Oakland, CA - In collaboration with Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, President Pro Tem Sheng Thao, and Councilmember Carroll Fife, Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan is calling for Pay Equity in the City of Oakland. Vice Mayor Kaplan has submitted two scheduling requests to ensure that the City Administration investigate and rectify the abrupt termination of the Violence Prevention Department’s (DVP) Deputy Chief.
The public’s comment and committee member’s concerns raised for the DVP Item #7b, at the Monday, March 28th Public Safety and Services Violence Prevention Oversight Commission (SSOC) indicates a need to investigate the elimination of a high-level position from the Council-budgeted roster of personnel in the Department of Violence Prevention.
Members of the Oversight Commission expressed deep concern with what appears to be an abrupt termination of Dr. Sarai Crain from her Deputy Chief of Violence Prevention position from the City of Oakland. In the meeting, the Commission Chair stated that there was no conversation with the SSOC about this major shift and that this matter would have to go before the City Council as the Commission has no jurisdictional authority to impact the decision. Dr. Crain personally participated in the meeting saying that her termination was not based on performance, rather it was related to her push for equitable compensation in the DVP. This assertion was presented to the City Council and Administration in a letter sent Friday, March 25th by attorneys retained by Crain.
Councilmember At-Large and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan stated, “It is essential to end all acts of discrimination by this administration – and these allegations of misconduct and pay disparity – and alleged retaliation – warrant a direct response, investigation, and remedy. The decisions that are the subject of this alleged misconduct never came to the City Council. Since the City Council voted to fund a Deputy Chief of Violence Prevention, and never authorized eliminating that position. I urge that we schedule this issue to Council directly. We must take action to undo inappropriate actions, and take further steps to ensure that race and gender discrimination are not tolerated.”
In a statement addressing the letter and public outcry, Councilmember Fife said, “It’s important to look into the claims being made in this matter so we avoid perpetuating a practice of diminishing talented, experienced women, particularly women of color, in leadership positions. It is International Women’s History Month and gender-equity should be the bare minimum of what we aspire to at the City of Oakland.”
“Every day, not just during Women’s History Month, it’s absolutely urgent to ensure pay equity and a workplace free from gender discrimination,” said Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas. “These claims are deeply troubling and must be investigated and resolved immediately. Dr. Sarai Crain is a well-respected advocate against gender-based violence. Her departure has been deeply felt by those of us working to end human trafficking, which is centered in my district in the San Antonio neighborhood. Having championed last year’s investment in expanding the Department of Violence Prevention, I want to ensure we have strong leadership to implement Oakland’s vision for community healing and safety.”
Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao states, “These allegations are incredibly serious and must be investigated thoroughly. The gender pay gap is very real and persistent in this country. In Oakland, of all places, one of the most progressive, forwarding-thinking cities in America, it is unconscionable that this discriminatory practice would be allowed to go on. We must do all that we can to ensure equal pay for equal work. Equity is an Oakland value. Equity is an American value. It is my hope that this matter can be settled quickly and Dr. Crain can return to the critical work of violence prevention in Oakland.”