November 2016 Volume 16, Issue 8
Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker 
News from the Oakland City Attorney's Office
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This is our last newsletter before the upcoming November 8th presidential election. I believe this election is one of the most important elections in our lifetimes. It is hard to imagine how the differences between the presidential candidates' world views, their values, platforms and visions for our country could be greater.

Which world view and vision for America you embrace is your choice. But no matter who you support, it is imperative that we make this historic decision on November 8 with the greatest number of voters exercising their fundamental and hard-fought right to vote. African Americans and women who have a long history of being deprived of this precious right, in my view, should treasure its importance. If you haven't already done so, please cast your vote, not just for the president, but for the many candidates and measures on the state and local ballots.

This newsletter provides a brief update on our efforts to strengthen Oakland's Campaign Reform Act and my public appreciation to the Women Lawyers of Alameda County for honoring me with the 2016 "Woman Lawyer of Distinction" award.

As always, I look forward to your questions and comments about the work we are doing on behalf of the people of Oakland.
  Barbara J. Parker
 Oakland City Attorney
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Strengthening Oakland's Campaign Reform Act

This evening the City Council will consider amendments to the Oakland Campaign Reform Act ("OCRA") that I co-sponsored with City Councilmembers Dan Kalb, Abel Guillen, Annie Campbell-Washington and Noel Gallo.

The amendments are a follow-up to the comprehensive Government Ethics Act that I sponsored with Councilmember Kalb in 2014 to increase the authority and capacity of the City's Public Ethics Commission and to ensure integrity, transparency and accountability in our city government. 

The City Council initially passed OCRA in 1993 with the goal of reducing the influence of money in local politics. The changes we have proposed to OCRA will further strengthen the enforcement authority of the Ethics Commission and will update the law to align with the Government Ethics Act, City Charter amendments and the state Political Reform Act.

Significantly, the new changes will require disclosure of top donors for independent expenditure mailers and television ads. Independent expenditures ("IEs") are made by third parties in support of a candidate or a measure, and they can insert huge amounts of money and influence into local elections, so it is critical to have greater transparency in donations to IEs.

Oakland City Attorney receives "Woman Lawyer of Distinction" award 
On October 13, the Women Lawyers of Alameda County recognized me as the 2016 "Woman Lawyer of Distinction." 

As Oakland City Attorney, my mission is to make the Oakland City Attorney's Office a nationwide model for a professional and effective public law office. For the five and one-half years that I have had the privilege of serving as Oakland City Attorney, I have strived every day to bring my Office and the City of Oakland one step closer to equal opportunity, justice, equity and a level playing field for all.

When I was a student at Harvard Law School in the early to mid-1970s, there were few women or African Americans or other people of color at Harvard, or frankly any other law school in America. Harvard Law School was not a welcoming place. In fact, shortly after I began my first year in law school, a group of male students came to my dormitory room and asked me to leave because I was taking a seat that should have been filled by a man. They had the hubris to predict that a law degree would be wasted on me because a "proper" woman would marry, raise a family and not practice law. Of course I told them to leave, graduated from law school and have practiced law for more than 40 years. Today our law schools and the legal profession have many, many women students, lawyers, judges and professors and it is hard to imagine anyone making that kind of statement to a female law student, even if they hold this archaic and sexist mindset. Experiences like this one motivated me to pursue a law degree and have motivated me throughout my legal career.

Sadly, as we have seen play out so dramatically and tragically this year, sexism, misogyny, racism, and discrimination based on sexual orientation, religion and disability are alive and well.

Women have come a long way in the legal profession during the last 40 years. More than half of the attorneys in my office are women. However, only about a third of Alameda County Superior Court Judges are women, and of the 11 elected City Attorneys in California, I currently am the only woman. I also am the first and only African American women to hold city-wide office in the City of Oakland. Clearly we have a long way to go.

The Women Lawyers of Alameda County and all of us in our roles as attorneys, judges and public servants are on the front lines of the fight to pave the way for our sisters, our daughters and our children's children. Thank you again to the Women Lawyers of Alameda County for recognizing my Office's hard work.

Phone: (510) 238-3601



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