A number of Oakland City Staffers spontaneously reached out to Zennie62Media to explain their displeasure over what they report as the action of the Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf in firing Oakland Housing and Community Development Director Michele Byrd.
But, who is Michele Byrd? This biography provides some background:
Michele Byrd has served as the Director of the city of Oakland’s Housing and Community Development Department since February 2012. She has demonstrated her leadership across a wide breadth of programs and partnerships ranging from the establishment of the Housing Assistance Center to provide services in response to the Foreclosure and Housing Crisis, to the passage of amendments to the Rent Adjustment Ordinance and her proactive role in advocating for the passage of a 25% set aside in response to the difficult loss of Redevelopment funds for Affordable Housing. Prior to her current role, she served as Deputy Director of Housing and Community Development. Ms. Byrd began her career with the City of Oakland as the Manager of the Community Development Block Grant Program. She previously
held the position of Special Projects Manager for the City and County of San Francisco.
Ms. Byrd holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from California State University, Hayward and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from University of California, Davis. She serves on the Board of Directors of the East Bay Rescue Mission and the Bay Area HomeBuyer Agency
From a perspective of strict timing, it looks like Byrd was let go for an interview she gave on a local news television station. That media organization went after her in a way this blogger deemed racist, making Byrd the black poster child for unenforced Oakland anti-eviction laws that have been neglected for over 10 years, well before Byrd’s time over Housing and Community Development, and into 2006.
On top of that, Mayor Schaaf and Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreith reportedly hired as her replacement Maryann Leshin, who, for about two years, has served in the capacity of Deputy Director of the City Of Oakland Housing and Community Development Department. Blunt-force racial cosmetics: black Byrd is replaced by white Leshin.
And lest you say that Leshin was just being advanced – you, know: next man up – hold on. Because the same source told me that Libby was considering moving her “affordable housing czar” Darin Ranelletti (former Interim Director of Planning and Building Darin and 1,000th white male hired to work in Schaaf’s Mayor’s Office versus, like, maybe, three black men), into Byrd’s position.
The TV media organization failed to ask Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf why the Oakland anti-eviction laws were largely ignored. One City Staffer, someone I worked with while I was with the City of Oakland (news flash, that’s a ton of people), called to talk without attribution to source, and said that Byrd should not have given the interview, where she was defensive of the City of Oakland, but the Mayor’s Office didn’t come to help her.
As happens with stories like this, there’s the official version, and the real version: I was given the real version, and from more than one source (The calls and texts went like this: “They should not fire her. It’s not fair.”), and all are current City of Oakland employees, save for Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan.
Kaplan texted the following to this blogger: “I told reporters they should explicitly ask the administration for evidence of what they had and had not directed Michele to do. It’s not cool to punish her actions that the admin had directed.”
Kaplan added “To be clear I wasn’t in the room and don’t know what specifically admin did or didn’t say to Michelle but at least We deserve to know. And we deserve to know whether the admin had specifically directed Michelle to take the actions of it then she didn’t do because if they didn’t tell her to take them that’s a problem.”
Another City of Oakland Staffer told me via phone that Michele Byrd was what is called an “exempt” status employee, which means she could be fired, at will, by the Mayor of Oakland. I reached out to Mayor Schaaf to ask, specifically, why she took the action she did. Libby has not, as of this writing, responded.
One staffer, a political appointee and friend who just decided to be difficult, said that the firing had little to do with the news interview, but then in that person’s text, did not explain why. Not done mining that source – will get what I seek.
But what Mayor Schaaf’s staff does is reach out to another media organization to give the alternative story, then will try to direct others to that organization. That, I’m hip to, and more nimble to counter. So, it’s not going to work; people should know the truth, so, especially considering the way Byrd was picked on, forget other news outlets – stick with mine. Also, there’s the fact that this matter takes focus away from the real question: why is the Mayor’s Office so seemingly recalcitrant to solve the homeless problem?
Last year, January 2018, the Mayor of Oakland announced that she joined a “New Push to Protect, Expand Federal Investment in Affordable Housing and Homeless Services.” Okay, but that was the only other program listed as news at the webpage for Oakland Housing and Community Development for all of 2018. Since the Mayor’s name goes on those headlines, ultimately she, and not Michele. Byrd, should take the blame for any work on that not done.
There’s more to this story. Stay tuned.
Oakland News Now Note: this post demonstrates the full and live operation of the latest version of an experimental Zennie62Media mobile media video-blogging system network – part of a new approach to the production of media. The uploaded video is from a vlogger with the Zennie62 on YouTube Partner Channel, then uploaded to and formatted automatically at the Oakland News Now site and social media pages. The objective is smartphone-enabled, real-time, on the scene reporting of news, interviews, observations, and happenings anywhere in the World and within seconds and not hours. We are constantly working to improve the system network coding and also seek interested content and media technology partners.