Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 23, 2010

Car trouble

Remember how I said things couldn’t get much worse in Alameda City government life?   Well…I was mistaken.

Because of the exposure and media coverage over the whole Fire Chief gas thing, information about the Fire Chief’s past woes are coming to light.   Michele Ellson at the Island has covered the story here, but thanks to an anonymous email, I have copies of the articles for you all.   Excerpt from Michele’s post which gives the nutshell:

Kapler resigned as chief of the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District in 1991 after allegations surfaced that he misused a department-owned vehicle. He was also accused by representatives of a casino and a builder of soliciting contributions in exchange for support on a construction project the owners of one casino sought to undertake and of a variance the other sought that would allow it to avoid installing sprinklers in a parking garage it planned to build, news reports issued at the time said. Kapler also came under fire for soliciting contributions including ski passes, a mountain bike and vacations for a program aimed at curbing department absenteeism, news reports showed.

What struck me is the answer that Chief Kapler gave to Michele over the 1991 Tahoe-Douglas allegations:

Kapler said Friday that he was cleared of all wrongdoing in connection with the allegations in Tahoe. He said his Tahoe-Douglas contract allowed him to take a district vehicle for personal use.

“The district attorney looked into it and said there wasn’t any basis to any of the complaints out there,” Kapler said. “There was a lack of clear communication with the (fire district) board, but no evidence of any wrongdoing.”

See, I guess if this had been me, and I had previous problems with vehicles and “miscommunication” around the details of using an official vehicle for personal use, or a personal vehicle for official use, I would make damned sure that my contract was iron clad regarding these specifics so that “miscommunication” or “lack of clear communication” wouldn’t be duplicated and get itself spread all over the news media.   But, that’s me.

So here they are, the screen caps from microfiched news article.   Some are a little muddy, click to enlarge.

From May 13, 1991

From May 17, 1991:

From May 24, 1991:

From May 26, 1991:

From May 28, 1991:

From June 5, 1991:

From June 7, 1991:



  1. Sometimes the only thing worse than impropriety is the appearance of impropriety. It was nothing, but you never never really recover from it.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — August 23, 2010 @ 7:25 am

  2. Ouch. Well, I gotta believe he will be resigning soon. Great oversight by our HR dept. and CM’s office on this one. We need to do background checks on all of our top officials since the City is not doing it before hiring.

    Comment by Mrs. Frumble — August 23, 2010 @ 7:52 am

  3. Whoa down there! He’s being fired without a hearing? Let’s at least have an “official” account of this matter.

    Comment by jayare — August 23, 2010 @ 8:34 am

  4. Maybe once this free gas story (which reflects very poorly on those who hired, screened, and supervise Chief Kapler) blows over, I hope we can get back to the other problems this city is having with:

    a) its failure to negotiate fairly/in good faith (unions, Suncal, etc.);

    b) no public access to “draft” emails (they are ALL “drafts” according to the City Attorney, and thus not available to us, even for the 30 days the city keeps them before they “run out of room”);

    c) the failure of the City Manager’s office (and the Council) to adequately support and publicize the work of the Sunshine Task Force;

    d) implementing fair and effective campaign finance reform;

    e) the Interim City Manager’s potential conflicts of interest in hiring previous employers for a city refinancing contract;

    f) all the rest of our “sunshine” woes;

    g) the lack of sound leadership, direction, and perhaps good sense about the future of Alameda Point, the Civic Center Vision, Webster Street’s “poor step-sister” relationship to Park Street, and more…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — August 23, 2010 @ 9:57 am

  5. By “we” you mean this blog, right?

    Comment by jayare — August 23, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  6. Right on point, Jon!

    Comment by Richard Hausman — August 23, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

  7. Jon is 100 percent right. And, all of his points and a lot more can be found in my campaign platform. Please do check it out:
    The city’s e-mail excuse is particularly disturbing. Moreover, it’s just plain illegal. To that end, I have written the Attorney General’s office to ask them to begin a formal investigation into the practice. (The letter is on my site.) I will let you all know if I hear back from them. In the meantime, why am I the only council candidate calling for sunshine reform in our government? We have to open up this government again and return it to its rightful owners: the people of Alameda.

    Comment by Jeff Mitchell — August 23, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

  8. By “…the people of Alameda.” You mnean this blog right?

    Comment by jayare — August 23, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

  9. My point in #5 and #8 is that Jon and Jeff Mitchell conflate issues which may be important in the blogosphere but really have no more impact on Alameda’s long term financial solvency than the Chief’s gas tank. And the two bullets, a) and g), that will have financial impact (like slow but relentless tsunamis) are mentioned in a manner that implies if we could just discuss these matters with fairness and good sense, all would be well.

    Well, sorry but the city has negotiated fairly and in good faith with the unions and see what’s happened. Negotiating “fairly” and in “good faith” means open your pockets for another round with the pickpockets. So where are the discussions on how this issue is resolved? What’s your solution Jeff Mitchell? I didn’t see a thing about that issue in your platform, unless this; “Always treat the city’s employee unions with the respect they deserve and work to guarantee that the City always acts with honesty and good faith during contract negotiations.”, means somehow all of a sudden the financial insolvency will become solvent if only we act fair. Hogwash! I want a bare knuckle fighter when it comes to spending my tax money.

    The other bullet, “leadership” (or lack of), might have meaning, if there were any solutions. But in the system of government we have invented, leadership means, ‘give people more government’, like: “Create the Office of Public Ombudsman.” and “Create the Office of Volunteer Coordinator”

    In fact, this platform says nothing about solving the real issues facing this city. It’s just a bowl of feel-good pablum designed to make the progressive bloggers nod their collective heads and feel satisfied.

    Comment by jayare — August 23, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  10. #9

    We’ll see if Jeff Mitchell gets more votes than Kenny the Clown.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 23, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

  11. #9

    I agree that the candidates will have to address real issues if elected. Thus I, too, want to hear about their approach to addressing the City’s financial situation and Alameda Point. I say approach, not solution, because these issues are too big for any one candidate, or even the entire City Council, to work out on their own.

    Comment by William Smith — August 23, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

  12. Why is it that everytime I hear “sunshine” I think “SunCal”? Well, maybe it’s because the folks endlessly flogging the sunshine issue are in reality trying to push SunCal’s negative campaigning tactic — to resolve their rejection at the ballot box and thereafter by blaming it on city staff. The 85% of the electorate that voted against SunCal was not somehow tricked into doing so by city staff, and to try to claim otherwise points to teh same fatal arrogance that tanked SunCal in the first place.

    When SunCal came back w/ a clone of Measure B, the City Council honored teh voters’ wishes and terminated the negotiated agreement. And still they’re not gone, and still they’re poisoning the public discussion, in the form of all these negative personal attacks.

    JayAre is absolutely right. This is not what voters want to hear, and not what they really care about, not remotely. I suggest that Jeff and others go back and read the Fiscal Sustainability Report, and see in particular what it has to say about public pensions.

    If you’re going to play the political game and cozy up to developers and labor unions, then I’d suggest being a bit less blatant.

    Comment by dlm — August 23, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  13. I don’t think it is fair or right to say that those who are advocating sunshine are sun-cal supporters and therefore in the satanic class. Our City has been playing fast and loose with the rules on transparency for some time now – and we need to get back to openness and good communications. It is incomprehensible to me that the ICM can find discretionary money for all kinds of things but when it comes to getting up off of the 1,000 needed to publicize the upcoming sunshine task force meeting no funds are available, so why don’t we have a bake sale or something? This has nothing to do with sun cal and everything to do with controlling information so the public won’t butt in. Citizens have the right and indeed the duty to be engaged in the process of government.

    Comment by Kate Quick — August 24, 2010 @ 1:10 am

  14. To my friends ‘jayare,’ ‘dlm’ and ‘AlamedaNayTiff’ – I am not about to get into a debate with a bunch of anonymous commenters. But, if you ever decide to find the guts and step forward to post under your own actual name, I’ll be glad respond to your questions and even some of your churlish accusations.
    What I will say is that I agree that Alameda has a host of serious problems that need solving sooner than later. Our finances are a disaster. They are projected to remain that way through 2018. You don’t need a doctorate in economics to understand that programs and services will need to be suspended or cut if we don’t find a way of increasing revenues. And, yes, our employee unions will undoubtedly have to make concessions going forward. The question is how would you like our government to go about making those cuts? Would you like those decisions to be made with limited public input at BS public hearings convened at 1:30 a.m. or would you like them made with as many folks at the table as is possible? And, if you were a member of one our employee unions, wouldn’t you want — wouldn’t you expect — your employer to act fairly, ethically and legally? I think the answer to these questions is yes and I’m betting a large portion of my fellow Alamedans will agree with me on Nov. 2.
    The basis of my campaign is straightforward — it’s to restore a new norm of openness and transparency in the way things are done at City Hall.
    The decisions to be made at City Hall in the next few years will leave no one cheering. But the reforms I will fight to implement will at least leave folks feeling like they had a legitimate say in things and I think that’s pretty important.
    Win or lose, this is what I’m running on.

    Comment by Jeff Mitchell — August 24, 2010 @ 1:18 am

  15. #14

    Your message about open government gets lost amid your messages of open disdain for the mayor and city manager.

    Are you saying that you do not write an anonymous blog about open government?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 24, 2010 @ 5:36 am

  16. 14.
    I wrote the #9, the “jayare” are my initials, get it? You characterize my comments as “churlish accusations” but which apparently you agree with since you attempt to respond. Trouble is, your response merely asks rhetorical questions. I’ll answer one myself. You ask:

    “The question is how would you like our government to go about making those cuts? Would you like those decisions to be made with limited public input at BS public hearings convened at 1:30 a.m. or would you like them made with as many folks at the table as is possible?”

    and the answer is: By one pissed off grandpa who’s tired of seeing politicians give his grandkid’s future away in order to get himself reelected.

    Please share your answers not questions.

    Regardless of how a comment is signed, if the questions are valid, they should be treated as such. Now can I go back to being jayare?

    Comment by Jack Richard — August 24, 2010 @ 9:24 am

  17. Let’s do the math here:

    A BMW Z4 has a 14.5 gallon gas tank. According to one of those gas-price sites, the ARCO at Park and Encinal has gas for $3.07/gallon as of this morning.

    So that’s about $44.50 per full tank. Let’s assume that he uses about a tank per week (in that car, ~280 miles).

    This means that, *in place of a city-owned car*, he’s getting $2314 in gas per year. Even if it wasn’t in his employment agreement, that seems like a pretty good deal.

    All that said, is this really something that we should be concerned with? Really? *Really*? Or do we have some bigger fish to fry?

    Comment by Steve M — August 24, 2010 @ 11:04 am

  18. For all you non-shows (which, I’d bet, includes 99.9% of this blog) at the boat races next to the Pasta Pelican last Saturday, fire out gassed police by a tank load in the first two of the three heat race (third heat wasn’t needed). Way to go AFD! And the Police were looking forward to this race??

    By the way, this event contributed proceeds to the AEF but I only saw two teachers from AUSD in attendance.

    Comment by jayare — August 24, 2010 @ 11:26 am

  19. #14 Jeff: … the reforms I will fight to implement will at least leave folks feeling like they had a legitimate say in things…

    A legitimate say in things? We had a legitimate say when we voted down Measure B, and it’s clear that you and everyone pushing the “out of control” city hall line is fronting for SunCal. You’re a journalist, and if you weren’t so involved in this yourself, you’d be saying the same thing.

    This is precisely the “strategy” that SunCal is pursuing — to blame their losses on the city manager/administration. They sent a letter to that effect prior to the 7/20/10 meeting, and then filed a complaint (!!) which was little more than a longwinded, baseless attack on the city manager. These folks are so inept that they can’t even come up with a half-way intelligent legal argument.

    But never fear, Alameda has no lack of bloggers who will jump on the personal attack angle and start whaling away at it, without a moment’s hesitation.

    Comment by dlm — August 24, 2010 @ 11:46 am

  20. Gee, DLM I am no shill for sun cal but I am sure not happy with what is going on with respect to transparency. Two very separate issues. Get over your fixation with sun cal and look to the realities of all the other, unrelated issues that we need to deal with. Sun cal has become “the great satan” and tying everything to that issue is sapping our ability to get on with cricitcal issues – um, like City financial sustainability, lack of transparency in City government, and choosing our next leadership.

    Comment by Kate Quick — August 24, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

  21. #20

    Because there is a high degree of correlation between the small group that backed SunCal’s Measure B and those now raising the issue of “transparency.” Some believe that what is transparent is the use of this issue to club those as seen as causing the failure of Measure B.

    SunCal may not be the devil, but it is certainly the most divisive entity to have come to Alameda in many, many years.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 24, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

  22. 19 that’s an extremely broad brush you wield, and you can’t even seem to paint a straight line. Weren’t you recently lecturing us all about how we need to treat each other?

    Comment by M.I. — August 24, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

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