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Deborah Edgerly Protected By Oakland City Charter - Could File Lawsuit And Win

Ok. Here's another reason why Mayor Ron Dellums and other Oakland Officials should think twice before firing or forcing out Oakland City Administrator Deborah Edgerly regarding her alledged interference with a police investigation is this: she's protected by the Oakland City Charter and such an action is blocked and considered a crime itself -- Section 1208. Violation. The violation of any provision of the Charter shall be deemed a misdemeanor and be punishable upon conviction in the manner provided by State Law, unless otherwise expressly provided for in this Charter. (Amended by: Stats. November 1988 and Stats. November 2000.)

One thing I learned from working for Mayor Elihu Harris was to ask what the Oakland City Charter says. So I did. This is the section of the Charter that governs "Miss E":


Section 500. Appointment. The Mayor shall appoint a City Administrator, subject to the confirmation by the City Council, who shall be the chief administrative officer of the City. He shall be a person of demonstrated administrative ability with experience in a responsible, important executive capacity and shall be chosen by the Mayor solely on the basis of his executive and administrative qualifications. No member of the Council shall, during the term for which he is elected or appointed, or for one year thereafter, be chosen as City Administrator. (Amended by: Stats. November 1988, November 1998 and March 2004.)

Section 501. Compensation and Tenure.
The City Administrator shall receive the salary fixed by the Council. He shall be appointed for an indefinite term and shall serve at the pleasure of the Mayor. (Amended by: Stats. November 1988 and March 2004.)

Section 502. Acting City Administrator. The City Administrator shall designate two or more of his assistants or department heads, in the sequence in which they are to serve, as Acting City Administrator to serve as City Administrator in the temporary absence or disability of the City Administrator. (Amended by: Stats. November 1988 and March 2004.)

Section 503. Powers of Appointment and Removal. The City Administrator shall be responsible to the Council for the proper and efficient administration of all affairs of the City under his jurisdiction, and shall, subject to the provisions of Article IX of this Charter and except as otherwise provided in this Charter, have the power to appoint, assign, reassign, discipline and remove all directors or heads of departments and all employees under his jurisdiction. He may delegate to directors or other department heads responsible to him/her the authority to appoint, discipline and remove subordinate employees, subject to the provisions of Article IX of this Charter. (Amended by: Stats. November 1988 and March 2004.)

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.
(b) To attend all meetings of the Council, and its committees, unless excused, and such meetings of boards and commissions as he chooses or which he is directed to attend by the Council, and to participate in discussions at such meetings.
(c) To recommend to the Council such measures and ordinances as he may deem necessary or expedient and to make such other recommendations to the Council concerning the affairs of the City as he finds desirable.
(d) To investigate affairs of the City under his supervision, or any franchise or contract for the proper performance of any obligation running to the City within his jurisdiction.
(e) To control and administer the financial affairs of the City. He may appoint a Director of Finance to act under his direction.
(f) To prepare an annual budget under the direction of the Mayor and Council for the Mayor’s submission to the Council.
(g) To prepare or cause to be prepared the plans, specifications, and contracts for work which the Council may order.
(h) To supervise the purchasing of materials and supplies and to make recommendations to the Council in connection with the awarding of public contracts and to see that all City contracts under his direction or that of the Council are faithfully performed.
(i) To prepare and submit to the Council such reports as it may require.
(j) To keep the Council at all times fully advised as to the financial condition and needs of the City.
(k) To prescribe such general rules and regulations as he may deem necessary or expedient to the general conduct of the administrative departments under his jurisdiction.
(l) When directed by the Council, to represent the City in its intergovernmental relations and to negotiate contracts for joint governmental actions, subject to Council approval.
(m) To devote his entire time to the duties and interest of the City.
(n) To perform such other duties as may be prescribed by this Charter or by ordinance or resolution. (Amended by: Stats. November 1988 and March 2004.)

Note what I placed in bold:
To investigate affairs of the City under his supervision, or any franchise or contract for the proper performance of any obligation running to the City within his jurisdiction.

Got that?

Coldly, I'll put it this way, if the City of Oakland fired Deborah Edgerly on this matter, she could turn around and file a lawsuit on the grounds that the termination was discrimininatory as it violated her rights of action under the City's own Charter. There's nothing -- no article in the Charter -- which directly supercedes this. Since the Oakland Police Department is just that -- a department of the City of Oakland -- it falls under her jurisdiction. The City of Oakland would be forced to settle.

What? You say she serves at the pleasure of the Mayor and that blocks my claim? Well, not so fast. I would look at which law came first, first. The City Manager has always had this power I point to, the Mayor's oversight is very new in the history of Oakland and it wasn't placed there to prevent the City Administrator from carrying out her job according to the Charter, thus, the Mayor would be acting against the Charter.

Can't do that.

You also can't charge Miss E with Nepotism in the case of her daughter's efforts to become a police officer, because Miss E did not force the issue or try to manage it, and the job was not one that allowed Miss E to make an appointment. No case there, either. And don't give me this "you're not a lawyer" garbage without understanding what that means. I can do legal research and understand case law very well. Plus, several promiment Oakland lawyers have tried to push me in the direction of being a lawyer for that reason. So, take me on, but I'll certainly beat you.

Let's continue.

The Oakland City Charter was amended under Measure P in 2004, and the alterations were such that the Mayor must advise the City Council before removing the City Administrator. In total, the changes were:

- Repeals the sunset provision of 1998's Measure X, to retain the Mayor-Council ("Strong Mayor") form of government and elected City Attorney without another vote at the November, 2004 election.
- Changes the term limit for Mayor from two terms to two consecutive terms.
- Authorizes the City Council to fill vacancies on City commissions if the Mayor does not fill the vacancy within 90 days.
- Reduces the number of votes needed for the City Council to pass an ordinance on reconsideration from six votes to five votes.
- Authorizes the Public Ethics Commission, beginning with Fiscal Year 2003-2004, to adjust annually the salary for Councilmembers to match increases in the consumer price index; the Commission could grant increases beyond the change in the consumer price index, but any portion of the increase over five percent would require voter approval.
- Eliminates the prohibition on paying the Mayor more than the City Manager.
- Authorizes the City Council to set the salaries of the City Attorney and the City Auditor at not less than 70 percent nor more than 90 percent of the average salaries of the city attorney and the city auditor in California cities within the three immediate higher and the three immediate lower cities in population to Oakland.
- Requires the Mayor to deliver an annual State of the City address to the City Council, and to hold four town hall meetings each year for the public.
- Eliminates the rule that the Mayor vacates his or her office by missing ten consecutive City Council meetings.
- Requires the City Council to elect a Vice-Mayor each year.
- Requires the Mayor to advise the City Council before removing the City Administrator.
- Changes the title of the City Manager to "City Administrator."

Now let's consider that matter regarding the City Council. Even if the City Council can't directly block the Mayor's action, they can request a hearing under that part of the charter where the Mayor is required to advise them.

Note, the Charter is very loose on what that means, and since the common process of "seeking City Council advice" is an open public hearing, the City Council could use that right as an opening to start the process of retaining Deborah Edgerly. for the Mayor to try an advise the Council behind closed doors is a violation of "The Brown Act" calling for open meetings of public elected officials.

Stay tuned.
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