OAKLAND -- The City Council later this month will consider censuring Councilwoman Desley Brooks for improperly taking control over the construction and operation of a city teen center.
Council President Pat Kernighan said Thursday that she will call a special council meeting on July 25 to discuss action against Brooks as well as a response to the recent investigations into the episode from City Auditor Courtney Ruby and the Alameda County grand jury.
A censure vote is purely symbolic and would carry no actual penalty for Brooks, who is up for re-election next year in her East Oakland council district.
City Hall veterans couldn't recall a council member ever facing censure.
Kernighan said censuring Brooks would help restore public trust in Oakland government. "People need to know that we adhere to the rule of law and that we are not going to just ignore violations of those laws when we become aware of them."
Brooks, who will have a chance to speak in her defense during the council meeting, did not respond to requests for comment.
Councilman Larry Reid spoke against scheduling the censure debate Thursday during a council committee meeting.
"It's not going to change anything," he told Kernighan. "I don't think you are going to get four votes for the censorship. I think it's going to be a dog and pony show."
While council members have collective power to approve budgets and set policy, Brooks "exerted control over nearly every element" of the Digital Arts and Culinary Center the grand jury found last month in a report titled "Misgoverning the City of Oakland.
What ensued, the grand jury wrote, "was a complete fiasco" in which Brooks procured construction contracts and electronics equipment without the required competitive bids and staffed the center with her own officer workers, none of whom had gone through the required background checks before starting their jobs.
Last year, the council couldn't muster enough votes to investigate Brooks' activities with the teen center that opened in 2011. That led to a city auditor report that cited Brooks for 12 violations of the charter's prohibition on interfering with city staffers. The charter prohibition is a misdemeanor punishable by removal from office.
Ruby forwarded her findings to District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, but O'Malley last month said Brooks wouldn't face charges.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435 or firstname.lastname@example.org