One toke over the line

This is a column about pot.

Now that we’ve got your attention . . .

We are going to discuss today the cannabis ordinance passed by Council in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.  That’s the bait.

Here’s the switch:  we intend to offer the story of the passage of the ordinance as a case study about how our union-friendly Council members pursue their mission of advancing the interests of organized labor.  Thanks to them, unions will have a greater opportunity to organize cannabis workers in Alameda than in any city in the county.   Indeed, it’s possible that every cannabis business that wants to operate here will be required to open its doors to union organizers.

Our readers can judge for themselves whether these Council members are doing the job the people who voted for them – and not just the unions who funded their campaigns – elected them to do.

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Let ’em try to smear her now!

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.

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SB 35: no help for Alameda

SB 35, one of the slew of housing bills recently signed by Governor Brown, has been touted as making it easier for private developers to get approval for projects that include affordable housing.

Maybe so.  But is it likely that the bill actually will lead to the construction of more affordable housing in Alameda?

The Merry-Go-Round doesn’t think so.

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And in other news . . .

The scandal involving Council members Jim Oddie and Malia Vella has been dominating the local news recently, with the result that other stories have gone unreported.

Here are a few of them:

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The strategy for the defense

Attack the accuser.

That’s a standard strategy employed by criminal defense lawyers worried about the weakness of their case.  And it appears to be part of the game plan devised by Alameda firefighters’ union president Jeff DelBono to protect the union’s captive Council members, Malia Vella and Jim Oddie, from the risk of being removed from office for violating the City Charter.

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Vella and Oddie: A case of hubris

The Merry-Go-Round wasn’t really surprised that Councilwoman Malia Vella and her faithful sidekick, Councilman Jim Oddie, didn’t take our advice and push for the selection of a woman or person of color as Alameda’s next fire chief.  After all, we didn’t promise them that such a move would produce votes or money for their next campaigns.

But it did strike us as a little, well, graceless that, after City Manager Jill Keimach announced that she had tapped Salinas fire chief Edmond Rodriguez for the top job in the Alameda fire department, neither Ms. Vella nor Mr. Oddie publicly congratulated Chief Rodriguez on his appointment or Ms. Keimach on her choice.  Both Council members sat mute on the dais as Ms. Keimach disclosed her decision at the October 3 Council meeting, and their Twitter accounts were silent as well.  (Earlier, Ms. Vella, the more frequent tweeter of the two, had posted a laudatory missive – even including a picture of his farewell cake – about retiring Fire Chief Doug Long.)

Instead, it was left to Mayor Trish Spencer to remark on the historic significance of Chief Rodriguez’s selection.  “I am pleased that our City Manager was able to find such a highly qualified candidate for the position,” the Mayor was quoted as saying in the City’s press release.  “I also think it’s notable that he will be our first person of color to serve in this leadership capacity.”

Now, thanks to Dan Borenstein of the East Bay Times, we have an explanation for Ms. Vella’s and Mr. Oddie’s apparent disinterest in diversity:  The two Council members were attempting to strong-arm Ms. Keimach into appointing the candidate designated by the Alameda firefighters’ union – former IAFF Local 689 president Domenick Weaver – as fire chief.  What’s more, Mr. Oddie threatened to get Ms. Keimach fired unless she gave the job to the union’s guy.

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Our next fire chief

So here’s the Merry-Go-Round’s question to the self-proclaimed “progressives” on Council like Vice Mayor Malia Vella and Councilman Jim Oddie:

If you’re truly as committed to the goal of diversity as you tell your supporters you are, what are you doing to get the City to hire a woman, and/or a person of color, as its next fire chief?

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