Some bad news was hidden in Mayor Ron Dellums’ announcement about new city appointees: the quick firing of Claudia Albano, Oakland’s neighborhood services manager, who is much-loved among all neighborhood organizers.
Additionally Felicia Verdin, who coordinates the neighborhood watch program and community policing training, has been re-assigned to another department. These changes are supposed to be effective by close of business, today.
What the heck is this about?
When a politician or business executive first rides into town, you expect some housecleaning. In this case, a new city administrator who isn’t new to the city, Dan Lindheim, may have some reasons to sack Albano and Verdin – or simply wants to create his own team. We don’t know.
Yet this current team has made a difference for community volunteers. They organize regular trainings, provide guidance and are touted as “what works” in Oakland city government. There’s been a huge outpouring of grief from Montclarions, who have found them to be quite helpful on all safety matters (read here.)
Let’s see what happens today.
In this case, it makes sense for Mayor Dellums and City Administrator Lindheim to swallow their pride and reverse course. Our neighborhood crime watch groups are based on volunteers and voters who value the support they have received over the past few years. If it ain’t broke, then why break it?
Frankly I feel sorry for the new appointee, who is caught in the crossfire. The Tribune reported that “Dorlista Reed, who helped develop the city of Berkeley’s Neighborhood Services initiative among other programs, [has been named] as public safety coordinator.” She may be a qualified and wonderful person, but has a very hard act to follow.
Here are Montclarions’ responses.
Last night, many neighbors began emailing city officials when they heard the news. As active citizens who had worked with Claudia Albano and Felicia Verdin over the years, they were surprised and denounced the moves.
- Claudia’s firing and Felicia’s reassignment are an unwarranted, unjustified and cold personnel action which do not promote the efficiency of public service – and they will have an immediate, deleterious impact on community policing Oakland-wide.
- I am shocked, saddened and very disappointed in the Dellums Administration. The termination of Claudia Albino and reassignment of Felicia Verdin are unjustified, destructive actions. Both have been bright lights on the Oakland landscape, enabling thousands of Oaklanders to come together in NCPC’s, and Neighborhood Watch groups. Their dedication and hard work in Community Policing have produced positive changes in Oakland.
- This is very disheartening news. These two ladies stand for what we need in Oakland, commitment, dedication, and desire to serve our community. It is very sad to see that the mayor’s office does not take the community outcry seriously.
- Claudia and Felicia have done an absolutely fantastic job in Neighborhood Services. They have configured the Department and staffed it, and they have very effectively led and managed the Department through subordinate supervisors and staff members, despite meager resources compared to other major American cities.
- In the four years they have been in their positions, they have helped create over 500 new Neighborhood Watch Groups in Oakland, they have spearheaded successful National Night Outs that have brought together thousands of Oaklanders (20,000 in 2008), they have put on tremendously successful Neighborhood Summits to bring neighborhood leaders together, they have provided enormous amounts of neighborhood and business crime prevention training, and they support over 50 Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils city-wide and the Community Policing Advisory Board. And, they do much, much, more.
- I was shocked to hear the news about Claudia Albano. What on earth? It is inconceivable to me that Mayor Ron Dellums would fire Claudia. This is truly an outrage. Claudia is a huge asset to Oakland in her position as NSM. I can’t say enough about what a tremendous loss this will/would be for Oakland. Felicia Verdin is a true asset to Oakland neighborhoods as well. The Mayor should be ecstatic to have two such hard-working, dedicated, effective and intelligent women doing great jobs for the neighborhoods and taxpayers of Oakland. We simply can’t accept this negative turn of events.
- This is sad news indeed. Claudia’s passion and commitment to community service is exemplary. As you may recall, we had the opportunity to partner with Claudia when we formed a public safety group triggered by the tragic death of Ed Weiss, the bicyclist killed by a racing motorcycle in ’06 on Skyline Blvd. Although that crime regretfully was never charged, Claudia was there for us as an important advisor and liaison throughout. She went out of her way to help regardless of the time of day. In my opinion, this city needs talent like her badly.
- I have had extremely positive experiences with Claudia Albano over the years in her position as Neighborhood Services Coordinator. She is committed, hard-working, resourceful, effective and completely professional. She has been an outstanding force for public safety in Oakland. She must be retained.
- This is very upsetting and I urge the Mayor to re-consider this action–and for the city council to take a position on its wisdom. It is a very sad commentary. We have developed a “low bar” for our performance expectations for city administration–such that the simple action by the Mayor of filling long vacant key positions is lauded in the press–and there is little or no regard for who comes out on the negative end regardless of their outstanding performance and value to the community!