Wanted to make sure I addressed this before I got wrapped up in something else and I forgot. So during public comment someone threw out the number $2 million per year in savings if the City were to outsource the Fire Department to the County. Eventually after public comment wound down, City Manager John Russo decides to address some misstatements that night. I’m only going to write about a few pieces of what he said because at one point John Russo built up a full head of steam and just kept rattling through item after item. The first was the statement by Doug deHaan when he claimed that staff declared that Measure C was a “cure all.” John Russo said that they never did and that was not true.
In fact, Doug deHaan got into a bit of a back and forth with Marie Gilmore about Measure C where he claimed that she didn’t understand what Measure C was supposed to do, which I think is ironic because it was clear from Tuesday night’s meeting that Doug deHaan was confused about some fairly simple concepts and had to be corrected numerous times.
But back to John Russo, who then goes after the whole $2 million savings to outsource the Fire Department. This was something that a commenter had cited during his public comment period, claiming that it was “all over the papers.” John Russo, who had earlier pointed out that while some people were generally misinformed, some people were deliberately passing on bad information for reasons that he left up to the audience to decide.
John Russo then notes that if people voted against Measure C in order to force the City to outsource Fire services, what they did was actually make it nearly impossible for the City to meaningfully consider outsourcing Fire services to the County because the money in Measure C would have given the City the funds to retrofit and bring up to code the Fire Houses to the level it would need to be at in order for the County to take over services. In other words, as Alameda’s Fire infrastructure and equipment stands now, the County wouldn’t take over.
Brief digression, at the end of this meeting Councilmember Doug deHaan again brings up the subject of the 10% “rule of thumb” savings promised by the Alameda County Fire Department Chief, Sheldon Gilbert, saying that he hoped that the Chief wasn’t “fiscally unresponsible” yeah he said unresponsible that’s not a typo. Of course John Russo then points out that the Chief is retiring. Actually the Chief announced his retirement on May 23 with a final date of July 31. Just yesterday there were reports that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors had appointment a replacement because the date was moved up to Tuesday. John Russo adds the little tidbit that the Chief is only 47 years old and just retired — clearly a subtle implication that there is something more to the “retirement” than a desire “to pursue other career objectives and interests.” Given that this was pretty big news about Sheldon Gilbert announcing his retirement weeks ago, it’s rather sad that an elected official can’t even be bothered to keep up with local news.
John Russo reiterates the problem of Alameda not having the capital funds to bring the equipment and infrastructure up to the level it would need to be at in order to hand over to the County, which Doug deHaan seems to ignore by pointing to Newark and saying that they have done it. Which of course doesn’t address the infrastructure issue, but who cares about pesky details like those that would effect the whole idea of outsourcing to the county.
To top it off John Russo also points out that the $2 million in savings to outsource to the County has been discredited and was a number that was created by a blogger who brought it up at a Chamber of Commerce meeting and when asked to substantiate it, he could not.
In a grand flourish, he then adds that it seems odd that people would be so willing to give over control of a key service in the City to an entity that is in just as much trouble — if not more so — than Alameda to the tune of a $90+ million deficit. Burn! He then reminds everyone that elected officials also run the County too and might possibly, one day, decide that in order to raise revenue they might raise the fees on the cities that they provide public safety services too because, well, they can. He disputes the notion that somehow outsourcing to the County insulates Alameda from rising costs.
During the grand Russo speech, it was pretty obvious that John Russo had been biting his tongue throughout the whole meeting — perhaps even through the whole Measure C campaign itself — just waiting when he could offload every single thing he was thinking while people were talking and presenting “facts” that were more fabrication than anything else.
Did I mention that this meeting should be required of everyone who ever wants to chime in anything about the City’s budget?
I was going to write about the post retirement benefits breakdown by John Russo in this post, but that will need to be for another day, as a reminder, in case you missed it in yesterday’s post. City Manager John Russo has indicated that he plans to restart negotiations with City bargaining units this summer. To further clarify — as someone pointed out to me on Facebook — it’s not just bargaining units, it’s public safety bargaining units. You know, the public safety bargaining units that some folks thought were off the hook for a while and that last year’s contract was some political kick back. Yeah, those bargaining units will be expected to give up more concessions. That’s pretty much where John Russo stopped since he said he didn’t want to negotiate in public.