Edgerly To Retire July 31st But The Story Is Not Over

According to various friends and news sources, Oakland City Administrator Deborah Edgerly will retire July 31st 2008. But from what I here, the embattled CAO's (Chief Administrative Officer) situation is such that it's Civil War (in capital letters) and foks have chosen sides. I personally stand by this view: that Miss E's phone call to help out her nephew set in motion a perfect storm of events and a clash between the following "agenda groups"

1) Professional / executive class African American female City of Oakland Employees

This group is paced by the CAO, and is a loosely formed set of tight relationships, that one friend once described as "The Black Female Mafia.)

2) City of Oakland Employees who are not part of group one and specifically don't like the CAO.

This includes people in the Oakland Police Department, but also other City of Oakland departments and personnel who I can't mention. This includes African Americans, male and female. It's not a personal issue between them and the CAO, they just don't like the way she operates or manages the City.

3) City of Oakland Employees who are just trying to stay out of the way.

These are long time employees who don't get involved in office politics, except to mind their own turf. They tend not to be high-level management executives, but low to mid range workers. Just make sure their check is ready; they'll do the job because their kids future depends on them.

4) Oakland "Insiders" with political connections who don't like Edgerly and want to see the City "work".

Many of these people don't work for the City of Oakland, and some have in the past, and may be part of the media. In any case, they're active bloggers, people who oppose large development projects, and are in many cases "Oakland political junkies" who have as a whole a "caracatured" image of the City of Oakland.

5) The Oakland African American Professional Class (and sympathizers), which consists mostly of those who feel Edgerly was railroaded.

They tend to be heads of the many small and medium-sized Black owned firms in Oakland, from accounting firms to law firms and other business services. Some with City of Oakland contracts.

Now, like any group, there are people who are more in one than the other.

Also, just because I may write that one group is Black does not mean it's 100 percent African American. In perfect Oakland fashion, each group is mixed, but it's safe to say that Group 4 is mostly not Black and largely White. It's a group that wanted Sean Sullivan to beat Councilmember Nancy Nadel, and didn't get their wish. They want the CAO's head.

Edgerly's Large Family In Oakland

When I first got involved in Oakland Politics, Jim Edgerly, a good man, an energetic man, and a friend whom I've not talked to in some time, once told me the Edgerly's were probably the largest family in Oakland. "There are over 200 of us in Oakland", Jim said to me in 1994. Indeed, even then, it was hard to argue with him. Jim himself knew everyone in Oakland and all of the politicians. Jenette Edgerly, his daughter, worked as the secretary to Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb, and Interim City Manager Kofi Bonner before Bobb, then City Manager Craig Kocian, and then the legendary City Manager Henry Gardner before Kocian. There were Edgerlys and relatives of them working in the City of Oakland, even in the 80s.

So the idea that Deborah Edgerly used her position to help her folks get jobs is not exactly true. It's more complicated than that because there were relatives in the City before Deborah became CAO. They've always taken care of each other. In this case, Miss E was looking out for one of her own. But in pissing off the police officer who was towing her nephew's car, she set off a Oakland City Hall Civil War that could take on massive -- and by that I mean lawsuit -- proportions.

What's unfortunate is that the truth will be overtaken by prejudice and character assassination. Already we have bloggers calling Oakland "corrupt" because of this, when in point of fact, this is nothing. Corrupt is a police officer or department taking drugs and reselling them for their own revenue while jailing the drug dealers. Corrupt is knowingly using voting machines that don't accurately count votes.

Those are real problems. The legacy of the Edgerly Family is not one of them. What many people just either forget or don't get is that the ability of African Americans to gain employment on merit alone is still new in American Society. In the 60s, and up to the early 90s, government was seen as one of the few areas of work where Blacks could get a fair shot at a job. It's only logical and natural to expect a family -- a large African American family -- in Oakland to help their own.

Deborah Edgerly may have had her faults, but she was not corrupt.

Edgerly The Target Of Disrespect From Day One

Since 2003, when she was appointed by Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown as Interim City Manager after City Manager Robert Bobb was fired by him, Deborah Edgerly has been the target of much disrespect. When Edgerly was selected as permanent in 2004, the word was that Jerry Brown picked someone he "could control" -- who would not try to build a downtown baseball stadium or generally "show up" Mayor Brown's desire to be the most powerful person in Oakland. By contrast, there were many that saw Robert Bobb as much the mayor as Jerry Brown, a fact that in practice rankled Jerry.

Enter Deborah Edgerly. Someone who's been around long enough to know where the bodies are buried, but not so ambitious that she would promote her own initiatives over Mayor Brown's own objectives. But in this, or because of it, and her style and physical appearance, and sex, Edgerly has -- very sadly -- not gotten the respect she deserves. I remind you that this is a job she really didn't want for herself, saying "I like comfort. But I'll do the job if I'm asked."

She did. What's sad is that her legacy of service is being tarnished in this way. In the past, when Oakland City Manager Henry Gardner ran the City --- we had a Council-manager form of government -- and there wasn't The Internet and the flow of ad dollars away from newspapers, the City Manager was profiled, followed, and respected, ..and male.

Now, the City Administrator is not profiled, seldom followed, mostly disrepected, ..and female.

A big mess.
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