Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 23, 2009

Total ellipsis of the heart

Filed under: Alameda, Errata — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 7:00 am

There is this punctuation thing in the English language that allows, when you are deliberately omitting text or sections of text taken from somewhere else, you to indicate to your reader that you are omitting text or sections of text.   I find this highly useful in order to provide transparency to my readers when I am quoting somebody or something.

This neat little device is called an ellipsis.  It looks like this:

If I were to say it outloud, “dot dot dot.”   In morse code, the three dots stand in place of the letter “S.”  The reason why we use an ellipsis, according to wikipedia is:

The use of ellipses can either mislead or clarify, and the reader must rely on the good intentions of the writer who uses it. An example of this ambiguity is “She went to…school.” In this sentence, “…” might represent the word “elementary.” Omission of part of a quoted sentence without indication by an ellipsis (or bracketed text); e.g., “She went to school.” as opposed to “She went to Broadmoor Elementary school.” would mislead the readers[emphasis added]

See my three dots at the end indicate that there is more to this text than I have excerpted. 

Why, you may be asking, am I going on and on about ellipses?   Remember that pesky press release that indicated that:

…City leaders have refused to acknowledge the bankruptcy possibility. But an email – leaked to community leaders and sent to firefighters by the Alameda Fire Chief – confirmed last week that “the City (is) facing bankruptcy in as little as 36-48 months.” The Chief acknowledged the temporary closure of fire stations, on a rotating basis, starts Jan. 26….

More importantly, this line:

“the City (is) facing bankruptcy in as little as 36-48 months.”

Which would indicate that the line was directly excerpted from the Fire Chief’s email without any omissions or deletions, no ellipsis, except for the additional “is” which is placed in parentheses ( ) which I suppose is meant to clean up or clarify the grammar.   Although, grammar nerds will note that the appropriate punctuation would have been brackets [ ].

But alas, if you thought that was the whole shabang, you would be sadly, sadly mistaken.  Here is the paragraph the text was excerpted from:

…Setting aside history, the current economic situation (local, state and federal) is what is forcing this move.   If the City does not adjust spending, it would  be facing bankruptcy in as little as 36 – 48 months.  If that were to happen the impact to the Department and its members would be much worse than temporary brownouts… [originial emphasis]

Which means that this is how Save Our City Alameda should have written that section of the press release:

“…the City… (is) [is] facing bankruptcy in as little as 36-48 months…”

Although the use of the “is” is not appropriate since the purpose of adding clarifying brackets is not to change the meaning of someone’s words, but rather to clarify.   So why would you make such an omission to completely change the content and context of the initial email?  After all, the email is public record, someone is bound to find a copy of it.   It’s pretty unscrupulous, but I guess politics is politics?  Here’s the thing though, that would be fine, but credibility is important as well.   If you lose credibility with antics like this, what is left?

But putting this aside, let’s talk about the spectre of bankruptcy, as mentioned in the Fire Chief’s email.   Personally, no offense to the Fire Chief, but that was a minor f-up.  I get what he was trying to do, he was trying to put it in perspective for his disgruntled staff who have been apparently worked themselves up into such a tizzy that they are doing robocallsto residents.   Which, considering that everyone else is cutting back, perhaps spending the ducats for robocalls maybe isn’t the best use of firefighter PAC funds, but I digress.

Anyway, I see that the Chief was probably trying to say to his staff, “Hey look, let’s just do this brownout thing because it could be worse, if we continue pressing on down this line to the point where we bankrupt the City because of our requests and lack of flexibility, we could end up like the folks up in Vallejo who are left with their contracts in jeopardy and in front of a bankruptcy court.”  

More than likely, the Chief misused the term “bankruptcy” and meant something much more complex.  Like draining our general fund reserves.   Because when a city has reserves to tap into, you aren’t in much danger of going bankrupt.   The question that the City Council was faced with: do we tap into our general fund reserves to fund on-going operating services costs such as this, or do we cut back in lean times.   The answer was, cut back.   We all are cutting back these days.   Our businesses are cutting back, we are cutting back in our household budgets, our government is cutting back…no one is or should be exempt from the current hardships the country and the world is facing.  Not even our firefighters.

Even with that minor f-up, all in all the entire email was more of a rallying cry from the captain to his crew to accept the realities and understand that these challenges are facing everyone.   I’ll leave you all with the entire email.  Unedited.

To All Members,

After months of waiting, it is now clear that brown outs will begin later this month.  We have been anticipating that brown outs would occur ever since the 2008/09 was adopted in June of 2008.  We just weren’t sure when.  There was hope that Proposition P would make up the difference.  It is now evident that Prop P will not generate enough money this year to make up the difference.  It is helping to stave off further cuts. 

I know there is a lot of disappointment that it has become necessary to implement brownouts.  Some probably think it could have been avoided or should have been avoided.  Those feelings are further complicated and felt more deeply by the long history of cuts and financial turmoil that always affect the Department.  I know there are many factors at play and it is hard to sort it all out.  However, at this point in time, the adopted budget is the budget. 

Setting aside history, the current economic situation (local, state and federal) is what is forcing this move.   If the City does not adjust spending, it would  be facing bankruptcy in as little as 36 – 48 months.  If that were to happen the impact to the Department and its members would be much worse than temporary brownouts.

By coincidence, last week just before the Council meeting, I received a phone call from a fire captain in the SAC Valley area.  His department has been through this.  He told me that from their experience we either do the brownouts now or face lay offs later.  We are not alone in this.

While we have been making an argument for the past year to hire personnel to fill the unfunded positions, right now it is a blessing that those positions were not filled.  As it is, we are able to make adjustments by reducing overtime.  If those positions had been filled, we would be facing lay offs.

Brownouts are expected to begin on January 26, 2009. We are working on an implementation plan to have as little impact on our members and on service levels as possible.  We intend to role this plan out later this week. In a nut shell, when staffing is at 27 or better, everything will remain staffed.  When staffing is at 25 or 26, 2794 will be closed.  When staffing is at 24, 2772 will be closed.  There will never be more than one unit browned out at a time.  We are not changing our initial response to fires.  On days that the truck is closed, we will add an engine to first alarm assignments to maintain an 18 person response.

We will get through this.  Looking at historical data, the impact to the citizens will be minimal.  I am not saying there is “no” impact.  We are requesting more data to further understand the potential impacts.  There will be an impact on the Department, as well.  For one, you will be busier.  The same call volume is spread across one less unit.  There will be impacts on an already busy schedule for training and other programs.  Our challenge remains to do the best, and deliver the best service we can with the resources we have.   The Alameda Fire Department has always served this community with pride and excellence.  You can take even more pride in knowing you are continuing to give your best even when faced with a company closure.  The community will notice and appreciate your commitment to serving them.  Many of whom are having to dig deeper into their pockets to keep us all employed.  I am grateful that we are able to accomplish this adjustment without any loss of jobs, pay or benefits.  This is way better than many people are experiencing.

Thank you for your service in these tough times.

Chief Kapler

David A. Kapler
Fire Chief
Alameda Fire Department
1300 Park St.
Alameda, CA  94501
(510) 337-2100

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48 Comments

  1. While I appreciate your in depth work on this topic, I can’t get over the notion that “facing bankruptcy within 36-48 months” is even relevant.

    If the time frame were 6-8 months there might be cause for concern (assuming you believed everything else spewing from the source). But 36-48 months is a full business lifecycle plus….

    Comment by Edmundo Delmundo — January 23, 2009 @ 7:58 am

  2. Nice Bonnie Tyler reference… Exceptional!

    Comment by Neal_J — January 23, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  3. Lauren just you would have included the Bonnie Taylor classic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=840B27zYfOk

    On a more serious point, regarding the Chief’s quote, It appears to me that he was trying to point if we continued to keep the current spending levels this is where the City would be at the end of that time period. I think that, Firefighters are over stating their case and other groups are using it to their advantage. Edmundo is correct about 36-48 months that is a lifetime in the economy, just think what the experts thought three years ago about housing, investing in the stock market or retirement plans.

    Have a great weekend.

    Comment by JohnO — January 23, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  4. I’m shocked. Shocked and amazed. David Howard lie? Who would have thunk.

    Comment by notadave — January 23, 2009 @ 10:06 am

  5. I think he’s just an attention-seeker. Should be Dave our City Alameda.

    Comment by BC — January 23, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  6. [...] clearer to the signers of the SOC!A proposal that there’s no “there” there. This group is making up their own facts, pretending to present a vision, while admitting they do not have one, and attending public [...]

    Pingback by Stop, Drop and Roll — January 23, 2009 @ 12:30 pm

  7. SOCA makes some good points, but there is also a lot of hyperbole. Alameda has some deep financial problems that need to be addressed. It’s tax base is limited and mainly depends on residential property taxes. Property owners are tapped out and property values are decreasing. Public safety costs are escalating, mainly due to post-retirement obligations, and threaten to swallow all other city services.

    The question that I have for our city officials is, “How do you plan on avoiding bankruptcy?” Will it be by cutting costs? Raising taxes? Cutting services? How are we going to make ends meet so that we do not have to declare bankruptcy?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 23, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

  8. I don’t think our city has the amount of unrestricted funds it needs to maintain services, which is already clear. How can we settle possible lawsuits re: APT and others.

    We are in deep financial trouble – I 2nd the question in post #7

    Comment by David Kirwin — January 23, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  9. I’m sorry, ANT, just what good points has SOCA made without having to resort to lies.

    Regarding lawsuits, that’s what insurance is for.

    Comment by notadave — January 23, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

  10. #9
    “I’m sorry, ANT, just what good points has SOCA made without having to resort to lies.”

    The city is in deep financial trouble.

    SunCal may not be the best answer to development at the NAS.

    I’m not going to defend each statement made by SOCA, but they do provide a counterpoint. Their statements are no more disingenuous than that of Alameda firefighters who scream that “YOUR SAFETY IS IN JEOPARDY!”

    http://www.savealamedafirehouses.com/

    At least SOCA members are not city employees.

    It is politics and most Alamedans are smart enough to recognize hyperbole. I really do not understand the level of anger. Too much of this is based upon who hates whom. No one has a monopoly on the truth. The discussion is good. Just let events unfold and trust the process.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 23, 2009 @ 8:54 pm

  11. ANT: I think you bring up good questions about what the City plans on doing in order to avoid bankruptcy. And from one of the last few City Council meetings about the budget, I think the City Council is concerned about this too because they mentioned that we can’t just be relieved to have made it through one year, but rather what are we going to do in subsquent years. I think that issue is an important one to discuss.

    However, that is an entirely different discussion than the one that SOCA is trying to raise. By muddying the waters and trying to connect it with Alameda Point and their own Land Trust plan the discussion gets lost in what you simply dismiss as “hyperbole.”

    Hyperbole is what the Firefighters Union is playing with. They are putting out the general and correct facts, but then dressing it up with fanciful language. Hyperbole.

    What SOCA is doing (and what their signers are endorsing and being tied to) is out and out misrepresentation.

    Here is what you wrote earlier:

    SOCA makes some good points, but there is also a lot of hyperbole. Alameda has some deep financial problems that need to be addressed. It’s tax base is limited and mainly depends on residential property taxes. Property owners are tapped out and property values are decreasing. Public safety costs are escalating, mainly due to post-retirement obligations, and threaten to swallow all other city services.

    Here is what you wrote, SOCAized:

    And Alameda NayTiff said: “SOCA makes a lot of hyperbole. Alameda['s] tax base is limited. Public safety costs are escalating due to post-retirement obligations, and threaten to swallow all other city services.

    See how that totally changes the intent of what you had written. That’s not politics. That’s disingenuous and deceptive.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 24, 2009 @ 6:48 am

  12. JKW say on his blog:
    “Lost, or more likely ignored or even hidden, in their (SOCA) discussion is the fact that the city has a binding legal agreement with SunCal to develop a plan for Alameda Point. In order for the city to reconsider some form of a land trust, a concept that people well versed in these issues say is extremely unlikely for Alameda Point, the city would need to break this contract resulting in tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits. An ironic point lost on a group using existing lawsuits against the city as their rallying cry.”

    Is JKW trying to show up your nemesis Howard in who can distort the truth to a greater degree? Alameda doesn’t have to develop a plan with SunCal – Thru the ENA they are given a period of time in which THEY have to develop a plan that works for us, and during that short period of time – their window of opportunity – Alameda agrees not to enter into negotiations for someone else’s plan

    JKW – I would expect you to be aware of the VAST difference between the existing ENA (exclusive bargaining agreement) that our City has with SunCal, (which expires in July 2010) and the wise and proactive gathering of acceptable ideas and fact finding for ways to use the Point to make Alameda more sustainable, like creating industrial jobs that can support Alameda residents.

    It has been said many times, and development staff has full knowledge that they should be looking for “Plan B” now, so they are not caught flat-footed again like when APCP plans ended. Looking into ‘Plan B’s’, and gathering information on better ideas, does not have to violate the present ‘ENA’. The city should be fact-finding. We just can’t negotiate an alternative agreement until July 2010, unless SunCal drops out after they fail to win a Measure “A” exemption in November for their over-scaled, wasteful development plan.

    Suncal has to by then, (7/2010) find a plan that works for the city staff, for Sun Cal, for DE Shaw (their ‘hedge-fund’ hope for financial backing); it has to be a plan that is either Measure “A” compliant, or has, by public initiative, been put on a public ballot and approved by voters, (Alamedans aren’t that crazy); and the plan would have also had an approved EIR, and must have negotiated a DDA with the City that spells out all financial considerations of the plan – all within 18 months. And who would vote in favor of a plan before we know the financial agreement?

    As we watch the deepening city debt, (we will see service cuts and more tax proposals), and after watching City Development Dept Staff improperly represent the cost of the Catullus ‘Alameda Landing’ project as only costing the city “$26 M”, when in fact it is over twice that, AND requires the City to turn over title to all the “Alameda Landing” land to Catullus at no cost (Catullus estimates the value at over $60M after the infrastructure work (that the city bonds to finance) is completed.) Catullus then sells the land (estimated value $60M+) to another department of its parent company for further development.

    After watching deals like that do you think any sane Alamedan would vote to approve a project way to dense for Measure “A” before we know anything about the financial side? Obviously we can’t believe the propaganda from the City Development Dept. Obviously we won’t know the real traffic and financial effects of all the already approved development (like the “Landing”) before we are asked if we want to live with more traffic at the Point. We wouldn’t know the affects of the Northern waterfront developments before we vote, we wouldn’t know the affects of reasonable occupancy of all the presently empty structures in Alameda, and there is an immense amount of empty space currently available in Alameda. We have no idea what traffic would be like even with no additional development, just filling the spaces we have, or that have been approved.

    An ENA is only an ENA until it expires, than it is nothing, and the city will be free to enter into other better negotiations. We just should be working on that better plan – you can call it a back-up plan, but if we don’t learn from the past, we will have to repeat it.

    Comment by David Kirwin — January 24, 2009 @ 8:42 am

  13. Far Away From Wall Street, a Herd Gets Gored

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123276626553612633.html?mod=rss_US_News

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 24, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  14. Lighten up

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 24, 2009 @ 9:34 am

  15. Jack
    I’m joining SOCA today. I can just see the beaches at the Sea plane lagoon with those folks dancing on them.

    Comment by John Pizaili — January 24, 2009 @ 10:07 am

  16. 12. Since you seem to agree that we are legally bound to stay with the process of negotiating with SunCal until July 2010, perhaps that time line should be emphasized as a reference point for dialogue on the options for the Point.

    Also, since you agree that the NEA is binding until that time, I do not see how you can put the comments by JKW in the same category as Howard’s specious b.s.. I take that back. I do see how, and that is because you have an insane vendetta against JKW, but never mind that.

    Even though SunCal is footing the bill for the process, including staff time, there have been posts here calling to cease and desist ASAP before the City incurs greater loses!

    Since Mr. Howard seems to exhibit a great amount of ingenuity, I assume that if there is a suitable land trust option for us out there somewhere, he could verify it in short order, instead of simply arguing that the City refuses to look for one.

    Wouldn’t anybody who really wants a solution exercise due diligence to pursue such a solution, as opposed to simply waging a destructive and disingenuous negative publicity campaign?

    Comment by Mark Irons — January 24, 2009 @ 11:15 am

  17. #13 This article should be forwarded to every city council person and every city employee in the development, redevelopment, whatever department they call it–“working” to get SunCal into Alameda.
    How can anyone think SunCal and D.E. Shaw will see the NAS developed for the benefit of Alamedans?

    Comment by RM — January 24, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

  18. #13 This article should be forwarded to every city council person and every city employee in the development, redevelopment, whatever department they’re in–“working” to get SunCal into Alameda.
    How can anyone think SunCal and D.E. Shaw will see the NAS developed for the benefit of Alamedans?

    Comment by RM — January 24, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

  19. I think everybody is tired of the JKW/DH pissing match. This debate needs to be less personal.

    Comment by Jack B. — January 24, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

  20. # 15
    John, you know there’s no sand at the seaplane lagoon. I think that soca clip was shot on Crown beach in the seventies. You remember, back when everybody in Alameda knew how to chill out. Especially we on the west end.

    Comment by Jack R — January 24, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

  21. #19
    “I think everybody is tired of the JKW/DH pissing match. This debate needs to be less personal.”

    I forget, is John Knox White the good one or is that David Howard?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 25, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

  22. ANT, I don’t think it matters.

    Comment by Jack B. — January 25, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  23. I think everybody is tired of the JKW/DH pissing match. This debate needs to be less personal.

    —————————-

    Each one uses slanted research & biaed out-of-context googling to make their points.

    Each is convinced he is the savior of the town.

    Each is quite arrogant & defensive when criticized.

    Sound like that pissing match won’t end soon…….

    Comment by oracle — January 25, 2009 @ 9:32 pm

  24. RE: #21
    I vote for JKW as the good guy.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — January 26, 2009 @ 1:06 am

  25. I think it matters if you care about city debt ratio, reduction of services for community, further needs for increased property taxes, and the overall reduction of qualities that tend to make Alameda a closer knit friendly neighborhood island.

    For those who want to increase costs for residents, to maximize congestion and transportation delay times, to further the “Manhattanization” dreams and goals of developers, JKW is the obvious choice for ‘good guy’.

    For those that want slow growth (not no growth), mindful development with the goals of our community, who want to limit our city debt, who want to examine city staff policy and the finances to find out what went wrong; then Howard is the ‘good guy’.

    Comment by Island fan — January 26, 2009 @ 6:21 am

  26. For those who encourage the filing of frivolous lawsuits and false crime reports, need to stoop to paparazzi gutter humor to insult people, want to serve low-income families by evicting them, and resort to outright lies to make your point, Howard is also your guy.

    Comment by notadave — January 26, 2009 @ 8:26 am

  27. Is everyone aware that John Knox White is chairman of the Transportation Commission while David Howard is not a public official of any sort? Being in a position of power, you have both the ability to inflict more damage and the responsibility to be accurate, respectful and objective to the public, regardless of whether you like the public or not. Shouldn’t JKW be held to a higher standard of conduct?

    Comment by AD — January 26, 2009 @ 8:49 am

  28. # 27

    No!

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 26, 2009 @ 8:58 am

  29. Higher standard of conduct than David Howard? Let’s not get too ambitious here.

    Comment by BC — January 26, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  30. #26 Well, I was at the Saturday night meeting at the library, where David Howard of SOCA, Domenink Weaver of the Figher Fighters union, George Humphreys of the RAB group (and a few others) spoke.

    I have to say that most of the information given there was really eye opening about contamination at the point, about the number of calls the figher fighters respond to on shorter staff now than in previous years, the reason why our fire department is specifically trained to do emergency paramedic work, etc.

    Kevin Kearney, our city auditor was there, and he questioned some of the figures that the fire fighters’ power point presentation was giving. When he was told that those numbers were given to the fire fighters by the city, he said that they could not be correct. To me, that said that there is a clear disconnect between what information is released to the requesting public and what the truth actually is. As much as the city would like to have the public believe that the decision-making and the budget are transparent and available, I question whether it actually is.

    Kearney actually seemed to be supportive of what was happening in the meeting.

    #27 Maybe if everyone were held to the SAME standard of responsibility, accuracy, objectivity and respectful conduct, there would be a return of “civility” to “civil society.”

    Comment by E T — January 26, 2009 @ 10:18 am

  31. E T:

    Fiduciary
    1) n. Latin meaning “trust.” Refers to a business or person who may act for another with total trust, good faith, and honesty who has the complete confidence and trust of that person. A fiduciary may include a trustee of a trust, a business adviser, attorney, guardian, estate administrator, real estate agent, banker, stockbroker, or title company. The fiduciary has more knowledge and expertise about the matters being handled and is held to a higher standard of conduct and trust than a stranger or a casual businessperson. Conflicts of interest must be avoided where the fiduciary’s interests are not in the best interest of the person who trusts him/her/it. For example: a stockbroker must consider the best investment for the client and not buy or sell on the basis of what brings him/her the highest commission. The best beneficiary’s best interest should be primary even if a fiduciary and beneficiary join together in a business venture. 2) adj. A relationship or situation where someone acts as a fiduciary for another.

    fiduciary
    a person to whom property or power is entrusted for the benefit of another. — fiducial, fiduciary, adj.

    Comment by AD — January 26, 2009 @ 11:24 am

  32. 31: Fine. But a higher standard than David Howard in terms of knowledge, expertise and conduct is a trivial hurdle.

    Comment by BC — January 26, 2009 @ 11:38 am

  33. #31 Well, yes, I understand your definition here, but I don’t understand how that supports what you said in #27; JKW is not really in a fiduciary position.

    I still say that the minimum expectation of the public and officials is the SAME. We cannot ask for a double standard. We must ALL be held to the same level of accountability that renders the common law dictum: ignorance is no excuse.

    Comment by E T — January 26, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

  34. I tend to agree that elected and appointed officials should be held to a higher standard than people who are not in public office, in discussing public issues. I understand that poblic officials, elected and appointed, usually have political opinions (!), but at the same time, I think the public should be able to go before the City Council and any city commission and have some expectation of a fair and reasonable hearing.

    I also think that at a minimum anyone in public office should be held to a standard of courtesy towards the public in all contexts, whether in a public meeting, in a printed commentary or on a blog. I think this is a just a given of civil discourse.

    Comment by DL Morrison — January 26, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  35. ET – JKW was appointed by the mayor – doesn’t that fit the definition provided in post #31?

    Comment by David Kirwin — January 26, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  36. One might argue that appointed volunteers and especially elected public servants should be held to the highest standards, but I can’t see that as any reason to lower the bar for people like Mr. Howard who put themselves in the spot light as some kind of spokesperson with an apparent expectation that he be taken seriously and his opinions be considered to have some veracity.

    It’s different when a concerned citizen writes a letter of distress to the paper complaining about everything under the sun and gets all the facts wrong.

    Comment by Mark Irons — January 26, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

  37. I have reread the email from the Fire Chief.

    Doesn’t anyone find it interesting that the Fire Department isthe only area of Alameda forced to make staff cutbacks?

    But what about City Hall? No one seems to bat an eye at all the city managers we have, or their salaries. No one speaks up about the multiple city attorneys and their salaries. (We don’t need to have a city attorney; we could get by with an attorney on retainer, as other communities do.) No one really speaks up about the huge chunks of change that are paid out to consultants to do what our city staff is paid to do. No one speaks up about having two city halls (which we don’t need). No one talks about the conflict of interest whereby SunCal pays part of the salaries of city staff in the redevelopment agencies. No one, except the fire department, will point out that $50k/annum is wasted on a house next to a fire station that has not been retrofitted (Why is that?!!?).

    No, all of the heat has been put on the Fire Department. Even though there are many more players involved in this budget crisis.

    Interesting…

    Comment by E T — January 26, 2009 @ 5:54 pm

  38. “Doesn’t anyone find it interesting that the Fire Department is the only area of Alameda forced to make staff cutbacks?” I would if that were true, but it isn’t. Most departments have been forced to cutback or freeze positions.

    Comment by notadave — January 26, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

  39. 38. Yes, but we do still have multiple attorneys, when we really don’t need even one. And we have other multiples that we really only need one of, particularly if the one on staff works a full week and, well, works.

    Right?

    Comment by E T — January 26, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

  40. What do most of us know about exactly what any of the people in any of these positions from City Attorney to fire fighters actually do on a day to day basis, and whether their positions are warranted and compensated accordingly? To be honest, damn little. It would seem that all our opinions are to a high degree driven by our personal political orientation to the debate, and that includes me.

    I will yield to the person who backs their opinion with exhaustive detail about why a particular position is or is not in excess, but I will not yield to idle speculation that one city attorney should be enough, just because ET thinks that sounds right. I’m really tired of the speculative B.S..

    Teachers at AUSD recently moved to “roll over” ( i.e. automatically extend without negotiating increases) their existing contract in recognition of the dire financial situation at all levels of funding. I hope the people who bellyache about all the “fat” at AUSD remember that when we have to slash more programs.

    Comment by Mark Irons — January 26, 2009 @ 6:55 pm

  41. Mark Irons you sound like Dick Cheney.

    Comment by So — January 26, 2009 @ 7:18 pm

  42. How many days a month do the firefighters work? Is it true that they get to sleep on the job? (Someone recently told me that the fire stations bought new mattresses.) What percentage of the calls are for fire? Is it true that a fireman drives the ambulance? Is it true that firefighters are not prohibited from holding second jobs? I’ve heard all sorts of rumors and was hoping that someone would know the facts.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 26, 2009 @ 7:25 pm

  43. 40. as to speculative b.s., mr. irons, there really are communities that have one (or none) city attorneys and only one city manager. Alameda is a small charter city, not anything like the city of Oakland in scope.

    Check it out! ;-)

    Comment by E T — January 27, 2009 @ 8:11 am

  44. 41. the Dick Cheney connection is what? I sound cranky? Maybe, but does that negate my having a valid point? About a year ago I posted “G.F.Y.S.” to Dave Kirwin, which WAS like Dick Cheney. I’ve tried to reform since then, but still lose patience with posts which have little or no corroboration for opinions expressed.

    43. Ms./Mr. ET, I’m sure there are communities with one City attorney, or as has previously been described, just a paralegal and a law firm on retainer. But knowing of them doesn’t create justification for endless speculation on what is proper in Alameda. The paralegal system sounds suspect to me, but I can’t offer an informed opinion.

    My point is that speculation without specifics is not that helpful and becomes tiresome as the norm. Everybody has an opinion, but few ever lend any veracity with real knowledge of job functions, so why listen to their speculating on how awful things are supposed run at City Hall? Do you know anything about case loads, etc. between Alameda and these other cities? How many city attorney’s does Oakland have?

    #42 might be a good example of not understanding a job description. ANT, my understanding from a friend who is a fireman on the peninsula is that fire fighters are on duty continuously for 24 hour periods and longer. They are on call and if there are twelve alarms in the middle of the night they get no sleep, if it’s quiet they get to lie down. They do not work 8 hours shifts, like midnight to 8 a.m., but live at the fire house. Does sleeping on the job sound less alarming knowing that?

    Comment by Mark Irons — January 27, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  45. 42. I was hoping you would have responded to 44. by now to let me know your comment on firemen sleeping on the job was in jest but I see no response and in reading the post again, I’m thinking you were serious after all??

    It’s time for the hiatus from blogging I intended to embark on last week. If there is male version of PMS, I think a bad case set in about 24 hours ago and a blog is no place to linger while under the influence.

    Gung Hay Fat Choy, ya’ll.

    Comment by Mark Irons — January 27, 2009 @ 7:18 pm

  46. #45
    The question is serious. I could see why this would have been necessary a century ago, but not in the 21st century. Police, paramedics and doctors have to respond to calls 24/7, but they don’t all need to live in the same house together. Not all cities operate firehouses in this way. Some operate on 12 hour shifts and others on 8 hour shifts. Just because something has always been done a certain way in Alameda doesn’t mean that it can’t or shouldn’t change. Economic reality is going to force changes to take place and something that needs to be examined is the way we provide emergency medical care, ambulance service and fire response.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 27, 2009 @ 7:47 pm

  47. Some may not know that not that long ago, the City of Alameda was beset with lawsuits and the amounts the City was paying out to consultant legal people, not to mention in settlements, was appalling. Suits were backed up and little proactive was being done to prevent them. The City beefed up the City Attorney’s office and the backlog and number of suits were greatly diminished. This saved the City a lot of money, and the salaries were well worth the dimunition of the number and the cost of the suits.

    As to the firefighters, we might consider that a good percentage of them live far outside of our community. The system of having a team on 24 hour duty means the group travels less, works together well and is readily available.

    Besides which, I think when on duty they do other things, like maintaining their equipment, fire inspections, training, etc. I agree that the City of Alameda, just like most jurisdictions, has constructed contracts which have resulted in a lot of long term liabilities for the City it can now not afford. It is going to take a lot of work to successfully negotiate our way out of this problem. These are people who put their lives on the line for our lives and our property, but the City, and they, must find a way to treat both sides fairly and responsibly.

    I have followed the City budget process, and the firefighters are not the only City employees which have been asked to sacrifice – almost every City department has been asked to cut costs and staff positions for the past three years at least.

    In this respect, Alameda is no different than many jurisdictions in California and the Nation. We are in hard times. We appear to have been more prudent than some, but less secure in our revenues than others.

    We have all been called to enter into a new era of shared responsibility for the social and economic health of our community. The papers list a lot of volunteer opportunities; maybe we should all try to commit to doing something that would help out.

    Comment by Kate Quick — January 27, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

  48. Why couldn’t there be 3 8-hour shifts for firehouse workers? Wouldn’t they be better rested and less likely to be injured or otherwise part of an accident? Doen’t CA require OT when working over 8 hr / shift?. With 8-hr shifts they would not have to sleep and cook on the job and the city could save a ton of money. The residentail side of the firehouses could be leased to groups of firemen or converted for community training and emergency supply storage. Most of this country was once protected by volunteer fire crews. Maybe this should be part of a new era of shared responsibility for the social and economic health of our community.

    Comment by PH — January 27, 2009 @ 9:50 pm


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