On December 9, 2014, the Oakland City Council voted to approve 8-0 the Oakland Government Ethics Act (Act) or (GEA), which became effective immediately upon approval. This Act, which was proposed by the Public Ethics Commission in partnership with Councilmember Dan Kalb and the Oakland City Attorney, does the following:
1. Provides a clear and comprehensive framework of ethics rules for City staff and officials
2. Codifies and consolidate locally all existing ethics laws currently in place at the state and local level
3. Includes additional requirements that address needs that are unique to Oakland
4. Authorizes the PEC to enforce the provisions in the ordinance
Before the passage of the Government Ethics Ordinance, there was no comprehensive local ethics ordinance in Oakland, and the Commission had no legal authority to impose penalties for violations of ethics laws.
The Public Ethics Commission devoted attention in 2013 to building the Commission’s capacity: assessing staffing needs, evaluating the Commission’s authority and jurisdiction, and identifying gaps in the law and the need for new or amended ordinances. At its March 2013 retreat, the Commission discussed the need for enhanced authority and resources, and on July 24, 2013, the Public Ethics Commission held a public discussion reviewing its structure and authority under each of its governing ordinances. The Public Ethics Commission issued a letter to City Council
in September 2013 articulating the need for the City to adopt a local Ethics Ordinance and to provide the Commission with increased staffing to support effective ethics prevention and enforcement in City government.
Following the PEC’s letter to City Council, the Commission created an ad hoc Ethics subcommittee to begin drafting an ethics ordinance. The subcommittee conducted a public meeting on April 24, 2014, to develop the draft and receive public input. The Commission’s Ethics subcommittee presented a draft of the Oakland Government Ethics Act for review and consideration of approval by the full Commission at its regular meeting on September 2, 2014. After discussing the provisions and language of the draft, the Commission voted to approve
the Oakland Government Ethics Act, which passed with a 7-0 vote.
At the Commission's November 3, 2014 regular meeting, Executive Director, Whitney Barazoto, reviewed amendments made to the Government Ethics Act by CouncilmemberKalb and the City Attorney’s office since the Commission submitted it to Councilmember Kalb. The Commission discussed the new provisions and made suggested edits to section VI(D) regarding the prohibition on City Officers contracting with the City. After much discussion, Commissioner Shefler moved and Commissioner Smith seconded a motion to support the Government Ethics Act as it was amended by Councilmember Kalb, and to suggest that the Councilmember consider amending section VI(D) to tighten the language of the prohibition. The motion passed 7-0.
Progressing through the legislative process, the Oakland Government Ethics Act (GEA) was approved by the Council's Rules & Legislation Committee on October 16, 2014. Then the full Oakland City Council voted to approve 8-0 the GEA
on December 9, 2014.
The GEA is a companion measure to Measure CC
, which amended the Oakland City Charter
to strengthen the PEC’s authority, structure, and staffing, as passed by the voters on November 4, 2014.