You probably missed this! Earlier today, Mayor Ron Dellums appeared on NPR’s Tell Me More. We caught this national radio interview because KALW aired the program in its noon slot. You can still listen to the 12-minute podcast, where he makes his pitch for Oakland.
If the goal is to get our fair share of federal funds, then some national exposure supports the cause – and the Mayor hammered the need for jobs, jobs and more jobs. “We have to invest in infrastructure, education, health care and research,” said Dellums. “In solving the problems, you generate employment.”
Michel Martin, an experienced journalist who has reported for ABC Nightline, asked several direct questions about local governance, the Oscar Grant aftermath, state and city budget matters and, finally, Dellum’s overall aspirations.
- Executive Role: She probed the Mayor about his transition from the U.S. Congress to the local level. Dellums responded that his first public role was as a Berkeley City Council member, back in the 1960s. “Coming back isn’t new or strange but it is different,” he explained. “It’s the executive branch [and] all of the problems ultimately manifest themselves at the local level.” He admitted this is a very difficult job.
- Circle of Violence: Diving into the Oscar Grant killing, Dellums felt the “pain we echoed 40 or 50 years ago” and the same issues of violence and trust. Regarding the excessive force, he said the integrity of the community is at stake and that “there are a lot of issues that have to be addressed” like poverty, education, jail, health, etc.
- Balancing Budget: When asked about the California budget crisis, the Mayor identified the “significant revenue impact on education, health and redevelopment.” This could be solved by looking for help from the federal government and also cutting significant local programs. There’s no choice because “we have to present a balanced budget.”
- National Scene: Dellums is one of 24 mayors currently working with the U.S. Congress on economic solutions. At this point, he feels strongly about the jobs stimulus because most of the city’s ills can be solved with putting people to work.
We smiled when reporter Martin asked if the Mayor wanted to join the Obama administration. “I have a job and it’s a very taxing job,” said Dellums. “I’m trying to paint a vision for Oakland coming together.” Of course, his plan is to bring federal dollars to the model city.