Courtney Ruby To Quit Oakland Mayor’s Race.
Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby is going to quit the Oakland Mayor’s Race. That’s right: the Oakland City Auditor, once again, is canceling her effort to replace current Mayor of Oakland Jean Quan.
As I understand it, Ruby will participate in at least one more debate, but it’s there that she’s expected to announce, herself, that she’s leaving the campaign competition.
A source called this blogger Monday night to share the news, and while I’ve been a harsh critic of Ms. Ruby for her actions that divided Oakland City Hall last year, and arguably still have, I’d hoped she’d use her new platform to try and cure the racial problems she played a giant role in creating.
This is a bolt from the blue, indeed. It drops the number of candidates from 16 to 15, and perhaps opens the door for Oakland At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan to run for Mayor.
Second Time She’s Quit The 2014 Oakland Mayor’s Race
This marks the second time that Courtney Ruby has dropped out of the mayoral election race. The first time was last year, in August, and just after she released her report that claimed Oakland Councilmembers Larry Reid (District Seven) and Desley Brooks (District Six) had taken actions which violated Section 218 of the Oakland City Charter, which prohibits interference with City of Oakland staff activity. For the purpose of what I’m about to explain, here’s how the entire section is worded:
Section 218. Non-Interference in Administrative Affairs. Except for the purpose of inquiry, the Council and its members shall deal with the administrative service for which the City Administrator, Mayor and other appointed or elected officers are responsible, solely through the City Administrator, Mayor or such other officers. Neither the Council nor any Council member shall give orders to any subordinate of the City under the jurisdiction of the City Administrator or such other officers, either publicly or privately; nor shall they attempt to coerce or influence the City Administrator or such other officers, in respect to any contract, purchase of any supplies or any other administrative action; nor in any manner direct or request the appointment of any person to or his removal from office by the City Administrator or any of his subordinates or such other officers, nor in any manner take part in the appointment or removal of officers or employees in the administrative service of the City. 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.
As Courney Ruby’s own report, called “Non-Interference in Administrative Affairs Performance Audit,” said “There is a general culture of interference within the City. The audit found that the culture of interference appears to be felt across many City departments and is perceived to come from multiple Councilmembers.” That sentence, on page 29, caused many in and out of Oakland City Hall to wonder why Ruby would single out Oakland’s two African American Councilmembers to be charged with violations that she says extend to the Oakland City Council as a whole?
As one who worked for two Mayors of Oakland, Elihu Harris and Jerry Brown, I can personally tell you that the moment the Oakland City Council gives city staff a directive during a council meeting, they walk into the area where they can later be said to violate Section 218. Moreover, the claims that Brooks violated Section 218, and used illegal hiring practices at the Rainbow Teen Center were erroneous, and so much so, that one Oakland Councilmember personally told me recently that “Ruby was claiming that Brooks violated a law, when what she was reported to have done, never took place.”
Many wondered if Ruby had made a political calculation and figured that Oakland’s population decrease in black residents made issuing a report smearing two black councilmembers something she could get away with.
Here’s why I says that: while Ruby wrote that the report did not seek to say that Brooks and Reid broke any law (It says that in the opening letter to the report!), the Oakland City Charter is law, and Courtney went so far as to file a complaint with the Alameda County Grand Jury, and have some in the mainstream media mention the possibility of jail time. Yes, Courtney Ruby went that far, and allowed the message to unravel in that way, and it was tearfully awful. And now, after all of that, Ruby had the nerve to run for Mayor of Oakland.
The Ruby / Santana Cabal
Others pointed to a “cabal” that included Oakland Councilmember Pat Kernighan and now-former Chief Administrative Officer Deanna Santana, both who have issues with Brooks, and due to her intellectually combative style. (Frankly, Desley Brooks does not suffer fools gladly.)
But they’ve went too far, and Dan Siegel’s lawsuit against the City of Oakland for the wrongful termination of Daryell Preston, who says Santana asked her to falsely claim that Brooks used illegal hiring practices at the Rainbow Teen Center, will point fingers at Santana as well as Ruby, and others, and will have a major impact on Oakland City Hall. That’s true especially if the court rules that Preston should be given her job back, or the City has to pay her millions in damages.
All of that was caused by Ruby’s report.
The release of the report not only caused strong divisions in Oakland City Hall, but it ignited racist responses outside of it. After news of the report hit local TV station KTVU, a racist website called Chimpout devoted a thread to attacking Oakland’s black politicians. That was the last straw for me, and I went on a rampage against Ruby’s actions.
What Courtney did came at a time of dramatic racial change in Oakland. Many who have moved here have not been given an “Oakland Code Of Conduct” which says that the common habits of subtile, and not so subtle, racism and bigotry will not be tolerated. Moreover, perhaps due to the overall decline of middle class wages, racist behavior has come from corners one would not expect in Oakland and the East Bay. Indeed, the man who runs Chimpout, lives not in the deep South, but in nearby Hayward, California. And I personally experienced two obvious examples of racism in Oakland in 2013 – enough is enough.
Ruby Spiked The Report At City Council, Then Cancelled Plans To Run For Mayor
All of that caused Ruby to initially pull the review of the report from an Oakland City Council meeting last year. That same month, Ruby said she wasn’t going to run for Mayor of Oakland, even though, at the time, she’d not officially filed papers to do so. Then, when she did issue the report for review at an October Oakland City Council meeting, the result was to galvanize Oakland’s black community, create a love-fest for Brooks, and make Ruby look like a total racist.
Then, after receding into the political shadows, for some reason, Ruby resurfaced to run for mayor, yet again. No one has been able to figure out why she’s in the race, and some have believed it was to damage Oakland District Four Councilmember Libby Schaaf’s run for mayor, as those people see Ruby and Schaaf as similar.
Personally, I think that’s an insult to Libby, and those who know her, or get to know her, know that’s not the case at all. I have personally told Libby she should distance herself from anyone who would contribute to damaging her image, and that includes Ruby.
Ruby Can Still Make A Difference While Dropping Out
The one action that Courtney Ruby should take is holding a press conference to officially appologize to Desley Brooks and Larry Reid, and to the City of Oakland for the divisive racial culture she’s played a large role in forming. That kind of action is the one true leaders take.
Ruby doesn’t have to be elected Mayor to be a leader – come to think of it, she’s already Oakland’s City Auditor. Why not focus on being a better person in that position? She’s already shown how much damage a person can do to the city in that position. She can remake herself, and lift Oakland, all at the same time. I’m sorry to see her go, I really am, but she’s still able to clean up her mess.
(And while this is that Lirpa Sloof, the pain that Courtney has caused many is very real, and speaking for my self as one who once admired her very much, it has been tearfully painful to see her act in the way she has. Moreover, over the years, I have come to like and appreciate people like Pat Kernighan, so last year’s events were personally difficult for me, and I hope Ruby and Pat start to see the World with larger eyes than in the past.)