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Commissioner Claims City Administrator and City Attorney Are Obstructing Police Commission

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The Oakland City Administrator’s Office has prevented the Oakland Police Commission from fulfilling certain elements of the Police Commission enabling ordinance, the law that grants the Commission its legal status and powers over the Oakland Police Department, according to public statements by Police Commissioner Edwin Prather.

Prather spoke during a public comment period at a Public Safety Committee meeting April 9, bluntly describing City Administrator Sabrina Landreth’s actions as “dilatory and obstructive.”

He also called Landreth’s report “offensive.”

Prather’s comments followed an oral report by Stephanie Hom,  deputy city administrator, outlining Office of the City Administrator’s interactions with the Police Commission, including the posting of job notices for key positions at the commission – the Inspector General and Independent Legal Counsel.

Council President Rebecca Kaplan, a member of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, also had unusually harsh words for the City Administrator’s report, saying that it “almost seems like an attempt to deceive the public.”

The most contentious issue in the report centered on the ongoing power struggle around the hiring of the Inspector General, a Police Commission position specified in the council-approved enabling ordinance.

Prather claimed that the commission crafted the position according to the language in the enabling ordinance, which puts the Inspector General position under the control of the commission, and then sent the job description to Landreth’s office in  October 2018.

According to Prather, Landreth’s office did not reply until February 2019 and then sent back a significantly altered job description. The commission balked at agreeing to the changes, and the position has remained in limbo since then.

The enabling ordinance passed by the council contains no ambiguity about the job description and hiring being under purview of the Police Commission, even noting that background checks can only be submitted to the commission.

Prather also said that the City Attorney’s Office has put similar obstacles in the way of the Commission’s independent legal counsel hiring specified by the enabling ordinance. He also said the current counsel, who reports to the City Attorney, shared privileged information from a closed session with the City Attorney against the express instructions of the Commission.

Prather added that the commission’s administrative assistant has been instructed by the City Administrator’s Office to forego attendance at the commission’s twice-monthly meetings.

Hom explained that Landreth, following  City Attorney Barbara Park’s opinion, said that the Inspector General position violates the Charter and chose not to follow the enabling ordinance as passed by the council.

The City Charter in two different sections, however, directs the City Administrator to enforce and carry out laws as passed by the council.

This ongoing power struggle arises from the contentious efforts to pass the enabling ordinance, which fleshes out the powers in the voter-approved Measure LL, creating the Police Commission as an amendment to the City Charter.

The process has taken years: first delayed by “meet and confer” requirements with the Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA), which was required by the City Administrator and lasted nearly a year.

In another delay, the City Attorney declared the Office of the Inspector General position was illegal as defined by the charter. The legislation finally made its way to full council in June 2018 where, despite the ongoing opposition of the City Attorney and the City Administrator, the Council voted 6 to 1 to accept the enabling ordinance with the Office of the Inspector General, including making the position independent of the city administration.

At the time, Landreth took the unusual step of prefacing the second reading of the vote in favor of the enabling ordinance with a prepared statement sternly warning against passing the ordinance.

As Kaplan noted, and Hom corroborated, the legal opinions upon which Landreth is currently basing her findings are the arguments the City Attorney offered in 2018. Those were rejected by the council when it passed the enabling ordinance.

As Kaplan also stressed, during a period between June 2016 and January, 2017, Landreth functioned as interim Police Chief after the resignation/firing of Sean Whent during the Celeste Guap rape scandal.

If Landreth’s interpretation of the role of Inspector General were to be enacted, she would have the power to supervise or fire the official who could investigate events that happened during the City Administrator’s time as chief.

The committee voted unanimously to submit a resolution to the immediate Rules Committee on Thursday, April 11 for scheduling as an item on the next City Council agenda, obligating the City Administrator to release the job positions as the Commission intended.

At the meeting, the City Attorney requested time to review the legality of compelling action from the City Administrator. She agreed to complete the process in time to place the issue on the April 30 City Council agenda.

 

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Business

Go Fund Geoffrey’s

Whether it was Paul Mooney, Faye Carroll, Sugar Pie or Jay-Z performing or whether it was Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mayor Elihu Harris, or Kamala Harris along with many of the Bay area’s elected officials they too have come to bask in the limelight of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle.

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Geoffrey's Inner Circle

For more than 30 years Geoffrey Pete ‘s business, Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, has been a cultural hub because of its full-service restaurant, live entertainment, nightclub parties, jazz music and community special occasion events. Faith-based organizations have also rented the spacious facilities for services and concerts. Their full-service restaurant, bar and live entertainment business along with their tenants and multilevel event rental spaces have been severely interrupted and devastated by the COVID 19 lockdowns and restrictions.

Whether it was Paul Mooney, Faye Carroll, Sugar Pie or Jay-Z performing or whether it was Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mayor Elihu Harris, or Kamala Harris along with many of the Bay area’s elected officials they too have come to bask in the limelight of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle. Now those lights are dimmed due to the economic conditions that have descended on high intensity people-contact businesses.

Thanks to a group of customers and supporters a Go Fund Me page has been opened for the public to contribute to support Geoffrey’s Inner Circle https://gofund.me/b2541419.

The Post newspaper has notified the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce that regular articles concerning the needs of Geoffrey’s and other Black-owned Businesses will be published weekly.

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Endorses Mia Bonta

The special primary election is June 29 by mail-in ballot only with the general election set for August 31.

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Mia Bonta -- via Twitter

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, endorsed Mia Bonta for East Bay Assembly District 18, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro.

The special election is being held because seat was vacated by her husband, Rob Bonta, who was appointed California Attorney General by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The remainder of Rob Bonta’s assembly term is through 2022.

Lee tweeted “[l]et’s do this @MiaBonta! The Bay Area is lucky to have such a fierce progressive advocate.”

Bonta thanked Lee via Twitter for her support.

Lee also said of Bonta that she “ . . . will bring a progressive, social, economic and racial justice lens to our state legislature.”

“She will stand up for communities that have been marginalized and underrepresented for too long.  Mia is committed to addressing our community’s most pressing issues, such as homelessness, environmental justice, criminal justice reform, helping families and businesses recover from the pandemic, and reopening schools safely.  Mia has a strong record of serving East Bay children and families,” Lee said.

Mia Bonta is currently board president of the Alameda Unified School District.  She is also endorsed by U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland City Council members Sheng Thao, Loren Taylor and Treva Reid of districts 4, 6 and 7 respectively; California State Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen, Nate Miley and Keith Carson of Alameda County Board of Supervisors, District 7 BART Director Lateefah Simon; Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker, Black Women for Political Action (BWOPA) and Equality California among others.

Bonta is running in a field with Mali Vella (who also received Schaaf’s endorsement), Janani Ramachandran, James Aguilar, Eugene Canson, Stephen Slauson, Joel Britton, and Victor Aguilar.

The special primary election is June 29 by mail-in ballot only with the general election set for August 31.

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African American News & Issues

Geoffrey’s Inner Circle Not included in Funding Support

We will ultimately be successful in our efforts to reach the goal of our fundraising campaign but will also ensure that the native Oakland community of African Americans will receive equal assistance and opportunity in this city.

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Athenian Nile Club founded in 1915 often presented their wealthy members in entertainment in Black face

Publisher’s note by Paul Cobb: Several years ago when writer MarvinX Jackmon and I asked Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney to name the downtown business district in honor of the historic Black achievements, Black Newspaper, Black Businesses, Art Galleries, Black Museum, Government Buildings, Arts and Entertainment venues, I asked the Mayor to make sure that Geoffrey’s Inner Circle would receive the same financial support and grants that the Fox Theatre and the Oakland Auditorium were receiving. I reminded her how I as the former director of OCCUR, had led a group of historical preservationists to save the Fox from a demolition wrecking ball, she said she liked the Malonga Arts Complex instead. We at the Oakland Post support Geoffrey’s Go Fund Me appeal https://gofund.me/b2541419 with a $1,000.00 donation and my wife Gay Plair Cobb and I urge others to join us either in-kind or with at least the donation of a “Tubman” ($20.00 bill). Geoffrey’s ironically was the original home of Oakland’s white power structure. (We have published a photo below of how those White wealthy leaders often met and entertained themselves by adorning themselves in Black Face at the former Athenian Nile Club ( now Geoffrey’s). And now that the same establishment is represented by the face of a Black man, his establishment is being whitewashed with neglect.

The Post has asked Mr. Pete to give his own opinion below.

Paul Mooney appeared at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle some 30 or more times over the years. His platform and message were always used to shed a light on the grave racial disparity and economic injustice that has, whether acknowledged or not, plagued this country since its inception. This racially aggressive ideology has also had its tangles in our dear city of Oakland. A disparity study illustrated by Dr. Eleanor Ramsey highlighted the glaring absence of African Americans in the city’s landscape of budgeted allotments for professional services, labor construction and city development.

Former entertainer Paul Mooney often performed at Geoffrey’s urging America to face-up to White racism

While I applaud Yoshi’s Oakland for reaching their goal in their most recent Go Fund Me efforts, it should be noted that Yoshi’s also received $5 million dollars in assistance from both the City and Port of Oakland to open a jazz entertainment venue at Jack London Square. Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, a live entertainment venue that began at Jack London Square, has been operating for 30 years. This offer was not extended to expand GIC or renovate, nor was it offered to any other Black Owned Business in the entertainment genre in Oakland.

The Fox Oakland was $50 million dollars over budget for its renovation project and most recently left the City of Oakland with a $78 million cost overrun.

When an African American Development Firm entered a bid on the Oakland Auditorium/ Kaiser Center, the city gave a white developer the contract and $12 million dollars in naming rights. This deal in its origin should not have had any monetary exchange whatsoever, naming rights included. The aforementioned developer has additionally secured a 99-year lease that will cost him a hefty $1 dollar. He will also receive tax credits to the tune of a $20-$40-million-dollars in subsidies. Go fund me has a different ring to it if you are non-black and vending with the City of Oakland it seems.

We will ultimately be successful in our efforts to reach the goal of our fundraising campaign but will also ensure that the native Oakland community of African Americans will receive equal assistance and opportunity in this city.

Thank you in advance for your support!

Geoffrey Pete
GoFundMe

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