OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf claims that a toxic environment at City Hall is largely attributable to one person: Councilwoman Desley Brooks.
“One individual, more than any, someone who’s been nicknamed the Donald Trump of Oakland, who has engaged in unethical and abusive behavior has had a true impact, a ripple effect that really has infected the civility of the council chambers, as well as the professionalism of our city workers,” Schaaf told KPIX 5 on Friday.
She said Brooks has infected the level of civility in the council, caused a toxic environment and should be voted out.
Brooks has declined to talk to KPIX 5.
Schaaf’s words echo those of Vice Mayor and Councilwoman Annie Campbell Washington, who told KPIX on Thursday that she will not seek re-election.
Campbell Washington said she’s so tired of the drama at City Hall and wants out.
“Given some of the antics and corruption that exist with some members of the city council, it is just not possible to get as much done as I would like to get done,” Campbell Washington said.
Schaaf said Brooks “has caused this city tremendous liability, money that should be spent on critical city services. I think she is the primary example of someone who is causing a toxic environment.”
The city of Oakland is on the hook for more than $3 million after a court found Brooks liable for a physical assault on former Black Panther Elaine Brown.
Now, Brooks is facing new allegations of physical and verbal abuse from a former aide.
When we asked her about that earlier this week, she also kept mum.
Schaaf said the most recent example of Brooks’ bad behavior came during a committee meeting.
“You are now put on notice that we expect more of you,” Brooks said.
Brooks brought a jobs training proposal that Schaaf says was legally problematic.
“To raise the hopes of residents that something like this can get done when the actual basis of the proposal is not possible under existing law is deceptive to residents,” Schaaf said. “And it is harmful to our democracy.”
We reached out to other councilmembers.
Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo said, “Council meetings can be tough…”
He’s considered resigning three times and says the discourse could be more civil.
Gallo said, “We’re going to have some disagreements but I think we can disagree respectfully.”
But Schaaf made it clear that come November, she wants to see Brooks unseated.
“I think Oakland would be tremendously served by having that individual replaced on the city council,” Schaaf said.
The mayor worked on the council with Brooks for years and said that while there were struggles and antics involving Brooks then, she said it has escalated to a new level.
Schaaf said, “I think it is important to call out the individual who is most responsible for creating dysfunction, drama, and abuse.”