Hail to the chiefs

Ever since we learned that Fire Chief Edmond Rodriguez had taken non-COVID-19 medical leave beginning on March 23, we’ve been waiting for the press release announcing that he has retired and the City is beginning the search for a new fire chief.

The City has not released any update about Chief Rodriguez’s status, and, as far as we know, he remains on medical leave.  Based on recent events, however, it appears that there has been a change at the top of the City’s other public-safety department:  police.

Fellow Alamedans, meet your new police chiefs:  Malia Vella and John Knox White.

Neither Council member, of course, has spent a day on the job as a street cop.  But over the last two weeks they have waged a campaign to undermine Police Chief Paul Rolleri, a 28-year veteran of APD and the longest serving member of the department.  He may be allowed to keep his official City car, but Ms. Vella and Mr. Knox White want to be sitting in the driver’s seat.

The two Council members’ first salvo was to besmirch Chief Rolleri’s reputation as a straight shooter.  Then, they persuaded Council to sabotage two of his decisions, one intended to address a long-standing problem, the other intended to redress issues raised by the recent arrest of Mali Watkins.  In addition, they got their colleagues to curb Chief Rolleri’s authority to manage the department going forward by requiring him to seek and obtain Council’s advance approval before taking any significant action.

What’s next? Another special Council meeting on June 30, followed by a series of “town halls” and “community forums” in which the Council members will “engage the community” about how the police department should operate.  We will not be at all surprised if the outcome of this “engagement” is that the “community” is seen to have endorsed every “reform” selected by Ms. Vella and Mr. Knox White to please their “progressive” supporters – which their colleagues then promptly will enact into law.

Ms. Vella led off the accusations of malfeasance against Chief Rolleri.  “[W]hile the May 23rd incident [i.e., the arrest of Mr. Watkins] is bad enough,” she posted on Facebook on June 5, “I feel it’s especially important to address the cover up.”  What cover-up?  According to Ms. Vella, City Manager Eric Levitt relayed information provided by Chief Rolleri that “totally misrepresented what actually occurred” – for which, she said, Mr. Levitt had apologized.

Mr. Knox White then took it to another level – and a wider audience.  Three days after Ms. Vella’s Facebook post, he told a KGO television journalist that a cell phone video taken by a bystander at the end of the encounter “didn’t match at all” the “first impression” given to him by Alameda police.  “This has shaken my confidence in the leadership that we have at the Alameda Police Department,” Mr. Knox White told the TV journalist.

Now, we suppose that the two Council members may have sincerely believed that Chief Rolleri misled them.  But . . .

For Ms. Vella, the Chief has been a marked man ever since November 2017.  That’s when he stood before Council and read a statement in which every City department head expressed their “respect and faith” in the “ethics and integrity” of then City Manager Jill Keimach, who had revealed the pressure applied by Ms. Vella and Councilman Jim Oddie to get her to select the candidate chosen by the firefighters’ union as the new fire chief.  (Both denied exerting any pressure; the Alameda County Civil Grand Jury upheld the allegation.)  This show of support put the lie to the claim concocted by the Vella/Oddie apologists that Ms. Keimach was just an incompetent manager desperately trying to save her job.

Mr. Knox White had no similar axe to grind.  But if Chief Rolleri was trying to hide or misrepresent anything, he did so in a very strange way.  In fact, it was the Chief who recommended to Mr. Levitt that there be an “outside investigation” of the Watkins incident.  (In her Facebook post, Ms. Vella falsely attributed this initiative to Mr. Levitt.  In his own statement, the City Manager made the facts clear:  “Based on an initial review, a full outside investigation is being requested by the Police Chief.  I concur with his decision fully.”)  Likewise, it was the Chief who decided, on the same day the cell phone video was posted on social media, to release bodycam footage from each of the officers involved in the incident, a decision he publicly announced at that night’s Council meeting.

Does that sound like a “cover-up” to you?

The offensive by the two Council members against Chief Rolleri accelerated at Council’s June 16 meeting.  On the agenda was an item for approval of the fiscal year 2020-21 budget.  But when time came for Council discussion, Ms. Vella highjacked the meeting.  With the assistance of Mr. Knox White, she had prepared a motion, which had not been distributed or made public beforehand, calling for Council to approve the budget only on certain conditions and then “return for further consideration” in October.

One of the conditions involved vacancies – i.e., positions that had been authorized but not filled – in the police department.  Essentially, the motion imposed a four-month hiring freeze.  No other City department was subject to the freeze – including the fire department, which also had vacant positions.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal.  Indeed, one could interpret it as a belt-tightening move in the midst of the fiscal challenge caused by the coronavirus crisis.  But . . .

Just six months ago, Chief Rolleri reported to Council on the extent of the vacancies in the police department – and their consequences for the citizenry.  The department has been “struggling for years” to fill all of the 88 sworn positions authorized by Council, he said, and he displayed this chart:

Allotted vs. Filled Positions

The Chief then ticked off a few of the actions he could take if staffing were brought up to the authorized level:  assign more officers to investigations, particularly of property crimes; step up traffic enforcement, especially around schools; and put more officers on the street, including walking beats in the business districts.  Homeowners, parents, and business owners all would benefit.

At the meeting Chief Rolleri offered a proposal to boost the applicant flow by increasing incentives for lateral recruits, and he got a positive response from those on the dais.  Indeed, one Council member in particular spoke up in favor.  She praised the current recruitment program – “we’ve weeded out the best of the best” – and urged the Chief to focus on keeping already employed cops on the job. “We do have really good officers,” she said.  “They have a knowledge of the community, and we’re going to need to retain people as much as we need to recruit them.”  She then moved to double the bonus for referring new candidates and adopt the Chief’s proposal as amended.

If you haven’t guessed by now, the Council member in question was Ms. Vella.

Six months later, the same Ms. Vella was pushing for a hiring freeze in the police department.  Maybe she realized she had been mistaken when she previously lauded the recruitment program and the quality of officers it produced.  Maybe she now saw that the program instead reflected “systemic racism.”  Or maybe Ms. Vella, the savviest politician on Council, saw an opportunity to cater to the most strident members of the anti-police crowd in a way that might go unnoticed by others in town:   In order to “de-fund” the police department, the City doesn’t need to fire anyone; all it needs to do is not hire anyone to fill existing vacancies.  Either way, there will be fewer cops – and additional funds available to spend for more worthy purposes.

The hiring freeze wasn’t the only step our two new wannabe police chiefs took to seize control.

A few days before the meeting, pressed by the KGO television journalist to identify reforms he was considering, Chief Rolleri said that he had decided to “restructure” the way in which APD would “deploy our resources and provide services.”  Specifically, he was ordering that henceforth cops would focus their attention on reports of serious crimes – such as sexual assault, robbery, or DUI – and not respond to “mental health evaluation calls,” such as the one that precipitated the incident with Mr. Watkins.

In a later interview with the East Bay Times, the Chief elaborated on his decision.  Because APD’s resources are stretched so thin, he said, his officers should respond only to reports of actual criminal behavior.  This would exclude so-called “5150” cases in which a person believed to be a danger to himself or others may be placed in a 72-hour involuntary hold.  “I want to try and cut the discretionary and random contacts between officers and the community,” the Chief was quoted as saying.

Now, one might have expected that any sincere advocate for police reform would have applauded the Chief’s move.  Indeed, those who talk about “re-imagining” (rather than “de-funding”) the police often urge steps similar to those suggested by Chief Rolleri:  restricting cops to responding to reports of serious crimes and assigning other functions they now perform to specially trained civilians like social workers.  But . . .

Applause is hardly what Chief Rolleri got from Mr. Knox White and Ms. Vella.  This time the Vice Mayor took the lead by telling the East Bay Times that the Chief’s announcement had “blindsided” him.  “[C]hanges in policy direction of this magnitude,” he sniffed, “have to include a broad community-engagement process and must involve the city’s elected policymakers in the decision.”

But condemning the Chief wasn’t enough.  Among the directives contained in the motion drafted by Ms. Vella and Mr. Knox White and presented by her at the June 16 Council meeting were these two (the grammar is in the original):

  • Staff will return to the council with a proposal for changing any response protocols for Alameda Police. Including any changes announced in May or June 2020, including any budgetary impacts.

  • All Policing policy changes will be brought to the City Council for approval before implementation. In the instance where changes in State or Federal law or courts rule that change is required, changes can be made and brought to the next available council meeting for ratification and if approved, posted onto the City website.

These mandates had two effects:  They effectively rescinded the re-prioritization order the Chief had just announced.  And they made sure that he didn’t try again to make any significant managerial decisions on his own.  So what will the guy sitting in the police chief’s chair be left to do?  He can’t revise any “response protocols.”  Nor can he implement any “Policing policy changes.”  Maybe he can still fill out the daily duty roster – although we’re not even sure of that.

The question remains to be asked:  Why would Mr. Knox White and Ms. Vella push through a motion that had the effect of undoing, and inhibiting, actions that enjoy wide support among police-reform advocates?  We’re not psychologists.  But we do believe that Mr. Knox White wants to be perceived as the preeminent local mover-and-shaker for the “progressive” agenda.  No idea may be good enough unless it comes from him.  And we also know that Ms. Vella is up for re-election this November, and it is in her political interest to take credit for any police reforms that Council eventually enacts.  She doesn’t just take part in protest marches; she also writes the rules of engagement.

Perhaps we are, as usual, being cynical.  But if you asked us who we would prefer to perform the role of Alameda police chief – Malia Vella and John Knox White or Paul Rolleri – well, we don’t have to think too long before we can give you an answer.  And we suspect others would come to the same conclusion.  We’ll leave you with this story told by Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft at the June 16 meeting:

The Mayor decided to convene a forum at which local young people would tell police officers, face to face, about their experiences with law enforcement.  In addition to the police union president, two Alameda cops attended.  And so did Chief Rolleri.

The facilitators for the forum were the Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Thompson of the Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, and Regina Jackson, president of the Oakland Police Commission, the group that recently engineered the dismissal of Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.  The youth aired their grievances, and one of them tearfully lamented that she was afraid even to be in the same room with police officers.  We’ll let Mayor Ashcraft pick it up from there:

At that point the Chief spoke up and said it breaks his heart to hear her say this.  He said, “This is the last reason I went into police work.  I would never want someone to feel that way.”  And he looked at all of the young people around the table who had been sharing their experiences and said, “I am so sorry to all of you that have had these negative experiences with the police.”

At that point, Miss Regina, the decidedly no-nonsense president of the Oakland Police Commission who was sitting at the opposite end of a long table from me, looked at me and said, “That kind of leadership and accountability for others is rare in police chiefs.” . . .  [S]he asked me, “Do you know how fortunate you are to have him for your chief?” And Reverend Jackie said it is remarkable to have a chief who says he’s sorry and is sincere about it, and she said, “Trust me; I’ve looked into the face of many of them who say ‘Sorry’ and it’s just words.”

If any of our local “progressives” truly supports Ms. Vella and Mr. Knox White taking over the police department because they think Paul Rolleri is such an insensitive clod, have ‘em give “Miss Regina” or “Reverend Jackie” a call.  To us, the real significance of the Council members’ actions is that they have taken interference by elected officials with city management to a new low.  Maybe there ought to be a Charter provision prohibiting something like that.

Sources:

Vella-Oddie motion: 2020-06-16 Motion by Vella & DK

 

About Robert Sullwold

Partner, Sullwold & Hughes Specializes in investment litigation
This entry was posted in City Hall and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Hail to the chiefs

  1. Marilyn Alwan says:

    What is the City’s website?

    >

  2. Jim says:

    This council also removed the Open Government Commission’s authority. This is more overreach!

  3. Trish Herrera Spencer says:

    The City of Alameda needs a civilian police oversight committee. There are different models. Here’s the ballot initiative language for the formation of Oakland’s civilian police oversight commission, which is referenced in this article.
    “Measure 86333
    Measure__. Shall Oakland’s City Charter be amended to establish: (1) a Police Commission of civilian commissioners to oversee the Police Department by reviewing and proposing changes to Department policies and procedures, requiring the Mayor to appoint any new Chief of Police from a list of candidates provided by the Commission, and having the authority to terminate the Chief of Police for cause; and (2) a Community Police Review Agency to investigate complaints of police misconduct and recommend discipline?”
    https://www.oaklandca.gov/boards-commissions/police-commission

    • JRB says:

      Trish, we have seen you go around various social media platforms with this comment, and in addition, often taking credit for being the first to have proposed this idea back in 2017 but you were pushed back by the progressive members of city council. Some could say you are airbrushing history by repackaging what actually took place to fit today’s climate. This post does a rather good job explaining:

      https://laurendo.wordpress.com/2020/06/09/crime-stopper/

      • David says:

        The reason Trish’s proposal didn’t gain traction was simply because she wasn’t part of the club that is self-perceived to be running things. She was elected from outside of our local Tammany Hall circle, and nothing she proposed would have gained any favor with the Tammany Hall insiders, or Tammany Hall clacquers who run local blogs.

  4. Trish Herrera Spencer says:

    I’m not sure why some post and hide behind using initials only and not real names.

    However, having a citizen police oversight committee is a best practice and when I was mayor I did a referral (request) to City Council Nov. 20, 2017 asking City Council to, “Consider creating a Police and Crime Citizen Oversight Advisory Committee. The purpose would be to provide vision, guidance and oversight to the delivery of police services in our City. Through its members, the Committee will facilitate communication and develop a mutual understanding of roles and expectations between the community and our City Police. This highly collaborative partnership will optimize police resources in our City by providing thoughtful insight into the safety and security needs of our diverse community and by monitoring police activity in our City,” as urgent and important, set on City Council agenda Dec. 5, 2017, Item 9B.
    https://alameda.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3218383&GUID=935F3A43-B6BF-45F7-90AA-13C2CFE48136

    Per the Minutes of the Dec. 5, 2017 City Council meeting (pages 22-25), City Council denied my request.
    “Councilmember Matarrese stated that he does not support an oversight committee; the Council is the oversight committee; issues can be discussed with the City Manager; that he would not want to relinquish his Councilmember role of dealing with said issues.
    Councilmember Oddie … read from an email Council received regarding the matter; stated the Police Department is responsible for oversight; the City Manager reports directly to Council; the City is small enough to react quickly; discussed racial profiling and a recent neighborhood meeting; stated that he has not seen data showing there is a profiling issue; he is not sure the committee is needed at this point.
    Vice Mayor Vella stated … she does not have enough information on the issue; stated the City did have a Police Commission at one point in the early 1900s, which was in the City Charter and decided upon by the voters; discussed the historic information and suggested it be reviewed prior to forming a committee.
    Councilmember Ezzy Ashcraft stated the City has an outstanding Police Department; discussed the current police climate; stated that she does not see a need for the committee.”

    I still support this.

    • JRB says:

      Your proposal came at a time when Alamedans were perceiving a rise in crime, when there was a noticeable number of break-ins and thefts happening around the island. The full name of your proposal was “Police and Crime Citizens Oversight Advisory Committee.”

      Notice the “crime” part.

      Your oversight idea was primarily about getting tougher on crime, not about what is happening today. Yet you are attempting to repackage this idea into an antithesis of itself to capitalize on today’s climate, and I find that troubling.

      Here are the key quotes by Rasheed Shabazz, in the correspondence section of the same link you provided:

      “Since the motivation for this committee appears to be based on a perceived increase of crime in Alameda…”

      “If this proposal was for Police Oversight Committee, or if this Committee was being assembled to address racial profiling or bias-based policing, I would likely ask you to support this; however, as it is written, this looks like it would be a fear-based citizens council that could contribute to racial profiling.”

      https://alameda.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=5675806&GUID=93536749-7D7C-46FE-B700-3EB931D63A3E

      So there’s a reason why your proposal did not gain traction. I believe most people would fully support some kind of police oversight committee that seeks to combat bias-based policing, but that was not the motivation for the 2017 proposal.

  5. Trish Herrera Spencer says:

    This incident occurred in 2012, prior to me being mayor, but was settled by City Council while I was mayor. “The city will pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who spent four months in a rehabilitation facility after an Alameda police sergeant allegedly struck him multiple times with a baton while arresting him. The City Council approved settling the lawsuit with Jeffrey Navarro, whose attorney described as mentally and physically handicapped, during a closed session on Tuesday.”
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.mercurynews.com/2015/05/06/alameda-city-settles-lawsuit-over-police-arrest/amp/?fbclid=IwAR0vUOUs6WE13dIEZ0vmPOZJu8d6I7DpmyxaQwrMp4Z-jgA9H5MhcYfVPiY

    • WD says:

      Trish Spencer, isn’t that the mayor who’s husband was pulled over for DUI? Was that APD harassment too?
      How much wasted money has there been on city managers fired or paid to leave?
      Other department heads hired from bankrupt cities like Stockton and Vallejo!
      Vella and Oddie cost us a million dollars paying off Jill Keimach. And then the AFD chief already gone too?
      Alameda council bought a house for Debra Kurita, forgave the loan when she left.
      Ann Marie Gallant was paid to leave, sued the city. A four year lawsuit.
      These are city council bad hires!
      Rolleri on the otherhand grew up in Alameda, came up thru the ranks over 29 years service at APD.
      Clearly the city council needs better public oversight.
      Clearly a couple members need to go. Vella in November. Oddie already slipped back in on a technicality last election.

  6. Paul Foreman says:

    I can’t comment on whether there was a “cover up” since I do not have access to the communications between the Chief and Ms. Vella and Mr. Knox-White, although it would have been helpful if Mr. Sullwold had spoken to them in order to get the details behind their complaint. However, I find myself in strong disagreement with Mr. Sullwold’s criticism of their budget motion concerning the police.

    I am of the view that the Chief was entirely out of line in announcing that the police would not be responding to mental health evaluation calls. This is not a change in procedures or rules but a significant change in policy that has enormous public health and safety consequences and should not have been done by the Chief or even by the City Manager. I fully support having Alameda County Mental Health take over this responsibility and understand that it is going to do so soon, but you don’t just pull the rug out from under this vital service before an alternate provider is in place.
    Mr. Knox-White felt blindsided. So did I!

    Notwithstanding my disagreement with Chief Rolleri’s actions above, I believe that he is doing a very good job for us and that we need to be understanding of the tremendous pressure he has been under for the last several weeks.

    Mr. Sullwold states that the Ms. Vella and Mr. Knox-White “persuaded” Council to support their motion. The fact is that the motion was passed unanimously by a Council that rarely agrees on any significant issue. Thus, referring to the introduction of this motion as a “hijacking” is inappropriate.

    Freezing hiring and policy/procedure changes in this crises situation was exactly the right thing to do. One of the biggest dangers when a government is faced with a real crises is over-reaction. The freeze is not an attack on the Chief, nor is it a surrender to the ultra left, it is simply pausing, taking a deep breath, and then attacking the problem in a calm and measured way with full public participation.

    I campaigned against Ms. Vella in 2016 and was the treasurer of a PAC that campaigned against Mr. Knox-White in 2018. My policy disagreements with them have not gone away, but neither has my ability to objectively evaluate their actions and to have no hesitancy in supporting them when I think they are right.

  7. Willaim says:

    As long as Vella is on the Council, we will have problems. Why not simply check in with Rob Bonta to see what he wants, so that Vella doesn’t have to do it for us? Vella did some inappropriate things, yet she seems to feel she has the approval to do what she wants. We better watch out.

  8. Maria L. says:

    Have Malia Vella and Jim Oddie ever apologized for breaking the law? Didn’t the Alameda County Grand Jury find them guilty of violating the city charter. At least the police chief apologized for perceived civil liberties violations by other police officers. Vella has lost credibility with the community, even the people who see themselves as progressives.

  9. Julie says:

    No wonder! I was walking on Park St and walked up to the post office. I saw a line of people waiting to wash their hair and bodies at the water spicket between the buildings. They didn’t appear rushed or embarrassed as pedestrians strolled by them.
    This will only get worse!

  10. D. Silva says:

    It gets very tiring to constantly read, “Mr. Knox White” or is that his last name? Because if it’s not, then let’s just call him Mr. White.

  11. Nichole G says:

    Chief Rolleri was THE ONLY person with INTEGRITY who called for an outside investigation when these two broke the law and they have clearly had it out for him ever since… They were found GUILTY. Can someone explain why the hell these two idiots are still council members?? This is ridiculous!! The citizens of this town have no idea how good they have it here. We have a damn good Police Department who has been stretched thin for too long… City Officials and City Council should back the Police Chief instead of publicly chastising him and or trying to limit his abilities to get the job done!! Paul does not deserve this and neither does the entire Police Department. You can’t put a hiring freeze in place and expect the Police to handle every little call for service. Alameda Police go and beyond compared to any Police Department in the entire Bay Area. Taking away funding from the Police is like taking fire hoses away from the Fire Department yet expecting them to handle a 4 alarm fire. These two council members need to be replaced, and so do a few other City officials!

  12. Craig Mack says:

    There are a ton of citizens in alameda who are spoiled, entitled, lack a sense of reality and are RACIST. They call APD constantly with the same bs , ( my kid won’t get up for school, my neighbors bbq pit is getting smoke in my unit, there’s a Black or Hispanic guy that doesn’t belong in my neighborhood and is suspicious, my credit card was used and I have no idea by who, there are kids from “ over the bridge” riding bikes in the street). Point is, other agencies don’t respond to those types of calls because they’re NOT police related. Be a parent, close your window so the smoke doesn’t bother you or talk to your neighbor or landlord, call your credit card company and figure it out and just being unknown and a minority on your street is not a reason to call apd, lastly kids from “ over the bridge???” Just stop. Lastly those so outraged at groups not wearing masks at parks or the beaches, tons of white people all over alameda in groups with no masks and no calls on them. Now all these fake ass white people want to claim their outraged. Just stop it. The council gets flooded with daily emails from the sniveling, whining, entitled demanding police do something. Chief Rolleri May not be perfect and honestly his flaw is bending over backwards to provide the same level of police services that were provided when the PD had over 100 officers. You want to defund the PD?? Guess what, you can’t get the same level of services with 70 officers and even more bs calls coming in. How does a council member get found guilty of a crime and there’s no outrage for these public officials still in office? The CM has to do what council says so he’s got no backbone to stand up for what’s right. For once I’d like to see a politician say what is right or wrong and not just placate the masses for votes. Malia, get your criminal ass off the council and quit trying to ruin the PD. You didn’t mind getting the PD support when your ass needed votes. Now it’s not popular , you’ve jumped ship. Shocking. Wake up, do things need to change, of course they do. But I’m guessing APD is back to responding to the “ Karen calls “ and other bs cuz council didn’t like the flood of emails from the helpless citizens who don’t want to go public but truly want APD responding to same bs calls as usual. You want true change, have honest meaningful dialogue and be practical about the demands and mission of the police department. Lastly, how does ALameda Fire have more personnel than the police department ?? You should be shamed of yourselves. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!

    • Nichole G says:

      Yessssssss 1000%!!!!! You hit every nail on the head! Great response!

    • I stand by APD says:

      Thank you! Couldn’t have said it any better! Alameda residents WE NEED TO VOTE and take it seriously this year. Vote Vella, Oddie, Knox-White OUT!

  13. Jim says:

    And let’s not forget the essence of this blog post. The charter prohibits council members from interfering with the work of city departments. It is interference again! They are not allowed to tell the police chief how to run his department, unless they first want to pass an ordinance changing practices. There would need to be public hearings on the matter.

  14. Bill Garvine says:

    Ms. Vella has already proven herself to be an “elected” who is willing to violate the city charter and her oath of office. Why in the world would we want such a corrupt person in charge of law enforcement in our city. While I favor appropriate reforms that come from the community and the department, then to the council, her previous violations of the public trust should mandate “back seat status” on this departmental matter.

    Mr. Knox-White seems to be a nice enough young man and a caring representative, but his role is policy period! Stay in your arena, John, please. If not you’ll appear to be another Alameda local elected who’s out to “use” your position to gain favor with groups that can help piggyback you into a full-time, salaried “higher level”political position, like some before you have done and some sitting beside have ambitions to do.

    Council members, please remember to temper your egos. You could do real harm here, and for one or two of you veteran council members (you know who you are), you could once again harm, in even more significant fashion than you did a few years ago, Alameda.

    • JRB says:

      What this post lacks in substance and facts, makes up for with bluster. While Ms. Vella certainly could have used better judgment, she did not violate anything. “While the City of Alameda agrees with [the grand jury] finding, it is important to point out that the City’s independent investigator concluded that one Council Member, not two, violated the City Charter. Additionally, the City further recognizes the grand jury’s conclusion that the conduct at issue, even if violative of the City Charter, does not rise to the level of ‘willful or corrupt misconduct in office’ necessitating removal from Office.”

      As for what the city council can or cannot do vis-a-vis the police department, the City Charter has the following to say:
      Sec. 7-2. The City Manager shall have the power and it shall be his or her
      duty:
      (A) To administer and execute policies and undertakings formulated by the Council.
      (H) To see that all contracts and franchises made under his or her jurisdiction or that of
      the Council are faithfully performed, and to report all violations thereof to the
      Council.
      (O) To formulate rules and regulations for officers and employees under his or her
      jurisdiction.

      In other words, the council is the de-facto oversight committee for the police department, and carries a lot of power through section 7-2 Part A, and can effect actions through the city manager, who is the boss of the police chief.

    • Bill Garvine says:

      I stand corrected. My apologies to Mr. Knox White in particular, who took the time to kindly enlighten me and shared this relevant comment with me: “Council’s only action was to say that significant changes in the direction of policing policy in Alameda need to come to the Council for public discussion so that our community and their elected policy representatives can provide input and confirm major shifts in how Alameda enacts public policy. We’re not getting into day-to-day administration issues.” I acted with haste and regret doing so. Bill Garvine

  15. bayfarm says:

    Vella is a completely unhinged, far-left activist. Look at her twitter, regurgitating extremist and marxist language verbatim from the other popular far-left, Socialists and cultural marxists. These people do not even understand half the garbage they spew. They claim to fight for equality and justice but they really are fighting for authoritarianism and racist government. Alameda has fallen and it will only get worse. More people need to wake up to this overt Marxism.

    • JRB says:

      Have you finished venting yet? Are you intimidated by an Asian woman in a position of leadership promoting progressive ideals, so that’s why you’re throwing up all these fear-based derogatory terms? I personally think Ms. Vella is doing a great job and is a very engaged public servant who has helped elevate the otherwise underserved constituents of West End Alameda. She had a misstep with the fire chief situation that I’m sure she would’ve done differently if she had to do it all over again, but that will be stacked against all the accomplishments she’s made for the city. For these reasons, she is already considered a shoo-in to win re-election, and your hyperbolic and inflammatory remarks will only serve to discredit any real criticisms that could be made about Ms. Vella.

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