Once again there’s an item on the City Council agenda that seems like a no brainer. Turns out to be a contentious issue. Members of the City Council bend over backward to appease Mayor Trish Spencer and then she votes against it anyway.
The no brainer: establishing a Disaster Council to bring Alameda in compliance with state law, specifically:
The Disaster Council’s role is to develop and recommend to the City Council the adoption of emergency and mutual aid plans and agreements, as well as related ordinances, resolutions, and rules and regulations, which will benefit the City’s efforts in response to emergencies and disasters. Work produced by the Disaster Council will be presented to the City Council for approval and adoption.
In addition, having an “Accredited Disaster Council” will allow the City to swear in citizen volunteers as California Disaster Service Workers (DSW). This will relieve the City of workers’ compensation liability in the event that a DSW volunteer is hurt or killed while assisting during a declared disaster or while participating in official disaster related training exercises. Volunteers sworn in as DSW’s are covered under the State of California’s workers’ compensation insurance plan.
The Disaster Council will allow the City’s emergency organization to obtain legal recognition by the State of California as an official emergency organization. The City’s Emergency Management Plan will reference this ordinance and is in alignment with its language. The Emergency Management Plan also provides more detailed guidance and management procedures for the emergency organization to follow when planning, preparing, and training.
The backward bends: Trish Spencer wants to be the head of the Disaster Council, the ordinance designates the City Manager as chair of the Disaster Council. Tony Daysog and Frank Matarrese want specific language that aligns the ordinance with the City Charter in an attempt to appease the Mayor.
End result: Trish Spencer is the sole vote against the first reading of the creation of the Alameda Disaster Council. No reason why even though she sort of got what she wanted.
During the meeting both Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Jim Oddie initially wanted to vote on the ordinance without modifications. They allowed for the friendly amendments by Frank Matarrese and Tony Daysog, both who voted against the ordinance as-is in order to take care of the required business. If the ordinance had not passed the first reading on Tuesday night, the City Council could not have voted on the next agenda item to provide workers’ compensation benefits to registered disaster services volunteers which would have exposed the City of Alameda to liability.
I’m sure a Trish Spencer apologist will have some excuse as to why she voted against the creation of a body that would organize the response for the City in the case of a disaster.