OAKLAND -- Two days after becoming Oakland's first elected official to endorse "stop-and-frisk" police tactics, Councilman Noel Gallo was named chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee -- an appointment one colleague said was the product of backroom deal-making.
Councilwoman Desley Brooks said Gallo, one of three rookies on the council, got the post in return for backing Councilwoman's Pat Kernighan 's successful bid for council president.
"The trade of a vote on an issue as important as public safety is one that should not have been done," Brooks said during a Wednesday council meeting.
According to Brooks, the alleged deal was "common knowledge," and Gallo had told people about it at the end of last year.
Kernighan, who was elected council president on Monday, called Brooks' assertion "unfounded" after the meeting. Gallo said it was "untrue" and "really not called for."
Kernighan had been competing against Councilman Larry Reid for the president's post, whose powers include running council meetings and making committee appointments. The council confirmed Kernighan's committee picks Wednesday, with only Brooks abstaining.
Council presidents often have had to make deals to win the job.
"It's nothing new," Reid said. "It always happens."
With three new council members this term, one of the rookies had to head a committee.
Kernighan said that Gallo, who served 20 years on the school board, had requested the chairmanship and had ample experience to run committee meetings. She said that Brooks, who will once again head the lower-profile Life Enrichment Committee, hadn't talked to her about committee assignments.
Brooks said she had no problem with Gallo heading Public Safety, only the alleged horse-trading.
Committees vet proposals and vote on whether to send them to the full council. Also serving on the Public Safety Committee will be council members Libby Schaaf, Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Dan Kalb -- none of whom support stop and frisk.
The tactic, which is synonymous with giving police more latitude to stop and search potential suspects, has come under fire in New York City, where critics say it has resulted in racial profiling. A federal judge on Monday deemed one component of New York's program unconstitutional.
Stop and frisk has gotten attention in Oakland since the city announced plans last month to hire former NYPD and LAPD Chief Bill Bratton as a consultant to help reduce crime. Bratton has used stop and frisk as a chief and continues to defend the practice.
Gallo said that although he supports stop and frisk, he won't push for it if Chief Howard Jordan doesn't want it.
"I just don't want to continue to make excuses when we all know who's carrying the guns, who's doing the shooting and who's being violated," Gallo said.
The other council committee appointments are as follows: Reid, chairman of ¿community and economic development; Schaaf, chairwoman of¿ finance; Rebecca Kaplan, chairwoman of public works; and Kernighan, chairwoman of rules and legislation.