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Political intrigue, new interim city manager (City Hall Scene)

Oakland City Hall

Oakland City Hall

Things done got real interesting at Oakland City Hall - not that they were boring before.

We now have a good old-fashion political scandal involving campaign contributions, committee votes and a city contract.

Even the Public Ethics Commission is taking a peek. Suddenly, Tuesday's City Council meeting has a bit of intrigue.

In case you missed the fireworks, City Auditor Courtney Ruby blasted a recent City Council committee vote on a $2 million security contract for having serious ethical challenges. Ruby's office believes that ABC Security made illegal contributions while bidding for the contract. Oh ... and by the way, city staff recommended another firm, Cypress Security, as a better choice.

Local political heavyweights and Council members Ignacio De La Fuente and Jane Brunner received ABC donations, sits on that key committee and voted for the local firm. Now the city's Public Ethics Commission is going to take up the matter in its next meeting, April 4, to decide if there needs to be a full investigation.

In the meantime, the full Council is supposed to give the final vote on the security contract this Tuesday.

I'm leaving out a lot of detail, but you can read more here and here.

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On another note, Mayor Jean Quan picked an interim city administrator to guide her through the budget process.

Former Oakland fire chief and assistant city manger Lamont Ewell is coming out of retirement to work as Oakland administrator for a short spell. Ewell has worked as an administrator for other municipalities, including Santa Monica. Ewell was selected after Quan's first and second choices backed out.

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And finally, the city is seeking volunteer victims for the April 30 CORE exercise to act out the role of someone injured by a simulated quake. No experience is required and you must be 18 years of age or older. The city says you will need to give four hours of time. For details, call 238-6351 or visit www.core@oaklandnet.com.

Have some city news or an event you're just itching to tell? Hit me up: jenniferW[at]oaklandlocal.com and follow me on Twitter

A writer and photographer, Jennifer Inez Ward has been documenting Oakland neighborhoods for more than 10 years. A graduate of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, she focuses on the uniqueness and beauty of everyday life in a city that is too often overlooked for its treasures and pleasures. Throughout the years, Jennifer has had the honor of showcasing her work at a number of venues, including a permanent loan of images that are displayed on the front wall of Barnes and Nobel in Jack London Square. Jennifer is a featured artist documented in “Images of America: Black Artists in Oakland."

Picture the reaction of city workers when the new interim manager tells them they have to take massive pay cuts and make massive retirement contributions,  or face massive layoffs, after they figure out that he’ll be receiving $40,000 per month plus  benefits.

Oakland will be giving him $21,000 per month and he already is getting $18,770 per month on his CalPERS pension.

Total of  $480,000 per year.

  1. He is 58 years old.

-len raphael, temescal

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