On March 21st, 2013 City Auditor Courtney Ruby released a report accusing City Council Members Desley Brooks (D6) and Larry Reid (D7) of breaking several Oakland laws. The full report can be viewed here.
In her report, she asserted that Section 218, Non-interference in Administrative Affairs "is the underpinning of an ethical structure designed to afford every citizen, employee, and business the opportunity to live, work, and transact business with confidence that no inappropriate influence is being exerted. However, if Section 218 is not enforced— it is rendered ineffective."1 Section 218 reads as follows:
Section 218. Non-Interference in Administrative Affairs. Except for the purpose of inquiry, the Council and its members shall deal with the administrative service for which the City Administrator, Mayor and other appointed or elected officers are responsible, solely through the City Administrator, Mayor or such other officers. Neither the Council nor any Council member shall give orders to any subordinate of the City under the jurisdiction of the City Administrator or such other officers, either publicly or privately; nor shall they attempt to coerce or influence the City Administrator or such other officers, in respect to any contract, purchase of any supplies or any other administrative action; nor in any manner direct or request the appointment of any person to or his removal from office by the City Administrator or any of his subordinates or such other officers, nor in any manner take part in the appointment or removal of officers or employees in the administrative service of the City. Violation of the provisions of this section by a member of the Council shall be a misdemeanor, conviction of which shall immediately forfeit the office of the convicted member.2
Her reports cited concerns from anonymous complaints to the City’s Fraud, Waste and Abuse Prevention hotline, as well as the results of Oakland’s 2010 and 2011 Ethical Climate Survey. Ruby stated that her report initiated in response to investigation into "a councilmember's" actions in regards to the Rainbow Teen Center and was able to substantiate 14 claims. The allegations include happenings at the Oakland Army Base, the Rainbow Teen Center, the Arroyo Viejo Recreation Center, redevelopment, fixing parking tickets, and more.
The report includes a response from City Council President Pat Kernighan, a long time foe of Brooks'. Kernighan states that she will hold a public meeting to discuss the case. She states that she will put the Council's own code of conduct before the body, and develop a censure process.
The report also includes a response from Larry Reid dated March 4th that flatly denies the allegation that he intervened in the RFP process on behalf of The Turner Group.
There is no response from Desley Brooks.
Public Ethics Commission Response
On April 10th, the Public Ethics Commission met and decided to delay any further action.3
Discussions at City Council
At the City Council meeting following the public release of the Report, Desley Brooks called the report "spurious." She said that there were no substantiated claims and that Ruby's own employees frequently complain about her. At this meeting, many people, including Ken Houston and representatives from the Turner Group came forward to stand up for Brooks and Reid.
On Tuesday, April 16th, Councilmember Gallo again asked to have a discussion about the report. Once again Brooks said the report wasn't worth discussing. This time Reid and Brooks suggested "auditing the audit" and "auditing the auditor." There was scattered applause from the gallery. After some serious arguing, Kernighan told Reid to bring any discussion to the Rules Committee on Thursday, April 20th.
Rules Committee Response
On Thursday, April 18th, the Rules Committee decided to allow the full council to hire an outside auditor to audit the report. Kernighan and Councilmember Dan Kalb said that they hadn't decided if they wanted to pay for this, though they, like Gallo, felt it merited council discussion.4
- "Non‐Interference in Administrative Affairs Performance Audit FY 2009‐10 – FY 2011‐12." City of Oakland, Office of the City Auditor, March 21, 2013.
- "The Charter of the City of Oakland. Article II - The Council."
- Bond, Shane. "Oakland Public Ethics Commission Waits on Addressing Auditor's Report." EBCitizen.com: Apr 10, 2013.
- Artz, Matthew. "Oakland council to consider auditing critical audit." Oakland Tribune: Apr 18, 2013.