Alameda County law enforcement officials disagree with a grand jury recommendation to develop a consolidated crime lab, effectively leaving Oakland to continue making due with its understaffed and outdated lab.
The grand jury issued a scathing report of Oakland's lab in June, finding that at one point last year there were nearly 1,000 outstanding sexual assault and homicide cases where key evidence still hadn't been tested.
To help resolve the backlog, the grand jury recommended that the county develop a consolidated crime lab bringing together the resources of Oakland and the county, which also operates a lab.
However, last month county law enforcement leaders rejected the recommendation, noting that the county lacked the money and political will to develop a consolidated crime lab.
"Without political support for consolidation and political leadership supporting the establishment of consistent and reliable funding, any endeavor to implement regional consolidation of crime lab services will remain an unfulfilled vision," wrote Albany police Chief Mike McQuiston.
McQuiston heads the Alameda County Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs Association, which the grand jury required to respond to its recommendation. The grand jury a decade ago had also urged county law enforcement officials to consider a consolidated crime lab. It has no power to force agencies to carry out its recommendations.
Meanwhile, Oakland has secured a $408,000 federal grant that will pay for two full-time employees to help reduce the backlog of more than 2,000 cases.
To fully staff the crime lab, Oakland would need to hire 13 workers at a cost of $1.3 million, according to a police report.
In June, a few days after the grand jury released its findings, the council narrowly rejected funding an additional crime lab worker and instead approved budget amendments that included more than $1 million for city workers by canceling a scheduled work furlough day.
Fremont mayor seeks green commission
With only a handful of meetings remaining before Mayor Gus Morrison steps aside at the end of the year, the longtime Fremont leader is pushing to establish what likely will be the last part of his political legacy: a new environment-friendly commission.
In July, the City Council acted on Morrison's referral and asked staff to look into creating a Sustainability Commission tasked with completing the city's Climate Action Plan. At the City Council meeting Tuesday, Morrison was slightly impatient about the issue, gently but pointedly reminding at least one council member that the answer to a question could be found in the agenda packet.
Perhaps Morrison, 87 and getting ready to leave political office, could be excused for having a sense of urgency. He envisions the city converting its current Environmental Services Advisory Commission into a government body with more teeth and influence on green issues. City staff, citing a lack of resources and time, had a more tepid take on the matter in Tuesday's agenda report. Their recommendation gave City Manager Fred Diaz authority to appoint an ad hoc committee, instead of a standing commission, that would help staff implement a Climate Action Plan once one is adopted.
Tuesday, Fremont's four council members -- Councilman Dominic Dutra was absent -- discussed the issue, but decided little. They voted 4-0 to ask staff to study the idea even further in hopes of better defining how a Sustainability Commission would work.
Morrison said he would like Fremont's commission to eventually produce a document like "Greenworks Philadelphia," which details the city's green goals and practices. To emphasize his point, he waved the yellow-covered report from his seat on the council chambers.
"When we have accomplishments, maybe we could do something like (the report)," Morrison said. "But we're fledgling, we're just starting."