Your shadow government

So, I generally don’t say much about Chip Johnson around these parts, mostly because I assume that anyone reading me is also reading the Chronicle. But in case you missed it, Johnson wrote a column last Friday about the City’s refusal to provide City Auditor Courtney Ruby with necessary documents to complete the hiring practices audit authorized by the City Council last year.

City Administrator Dan Lindheim is quoted in the column saying that he’s just trying to protect employee privacy, suggesting that the request for supervisors to disclose their relatives and cohabitants who also work for the City was too invasive, and that he doesn’t trust Ruby’s office to keep confidential information confidential. In remarks at an event on Friday, Lindheim called the column a “hit piece” and assured the audience that there was “not a fact in there, period.” He went on to say that “As to the nepotism and cronyism ordinance that it was referring to, that it is being absolutely implemented. So, in case anybody has any questions about that, just be assured that this bureaucrat is in fact doing what the Council has determined ought to be done.”

So…there were actually many independently verifiable facts in the column that are a matter of public record, and the column was about the hiring practices audit, not the cronyism ordinance at all. But aside from that, it’s not inconceivable that Johnson got some of the details wrong – it wouldn’t be the first time. However, also on Friday, City Auditor Courtney Ruby sent out a message to her mailing list saying that Johnson’s column was accurate, and that “the Administration is trying to withhold key documents essential to my audit of the City’s hiring practices.” Ruby asked that residents contact the Mayor’s office and demand that the Administration provide the necessary documentation to complete her audit.

I’m definitely not Courtney Ruby’s biggest fan, but I also have no reason not to believe her when she says that the City won’t provide her with the documents she needs. I certainly trust her more than I trust Dan Lindheim.

So Johnson wrote about the issue again today, this time talking mostly about Ruby’s e-mail and responses to it from various City officials. In today’s column, Lindheim once again questions the appropriateness of the information employees are being asked to disclose:

On Monday, Lindheim re-iterated his concerns about employee privacy and used employees in a secret same-sex relationship as an example.

“This ordinance is not just about nepotism – it asks about who you’re sleeping with, and that, in and of itself, is delicate and can play out in the workplace, but more an issue for non-heterosexual couples. If the information gets out, then they get outed,” Lindheim said.

So…this is outrageous. Dan Lindheim is the appointed City Administrator. It is his job to do what the Council tells him to do. It is not his job to decide whether he approves of the Council’s instructions. The objections to employee disclosure over privacy concerns were aired and discussed at great length, both by the Finance & Management Committee and the City Council as a whole. The Council heard the objections, listened to legal counsel, and then made a decision. It is now the City Administrator’s job to ensure that their direction is followed. That’s how government works.

How is it possible to have an orderly, efficient, or accountable government when bureaucrats decide they have the liberty to ignore Council direction if they don’t like it? Councilmembers are accountable for their decisions – if they make bad ones, they can be voted out of office. City staff is accountable to no one.

This is not the first time Lindheim has behaved as though he is above listening to the Council. Last March, when the Council was poised to vote on a motion regarding zoning near the Central Waterfront, Lindheim (then acting CEDA Director), approached the mic and told the Council that they were not empowered to do so. Ignacio De La Fuente responded that of course they were, and that he was obligated to do as directed in their motion. Lindheim then complained that he didn’t like the motion and got all huffy when they passed it anyway.

Then, of course, there was the time this summer, when (still as acting CEDA Director), Lindheim simply didn’t submit a report requested by the Council about what’s happening with the millions of dollars a year the City allocates under the Workforce Investment Act. After refusing to provide the Committee with an explanation for his failure to produce a report, the Committee tried to reschedule the item for a few months in the future, and Lindheim told them that they could schedule it for whenever they wanted, but he wouldn’t have the report for them then either.

At the aforementioned event last Friday, Lindheim also spoke about the ongoing zoning update process:

We’re in the process now of redoing the downtown area to make it consistent with the General Plan, which means that there’s this fight back and forth between what does the General Plan really mean? Because the problem is most General Plans or most planning exercises don’t mean much until you have a twenty foot building sitting in your backyard, and then you realize that maybe you didn’t want that.

This is now the third time I have listened to Lindheim suggest that our new zoning should not necessarily follow the dictates of the General Plan, because he doesn’t think people like the General Plan. Nevermind that the General Plan is the official document governing land use in Oakland, or that it was adopted by the City Council a decade ago after being craft with years of public input and debate.

This attitude is completely unacceptable. We cannot have unelected bureaucrats behaving like policymakers. Having the public’s business conduct in public is the cornerstone of transparent, accountable government. When the City Council makes a decision, staff has to follow it, whether they agree with the instructions or not. When the City Administrator himself, the most powerful official in Oakland, decides that it is within his discretion to ignore instruction, then what hope is there for transparency and accountability at any level within City government? The behavior is outrageous.

By the way…after reading a comment on The HarriOak News from someone who had tried to call the Mayor’s office about the issue only to be told that the Mayor’s office does not accept comments by telephone, I called myself. After all, I thought, such a thing couldn’t possibly be true? You can’t call the Mayor’s office to say what you think? It’s inconceivable! Sure enough, when I called, I got exactly the same response.

66 thoughts on “Your shadow government

  1. dto510

    If Dan Lindheim wants to create policy for Oakland, he can run for City Council. Of course, he would have to move from Berkeley first.

  2. We Fight Blight

    The City Council deserves Lindheim. They supported his appointment. They get what they vote for. Insubordinate Bureaucrats like Dan Lindheim are what make Oakland City Hall a joke and are what is driving the City of Oakland further and further into a deep, dark hole.

  3. Coolhand Luke

    Oh the frustration. People can bag on Oakland’s crime all they want, but I think those who hurt us the most are these bumbling bullying bureaucrats. His audacity is further unnerving because it indicates that this insubordinate mentality is probably rampant in our city gov.

  4. John Klein

    Not sure that I have the same take on Mr. L.’s General Plan comment. What he seems to be saying is that no one really pays attention to the General Plan and, if the zoning does not conform to the GP, you end up with zoning which allows projects that the General Plan does not (his example: 20 foot (or 275′) building in your backyard). It is next to impossible to stop or change a project for which an area may be zoned but which may not fully comply with the General Plan.

    His comment fairly summarizes the points I’ve been making that the GP is hardly discussed in the CBD and City-wide Rezoning efforts even though the process is specifically for making the zoning conform to the GP. How can zoning be said to conform with the General Plan if the GP is not an intimate part of the rezoning discussion? I have the same question as Mr. L: what does the GP mean? Further, how does the GP translate into zoning?

  5. V Smoothe Post author

    Like I said in the post, I’ve listened to Lindheim make similar statements at three different events, and I think his meaning is pretty clear. Perhaps he’s been more explicit on other occasions, I’ve certainly heard him talk on the subject at greater length in the past, but the comment is always the same. The zoning is supposed to comply with the General Plan, but some people don’t like the General Plan, so maybe the new zoning should not do what the General Plan says. That’s not an acceptable conclusion. The General Plan is policy, and it’s his job to implement the policy, not question it.

    As far as how the General Plan translates into zoning – that seems really obvious to me. The LUTE creates fifteen land use classifications, delineates where in the city each applies, defines residential units/acre and commercial FAR from each one, and offers broad guidelines for character and use in each classification. That’s the bones of zoning right there – all that’s left is to fill in the details. You can quibble about details within the prescribed framework, but you shouldn’t be allowed to change the skeleton.

  6. dto510

    Yeah, the General Plan (the LUTE, specifically) is straightforward. While it doesn’t specifically address building heights (except by encouraging “the construction of taller buildings” downtown), the FAR and residential units/acre are quite clear. Now, there is a movement building to undo the General Plan by lowering its limits and imposing height restrictions below what the GP would allow, but that is not founded in the General Plan, but is instead opposition to it. Lindheim may not like the General Plan or its vision of dense transit-oriented development, but it’s not his job to attempt to undo it. Unfortunately, Mr. Lindheim has decided to use his administrative powers to thwart all sorts of city policies, we’ll see if he pressures the planning department to draft zoning that is inconsistent with the LUTE.

  7. Chris Kidd

    The then-flimsy rationale for accepting the vastly underqualified Dan Lindheim’s nomination to City Administrator because “he works well with the city council” rings more and more hollow with each passing day.

    I’m still waiting for the release of the “nationwide search” results for a competent City Administrator that the city sunk $150K into. I suppose we’re as likely to see it as the city council is likely to see a report on the Workforce Investment Act allocations.

  8. V Smoothe Post author

    The Committee has subsequently received a report on WIA, but only sort of. It’s a long story, but I hope to get around to writing about it one of these days.

  9. John Klein

    The LUTE is a nuanced document and needs to be broken down, taken apart, digested, etc., to get at what it intends. There are other elements of the GP that have equal weight such as the Open Space (OSCAR) and Historic Preservation Elements. This really hasn’t happened yet.

    dto510: you might be interested to know that in the EIR for the LUTE, zoning that limits building heights in certain ways downtown is a recommended mitigation adopted specifically because the LUTE called for high-rise construction downtown. It also calls for “maintaining and enhancing” certain areas…the General Plan Congress was especially concerned about degradation of residential areas that would inevitably occur with the emphasis on increased density in the CBD.

    The ZUC has yet to wrap its collective head around the “enhance and maintain” designation as it applies to the CBD.

    Building height does not equal density. Many of the new housing projects downtown are 4-6 floors, including the much-loved Uptown. One wonders why all the dismay over an interest in limiting building heights in some areas while, at the same time, the City of Oakland is promoting 4-6 story buildings as examples of density and transit oriented.

    The OSCAR also calls for preserving views through zoning for building heights.

    It is not a “movement” that is trying to undermine the GP. Rather, it is residents of Oakland who see more to the GP than just tall buildings. It only appears like a movement because the advocates for unlimited building heights throughout the CBD drove the process at the beginning. Now, there is a much wider consituency involved in the process that is bringing in these other policies, goals, and objectives of the GP.

  10. V Smoothe Post author

    John, you are, as you do constantly, strongly misrepresenting the position of those who disagree with you, as well as totally misrepresenting the actual policy you advocate for in front of public bodies. Your anti-development screeds are off-topic on this post and as such, unwelcome. Also, you really need to read the LUTE again.

  11. dto510

    The Uptown project is taller than what many people are proposing for height limits in Oakland, and no smart-growth advocate is saying that it’s the maximum height we want. Quite the opposite, in fact – the Forest City Uptown project, which I worked on, was intended to soak up a huge amount of vacant land and spur ancillary development in the immediate area, all of which is taller and denser. Also, Phase II includes an already-approved high-rise. The OSCAR and the HP Element (neither of which say anything clear or useful about city planning) do not have equal weight with the LUTE, which was passed later and is the document required by state and regional planning agencies.

    John, you and I both know that it’s incredibly disingenuous to claim that a “wider constituency” is pushing for height limits. CALM, the OHA, PANIL, the RCPC, and STAND, are the same few people, fighting and losing the same anti-growth battles, since I was in high school. The wider constituencies that are becoming engaged are younger people and the growing ranks of Oakland entrepreneurs, who are changing the discussion from NIMBYism and extortion to embracing growth and opportunity.

  12. John Klein

    V. Without being more specific, I can’t really understand which positions you think I am misrepresenting or which of my own positions you feel I am contradicting, so…..

    I’m really just responding to some GP issues you mentioned in your post; I read the LUTE everyday and I’d be happy to give you some page-line cites, if you wish. I know you get cranky sometimes with people you disagree with sometimes.

  13. V Smoothe Post author

    No, not with people who disagree with me, just with people who eat up comment space with long, off-topic, inaccurate screeds. If you want to talk about how much you hate tall buildings, John, you can either start your own blog to do it or wait until I write a post about zoning.

  14. John Klein

    dto510: Ah, I get it. I don’t mean “wider constituency” in the sense of “my consituency is wider than your constituency.” What I mean is that, as a general matter, more people are involved in the CBD rezoning process now than, say, a year ago – that is all.

    CALM and OHA belong at the table as much as anyone else.

  15. dto510

    Are there more people involved in the CBD rezone now than there were a year ago? Last January Nancy Nadel convened two meetings that had more than fifty people at each – no meeting since has been that crowded. Nobody’s saying that CALM shouldn’t be at the table, but you don’t get what you want if it’s not in the interests of the city or the region just because you have a snappy acronym.

  16. Max Allstadt

    Ok, Here we are back on topic…

    Dan Lindheim apparently thinks that unanimous confirmation gives him a great big mandate.

    Well I remember a kid from my 9th grade class who thought he had a big mandate. He went around showing it to everybody all the time, until finally, somebody got fed up, and kicked him… in the mandate.

    The problem here is that the council doesn’t have a boot to kick with. They should empower themselves to withhold pay from staffers who ignore their directives. Department heads especially. Maybe they do it by majority vote? Maybe they create a “contempt of council” misdemeanor that allows them to fine or even briefly incarcerate staffers who flout legislated orders?

    Similarly, we need charter reform so that the Auditor can sanction anyone who refuses to provide documents. On the spot. She should also have the power to bring marshals with her to forcibly open filing cabinets and search them. If she’s sworn to confidentiality and has a big penalty hanging over her head to prevent her from abusing her power, there is no reason why her ability to review anything at anytime should not be absolute.

    As for not taking comments by phone. I got a comment for that. It makes me want to call the Mayor something that Pablo Picaso was never called. And if he ever tries to give another public meeting, I just might do that to his face.

  17. Patrick

    The big problem here is that public employees wanted private-employee pay, private-employee+ perqs, and want beyond private-employee carte blanche when it comes to their private lives. We need to remind them what “public” really means.

  18. Patrick

    I hate to admit my stupidity – but what was Pablo Picasso “never called”? I mean, beyond “hella bootsy”.

  19. Max Allstadt

    Pablo Picaso?

    He was only 5 foot 3
    Girls could not resist his stare
    Pablo Picaso was never called (?)

  20. Jim

    Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole according to the song by the Modern Lovers. I hear the song on KALX sometimes. I like it!

  21. CitizenE

    On topic — if you go back and review the original legislation on the nepotism ordinance, you’ll see that the Auditor was to receive copies of the employee disclosures. If you review the committee video, you’ll see that Council changed this to ensure the forms were submitted to the Personnel Director only. Seems to me, that Lindheim is following the Council’s wishes.

    In the earlier article, Lindheim expressed concern re the legality of certain parts of the ordinance. I know, the City Attorney says it is legal, but I never thought the Attorney infallable. Pope John — lol.

    Courtney Ruby is obviously looking for grist for her hiring audit. We’ll see how confidential it all remains, if she discovers something especially juicy and headline-worthy.

  22. Izzy Ort

    And let’s don’t forget:

    Girls would turn the color of the avocado
    when he would drive down the street in his El Dorado.

    For me it’s a toss-up between the Modern Lovers version and the John Cale version.

  23. Max Allstadt

    on topic:

    1. we have no prior experience that I know of where Courtney Ruby violated her confidentiality and non-disclosure obligations.

    2. It isn’t lindheim’s job or role to question the legality of legislation.

    3. Why the council is putting up with this is beyond me. They unanimously confirmed Lindheim, and three weeks later he turns around and slaps them in the face by unilaterally obstructing their ordinances. Two or three of their ordinances, at least two of which passed unanimously.

    4. The ONLY way to make ethics and oversight work, in law or in charter is to set up incremental punishments for those who disobey. Lower level punishments should be swift, and take effect immediately. More serious punishment requires more serious due process. I don’t get why the council doesn’t understand this. It’s almost as if they want their ethics laws to be impotent…

  24. Carlos Plazola

    A big problem with people in the ideological extremes is that they’re always right and the ends always justify the means for them. The council will be herding cats with “Tricky Dan”.

  25. V Smoothe Post author

    CitizenE –

    You’re confused, and also mixing up two different issues – the nepotism ordinance and the audit. In the final legislation, the Director of Personnel was responsible for collecting the information. But the City Auditor has access to personnel information for auditing purposes (the City Attorney agrees) and is in fact named in the ordinance as one of the people you’re supposed to report nepotism to. Obviously she needs to information in order to complete her audit.

  26. Mike Spencer

    I can’t stand when Oakland acts “Oakland.” We don’t accept comments over the phone, classic, classic stuff. If I wasn’t struggling to make a living and doing other stuff I would appear at council meetings to bellow. V. and others, I deputize you to raise a rucus on my behalf at next City meeting. Thank you. Is this Lindheim character as arrogant as he seems?

  27. DontBotherDelores

    CALM is 4 people who also have other venues for their anti development agenda. If they were younger they would have lost interest in their anti development agenda and resorted to Dungeons and Dragons.

    Dan Lindheim is the tool in the Dellums Machine that ensures no transparency or accountability. To this day my noggin hurts reconciling how rude he was to Jane Brunner over not giving a report and her energetic praise of him as the nominee for permanent city administrator. Stockholm Syndrome, much?

  28. Christy

    With regards to the cohabitant disclosure thing: I don’t know, it seems to me like there might be a legitimate privacy issue…Mr. Lindheim might also be acting like a big old dookie-head too, though. Any rate, seems like the sort of thing that an employee could successfully sue the city over.

  29. V Smoothe Post author

    The City Attorney has already vetted the legislation. It isn’t up to Mr. Lindheim to decide whether he agrees with the Attorney’s opinion or not. Like I said above, the Council heard and discussed all objections, and make a decision. Bureaucrats don’t get to question those decisions, their job is to implement them.

  30. Oh Pleeze

    Brava V!
    The elected Legislative branch (the Council) made the law
    The elected Attorney’s office (a subset of the legislative branch) validated it
    The elected Auditor’s office, an independent agency, is overseeing compliance with the law
    The elected Executive branch (the Mayor) is charged with executing the law [as in 'just do it'....]
    The job of the Executive Branch’s city administrator (an hand picked mayoral appointee who reports directly to the mayor and who might emit occasional whiffs of cronyism stemming from his longtime close association with the mayor) is to make the law work. It is NOT to flout an ordinance nor undermine the authority of the other branches of government. Especially not in an ex post facto manner.

  31. Chris Kidd

    If Lindheim has a personal ethical problem with the ordinance, there are many things he could do which wouldn’t get in the way of his stated duties as city administrator. He could make a public statement of protest on the matter while still carrying out his duty. He could privately encourage others to bring legal challenges against the ordinance. He could encourage the city council to ammend the ordinance while still carrying out his duties. He could decide that to carry out a such an action would violate his personal ethical standards and resign the office in protest. Actually, please do!

  32. Joanna/ShopGirl

    Karen Boyd sent out a letter from Lindheim via the MetroPSA group today. I have to say it was LAME. As spin goes, it didn’t change my views on Lindheim, but I fear that other people will believe it for lack of full knowledge on the situation.

    To me, the bottom line is that Courtney Ruby has requested info. Lindheim and others within the City are making excuses why not to provide the info. The City Attorney agreed that Ruby was correct in asking for it. So this question of security of private info is bs, imho.

    I’m with the Kidd. If you want to protest and resign, GO FOR IT. But could you take Dellums with you?

  33. CitizenE

    V -

    “You’re confused, and also mixing up two different issues…”

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear. The original draft of the ordinance, in July 2008, required that the employee disclosures also be given to the City Attorney and City Auditor:
    “Such information shall also be provided to the City Attomey and City Auditor.”

    Council decided that only the Personnel Director should get the forms and amended the draft ordinance. So, my point was, by not giving the forms to the Auditor, Lindheim was actually following the wishes of the Council (whatever his actual motivation).

    City Attorney is probably correct that the Auditor has access regardless. I’m not sure that she “needs” the info to complete the audit. She should be auditing hiring procedures and adherence to policies. Whi is sleeping with who makes better headkines, though.

  34. V Smoothe Post author

    CitizenE, you must be being intentionally obtuse. I have explained this three times. Like Lindheim, you are trying to dismiss Ruby’s complaint by obfuscating the issue. Ruby is not complaining about the nepotism ordinance, she is complaining that she is being denied the necessary information to complete the hiring practices audit authorized by the Council. Lindheim’s e-mail yesterday was hilarious in the way it kept claiming that no wrong was being committed, yet at the same time making up excuses for denying the Auditor access to information that she unequivocally is entitled to access. Nobody besides the Auditor – not you, not Lindheim – gets to decide what information she “needs.” Your hostility to transparency in government is chilling.

  35. CitizenE

    V -

    This thread is getting old, but let me set the record straight. I believe that Ruby has the right to request and receive the disclosures. I am NOT making excuses for Lindheim’s actions or inactions. I was merely pointing out that Council (or, at least, certain Councilmembers) obviously didn’t want her to have the records either. I found that ironic and that was all the point I was trying to make here.

    Had the Council NOT passed the ordinance at the end of last year, Ruby would had to have done her (already underway) hiring audit without the recently completed disclosure forms. So, I believe that “the documents she needs” is a bit of an overstatement. No doubt, the docs will be helpful to the audit and, as I said, she should have them.

    I don’t believe Ruby is doing a BAD job (certainly better than her predecessor), but I think she is a little headline happy. I believe she should heed your New Years resolution for her:

    “Courtney Ruby: I will start doing all the parts of my job delineated in the City Charter, even the ones that aren’t exciting enough to get me in the newspaper. Like reviewing major expenditures.”

  36. V Smoothe Post author

    And the story has a happy ending. Courtney Ruby sent out a message yesterday saying she has been provided access to the information she needs:

    Dear Oaklanders,

    Early this morning, the Administration fulfilled my request for hiring practices documentation.

    Your voice, joined with scores of other concerned and committed Oakland citizens, triggered another key step toward establishing transparency and accountability at Oakland city hall. I am especially grateful for and honored by your willingness to respond immediately when the cause of good government calls.

    Today I have fresh confidence that the new City Administrator shares the goals and aspirations demonstrated this past week by you, Oakland’s concerned citizens.

    Together we can have the city we all want – one that is managed with transparency, accountability and enlightened, ethical leadership.

    Committed to serving you and Oakland with the utmost integrity,
    Courtney A. Ruby, CPA
    City Auditor

  37. Michelle

    I have just published my own audit of CEDA practices. Please check it out at and spread the word. Code Enforcement is running a number of rackets, including interfering with escrows, illegally liening properties, and favoring unlicensed contractors.

    The report features mainly primary resources; it is not an article or story; it is a compendium of an audit sample and the supporting documentation that substantiate the findings.

    Please check it out.


  38. Michelle

    I’m not sure I understand your reference to needlepoint. It is a credible report that has been acknowledged by the City Auditor’s office and contains a substantial sample. It has been conducted in accordance with fraud accounting standards and is, as I said, supported by primary documentation.

    Again, I urge people to review the findings and primary resources. The purpose of the report is to cast light on the shadow government and it operations. Only by exposing the manifest practices that have superceeded the policies set out in Municipal Code will we achieve a richer Oakland. I wouldn’t call that needlepoint.

  39. Ralph

    i don’t take serious any report that uses terms such as “entrepreneurial schemes” and “multiple schemes and rackets.” i am a huge fan of quantified findings. your link lacks the professionalism for me to give it any credibility. you don’t even identify who you are. since you got some free time, i suggest needlepoint.

  40. Generator

    Putting aside your distaste for certain terms and website format the information is there. Just because the website lacks flash doesn’t mean that anything of importance such as the facts are lacking.

    I feel the need to ask you why you suggested such a stereotypically female activity such as needlepoint ? Are you honestly that sexist? If so then you shouldn’t be offended by my suggetion that you shave your palms and take up beer drinking and gun cleaning. Maybe what your mother said was true and you have finally gone blind after all these years. I don’t see another explanation as to how you can be so blind to the facts.

    Who knew that Hooters had Wi-Fi?

  41. len raphael

    Ralph, you had that one coming.

    btw, is anyone able to connect to ktop now with realplayer? i’m getting a “server” number of connections exceeded. just might have to show up in the flesh.

  42. Michelle

    I do identify myself. Try to navigate the website. It has quite a lot of credibility and professionalism. Perhaps you are not familiar with audit reporting standards? The nice thing about the report is that it relies on the audience’s ability to make sense of internal documentation on its own. You see a case; you read a summary; you look at the CEDA internal documentation and read the words of the CEDA staff; you read the relevant municipal code. If you read the report, you will realize that you are actually looking at facts, not speculation; you are looking at the words and deeds of City employees; you are not reading a rant or speculations. You can decide for yourself whether the behaviors of the City employees are worthy or meet the criteria of the job or the Constitution of the State or the Municipal Code. The report allows you to read and think. Well, it challenges one to read and think.

  43. Michelle

    By the way, the entire report is a quantified finding. Perhaps I should explain again. I took an identifiable population: All Complaints. From that, I chose to examine a subset: Complaints where Notice of Substandard Building was recorded as a Lien encumbrance upon title. That sample has been examined one case at a time beginning with the most recently recorded liens. Each complaint is then audited from inception to current status and parsed for conformity with City and State Codes, and beyond. By way of cross reference against the audit sample, we have obtained total revenue figures for Liens Received by Building Services. Each of those Liens can be audited for compliance. So far, the findings are as described in the Report Summary of Findings. It is up to each individual member of the public to chose whether or not to validate the findings in one’s own mind. I have provided the gateway to the information.


  44. Ralph

    generator, i suggested needlepoint because it was the first activity that came to my mind. but more importantly it is something my brother does when he has free time? and can you say rosie grier? i would suggest you stand up and stop scraping your knuckles along the ground but i don’t want to take you from natural condition.

    i am not asking for flash. i just want a simple easy to read report with an executive summary, audit findings, perhaps some conclusions. I have no interest in reading someone’s poorly referenced workpapers.

    michelle, you state your name. you don’t say who engaged you. your firm, if any? For all i know you could be someone with an axe to grind. I am actually quite familiar with audit stds. what are droconian fines? what do you mean ignorant of the code? what do you mean regularly trespass?

    no auditor worth their weight would have used the terminology you used. by quanitfiable i want to know something was done X times. your report could have been completed by a monkey? did generator do it?

  45. livegreen

    Michelle, Please explain how in your example the “CEDA employees benefiting personally” occurred? Maybe I missed something in my quick overview but I don’t see the connection.

    Also, isn’t it typical for City liens to be vacated (or some sort of compromise), if a new owner comes in and makes corrections to the property? Why would somebody buy a forclosure if all their profit gets eaten up by a few fines?

    I’m ignorant in such matters so an explanation is appreciated…

  46. Michelle

    Well, all of that is right there in the report. Audit Background. Audit Objectives and Scope. Audit Review Procedures. Summary of Findings. Report Sample. Supporting Documentation. Other primary sources.

    It does not require a firm to commission this work. It does require skills and time, both of which I possess. It has also required enormous contribution from multiple sources to substantiate the findings, which are described in detail and then substantiated with the examples themselves.

    Your devil’s advocate stance has given me an opportunity to explain why the report is gaining attention. Because it is true.

  47. Michelle

    Well, the CEDA employee in question obtained a property that was under duress by the City. That gives the appearance of abuse of power and is, in fact, an abuse of power.

  48. Ralph

    michelle, when presented in an easy to digest and follow report, the facts should speak for themselves. no one needs to “have at it.” if you want to prepare a decent report that you want people to take seriously examine the reports issued from the city auditor’s office. they are easy to read and follow. i believe the HR hiring report has no shortage of findings. they are documented and easy to follow.

  49. Michelle

    it seems to me that, like it or not, your act of critique is in and of itself a kind of taking seriously of my audit report. it would have been lovely to take another month to put together pretty tables with tabs and page references for each workpaper support document and to print each spreadsheet of findings.

    this is too urgent. too many people are affected. and the attention you have given to the issue, the scrutiny that should be demanded of audits, is exactly what AOC is hoping to bring out in the public. you see, i did this audit. but it should be done by our fair City, no? and my findings are mindblowing. $12,000,000 earned in liens. Earned. in liens. Ouch to those who have been devastated by those costs. Many are facing foreclosure today as a direct result. Many escrows are currently held up by the liens. Many of those liens are based upon DOCUMENTED and CONFIRMED BY CEDA bogus allegations that the new buyer was too trusting to know were bogus allegations. Many people have had their good faith deposits for Compliance Plans forfeitted for missing a single compliance date by as little as seven days. CEDA backfilled the pool of a man who had committed suicide, whose widow lost the property in foreclosure as a result, backfilled the pool rather than call Vector Control for stagnant water and paid Desilva $13,000 dollars to do that.

    So, should I have put a bow on my audit report? This is an emergency, folks.

  50. Ralph

    my only interest is helping you make you work useful. right now it is a piece of crap which if it were in hard form, i would use either to line my birdcage or wrap my fish. if people think they have useful information, my goal is to help them get it in a shape and manner that is easily understood and user friendly. if i need to weed thru your workpapers, i don’t give a rat’s — about it. you don’t need a bow, but your report should be readable. i gave your report the attn it deserved. if you want me to give it more attn, i suggest you take a basic english class and learn how to write and then take some auditing classes and learn how to audit and document.

  51. Michelle

    Again, you reaffirm what has made my audit report useful as it is. It challenges the reader.

    What’s interesting to me is that the readers to date have had such a different reaction to yours. Most people have found the content to be so straightforward as to not warrant the types of tables that are the ilk of the strict audit report. People enjoy putting the pieces together for themselves, which makes it a more engaging, interactive, and viseral experience, which audit reports generally are not.

    This report is about people’s lives, so I care not that it looks like a person compiled it. Are you interested in whether or not Oakland pays contractors to backfill pools and liens the dead and burried property owner?
    decide for yourself

  52. Ralph

    really? challenges the reader? oh it challenges the reader. it makes the reader wonder if you have any idea what you are doing. we are 5 days into the new year and i have managed to screw up my resolution not to conduct a conversation with an individual whose shoe size is bigger than their IQ. thank you. thank you very much

    really? people think piecing together an ‘audit report” makes it good. people i know want to read an audit report, written by someone with better than a 2nd grade understanding of report writing. i so want to meet these braindeads who value your report. i just want to make sure they don’t vote in oakland.

  53. Livegreen

    Leaving aside the insults, Ralph, as well as how professional the report might not look, the more important point is that this Inspection Services Manager was able to buy somebody’s house after they got fined for parking in front of it. Whether or not the original owner did or didn’t have an argument with their HOA, CEDA inspectors should NOT be taking posession of homes that their colleagues crate Liens against for Parking!

    At the very least there is an appearance of Conflict of Interest. Michelle, what has he City Attorney said?

  54. Ralph

    lg, if there is a report somewhere that makes sense without me having to click a bunch of links and has a little analysis, please point me to it. from what i have seen, her report looks like it was prepared by someone who has neither the ability to research nor to write. i don’t sugar coat it. i call a spade a spade. michelle is welcome to disagree, but i’ve seen better reports from the OUSD students I help. keep in mind, i work with 9th graders who have trouble constructing a simple sentence.

  55. Michelle

    My goodness, look what happens when people read and think for themselves.

    What’s confusing about my audit report is that each of the cases I have uploaded is riddled with problems/findings. The task is not to weed through each case to determine whether there are findings. Each case is a finding – illegal lien. The rest of the findings, the procedural misconduct, the extortion, are in each case as well. So, it seemed to me inappropriate to tally a count of what is occuring rampantly across the City. It seemed inappropriate to make a table of findings, when each case needs to be examined.

    I will continue to upload cases as they are audited and continue to provide additional resources so Oakland constituents, who had to pay not one cent for this report, can review for themselves.

    Why not look at 0806770, the house that is now liened $100,000 after Desley Brooks reported “peeling paint” to CEDA?

    The City Attorney has no response to any of these cases, period.

  56. mfraser

    I was reading this old post and note that it seems to be more than a coincidence that Renwick has resigned. It is clear you have been on to something substantial, and that the abuse of process has been signficant.

    Maybe Ralph needs this to happen to him before he much cares about what happens to his fellow residents. Thanks for your extensive good work on this!