The “attack the accuser” strategy employed by the defenders of Council members Malia Vella and Jim Oddie just lost a lot of whatever traction it ever had.
You remember the narrative: City Manager Jill Keimach was about to be fired for incompetence, so, to save her job, she fabricated a fable about the two Council members attempting to interfere with her selection of a new fire chief in violation of the City Charter.
Former Alameda teachers’ union president Gray Harris trotted out this tale before the public in a speech at the October 17 Council meeting, and her new husband, Alameda firefighters’ union president Jeff Del Bono, has been promoting it doggedly through his favorite media outlets. “She’s delusional,” Capt. Del Bono was quoted as saying about Ms. Keimach in an article by Steven Tavares in Alameda Magazine. “There’s not a lot of trust there. It really makes it hard to work with somebody that nobody trusts.”
At Tuesday’s Council meeting, several public officials from the Town of Moraga appeared during the public-comment period to refute the charge by Ms. Harris that Ms. Keimach had “failed” as the town manager there. Then Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri got up to speak.
Here’s what he said:
Good evening mayor, vice mayor, members of the City Council. I’m Paul Rolleri, police chief, and I am joined by all of the city department heads here before you.
We are here as the city’s executive management team to show our support for City Manager Jill Keimach and our respect and faith in her ethics and integrity.
As a team under her leadership, we have accomplished much over the last year-and-a-half. We have a solid team of department heads who, together with our city manager, are all committed to doing what’s right for the Alameda community. We are here to affirm that there is stability within the city and that we all, individually and collectively, trust in Jill Keimach’s leadership and are working together to accomplish our city’s priorities.
Over the last 18 months, the city has been incredibly productive doing the people’s work under the leadership of the city manager. This includes drafting ordinances on public art, cannabis and universal design, breaking ground on more than 50 units of affordable housing, securing more than $40 million in transportation grants and funding and the continued complex but important work on Alameda’s rent stabilization program. We reinstated the Fire Prevention Bureau with sworn firefighters, passed a 2-year budget on time with reserves and broke ground on Jean Sweeney and Estuary Parks. We embarked on updating the Climate Action Plan, established the city’s first parking permit program, created a framework for a sustainable relationship with the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter, received accreditation from the American Public Works Association, modernized the city’s utility users tax ordinance and much more.
This council has directed staff to carry out a robust agenda of work, and we are committed to following best practices to do that work. We want you to know that as a staff, working under the stable leadership of City Manager Jill Keimach, we are effectively addressing the council’s priorities for Alameda. We are confident that we can continue to work together to maintain the good governance it takes to give our community the quality of life they desire.
Standing with the Chief as he spoke were the heads of the City’s base reuse, community development, finance, human resources, information technology, library, recreation and parks, and public works departments, as well as the assistant city manager and the public information officer.
Oh, there was one other guy who had Chief Rolleri’s back: the Interim Fire Chief, Ricci Zombeck.
We’d like to think that, after an endorsement like this by the staff members who actually work with the City Manager, the union honchos and their flacks will stop trying to defend Ms. Vella and Mr. Oddie by defaming Ms. Keimach. But who knows? Maybe they’re more like Donald Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders than they would care to admit: Even if a story is demonstrably false, just keep repeating it and your “base” will keep believing it.
But shame on you for defaming Donald Trump by comparing him to Jeff delBono!
There may well be legitimate criticism of the city manager, but that now has been overshadowed by overreach from powerful political forces. The community is so highly politicized that I question if it can function effectively day-to-day. My primary concerns are public safety; good streets, sidewalks and transportation; nice parks and a good library. These are the reasons that people create municipal governments. Most people just want to get to work safely and have a nice neighborhood. 2018 is an election year. Vote for those who can govern effectively.
I have never met the chief so I don’t know his motive, but I suspect he is tired of the IAFF siphoning off so much city cash. They’ve had two stations built recently, among other things, while he can’t sufficiently patrol the city because he’s short staff.
To the extent he was trying to make a point about council interference with administration, in addition to just countering the very pointed attempts by some, including public officials by way of public statements, to discredit and quiet City Manager Jill Keimach, Chief Rolleri at least appears to be innocent of playing favorites amongst the Council. Recall his push back against the mayor’s inquiries in the driveway case before the last election.
You do know Chief Rolleri grew up in Alameda and his mom still lives here. Some things transcend city politics.
@dave interesting point. I was wondering if police and fire are friendly after this? They should be working together. And, yes, my god the police department needs more funding!! @steve same here and for most of my neighbors. I hate to sound naive but really why not put your citizens first, do the best for us instead of taking money from outsiders and then paying back the favors. I know that is how things tend to work, but it’s too much here, at the detriment of our town. This place is so unique, so special and so much could be done with it (I’ve said before that Telluride and Sun Valley are great examples of towns retaining their charm through thoughtful restrictions on development and the types of businesses, forward thinking ideas related to bikes, signage, no chains etc) Anyway, I wish we could get a few genuine folks to run that aren’t part of the big slick political machine and then get the citizens to ignore the slick signs and flyers and vote for the people that can help Alameda.