OAKLAND -- The city's court-appointed top cop is already off to a rocky start with City Hall.
Thomas Frazier, a former Baltimore police commissioner brought in earlier this month to reform Oakland's beleaguered police department, is locked in a dispute over more than $60,000 in benefits that his negotiator blames squarely on City Attorney Barbara Parker.
Ronald Yank, who recently headed a state agency responsible for employee relations, said Parker on Friday rejected several facets of Frazier's proposed compensation package that he had negotiated with a lower-ranking attorney in her office.
The two sides subsequently failed to meet a Monday deadline to submit a contract for Frazier to U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson.
As the deadline passed, Parker filed court papers asking Henderson to find that Frazier was ineligible to receive the cash equivalents of vacation time, sick time and pension benefits.
Yank said that he soon will ask Henderson to approve the benefits and also make the city pay for the additional hours he worked Saturday through Monday trying to salvage the agreement.
"No one ever said this was subject to Ms. Parker's input," Yank said. "If so, I would have insisted that the city attorney be in the room."
Parker said Yank was well aware any agreement needed the approval of top city officials and that no agreement had been reached.
"We have a responsibility to not just give away public funds," she said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Yank is attempting to create a conflict where there isn't one."
Frazier is the most powerful police official in Oakland history. He has authority to spend city funds, demote commanders and seek the ouster of Chief Howard Jordan as part of his charge to make the police department finally complete a decade-old reform drive stemming from the Riders brutality scandal.
Upon picking Frazier for the job, Henderson ordered the city to pay him a base salary of $270,000 and provide benefits similar to those of top city officials such as the police chief and city administrator.
Yank, a lawyer who once represented Oakland's police union and is expected to join Frazier's staff, said he had reached agreement with the city on all points except whether Frazier was eligible for pension benefits and needed to sign an employment agreement.
Additional disagreements now include whether Frazier should get the cash equivalent of vacation and sick time -- valued at more than $18,000.
The pension dispute is the most expensive sticking point, worth about $46,000 to Frazier. The city maintains that since employees can't cash out city contributions to their pensions, Frazier shouldn't get the cash equivalent of such pension contributions.
Yank said that it would be "flouting the court's order" not to give Frazier commensurate benefits to other top officials, although he agreed to reduce his original demand to reflect the fact that employees also pay into the pension fund.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.