In a vote that prompted boos and hisses and allegations of backroom deals, Ignacio De La Fuente was reelected president of the Oakland City Council during the inauguration ceremony of Mayor Ron Dellums. The eight-member council voted 6-2 for De La Fuente, handing him his eighth consecutive year as head of the city’s legislative branch. Only Desley Brooks and Larry Reid voted “no.”
De La Fuente’s re-election came after a stream of Dellums supporters in the 1,800-person crowd openly called for a change of the council leadership during the inauguration ceremony and council meeting at Oakland’s historic Paramount Theater. And the vote came moments after Reid, a longtime ally of De La Fuente’s, nearly got enough votes to supplant him.
Brooks, a progressive like Dellums, nominated Reid for the council presidency. But the council rejected Reid in a 5-3 vote, with only Nancy Nadel joining Brooks and Reid in voting for him. Reid was visibly angry after the vote, especially at De La Fuente, his longtime friend. When it came time to vote on De La Fuente’s nomination, Reid said “Definitely no,” and then later vowed to the standing-room-only audience to become a “different Larry Reid. … I’m going to tell you, Larry Reid’s gotta a different attitude.”
Reid then nominated Brooks, who is an enemy of De La Fuente, to become the city’s vice mayor. But she refused the nomination, alleging that the fix was in and there were not enough votes on the council for her to win. “The deals have been cut; the die has been cast,” she said.
The reelection of De La Fuente, who represents the city’s old guard and is the protï¿½gï¿½ of state Senator Don Perata, sent waves of anger through the crowd. People shouted and continually interrupted Councilwoman Pat Kernighan, one of De La Fuente’s staunchest supporters, who was attempting to defend him. Things got so out of hand, that Dellums himself had to interrupt the council meeting to calm down the crowd., calling on everyone to engage in “civil discourse.”
Afterward, in a small press conference crashed by the Express (more on that in a later post), Dellums explained, “I was trying to bring a sense of civility, raise the level of discourse. The people of Oakland deserve more than shouting and fighting.”