2013 YEAR-IN-REVIEW | The five stages of grief is denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Before and after a report from City Auditor Courtney Ruby alleged Councilmember Desley Brooks violated the City Charter’s non-interference laws that sets a barrier between council members and city staff, the bellicose District 6 representative over the next four months exhibited symptoms of each stage.
1. Denial>>> In her first public statements, Brooks calls Ruby’s audit a “political vendetta” and demands specific evidence of her charter violations. The allegations, however, are not entirely new. A San Francisco Chronicle investigation in 2012 also questioned Brooks’ involvement in the construction of a teen center in her council district.
2. Anger>>> C’mon, when is she not angry? As the hot seat was only starting to become unbearable, Brooks unleashed her fury against nearly the entire City Council chambers. During the meeting in March just 10 days before the release of the Ruby report, she lashed out against City Administrator Deanna Santana, City Attorney Barbara Parker, Mayor Jean Quan and then-Police Chief Howard Jordan. Later, she would routinely lambasts everyone on the council other than Councilmember Larry Reid.
3. Bargaining>>> “To date, no one has produced an email or other correspondence where staff advised me to do something; I refused and undertook a different course of action,” wrote Brooks in a 35-page response to the allegations. “Absent such action, there is no showing of ‘willful’ actions on my part. To the contrary, I specifically asked staff to advise us on the process and we followed their direction.”
4. Depression>>> Although it was Reid who coins the phrase, “Audit the auditor during a City Council meeting in April, Brooks agrees, but adds, “[City Auditor Courtney Ruby] has tarnished the name of myself and Mr. Reid without a shred of evidence.”
5. Acceptance>>> When it becomes clear the Oakland City Council will not censure Brooks in June, she switches gears and argues the entire council, excluding its three new members, in fact, routinely violated the City Charter’s prohibition on interfering with city staff. When asked in an interview whether the statement amounted to an admission of guilt, Brooks said, “You can go and check the grand jury and see what they thought the interference was.” In fact, the report sided with the city auditor’s report and fingered Brooks as the problem.