OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL//RUBY REPORT | In her first public comments in response to a city auditor’s report alleging 12 violations of the city charter, Councilmember Desley Brooks called its findings a “political vendetta” and demanded her colleagues ask for proof.
“This council should be asking the auditor to provide the evidence of the specious allegations that she made,” said Brooks at the conclusion of a lengthy budget hearing Tuesday night. “It is irresponsible for the auditor to have assumed responsibility of which she did not have.”
City Auditor Courtney Ruby’s Mar. 21 report alleged Brooks violated the charter’s non-interference laws by overstepping her office’s bounds in building two teen centers in her district. The report also alleges Brooks and Councilmember Larry Reid directed redevelopment staff to set up a bid for a construction firm favored by both at the Oakland Army Base. However, Brooks asserted no city official possesses the power to determine whether the city charter has been violated and accused some city officials of misusing their office. “The only person who can make that determination is a judge and a jury,” said Brooks.
In the report, Ruby says her office will forward the case to the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, the FBI and state Fair Political Practices Commission, but Brooks slammed the audit for lacking specific evidence. “There was not a shred—a shred–not a single document attached to that audit to substantiate anything that was in it,” said Brooks. “That is an abuse of power.”
Despite her own notorious reputation for being unpleasant towards staff, Brooks claimed through private conversation with Ruby’s staff, half of the auditor’s employees have complained about their boss. “Who speaks for them?” Brooks asked rhetorically.
Although Councilmember Reid was largely silent during the five-hour meeting, he routinely nodded in the affirmative after a string of supporters voiced opposition to the Ruby report. In fact, two Oakland contractors named in the report from the Turner Group, General Manager Len Turner and Ken Houston, said the findings were incorrect.
Houston called the report “100 percent false” and alleged neither Reid or Brooks directed him in any way, but city staff did ask him to cover for an out of town, non-minority company, favored by the city. When Houston declined to deal with the construction firm, Top Grade, he said a city staff member told him, “You’re fumbling the ball.”
Turner also refuted the auditor’s report while also faulting it for lack of evidence. “As far as we’re concerned it is false,” he said.
While holding a photo copy of his ballot from last November marked with Reid’s name, Houston affirmed his support for the embattled councilman. “Yes, he is my friend,” he said, directing his comments to Reid. “I support you to the fullest and, yes, you are my brother and most importantly, you are my councilman.”