Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 18, 2010


Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

What makes the whole City branding survey and ensuing work so interesting is the connection that this has with our Interim City Manager, Ann Marie Gallant’s, work in the last city that she led before Alameda.

Let’s put aside the question of whether or not Alameda really needs rebranding for a minute.

So, back in the day when our ICM was the permanent City Manager of a little city called Desert Hot Springs in the Coachella Valley.   Desert Hot Springs is most notable for filing for bankruptcy some years ago (not during Ann Marie Gallant’s term) so you can sort of see why they would want to rebrand the City.    A company named Graphtek was hired to do the branding work according to this story in the Press Enterprise:

Also under discussion is a proposal for a new and radically different city seal and logo. Mike Cheley, CEO of Palm Desert-based Graphtek, unveiled last week a draft logo and seal featuring a water spurt framed by a desert plant, purple mountains and a golden sky.

As part of this effort, the city’s motto ended up being, “California’s Spa City,” it’s trademarked and everything.   For those interested, this was the original presentation by Graphtek with their process for the identity work.   The end result (see logo in the upper left hand corner) is a tad bit different than the initial design that was created.

That’s about all the info I could find about the branding process down in Desert Hot Springs, but here’s where it gets really interesting.   So the company that was selected in Desert Hot Springs also maintains (or hosts) the City of Desert Hot Springs’ website (you can see in the web address that certain pages “live” on the Graphtek server).   This same company was selected by our ICM to perform the same work in Alameda.  The Scope of Work for their contract with the City is fairly vague, but the first few pages appear to be work around redesigning the City’s website.

Of course, what’s a little strange about this contract that it the contract is between the City and “One Eighty Marketing (aka Graphtek)” out of Brisbane, CA.  However Graphtek, according to its website, is based out of Palm Desert.

So here’s the thing, technically this is all on the up and up.  Even though a Request for Proposals was not released for this project, it didn’t need to be because the City Manager has the discretionary authority to expend up to $75,000 without City Council approval.   However, it’s fairly questionable that this work would come just under the threshold at $74,800 for the work.   I mean, how would you know that you wouldn’t need to send it out for RFP?   I guess we should be gratified that it wasn’t $74,999.

Personally, I bet we could have done it cheaper and probably by a local company that is already familiar with Alameda enough to realize that some of the questions used in the survey are pretty lame and not at all indicative of Alameda.

I know that Jack B. does website design, I’m sure he would be able to offer a ballpark cost and while we are on the subject of Alameda based businesses, I can probably think of a half a dozen Alameda companies that could have offered the same services (website and/or identity design) to the City of Alameda that are now being outsourced to a Brisbane/Palm Desert company.    By the way, the Brisbane address in the contract links to a business license for “Graphtech” and not One Eighty Marketing.

I really think it’s a shame that while the City asks us all to “Shop Alameda” they don’t even both to attempt to do the same.

Although based on the initial survey, my guess for the motto the consultants will offer is: “Alameda: we’re an island.”


  1. If we could get the money back in reserves on wasted consultant agreements we would be lending out money to the state and other cities that need it. Why are we doing this and why is an interim CM spending our money this way?

    Comment by DRM — May 18, 2010 @ 9:56 am

  2. Gallant’s grand ideas about throwing money at rebranding make total sense now. It’s no wonder she’s an enemy of transparency.

    Comment by charlie — May 18, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

  3. Is there something wrong with the “Alameda” label now? Aren’t we known as the ‘brigadiere island lost in time?” When did one of our images get characterized as “homogenuous demographics?” Maybe it was from a recycled survey by this Desert Hot Spring firm.

    Comment by Dennis V. — May 18, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

  4. No, no Dennis V. We’re known as “BRIGADOON Island lost in time.” Or sometimes, “Mayberry of the SF Bay.”

    Comment by Linda Hudson — May 18, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

  5. If Mayor Johnson thinks that the ICM walks on water and this is how the ICM is spending (wasting?) our money, do we want Johnson to be our rep on the Board of Supervisors?

    Not hiring local businesses that have every necessary qualification for this work (whether web design or re-branding the City of Alameda) is almost criminal, IMHO. If we’re going to squander tax dollars, let’s at least “act locally.”

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 18, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

  6. @5 … exactly. That’s why I’ve already voted for Wilma Chan!

    Comment by alameda — May 18, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

  7. I liked the first logo – with the agave or whatever – much better: not so busy, sort of lotus-like and serene.

    If anyone would like to foot the bill for my visiting Desert Hot Springs, I will gladly test the waters to make sure the city lives up to its branding. Don’t forget I want a motel with air conditioning.

    That all being said (as facetiously as possible!) … cities are businesses. They are brands. Remember Athens, named after Athena, goddess of Wisdom? Basically Athens was called “Smart people town.” So this is nothing new. Cities have always marketed themselves; they need money to function; we’re paying our taxes to create a community where we’ll all want to live in the future. Unfortunately Alameda’s income continues to fall as its costs continue to rise. To bring money in, we need to build homes (heaven forbid!) and/or attract businesses… unfortunately, the kind of business that brings in actual money can be anathema to that small town feeling so cherished by some (and which can only be found in some areas). I’m not sure how hard the city shopped for its marketers, but Alameda needs to bring in money somehow; clearly attracting businesses and builders is a proven way to do that. It just seems to me that those who hold onto their illusion about maintaining Mayberry have forgotten that Mayberry didn’t have a closed naval base, or an estuary with limited access, or DUI drivers on crack, or… ok, folks, Mayberry was.. FICTIONAL. I love Alameda – the pretty architecture, the great gardens, the vast improvement in food choices, the views, even the horrible sucking sound of mud on my feet at the … uh, “beach”. I love the friendly vibe. That doesn’t have to change if old school Alamedans actually decide to welcome newcomers! I want small businesses, of course, I run one myself. But larger businesses are what keeps the small ones afloat. It’s sad to see a lot of small, older businesses dying out. I wish we could create a climate that would support them.

    Comment by Alana Dill — May 18, 2010 @ 11:42 pm

  8. Oh dear, that sounded awfully ranty. I hate posting to blogs, always say too much or too little. Please forgive me, I should have gone to bed an hour ago.

    Comment by Alana Dill — May 18, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

  9. The ICM is guilty of Identity Theft! I think the next contract the City Council should spend $$ on is hiring the recruiter to permanently fill the City Manager position. Let’s allow the ICM to return to the land of spas!

    BTW, is it me or doesn’t that Desert Hot Springs seal look like our City seal, minus the historic figure???

    Can’t wait for Tony Dasog to come clean up City Hall! Oh, and Wilma got my vote too…the Mayor has been too silent on all of these issues for me.

    Comment by R.U. Amuckraker — May 19, 2010 @ 6:32 am

  10. Maybe my mind is a little fuzzy on this but as I recall LIL Arnerich had a lot to do with the design of our present city flag. My guess is he didn’t charge $74,000. I say get LIL to do this because he will work for free for this city.

    Comment by John Piziali — May 19, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  11. John, there has actually been a branding project underway for our city by volunteers.

    It’s getting a lot of positive attention outside of Alameda.

    Comment by Jack B. — May 19, 2010 @ 9:27 am

  12. @10, re: our city flag:

    Comment by alameda — May 19, 2010 @ 10:23 am

  13. I think the Alameda flag is pretty nifty. I got the survey on line, I assumed because I’m on a board. I responded but sent back an email comment that I thought the survey was frustrating to respond to because it seemed ineffectual for it’s stated purpose and was vague. I didn’t hear back on that comment.

    I can’t believe that drafting and distributing this survey could cost $74K so I hope the city gets lots of additional work on it’s web site out of that contract.

    FYI- related to “stake holders”, my 4 years on HAB is up June 30, a month sooner than I had thought, and I’m not reapplying, in case anybody knows a civic minded contractor with interest in historic preservation. If there is no new appointee I may hang in for a couple months to see the final draft of the new preservation ordinance through to completion if I’m asked.

    Totally tangential, I saw the movie “City Island” which is filmed in City Island New York. It’s off the coast of the Bronx at the bottom of Long Island and there were a lot of parallel associations to Alameda, including names for old timers and new comers.

    Comment by M.I. — May 19, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

  14. ALAMEDA, I stand corrected,
    Its to bad Mr. Ingraham can’t help us again. However it just goes to show you that a regular citizen can come up with great things for their city.

    Comment by John Piziali — May 19, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

  15. It’s easy to keep a contract under the prescribed $75k threshold. I could think how it’s done, but I wouldn’t say how…

    Comment by Basel — May 19, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

  16. […] coming. Upon visiting the homepage, a least tern flies across the top of the screen, signaling that this $74,800, no-bid website, which is based on a marketing companies proprietary system, is more flash than substance.  From […]

    Pingback by Alameda's new website: from bad to worse | Stop, Drop and Roll - mindfulness in the face of a challenge — January 11, 2011 @ 8:02 am

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