I called Mr. Jermanis around 11 AM on Friday June 23 and left a message with my name and my San Leandro Community Action Network affiliation saying that I wanted to talk to him about a book that the city had commissioned on the history of San Leandro. My husband had talked to him about this subject the day before, but I had some more questions. He called me back around 11:30 AM that same day.
I started by telling him that I wanted to clarify what had happened, as the story I had been told was very serious. I first asked him if it was a book or a pamphlet, as he had told Mike the day before that it had been a pamphlet. He said that what he had commissioned was indeed a book. He first said that the book was supposed to be like a Chamber of Commerce publication, one that showed what a great business environment San Leandro was. I asked him why the Chamber of Commerce didn't commission it then, and he said they probably would if they had a budget.
He then explained that actually the book was supposed to be a continuation of "a garden grows in eden," (a 1972 book on the history of San Leandro), that would look at San Leandro from the 1970's onward. He asked me if I had seen the book, which coincidentally I had just checked out from the library.
I asked him if the project as his idea, and he said it was and that he had not brought up the project to the city council. I asked him what his budget for this book was, and he said he didn't have one, he didn't know how much the project would cost. I asked him if indeed he had commissioned a writer, and he said yes. I asked him if he had a contract with the writer, and he said he didn't. He explained the writer was the son of a long-time employee of the library who had recently graduated with a journalism major from U.C. Santa Barbara, and who was interested in taking this project on. I asked him if he had discussed compensation with the writer, and first the said, he hadn't. I expressed surprised, and he then backtracked and said he did, but he didn't remember how much, but that he ended up paying the writer $1500.
I asked him why the project as cancelled and he said that it was because the outline the writer submitted was not what he was looking for. I asked him if he had given the writer written guidelines of what he wanted, and he said he hadn't. I asked him if he had a copy of the outline, and he said he didn't. I then asked him what he had wanted the book to be, and he became agitated and said he didn't want to talk about the book any more, that this had happened a year ago and he didn't want to answer any more questions. I told him that I wanted to clarify what had happened before I took any action, because this was a very serious matter that could potentially have not only local but national repercussions, so I wanted to make sure that I understood his side of the story as thoroughly as possible. He said I had to do what I had to do and that he took sole responsibility for starting and ending this project.
I asked him if David Bohne (the library director) had been involved in the discussions with the writer. He said he had. I asked him if he had been present at all the discussions between Bohne and the writer, and again he said he had. I asked him if Bohne had ever been alone with the writer, and he said no. I asked him if he or Bohne had at any time asked the writer to not talk to Brian Copeland. He said he hadn't. I asked him if the name Brian Copeland ever came up in their conversations with the writer, and he said Copeland had not been discussed.
I then asked him if the book was supposed to be a history of San Leandro and he said no. He then said he did not want to continue talking about this subject. I asked him if he could give me the name of the writer, and he said he would not. I told him that it was a public record and I could solicit it, and he said I could do that but he did not want to collaborate with me any more.
I then said goodbye.