The boo birds are expected to flock to Tuesday's City Council meeting, but it remains to be seen if they'll once again be allowed to perch in the balconies of the council chamber.
Council President Pat Kernighan said Friday that she expected the upstairs seating to remain open to the public Tuesday when the full council considers a contract for William Bratton, former chief of the New York and Los Angeles police departments.
However, city spokeswoman Karen Boyd said City Administrator Deanna Santana would likely discuss with council members whether to again close the balconies as a safety precaution.
Discussion of Bratton's consulting contract drew more than 100 demonstrators to Tuesday's meeting of the Public Safety Committee. Many of the demonstrators sat in the balconies and rained down boos and epithets on police officers and political opponents.
On several occasions, Councilman Noel Gallo asked police to escort out disruptive people from the balconies, although no one was forcibly removed.
"Tuesday night really did reinforce our concerns about public safety," Boyd said. City officials have said disruptive people in the balconies pose a potential threat to council members below and are more difficult for police to remove.
Oakland officials closed off the two upper sections of the council chamber in October after several meetings where heckling protesters halted proceedings.
The policy, which significantly reduced public seating, was opposed by unions, free-speech advocates and several council members.
The city reversed course last month, allowing spectators into the balconies for a debate about a potential dog park.
Councilman Larry Reid, who was council president last year when the balconies were closed, said he supported keeping them open on Tuesday. "You can't open them for some issues and not for others," he said.
Quan reiterates support for Bratton
Mayor Jean Quan is trying to rally City Council support for hiring Bratton, one of the nation's most decorated police chiefs, as a consultant for Oakland's beleaguered force.
In a letter addressed to council members Friday, Quan touted Bratton's record both in reducing crime and working with civil rights groups.
"Oakland residents and businesses deserve the best, and I support Chief (Howard) Jordan in his request to bring on one of the best advisers he could have," Quan wrote.
The council is scheduled to vote on a $250,000 contract for Bratton and two associates to help police design and implement strategies to reduce crime in California's most violent city.
Opponents have mobilized against Bratton, citing his support for giving police more latitude in stopping and searching potential suspects.
Support for Bratton on the City Council appeared to weaken on Tuesday amid vocal protests during a Public Safety Committee meeting. Council members Dan Kalb and Lynette Gibson McElhaney both questioned whether Bratton would be effective holding community meetings given likely protests.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said she was awaiting more information before making up her mind.
Quan noted that while in Los Angeles, Bratton dealt with federal monitoring similar to what is in place in Oakland, and that complaints against the department filed with the ACLU dropped dramatically during his tenure. She also reiterated that no matter Bratton's advice, the city won't implement "zero-tolerance" policing policies.
"The goals of fighting crime and improving police relationships in our communities are not at odds with each other," Quan wrote. "I believe Bratton can help us improve the department on both fronts, but in the end, the responsibility for OPD policy is not his. It is Chief Jordan's and mine."
Sports center named after former mayor
When former Union City Mayor Mark Green delivered speeches during his nearly two decades in office, he often teased local sports fans by mentioning his favorite teams: the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Rams. Given his passionate fandom, it is fitting that just weeks after Green was termed out of office, his former colleagues have voted to name Union City's athletic facility after him.
When council members approved the center's new name at a Jan. 8 meeting, they noted Green's many accomplishments, especially his leadership in the drive to construct the building in 2007.
The center -- at 31224 Union City Blvd., on the western edge of the city -- is a state-of-the-art fitness facility with an aerobics room, locker rooms and a child care center. It also has a 12,000-square-foot gymnasium offering adult sports programs for basketball, volleyball, badminton, table tennis and general fitness.
At the recent public meeting, Green wore a sweatshirt bearing the logo of his beloved Rams as he watched the City Council unanimously approve the center's renaming.
After the vote, he addressed new Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci and his former council colleagues, publicly thanking them for the honor.
Green, 59, served as mayor for 19 years, the longest continuous mayoral tenure in Union City's history.