A long time coming--Oakland CEDA and the Grand Jury report

Discussion in 'Smokers Lounge' started by Seamaiden, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. Seamaiden

    Seamaiden Living dead girl

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    I've mentioned what's been happening in Oakland a couple of times, but haven't been able to provide a whit of veracity. Now the Grand Jury's report is finally out and Chip Johnson of the Chronicle has finally, FINALLY taken it seriously. (My sister contacted him two years ago and he told her he didn't find her to be credible. High-fivin' motherfucker.)

    I won't post the GJ report, it's 165 pages, but I am posting the all-too-brief article published in the Chronicle written by Mr. Johnson. Many of the findings were uncovered by my sister, including the interest-free 10-year no-interest loan. There is much that is not mentioned in this article, for instance, how many of the players are related, by business dealings, marriage or blood. The GJ report might, but I haven't read it in full yet, just the scathing introduction.

    Obviously, no officials from the City of Oakland were available for comment. I pray that my sister and brother-in-law can now move forward, that the liens on their home in west Oakland are relieved and that, finally, the people who've been trying to make homes and lives there be relieved of the burden of the true and sheer greed displayed by those in positions of power.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/06/28/BAQ91K3C69.DTL

    You can read up on the history and see much more detail, as well as the information upon which the GJ based much of their report and investigation at http://www.auditoaklandceda.com

    This is the city that wanted to permit cannabis factories, that requires anyone who has a HOME OFFICE to acquire a permit, and is planning on arbitrarily creating a permitting process for people to grow FOOD on their own property. You know, like lettuce, fruit trees, peppers, tomatoes and the like? Yep, Jean Quan thinks it would be great if they can collect more money by illegally forcing residents to acquire a permit for that which has been more than a right for all Americans since inception of the country and before. Way to go, Jean, et alia! Ya high-fivers. I can hardly wait til the feds get a hold of you ALL!!!!!!
     
  2. I love when crooks get ousted :)
     
  3. Thats great! But honestly this will get swept under the rug. They will get a slap on the wrist. They have been trying to take away our right to grow our own for awhile now. I think SB510 comes to mind. Also Dracula AKA John McCain is trying to outlaw all Vitamins and supplements. They are methodically making us sicker and weaker.
     
  4. Seamaiden

    Seamaiden Living dead girl

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    I can't say which federal agency has also been investigating, but they *are* being investigated and there was already one arrest several months ago, RICO charges on a real estate broker, IIRC.
     
  5. Blaze

    Blaze

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    What a scam. Sort of scary they want to permit people to grow their own veggies. Welcome to 1984.....
     
  6. Seamaiden

    Seamaiden Living dead girl

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    Apparently Oak Park, MI hates veggies as well. Julie Strass is going to court to fight over whether or not she should be allowed to grow vegetables in her front yard. Look up Oak Park Hates Veggies for more ridiculousness. This woman is being threatened with jail time for not planting a fucking lawn.

    This bump is for dextr0 and others. My sister has now interviewed with Chip Johnson for an incredibly toothless article, and has been speaking with people from the Oakland Tribune and other papers I now forget (maybe more for the Chron?), and two days ago did an inet radio show.
     
  7. What a shame.........
     
  8. Seamaiden

    Seamaiden Living dead girl

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  9. Seamaiden

    Seamaiden Living dead girl

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    Another article has come out, this time it's on the front page of the Oakland Tribune. Now, when you read the City's response and what Jean Quan has to say about this entire situation, I need for everyone to understand that Jean Quan is LYING through her teeth when she says, in essence, that this is news to her. She's lying through her teeth when she implies that she wants to eliminate corruption--SHE IS PART OF THE CORRUPTION, if by no other mechanism than complicity.

    Oakland Building Services department subject of scathing Alameda grand jury report

    By Cecily Burt
    Oakland Tribune
    Posted: 07/14/2011 12:00:00 AM PDT


    The Alameda County grand jury has published a scathing review of Oakland's Building Services division, and its conclusions likely will spark a thorough overhaul of the department responsible for handling inspections and code violations for blight and illegal construction.

    Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said the grand jury's findings are a top priority and one of the first things that incoming City Administrator Deanna Santana will take up.

    The panel concluded that significant improvement is needed in several areas, including the abatement process; policies, procedures and training; information, communication and data management; due process (notices, liens, fees and fines); contracting; and appeals.

    The civil grand jury elected to investigate Oakland's Building Services, which is a division of the Community and Economic Development Agency, after receiving numerous complaints from property owners about excessive and arbitrary fees and liens, and abusive and retaliatory treatment by inspectors, among other things.

    Similar complaints were the catalyst for a grand jury investigation 11 years ago, but the recommendations from that panel -- that liens be used as a last resort and that inspectors focus on code violations to those that threaten life, health and safety -- were ignored, the 2011 grand jury noted. Conditions have grown worse since then, it said.

    "The Grand Jury is appalled by the actions of the city of Oakland's Building Services Division and its impact on property owners of Oakland. "... The division's practices and its treatment of property owners appear to be a direct reflection of poor management, lack of leadership, and ambiguous policies and procedures," it wrote in its final report, released June 28.

    The panel interviewed property owners and current and former city employees. It subpoenaed about 50 property files that had code violations and requested documents from property owners.

    It also compared Oakland's laws and procedures regarding blight abatement and property code violations with those in San Jose and San Francisco. The panel found those cities' rules and procedures more neutral and fair to property owners.

    The panel noted "an atmosphere of hostility and intimidation toward property owners" by Oakland inspectors and supervisors, and it suggested that the city re-evaluate the policy of giving inspectors law enforcement authority. The grand jury also criticized the speed with which inspectors declared properties blighted and slapped prospective liens on properties.

    The final report included several examples in which liens were recorded before issuing an abatement notice and before the property owner had a chance to respond or appeal the blight abatement order. The liens ranged from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars and often had no relation to the actual costs of unpaid fines or abatement work.

    The conclusions were no surprise to Michelle Cassens, a property inspector whose unhappy experience with the department started after she and her husband, Gwillym Martin, in March 2008 bought a West Oakland Victorian duplex built around 1888.
    Cassens said she was cited for constructing an illegal second downstairs unit and ordered to remove it, despite records that show the unit has been part of the house for more than 100 years.

    From May to September 2009, the couple tried to appeal the case, but each request was discarded or denied, Cassens said.

    On Aug. 3, 2009, former Building Services Manager Antoinette Renwick issued a demolition order for their house and gave them two weeks to get out. A $50,000 lien was placed on their property.

    Since then, Cassens has made it her mission to expose fraud and abuse by Oakland's building inspection department. She created the AuditOaklandCEDA blog and sent letters to 2,000 property owners she identified through public records as having had a prospective lien placed on their property. She urged them to file a written complaint with the grand jury.

    Cassens also discovered that Renwick had taken out a $50,000 loan from a contractor who landed the majority of hauling and demolition business from the city's inspectors. The contractor, it turns out, is Renwick's relative. Cassens reported it to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

    Renwick resigned Oct. 15. The panel concurred that the department's contracting policies were flawed and the access granted the contractor contributed to an "appearance of impropriety."

    Cassens said she feels vindicated by the grand jury's report, but her nightmare is not over. She's had to hire an attorney; the nest egg she and Martin hoped to spend on their home is gone.

    Andrew Vincent also was embroiled in a battle with Building Services over a fence he didn't build and a concrete basement that does not exist in his North Oakland fourplex. Vincent, an electrical contractor, said he was victimized by an overzealous building inspector after he complained that flooding in his yard was caused by a neighbor's unpermitted construction.

    Vincent said he tried to appeal his case through normal channels but was denied that opportunity. He was forced to sue the city to have $48,000 worth of liens removed. That effort, he said, has cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars that he will never get back.

    Vincent said the biggest problem is the lack of due process afforded Oakland property owners. It's nearly impossible to file an appeal, and the few that are scheduled are a "kangaroo court," he said.

    "The Oakland Municipal Code is quite clear, that your appeal is to be heard by someone who is not employed by the city," he said. "Appeals are filed, but denied by someone in the department."

    In a statement, the city concurred with much of the grand jury's analysis, especially as it involves the city's code enforcement for blight.

    Quan said the department is understaffed, undertrained and in need of a computer system that can track every action, citation, appeal and correspondence with property owners.

    "That's one of the things (new City Administrator) Deanna (Santana) and I need to take on as soon as she starts," she said. "They need consistency. I don't think it's corrupt at this point; at least not at this point. "... I haven't had a chance to look at it."

    Quan said the department has begun to limit liens and make a better effort to notify property owners. However, she does think that liens, if used judiciously, can be effective for getting rid of truly nuisance properties, such as the Hillcrest Motel.

    "We have to make sure they are reviewed, and there is no possibility of corruption," she said.

    Grand jury recommendations Ensure that the true property owners are notified of violations through every stage of the abatement process.
    Provide the property owner a clear written description in simple-to-understand language on the notice of violation, and do no just refer the property owner to a city code section.
    Implement a training program that emphasizes working with -- not against -- property owners.
    Eliminate the use of prospective liens.
    Revise fees and base them on actual reasonable costs incurred by the city.
    Establish deadlines for inspectors to respond to property owners.
    Develop an operations manual to ensure that inspectors operate in a consistent manner in applying code enforcement.
    Develop a centralized case management system that is easily accessible to all inspectors and property owners.
    Establish a clear, simple, effective appeals process that is easily understood by property owners and provides clear instructions for use.
    Immediately establish an ombudsman function (not an Oakland Building Services manager or inspector) to review all appeals and to assist the property owner.

    grand jury REPORT
    To read the 2010-2011 grand jury report, go to www.acgov.org/grandjury/final2010-2011.pdf.
    To read the city's response, go to www.acgov.org/grandjury/2011rpt_response.htm.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If Quan wants to ensure no possibility of corruption, then she has to give up the INCOME from building services. But, she doesn't want to do that.

    Dextr0, you and I have conversed a bit about what's been happening to my sister. I've been waiting years right along with her and her husband to see some vindication and to see this come to light. You wanted to know what could be done, well, here it is.

    Don't forget to check out auditoaklandceda.com (she was hacked soon after the first article was published and her news on a specific employee, Walter Cohen, was removed. And only that news. I don't know if she's had a chance to put it back up.
     
  10. Seamaiden

    Seamaiden Living dead girl

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    And more! And Dave has a friend from high school who does a Libertarian radio talk show who wants to interview them.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/opinion/ci_18485194

    Remember, this is the "dimebag, copywatch" sister. Finally, more vindication. If only she could get the building department to drop ALL of the illegal liens against their property (rather like Julie Bass of Oak Park, MI--aka Oak Park Hates Veggies).

    Remember folks, persistence and determination are omnipotent.
    And yet another blog is discussing this. Yay!
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/abraham/detail?entry_id=93337
     
  11. Seamaiden

    Seamaiden Living dead girl

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    Shit's coming down and may vengeance and vindication be theirs!

    You may have noticed the link I left in there, too, about Jean Quan. She's the mayor now of O-town, and she's claiming that she knew nothing of all these wrongdoings. She's lying through her teeth. (Apparently she's also a bit of a drinker, as evidenced by post-council meeting behavior caught on tape.) She knew, Ray Derania knew and enjoyed his line of work. De La Fuente knew, Nancy Nadel was the first to be informed by my sister, but then it turned out that Nadel has actually used building services to her own nefarious ends.

    Jean Quan spent a good part of the day yesterday putting herself in a really bad position.

    No, honey, not at all like everybody else. Not at all.

    This fellow, Pratt? The cars that were removed from his property were registered, functioning vehicles, too. He wasn't noticed that they were to be removed, either. A single complaint can engender towing of your vehicles in O-town, UNLESS you know the right people. He was targeted yesterday and it was specifically because of what he did the night of the meeting at city hall.

    Not to mention that no one else, unless they know the right people, could have gotten away with letting their property become so overgrown as Jean Quan had allowed hers to.