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  • You can keep Oakland, CA too.

    Dellums is off in a ditch on Oakland sideshows
    Chip Johnson

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    In the wake of three recent deaths connected with illegal street car gatherings known as sideshows, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums last week raised the idea of finding a way to sanction sideshows as a legitimate activity.

    I wonder if the city would also sanction the violence, sexual assaults, vandalism and homicides that are a part of the festivities.

    Instead of taking a stand and showing leadership against a clearly dangerous activity that serves no purpose other than to create total mayhem on the streets, Dellums wants the city to explore legalizing it.

    His suggestion is not only a disappointing judgment, but also speaks volumes about the mayor's lack of public policy development on the issues directly affecting the lives of residents.

    Dellums has suggested city staff and police waste precious resources and time exploring the history of sideshows to determine if the street car rallies are attempts at feats of driving bravado and skill or merely the spark for the mayhem that often accompanies the spontaneous gatherings organized on the fly by cell phone and text-messaging.

    If the mayor is searching for data to help define what sideshows are, he doesn't have to look very far - the carnage over the years speaks for itself.

    If he wants to familiarize himself with the activities at sideshows, he can obtain from the Oakland Police Department any one of a number of CDs sold on the street that chronicle the violence and mayhem, and view it in the comfort of his own home.

    Unfortunately, the mayor's latest pronouncements on this subject are little different than his actions on pretty much everything else in the past: It's just more Dellums Speak. It seems he has no intention to lift a finger to do anything about it - one way or the other.

    The very suggestion that Oakland's unique sideshow events are the modern-day cousins of 1950s street races is a testament to his misconceptions. Teens still hold street races in cities across the Bay Area, but sideshows are exclusive Oakland-only events that draw crowds from across the region.

    District 6 Councilwoman Desley Brooks made a similar proposal in 2005 but found no professional racing associations that wanted any part of such events - or the liability that goes with them.

    Dellums' meanderings also placed Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts in an awkward position, unable to publicly criticize his new boss on the same day he was sworn into office.

    Batts did not comment on the mayor's statements, but if his actions suffice for his views on the issue, I think I like this guy already.

    Over the weekend, Oakland police deployed a heavy presence in areas of East Oakland identified as favored venues for the illegal events.

    "If you break the law here, we're going to hold you accountable," Batts said.

    And until the city adopts a policy to allow the events, which seems highly unlikely, "doing illegal activity on the streets will be dealt with," said the new chief.

    So, even as our Quiet Mayor sits and thinks "creatively how we solve this problem," his new police chief has come up with a "creative" solution.

    His plan is to enforce the law. What a concept.

    Chip Johnson's column appears in the Chronicle on Tuesday and Friday. E-mail him at [email protected].

    "Corruptisima republica plurimae leges."

    "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws."
    - Cornelius Tacitus

  • #2
    Uhhh good one Mayor. BTW most street gangs use the facade as a street racing set. Nope, no drug dealings and violence there.


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