A community news source for residents of the HarriOak neighborhood in Oakland, CA.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Outrage over appointment of City Administrator

There appears to be a lot of disappointment over Mayor Ron Dellums' appointment of his long-time aide Dan Lindheim as City Administrator. Future Oakland writes: "Never mind that the interim appointment of Mr. Lindheim was illegal, or that Mr. Lindheim has no experience as a city manager, or that his seven months as interim administration have been among the city’s worst. His appointment must be confirmed by five members of the City Council, and it is up to them whether Oakland continues its deeply frightening downward spiral or demands professional, competent, and qualified management instead of cronyism." The nomination is expected to be approved next week by the City Council.

Below is a letter written by the Oakland Builders Alliance (reprinted from A Better Oakland.)

Dear Neighbor:

Last night, the board of the Oakland Builders Alliance took an emergency vote and unanimously decided to send an open letter to Oakland residents condemning the appointment of Dan Lindheim as the new permanent City Administrator of Oakland. It also voted to file a formal complaint against the mayor for Cronyism, which will be submitted Monday per the Enforcement Section of the Anti-Cronyism Ordinance.

Dan Lindheim’s appointment as City Administrator stands in stark contrast to the appointment of two highly qualified individuals, Marianna Marysheva-Martinez and Walter Cohen, both of whom come with substantial experience and proven leadership in their field. Unfortunately, they’ll be managed by someone with almost no experience. And Oakland deserves better.

Lindheim may be a “smart guy” - certainly he’s someone that Mr. Dellums has learned to rely on over the last 30 years. But this is not the time for a band-aid, learn-on-the-job solution. Oakland is hemorrhaging and we need someone with skills and experience who can stop the bleeding and inject new life into the city.

Mayor wastes $150,000 in taxpayer funds on “nation-wide” search, and then appoints friend.

Mayor Dellums stated that he spent $150,000 in tax payer funds to conduct a nationwide search for a City Administrator, only to appoint his long time friend and ally, Lindheim. Meanwhile, no one knows who else was interviewed. No list of applicants was produced. No disclosure was made of how the funds were used. When asked by city hall gat-fly Sanjiv Handa at yesterday’s press conference why he did not make the names of the finalists public, the Mayor stated that he did not have to. Why is our city council silent on this issue? Was the search just a sham? Did the mayor know all along that Lindheim would be his appointment? If so, why did we spend tax money to retain the Hawkins Company, a head-hunting fim?

Appointment flaunts Anti-Cronyism ordinance passed just weeks ago.

On December 8th, 2008, the Oakland City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting Cronyism in hiring practices. The language reads: “‘Cronyism’ means participating in any employment decision that may be viewed as a conflict of interest, such as one involving a close friend, a business partner, and/or professional, political, or commercial relationship, that would lead to preferential treatment or compromise appearance of fairness.” About the Ordinance, Councilmember Nadel, the author, stated “I see (cronyism) as being more of a problem than nepotism.” (Oakland Tribune, December 4th, 2008.)/

The Oakland Charter reads: “(The City Administrator) shall be a person of demonstrated administrative ability with experience in a responsible, important executive capacity and shall be chosen by the Mayor solely on the basis of his executive and administrative qualifications.“

The mayor’s own job announcement detailed the following mandatory qualification for the City Administrator position: “Twelve (12) to fifteen (15) years of senior level executive management experience preferably in a large sophisticated diverse urban governmental organization.“

While Mayor Dellums is mandating that all applicants meet this requirement he is allowing his political friend and ally to qualify with almost no experience, simply because he is “smart”. The is the very definition of cronyism. (Merriam-Webster defines Crony as “a close friend especially of long standing“, and Cronyism as “partiality to cronie especially as evidenced in the appointment of political hangers-on to office without regard to their qualifications“.)

The choice of Dan Lindheim as City Administrator flies in the face of the recent ordinance and the city charter. The question now is: will the Oakland City Council ignore its own Anti-Cronyism ordinance, and render it purely a grandstanding move, or will it stand behind its own commitment to outlaw cronyism from employment decisions?

Our Leadership’s acceptable of mediocrity a reflection of low self-esteem.

Oakland is battle-scarred. We’ve been through tough times. And as a result, our leadership no longer is demanding excellence, or even mediocrity for the most important position in the city. Instead, they are using standards such as “he works well with us” or “he’s smart” as the baromete of good management. The Oakland Builders Alliance believes that for Oakland to become a great city, we must demand great management. And residents should settle for nothing less. Marysheva-Martinez and Cohen are excellent choices for their respective positions, but they will be managed by someone who does not have the experience to steer Oakland out of the current crime and budget crisis, and position it for greatness when the economic recovery comes.

Oakland residents must demand excellent management and accept nothing less from our leaders. The voters are the ones who set the bar of expectations, unless we abdicate this to those we elect.

The Oakland Builders Alliance will continue to demand excellent management. We invite you to join us by writing or calling your councilmember and demanding excellent, proven leadership, especially at the top. Urge them to deny the appointment of Dan Lindheim as permanent City Administrator and to instruct the mayor to use the $150,000 in tax payer funds allocated for the search to look for proven leadership. Oakland deserves nothing less.

Oakland bloggers are asking citizens to contact city council members and request records of Dellums' search and the appointment of an experienced administrator.

At Large: Rebecca Kaplan, rkaplan at oaklandnet dot com

District One (Rockridge - Piedmont - North Hills - Golden Gate): Jane Brunner, jbrunner at oaklandnet dot com

District Two (Grand Lake – Chinatown – San Antonio): Pat Kernighan, pkernighan at oaklandnet dot com

District Three (West Oakland – Downtown – Adams Point): Nancy Nadel, nnadel at oaklandnet dot com

District Four (Montclair – Dimond – Laurel): Jean Quan, jquan at oaklandnet dot com

District Five (Fruitvale – Glenview – Jingletown): Ignacio de la Fuente, idelafuente at oaklandnet dot com

District Six (Millsmont – Seminary – East Oakland): Desley Brooks, dbrooks at oaklandnet dot com

District Seven (Outer East Oakland – Airport – Coliseum): Larry Reid, lreid at oaklandnet dot com

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