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Oakland City Auditor's report - a closer look

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As the SF Chronicle's Henry Lee explains, Oakland's City Auditor Courtney Ruby officially tells us what some Oaklanders have always known: that the City of Oakland's hiring practices in the 5,500-employee organization have the "appearance of favoritism". I didn't need a report to support what I've seen and experienced in the past and the present, but I'm glad it's released. Let's take a closer look.

The report, which you can download with a click on this link to the Oakland City Auditor's website, was prepared for Ruby's office by the Sacramento consulting firm of Sjoberg and Evashenk.

The 123-page document is not kind to the City of Oakland, and Oaklanders should be concerned with what the comprehensive report reveals. Here's just a taste of what the Oakland City Auditor's report states:

1. People were promoted through a "desk audit" and not a competitive, open process.
2. People were given appointments with job classifications that did not respect established organizational rules and took advantage of Oakland City Charter and Oakland Civil Service rules.
3. People who had part-time and temporary jobs were allowed to hang around longer than the time the position was to end.

The report also asserts that the City of Oakland appears to have an "underlying disregard for the tenants of fair and open hiring practices" (page 9).

But it's not all bad in the City of Oakland. The report says that Oakland Police Officer trainee hiring was "generally fair and rigorous" which is a complement to the officers on the beat, who can now comfortably say they were the best selected for the position of peace officer. But the Fire Department's trainee process needed "considerable improvement".

The Oakland Fire Department problem rests in the inability to find documents to back the selection process. Also, the report says that "many academy records were mishandled, lost, or damaged." So if you're reading this and didn't get a job at the Oakland Fire Department, you may have a case to make a big stink if they can't find your record as a trainee. That's terrible.

Terrible is the state of hiring practices in the City of Oakland. And at a point when people are looking for jobs like never before, Oaklanders should be concerned that their city government does not provide a totally fair and level hiring playing field.

The question is what will the Oakland City Council do?

I wish the City Auditor would look at how Oakland governs the taxi cab system. Especially considering what I experienced Sunday:

Stay tuned.
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