Oakland Mayor Dellums under scrutiny

February 15, 2008 11:08:01 PM PST
It hasn't been this bad in years -- 21 homicides in Oakland since January 1st.

People are desperate for solutions, but there's growing anger among some because the mayor isn't there.

A candlelight vigil was held on Friday in Oakland in response to eight murders in just one week.

There have been 21 murders so far this year, well ahead of the pace set last year which saw 127 murders.

Organizers are hoping this rally sends a message of hope to the community. And the business community also wants to send its own message to the city. That it wants the city to follow through with its plans to boost public safety.

The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to mayor Ron Dellums, encouraging him to implement his public safety plan. That includes hiring more than 800 new officers.

"This is really a call to action. Not just to the mayor, the city council, the city staff, the police department, the community at large," said Joseph Haraburda from the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber wants to bring $10,000 jobs to Oakland by 2011, but public safety could hinder that goal.

"A sandwich shop that got hit on a couple of times, the man closed the store," said Haraburda.

The Subway re-opened its doors in October with a bullet proof barrier. Business leaders worry about an image problem.

"Could it be better if there was an indication public safety was better than it was currently? If there weren't as many murders? If our city was last on the list? Certainly," said Haraburda.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist chip Johnson blasted Dellums in the paper on Friday for traveling to Washington D.C.

"He believes that coordinating with mayors, the US Council of Mayors and coming up with ways to lobby the federal government to help cities is a better way than being a hands-on mayor," said San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson.

Dellum's chief of staff says the money the mayor gets in Washington can help stop the violence in Oakland.

The people at Friday's vigil just want to see something done.

"We also need to encourage our mayor to walk these streets. He walks in downtown Oakland shaking people's hands. The violence isn't there," said a vigil attendee.