Editor's note: The Oakland City Auditor's report on mismangement in hiring and retention practices was released on Oct 22nd.  At 123 pages long, it offered 85 recommendations for ways that the city's HR, finance and police departments could function better, with less vulnerability to the nepotism and corruption the Edgerly case demonstrated.

So, how does the city respond?

Except for City Administrator Dan Lindheim, who railed at the report as “sensationalized findings, ” no one in city government has said much more yet than we have to take a serious look at it. Furthermore, none of the local papers have really dug into the recommendations, even though Ruby and her consultant laid them out in precise detail, item by item.

It's hard not to wonder if anybody in power really cares.

Will the City Council and the Mayor have the hard discussions this report encourages–and take action to make change–or is this another wasted effort for the circular file?

As OL was pondering these impenetrables we started to imagine: what if the release of the City Auditors report was actually a scene in Star Wars?  So we wrote this little scene, imagining the day of release as part of a bigger script:

The City Auditor's Report release Imagined as scenes in Star Wars

1. Intro: FADE IN:  A vast sea of stars serves as the backdrop for the MAIN TITLE, which scrolls past

Voice over: The Republic of Oakland is clumsy and corrupt. Pitiless bureaucrats, driven by greed and the lust for power, have replaced process with nepotism and “rule by the people” with death by paper-cuts. The City Council is slow to confront corruption, and the press is weak.

For over one hundred years, generations of Mayors, City Administrators and City Council People  were the guardians of peace and justice in Oakland. Now these legendary leaders are all but extinct. One by one they have been hunted down and transformed by the dark agents of the city: crooked  and selfish middle managers. Only the office of the City Auditor is pure.

2. Scene 1: Internal chamber, City Hall
The ring of cell phones echoes through the LEED-certified halls of the building as City Auditor Courtney Ruby and City Auditor's Exec Assistant Erica Harrold make their way through the bustling hall.  In the big conference room, City Administrator Dan Lindheim is finishing a press release where he is denouncing the just released  Performance Audit of Oakland's Hiring Practices

Ruby: Did you hear that? Dan Lindheim has just said that only a few of the city's hiring practices are affected by nepotism, laziness and mismanagement, and the rest is Courtney being a pain in the ass. His ships are going to attack us. This is crazy!

Sounding like Threepio, the City Auditor makes a series of little chirps that only another stats jockey could understand.Her executivr assistant notes and talks back, They are speaking geek.

City officials in dark suits run past the numbers crunchers as suddenly, everything becomes very still and quiet. 

Tension mounts as slow, dragging footsteps are heard moving coming closer.  City Council Member Ignacio Fuentes appears, trailed by Mayoral hopeful Jean Quan. Neither of them look over at the auditors as they stop to chat with the press.

3. As reporters cluster around him High Imperial City Council member Ignacio Fuentes is talking and shaking his head.. “We should implement every damn recommendation,” he says. “But you and I know that's it's very difficult for the city to do anything to make people accountable.”  The reporters scribble in their pads.

 City Auditor assistant Harrold whispersto her boss: “Did you hear what he said?”

Ruby  gives her assistant a hard look. “You are dreaming, ” she tells her partner in geek speak.  “Dan Lindheim does not want to control,city government, he just wants you to fall in with the party line more and stop being so damn through.”

As Fuentes holds forth, other City Council members in the room nod and say nothing, demonstrating this is a battle they don't want to get into.


Susan sez:

It is less than a week since the report has been released, but the general sense is that the report has been dropped and will be read and discussed right on its way into oblivion.  Nevetheless, just as in Star Wars, there is a visible threat to our Republic. This threat right now is hidden, in the dark, a problem at the bottom of a a deep and silent well.  The threat is  presided over by an Evil Emperor and it's name is Complacency and if we all don't make sure the Mayor and the City Council take action on these recommendations for now, and the future, our bright galaxy is going to go dark.

About The Author

Susan Mernit is editor & publisher of Oakland Local (oaklandlocal.com) a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including Salon.com, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.