OAKLAND — Mayor Ron Dellums announced Tuesday that City Administrator Deborah Edgerly will be allowed to stay at her post until July 31, even as she faces increasing criticism for possibly interfering with a police investigation.
Dellums and Edgerly said that under a months-old agreement, Edgerly will retire July 31. Dellums said Edgerly's retirement has nothing to do with recent allegations that she intervened on behalf of a nephew, William Lovan, 27, in the police department's ongoing investigation of the Acorn gang of West Oakland.
"What's important is that this is about the announcement of a decision that was made several months ago," Dellums said at a news conference at City Hall. "This is not a reaction to anything. This is progression from a decision that was made many months ago."
But sources said federal investigators are exploring whether Edgerly broke the law by interfering with an ongoing police investigation. Law enforcement officials are trying to determine if Edgerly tipped off her nephew, a suspected gang member, about the police work, sources said.
Edgerly's attorney, Doron Weinberg, said Tuesday that he was not aware of a criminal investigation.
"We don't know what is in store," Weinberg said. "We know that on Friday and at the end of last week there were a lot of wild rumors going around."
Edgerly could not be reached by telephone Tuesday evening.
Weinberg said that he and Edgerly met with Dellums and City Attorney John Russo before Tuesday afternoon's news conference. Edgerly said she'll fulfill the role of city administrator in her remaining time.
"I just want to make it clear," she said, "that the understanding the mayor and I have, so that there's no misconceptions, I am the city administrator with all the duties and responsibilities that come with being the city administrator."
However, the police department will report directly to Dellums to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest as the allegations against Edgerly are investigated.
Both Edgerly and Dellums said a search for a replacement city administrator will begin soon. Details about Edgerly's retirement package were not available.
Neither Dellums nor Edgerly fielded questions or addressed the allegations at the news conference.
"The press conference speaks for itself," Dellums said, leaving the room and adding, "That's what it is."
Allegations of possible interference were first aired publicly when police released a report June 18 revealing that Edgerly appeared June 7 at 1200 Market St., where officers were preparing to tow a car driven by Lovan, who is a city employee. Police said a gun was visible inside the car.
Edgerly asked why the car was being towed, police said. At one point, she told officers she was calling Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan and that she would be contacting Internal Affairs about the matter, police said. Law enforcement sources familiar with the incident said police felt her presence was an attempt to influence or intimidate the officers there.
Sources said that after the June 7 incident, Lovan told Acorn gang leader Mark Anthony Candler, 34, in a tapped telephone conversation that he heard from someone in a position of authority that they needed to stop using their phones.
Edgerly's name was never used in any of the conversations, the sources said.
But law enforcement officials are trying to determine if Edgerly may have alerted Lovan about the investigation after the June 7 incident, sources said.
The two-month police investigation into the Acorn gang culminated June 17 when 34 suspected gang members, including Lovan, were arrested in raids across the East Bay.
Two City Council members, meanwhile, said they have been repeatedly frustrated in the past few weeks about the lack of information they are receiving from the mayor's office.
"If the allegations about interfering in a criminal investigation are true, then (Edgerly) should not continue to be the city administrator," said Councilwoman Patricia Kernighan. "But the council doesn't know if that is true or not, because nobody is sharing that information with us."
Councilman Larry Reid agreed the information flow has been poor.
"We've been totally out of the loop," he said. "At some point, it would be nice if the council got briefed on all the issues. I think there's a sense of all of us being frustrated."
At the same time, he said he had confidence in Edgerly to do the job.
"I do have faith in her being the city administrator until she retires," he said. "I've had faith in her since Jerry Brown appointed her to that position."
Brown, former Oakland mayor, appointed Edgerly in 2003 as interim city manager and made the appointment permanent in January 2004. The city later switched to a city administrator form of government.
Edgerly is the city's top paid nonsworn employee, earning $254,105 in the 2006-07 fiscal year.
Reach Kelly Rayburn at 510-208-6435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.