Oakland Police Out Tax-Funded Strike
By CHRISS STREET
The Oakland Police Officers’ Association just sent an “Open Letter to the Citizens of Oakland” exposing what appears to be a corrupt effort by the mayor’s office of the City of Oakland to direct public employees to support the Occupy Oakland “Stop Work” general strike on Wednesday, Nov. 2.
But in the State of California, giving public employees free time off is the crime of the “theft of time.“ Furthermore, the mayor and staff who planned or facilitated this action would also be personally liable to financially reimburse the city for “improper use of city time.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 25, Mayor Jean Quan ordered the Oakland Police Department to “clear out” the Occupy Oakland encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza and to keep protesters out of the Plaza in downtown Oakland. As the police sought to clear the area, the protestors counter-attacked and a major riot broke out, with 100 protestors being arrested. Tragically, a 24-year-old Iraq War veteran and former U.S. Marine, Scott Olsen, suffered a near fatal skull fracture when he was hit in the head with a tear gas canister during the melee.
On Oct. 27, Mayor Quan said in a public statement delivered from her office and posted as a videotape online, “I am deeply saddened about the outcome on Tuesday.” With the sound of shouting protesters rallying outside City Hall on the background of the video, Mayor Quan said, “Ultimately, it was my responsibility, and I apologize for what happened…. We can change America, but we must unite and not divide our city. I hope we can work together.”
The Oakland Police letter detailed the mayor’s real idea of working together with the protestors, “We performed the job that the Mayor’s Administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence and destruction of property. Then, on Wednesday, October 26th, the Mayor allowed protesters back in — to camp out at the very place they were evacuated from the day before.”
Employees’ Paid Day Off to Protest
This could be seen as the usual response of a police protective league unhappy about the failure of their mayor to take responsibility for her action. But the letter goes on to make the blockbuster disclosure that Mayor Quan’s administration is supporting the Occupy Oakland’s call for a general strike on November 2 by giving all the city’s employees, except the police, the day off:
“To add to the confusion, the Administration issued a memo on Friday, October 28th to all City workers in support of the strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off.
“That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against ‘the establishment’.”
With the general strike expected to turn violent on Nov. 2, the police officers state they understand the mayor encouraged city employees to join the protest and confront the police:
“But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest? Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?”
The Oakland Police Officers’ Association understands that, under California Civil Code, it is illegal for any public employee manager to give a worker free time off. Such action is deemed the “theft of time.” Last week, a Superior Court Judge in San Diego ruled in favor of a lawsuit by Mel Shapiro, a San Diego civic activist, that the city must release records regarding his “substantiated cases of waste and abuse,” including employees’ “improper use of city time.”
According to public records, the City of Oakland has 688 general employees and “one-third of the city’s workforce earned more than $100,000” per year. It appears that the cost to Oakland taxpayers for the mayor’s free day for employees to join the protest will cost the city $277,846.15.
Given that California statutes designate felony theft at $400 and felony grand theft at $950, the Oakland Police Officers’ Association letter means that Mayor Quan is in for big trouble.
Update: References in California Law
Article XVI, Section 6 California Constitution prohibits the gift of public funds (see longer quote below).
The 424 Section 1 of the California Penal Code makes such action a crime for person: “Without authority of law, to appropriate the same or any portion thereof, to his own use, or the use of another”.
Here are more references:
Government Code 3201- 3209 (Political activities of public employees)
Government Code 8314 (Prohibits use of state resources for campaign or private activities not authorized by law)
Government Code 54964 (Use of local agency funds to support/oppose candidates or ballot measures)
Penal Code 146 (b) (Feigned authority for soliciting money or signatures)
Penal Code 424 (Embezzlement, falsification of accounts by public officers)
Business and Professions Code 17533.6 (Using Official Stationery)
Education Code 7054 (Use of district property)
Education Code 7056 (Soliciting or receiving political funds)
Also see People v. Suitt (1979) 90 Cal. App. 3d 125 (1979); League of Women Voters v. Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee 203 Cal. App. 3d 529 (1988) [Even if expenditure by a government agency is not permitted by law, if it is made it may still be a contribution under the Political Reform Act]
Article XVI, Section 6 California Constitution (Prohibits gift of public funds)
SEC. 6. The Legislature shall have no power to give or to lend, or to authorize the giving or lending, of the credit of the State, or of any county, city and county, city, township or other political corporation or subdivision of the State now existing, or that may be hereafter established, in aid of or to any person, association, or corporation, whether municipal or otherwise, or to pledge the credit thereof, in any manner whatever, for the payment of the liabilities of any individual, association, municipal or other corporation whatever; nor shall it have power to make any gift or authorize the making of any gift, of any public money or thing of value to any individual, municipal or other corporation whatever; provided, that nothing in this section shall prevent the Legislature granting aid pursuant to Section 3 of Article XVI; and it shall not have power to authorize the State, or any political subdivision thereof, to subscribe for stock, or to become a stockholder in any corporation whatever; provided, further, that irrigation districts for the purpose of acquiring the control of any entire international water system necessary for its use and purposes, a part of which is situated in the United States, and a part thereof in a foreign country, may in the manner authorized by law, acquire the stock of any foreign corporation which is the owner of, or which holds the title to the part of such system situated in a foreign country; provided, further, that irrigation districts for the purpose of acquiring water and water rights and other property necessary for their uses and purposes, may acquire and hold the stock of corporations, domestic or foreign, owning waters, water rights, canals, waterworks, franchises or concessions subject to the same obligations and liabilities as are imposed by law upon all other stockholders in such corporation; and
Provided, further, that this section shall not prohibit any county, city and county, city, township, or other political corporation or subdivision of the State from joining with other such agencies in providing for the payment of workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, tort liability, or public liability losses incurred by such agencies, by entry into an insurance pooling arrangement under a joint exercise of powers agreement, or by membership in such publicly-owned nonprofit corporation or other public agency as may be authorized by the Legislature; and
Provided, further, that nothing contained in this Constitution shall prohibit the use of state money or credit, in aiding veterans who served in the military or naval service of the United States during the time of war, in the acquisition of, or payments for, (1) farms or homes, or in projects of land settlement or in the development of such farms or homes or land settlement projects for the benefit of such veterans, or (2) any business, land or any interest therein, buildings, supplies, equipment, machinery, or tools, to be used by the veteran in pursuing a gainful occupation; and
Provided, further, that nothing contained in this Constitution shall prohibit the State, or any county, city and county, city, township, or other political corporation or subdivision of the State from providing aid or assistance to persons, if found to be in the public interest, for the purpose of clearing debris, natural materials, and wreckage from privately owned lands and waters deposited thereon or therein during a period of a major disaster or emergency, in either case declared by the President. In such case, the public entity shall be indemnified by the recipient from the award of any claim against the public entity arising from the rendering of such aid or assistance. Such aid or assistance must be eligible for federal reimbursement for the cost thereof.
And provided, still further, that notwithstanding the restrictions contained in this Constitution, the treasurer of any city, county, or city and county shall have power and the duty to make such temporary transfers from the funds in custody as may be necessary to provide funds for meeting the obligations incurred for maintenance purposes by any city, county, city and county, district, or other political subdivision whose funds are in custody and are paid out solely through the treasurer’s office. Such temporary transfer of funds to any political subdivision shall be made only upon resolution adopted by the governing body of the city, county, or city and county directing the treasurer of such city, county, or city and county to make such temporary transfer. Such temporary transfer of funds to any political subdivision shall not exceed 85 percent of the anticipated revenues accruing to such political subdivision, shall not be made prior to the first day of the fiscal year nor after the last Monday in April of the current fiscal year, and shall be replaced from the revenues accruing to such political subdivision before any other obligation of such political subdivision is met from such revenue.
June 18, 2013