Oakland Wins One for Local Government Transparency

It is official. Last week, a judge ordered the balconies in the City Hall chamber reopened for the public to access, just in time to allow maximum public participation in the final budget hearings in Oakland. This was because your union stood up for transparency and open government. 
In the past two months prior, the balcony had been closed and participants were being shuttled to overflow rooms, which impeded and reduced participation in City Council meetings. However, that changed on June 30, after the City responded to a complaint Local 21 filed with the Public Ethics Commission and the Alameda Superior Court. Now, thanks to this action taken, Local 21 members — along with hundreds from the general public — were out in full force to attend the City Council’s final budget hearing, which will determine how public funds are allocated and in turn, impact city employees and their public services, for those of our members who reside in Oakland.

“So as of today, our galleries are opened and filled with our members,” Renee Sykes, City of Oakland Neighborhood Services Coordinator and Vice President of Local 21 Oakland Chapter, told CBS reporters who covered the meeting that night.

The public was not unaware of the leading role the union played in reversing the City’s policy of restricting public access to City Hall in Oakland,  a local win for government transparency and citizen participation. 

“I’m glad that the union stepped up to the plate because the City did not do it on their own,” a spectator sitting in the main seating area told CBS.

News Coverage

Oakland City Council Opening Extra Seating For Meetings On Judge’s Orders, CBS

Oakland ordered to reopen City Council seating gallery, SF Gate

Oakland City Council to Finally Reopen Its Balconies Tonight, KQED