Deanna Santana
Deanna Santana (Laura A. Oda/Staff file)

OAKLAND -- A former city official is claiming she was fired last year in part because she refused to be pressured into stating that Councilwoman Desley Brooks had acted improperly in managing a city-owned teen center.

In a wrongful termination lawsuit filed Monday in Alameda County Superior Court, Oakland's former Employee Relations Director Daryelle LaWanna Preston accused then-City Administrator Deanna Santana of ordering her to "falsify official oral and written reports" about Brooks' teen center project.

Preston said Santana had pressured her to state that Brooks "had intentionally approved illegal hiring practices" at the Rainbow Teen Center and "signed off improperly on equipment receipts."

Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks
Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks (Ray Chavez/Staff file)

The lawsuit also alleges that Preston was improperly frozen out of labor negotiations with the firefighters union last year and that she blew the whistle on her bosses' failure to collect union dues from temporary workers represented by the labor union SEIU.

Preston is being represented by attorney Dan Siegel, who is also a candidate for mayor of Oakland. City Attorney Barbara Parker has not yet had a chance to review the lawsuit, Alex Katz, her chief of staff, said.

Santana could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

Firefighters union President Daniel Robertson said Preston had been involved in talks that extended a contract provision providing additional paramedic services. He also said that Preston was removed from negotiations at the union's request during negotiations in 2010-11 because she had been a "disruptive force" at the bargaining table.


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"For lack of a better way to put it, she simply had a very negative attitude to the point that any concessions we would give would not be enough," Robertson said.

Preston was fired last September, at the same time that she pressed her superiors over their failure to collect the dues for temporary workers, according to the complaint.

Her dismissal came several months after both Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby and the Alameda County grand jury issued reports citing evidence that Brooks had violated Oakland's city charter in overseeing the city teen center.

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.