Test case

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The City of Alameda would “partner” with a company called CityHealth Urgent Care, which runs urgent-care facilities in Oakland and San Leandro, to offer testing for the coronavirus at the Research Park complex at Marina Village.

The site would be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  No appointments would be necessary.

Testing would be free, paid for by insurance for those who had it and by the federal government for those who didn’t.

And, best of all, the results would be available in 15 minutes.

Continue reading

Posted in City Hall, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fed up – and forced out?

By training and experience, Paul Rolleri is a policeman, not a politician.

And that, in the Merry-Go-Round’s view, is why he will no longer be chief of police in Alameda after August 28.

Continue reading

Posted in City Hall | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

“Reform” by referral

If you sat through the nearly five hours of the June 29 Council meeting (or, as we did, watched the entire video), you would be entitled to expect that the next step in Council’s pursuit of “police reform” would be a report, no later than the end of this month, by a subcommittee consisting of Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Councilwoman Malia Vella with recommendations about the “scope and goal” of the process going forward.

That, after all, is the motion Councilman Jim Oddie made, and his colleagues unanimously voted for.

But Vice Mayor John Knox White apparently doesn’t want to wait another two weeks to get the report from the subcommittee and see what his colleagues have come up with.  Likewise, despite his frequent invocation of “engaging the community,” Mr. Knox White apparently feels ready to deliver his own prescriptions for “police reform” without the need for any further citizen input.  So, with the “concurrence” of Mr. Oddie, the Vice Mayor asked City Manager Eric Levitt to schedule a special Council meeting for Tuesday at which the only item on the public agenda will be a referral by the two Councilmen urging Council to adopt an attached resolution.

Continue reading

Posted in City Hall | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Crashing symbols

Those who have been striving to put before Alameda voters a ballot measure repealing Measure A in its entirety – not just its prohibition of multi-family housing but also its restriction on residential density – will get their last chance at Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Ordinarily, the Merry-Go-Round wouldn’t give them much of a chance of success.

Continue reading

Posted in City Hall, Housing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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.

Continue reading

Posted in City Hall | Tagged , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Vision gone viral

For years, the Right Thinkers in town have been working hard to reshape Alameda by encouraging the development of high-end apartment and condominium complexes and townhomes at Alameda Point and along the northern waterfront, and by taking actions designed to force local residents to get rid of their cars and take public transit instead.

Under their “vision,” no more would Alameda be the “City of Homes and Beaches.”  Rather, it would become a model of “Transit-Oriented Development” that would excite envy even among “progressives” in Seattle and Boulder.

Now, it appears that the coronavirus crisis may make it more difficult for the enlightened ones to achieve their goals.  According to recent published reports, experts are predicting that the pandemic will slow, if not kill off altogether, market-rate multi-family residential development in the Bay Area.  Likewise, they’re suggesting that the pandemic will reduce public-transit usage in the region – permanently.

If either of these predictions comes true in Alameda, the successes obtained by the Right Thinkers since their poster boy, current Vice Mayor John Knox White, joined the Planning Board in 2012 may turn out to have been in vain.  Re-wind the clock, Alice:  you’re back in Kansas again.

Continue reading

Posted in Alameda Point, City Hall, Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Keeping ’em on the job

When City Manager Eric Levitt presented his revised Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget last week, the staff report made his priorities clear: “First, the approach to the budget is to limit layoffs. . . .  We anticipate bringing back part-time employees . . . [and] are presenting a budget that does not lay-off any full-time employees at this time. . . .”

That’s good news, to be sure, for those who work for the City of Alameda (and the unions that represent them).  Our municipal employees are certainly better off than many other workers throughout the state:  2.3 million Californians lost their jobs last month, and, as the Los Angeles Times reported Friday, “employment experts fear that many of the job losses could be permanent.”

It remains to be seen, however, whether Alamedans anxious about the City’s finances will have cause to applaud Mr. Levitt’s approach of maintaining full employment for City workers while looking for cost reductions elsewhere.

Continue reading

Posted in Budget, City Hall, Firefighters | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charter follies

Last week, Council met on three consecutive nights to consider the recommendations made by a subcommittee appointed in December 2018 to propose revisions to the City Charter. Indeed, two of the meetings were devoted exclusively to that topic.

Continue reading

Posted in City Hall | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

They like bikes

Last week, as we pedaled behind the new white tricycle along its 14‑mile route across the island, we saw that signs had gone up at the corner of Versailles and Central Avenues announcing that Versailles was “closed to thru traffic.”  The purpose of the auto ban, we later learned from a City press release, was to “provide more space for physical distancing and physical activity for the duration of shelter in place order.”

So yesterday at the end of our ride we decided to take a look for ourselves.

Over the space of the five blocks covered by the embargo, we saw two families riding bikes and another walking the dog.  No one was “social distancing” – but there weren’t enough people on the street to require it anyway.  We suppose that, at least for the three groups we passed, the street closure was fulfilling its purpose.  Still, we wondered why the City had decided to do it in the first place.

Continue reading

Posted in City Hall, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Who’s getting aid from the City

You can tell a lot about elected officials’ priorities – and their politics – when you look at the decisions they make about who is entitled to get financial assistance from the government during the coronavirus crisis.

Take the federal “Paycheck Protection Program,” which offers forgivable loans for small businesses.  According to news reports, the Democratic leadership wanted to make sure that a chunk of the money went to minority- and women-owned businesses; some Republicans wanted to ensure that none of it went to Planned Parenthood.

Both efforts only partially succeeded – but each gave its backers something to brag about to their core supporters.

Today, we’ll look at the decisions made by the Alameda City Council about providing financial assistance for Alameda renters and small business owners during the coronavirus crisis – and what those decisions say about the Council members’ priorities and politics.

Continue reading

Posted in Budget, City Hall | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments