OAKLAND -- It will take a few days for Oakland City Attorney John Russo to be confirmed as the city manager of Alameda, but there's already talk about the effect his move will have on Oakland, including who will replace him and what will happen to his crackdown on gangs.
Last year, Russo got a preliminary injunction against alleged gang members in North Oakland, forbidding them from congregating together in certain areas and imposing a curfew. A judge is considering a second injunction in the Fruitvale neighborhood, and a third has been suggested for East Oakland.
A day after Russo's move was revealed, it's not clear who his replacement will be, or whether that person will continue pursuing the anti-gang injunctions.
"You never know," said Oakland City Council President Larry Reid. "If the new appointee supports (the gang injunction plan), it will go forward."
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said Friday that she did not know what would happen with the injunctions under a new city attorney, but added that she "would rather spend the money on gang prevention."
"I almost fainted when I saw how much (Russo) spent on it," Quan said, referring to a report from Russo's office stating that $750,000 had been spent so far to defend the gang injunction. "I'm recommending a series of fiscal reforms that whenever a case goes over $100,000 in (attorney's costs), it has to go back to the City Council. I think everyone was surprised at the amount when there was no clear direction given by the council."
She also said that she was "neither for or against injunctions" in general, and said they can be a useful tool for some situations.
As soon as Russo, who became Oakland's first elected city attorney in 2000, vacates his position, the City Council has 60 days to appoint a replacement to fill the remainder of his term, which ends in December 2012.
According to the city charter, a majority vote on the council is required to appoint a replacement. If that can't be achieved, a special election must be held, likely by mail, which could cost $800,000 to $900,000, Reid said.
As for potential candidates, Councilmember Jane Brunner (North Oakland) has publicly said she's interested in the job. Russo has been pushing for Barbara Parker, a Harvard graduate and Russo's chief assistant city attorney since 2000 who manages 25 attorneys and oversees all advice from Russo's office to the mayor, City Council, and city boards, commissions and departments.
In addition, Randolph Hall, who heads the city attorney's litigation unit, and Quan's personal attorney, Dan Siegel, have also been mentioned as possible candidates.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Russo accepted the offer from Alameda for the $215,000-a-year job. On Friday, he declined to comment until the deal is finalized, said his spokesman Alex Katz.
His proposed contract with Alameda will be considered for final approval by the Alameda City Council in closed session Tuesday. If approved, the contract would begin sometime in June and end in June 2016. Depending on his performance, Russo can expect an annual $10,000 raise. The contract also allows Russo to teach one seminar on municipal law at Boalt Hall School of Law next spring.
Russo would replace Ann Marie Gallant, whose two-year contract as interim city manager expired March 31.
Staff writer Cecily Burt contributed to this report.