Oro Loma board member Laython Landis opts for retirement after racist comments

With Landis’ retirement next month, the Oro Loma
board will begin searching for his replacement.

ORO LOMA SANITARY DISTRICT | After repeated calls for his resignation following the use of a racial slur during a meeting last December, Oro Loma Sanitary District board member Laython Landis is instead choosing retirement, effective Mar. 30.

The Oro Loma Sanitary District made the announcement Friday afternoon ending a tumultuous few weeks for the normally understated low-level government body that represents 135,000 residents in Central Alameda County.

The board censured Landis, 88, for sexist and racist comments made in the past that reached its nadir in early December when he referred to the heavy rains that day with a racial slur. “It’s raining cats and dogs and n—ger babies,” he said during the committee meeting.

Last Wednesday, the board directed its counsel to ask permission from State Attorney General Kamala Harris’s office to sue Landis in an effort to prove his mentally capacity had diminished to the point he could not competently hold the office he has held for 42 years.

Numerous political groups had officially called for Landis’ ouster in recent weeks and pressure from his colleagues to resign may have taken a toll.

In a phone conversation Thursday afternoon, Landis told the East Bay Citizen he was contemplating an exit from the board when “a good friend” suggested, instead, he choose retirement over resignation.

That friend was former San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos.

“The word resignation was really holding him up,” said Santos. “Why should he have the stigma of resigning his seat? What he said obviously was not right, but you can’t ignore what he’s done in local politics over the past 60 years.”

In fact, on three separate occasions during our conversation Thursday Landis quickly corrected me when I used the word resignation, instead of retirement.

He also suggested he would not notify the sanitary district of his intentions to leave the board for another 7-10 days, but instead, called its executive director Thursday evening to deliver the news.

As for the district board’s attempt to question his mental acuity, Landis responded, “Do I seem competent to you?” he asked. “Yes!”

The effective date for Landis’ retirement is also his birthday. “I’m going to be 89. I think it’s a good time to retire.”

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