Black Elected Officials and Faith-Based Leaders Challenge Audit Report – Open Letter

The Black Elected Officials and Faith-Based Leaders of the East Bay have grave concerns regarding the authority, scope and jurisdiction of your recent performance audit issued on March 21, entitled Non-Interference in Administrative Affairs Audit FY 2009-10 – FY 2011-12. The audit is deficient in that it fails to comply with the generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS) by asserting conclusions in the absence of sufficient appropriate evidence evaluated against established criteria. The audit does not identify a compliance standard objectively applied to Oakland City Councilmembers uniformly, nor does it establish criteria for testing the competency of the evidence supposedly buttressing the conclusions stated therein. The performance audit alleges violations in city contracting and operations by two Oakland Councilmembers and a Council Aide.  It also repeatedly cites, what we believe, is a likely misinterpretation of Oakland City Charter, Section 218: Non-Interference in Administrative Affairs. The audit does not substantiate any of the “67 hotline and interview tips,” as stated in page 6 of the report, with material evidence to support the Key Findings outlined on page 1 of the audit.  In order to understand fully, the allegations outlined in the unsubstantiated audit, BEO&FBL requests that you clarify the following discrepancies within the audit report: 1)    Identify the criteria for testing the credibility of the evidence on which the audit findings are based. 2)    Identify the basis of the City Auditor’s authority to determine what constitutes actions rising to the level of a violation of Section 218 as opposed to actions constituting a “Culture of Interference in City Hall”? 3)    Presuming that the City Auditor is not in a position to determine what actions constitute a violation of law, please explain the authority supporting forfeiture of a City Councilperson’s liberty interest without due process. Section 218 reads, “Violation of the provisions of this section by a member of the Council shall be a misdemeanor, conviction of which shall immediately forfeit the office of the convicted member.” A misdemeanor, or crime, is determined by a judge or jury.  Within the scope of the City Auditor’s office, where did the authority to address the alleged violations reside?  Common due process rights include: a) the right to a hearing, b) presumption of innocence until proven guilty, c) right to confront and cross-examine their accusers; and d) charges proved by sufficient showing of competent evidence. 4)    Per the scope and methodology, where is the material evidence (auditor notes, names and notes of those interviewed or other pertinent data) that supports the findings identified in the audit? 5)    Page 2 of the report states, Councilmembers should “not be involved in administrative actions such as negotiating, establishing terms, or drafting contracts or grants on behalf of the City.”  This work transpires regularly in committee and Council meetings between Councilmembers, City departments and staff and the public.  Based on your audit, where should this dialogue take place to ensure the appropriate use and oversight of taxpayer resources? 6)    Page 21 addresses “A Culture of Interference”, and states “audit found that the culture of interference appears to be felt across many City departments and is perceived to come from multiple Councilmembers.”  Please share the identity of the other Councilmembers that where identified by City departments and staff within the audit.  Only Councilmembers Brooks, Reid and Council Aide Iris Merriounius were specified.  This appeared contradictory to the statement that of “multiple Councilmembers.” BEO&FBL awaits your expeditious response to the matters outlined above.  As stewards of the public trust, we understand the importance of having ALL of the facts without rushing to judgment.  We want to ensure that ALL Elected Officials and their staff are treated fairly, provided due process and not subjected to unfounded public or media scrutiny based on bias or personal opinions. Thanks in advance, and we look forward to your response. Black Elected Officials and Faith Based Leaders
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