Fact Checking The Mayoral Candidates’ Positions, Part Six: Getting it Done

By Jennifer Inez Ward, Contributing Editor, Oakland Local

(Editor’s note: Oakland Local and Make Oakland Better Now! – MOBN! – have teamed up to take a close look at the accuracy of candidates’ response to an online questionnaire from MOBN. We want to know if candidates are being truthful and accurate in their responses, or are they veering from facts and offering opinion without any solutions?

Each day, Oakland Local will run a fact checking story on seven important questions.)

Today’s Question: What will you do as mayor to ensure that your agenda is being executed?

Don Perata

Since Oakland’s mayor hires all department heads in city government, Perata said he will closely monitor the performance of the top city hall personnel.

“It is unambiguous and excuse proof,” Perata wrote.

What we found: There was no follow up information provided by Perata on how he would rate the performance of city department heads or what he would do if he is not satisfied with a department’s performance.

Jean Quan

Quan said listening will be a key element in getting her agenda executed.

“I will hold monthly community town hall meetings,” Quan wrote. “I will hold regular cabinet meetings and collaborative forums on major issues to track progress on main city initiatives.”

Quan also wants to establish and track clear performance measures for city departments.

What we found: A mayor spending extensive time with the public sounds like a breath of fresh air to us, except Quan didn’t connect how her listening tours will actually help accomplish her goals.

Also, Quan didn’t lay out the details of how she would measure the performance of city departments.

Joe Tuman

Tuman said he will regularly meet with department heads (who must present measurable data reports) and set clear goals that must be met by city departments.

“I will actively manage those under my office,” he said. “I will insist that each department head push the limits of their department’s capabilities in defining the particular goal involving that department or departments for the betterment of our city.”

Tuman said he will also participate in all City Council meetings.

“I will maintain constant contact with our Council members to ensure that progress is made in completion of the goal and, if I face intransigence on the part of the Council, will turn to you, our citizens, to rectify this barrier to the advancement of the policies I know are vital.”

What we found: A highly engaged mayor may be just what Oakland needs right now. Ron Dellums’ term as mayor may mostly be remembered for how removed he was from everyday city dealings. So anyone that promises to be actively involved with both staff and City Council as mayor is likely to garner points with many voters. But, Oakland also has a history of strong, hard-nosed mayors (Jerry Brown, for example) whose hands-on manner got mixed results with city staff.

Terrance Candell

“Asked and answered (#11)”

What we found: An incomplete response.

Arnie Fields

Fields said he will personally hold administrative heads responsible for getting work completed in City Hall.

Fields also said, “the entire rainbow” will be represented in his administration.

What we found: There wasn’t a lot of detail in Fields’ response.

Greg Harland

Harland said that in the beginning of his administration, he will meet daily with the department heads to make sure his agenda is on track and his goals are being met.

What We Found: Harland didn’t offer any information on how he plans to make sure city departments stay on track.

Rebecca Kaplan

Kaplan said that as mayor, she will be responsive to the community and she will work closely with her City Hall staff.

“I will create a 311 system to take and track citizen complaints and service requests. I will meet regularly with my City Administrator and department heads to examine progress to our goals. I will be actively out in the community and plugged in to the community through my staff, non-government institutions and regular public engagements,” she wrote.

What we found: Like other candidates, Kaplan wants voters to know that she will be very engaged in her role as mayor. Given the complexities of the office, it will be critical to stay on top of departments, work with City Council and listen to community concerns and ideas.

A 311 citizens’ call center in Oakland would follow on a trend developing across the country in mostly smaller size cities. The 311 program has generally been well received.

It’s unclear how Kaplan will pay for a 311 system.

Don Macleay

Macleay said he will conduct constant outreach efforts in Oakland.

“I will be the kind of mayor who is at the Council meeting, goes to Sacramento when needed, meets with the business community, who reviews all the open contracts for compliance, who calls, comes and acts.”

What we found: Macleay’s response didn’t directly connect his outreach efforts with successfully accomplishing his goals.

This story is a collaboration between Make Oakland Better Now!, Oakland Local and Spot.us. Thanks to Jen Ward and Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig for their work.

Follow the series here.  Links to all of the questionnaires are available at the Make Oakland Better Now! web site here.

Make Oakland Better Now!

OakTalk Here is the blog of Make Oakland Better Now!, an Oakland community grassroots group of a grass-roots group of voters, volunteers, and policy advocates committed to improving the City of Oakland by focusing on public safety, public works, and responsible budgets. Founded in 2003, we’ve researched, lobbied, and successfully campaigned for a number of new, impactful policies, including the city’s Rainy Day Fund, Measure Z and Operation Ceasefire.

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