Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 3, 2011

That one saying about pictures and words

Filed under: Alameda — Tags: , , , — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

So my decision, after a bit of soul searching, was to post the picture.  But first, a caveat, I post this not to defend the inaction of the public safety officials, but to provide a certain level of context to this scene that we all have opinions on, but very few of us actually witnessed.

For those that opt not to view the photo, don’t click “more,” for those, the photo is after the jump.

I have embedded the photo on this secondary page so that folks who don’t want to view will have to take an additional step to do so.   Unlike the Oakland Local reporter, I’m opting to not add a big red arrow to the photo.   The size of the waves in the lower left hand corner should give a frame a reference.



  1. Jon Spangler should apologize for his recent slanderous comments regarding Dave Kapler.

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — June 3, 2011 @ 7:06 am

  2. This adds nothing to the story.

    This photo says nothing about the inhumanity of the first responders on the scene, nor their lack of communication with any agency, like County Fire, who could have actually saved this man.

    And all this handwringing from a woman who had a cow over photos of people at a party at Oatez?

    You are as oblivious to the issues concerning this tragedy as the AFD and APD, Lauren.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — June 3, 2011 @ 8:01 am

  3. Jon Spangler

    In Alameda we teach our fifth graders not to spread hate. please try to be a better citizen in the future. Everybody is watching

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — June 3, 2011 @ 8:11 am

  4. Oh, he was THAT far out. Oh, okay. That WOULD be an effort. I don’t even think if it was the Olsen twins in their heyday out there anybody would have bothered. Heroic efforts are all well and good but that would have been EXHAUSTING. Plus, someone could have caught a chill.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 3, 2011 @ 8:23 am

  5. I’m glad you posted this for context, and I’m glad you struggled with it.

    Comment by Matt Parker — June 3, 2011 @ 8:27 am

  6. The size of the Waves Laureen. It’s a frkn sand bar going out hundreds of yards. Fisherman have to go out a long ways just to get hip deep. 60 degree water isn’t like rescueing an Ice Fisherman. The only thing I see in pictures is alot of Pocketpool going on by our City Employees…Maybe it was a Memorial Day Pocket Pool tournament between police and fire.

    Comment by John — June 3, 2011 @ 10:15 am

  7. The picture explains why they called the Coast Guard. But as soon as it was understood that the Coast Guard couldn’t rescue him, someone should have made an executive decision to put policy aside and try a rescue attempt. The fact that a Good Samaritan risked her life to save him doesn’t speak well for whoever was making the decisions for the group. Clearly if a 20 year old female braved the waters to go in after him, a few good firemen probably could have saved this man’s life.

    I imagine that our firemen realize by now they could have done a better job and are feeling pretty awful right now, so my heart goes out to them during this difficult time. My heart also goes out to the mother who will live with this tragedy for the rest of her life.

    For me and for many of us who are commenting on this issue – this is NOT about the budget or about pension issues; this is constructive criticism about how our firemen managed this crisis situation. We are an island, and it’s critical that our firemen are capable of doing water rescues.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 3, 2011 @ 10:19 am

  8. The rationalization and politcal correct excuses of all this is more pathetic and is as sad of what actually happened. We count on these people to step up and they didn’t. Spin it anyway you want but it’s a tradgedy not only in what happened but in the actions of people the Citizens count on to trust in an emergency.

    Comment by John — June 3, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  9. Karen, I agree with everything you said except I do think it is a budget issue. Instead of cutting salaries of top administrators, we are instead cutting headcount of the actual responders and cutting programs such as water rescue training, which is peanuts compared to have 18 fire staff making over $200K/year. Don’t even get me started about the pool closures.

    I watched Tuesdays’ CC meeting and when they discussed cuts, they only would discuss headcount (and the problems of doing so.) Dehaan was the only one that even mentioned wages. I don’t know how all this works but seems to me it should be a big part of the discussion moving forward. Do we really want to keep cutting programs and assets but not cutting salaries for top earners?

    Comment by Jack B. — June 3, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  10. Two Letters Jack.


    Comment by John — June 3, 2011 @ 10:33 am


    Our city needs to discuss this as well for cost savings, outsourcing of legal services is a major trend now also in the private sector.

    Comment by DRM — June 3, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  12. 9. Good point re: cutting wages vs budgets.

    We’re paying Daren Olson approx $240k/year and he can’t even string a press release together without “miscommunicating” or “ruffling feathers”.

    Comment by alameda — June 3, 2011 @ 10:55 am

  13. Jack, I still see this is a crisis management issue. There will always be policies or budget issues, and other things that can get in the way of making the right decision during a crisis.

    I trust that our fire department has learned from this experience and is making the appropriate changes so this never happens again. It’s unfortunate that it takes a crisis to bring about the necessary changes, but history tells us that this is often the case.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 3, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  14. Just to clarify, Daren Olson works for the Alameda Fire Department, the press release that “ruffled feathers” was apparently issued by the Alameda Police Department.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 3, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  15. I was a lifeguard for several years. Viewing the photo this is not a simple ‘go out and grab him’
    situation. This man was 6’3″ tall.
    It is one thing just to wade out and grab him(and I have waded out there many times myself). If ANY kind of struggle ensues this quickly becomes an ‘open water’ rescure which is dangerous and lacking the basic equiptment could only be a last resort senario. It is one thing to be standing on solid sand in chest deep water and quite another in water neck deep or above or actually having to tread water with a potentially struggling victim.

    Comment by frank — June 3, 2011 @ 11:17 am

  16. 14. I got that from this link, since Olson is apparently handling the city’s communications on the incident.

    Olson, who is handling the city of Alameda’s communications about the incident, suggested the police department’s original news release was misinterpreted, causing problems for other agencies. “I understand we ruffled the feathers of the Alameda County Fire Department, and the Oakland Fire Department,” he said. “This was a miscommunication.”

    Comment by alameda — June 3, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  17. Frank, thank you for providing some color on what it means to go into the water and rescue someone. All of the armchair experts on this board always have an opinion on something and I’d bet those who spend all day criticizing the fire department never had the experience of physically going into cold water and doing what they think is so easy.

    Did it ever occur to anyone that this man could have killed the person trying to save him?

    I would like to thank Lauren Do for handling this issue with absolute professionalism and class.

    Comment by Dave L. — June 3, 2011 @ 11:30 am

  18. 17. I used to be a lifeguard too and as I said on my own blog and on various threads, it would be a bad idea to attempt a rescue w/out proper equipt and training. Frank is certainly right about that and many of the armchair heroes don’t know what they are talking about. Although I still think they could have gone out to talk to him, based on my past experience in psych assessments and a year working the suicide hotline at a youth shelter. You’d be amazed at what a little talk can do.

    This only underscores that we can’t be cutting a program like water rescue when we are an island w/ water-based recreation. We have to deal w/ reality of budget constraints. I would rather see programs + keeping as many actual rescuers as possible rather than extraordinary salaries. Most of my shock is from finding out the non-water policy of the past 2 years.

    Comment by Jack B. — June 3, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  19. Please join me in wearing a small black ribbon from now until August 31st.

    Wearing the black ribbon is an act of penance and and expression of sorrow for the suicide by drowning of Raymond Zack on Monday, May 30, 2011 at Robert Crown Memorial Beach, in Alameda.

    It is not an act of criticism of any individual fire fighter or police officer. It is not an act of anger.

    It is instead a recognition that choices made by the community of Alameda led to a needless tragedy, and that we all bear responsibility for what happened.

    I plan to wear the black ribbon for three months: June, July, and August. What happens at the end of August is as yet undefined.

    There is also a Facebook group named “A Personal Act of Penance” that you can join if you are so moved.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — June 3, 2011 @ 11:54 am

  20. I think there is question now that it might not have been suicide and that he was looking for something and just very confused. He was non violent and very passive person who was very troubled and on anti depressants.

    Comment by John — June 3, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  21. 17. Officer Sean Lynch was quoted in Patch : “We know that suicidal people obviously have little regard for their own life and safety and they often have little regard for the lives and safety of those trying to rescue them,” he said.

    One can imagine rescue workers being entangled with a 300 pound guy resulting in mishap or mayhem, but from information from the step mother it would also seem out of character for this individual.

    Along with others making wild associations, I’ll digress with an aside by commenting that Officer Lynch’s comments while technically accurate struck me as somewhat callus. I believe it was officer Lynch who was voted officer of the year after he fatally shot a drunken homeless man who brandished a knife after being rousted on the Beltline property.

    To the issue at hand, there is no way to completely divorce this incident from job performance and compensation, but I’m with Karen and I think it’s opportunistic to attempt to make compensation the central focus of this incident as some are doing.

    I’m still somewhat vexed that the a civilian or on-duty personnel didn’t commandeer a piece of water equipment from the rental shop like a kayak to safely approach this man to speak to him and assess his condition, mental and physical.

    I go back to a previous post I made about the slow unfolding of the incident with the man not thrashing around. AFD were standing down after calling Coast Guard who it is reasonable for them to have initially assumed would respond. I’m not clear when AFD may have been apprised by Coast Guard that their 23 foot boat could not approach. Since the guy was in at least 5 feet of water and the draft on the boat is 39” I have questions about Coast Guard procedure. It’s conceivable they could have deliberately grounded their craft to perform a rescue, extricating it later. It is simple to slowly mark depth with a pole. I’m sure Coast Guard has protocol for this of which I am ignorant.

    Would people now like to rail about how the Coast Guard are a bunch of over compensated and callus bums?

    Comment by M.I. — June 3, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

  22. Unfortunately, someone in command on that Coast Guard boat decided to do nothing.

    How does the Coast Guard top brass feel about that?

    Comment by RM — June 3, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

  23. Let’s point fingers at everybody but ourselves.Sad Pathetic rationalizers begging for an out. How about cajones like field mice.

    Comment by John — June 3, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  24. Firefighter City of Alameda

    Example of Duties

    #1.Responds to emergency calls and performs duties necessary to prevent or limit loss of life and property in emergency situations dealing with fire, disasters, medical emergencies, WATER RESCUE, technical rescue, and hazardous materials.

    Fire Captain

    Knowledge of materials, principles and practices to achieve and maintain required training and/or certification; modern firefighting tactics and strategy; modern principles and practices used to prevent or limit loss of life and property in emergency situations dealing with fire, disasters, disaster preparedness, medical emergencies, WATER RESCUE, confined spaces and hazardous materials; hazardous chemicals, materials and processes;

    Fire Apparatus Operator
    Example of Duties

    1.Drives and operates all fire and emergency medical apparatus in a proper and safe manner.
    2.Responds to emergency calls and performs duties necessary to prevent or limit loss of life and property in emergency situations dealing with fire, disasters, medical emergencies, WATER RESCUE, confined spaces, and hazardous materials.

    Ability to effectively perform fire suppression, safety and prevention work, emergency medical and paramedic assistant, WATER RESCUE, confined space, and hazardous materials duties; prevent or limit loss of life or property in emergency situations dealing with fire, disasters, medical emergencies, water rescues, confined spaces, and hazardous materials.

    They list this twice under ability so must be important.

    Ability to effectively deal with potentially dangerous situations which may include exposure to fire, disasters, medical emergencies, WATER RESCUES, confined spaces, hazardous materials, and emergency driving conditions

    Comment by John — June 3, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  25. This would be more of a suicide intervention’ that just happened to take place in water. On land I imagine this would be left to the Police Force. I don’t know if Alameda has anyone specifically trained in intervention but I imagine in most cases someone would try and talk him out of it and then if this fails perhaps use physical force. Now Firemen in the past have been trained in water rescue. There is a difference in rescuing a person who wants to be saved and someone who perhaps doesn’t. So you have a case where the Police aren’t trained to go in the water and the Firemen aren’t trained in intervention and physically restraining a combative victim.

    In any water rescure you really try your best to avoid physical contact with the victim. That is why you would use a buoy. Many First Responders have been killed by the people they are tryig to save. A person may be of gentle nature but once he swallows a couple of gups of water panic mode set in. The victim is in survival mode and the adrenalin kicks in. Sort of like ‘waterboarding’.

    Comment by frank — June 3, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

  26. Here is how one First Responder sees it; he calls himself AlamedaAngel, and he’s made several comments about the incident on Alameda Patch. He’s responding to the suggestion that the fire department be privatized due to inefficiency:

    Fact: Private sector first
    responders are terrible. I know. I worked as an EMT for two of the worst ambulance companies in the Bay Area, and in talking to other medics, there are NO good ambulance companies. None of them have integrity. Do you REALLY want to pay your 911 service $10-15 an hour? And you expect them to live in the Bay Area? Really? You expect to pay firefighters $40K a year? You want people who make less than $30 an hour to respond to your heart attack? Your car crash? Really?

    When was the last time you saved someone’s life? When was the last time you when to work and there was a chance you might die? Hmmm?
    Firefighters, police, paramedics… when you need them, you’ll want them to be trained and with all the equipment they need. And paid well for it. And no, you do not want a volunteer fire dept. Not in an urban city of 75,000. They work OK in small rural communities. Not here.

    I’m quite sure he doesn’t speak for all first responders, but it’s interesting to hear his views as it relates to the incident that took place on the beach. I think the reason the community is reacting the way they are is because there was no attempt to even talk to the man. Some folks have commented that the firemen could have at the very least thrown him a life preserver, and I agree.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 3, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

  27. Plain and simple, there was no excuse for the APD and AFD to just stand around.

    Comment by RM — June 3, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

  28. What was interesting about that Karen? That he has no shred of humanity either, just like the empty shells who stood on the shore and watched Raymond Zack drown?

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — June 3, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

  29. If he was proud of his profession and his peers, he’d use his real name. Some angel.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — June 3, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

  30. #29, he’s probably an angel investor with all the money he makes not collecting a fat pension and afraid to risk his life.

    Comment by Drudge — June 3, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

  31. SF Chron columnist article re incident:

    Here was interesting response to that columm.
    Documents provided by the AFD show that funding was not cut for the water rescue training and team. Moreover, the Alamada Fire Department has a history of failure. In 2009, an old Navy building with 50,000 square feet of asbestos. When that burned in a massive fire, the then friable asbestos blanketed our homes and yards. The AFD failed to request help from the air district and CalEPA. Worse, they instructed residents to mow the asbestos and clean it up themselves….without protective gear. Around their families. In 2010, 25 9-1-1 calls complaining about a toxic smell led the AFD to discover a decrepit single-hull craft full of crude oil on Alameda’s shore attempting to transfer it to a dual hull craft (so the cargo could be delivered to a refinery). The Battalion Chief that night thought every thing looked “okay”. It was anything but. The air district came out the next day and was shocked at the level of fumes from the boat when it was NOT in use; extrapolating how polluting it was if it were in use. Worse: it’s illegal to do lightering of any controlled substance anywhere in the SF Bay area near residences. Because the AFD either doesn’t know what to do, or doesn’t care enough to do what needs doing, the city and her 70,000 residents have been contaminated with friable asbestos and crude oil fumes

    And now their failure to perform is causal in the horrible death of Raymond Zack, a man clearly crying out for help on a public beach on a national holiday with his mother on the shores…he was not a man focused on an efficient suicide! Sadly, this appears to be business as usual for the IAFF Local 689. Alamedans need to pay attention and demand better.

    Comment by John — June 4, 2011 @ 9:02 am

  32. The 10 Year contracts implemented in OCT 2001 and the months following in the absolute worst financial times our country has seen since the Depression and we offered Lifetime Pensions of 90% of highest pay and medical benefit and salary packages that have crippled the citizens of Alameda and the city. Most companies at this time were cutting salary’s and Benefit packages 50% and laying off just to survive and implemented self directed retirement plans with very small contributions by the company.
    The Taxpayers have given up alot of “Skin” and the City has deferred most maintance using duct tape and mirrors to keep sustaining these Salary packages to our employees.

    In October 2001 when this was approved the Tech Bubble had already popped and Stocks and The Nasdaq Market had Lost 80% of Its Value and All Tech companies Were laying off thousands. To not be aware of what had transpired in previous 12 months to this regarding economy and what was happening and go ahead and approve raises and new benefits to employees was HUGE Betrayal of the Citizens of Alameda.

    Look what we have been rewarded with after 10 year contracts.

    After watching the city Council meeting the Day after this tradgedy the approach at the Budget looked as Cowardly as our Cities Finest performed on Monday.

    It is sad amd pathetic where we have gone as a city. I use to be a very proud Alamedan. Im frkn Ashamed

    Comment by John — June 4, 2011 @ 9:07 am


    The memo that the fire department used to justify its actions on Memorial Day also contains information – for those that read all the way through to the bottom of it – that contradicts what the department has claimed.

    Specifically, it says that funding has been re-instated, and that re-certification was to begin again in 30 to 45 days – two years before Raymond Zack waded into the water at Crown Beach.

    Read more:

    Comment by John — June 4, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  34. Lauren, I didn’t realize you had already made your decision when I read and commented on previous post.

    Please see my comment there. It would be better if we moved away from emotional churning to productivity. I think we could have something to offer.


    Comment by Li_ — June 4, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

  35. I’ve become aware of an inaccuracy in the comments on this incident. I have listened to the county dispatch tape and spoken at length with Deputy Chief Lord at county fire. The ETA for both the coast guard (a 25′ boat without a rescue swimmer) and the county boat (zodiac style, swimmer and other helpful equipment) were precisely the same: 30 minutes. Someone here has been repeating Daren Olson’s rephrasing of what the tape says about the USCG’s ETA. He tried that with me too, but 30 minutes doesn’t actually mean 20 minutes, it means 30. Next time, ask him what’s on the tape, not what he believes to be true about what’s on the tape.

    The USCG swimmer was helicoptered in and arrived too late to be of use to Raymond Zack; ditto for the shallow-bottomed boat the USCG asked Oakland fire for.

    The county equipment would have been the correct call to make in this situation – unless there was some reason to avoid asking them for help at all costs. Now, what would that be…?

    Comment by Liz Williams — June 4, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

  36. Hey Lauren-

    After all your build up about this SHOCKING photo, how come the date on it is the day before Raymond Zack drowned?

    Just wondering.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — June 4, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

  37. Oh crap, I can’t read a calendar. My bad. Sorry.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — June 4, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

  38. 37. you aren’t the only one in too big a hurry to bad mouth somebody. You admission your bad must be your first. Did you think Lauren had conspired to post a photo shop fake?

    Anyhow, the Journal editorial has a similar quote of officer Lynch to the one I posted in 21 and they essentially drew the same conclusion I did, that the suicide was used an excuse to stand down. I felt it was a bit of blaming the victim.

    I’ve read a longer quotation of Lynch’s remarks, which have just enough additional qualification of the circumstances that I think it may have been premature to refer to them as callus. I do think he was being very clinical.

    The Journal used the word “rescue” repeatedly and in considering this was a suicide I have to say that the word intervention is much more appropriate. Nobody intervened. This is not just semantics for deflecting responsibility, it is why we have different words for different meanings.

    If a person threatening suicide were sitting on a park bench in extremely cold weather holding a knife to their chest, police and fire personnel would not be expected to immediately intervene. If the individual sat there long enough to pass out from the elements it is probably unlikely he would fall on his knife and die, but in any event I can see the legitimacy of Lynch’s point.

    Even if a swimmer had been lowered in time, what would occur if the subject were combative?

    My best second guess if that somebody needed to attempt to approach and speak to the man, but I do understand how nobody immediately dashed out into the water and how the initial standing down led to this apparent accumulation of smaller mistakes into a fatality. It is inaccurate to say all the responders simply “did nothing”.

    Comment by M.I. — June 5, 2011 @ 9:42 am

  39. If you have some “issues” with fire fighter compensation as I do, it is natural to get a little frustrated when thinking about what occurred here. Even though I am critical of some of the fire fighter’s contract demands, including their ballot initiative, I’m really not having such a hard time keeping the money issue separate. But I think others are being grossly opportunistic in exploiting this drowning to pound away on the compensation issue and to me it is ugly.

    It is simply a fact that doing police and fire work in this town is lower risk than in many other near by communities. However, before more people call the fire fighters cowardly for their action, consider that the lethal conditions in the San Francisco flash over this week, while being unusual are a possibility in any building fire.

    On the Patch thread to which Karen Bey refers above “John” pats himself on the back for being a great boss who compensates Veterans $10 an hour for security work. “John”, whose handle might better be “Spam Monkey”, has been blogging in Twitter like fashion since the school parcel tax, bashing public employees and claiming to work a company about which he only shares details which serve his arguments.

    Because I regard “John” as a mercenary I thought of Blackwater when he posted about hiring vets, but they pay a lot better than $10.

    “John” has pulled out figures like $41,000 a year as some magically perfect numbers for public employee compensation. Then repeatedly lauded the volunteer fire option. Fire fighter shouldn’t even get $41,000, it should be done for free.

    Since he is big obviously man on campus, I want to nominate “John” to immediately start implementing a volunteer fire fighting system for Alameda. But since such organization takes a special skill, we should pay him $10 hour.

    Because of “John’s” qualifications for honesty and integrity as spelled out in “That is the Question” thread, I am sure he will immediately do so. And in order to further validate his opinions on compensation we expect he will be fully transparent about the real nature of his business and how much he profits off those vets he so generously pays $10 an hour.

    Comment by M.I. — June 5, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  40. MI

    Your so FOS .

    It’s all about me now for pointing out the obvious. It’s frkn laughable. But nice tactic.

    It seems to me that writers who use a full 1st/last name are almost always apologists for the status quo. (apologist=one who makes apology for or defends; status quo being the people in power, incumbents). Why?
    c. gottstein, M.D.

    10:47am on Friday, June 3, 2011
    Dr Gottstien.

    They want to let them(Politicians know) I will defend you, please don’t take away my funds for my programs or cut my salaries . I will kiss your frkn Axx no mater how wrong you are or how bad you look or how stupid you sound or act.

    Comment by John — June 5, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  41. I’m sure M.I. would like to have the Company I work for pay everyone 40.00 an hour and full benefits and pensions. But we would close down in one day and put 600 out of work. We were already BK in 1987 because of employee Salary and benefits and had to reorgainize. Private companies have to face reality or close.

    Comment by John — June 5, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  42. I’m trying to understand what #38 is about.

    First, the use of the word suicidal was hearsay. As far as I can tell from the reports I have read, the person in question did not communicate to the police or the firemen that his intention was to drown himself. I’m not sure what the police/fire protocol is in the case of a person who is in grave danger of drowning which “second hand information” ascribe’s as suicidal but anything other than a rescue attempt seems to me dereliction of duty.

    The analogy with someone sitting on a park bench in possession of a knife does not hold. Sitting on a park bench with a knife, in and of itself, is not a clear and present danger to the possessor of the knife unless he acts on his own. In the case of the water victim, the element of cold water hypothermia coupled with the unknown water depth and the conditioning of the person, makes the situation immediate in nature and begs action by those who’s duty is to act.

    The bottom line is, the responders did nothing to remove the person from immediate danger.

    A person drowned and nobody knew who had responsibility to thwart the drowning. That the first responders relieved themselves of responsibility because of an obscure regulation by a bureaucratic non-face, that all the other public entities keystone copped their way through the afternoon, that the final act was a simple retrieval of the body by a civilian…all this has become a disparing metaphor for life in this country in the twenty-first century.

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 5, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  43. Timely quote heard this weekend on CSPAN in a commencement address: “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who LOOK & do absolutely NOTHING!”–Albert Einstein

    Comment by alameda vigilante — June 5, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

  44. The mayor & council should not hesitate to ask for the resignations of the parties involved. Especially of those who failed to communicate clearly & honestly with other first responders in the area. Behavior like that puts us all at risk.

    Comment by alameda vigilante — June 5, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

  45. The thing is: anyone who considers themselves informed about Alameda would have read in the paper that water rescues were no longer possible because of a policy decision. That policy decision was carried out by fire fighters, was made by a fire chief, who was hired by a city manager, who was hired by the city council, who were elected by that same well-informed body of citizens. How high in that chain of responsibility would you demand resignations? Ultimately the people at the top bear the responsibility. That would be you and I. Demanding someone’s head is a distraction from the responsibility borne by the community.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — June 5, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

  46. re 45 Tom:

    If we can’t rely on these two departments to coordinate in this one relatively minor instance to save one passive man in the water, what is going to happen when the Big One hits? We need people in place who can do their jobs. And that requires removing the ones who cannot, do not and will not.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — June 5, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

  47. 45
    You are right, the ultimate responsibility lies with the voters. Unfortunately, it’s a reactive system. The chain of responsibility, if at the top of the chain makes a bad decision, that responsibility (or lack of) is passed down through each level until it reaches the operational level.

    The assumption under this system is that each each level will reflect the wishes of the voter. They don’t. Each level reflects the wishes of the next higher level of responsibility. When something like the unfortunate drowning occurs the natural tendency for each level is to cover their ass.

    The logical answer is to eliminate the levels as much as possible. This would be much easier if the layers of responsibility weren’t tenured city employees.

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 5, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

  48. 45

    The rationalization and politcal correct excuses of all this is more pathetic and is as sad of what actually happened. We count on these people to step up and they didn’t. Spin it anyway you want but it’s a tradgedy not only in what happened but in the actions of people the Citizens count on to trust in an emergency.

    Comment by John — June 6, 2011 @ 1:31 am

  49. The drowning suicide that shook an island

    Comments are worth read also

    Hylen Lai · Top Commenter · University of California, Santa Barbara
    Firefighters are lying. The 2010 budget for the City of Alameda includes monies for eight (8) water rescues by the AFD this year, and ten (ten) next year. See that document online here: And PDF download on the City of Alameda website here:

    Comment by John — June 6, 2011 @ 3:50 am

  50. 45

    Denise Hylen Lai · Top Commenter · University of California, Santa Barbara
    Two weeks ago, in Oakland, the police were called to a scene. The house was on fire, people inside were screaming. The Oakland Fire Department no where to be seen. What did the police do? Stand there and wait for the OFD while the people died? On principle? Because they did not have the right equipment, training, or certification to enter a burning building? No. They ran into the building and saved the lives. THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE PEOPLE!

    Comment by John — June 6, 2011 @ 3:52 am

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