Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums gave his State of the City speech earlier this week and spit the truth, as usual. Hearing the man speak about our great city always makes me proud to claim Oakland, and even more proud of the grassroots community organizing efforts that got this progressive mayor elected. Peep the homie Greg’s great post covering Dellums’ speech.
Of course, there will always be haters, and the one sippin the most Dellums Haterade is definitely SF Chronicle “reporter” Chip Johnson(in quotes bc the man doesn’t report, he just talks shit). Chip lives in Oakland, sadly, and loves to rant on about how “soft” Dellums is on crime. Granted, Oakland does have a tragic amount of crime and violence. However, Chip’s solution is to hire more police to make more arrests and send more people to jail. I’m not saying Dellums should never be criticized, but Chip writes with such pretentiousness that he ends up sounding exactly like what he is, an asshole.
Dellums understands that you cannot arrest, imprison, and execute your way out of this problem. Fixing the roots of crime requires policing solutions, economic solutions, education solutions and community solutions but NOT policing by itself. Chip Johnson does not understand this. Chip, please quit your hating and go move to Marin. And oh yeah, fuck you from The Box, Oakland has no need for your negativity.
“I am serious about crime and violence, and I’m so serious that I’m saying let’s don’t play games with each other, folks. When crime and violence were constrained to the barrios and the ghettos and the ‘hoods, people didn’t pay any attention. [When it spreads citywide] we’re all concerned about it.
This is not just a question about police. We have to do the best we can, and I’m absolutely and unequivocally committed to do that. But at the same time, I have lived long enough to know we have closed our eyes to the injustices and inequities, and now we are reaping the wild winds of that disregard for a whole range of people.”
~Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, 10/13/2007
In addressing a North Oakland Town Hall meeting yesterday, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums is consistently setting an example for how progressive big-city mayors should talk about solutions to the issue of crime. He also outlined his vision for the city, which included plans for a citywide zoning plan, high density concentrated in the downtown area, and a mixed-used development of the former Oakland Army base that would produce a minimum of 10,000 jobs. Word.
We’re approaching the final months of Ron Dellums’ first year as Mayor of Oakland, and he has stated how he thinks big city mayorship is a harder job than the US presidency. His relationship with the mainstream local press and media has definitely been cold, and the really negative articles about him written by SF Chronicle columnists such as Chip Johnson and Matier & Ross are reflective of that. However, that relationship might be changing, and Chip Johnson wrote some interesting thoughts on a conversation he had with the Mayor recently.
I for one appreciate that Oakland now has a progressive, passionate Mayor with real vision. He leads in a very thoughtful way, and it shows in his approach to specific issues, such as public safety. Oakland has one of the highest murder rates in the country, and the struggle to stop the violence occurring in our city everyday is an issue that must be addressed (not to mention racist killings like that of Gary King, killed by the Oakland Police Department). It is also a very complex issue with no simple solutions. Dellums has been criticized for not providing concrete details on his plans for lowering the homicide rate; people think he’s straight up “not doing anything.” However, he recently announced his plans to hire 25 Street Outreach workers from East and West Oakland whose jobs will be to steer Oakland youth away from crime and drugs and into recreation programs, education and jobs. The idea is that these workers will be experienced in conflict resolution and social services, as well as being from the neighborhoods they would work in, thus giving them the cred they would need with the community to try to stem the violence. This is an idea that makes so much sense, but is completely different from the generic solutions to crime that you normally get that call for “more cops, more arrests, bigger jails,” all of which Dellums has repeatedly said he will not pursue.
This is the difference that you get with Dellums. I get the sense that he doesn’t want to just appear like a strong personality in front of cameras and press conferences, he genuinely wants to do what he can to make Oakland the “model city” that we all know it can be. He wants to take the time to think and plan out a course of action, so that the plan is the best one. However, he’s always said that he is only one man and can only do so much by himself. If we are invested in a prosperous future for all of Oakland’s residents, we all have to do our part. Time will tell if Dellums’ approach does in fact translate into results. Its still early in his term and I for one am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.