Ron Dellums's Image Takes Another Shot

Oakland mayor accused of trying to misuse city funds

It's a good thing Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums is not in the business of making friends.

Wednesday's accusation from fired Oakland City Administrator Deborah Edgerly that the mayor tried to use city money for personal use is sure to cost him support from the few people who still like him. After all the mayor is not nicknamed Ron "Doolittle" Dellums for his ability to speak with animals.

Edgerly, who was fired last summer for allegedly tipping off her nephew about a police raid on suspected gang members, filed suit against the city on Wednesday alleging that Dellums actually forced her out because she refused to authorize the use of city money to pay the mayor's utility bills, his wife's cell phone and expenses from a trip to South Africa.

Whether the allegations prove to be true or simply Edgerly's attempt at a pay day is irrelevant to Dellums haters such as The Chronicle's Chip Johnson, who believe the mayor needs to stop living off past achievements.

"He seems to be absent - or at least out of sync with the community - when major events hit the city he is supposed to lead," Johnson wrote in an article last year shortly after a 10-year-old boy was shot during a piano lesson. "Oakland needs a full-time mayor in the here-and-now whose feet - and head - are firmly set on terra firma and totally focused on fixing what ails this town - not the rest of the world."

The suit alleges that Dellums took powers dedicated to the City Administrator by the city charter for himself and if anyone objected they could "take him to court and sue him," according to the Courthouse News Service.

Edgerly's complaint says the problems began when Dellums hired his wife, Cynthia, and she requested "office space, computers, a 5 percent salary increase and a bonus to compensate for expenses she and her husband incurred during a trip to South Africa."

"In approximately May 2008, at a meeting held at the Dellums's home, Ms. Dellums asked Edgerly to pay for their residential PG&E bill for approximately $1,600.00. Edgerly refused this request," the suit says.

All this while the city looks to cut the police force by 10 percent to close an $80 million budget gap. Edgerly's allegations are also sure to add fuel to the fire to recall  the mayor who famously said at a town hall meeting in 2007, "I'm giving it everything that I have. If that's not enough, that's cool. Recall me and let me get on with my private life." The mayor is still undecided about whether he will run for reelection.

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