Monday, January 5, 2009

Trib on Dellums' Troubles

by Chris Thompson
Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 9:27 AM

Just as the Chronicle did two weeks back, the Trib's Kelly Rayburn writes up a lengthy piece on the growing chorus unhappy with Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums' performance. As with the Chron, this is one of those times where the paper of record officially declares that Dellums' somnolence has become a matter of public concern, something like the moment when the principal sends your parents a letter warning about your behavior. In this case, Rayburn's extensive detail and impartial tone are just right for what she's trying to accomplish, and the piece comes off as fair-minded, while conveying a sense of disquiet about the mayor's performance.

We have a few questions left over; for example, the mayor's office claims that he's brought in $189 million for a variety of development and social programs, a rather extraordinary figure. We can't help but wonder if these are additional monies his unique influence has attracted, or if Dellums' office is including state and federal funds already or routinely earmarked for Oakland. If he really has brought in the equivalent of almost 20 percent of the city's budget in extra cash per year, you'd think we'd have heard more about it before now. Then again, maybe we're just too jaundiced about the mayor to give him the benefit of the doubt. Comments like this, as reported in the story, don't help. "I think it's a phenomenal sacrifice for a man who has such phenomenal cachet to be our mayor," Geoffery Pete told the Trib. The hero-worship on display here, the sense that Oakland's future is really just a chapter in the story of Dellums' life, pretty much sums up what we despise in celebrity mayors. Being mayor means more than giving up your Georgetown townhouse, and we're sick of being asked to be grateful that Dellums' wingtips touched Oakland's soil once again.

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