Oakland Local

Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana is among five finalists to become Dallas’ next city manager, according to The Dallas Morning News. The Dallas City Council announced the finalists Thursday, which also includes its current interim city manager and candidates from Raleigh, N.C. and Cincinnati. Santana is the only woman among the group, which the paper said, could later include a sixth finalist.

Santana has served as Oakland’s city administrator since August 2011. She was previously deputy city manager in San Jose. Her interest elsewhere comes as a surprise. However, her short time in Oakland has been punctuated

Deanna Santana

by clashes with some Oakland council members who have charged Santana with overreaching the office’s authority.

A brochure advertising the Dallas job stated the ideal candidate “will demonstrate a commitment to presenting the same full, unbiased, balanced information to all members of the City Council in an apolitical manner and the ability to assist the Council in reaching consensus on complex and sensitive issues.”

The 15-member Dallas City Council is twice as big as Oakland’s. Dallas Councilmember Jennifer Staubach Gates told The Dallas Morning News, “You have to deal with all those 15 personalities. That’s not easy. It’s probably the toughest job in Dallas.”

 

 

Cross posted from East Bay Citizen

The short URL for this post is http://oak.lc/o5agC.

26 thoughts on “Will Oakland’s City Administrator go to Dallas? She’s in the running (Analysis)

  1. With police officers deserting for greener pastures in near record numbers, why should this surprise anyone? Or are there those out there who think Oakland’s government is not located squarely at Dysfunction Junction?

  2. I would imagine the Latham Square fits quite nicely with city government, and Mayor Quan’s unique (mis) handling of the dog park fiasco encompasses her time on the job.

  3. “It’s a toss-up whether Latham Square or the Dog Park is the more appropriate metaphor for our city government.”

    Both messed-up projects which began with good intentions, community involvement and high expectations for something new which could improve the environment in small parts of Oakland. Both projects devolved into nothing accomplished as city hall interfered and made poorly-thought-out decisions.

    A government of total nitwits. And who elected them? And who is going to keep reelecting them?

  4. Both Latham Square and the dog park were bad ideas. The dog park seemed to be taking Oakland into a civil war.

    Latham Square probably less so because the city did it so quickly and also promised it was “temporary.”

    “Fixing” something that’s not broken isn’t always a good idea.

  5. “Here we go again. Change, in Oakland, is always bad.”

    Here we go again, flying off the handle.

    No one said change is bad. We said those two SPECIFIC projects proved to be bad ideas.

    The reaction at the city council meeting proved the dog park was a bad idea. The community was very vocal against it.

    The reaction to Latham Square proves it was also a questionable “experiment.”People are still asking “why”?

    So Len’s calling these project metaphors for our government was very appropriate. I just wanted him to elaborate.

  6. I’m optimistic about political change starting with the mayoral campaign.

    I can see R2′s point of view that CC Member Schaaf is too much part of the club that has ruled Oakland for several decades, but she would still be a vast improvement over the incumbent. Would she be capable of leading residents to push the Council to make better decisions is a big question. Another would be her ability to re-engineer the city bureaucracy to be more efficient. You know what I think of her position on DAC.

    So she’s not my RCV first choice.

    When I’m most optimistic, I tell myself that Oakland voters are much smarter than you’d conclude from the way they vote for local officials. Talk to many of them one on one, and you’ll find that they are much smarter about the city’s problems than the average politician they elect.

    When I’m feeling less optimistic, I remember how RCVoting has the un-intended effect of dumbing down and eliminating sharp political debates among candidates. Hard enough for candidates to get name recognition, let alone define their position on complex issues without losing the second choice vote of someone.

    So will the next Mayor be chosen based on his or her smile and handshake and endorsements as publicized by the best fund raising? Yes to some extent.

    To counter that, we have to pick a candidate, feed them money and time and suggestions. Then put in the time to work the trenches at phone calling and going door to door talking to people about how our candidate is substantially better than the other ones. if we reach enough voters, they have a decent shot at making the right decision for their next mayor.

  7. “The reaction at the city council meeting proved the dog park was a bad idea. The community was very vocal against it.

    “The reaction to Latham Square proves it was also a questionable “experiment.”People are still asking “why”?”

    Reactions at Oakland City Council meetings never prove anything and are, much more often than not, undemocratic (unrepresentative of the community as a whole) and highly irrational (people who dislike change are usually much more emotionally involved than those who accept that innovation brings temporary inconvenience).

    Latham Square was a pretty straightforward attempt for traffic calming downtown. Traffic calming is a decades-old fundamental principle of what’s often called “the new urbanism.” Read Jane Jacobs or Donald Appleyard’s books of 30 or 40 years ago for an American perspective on exactly how traffic calming builds the economy and social life in urban centers. Oakland needs to try to catch up with the rest of the modern world. San Francisco and other Bay Area cities are full of successful Latham Square sorts of projects. You’ve got to start somewhere.

  8. Most Oaklanders are middle-of-the road. There are vocal progressives and more quiet conservatives.

    The progressives/activists are more vocal at the city council meetings. But how many citizens actually go to those meetings? How many citizens actually watch them except for entertainment?

    It’s like Len’s dog park metaphor. A small group wanted to build it right where people played soccer. Next to a playground. Most citizens didn’t know about it or take it seriously. It was a silly idea. Then the dog park was being planned and approved. Ropes outlined where it was going.

    Then it was like “Whoa! Wait a minute! A dog park right here?! Are they crazy?”

    Then the neighbors fought against it.

  9. “Most Oaklanders are middle-of-the road. There are vocal progressives and more quiet conservatives.”

    Profound. Evidence-based. Exceedingly useful.

    “The progressives/activists are more vocal at the city council meetings.”

    Except when they aren’t. When they’re clamoring for their own piece of the pie or their own very particular view of the world.

    The dog park planners had been at it for a decade. Not a small group by any means.

    Your insights are so, well, insightful. Not sure how often you get out.

  10. R2,

    If you have evidence that Oaklanders are more or less progressive, please provide it.

    I did not say the dog park group was “new.” I wrote once the neighborhood and community saw where the dog park was going, how big it was and that it was going for city approval, they fought it.

    The Latham Square might be another metaphor because the city put it up so quickly.

    Obviously, logic and reasoning weren’t required in your school.

    However, I am going to bring this back to the issue of Santana’s interviewing for Dallas. Will Dallas be better?

  11. She certainly had the opportunity in Oakland to learn a lot on the job because her boss the Mayor had absolutely 0 administrative and management experience or training.

    After a while it was obvious that DS also had a bunch to learn. She came here with heavy analytical big picture experience and very light operations experience.

    But the expectations in Dallas aren’t real high: “Rawling said the job would be a step up for any of the remaining candidates because Dallas is one of the largest cities with a city manager form of government.

    “It’s not like you’re going to get a Super Bowl champion coach to coach your team,” he said. “That’s not the way careers work in city management. This is kind of the ultimate step for a lot of people.”

    (Her allegation that the Federal monitor made an inappropriate advance to her, remains one of the stranger unsolved mysteries of Oakland muni history.)

  12. “If you have evidence that Oaklanders are more or less progressive, please provide it.”

    Trying to categorize the Oakland population as “progressive” or not is meaningless. That was my point. It’s actually worse than meaningless, it’s just plain stupid.

    “The Latham Square might be another metaphor because the city put it up so quickly.”

    The Latham Square project was a trial. City staff and members of the public put lots of time and effort into its design. Then a city staffer, because he or she got some complaints, changed the project well before the study period was over. That’s just plain undemocratic, not to mention stupid.

  13. Len,
    Oakland provided DS with an opportunity to learn to navigate through BS.

    The article states that she was at odds with the City Council. So did she learn from the Oakland experience or is she running from it?

    Remember, Dallas City Council has 12, not just 6, members.

    One of the problems with Oakland politics is that many politicians extol “progressivism” while the the citizens are more in the middle.

    From what I’ve read, Dallas does not hold up the progressive flag. Perhaps the citizens of Dallas are more in sync with the officials (I don’t know).

    How would you compare DS to Robert Bobb?

  14. “One of the problems with Oakland politics is that many politicians extol “progressivism” while the the citizens are more in the middle.”

    No city government which has for a decade allowed institutional racism to remain a barrier to police reform can be in any sense of the word “progressive.”

    Nor can any city government which has been so resistant to any real effort to make governmental policymaking and administrative procedure “transparent.”

    Oakland’s citizens have enthusiastically supported making Oakland a retail marijuana capital of the state. This is scarcely a “middle of the road” endeavor.

    My point is that superficial, not to mention undefined, ideological labels give us no useful basis for understanding how Oakland works or does not work.

  15. R2 wrote “Oakland’s citizens have enthusiastically supported making Oakland a retail marijuana capital of the state.”

    Huh? Where are you located? Is this based on survey at the Oaksterdam University?

    The issue between African Americans/police is neither progressive or conservative.

    By the way, re-read my comment about Oakland officials EXTOLLING “progressivism” as a disconnect from the rest of the city.

  16. OakNative, i wasn’t paying much attention to City Hall politics during most of the Bobb period. I have heard unbiased knowledgeable people disagree completely on whether they were sad or happy to see him depart. But even his critics would say he knew how to make the bureaucracy do what he wanted much better than DS.

  17. I didn’t follow politics back then either. I remember his name better than I remember the mayor back then (by the way, which mayor was it?).

    People may have liked him or hated him, but he reputedly got things done.

    I think about DS’s complaining about the man’s sexually harassing her. If she had been as tough as Bobb was reported to be, she would not need to worry about whether or not anyone believed her. She would handled it.

    So years later, will we be talking about DS with the same respect?

  18. ONative, as you know, Bobb had much more power as city manager than DS has as city administrator. So he’d be in Quan’s shadow just like DS. Which is why he wouldn’t take that job.

    Bobb also had the informal power of continuity being in office longer than just one mayor or council member. He had the advantage ovr DS that city bureaucrats couldn’t tell themselves that they were here before Bobb and they’d be here after Bobb. (Actually overheard some city office workers saying just that about Mayor Dellums. They were correct.)

  19. One of the things I remember about Bobb is that he worked on problems with had, not problems we didn’t have.

    Latham Square comes to mind. As if we needed another controversy.

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