OAKLAND MAYORRON DELLUMSspeaks tomembersof the PiedmontPinesNeighborhoodAssociation attheir annualmeeting at theChabot Spaceand ScienceCenter.(LAURA ODA
OAKLAND MAYOR RON DELLUMS speaks to members of the Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association at their annual meeting at the Chabot Space and Science Center. (LAURA ODA Staff)
OAKLAND — For the first time since taking office, Mayor Ron Dellums met with community members and asked them to help turn Oakland into a model city.

Addressing a standing-room-only crowd Monday night at the annual meeting of the Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association, Dellums began detailing his plans to fulfill his sweeping campaign promise to address the problems that have plagued Oakland for decades, such as poverty, crime and hopelessness.

Embracing a recommendation from the task force on the reintegration of incarcerated individuals, one of 41 task forces that met between September and October, Dellums said he was working to end the requirement that prospective city employees disclose whether they have been convicted of a felony by checking a box on the standard employment application.

"Where it makes sense, let's take that box away," Dellums said, noting that applicants for positions in the police department and those who work with children still would have to disclose their criminal histories.

Removal of that box will encourage ex-convicts to apply for well-paying jobs and avoid shuffling from one job to another, according to the task force recommendation.

In addition, Dellums said he was working to set aside a number of city jobs for ex-felons in an effort to set an example for private businesses.

"How can we ask private industry to do something we refuse to?" Dellums said. "Where is the integrity in that?"

Dellums also promised to expand the mayor's summer job programs to 500-600 positions,giving more youth an opportunity to stay out of trouble during the hottest months when violence spikes.

Calling Oakland's two-year budget of

$1 billion "chump change," Dellums said he had put out a call for nonprofit groups and philanthropies to lend their grant writers to the city for 60 to 90 days in an effort to increase the amount of federal money flowing into the city.

"Oakland's budget will not get us from here to where we need to be," Dellums said, reiterating one of his central campaign pledges to increase collaboration not only among governmental agencies but also between the public and private sectors.

Dellums said he also was looking to local foundations to help implement "the wonderful set of ideas" developed by the task forces, and urged the more than 200 people in the audience to join the second round of meetings, starting in the next several weeks.

At the end of his remarks, about half of the audience rose to give the mayor a standing ovation. Afterward, several people said they were pleased that the mayor offered specific proposals, as well as a stirring and eloquent overall vision for Oakland.

Although he lost to Dellums by nearly 17 percentage points in the June election, Council President Ignacio De La Fuente (Glenview-Fruitvale) bested the mayor in many precincts in the hills.

However, others said they were frustrated that Dellums has yet to introduce a major policy initiative in the two months since he took office, but acknowledged that real change won't happen overnight.

"It sounded like a campaign speech," said Dewey Watson, a hills resident. "We're beyond that. I hope his plan evolves, but it sounds like he's going in the right direction."