Jean Quan, our city council representative, seems to be picking up the torch for Claudia Albano – the city coordinator who has been actively supporting and nurturing Oakland’s neighborhood watch groups.
Yesterday we reported on the uproar surrounding the firing of Albano and re-assignment of Felicia Verdin. It didn’t make any sense to Montclarions and others who develop grass-roots neighborhood groups.
Apparently Albano will interview for another city position next week. We’re still not sure whether she will continue to be in the driver’s seat regarding neighborhood services.
Quan clearly wants to push the matter, even though the City Council is limited in its authority. She said “We are concerned that some front line services may be cut by the reorganization. I expect there will be more discussion between the Mayor, Administrator and Council over the next two weeks.”
Here’s the full, uncut response from Representative Quan this morning.
The most controversial [change] was the elimination of the Neighborhood Service Coordinator position, now filled by Claudia Albano. This position was created by the joint efforts of Council Member Delafuente and myself in 2003 right after then City Manager Bobb called for the elimination of most Neighborhood Service Coordinators (NSC) working with Neighborhood Crime Councils. We argued that the positions should be redefined and broadened to strengthen community policing but not eliminated. A coordinator position was created in the City Administrator’s office to increase oversight, strengthen NSC organizing and to integrate them with Neighborhood Alert, emergency preparedness and other city services. Under Albano crime councils and neighborhood alert groups have grown. For example, during my first year as a Council Member in 2003 the city had less than 60 National Night Out parties and a third were in my district. Last year there were over 400 parties and only a quarter were in our district.
After lengthy discussions with the Mayor over the last few days, he has assured me that the coordinator duties will not be eliminated. Ms. Albano was invited to interview for a new position under the Mayor’s new Public Safety Coordinator. We will know next week whether she gets that job and whether she will be allowed to continue her coordination of the NSC program.
This controversy raises some major concerns. While the Council is prohibited in interfering in personnel issues such as who gets a specific job, we through our budget and policy authority establish some positions and have the power to fund them. While we generally allow the Mayor to define his personnel within his overall budget allocation; under the City Administrator’s office there are several positions specifically created by Council legislation. We are concerned that some front line services may be cut by the reorganization. I expect there will be more discussion between the Mayor, Administrator and Council over the next two weeks.