defense.”

It’s heartbreaking, in so many ways — first and foremost for the family of Luis Santos, the young man killed in the incident. There can be no true, full justice for the loss of a child.

But you’ve got to feel for Fabian Nunez too, just as so many must’ve felt for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, whose son, Michael, has repeatedly been denied parole from his 15-to-life sentence for murdering a reputed drug dealer in 1979. Or for Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, whose namesake son is serving 14 years in prison as a serial rapist.

You’d have to feel for any parent who sees his or her child stand accused this way, to understand the doubt and dismay inherent in pondering what went so terribly wrong. Whether or not the parent had a close relationship, or any relationship at all with the child, seems to matter little when you know the person up there in jail togs and chains is your blood. As a courts reporter, I used to see that horror in parents’ eyes all the time; as a parent, I imagine I feel it every time I read a story like Dellums’ or De La Fuente’s or Nunez’s.

Even those whose kids stand accused of lesser crimes – think Jeb Bush’s Noelle, or Al Gore’s namesake son – must feel this pain, though they need not take upon themselves the pain of victims and their families.

Any parent of any defendant must feel this way, but I’d imagine that to endure it as an elected official means a certain sort of amplification: The public has chosen you to represent its interests, and now it sees your child as the very bogeyman you were elected to protect against. There will be no privacy for you during this painful process; all the eyes that watched your work will now watch your personal pain as well.

Then again, it could be so much worse. Just ask former state Senator and Secretary of State Bruce McPherson.

You don’t have to agree with a politician’s politics to empathize with him or her as a human being, as a parent. So think a good thought for Fred and Kathy Santos of Concord as they grapple with the tragic loss of their son, but think one as well for Fabian Nunez as he grapples with how and why his got so far away from him.

Posted on Thursday, December 4th, 2008
Under: Al Gore, Fabian Nunez, Ignacio De La Fuente, Ron Dellums | No Comments »

Ron Dellums to stump for Obama in Florida

We all knew Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is headed to the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, today for a campaign rally with Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

But, look out — Oakland’s getting into the swing-state blitz, too. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums departs Saturday morning for Tampa, Fla., where he’s to do some early-voting and get-out-the-vote appearances Sunday on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Dellums, you’ll recall, had endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary; she named him chairman of her campaign’s urban policy committee. It’s not surprising he’s giving his all to make sure any Democrat wins the White House, though some might find it surprising that he’s jetting out of Oakland for the weekend before city residents vote on Measure NN — a parcel tax to pay for hiring more police officers — which he helped put on the ballot…

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Oakland, Ron Dellums | No Comments »