OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Oakland’s former city administrator claims she was fired because she refused to authorize payment for Mayor Ron Dellums and his wife’s home utility bills, Ms. Dellums’ cell phone, and expenses from their trip to South Africa.
She claims that Dellums took for himself powers she had under the City Charter, and then “stated if anyone objected they could ‘take him to court and sue him.'” Deborah Edgerly sued the City of Oakland in Alameda County Court. The complaint states: “In approximately May 2008, at a meeting held at the Dellums’s home, Ms. Dellums asked Edgerly to pay for their residential PG&E bill for approximately $1,600.00. Edgerly refused this request.”
Edgerly was Oakland’s city administrator from November 2004 until she was fired in July 2008, a month before she retired, according to her complaint.
In January 2007, after Mayor Dellums appointed his wife, Cynthia, to serve as his adviser and speak on his behalf, Edgerly says, Ms. Dellums started asking that certain city employees be fired and replaced by people who had worked on the mayor’s campaign.
Edgerly says she refused the requests.
Edgerly says Ms. Dellums requested office space, computers, a 5 percent salary increase and a bonus to compensate for expenses she and her husband incurred during a trip to South Africa.
Edgerly says Ms. Dellums also asked her to have the city pay for her cell phone and the Dellums’ $1,600 residential PG&E bill. Edgerly says she refused all those requests.
She claims that Ms. Dellums “would regularly meet with Edgerly’s department heads and staff, attend meetings, and give staff direction. Edgerly specifically asked Ms. Dellums to speak directly with her before going to her staff, which Ms. Dellums refused to do. Instead, Ms. Dellums repeatedly had unauthorized meetings with department heads and staff.”
In June 2008, the mayor sent an email to staff and department heads – who under the City Charter report to the City Administrator – stating that they would henceforth report to him instead, Edgerly says. Days later, he placed her on administrative leave until her retirement date a month later.
The complaint states: “On or about June 23, 2008, Mayor Dellums made statements in a meeting attended by agency directors of his intention to take actions in violation of the City Charter. The Mayor stated that it was his intention to act as the Chief Executive Officer and relegate the City Administrator to the capacity of Chief Operating Officer, thereby ‘flattening the organization’ and abrogating to the Mayor those authorities explicitly conferred upon the City Administrator by the City Charter. The Mayor further stated if anyone objected they could ‘take him to court and sue him.'”
On June 24, Edgerly says, Mayor Dellums placed her on involuntary administrative leave effective immediately, and he fired her effective July 1. She says she was fired “partly on advice from City Attorney John Russo.”
Edgerly seeks damages and costs, alleging retaliation and gender discrimination. The only named defendant in the case is the City of Oakland.
Edgerly is represented by John H. Scott of San Francisco.