Oakland has now been called a “bright idea” by Outside Magazine, which gives credit to former Mayor Jerry Brown for buffing up the downtown. Is our current Oakland Mayor, Ron Dellums, just some metaphorical chopped liver?
In its August issue, Outside touts our urban renewal progress. The article points to the housing units and restaurants built. If you build it, then they will come. (Yes, this doesn’t just apply to baseball diamonds built in cornfields.) In Oakland, folks are starting to be drawn back to the urban core.
Mayor Dellums is attempting to take a little credit. His chief of staff, David Chai, tried to attribute the city’s progress to the mayor during KQED’s Forum program last week. After getting challenged by local journalists, this spokesman backed down quickly. While Dellums may have supported additional development, results are a long-term proposition.
Of course, Dellums still needs to improve his public relations and communications. On the local front, he did emerge recently to dismiss the city administrator and show who’s in charge at City Hall. Most of the time, he avoids press conferences, individual interviews or, ultimately, the general public.
Until reading Outside, I didn’t consider how Dellums would be seen in the national press. This magazine is far from a political centerpiece, appealing to active or armchair nature enthusiasts. However it’s telling that the current mayor isn’t mentioned at all.
Non-existent press is probably the reason Mayor Dellums got ignored here. Try this: google “development” and “Dellums” together, and you see a few irrelevant results. So if journalists or researchers tried to find out what’s happening lately, they would come up empty-handed.
There’s no question the quiet mayor needs to pull his communications act together soon – whether that’s putting more effectively flacks out there OR just deciding to engage with media more actively.