Wednesday, June 25, 2008

EdgerlyGate: Who's to Blame?

By Chris Thompson
Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 2:44 PM

So let's say the allegations against Oakland City Administrator Deborah Edgerly are true. Yes, she did try to bully police officers, who were conducting perhaps the most important gang investigation in years, into freeing her nephew, who had a gun and has been identified as an alleged member of the Acorn street gang. Yes, she did bully the cops into finding a way to hire her unqualified daughter. Yes, she did threaten to use her authority against police who arrested a friend for raising hell outside an Oakland nightclub. If all this is true, who's to blame for letting her stick around?

Some point the finger at Ron Dellums, who has apparently backed down from his vow to get rid of her this week. In a post titled, "Dellums dithers, City Hall in chaos," the author of the blog Future Oakland writes, "This episode is only providing further ammunition to Dellums critics who call him indecisive and ineffective."

We beg to differ, at least a bit. As little use as we have for the present mayor, this mess belongs squarely at the feet of Jerry Brown. Once upon a time, Oakland had an excellent city manager by the name of Robert Bobb. He worked hard to force lazy bureaucrats to do their job, even phoning their offices and pretending to be ordinary citizens looking for help. But when the Oakland A's started making noises about leaving town, Bobb pushed Jerry Brown to help the A's build a new stadium in the Uptown district, near the 19th Street BART station. Jerry refused, preferring to spend dozens of millions of dollars subsidizing the Forest City housing development instead. Now, Bobb had a dismaying history of rolling over for sports franchises, and Oakland's been seriously burned by local teams before. But this fight so angered Jerry Brown that he not only nixed Bobb's Oakland A's notion; he fired Bobb with no plan to replace him with anyone remotely as qualified. Which is how we got Ms. Edgerly in the first place.

Of course, Brown wasn't the only one who had high hopes for Edgerly. Check out this Oakland Tribune editorial from 2004: "Brown's selection of Edgerly and other top administrators from the ranks of city employees is a change in direction from his first term, when he searched for celebrity names to hire. That's a change for the better on his part because, like Edgerly, many employees have lived here for many years and have firsthand knowledge of the neighborhoods and communities." If these allegations of nepotism and favoritism are true, maybe these city employees know each other a little too well.

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