OAKLAND — A federal judge has chosen a powerful overseer for the Oakland Police Department, but refused to reveal his pick Friday, citing the city’s failure to release data to set the official’s salary.
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson gave Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker until noon Monday to file current salary information for both City Administrator Deanna Santana and police Chief Howard Jordan.
The figures will be used to determine compensation for a compliance director who will have sweeping powers to make Oakland police fully satisfy court-sanctioned reforms that were supposed to be completed five years ago.
The compliance director, whose salary will be paid by the city, will have authority to spend city funds and overrule top commanders. He can seek Jordan’s ouster if reforms continue to lag.
City leaders agreed to cede those powers in December as part of an agreement with attorneys who represented 119 plaintiffs in a civil suit connected with the 1999 Riders scandal.
Had the city not settled, it risked Henderson ordering a total federal takeover of the department.
Henderson did not disclose when he planned to make his selection public or when the director would begin work. Officials close to the matter said they didn’t know whom Henderson had picked.
In his one-page order Friday, Henderson wrote that he asked the department’s court-appointed monitor to request the salary information earlier this week,but added that “the city has been uncooperative.”
This was the second time in six months that Henderson scolded the city for not complying with a request from the monitor, Robert Warshaw.
In October, he ordered the city to “investigate the integrity” of its email system after Jordan didn’t respond to Warshaw’s emails regarding disciplinary actions connected to Occupy Oakland.
It turned out that Jordan had a filter on his email that sent Occupy-related emails to a separate folder that he hadn’t checked.
As for the salary request, the city issued a statement Friday that Warshaw had asked for the figures verbally on Wednesday, but was told to put the request in writing to ensure a paper trail.
John Burris, who represented plaintiffs in the Riders case, said he was surprised the city didn’t immediately comply with the judge’s request. “Salary is a very important issue, and we need to get this done,” he said.
According to figures released by the city, Santana makes $282,000, including a $9,000 auto allowance, and Jordan makes $257,973, which includes additional payments for longevity, extra course work and a uniform allowance.
It has taken longer than anticipated for Henderson to fill the compliance director post. The city and opposing attorneys had failed to agree on a consensus candidate, leaving Henderson to choose between competing nominees or come up with his own candidate.
The director will have 30 days from his start date to submit a plan for completing the reforms, which are geared toward helping the department better police itself. Monthly status reports will be required to be issued beginning May 15.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.