Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums may deserve another four years in office after all. His decision to hire Long Beach Police Chief Anthony Batts to take over OPD appears to be inspired. Batts had an impressive record in Long Beach, a city with similar issues to Oakland, although its crime problems are not nearly as bad. Batts also appears to be a significant upgrade over Wayne Tucker, who never led a police force before Jerry Brown hired him as chief in 2005 and then oversaw a dramatic spike in crime during his tenure in Oakland. Batts also appears to be a much better choice than acting Chief Howard Jordan, who acquired a lot of baggage in his years in the department, despite the drop in crime under his command this year.
The Batts hire also appears to be another in a string of good decisions by Dellums and good news for Oakland. It comes on the heels of the city acquiring the largest federal policing grant in the country, thanks to his lobbying efforts in Washington. And it follows his decision last year to fire City Administrator Deborah Edgerly and replace her with Dan Lindheim. We would have preferred former City Manager Robert Bobb, but Lindheim has proved to be a good, competent administrator.
The Batts hire also raises serious questions as to whether anyone else could do better as mayor. Sure, it took a while for Dellums to hit his stride. But at this point, it's hard to see Don Perata, his main rival, doing any better. After all, The Don has never held an executive position in his life, has little record of accomplishment (other than raising cash and obtaining and consolidating power), and has a long history of hiring incompetent cronies, who have focused more on obtaining favors for his friends and donors than helping improve the public good.