Some of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan's most fervent supporters have warned her that if she does not immediately change course regarding the implementation of the City Council's clear policy regarding the Citizens' Police Review Board, they may no longer be able to endorse her bid for a second term.
What's it all about? The Oakland City Council voted to include in its 2011-2013 budget a provision to allocate $1,468,158 in the City Administrator's office to hire a CPRB director as well as eight complaint intake staff and administrative support to "consolidate the intake of complaints at the CPRB."
The purpose was intended to eliminate wasteful, duplicative services provided by both Internal Affairs and the CPRB; enable Oakland Police Department Internal Affairs intake personnel to be reassigned to patrol; provide for a more independent, credible, objective and professional delivery of civilian police oversight to the community; and improve police-community relations.
After two years of failure to implement this policy, the council took up the matter in April, asking City Administrator Deanna Santana to explain why. Both Santana and the mayor offered lengthy narratives, but the council was not satisfied and reiterated its direction to the mayor and Santana to implement the hiring of CPRB staff by Oct. 15. They further instructed Santana to present monthly updates about progress toward reaching that goal.
In clear and blatant defiance of the council's mandate, Santana has decided to hire intake officials to work within the OPD rather than the CPRB. For whatever reasons, Santana has subverted the mandate of the council, despite her obligation (as set forth in the City Charter) to implement its policies.
The mayor supported this proposal as a City Council member, campaigned on it in her run for mayor, and as mayor voted for the budget that contained this provision. Yet, now she defends her city administrator, who has illegitimately altered that policy by drafting a job description for the new intake "technicians" posted on the city's website that places these positions within the Oakland Police Department Internal Affairs Division, and functioning under the authority of Internal Affairs, rather than the CPRB.
This misconduct by Santana clearly violates the City Charter provision, which describes the duties of the city administrator as follows: Section 504. Duties. The city administrator shall have the power and it shall be his duty: (a) To execute and enforce all laws and ordinances and policies of the council and to administer the affairs of the city.
Santana is wrong, and the mayor is wrong. If Quan continues to support this illegitimate action by Santana, she risks losing the support of many of the core campaigners for her re-election and possibly the election, itself.
There is still time for the mayor to reclaim the values she ran on. She must instruct Santana to change course immediately, implement the City Council policy as legislated and directed, and stay true to the values she professed to hold dear in her first campaign.
If Santana refuses to change course, she must be fired. The clock is ticking.
What's it going to be, Mayor Quan?
Rashidah Grinage is executive director of PUEBLO, People United for a Better Life in Oakland.