A fitting end to Dellums' mayoral tenure

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Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums has announced that he won't give his final State of the City speech tomorrow in person as scheduled, instead performing the legally required duty by simply sending in a written report and video, a fitting end to his terrible tenure as mayor.

“In lieu of a public address this Wednesday, Mayor Dellums has opted to provide a comprehensive, printed State of the City report and accompanying video chronicling his four-year administration. These will be available on line at www.oaklandnet.com on November 17, 2010,” read a memo released yesterday by the Mayor's Office.

It will be an ignominious end for a legendary political figure who rose from the black power movement of the '60s to serve a remarkable 13 terms in Congress, where he was a leading voice against war and wasteful military spending. But as mayor, Dellums simply failed to lead a city that desperately needed him, ducking the city's biggest problems and any sense of public accountability.

When Dellums came to the Bay Guardian offices four years ago to seek our endorsement (which we gave him, hoping he would be better than then-frontrunner Ignacio De La Fuente), Executive Editor Tim Redmond asked him what qualified him to be mayor and whether he was up for coming out of retirement to take on such a demanding job. Dellums responded with fiery indignation – how dare we question his fitness for such a piddling office after such a distinguished political career.

In retrospect, it was a good question, and a telling non-answer. Luckily for Oakland, after two mayors in a row that were legendary if imperious political figures, the city will now have a mayor – Jean Quan (who narrowly beat a man who would have followed in the Jerry Brown/Ron Dellums model: Don Perata) – who is committed to doing the hard work on this very difficult job. We wish her well.