Oakland: Kaplan calls for audit of Schaaf’s signature education initiative

Oakland Council President Rebecca Kaplan wants the city auditor to look into allegations that Mayor Libby Schaaf gave away office space at City Hall to Oakland Promise, her signature program for childhood education, free of charge.

Oakland Promise is a non-profit formed with the East Bay College Fund, that pledges to offer every child living in Oakland with financial support for their education from kindergarten through college graduation.

Funding for the program comes mostly from philanthropic sources, although, the city and Oakland Unified School District also contribute some limited financial resources to Oakland Promise

But questions over Oakland Promise’s presence at Oakland City Hall and whether public facilities are being improperly used has been raised publicly and privately over the past two years.

“During the 2016-2018 time period, we heard allegations that Mayor Schaaf had ordered that city hall facilities be given, free of charge, to the Oakland Promise, without going through our legally-mandated process for use of public facilities,” Kaplan wrote in a memo to Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby this week.

Kaplan also referenced reports that her office received about Oakland Promise employees working at City Hall and using a City Hall phone number for day-to-day business.

In the letter, Kaplan said Schaaf’s office obfuscated about the use of City Hall facilities by Oakland Promise and then later admitted the arrangement, but without acknowledging who paid for the space.

Kaplan’s call for an audit of Oakland Promise underscores a deepening rivalry between the council president and mayor. During the most recent budget season, Kaplan pushed for the elimination of the city’s new Department of Transportation, another initiative backed by Schaaf.

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