In a broad-ranging 55-minute address, Dellums also said Oakland has been selected as one of three cities that officials from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department and the White House will visit, possibly in early March, to evaluate the effect of the 2009 stimulus package.
"Oakland is not on this list by accident," Dellums said. "We're there because people appreciate that we've engaged in a problem-solving, collaborative effort that is relatively unique around the country, and here's our great opportunity to deal with that."
The mayor said the city has received $87.9 million in grants in which Oakland is the lead agency, plus additional money in grants in which the city worked with another government agency or other partner.
"There are other big initiatives out there," Dellums said afterward. "This jobs bill that's working its way through the Congress -- we're going to get our part of that. The transportation (bill) -- we're going to get our part of that."
Dellums' remarks to six of the city's chambers of commerce -- which at times sounded like a stump speech -- left some questioning whether he is laying the groundwork for a re-election bid.
"The mayor has not yet made a decision," said spokesman Paul Rose after the event. "He has stated he will notify the community at the appropriate time."
The Oakland City Council won't decide whether to increase the amount of money that can be donated and spent in city elections until the city's Public Ethics Commission vets the idea, a council committee decided Thursday.
City Attorney John Russo proposed doubling both the amount individuals can donate to candidates and the amount that can be spent by candidates who agree to the city's voluntary spending caps. The logic behind the proposal was that with Oakland's recent switch to instant-runoff voting, which precludes the need for primary elections, it makes sense to allow candidates to raise and spend more money -- particularly because candidates will want to educate voters on how the new voting system works.
Contribution and spending limits were adjusted this week by the City Clerk's office, and, with the new numbers in place, Russo's proposal would mean individuals would be allowed to donate as much as $1,400 to candidates, up from $700, and that a mayoral candidate who agrees to spending limits would be eligible to spend nearly $760,000.
The council's rules committee on Thursday asked the ethics commission to report back to the committee by March 11. Should the council end up changing the contribution and spending limits, it could have big consequences in the mayor's race, where former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata had already spent $72,578 by the end of 2009, with another $28,064 in outstanding debts. Council member Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel), also a candidate for mayor, by contrast, had spent $7,108 with no outstanding debts. Both candidates agreed to the spending limits.
Council members voted 7-0 Tuesday to tighten up the city's gun and ammunition laws, even though there are no dealers licensed with the city to sell firearms or ammunition in Oakland.
The changes to the law, supporters said, are part of a Bay Area-wide attempt to tighten up cities' and counties' gun ordinances. In Oakland, that will require anyone purchasing ammunition to submit a thumbprint, require people who want to sell ammunition to go through the same city permitting process as firearms dealers, and require people who reasonably should know they have lost a firearm to report it missing to police.
The vote was made over the objections of some gun-rights advocates, including the Redwood City-based Calguns Foundation.
"Where I live, there are guns everywhere," said Kevin Thomason, a member of the Calguns Foundation who lives in East Oakland. "Do I think the law is going to do anything to get rid of them? No. It's not going to do a darn thing."
City officials said while it may not solve all of Oakland's gun problems, they believe the Bay Area-wide effort will pay dividends. The vote was unanimous, with Council member Larry Reid (Elmhurst-East Oakland) absent. Reid co-sponsored the ordinance, which comes up for a final vote Feb. 16, with Quan.
"People always say to me, 'Is there anything we can do to reduce the shootings and the murders?'" Quan said before Tuesday's meeting. "This is not a huge step but is something else we can do."