You can call your city council member because your garbage didn’t get picked up, or because your basement is flooding in a storm. But don’t ask for help with your parking ticket, let alone a city job. You can get the council member in big trouble.
Such trouble emerged on Thursday when City Auditor Courtney Ruby issued a report accusing two council members of interfering in city contracts.
From Ruby’s press release:
Specifically, the audit found two Councilmembers directing staff to work with one contractor (Turner Group Construction) on the Oakland Army Base demolition and remediation contract worth approximately $2 million dollars. Other areas of interference included a Councilmember interfering in the operations of two recreation centers and threatening to have an employee removed from a project, as well as a Council Aide directing staff to fix the Aide’s parking tickets.
The audit confirmed interference at the Rainbow Teen Center by a Councilmember who selected contractors to provide services, as well as negotiated the agreements and established the contract terms for the City. Additionally, the Councilmember pressured staff to get a vendor paid immediately, set project deadlines, and hired nine individuals to work at the recreation center. Further, the individuals began working at the recreation center despite their lack of drug and criminal screening – requirements mandated prior to working with children and youth.
In a letter included with the report, Larry Reid, one of the council members in question, denies interfering in the Army Base “or any other Development Project with in the City of Oakland.”
From my understanding, there was a contract that was awarded to a local firm that was then rescinded, and awarded to a firm that was not local nor considered to be minority owned or women owned. the concerns of many of us was to re-issue a new RFP so that all local firms could compete and that this would level the “playing field” for all locally owned firms. At no time did I direct staff to issue any RFP’s for any one company located in Oakland, and for the record, this was a discussion that was to be considered for a new RFP process for all local firms.
No statement from the other councilmember, Desley Brooks, was included in the report, and she could not be reached for comment.
Interfering in city contracts is a misdemeanor violation of the city charter, Ruby notes in the report.
Here’s the report: