San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson says when Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums ran for mayor in 2006, he pledged to run a transparent government, yet at a time when the city needs a strong leader to deal with budget cuts and lack of leadership in several key departments, Dellums is missing in action and his decision-making process is "one of the best kept secrets in city hall."

Even before Dellums ushered in a new era of open government, there were concerns about security leaks to the press. That would explain Dellums' decision to bar reporters from attending his history-making citizen task force committees convened to guide the new administration on everything from police tactics to parks and recreation needs.
    His campaign manager Kitty Kelly-Epstein, never returned a call for comment during the campaign. Not once. Epstein now serves in the mayor's office as his senior education aide.
    So two years later, amid the drivel of meaningless press releases about semi-weekly promotional appearances and mayoral . . . toy drives, the Oakland City Council, city department heads and, oh yeah, 400,000 residents, wait for actual news about how our fair city is faring.

Meanwhile in a separate column Johnson relates how a key city staff veteran was forced out of her job after giving a hug in a public meeting to one of the mayor's critics—an elderly woman and a relative to boot.

As just about anyone can see, the efforts of some members of the mayor's staff, including his wife, Cynthia, to silence all criticism and gag staff members from speaking to the press isn't working out too well. In fact, it's having the opposite effect.
    The more the mayor's office attempts to prevent staffers from saying anything that contradicts him, the more fed up individual people are becoming with the whole cabal.
    It's not respect that silences city staff, it's fear of reprisal from above, and that's just not how a democracy is supposed to work. Suppressing individual points of view and retaliation are not generally conducive to open debate of public policy.