Dear comrades,I hope you are doing well. As many of you know, I have been blessed with great fortune recently, and Hindatu and I are enjoying the arrival of our son, Malik, now about three weeks old. Overall, I have little complaint with life, and I am very thankful.
Unfortunately, however, I have recently found myself the subject of a political attack, somewhat unforeseen, and a bit disturbing. It relates to my service as a commissioner on the Oakland Civil Service Board, a volunteer gig involving oversight of the Oakland personnel system. I have served on the Board since Mayor Dellums nominated me in November 2009, working to learn the Oakland Charter and Civil Service Rules, hearing appeals from city workers, and occasionally helping to set human resources policy for the City. We have made some important strides as a Board (for years in the recent past, the Board did not function, due to absenteeism and other problems), providing leadership on some key areas including the Port of Oakland personnel system and processes for layoff and reinstatement. As a Board, we have for several years provided a consistent presence that, at its core, is a body that combats potential cronyism and corruption in City employment, and that serves as a forum for worker complaints and concerns.
All that said, I learned today that City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf is opposing my re-appointment to the Civil Service Board. Specifically, it seems that instead of being re-appointed to the CSB along with two other Board members, I will be “severed” and subject to a separate vote at the next City Council meeting (this coming Tuesday night). I have not spoken to Libby directly, although I did
write to her and request feedback. I have been told that her concern might be that I “sue the City too much.” I am not sure what this means, exactly, but I imagine she is referring to my participation as an attorney on behalf of defendants to the Fruitvale gang injunction, as well as my participation as a plaintiff in an Occupy Oakland case. In the case of the gang injunction, we of course did not “sue the City” but instead opposed a City lawsuit — on behalf of defendants who did not otherwise have access to legal counsel. In the case of the Occupy Oakland case (Campbell v. City of Oakland), I was a plaintiff because I was struck by a police projectile and bombarded with flash grenades and tear gas on October 25, 2011. I signed on to the case as an act of political expression, and I support the work for OPD accountability given its treatment of Occupy Oakland, but I have actually been told that I will be soon dropped as a plaintiff (because I do not have documentation of physical injuries).
To make a long story short, a Councilmember is attempting to prevent me from serving the City as a volunteer Civil Service commissioner, based on my political participation in the Stop the Injunctions Coalition and Occupy Oakland. Pretty fucked up, no?