Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 13, 2015


Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

For those who watched the City Council meeting from a few weeks ago (I’ve lost all track of time as to when these meetings happen anymore) you might recall during the discussion about the new MOUs for public safety two people alluded to sitting in coffee shops bad mouthing public safety.  In case you were wondering what or who that referred to, it’s all in this letter that was sent to Mayor Trish Spencer yesterday (cc-ing the rest of the Council and the Interim City Manager).

Reading the whole thing is highly recommended but let me screen cap some of the best (and most interesting parts):

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 3.21.39 PM

Now it makes sense why Trish Spencer is so fixated on Peet’s Coffee and getting to and fro quickly from that particular location, that’s where she holds court.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 3.23.19 PM

“Ben” is IAFF Vice President Ben Kim who contacted Trish Spencer about what the two off duty Firefighters overheard at Peet’s.  “Defensive and unwilling to engage,” way to keep lines of communication open with City staff!

Here’s the best part of the letter though:

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 3.29.45 PM

One word: OMG!

More words: recorded conversation!

More more words: no expectation of privacy in public place.

Seriously, whoever has this tape, I want it.  I would cherish it and throw it up on YouTube and make it all fancy and stuff with photos and spinning graphics and cross fades and Ken Burns effects and everything.  I’ll never disclose your identity.  Think about it!

Now, let’s parse this, actually, let’s let IAFF’s president parse this first:

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 3.35.37 PM

Yeah, what he said.  The other two things (the Russo thing and the 80% thing) are (1) opinion and (2) wrong, respectively.  Which just goes back to the whole issue of Trish Spencer not really understand any of the information that is presented to her. But the statement about Frank Matarrese is extremely problematic because, as was mentioned above, it implies that Trish Spencer and Frank Matarrese had already discussed their votes ahead of time and had agreed upon a course of action.

Personally, if I were Frank Matarrese and I had never talked to Trish Spencer about this I would be spitting mad.  Actually, if I were Frank Matarrese and I had talked to Trish Spencer about this I still would be spitting mad.  Apparently someone hasn’t learned the definition of discretion.

Of course the huge loser in all this is Peets which will lose the patronage of the Mayor of Alameda and her weekly? biweekly? daily? Peets Pow Wows.  I’ll say that I have heard rumors about these Peets Pow Wows and had always had the intent of trying to surreptitiously listen in, but I’m busy and lazy and never got around to it.  Now, I imagine that these will move to more private accommodations where grievances can be aired without the pesky public listening in.


  1. OK- so how much of the Alameda budget does the Fire Department take? 60%, 50%, 40%? and how does that compare to neighboring communities? Any of those figures sound too high for me.

    Comment by Breathless — May 13, 2015 @ 6:17 am

  2. Why did they go to Peet’s again at all after the first time they got overheard? Arrogance? Ignorance? Both?

    Comment by Anonymoustroll — May 13, 2015 @ 6:43 am

  3. Just to follow up, Steven Tavares over at EB Citizen got Trish Spencer to make a statement and in typical political fashion she did not recall making the comments, but yet still “respects” employees including firefighters, but then simply is unwilling to engage with them when confronted.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 13, 2015 @ 7:19 am

  4. Given the Mayor’s response to Councilmember Oddie last night, maybe she thinks back-rooms are the appropriate place to address things, and that the council space is just the stage for the formal performance.

    Comment by AK — May 13, 2015 @ 8:00 am

  5. 1. A little more than 10%.

    General fund is about 30% of the budget, public safety is about 70%of the general fund. Fire is less than half the public safety budget.

    Public Works is the biggest pay off the budget at 35%.

    Comment by jkw — May 13, 2015 @ 8:21 am

  6. I am shocked! Shocked I tell you to find that politics as usual is being conducted in our fair city. Zzzzzzzzz

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 13, 2015 @ 8:29 am

  7. Most transparent mayor ever. Transparently incompetent.

    Comment by BMac — May 13, 2015 @ 8:35 am

  8. Marie was merely aloof. “Discretion is the better part of valor”.

    Comment by MI — May 13, 2015 @ 8:56 am

  9. I am more concerned that some unnamed self-righteous yokel is going around recording coffee-shop conversations of people s/he doesn’t agree with and giving them to the fire department.. Probably the same yokel who goes around Alameda writing down the license plates of cars with expired registrations and giving them to the police department. That’s Our Public Safety…Alameda’s Finest…setting a good example since….

    Steven Tavares is Lauren Do in drag.

    Comment by vigi — May 13, 2015 @ 9:28 am

  10. Putting aside the hearsay and inept writing by the President, did the “citizen” get permission from all parties included in the recording of the conversation?

    California Wiretapping Law
    California’s wiretapping law is a “two-party consent” law. California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation. See Cal. Penal Code § 632

    Comment by jack — May 13, 2015 @ 9:34 am

  11. 9. It’s called community policing. Since the Alameda Police Department is short staff, they need community members to help with law breakers. Elected officials “holding court” at Peets sounds like a public forum, much like Tony and Frank’s coffee meetings. Just ask Mike Katz and David Howard, when they assert the right to video record public meetings.

    Comment by Alan — May 13, 2015 @ 9:36 am

  12. Wow. I have no words…(again!) and this is getting hot! Who was it that called City Government the best theatrical entertainment on the island?

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — May 13, 2015 @ 9:41 am

  13. For the wiretapping law it would seem as though the term “confidential communication” is the important term here. Is it reasonable for Trish Spencer and the group she was with to believe that a conversation held at Peets, a coffee shop open to the public, that there would be an expectation of privacy?

    Hearsay is, of course, the recounting of the two off-duty firefighters. The quotes pulled from the alleged audio recording is not hearsay.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 13, 2015 @ 9:48 am

  14. Jeff DelBono’s letter says: “Here in Alameda we have worked hard to build trust”. Really? By publishing in an official letter what some yahoo surreptitiously recorded in a coffee-shop?

    BTW, In-N-Out is not only open, someone has already published a Yelp review about it! Must have had a Dbl-Dbl for breakfast?

    Comment by vigi — May 13, 2015 @ 9:51 am

  15. 13
    ‘…it would seem…”, only if you’re on the jury.

    Comment by jack — May 13, 2015 @ 9:56 am

  16. Okay, let’s wait for Trish Spencer to file that lawsuit that her privacy was invaded because a citizen recorded his/her Mayor at a coffee shop talking smack about public employees to a group.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 13, 2015 @ 10:00 am

  17. She doesn’t have to file it. One of her fellow smackees could.

    Comment by jack — May 13, 2015 @ 10:07 am

  18. WELCOME TO ALAMEDA! out-of-towners. Watch what you say to each other in our coffee shops…it just might be recorded by our public safety officers, after which it will appear, complete with disparaging spin and derogatory commentary, in Blogging Bayport Alameda.

    We call this “community policing”, so it’s OK. That’s how we keep Alameda such a safe place to live and work.

    Comment by vigi — May 13, 2015 @ 10:10 am

  19. Great, I can’t wait for that. That will just be the cherry on the top of the shit show that is Alameda politics right now. Can we get Andy Cohen to host the reunion show?

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 13, 2015 @ 10:13 am

  20. Let’s assume you think recording / reporting on what the Mayor says out loud in a public place is inappropriate. A bogus assumption but let’s go with it.

    The Mayor presents herself, and is characterized by her supporters, as a brave, lone voice in the wilderness; one of the few people in Alameda willing to stand up for The Truth and all that is Good.

    So why wouldn’t she say the things she is saying in Peet’s in public council meetings, so that:

    – All Alamedans can be informed of these important issues
    – People can debate with her if they think her facts are wrong
    – These issues can be put in the public record?

    Is Alameda’s Mayor spineless? Or is this just red-meat pandering to her base? Is the top elected official in Alameda afraid of being “bullied” for telling The Truth?

    Comment by brock — May 13, 2015 @ 10:18 am

  21. First thing, the suit should be filed so the recording can be subpoenaed and not erased. I suggest that Do do this type shit since she knows all the inside dope about everybody. Then we find a well known talk show (not Cohen) personality and wait for the bids from minor networks to roll in and solve all our fiscal woes.

    Comment by jack — May 13, 2015 @ 10:25 am

  22. With all due respect to the loyal, courageous and underpaid first responders, it’s not like there’s anything new about what the recording (if it exists) purports to reveal it’s just the who and the where that are noteworthy. The fact (if it is a fact) that the Mayor made these comments may be novel but the same comments are reflected in street conversations by many many citizens who look askance at Public employees making ten times the yearly income than what the less connected make.

    Comment by jack — May 13, 2015 @ 10:41 am

  23. As I mentioned above the recorded comments are problematic because the first comment about Frank Matarrese would imply that there was some back room deal between Trish Spencer and Frank Matarrese:

    “Frank was supposed to vote with me and then switched his vote” goes beyond comments that are made by citizens on the street.

    The second comment about John Russo is just an opinion and yes, is something that a regular citizen might say. Of course it runs counter to the comments Trish Spencer made at the last meeting John Russo was City Manager where she talked about their good working relationship and just furthers Brock’s point above that Trish Spencer takes an aggressive stance while surrounded by an adoring audience, but doesn’t have the fortitude to say that during a City Council meeting.

    The third comment about the 80% is just plain incorrect and shows that Trish Spencer, of all people, should know the budget left and right at this point. She literally has multiple people willing to hold her hand to understand all aspects of the budget and the differences between all funds as opposed to the general fund and that public safety encompasses both fire and police, but she either willfully wants to present bad information to rile up her supporters or just doesn’t understand the budget, still.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 13, 2015 @ 10:50 am

  24. The echo chamber this blog has become is amusing. Recall her then! I dare you!! I double dare you!!! What you will find out is that a solid majority of Alamedans agree with her vs. the slimy Jeff (who has made the CADC an impotent joke).

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — May 13, 2015 @ 10:55 am

  25. Alameda…just a microcosm of the national stage…In my emailbox this AM, quite timely…From Kristine Arriaga of the Becket Fund:

    “Dear Friends, No one likes to be silenced. It is infuriating.

    I personally have a strong aversion to it.

    Last Thursday, at our annual Canterbury Medal Dinner, I spoke to that aversion.

    I explained that initially, after my family escaped Castro’s Cuba and we settled in the United States, every night at dinnertime, we closed all the windows.

    Just in case.

    The “just in case” meant that we did not want our neighbors, who lived only a few feet away, to hear anything indiscreet we might say at dinner time.

    In Cuba, such carelessness could land you in prison. Or worse. The government made sure one kept silent.

    When we discovered that no one had to be silent in the US, we rejoiced. (Some would argue that, at times, we rejoiced in it a bit too much.)

    We eagerly drank from the fountain of freedom of expression–and perhaps from a few bottles of wine–until someone was offended, or threw a plate or both.

    I am happy to say that we at Becket also believe that no one should be silenced.

    In fact, we believe that no American—regardless of political or religious persuasion– should have to close their windows–“just in case.”…

    Kirsten Powers—a self described liberal—also spoke about the chilling ways in which Americans are being silenced. Her book, The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech, came out on Monday. I pre-ordered and could not put it down. I so highly recommend you get a copy.”

    In Alameda, we evidently have to start closing our windows. No free speech here.

    Comment by vigi — May 13, 2015 @ 10:56 am

  26. I wonder which action will be filed first, a lawsuit by the trishettes complaining about recording in a public forum, or the FOI request for all the text messages she exchanges with her minions during council meetings, including closed door sessions.

    Comment by notadave — May 13, 2015 @ 11:32 am

  27. 23
    So Do, you’ve heard the recorded comments? If not, why do you believe 3rd hand info? It almost sounds like you’re willing to believe anything as long as it’s derogatory towards those you disagree with. You’d think even Blog hosts would show a modicum of integrity and check that accusatory speculation and innuendos are actually factual prior to condemning those accused.

    Comment by jack — May 13, 2015 @ 11:36 am

  28. I believe it exists because I’ve heard numerous “hearsay” accounts of people who have been sitting in Peets while Trish Spencer has been holding court. I haven’t recounted those stories because they’re all second hand and would be too much of a stretch to run with.

    I believe the tape exists because when confronted with information about the audio by Steven Tavares Trish Spencer did not deny that she said what was alleged, just that she didn’t “recall” saying those statements and then went on to point the blame at the person calling attention to her comments.

    As I’ve mentioned time and time again, this is a blog, not a news report. I present information that I find interesting and present my opinions on that. You can choose to believe what the IAFF president has recounted in the letter or you can opt not to. Given what I have heard about Trish Spencer opinions on these topics, there’s nothing that would lead me to believe that these statements would be unusual for her to say.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 13, 2015 @ 11:47 am

  29. So let me just confirm – she sat in Peets flapping her gums – the day after the fire fighters gave her clear indications that they were aware of what she was saying in public about them? They signaled her and then she did it again? And was under some illusion that no one could hear what she was saying (inside her cone of silence?) – just what a lot of us have been saying all along – she does not know when to shut up. Except of course, when she forgets to tell the other board members about her votes on the regional boards. Gotta tell you- reading Vigi and Jack’s reactions have been the highlight of my morning- especially the one about privacy in Alameda. Love that one. Small island, lots of people – people sniffing every where for dirt on the previous council and it’s supporters for years..loved it- OH yeah and the old chestnut about a personal blog is exactly the same as news again. Jack needs some new material.

    Comment by librarycat — May 13, 2015 @ 12:09 pm

  30. Vigi, free speech is welcomed in Alameda. This post is about being accountable for your words.

    Comment by Alan — May 13, 2015 @ 12:15 pm

  31. So let me confirm. The big news here is:

    1. Jeff criticizes Trish.
    2. People in Alameda eavesdrop.
    3. Alameda firefighters are overpaid.
    4. Trish and Frank discussed their voting strategies.
    5. John Russo was sympathetic to the firefighters.
    6. Trish engaged in some hyperbole.

    Wow!!! That is very interesting. The collective yawn of Alamedans everywhere is thrilling to behold.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — May 13, 2015 @ 12:18 pm

  32. In a political fight between Jeff DelBono and Trish Spencer, I know which side Lauren will be on, but I also know which side will win.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — May 13, 2015 @ 12:20 pm

  33. Someday, when they are old enough, I imagine Lauren and Ben’s children will read what their mother wrote about her neighbors in this blog and judge for themselves.

    Comment by vigi — May 13, 2015 @ 12:22 pm

  34. In a political fight between the unions and elected officials, everyone loses.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 13, 2015 @ 12:32 pm

  35. Perhaps it is not untimely to remind ourselves the difference between principles of decency and cooperation (and facts) vs. personalities and mere opinion in governance and community..Call me Pollyanna (again) however, if one sinks to name calling and mud slinging, and the “nah nah nah” (dear Vigi and friends) what kind of community is it you really wish in Alameda? Know this: your very words create the tone that the community becomes. You BE the community YOU wish to see. I see a differently. Lauren: keep on keeping on.

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — May 13, 2015 @ 12:35 pm

  36. 22: “…the same comments are reflected in street conversations by many many citizens who look askance at Public employees making ten times the yearly income than what the less connected make.”

    First of all, Jack, your “ten times” crack is an exaggeration. since the median income in Alameda is about $40,000 and the median household income is $77,000 )approx.).

    Second, how many of the rest of us (“the less connected”) are skilled in public safety? And how many of us are willing *and able* to risk our lives in burning buildings, at crime scenes, or capable of saving lives in a medical emergency? These are specialized skills, and the careers of public safety personnel are often shorter than “the less connected” folks like us because they are regularly exposed to toxic smoke, diseased blood, bar fights, domestic disputes, bullets, and such….

    Don’t be so quick to criticize people unless you are willing to step up and do yourself what they do for you. If you think public safety officers (fire police) are overpaid, try doing what they do for a shift or two…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 13, 2015 @ 12:57 pm

  37. Wasn’t this the same Fire Department which took a film of their own fire chief gassing up his cars and used it to remove him because he took a position which they thought would cut jobs? Undoubtedly each City Council member is now looking over their shoulder right now.

    Comment by rachel carson — May 13, 2015 @ 1:04 pm

  38. Police and fire aren’t eating up 80% of the budget! they are only eating up 70% !!! Bad mayor saying bad things!

    Comment by mister fister — May 13, 2015 @ 1:20 pm

  39. 35: If human history is any guide, I suspect that those who have been so critical of the mistakes of previous mayors and council members may not be perfect, since fallibility is a universal human condition–and I include myself in this, of course.

    Do Kurt Petersen, Eugenie Thomson, or our beloved vigi never make mistakes, that they feel so able to criticize city officials? (Jim Oddie and Andrew Thomas are only the most recent targets, according to the pages of the May 7 Alameda Sun.)

    Perhaps if the critics of prior administrations and councils (and those critics might include current public servants) were somewhat more measured or constructive in their criticisms, we *would* be better off. Gabrielle has a point: what kind of community do we want to live in?

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 13, 2015 @ 1:20 pm

  40. 36
    Jon, since you apparently don’t know the difference between “many” and “median”, I also assume you don’t know that there are over 5000 people in Alameda that make less than $15,000 per year. 5000+ in my book is “many”. I also assume you don’t know that there are over 50 city employees who each cost this city over $200K per year.

    As far as your feelings about Public Safety employees, if you’d do a little research you’d find that garbage collectors have a much higher fatality rate than public safety workers.

    Comment by jack — May 13, 2015 @ 2:00 pm

  41. 33. Wow, vigi, that is pathetic.

    Comment by BMac — May 13, 2015 @ 2:05 pm

  42. “In a political fight between the unions and elected officials, everyone loses.” Bullshit, only the citizens lose regardless whether the politicians and unions are fighting or kissing.

    Comment by jack — May 13, 2015 @ 2:06 pm

  43. 41 = It may be pathetic to you, but it is quite true. The evil that people say lives on after them, and their children will have to deal with it. Lauren has made herself an historical footnote to Alameda with this blog, and for better or worse, will be known and remembered for it.

    As for me, I am glad my grandfather was better known for actually attending council meetings, than for the fist fights he may have been in because of them.

    Comment by vigi — May 13, 2015 @ 3:11 pm

  44. 43. “The evil that people say lives on after them, and their children will have to deal with it.” may we assume correctly that you have no children ?

    Comment by MI — May 13, 2015 @ 5:05 pm

  45. 38. Mista Fistula, since you feel free to ignore the correction about “budget” and “general fund” in #5 we can all feel free to ignore your ignorant comment. You don’ need no steeenking facts anyways, since you have Trish, the Bubblehead-in-Chief to stir the pot of shit.

    Using NYFD salary as just one comp, I think door is open for debate about just how well off our safety employees are, and as a socialist I can’t condone any public pension over $60K, not for any job anywhere ( including teachers). But that isn’t what today’s discussion is about. It’s about an elected person choosing to talk shit in the most public of venues about a city bargaining group, also about whether it is fair to have any expectation of privacy at all, especially in this age of electronic devices. I think not.

    2. why Peet’s the first time? arrogant, ignorant etc.

    Comment by MI — May 13, 2015 @ 5:18 pm

  46. I speak no evil.

    Comment by vigi — May 13, 2015 @ 5:21 pm

  47. 40. without the same vehement antipathy, I have to agree with Jack’s point. just anecdotally, it seems like there are a fist full of construction accident deaths in the bay area each year compared to relative few if any for fire fighters. Cops may be a whole other matter what with spate of Highway Patrol shootings, etc. I’ve excavated footings in crawl spaces before noticing the little paper stapled to a beam with the date for last pest spray with toxic soup. I can wear a respirator, but the residue in my clothes comes home to the laundry.

    Comment by MI — May 13, 2015 @ 5:26 pm

  48. darn 46- that is some high pedestal you have put yourself on. O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!

    Comment by librarycat — May 13, 2015 @ 5:34 pm

  49. Gaaaa! Did any of you (besides Lauren) take the time to actually read the whole letter? I was looking forward to a good discussion here. 43 comments going nowhere.

    So, changing the subject, Vigi, over time, you have mentioned bits and pieces of your family’s historic Alameda-ness. It’s tantalizing. How about giving us the story? When did they come? Who were they? Why did they come here? Where did they live? I think you said you live in the original house, is it one of the house tour Victorians? What did they do for a living? How did they contribute to the development of the city? Besides you, are there a lot of the decendants still here? Looking forward to a good story, thanks!

    Comment by Li_ — May 13, 2015 @ 5:42 pm

  50. 47
    “vehement antipathy ” me in # 40? Towards Jon? Give me a break, Mark. I love Jon and would never hold antipathetic feelings against him or anyone else with whom I disagree.

    If Jon thinks otherwise, I apologize.

    Comment by jack — May 13, 2015 @ 6:01 pm

  51. Jack: what’s happening? You’re losing your avuncular, contrarian-yet-jolly persona.

    Comment by BC — May 13, 2015 @ 7:57 pm

  52. BC, no I’m mending my avuncular. I catch hell (not really) from my niece who’s persona barely puts up with her outspoken uncle. Deb Wright is my favorite niece, is a real jewel and I admire her and her ability to relate to all members of this community. Jon knows her as do many others on this blog and they no doubt feel the same as I do about Deb.

    Comment by jack — May 13, 2015 @ 8:50 pm

  53. 33, 41. 43: Let those of us who are without sin cast the first stone, folks. The last time I looked, we were ALL imperfect: even Jack and I fall short of the mark (or is it the median?) 🙂 once in a while….

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 13, 2015 @ 9:55 pm

  54. The video of Tuesday’s City Council meeting (on the budget) is now available here:

    After the Public Works budget presentation slides, which begin at 2:11, listen to Jim Oddie’s questions of staff, beginning with about 2:45 elapsed.
    Over the next few minutes, things get very interesting as Oddie asks about the Broadway/Jackson Interchange, a project that has been under development–and controversial–for many years. Watch until Oddie mentions Mayor Spencer’s un-representative votes (2:52) against long-endorsed projects like Broadway/Jackson at the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC), which is opposed by many in Oakland. (Watch the mayor’s response, too!)

    It seems to end—for now—at 2:53…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 13, 2015 @ 9:58 pm

  55. Starbucks should be “spittin’ mad!”

    Comment by Basel — May 14, 2015 @ 4:17 pm

  56. So Lauren thinks this is a “shit show”…

    The worst political shit shows I ever saw in this town were produced by her people: Lena Tam selling out the taxpayers to the firemen, Gilmore, Bonta et al taking money from the firemen and showering them with even more gold, Russo buying his job from Gilmore/Tam/Bonta.

    THAT is a shit show, but the Laurenettes all defended it that because it was THEIR team playing. As badly as Trish has stumbled (and she can be downright embarrassing) last I checked she wasn’t bought & paid for. But now all the people who believe that more development means less traffic (I must come up with a shorter epithet for these people, any suggestions?) are up in arms because of a few procedural disagreements, cuz ANYTHING Trish does is wrong, because she’s Trish.

    Hypocrisy: when the rules only apply to the other team.

    And the personal attacks are getting crazy. In the other thread somebody made a crack about Trish’s cancer history. That was a brutally offensive comment, one which would normally bring out Spangler and Quick and the other holier-than-thous with a lecture on civility. But invective is simply civil discourse when it’s thrown at the right person.

    Hypocrisy: when the rules only apply to the other team.

    Trish is far from perfect, but she is the mayor of Alameda. Gilmore was the mayor of ABAG, the mayor of the firemen, the mayor of turning our comfortable town into Emeryville. I’ll take Trish any day, warts and all.

    Comment by Good Government — May 15, 2015 @ 10:35 am

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