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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: News

Re: “Survivor, Oakland City Hall: Power Struggle Led to Expulsion of City Clerk from Closed Session

It's obvious you don't know the City Clerk she is one of the most respected Clerks in her profession. Jamaal, we're you working @ the City and have direct knowledge of why the prior Clerk left. If not don't spend rumors.

Posted by THERESA64 on 07/20/2016 at 7:58 PM

Re: “Survivor, Oakland City Hall: Power Struggle Led to Expulsion of City Clerk from Closed Session

LaTonda should kindly stepdown. As a City Ckerk all Closed Session documents should be protected and she took a Oath of office to protect them and she failed. She was a whistleblower in 2004 to oust former City Clerk Ceda Floyd to gain her position as the new City Clerk with only a 10th grade education. Sometimes its not about what you know...its who you know:)

Posted by Jamala Rahim on 07/20/2016 at 5:44 PM

Re: “Survivor, Oakland City Hall: Power Struggle Led to Expulsion of City Clerk from Closed Session

Hiring a private detective to investigate leaks? Sounds like something from the Nixon administration. I recall they called the leak investigators in the Nixon administration "Plumbers". All of them ended up in federal prison. I think Mayor Schaaf is getting carried away - the public has a right to know what's going on in City Hall. Even these "closed door sessions" are a little dubious. I think Mayor Schaaf's leadership has been horrendous. This police scandal with the teenage hooker - other departments are involved but they are not firing police chiefs right and left or trying to put civilians in charge of PD. You've got a few bad apples on OPD - other department too - big deal fire them and let's move on - you don't need the historonics we've seen from Schaff. Her wacky leadership has got the national media covering the teenage-hooker story - which has lead to a all this bad publicity for Oakland. Oakland is a great City - got some problems - like most metro cities - - big deal, solve them without all this soap opera like drama. Schaaf isn't doing that - she's making things worse with her wacky behavior.

Posted by Richard Woulfe on 07/20/2016 at 5:39 PM

Re: “Survivor, Oakland City Hall: Power Struggle Led to Expulsion of City Clerk from Closed Session

"How does this city clerk LaTonda Simmons hold the job of City clerk with only a high school education?????"

This seems to me to be very biased, unfair and uninformed.

LaTonda seems to be fair and respectful when she deals with the public in the often very tense environment of a City Council meeting. I think she is generally well-liked among the public and she seems to have been well-respected by Council members. LaTonda's job isn't easy.

I have not heard anything about her failure to perform her duties properly and efficiently.

Whether or not she has had a higher education, her language and cognitive skills seem to be up to the job.

I am not suggesting that LaTonda is a whistleblower. However whistleblowers or leakers are very important for democracy when, as with our elected officials, laws are broken and blatant tactics are applied to avoid transparency.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 07/20/2016 at 2:53 PM

Re: “Survivor, Oakland City Hall: Power Struggle Led to Expulsion of City Clerk from Closed Session

Be careful with the City Clerk. No one is to be trusted in the City Clerks office. How does this city clerk LaTonda Simmons hold the job of City clerk with only a high school education?????

Posted by Kayla Johnson on 07/20/2016 at 2:32 PM

Re: “Survivor, Oakland City Hall: Power Struggle Led to Expulsion of City Clerk from Closed Session

This is ridiculous. How much money is being spent on watermarks and investigators? All the council business should be public. There should be no closed sessions especially when it seems that they are closed merely to protect council members who want to be re-elected. The council is supposed to be serving the people of Oakland, not hiding from us or ruling us.

Posted by Karen Hesse on 07/20/2016 at 1:43 PM

Re: “Survivor, Oakland City Hall: Power Struggle Led to Expulsion of City Clerk from Closed Session

It's shocking that these city politicians have the gall to make illegal backroom deals and then COMPLAIN about whistleblowers busting up their fun. Ever stop to think that, maybe, just maybe, you are the bad guys in this situation?

Posted by Max Chanowitz on 07/20/2016 at 1:33 PM

Re: “Tenant Advocates say Oakland Officials Delaying and Obstructing Rent Control Ballot Measure

I'm one of the organizers of the campaign to place a rent control and eviction protection measure on the November ballot, and I have to say I have no doubts about City Attorney Parker's commitment to tenant's rights. My colleagues and I see the abuse of tenants and illegal evictions happening every day and the Office of the City Attorney Parker has been a consistent ally of ours on this issue. I have personally worked closely with Barbara to protect youth from commercial sexual exploitation, and I know that as City Attorney, she has filed lawsuits against abusive landlords all over Oakland.

While I can't speak competently to all the legal and procedural issues raised in the article, what seems most plausible to me is that Barbara's advice to the City Council was consistent with her legal responsibility to protect the City and laws it passes from legal challenge. Surely we want Oakland's tenant protection laws to be less vulnerable to legal challenges, do we not? I know I do. And I also believe that Barbara shares my commitment and the commitment of other organizers to protect the homes, lives and rights of Oakland tenants.

Andy Nelsen

Posted by Andy Nelsen on 07/20/2016 at 10:36 AM

Re: “Survivor, Oakland City Hall: Power Struggle Led to Expulsion of City Clerk from Closed Session

"City officials reportedly fumed over the leak because it made the city look bad."

If it closely resembles a duck, and walks and quacks just like a duck, odds are it's a duck.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 07/20/2016 at 9:49 AM

Re: “Survivor, Oakland City Hall: Power Struggle Led to Expulsion of City Clerk from Closed Session

I don't understand how the City Attorney could come up with another conclusion. Read the Charter. East Bay express read the Charter. The problem with the City is that no one wants to follow the rules. I have no idea what issues the City Administrator had with the Clerk,it should not however prevent the Clerk from the performance of there official duties.

Posted by THERESA64 on 07/20/2016 at 9:13 AM

Re: “Survivor, Oakland City Hall: Power Struggle Led to Expulsion of City Clerk from Closed Session

According to the City Charter the City Clerk is the Clerk of the Council and the keeper of all official City records. The Clerk does not report to the City Administrator. The Council doesn't need a resolution to include the City Clerk because the City Administrator had no authority to exclude the Clerk.

Posted by THERESA64 on 07/20/2016 at 9:06 AM

Re: “Why are Oakland's City-Worker Unions Making it Harder to Fire Bad Cops?

The answer to the question in the title of this article: "Why are Oakland's City-Worker Unions Making it Harder to Fire Bad Cops? " is pretty obvious.

It is the same reason that any union makes it harder to fire any of its members (bad or otherwise). It is a byproduct of who they are and what they do. No union wants (in their view) for management to run roughshod over the union members and make the decisions on who gets hired, fired, working conditions, work rules, time off, whatever. They work hard to protect members even though the protection sometimes protects cheaters, liars, stealers, lazies, whatever. Comes with the package. There is nothing different here - almost...

What is different? Management is, ultimately, the public citizenry. Now, the the shoe is on the other foot and members of our liberal society are bristling at the member protections being defended by the union. So, it is Ok for unions in general but not this one?????

Yes, the stakes are higher given the bad deeds committed by some cops. No doubt about it whatsoever. But, the stakes are higher in protecting the cops too. That means the union needs to be even more vigilant to protect its members - the public moods and emotions along with protesting activists can drive decisions that are not particularly thoughtful, clear and fair - police "discipline" driven by political committees tempted to pander.

For those who are union supportive liberals, this is a dilemma, huh? If the shoe fits.......................Sorry, it ain't that simple. You either support the idea of unions or you don't. Either side of the argument has baggage. It is difficult to talk out of both sides of a mouth.

I like the idea of trying to understand the position of the other side of the argument rather than vilify it.

Posted by Michael Good on 07/19/2016 at 3:48 PM

Re: “Alameda Poised to Become Next California County to Ban Fracking

Yay Alameda County! We got fracking banned in Butte County, you can do it! #ProtectCAfood

Posted by Mary Kay Benson on 07/19/2016 at 1:35 PM

Re: “Thousands of Black Lives Matter Activists Shut Down Oakland Freeway, Vandalize Police Headquarters

Protest, OK.
Get change through legal means, OK.
Work with the community and police to make things better, OK.
Smash windows, which happened. Not OK, you should go to jail.
Block traffic, which happened. Not OK, you should go to jail.
Attack people that stand for their rights to express another opinion. Not OK, you should go to jail

Posted by SF Tech on 07/17/2016 at 1:53 AM

Re: “Why are Oakland's City-Worker Unions Making it Harder to Fire Bad Cops?

Some background on binding arbitration: All City of Oakland employees covered by union contracts have the right to choose to go to binding arbitration to contest discipline imposed by management for violation of work rules that were set by contract negotiations. Alternatively, the employee could choose to go to court and pay big legal fees and court costs.

Binding arbitration does a good job protecting employees from arbitrary, capricious discipline that could be imposed on police officers as much as on City Parks maintenance employees, etc. But typically, arbitrators "split the baby in half" in their decisions. Since it is impossible to half fire someone, terminated police officers invariably get re-instated.

Regardless of a charter amendment, any change to arbitration would not take effect until expiration of current police contract, two years from now.

In addition, Police and Fire sworn personnel also get binding arbitration to resolve contract deadlocked negotiations. No other City unions get that.
Two years ago Palo Alto repealed that type of binding arbitration for police and fire. They promptly reduced fire and police pay by 5%. Police and fire fighters are prohibited by state law from striking.

Binding arbitration for all city employees including police for discipline matters is common in big cities. SF is one of the few big cities that does not allow binding arbitration for serious discipline matters of police and fire.
For discipline matters, the arbitrator is selected by a process of elimination by City Attorney's office staff and the union's attorney (or equivalent) from a pool of arbitrators certified by a state body. Arbitrators who are partial to either management or employee end up without work if both sides are on the ball and exercising their veto power in the selection process.

Everyone except the police union agrees that the discipline binding arbitration process make it very difficult to fire bad cops. There is no consensus on how to fix that without going to the other extreme and eliminating it entirely for at least serious discipline charges. Not simple to fix in an equitable way. For example, if there's a police officer disliked by brass because she/he went to the press to disclose problem within OPD and brass brought bogus charges against them, it wouldn't be good to force the accused cop to file a lawsuit if an arbitrator would do the right thing.

As the article described, the nonpublic safety unions see any reform of police discipline binding arbitration as an attack on binding arbitration for all city workers.

Will T. asked which Council Members refused to approve the amendment with even a mild reform to the method of selecting the arbitrators (which probably would have no effect on the outcome of their decisions). I'd say all of the council members other than Kalb and Gallo.

Personally, I favor a variation of the SF approach combined with an independent Police Commission (SF's is not very independent) where binding arbitration is repealed only for police and only for serious offenses.

But it's more important to establish a strong, politically independent Police Commission none of whose members are chosen directly by any Mayor, with broad oversight and subpoena powers and scope, with its own staff attorney, then to fail approval because of insistence on reforming binding arbitration.

If this charter amendment is approved by voters in November we will have two years until the police contract expires to evaluate whether the Commission is able to fire bad cops and effectively discipline other officers and their supervisors. If we see most of the officers and their supervisors who were complicit in the cover-up of the statutory rape, get off with the usually binding arbitration letter of reprimand plus full back pay and restoral of rank, then we have to come back to Council to repeal binding arbitration for police serious discipline matters.

Regardless of future binding arbitration reform, we have to insist on transparency of all future contract negotiations with the OPOA (police union) so that whether we change arbitration or not, that we make sure the City has negotiated hard for clear enforceable standards of behavior for all police officers, including the brass. Without such rules, it is always going to be difficult for either an arbitrator or a court to uphold a disciplinary action.

Len Raphael, CPA
(opinions expressed are my own)

Posted by Len Raphael on 07/16/2016 at 11:59 PM

Re: “Why are Oakland's City-Worker Unions Making it Harder to Fire Bad Cops?

Mary, this goes beyond how bad or not OPD is, beyond how straight or not OPD's IA which is supposed to determine and act on how bad that is, beyond any oversight, to the fact that any judgements any overseeing authority have are HIGHLY unlikely to be acted on due to a systematic bias in favor of officers, REINFORCED AND PROTECTED BY ORGANIZED LABOR. I am very appreciative of recent strides local unions have been making to (yay!) keep coal out of the port, but this behind-the-scenes lobbying to protect BAD COPS, that everyone, including not just the federal overseers, but the OTHER COPS (!!!) agree are bad, is f#*ing disgusting. I'd like to know exactly WHICH city councilmembers have been persuaded that it is a good idea to coddle, placate, PAY and honorably retire these f#*ing scumbags.

Posted by Will T 1 on 07/15/2016 at 7:49 PM

Re: “Why are Oakland's City-Worker Unions Making it Harder to Fire Bad Cops?

The Ortiz case supports my suspicion since the June scandal started-----it's not just the cops who had encounters with Celeste Guap and Ms. Guap is not the only Oakland sex worker or trafficking victim to have been victimized by OPD officers. Keep digging til we know whether the OPD officer-sex worker scandal is limited and or whether OPD IA is a straight-shooting internal watchdog/professional standards organization or instead is using the same playbook as the Catholic church in Boston...

And the next time the Mayor, OPD reps or other City officials say stuff like "it's just the rookies"...."it' will all be fixed by auditing and revising screening and training", call them on that. Some of the officers in the sex and cover-up scandals were rookies, but some were not. The OPD supervisors who cover stuff up (Holmgren, home invasion case) are not rookies/recent recruits and are at the center of OPD's bad culture. Obviously, an officer who has used lethal force, cost the city millions in a settlement, has had his discipline overturned in arbitration and then offends again shows that OPD management spends more time bemoaning arbitration, little if any time correcting any management mistakes that led to the arbitration loss and zero time retraining the subject, formerly fired officers ......

Posted by Mary Vail on 07/15/2016 at 3:20 PM

Re: “Why are Oakland's City-Worker Unions Making it Harder to Fire Bad Cops?

This is all small potatoes.

Remember that our Mayor successfully fired one of the recent new police-chiefs-for-a-day because he might have had an affair a decade ago.

No need to worry about the small stuff. Our Mayor is doing a great job keeping OPD in line.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 07/15/2016 at 9:38 AM

Re: “Alameda Poised to Become Next California County to Ban Fracking

Great article to get citizens proactive in the PREVENTATIVE fight. Not easy to do when people are working multiple jobs just to pay high housing costs. And so sad after the dirty industry gets its way and is making people fatally sick.

Posted by Boudicca Hot-toddy Todi on 07/13/2016 at 1:36 PM

Re: “California Traffic Tickets Amnesty Program Leaves Many Behind

I've got a bit of bad news for the direction this is going. It is NOT a black thing that this is happening to. I am a white female, and I have been thru exactly what this article states happened to this gentlemen. It doesn't matter what color you are. These corrupt police and policy makers direct law enforcement to stalk its prey because giving tickets is a huge revenue for this twisted counties that participate in this unjust way of policing. Thank god I have every piece of document saved so that one day when I connect with the right person, I'll be ready to expose all the fraud and document tampering traffic courts routinely practice. Along with their side kicks Alliance One who is just as guilty as the courts.

Posted by Andrea Dgeorge on 07/13/2016 at 11:45 AM

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