Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Report: Oakland councilmember used her office for personal gain

Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney
OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Two thousand fifteen has not been pleasant for new Oakland City Council President Lynette McElhaney.

First, a report in January found she may have been flipping homes in her West Oakland district through her personal non-profit at the same time she was lashing out against gentrification. Her taxes still haven't been paid, according to the East Bay Express, and until recently she had not filed campaign finance reports since last summer.

Now comes the biggest allegation yet that McElhaney used her office to block a proposed housing development next door to her home, said the Express.

McElhaney also benefited from an architect's whose firm is JRDV International, the same group working on the proposed Coliseum City stadium project.

From the Express:
Public records also show that an Oakland architect, who has contracts with the city worth millions of dollars, produced an alternative design for the planned housing project on Gibson McElhaney's behalf. The architect, Morten Jensen of JRDV Urban International, also personally appeared before the planning commission to support Gibson McElhaney's appeal of the housing project. However, Jensen did not bill the councilmember for his work, thereby raising questions as to whether Gibson McElhaney illegally accepted gifts from a government contractor.
McElhaney also enlisted the help of her staff members to push their opposition to the housing plan, according to the Express.

McElhaney nor her staff appear to be refuting the allegations, but the architect from JRDV suggested his work for the first-term council member was perfunctory and that he did not charge her for the work.
When asked if he produced the drawings for free, or whether he billed Gibson McElhaney or the planning department for the sketches, Jensen repeated that he was only acting as a private citizen, and that no one solicited him for the work. "You'd be surprised how fast someone like me can produce that. We just want to offer up something."
Oakland city officials have stayed quiet since the spate of bad press against McElhaney first surfaced. In addition, most ignored the allegations against McElhaney when they elevated her to council president last month. However, the most recent allegation is likely the most disconcerting of all and may have lasting ramifications.

Recall, in 2013, the City Council nearly censured Councilmember Desley Brooks for similar non-interference violations that appeared far less clear-cut than McElhaney's involvement with the development next to her home.

The last local official to be censured for using their office for personal gain was also in 2013 when the AC Transit Board of Directors admonished board member Joel Young for trading on closed session information to benefit the law firm he represents.


  1. She should resign!

  2. There's supposed to be a new Public Ethics Commission in Oakland to deal with this kind of crap.

    Let's see how many years it takes the Council to get the new PEC up and running. Or if they fund it at all.

  3. By MW:

    Concerning the accusations that have been made against Lynette McElhaney, I refuse to believe that any high ranking politician, and especially a high ranking Bay area politician, would do anything illegal and/or unethical.

    In fact, I have been at public meetings at which a particular high ranking Bay area politician has "informed" and "educated" the people in the audience to the "fact" that we are extremely "lucky" to have "wonderful" people like him as our leaders, representing us, and setting policies and making rules for us. And then on occasions when people in the audience have made comments he has disagreed with, he has sometimes yelled and screamed and carried on like a totally out of control maniac who was on drugs.

    To sum up, the big boys in the Bay area know that our region is the world's capital and headquarters for intelligence, enlightenment, and deep commitment to human rights ,etc, and that our politicians are constantly striving to do everything in their power to make the world a better, safer, and healthier place. That is why they so strongly backed such sleazeballs, scumbags, phonies, parasites, scam artists, demagogues, charlatans, and blood sucking leeches as Jim Jones and Yusef Bay.

    In conclusion, I am one hundred percent that Lynette MeElhaney, and just like all Bay area politicians, is a wonderful person and of the very highest honesty and integrity. In fact next time I get within one hundred feet of any Bay area politician, I am going to put on my running shoes and then as fast as possible rush right over to him or her, get down on my hands and knees and kiss his or her feet.

  4. If you don't like it run for office. With your putrid personality and self-righteous sarcasm, I doubt you could be elected MW.

    I don't like McElhaney either, and what she did was wrong, but you attack all politicians in the Bay Area and that's wrong too MW.

  5. "If you don't like it run for office."

    In case you haven't heard, incumbents overwhelmingly win. Running for an office in Oakland or an Alameda County office is not for those without name recognition, establishment support or lots of money.

    "You attack all politicians in the Bay Area.." Context suggests comments were about Oakland and, likely, Alameda County.

    Please provide some counter evidence--a list of Oakland or County pols who have actually accomplished something while in office. And don't forget to list all their accomplishments.

  6. Why don't you list your accomplishments wise guy. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

  7. "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."

    Either or, eh, wise guy II? Or are there any other possibilities like, maybe, 50/50.

    You are also invited to tell us exactly how you are part of the solution.

  8. What the poster above, who is probably MW, can't stand .... is Democracy. If you believe all politicians are as crooked as McElhaney, you are just hating on Bay Area politicians because they don't agree, or do, with your point of view or what you want them to do.

    Most are doing what their constituents want or they would be voted out of office. In order to get elected in the Bay Area you have to be a liberal or moderate progressive. I know MW isn't, and if you are not MW, you aren't either. Don't tarnish all because of a few bad apples. Most of the people I vote for get elected. If the majority of people you vote for don't, run for office. Don't just cry and whine about them.

  9. "Most are doing what their constituents want."

    Different constituents want different things. That's truly democracy. Democracy is much more than dominance of the people with the most power and/or money. Power and money are what elect politicians, not real democracy. In fact, in most elections, most voters don't bother to vote.

    "Most of the people I vote for get elected."

    A couple of possibilities here. 1. You are part of the well-off electorate whom politicians serve. 2. You are simply out-of-touch with the real world of a diminishing middle class, increasing poverty, militarized police departments, excessive governmental surveillance, educational system failure, environmental degradation, mistreatment of immigrants, an excessively large prison system, the new Jim Crow and much, much more.

    Read a book.

  10. You read a book and quit crying about not getting what you want. Maybe you are out of touch with the real world being so conservative. I'm a liberal and so is most of the Bay Area. I'm also middle class and like most of the liberal politicians and what they are doing to try and help those of us who are less fortunate. I hate it when people like McElhaney abuse their power due to greed and selfishness, but do believe most politicians in the Bay Area are trying to help others. If you don't, run for office, move to a more conservative state, but for god sake stop your whining. I'd rather be poor in this area, than rich somewhere else.

  11. "I'm a liberal."

    Nope you're a reactionary. That's why you need to do some reading.

    Look up political words like "neoliberal" and then look in the mirror.

  12. "I'm also middle class."

    Certainly, you're a person of privilege. Privilege, among other things, means being unaware of real problems of others. You don't pay attention because you don't have to.

    "I'd rather be poor in this area, than rich somewhere else."

    You have no idea of what it's like to be poor. You couldn't even for a moment imagine it.

    You wouldn't survive even for one day. Barbara Ehrenreich has written a book on how a privileged person experiences the reality of being poor. It's called "Nickeled and Dimed." Michael Yates has also written on the topic as have many others. They're real liberals.

    Read a book. You have nothing to lose but your illusions.

  13. Hey folks! Not to worry! Our liberal politicians are solving all our problems! Here's the proof!

    Poverty? Gone from the Bay Area!

    Gentrification in Oakland? Look at all the new restaurants!

    Drug? Pot everywhere and no one goes to jail anymore for a toke.

    Climate change? Just look at all the expensive Priuses everwhere!

    Crime? Been going down in Oakland ever since Jean Quan got to work.

    Finance industry ripoffs? Another banker is perp-walked from his office every day.

    The drought? New tunnels will deliver more water to the ever-increasing California desert. California is in the process of purchasing the state of Oregon so we can drain Crater Lake.

    On the National level, complete liberal victory:

    War? we just don't do it any more.

    Guantanamo? That's a part of the New Cuba, isn't it?

    Gay marriage? You can do it even in Texas!

    Marijuana prosecution? Never happens anymore.

    Criminal bankers? They're all in jail.

    Getting off the oil addiction? Hey haven't you seen all the new solar panels we all have on our roofs?

    Russia and Cuba? Our dear comrades! How we love them!

    Immigrants? We treat them like royalty, don't we?

    Homeland security? Fly anywhere you want so long as you allow a guy with a badge to put his hand in your pants.

    Education? Charter schools have it all over Public Schools. Tests prove it. Our kids are the best test-takers in the world.

  14. The last 3 post were all from the extreme right Tea Party, who want to change our progressive bay area into a conservative mecca. Won't happen you neo-fascist. Most of us live here because we like that most bay area politicos are trying to help strengthen the middle class and raise the less fortunate into the middle class. If you don't like that move to a conservative state. I'm barely making it in the lower middle class, but you sound like a spoiled rich ahole.

  15. I don't know about the three posts coming from a neo-fascist, but he certainly is a corporate apologist who probably believes in the trickle down theory of economics. Let's see Bush (Herbert Hoover the second) tried that and caused a severe recession that almost led to a depression. The only thing that trickled down was B.S.

    As far as Charter schools go, you are the one who better do some reading. Despite the fact that they get to hand pick their students and public schools have to take everyone, National and State studies have shown they do not do better, on average, than public schools. Sure there are some good Charter schools just like there are some excellent public schools, but overall they average a little less on test scores even after hand picking their students. If you are talking about Charter schools you really are part of the privileged elite.

  16. I believe the 3 posts you are talking about came from an anarchist or libertarian. It's much more than 3 posts if you read through the string starting with MW. They typically believe in no or very little government and usually attack government officials of progressive stripes while tending to vote very conservative on most issues.

  17. McElhaney was wrong and so was MW with his generalization and condemnation of all bay area politicians. I don't know which one is worse,but they both ought to cease and desist.

  18. I don't know if what they say about McElhaney is true or not. I suspect it's true because Tavares usually researches his articles pretty well before he writes them. If that's the case she should resign.

    As far as other Bay area politicians go, I think most want to do a good job, and since most local ones are part time positions and make very little money, I take my hat off to them. Sure there may be a few bad apples, but I sure admire those who put in long hours for very little money. I have been helped by many of them and so has my family.

  19. Love it 11:21, I'm tired of the top .01%, the billionaires, dominating our politics. They are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, they are doing it because it benefits their wallets.

    Their political investments have paid off in the form of lower taxes on the rich, their corporations, subsidies, government bailouts, watered down regulations, tax holidays for those who park their money overseas, and non enforcement of antitrust laws. Bring back the top tax rates in the 60's and 70's which help create a booming middle class. The rich are screwing us and our generation is letting them do it.

  20. 11:29--you got it.

    What you point out are the results of so-called "liberalism." Bill Clinton to Obama. Right wing in the guise of Liberal.

    Those who consider themselves "middle-class" are living on the moon.

  21. "If you don't like it run for office."


    My reply to the above: If YOU don't like it, fly to the moon and spend a couple of years with your cousins.

  22. "I suspect it's true because Tavares usually researches his articles pretty well before he writes them."

    Xackly where did you get this idea?

    C'mon tell us.

  23. 7:08 you sound like a space cadet. What planet do you live on?

  24. I like Tavares's articles too. He does far more research than most newspaper reporters.

  25. 6:39, you missed the point entirely of 11:49. He/she was talking about the lowering of the upper tax rates and corporate subsidies. It has been the Republican conservatives that have been pushing for and lowering the tax rates on the rich and the corporations that have been screwing us and destroying the middle class.

  26. "It has been the Republican conservatives that have been pushing for and lowering the tax rates on the rich and the corporations that have been screwing us and destroying the middle class."

    Nope. Read some history. Neoliberals (Democrats are as much, or more, the culprits than the Repugs).

    History is far from the black/white, Repug vs Dem, comic book that you think it is.

  27. Thank you for your comments. I believe most of the politicians in Oakland, and many others in Oakland and Alameda County government positions, are extremely corrupt. Unfortunately we have lost most of the politicians who could have dealt with the corruption effectively.

  28. The Keystone Research Center found that if tax laws were changed to compel the highest income to pay what they used to pay just a few decades ago, states and localities would rake in up to 128 billion a year more.

    Most Republican lawmakers are championing more tax cuts for the wealthy which would further the gap between the rich and the poor. If you want to reduce the gap, you need to raise the minimum wage which most Democratic lawmakers favor.

  29. Agree with anon 10:19------Last month, the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that the poorest 20% of households pay on average more than twice the effective State and Local tax rate (10.9%) as the richest 1% (5.4%).

    If the top 1% of earners were compelled to pay the typical middle class tax rate, the change would raise more than 68 billion dollars in annual revenue.

    Meanwhile Republican Governors running for President like Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal have proposed large tax cuts for their wealthy friends, and cuts to the higher education budget. Go figure!

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