By Christin Ayers

OAKLAND (CBS SF) – The president of the Oakland City Council denies she used the power of her office to block construction of a townhouse on a lot located next door to her West Oakland home.

Lynette Gibson McElhaney angrily defended herself against charges from an Alameda County Grand Jury that concluded she “privately contacted a department head…to register discontent with the project…giving the appearance that (she) was receiving special treatment.”

The report further charged that McElhaney was “using her status as a public official to improperly influence staff for her own personal benefit.”

“I didn’t use any undue pressure,” McElhaney told KPIX 5. “I didn’t do anything unethical.”

The property owner – Bob Brecht – told KPIX 5 that delays caused by McElhaney’s opposition has cost him $1 million and set construction back indefinitely.

“Her whole tactic was to stall and to change the project and try and cost us money,” he claims. “Which she did. “

However, other neighborhood residents have come to McElhaney’s defense.

“If we can’t ask the City Council to give us help in the neighborhood, who can we turn to?” said Artie Arnett, who says he and other neighbors asked McElhaney to get involved.

The assistant city administrator told KPIX that she was taking the Grand Jury accusations seriously, but could not discuss the possibility of any disciplinary action.
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