Councilmembers Randy Pope and Doug Hardcastle had a violent, misogynistic, homophobic meltdown on May 28, 2019. The two directed hostility towards then-Mayor Claire Alaura, who attempted to deliver a proclamation for LGBTQ month, which occurs in June. Councilmember Pope and Councilmember Hardcastle began to berate and openly demean Alaura. Both Pope and Hardcastle demanded a motion made that would put the proclamation aside and not read. Pope and Hardcastle were unequivocal in their hostility towards then-Mayor Alaura for attempting to deliver what they perceived was a great injustice to the community.
Unfortunately, City Attorney Derek Cole allowed the motion to be made and a vote taken. Cole did not put aside the motion to be placed on a public agenda and open for public comment following a public announcement of the motion, a severe violation of the Brown Act in California. A vote occurred. Fortunately, Councilmembers Higgins and Romick spoke up for then-Mayor Alaura, and Hardcastle’s and Pope’s motion failed. Kudos to then-Councilman Romick for his powerful words of the inappropriateness of Hardcastle’s and Pope’s shenanigans from the council dais. The mayor read the proclamation.
Both Hardcastle and Pope were standing on the dais during their tirade while Alaura was below them. They were yelling at Alaura from their position, looming over her as they did so.
In my perspective, the issue is not whether one agrees or disagrees with same-sex lifestyles. It is an egregious disregard of an elected official’s sworn statement that they will uphold the laws of the State of California and America. The official will ensure the constitution’s protection from an assault of all enemies, foreign and domestic. However, Pope and Hardcastle threw aside that oath, instead used their governmental authority to demonstrate their hate for members of the LGBTQ community.
It is a double disregard for oaths regarding Pope, who is an Oakland Police Department Sergeant. Pope took a similar pledge to uphold the laws of the state and country when sworn in as an officer, which he disregarded during the debacle on the dais. Pope’s meltdown was even more troubling when one considers Mayor Alaura’s husband is a sworn officer of the Oakland Police Department. It is despicable for a member of law enforcement, especially law enforcement in the same department, to ambush and attack the spouse of another law enforcement officer. It is conduct unbecoming an officer. I am concerned with was the attack on Mayor Alaura, an act of power against her husband? Was Pope letting Sergeant Alaura know that if Alaura did not follow Pope’s lead on Oakland PD, Pope could bully his wife because of his relationship with her on the council?
I am also severely disturbed by what appears to be unilateral actions by City Manager Joshua McMurray and City Clerk Libby Vreonis. Before I left for a conference in Austin on July 19, I reviewed the tape of the meeting. It was on the City of Oakley website. Following my return on July 24, I made a request, via the California Public Records Act, for a copy of all tapes of the meeting. City Clerk Vreonis replied that all videotapes of city council meetings before July 29, 2019, had been destroyed by her. I was troubled, but even more, because the tapes’ destruction occurred soon after Vice-Mayor Pope called for an ethics investigation during the July 13, 2021, council meeting.
Fortunately, I have a tape of the incident that I recorded myself from the website tape when it was available. Unfortunately, the video does not show the dais, only the audience, but the audio is there. The video does not show Hardcastle and Pope standing on the dais and looming over Mayor Alaura. The first male voice one hears on the video is City Attorney Derek Cole; the second male voice is Pope. The third male voice heard is Hardcastle, and the last male voice is then-Councilmember Romick.
The URL for the tape is:
One needs to copy and paste the URL on a browser to open the video. The video is seventeen minutes in length.
George Fuller, MPA, MA City Councilmember, City of Oakley