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It's reported today that David Chai, formerly the Chief of Staff to the Ron Dellums, the Mayor of Oakland, but demoted a few months ago, is leaving Oakland for San Francisco to become the "business czar" for Mayor Gavin Newsom. But what's sad about the article written by the Oakland Tribune's Kelly Rayburn is how many Oakland Councilmembers were openly trashing Chai on the way out.
First, it was known months ago in May that Chai had been demoted from the level of Chief of Staff and I mentioned this back then as well as that Marisol Lopez would be the new head of Dellums' staff.
So while Rayburn's article is out, the news is a bit off; Chai was moved long ago. But while David may have had his shortcomings, he was a talented staffer frustrated with the overall culture of Dellums' office. Still, you would think Oakland Councilmembers would be more publicly charitable to someone leaving on his own.
We know that Chai was essentially a head of staff but to for a councilmember to openly offer a negative view of a person's power in office is really crass. I think for some the perception that he lives in San Francisco and not Oakland - when he lives in Berkeley - may have been a bit of an annoyance. You want your Oakland mayoral staff to live in Oakland, not elsewhere. And yes, he's more of a policy person than a leader of people, but he wasn't that bad.
Oakland Councilmember Jane Brunner (North Oakland) was quoted as saying...
"There's never been a clear chief of staff. The way I see it,... there are people working on different projects, but it's never been clear that there's one person who's in charge of everyone."
Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente was more balanced in his assessment: "He didn't have the power that the chief of staff should have to make some decisions. I think that within a very complicated office, he did his best."
It's one thing for a blogger to point that out, but you'd think a Councilmember would at least protect Chai's image. Not so. I can't help but wonder if Brunner and De La Fuente knew they were being quoted for an article rather than just providing background.
If they were "just talking" Rayburn owes them an apology, but if they wanted those comments printed, it's just plain bad form to do. After all, when they step down, they certainly want people to say good things about them in print. Everyone should be celebrated when they chose to change jobs. Give Chai credit; he gave it his all.
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