Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 15, 2012

Wait till I get going

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

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.



  1. Great job Doug, thanks for standing up and protecting Alameda again!

    Comment by Dr Poodlesmurf — June 15, 2012 @ 6:35 am

  2. The only problem with Russo’s “chip away” strategy is that the miniscule savings he will realize by asking for takeaways from future hires will never be anything more than a small fraction of the total deficit, and given the slow economy and the reluctance of voters to vote for more taxes, we cannot maintain even a holding action until base development brings in more revenue. Notice the trend. We lost the pound and the jail. Next will be the pools, but never any police and fire. Are we overstaffed at City Hall and in our police and fire departments? Can we close a fire station, outsource the ambulance service, and take police officers off desks and put them on the streets? Those are real questions which we have to answer.

    Comment by commonsense — June 15, 2012 @ 6:40 am

  3. commonsense: the reason why I reiterate that people interested in budget issues should watch this particular meeting is that people with comments like attributing a “chip away strategy” to John Russo’s plan seem to misunderstand what has occurred and what is currently happening.

    Closing a fire station may be an option, but that is a larger discussion that needs to be had by the community. Closing a fire station equals slower response time and that is a cut that will be felt by Alamedans.

    The topic of outsourcing ambulance services has already been considered and Paramedics Plus (the current private contractor for Alameda County) indicated that they could not provide ambulance service to the City of Alameda cheaper at the same response rate. (the last letter in this set).

    Many of the contracts that have been renegotiated included takeaways from future hires, but also concessions from current employees. As I mentioned twice now, John Russo has indicated that he intends to go back to the bargaining table with public safety units to ask for more concessions. I’ll have a post about some of this next week.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 15, 2012 @ 6:58 am

  4. Lauren

    Could you find out how much have Salaries and Benefits increased From 2001 thru 2011 by Department . Also maybe you could find out the Percentage by Employee…. I know one Department Salaries and Benefits were up 50% just from 2004 -2008. Maybe you could also ask John Russo why he only focused on salary and Benefit increases last three years in all his presentations, Also you might ask if the Federal Pay Schedule Regionally adjusted might be good Standard for the City to mirror.

    Comment by John — June 15, 2012 @ 7:28 am

  5. 1. yeah, Doug is the only one who isn’t “unresponsible”.

    Comment by M.I. — June 15, 2012 @ 7:32 am

  6. John: If I have time I’ll try to get the info about salaries and benefits by year. But as to the questions to John Russo, you know, you could always send him an email. He doesn’t ignore people over email.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 15, 2012 @ 7:57 am

  7. Thanks lauren….Maybe Ill just say I’m Jon Spangler….:)

    Just kidding……But if I become friendly there goes your Entertainment..

    Comment by John — June 15, 2012 @ 8:06 am

  8. So now it’s the “John and Doug Show.” It doesn’t seem like anyone else has much to say about anything these days. I’m not a DeHaan supporter per se. I take things on an issue by issue basis. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don’t. (Hey, there’s a concept! Some of you who like to just pick a champion and stick with him in spite of everything might want to try it.) One thing I will say for the guy, he’s willing to get in there and challenge the powers that be. I’m beginning to sense that there is a “let John do it” vibe among the others, understandable since he’s the one being adequately compensated, but honestly, take a step back and see what an impartial observer sees. Weigh the salaries and compensation of our first responders — are we getting our money’s worth? How many six-figure firefighters and police officers stood by and watch Zack drown? A lone draw bridge tender, with no training, equipment, or back-up managed to do what they failed to: indentify a fellow human being in distress and do whatever he could to save him. So yet another fire chief is retiring. At 47 no less. Okay, maybe he’s been “invited to leave” because he’s not working out, but if there is some shame in his leaving, how much money does he take with him to ease that pain? It’s outrageous. The plain fact is that Alameda has gotten too big for its britches. We compare our public employees’ salaries with cities that have 10 times the population. We want to play in the big leagues when it comes to compensation, but we don’t really belong there. Given our population, geography, and a whole host of other factors, a reasonable person would expect to earn less in Alameda but accept that because the trade off would be a relatively easier gig in a beautiful place where you can live and raise a family. If our City officials had a little more pride in Alameda, they would realize that we have a lot more than money to offer prospective City employees, and what we have is worth more, too. Money is nothing without quality of life. The pay structure is attracting a seemingly endless stream of carpet baggers who come in for a few years, raid the cookie jar, and split, often under a cloud, but always with healthy chunk of cash in hand. Many of them never even bother to move here. At least if they did we could get some of that compensation back in property taxes.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 15, 2012 @ 8:13 am

  9. Denise: The Fire Chief that is retiring is the Alameda County Fire Department Fire Chief, the one that indicated that there was a rule of thumb 10% savings to outsource to Alameda County Fire. The Fire Chief that Doug deHaan was citing in his political ads. He is not a City of Alameda employee.

    Also, again, before reaching conclusions about the meeting itself, I urge people to watch the meeting because there was a lot of good information presented and everyone had something to say.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 15, 2012 @ 8:19 am

  10. Thanks, Lauren. Sometimes I forget that you are likely to only include comments that support your theme for the day. I have sat through City Council meetings before and will again, but currently have neither the time nor cable TV and the live streaming thing is touch and go on my laptop, no horsepower. I do applaud your dedication to watching though. You have an amazing ability to mine hours of mind-numbing crap for the gems you serve up day after day. In that regard, you’re miles ahead of most of us (except JKW, of course).

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 15, 2012 @ 8:32 am

  11. Watching the meeting, instead of assuming about it, folks might see that most odd the council members have a solid understanding of all the issues and continue to contribute to the conversation. Sadly, DeHaan’s participation adds nothing but a need to correct him in order to make sure the public does not become ill-informed about complex issues.

    Challenging the power stricture is a good thing, but to rail against the machine and be consistently wrong becomes am impediment to change and solidifies the pee by keeping the conversation from being meaningful.

    DeHaan needs to step up with a vision for moving forward, this will require identifying what cuts he wants to make and actual back up for his assumptions. That would be truly challenging. Until he does so, all he is doing is extending the length of the meetings which results is less participation.

    Comment by jkw — June 15, 2012 @ 8:39 am

  12. JKW accuses DeHaan of solidifying pee. Isn’t that a crime in this state?

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 15, 2012 @ 8:51 am

  13. Denise: I have found downloading the videos first and then watching to be useful to avoid the problems with streaming.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 15, 2012 @ 9:24 am

  14. We don’t need to watch no stinking meeting, we know what’s going on.

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 15, 2012 @ 9:41 am

  15. With regard to closing fire stations, the primary performance criterion usually mentioned in the discussion is “response time.” There are other key criteria that need to be taken in account, such as:

    1. Once the first fire crew shows up, what can they do? (Our trucks have a staff of three. Federal law requires four people on site before a building can be entered.)
    2. How long before backup equipment can arrive?
    3. What is the condition of the equipment when it does arrive? Do all the parts work?
    4. When our firefighters are engaged at one incident, and there is a second call, how will it be handled?
    5. We expect mutual aid from Oakland. If, in exchange, we are engaged in a fire call in Oakland through mutual aid, do we have the staff to handle a major incident in Alameda?
    6. etc.

    Focusing only on initial response time can lead to some really dumb decisions.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — June 15, 2012 @ 10:14 am

  16. My hats off and many thanks to Doug DeHaan, who seems to be the only council member not in the back pockets of the firefights union, and the only one willing to stand up to the city government. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by John Johnson — June 15, 2012 @ 10:22 am

  17. 15 (“…Federal law requires four people on site before a building can be entered.)

    Mind citing the CFR where this requirement is called out? All I could find was the ‘Two in Two out’ OSHA requirement which was later made into law.

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 15, 2012 @ 11:04 am

  18. 17. Yes, Jack, “two in, two out” is what I’m thinking of.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — June 15, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

  19. It’s “two in, two out”, the law is not two plus two…though some localities have local regs that require additional personnel on site. I don’t know what Alameda’s reg is.

    The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a revised standard regarding respiratory protection. Among other changes, the regulation now requires that interior structural fire fighting procedures provide for at least two fire fighters inside the structure. Two fire fighters inside the structure must have direct visual or voice contact between each other and direct, voice or radio contact with fire fighters outside the structure. This section has been dubbed the fire fighters’ “two-in/two-out” regulation. The International Association of Fire Fighters and the International Association of Fire Chiefs are providing the following questions and answers to assist you in understanding the section of the regulationrelated to interior structural fire fighting.

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 15, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

  20. I stand corrected…sorry

    In these atmospheres,
    OSHA requires that personnel use self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), that a minimum of two fire fighters work as a team inside the structure, and that a minimum of two fire fighters be on standby outside the structure to provide assistance or perform rescue

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 15, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

  21. To reiterate a prior comment, deHaan is mentally incapable of understanding the complexities of city budgetting, and represents a segment of Alameda that does not want to be confused with the facts. deHaan and Peterson can’t even be bothered to learn that San Jose and San Diego have their own pension system or that the county’s firefighters are paid more than the city’s or that the county cannot accept facilities that do not meet safety standards. Let’s hope he gets replaced in November with someone more mentally competent.

    Comment by BarbaraK — June 15, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

  22. Lauren, I thought John Russo’s grand speech was one of his best so far. I sat through the meeting waiting for council member DeHaan to lay out his vision for how he would solve our budget problems in light of the fact that he worked so hard to kill Measure C, and was disappointed that he had none; except that we should evaluate turning over our fire department to the county. I can’t believe that he would suggest that we turn over our fire department to an organization that has a $90m budget deficit. Obviously he didn’t do his homework. Clearly for Doug, this is more about politics than a well thought out solution to our problems.

    Hopefully he’ll take some time to think about his vision and share it with the community. I would truly love to hear it. In the meantime, I appreciate the leadership of our Mayor, our city council, and staff as they diligently work towards solving our budget deficits and maintaining and improving the quality of our life on the Island.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 15, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  23. “To reiterate a prior comment, deHaan is mentally incapable of understanding the complexities of city budgetting, and represents a segment of Alameda that does not want to be confused with the facts. deHaan and Peterson can’t even be bothered to learn that San Jose and San Diego have their own pension system or that the county’s firefighters are paid more than the city’s or that the county cannot accept facilities that do not meet safety standards. Let’s hope he gets replaced in November with someone more mentally competent.”
    Hit the nail on the head! Dehaan and his followers posted a ton of information for No on “C” in newspapers that was totally wrong. For example: stating that the AFD currently has three trucks and five stations.
    How about fact checking this data before you put it in the paper dufus.

    Comment by Jmasterson — June 15, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  24. Barbra K, No need for sour grapes.. Measure C lost. You will not get your new fire truck to go grocery shopping in. Now that you threw a few stones, what is your plan to fund long term benefits? With all of your budgetary knowledge what do you plan to do to balance the city budget? Is your plan to ask us to pay more? Is you plan to continue to waste at the same rate with out tightening down the screws? Should we continue to staff positions that are not needed? Should we continue to ignore reports that the city commisioned that told them to reduce the number of fire houses in Alameda. We all want new stuff, but at a certain point we must grow up and stop asking for hand out’s like a 13 year old kid would of his parents. When we speak of response time we must calculate the time it will take to get a fireman from Fairfield to Alameda in the event of an emergency.

    Comment by Gregg de Haan — June 15, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

  25. Gregg,

    Can you outline the waste and unnecessary positions that you cite as needing to go away? I continue to be unclear on what it is you are recommending. Also, as you are citing the ICMA report, could you explain how implementing it will impact fire service in Alameda?

    It’s hard to have a meaningful discussion on such a complex and important topic when all that is bandied about are generalities that are pretty meaningless without ideas on how to implement them. Let’s take the conversation to the next level and outline the steps you are proposing the City take.

    Comment by jkw — June 15, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  26. FAIRFIELD? Response time from Fairfield?

    Comment by Li_ — June 15, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

  27. Orange County Fire Authoriity has a fire department employee that lives in Las Vegas. When the Fire Chief was asked about residency, he said that the firefighter living in Las Vegas could get back to southern Orange County faster that someone living in North Los Angeles county in extreme circumstances. But the only thing people seem to focus on is mileage, not traffic & usual road conditions

    Comment by Pat Berton — June 15, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

  28. 24. Mr DeHaan,
    I have been a CERT and Red cross volunteer for 20 years. I have disabilaties that sometimes prompt the use of 911. What positions in your opinion are not needed? Are you talking about closing fire station 5 and shutting down truck 3 as your fathers supporters propose? To be taken seriously you have to have a plan with facts and unbiased data. Remember, what services you don’t use or think you don’t need may not be true for other citizens.

    Comment by Jmasterson — June 15, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

  29. It is the overpaid city managers responsibility to address these problems. It is not for one lone council member to solve. Tell the other council members and the city manager to get off their high horse and act concerned. Leave Doug alone … the only council member not elected on dirty campaign contributions.

    Comment by Dr Poodlesmurf — June 16, 2012 @ 6:19 am

  30. The way you continue to harangue Doug … only makes you look desperate .. Obviously you have no answers either..

    Comment by Dr Poodlesmurf — June 16, 2012 @ 7:16 am

  31. “…saying that he hoped that the Chief wasn’t “fiscally unresponsible” yeah he said unresponsible that’s not a typo.’

    1. unresponsible
    An entity which denies responsibility…

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 16, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

  32. hành vi bất thường

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 16, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

  33. A lot of you above, plus everyone on the dais at this meeting. are missing or purposely avoiding the point: This meeting was called, before the election, by the proponents of Measure C, in the event it Failed. I expected, and did not hear, Gilmore-Bonta-Tam’s “Plan B”. Instead of presenting her Plan B, the Mayor tried to put the onus on deHaan, who did not schedule the meeting and would not have, since he wasn’t advocating the projects of Measure C. Instead of an insightful post, Lauren Do has served us a stew of Red Herrings, hiding the Failure of Three Stooges leadership at the bottom of the pot.

    Comment by vigi — June 17, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

    • Thank you for that bit of information. I wasn’t sure whether stoges floated or sank.

      Comment by Tom Schweich — June 17, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

  34. Stooges and Red Herrings at the bottom of the pot might make the stew more tasty but stoges…whew, no way.

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 17, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

  35. Plus, if they’re this brand, since stoges float, you’d see their butts.

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 17, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

  36. Maybe DOOOO Can Start a DeHaan Doll Collection

    Comment by John — June 17, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  37. Thanks for coming in from the golf course with a good sense of humor, John. Those were great…Monica was one of the good things Bill filled, she’d make a good blow-up dolly.

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 17, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

  38. Jack

    I think Churchlady has been hanging out at the New Spa.










    Comment by John — June 17, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

  39. Measure C…….Were Broke ……Let me get ya a Fork

    A little old lady answered a knock on the door one day, to be confronted by a well-dressed young man carrying a vacuum cleaner.
    ‘Good morning,’ said the young man. ‘If I could take a couple minutes of your time, I would like to demonstrate the very latest in high-powered vacuum cleaners”
    ”Go away!” said the old lady. ”I’m broke and haven’t got any money!”
    and she proceeded to close the door.
    Quick as a flash, the young man wedged his foot in the door and pushed it wide open.
    ”Don’t be too hasty!” he said.
    ”Not until you have at least seen my demonstration.”
    And with that, he emptied a bucket of horse manure onto her hallway carpet.
    “Now if this vacuum cleaner does not remove all traces of this horse manure from your carpet, Madam, I will personally eat the remainder.”
    The old lady stepped back and said,
    “Well let me get you a fork, ’cause they cut off my electricity this morning.”

    Comment by John — June 17, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

  40. Measure C Strategy

    Comment by John — June 18, 2012 @ 1:23 am

  41. Alameda is not alone…… DeHaan might need asbestos Hide

    Voters douse most tax-increase fires

    June 15, 2012

    By Dave Roberts

    When you take on the firefighters’ union, it helps to have an asbestos hide.

    Kris Hunt, executive director for the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, has waged a number of political battles over the years, including once receiving a death threat. But her recent battle against a $197 tax hike in a small fire district on the eastern edge of the Bay Area turned out to be the nastiest yet.

    She was slandered as a “community terrorist” and repeatedly called a liar. One blogger placed her and five other tax opponents (including myself) on a hit list of people to contact if your house burns down. Hunt was told that a board member asked a staffer to find out her address.

    Hunt jokes that she’s shopping for alligators for her moat.

    “I have never been in one that was made so personal before,” she said. “Usually people will argue with you, but this thing actually devolved into name calling. They are still at it, that we are lying. Wow. They can’t accept reality. This is probably going to continue just because we have hit where they hurt. And when they didn’t have a solid argument they really let it get personal, and that is unfortunate.”

    As for being on a hit list, Hunt said, “That’s another level of viciousness. By that time I decided the only way to deal with this, if you aren’t going to be able to convince these people, then you make fun. I said that I am number one on the list — I am bragging about it. That seemed the only way to deal with this.”

    But she also acknowledged, “There’s a level of concern only in that there are crazy people out there. People can go over the line and get very emotional.”

    Despite fire tax proponents spending $177,000 (to zero spending by opponents), the tax hike failed to gain a majority of the vote, let alone the two-thirds required to pass.

    Comment by John — June 18, 2012 @ 2:33 am

  42. What about that confidentiality leak at city hall that cost us 44k?

    Comment by Dr Poodlesmurf — June 18, 2012 @ 7:16 am

  43. Poodles… please don’t let the facts hurt you and deHaan on his way out. Transparency means that public information is available to all, even to someone like you who can’t recognize it.

    Comment by BarbaraK — June 18, 2012 @ 10:48 am

  44. BarbK … have another sour grape

    Comment by Dr Poodlesmurf — June 18, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at