During her search of City Hall for “one-time funds” needed to “balance” the City budget, Assistant City Manager Liz Warmerdam happened upon a bunch of staff-written press releases that failed to get posted on the City’s new Website. The Merry-Go-Round obtained them through a Public Records Act request.
Fourth of July parade
Mayor Marie Gilmore announced today that automobiles and other motor vehicles will be banned from this year’s Fourth of July parade. Only bicycles ridden by Twitter followers of public transportation guru John Knox White will be allowed to traverse the parade route.
The announcement disappointed Alamedans who usually drive antique cars in the parade, but Gilmore insisted it was a necessary part of her efforts to make Alameda a vibrant, robust, sustainable, transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly community with affordable housing and good schools. “We’ve got a place for antiques in Alameda,” the Mayor said. “It’s called Michaan’s Auctions.”
An exception to the bicycles-only policy was made for horses after Park Street Business Association executive director Robb Ratto volunteered to follow them and scoop up material suitable for inclusion in future press releases.
Fire training center
In a dramatic reversal, the U.S. Navy has decided to turn over a 512-acre undeveloped parcel at Alameda Point that had been slated for transfer to the Veterans Administration instead to the City of Alameda, which will construct a training center for the Alameda fire department on the site.
City Manager John Russo brushed aside objections by environmentalists that the new training center would interfere with the least tern colony located on the property. Russo said that City Attorney Janet Kern has issued a legal opinion stating that use of the area by firefighters was consistent with its designation as a “wildlife refuge” in the Community Reuse Plan.
To ease concerns that traffic congestion will result from firefighters entering and exiting the base in their City-furnished take-home cars, the City plans to purchase a used helicopter from Alameda developer Ron Cowan to provide air transportation to the site. The flights will depart from Blackhawk, with stops in Alamo and Pleasant Hill.
The City of Alameda today filed a multi-million-dollar federal-court lawsuit against former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant seeking to hold her financially liable for any problems facing the City for which she has not already been blamed.
Among other things, the suit alleges that Gallant is responsible for the decline in Alameda housing prices occurring during her tenure as ICM. “For years, I thought it was Bush’s fault,” said Councilwoman Lena Tam, who instigated the civil suit after the Alameda County District Attorney declined to open a criminal investigation. “Now Jeff and Dom tell me it was Gallant all along. Notice how prices are going up again since she’s been gone?”
City Manager John Russo hinted that the City might be willing to settle the suit if Gallant agreed to pay out of her own pocket the cost of building a new Fire Station No. 3.
City Council today endorsed a bill introduced by Assemblyman Rob Bonta to use the recently announced state budget surplus to eliminate the need for public safety employees to contribute toward the cost of their pensions.
Bonta said that Democratic party leaders had assured him that they would support the bill as long as Bonta ended his practice of issuing weekly press releases touting his legislative achievements. The former Alameda Vice Mayor thanked IAFF Local 689 political director Jeff DelBono for pointing out to him that requiring firefighters to share a portion of pension costs showed a lack of respect for working families.
City Manager John Russo said the elimination of pension cost-sharing would not affect the City budget, since projected savings from Obamacare will be used to make up the shortfall.
City Attorney Janet Kern today issued an opinion approving, retroactively and prospectively, the legality of all actions taken or to be taken by City Manager John Russo.
Kern said she undertook the review to comply with CEQA, which requires analysis of any “project” with potential environmental impact. “Technically, John may not be a ‘project,’ but he’s certainly a piece of work,” Kern said. “And he thinks he’s a force of nature, too.”
Russo thanked Kern for her efforts on his behalf. “Janet is doing exactly the job I hired her to do,” Russo said.
Kern in turn praised her outside legal advisor, IAFF Local 689 political director Jeff DelBono, for finding the statutory authority for her action. “I’ve got a lot of respect for a guy who can do all the things Jeff does for only $33 an hour,” Kern said.