Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 23, 2016

Insult to injury

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

I have to say that I was getting a bit envious while reading the tweets from Steven Tavares about all the drama filled activities of the City of Hayward.  It had been a while since Trish Spencer had said anything truly gaffe worthy, see “We like to have a good time!” in response to the newest campaign by the City of Alameda complete with little hearts talking about what we love about Alameda.  At least she was able to eke out something other than trees.

But Trish Spencer always has something going on that makes you say, “that’s SO Alameda!”

Some of you may have caught this tweet in my timeline in the corner over there:

Naturally, I have the full-ish deets for you all.

Probably thanks to this scathing report in the Alameda Magazine which mentioned Trish Spencer’s husband recent tangle with the law, Joel Spencer is crying foul and expecting some sort of settlement from the City of Alameda.  As a reminder, from the Alameda Magazine article:

But what Dhingra didn’t know is that the mayor’s husband, Joel Spencer, had previously been in a serious run-in with the same police officer. Just two weeks prior, on March 17, Hansen had pulled Spencer over for allegedly speeding and driving his car through a stop sign on Central Avenue, according to Rolleri and court records. Spencer was later booked into county jail on suspicion of DUI. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office subsequently filed misdemeanor drunken driving charges against Spencer, alleging that his blood alcohol level was 0.15 percent, nearly double the legal limit, court records show. Joel Spencer, 57, pleaded not guilty on April 18, and as of press time, was still awaiting trial.

In a brief interview following the grand opening of a restaurant in Alameda in early August, Spencer referred to a question about her involvement in the incident with the police officer who arrested her husband as “a fabrication.”

So here it is folks, in all its glory.  Fun fact: the lawyer that has been retained by Joel Spencer also adjudicated the Howard v. Knox White defamation lawsuit. I have screen shots of all the interesting stuff:



A “PAS” is, according to the internets, a “preliminary alcohol screening.”

So, I guess, Joel Spencer is alleging that he didn’t blow a 0.15 on the breathalyzer and that the police officer is lying/fabricating the entire incident.  That’s kind of a big thing yes?  Saying that a police officer (1) made up the fact that your driving was so bad that he had to pull you over and/or (2) doctored the results of your breathalyzer test.

Whatever it, I’m hoping that this doesn’t get quietly settled.  I’ll bring the popcorn.



  1. No “probably cause” for the stop?. My goodness.

    Comment by MP — September 23, 2016 @ 6:38 am

  2. “the lawyer that has been retained by Joel Spencer also adjudicated the Howard v. Knox White defamation lawsuit”. Is there a name? This implies that the lawyer was the judge in the prior case.

    Comment by MP — September 23, 2016 @ 6:44 am

    • He was filling in at the time. Not an appointed or elected judge, but was in an “acting” capacity.

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2016 @ 6:45 am

      • ok thank you

        Comment by MP — September 23, 2016 @ 6:47 am

      • that must have been a small claims case

        Comment by MP — September 23, 2016 @ 6:48 am

    • OK, never mind. Sorry. I can see it by clicking the link.

      Comment by MP — September 23, 2016 @ 6:46 am

  3. Are we headed towards a search for a private email server used by the arresting officer and others?

    Comment by MP — September 23, 2016 @ 7:14 am

    • I imagine given the profile of the incident after the Alameda Magazine article came out, there must have been some inquiry into the officer and that particular traffic stop.

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2016 @ 7:32 am

  4. Alcoholism is a disease..metabolically unable to process ETOH. Definitely treatable, however left untreated wrecks havoc on individual, family, friends and the level of fatality.

    Comment by Gabrielle "Gaby" Dolphin — September 23, 2016 @ 8:25 am

  5. I’m with Gaby. This is not funny. It appears to me that there’s someone in serious denial here trying to salvage the reputation he’s damaged by blaming someone else. Political opinions aside, I sympathize with the family and hope that if there is an illness involved, that it can successfully be treated. Gloating about it seems pretty cold.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 23, 2016 @ 9:16 am

    • Give me a break. You have got to be kidding me! Someone is stopped by the APD under questionable circumstances & you jump to the conclusion of alcoholism? Well this is exactly how small town rumors which ruin someones reputation get started. A few years ago, I was pulled over in this same area, Central & 5th, and ticketed for going through a stop sign. Only problem; I didn’t go thru any stop sign and the best proof was that the intersection described on the ticket had no stop sign for the street I was driving on! I easily got the ticket thrown out at trial. Another time I was ticketed for allegedly failing to stop long enough at one of those deserted intersections out on the base. You know, where the stop signs have been bleached by the sun for so long that they aren’t even red anymore? Also thrown out at trial.

      And I just got my 7th annual registration renewal for the 1979 Ford truck since the APD STOLE it out of my driveway in 2009, using the perjured testimony of APD’s abatement technician. The DMV thinks its still sitting in my driveway, because no official police paperwork was ever properly filed.

      You go, Joel Spencer! Good luck to you!

      Comment by vigi — September 23, 2016 @ 9:40 am

      • Pulled over twice for blowing through stop signs? Someone is doing this driving thing wrong.

        Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2016 @ 9:45 am

        • There you go again. Why do you assume the police must be wrong when they hassle a black person, but they must be right when they hassle a white person?

          I didn’t “blow through” any stop signs and I was able to prove the citing police officer WRONG in a court of law. Twice.

          Just FYI, I haven’t been cited by any law enforcement other than in Alameda for more than 35 years, and I drive the same way out of town as I do in Alameda. So in Lauren Do’s court of guilty until proven innocent, the lesson you take from this is that there is something wrong with MY driving? I don’t think so.

          Comment by vigi — September 23, 2016 @ 10:16 am

  6. What is the sequence of possible events? The city could OK a claim that was agreeable to Joel Spencer, pay him, and that would be that. The city can deny the claim or make an offer that Spencer rejected – in which case, Spencer would likely file a lawsuit. At that point, the City could at any part of the process decide to settle or could defend the lawsuit. The claims are pretty outrageous and amount to an insinuation that Spencer was targeted and that there was no PC to stop him for any reason and that the police reports were fabricated. Part of me thinks that this is just posturing, hoping that the City Manager along with the Chief of Police will call the District Attorney and put on some pressure to drop the charges down to something like failure to yield in return for Spencer dropping the claim/lawsuit. Of course, things don’t work like that, but of course they do.

    The then-Mayor of Emeryville hit and killed a pedestrian in 2007. He’s an admitted meth user. The EPD at the time said they did not have probable cause to test him for drugs or alcohol. The City of Emeryville paid out a settlement on a wrongful-death suit and the Mayor was not charged. I was never comfortable with how that was handled. So, if Joel Spencer ran a stop sign and blew dirty, the APD did what they were charged to do and thank you to them. If it’s all trumped-up then we have some serious problems. I hope that the truth comes out and that the City doesn’t settle ANYTHING just to make a nuisance go away.

    Comment by Serge Wilson — September 23, 2016 @ 9:26 am

    • Sadly (and, of course, wishing that this had not come up in the first place), I tend to agree with Serge. May change my mind later depending on what emerges. But my first reaction is that if this type claim is going to be pursued, then the process should play out to something other than a negotiated settlement. If there really is nothing to it, the way out would be to withdraw the claim.

      Even if, sadly, there is disease behind this (I have no idea), I can see where a settlement that saves the City money from defending the case and saves a reputation may, in the long run and for differing reasons, not help either the City or a person with a disease.

      I am skeptical that there would be targeting going on. That’s not to say that it is unfathomable, but it would be a very, very serious matter (a crime?), as would the DA’s office handling this DUI case differently than other cases. I hope neither has happened.

      I can’t say don’t pursue the claim, but please come to a quick stop if your own “probably cause” doesn’t materialize and all that is left is the threat of a drawn out process to leverage compromise. That’s not how it is supposed to work.

      Comment by MP — September 23, 2016 @ 10:35 am

  7. And as usual Vigi bashes the APD, and supports the Mayor. No matter what. A 0.15 is serious. This isn’t a little blunder. Joel could have killed someone! But no, blame the police and the breathalyzer. Just like it was APD’s fault Vigi broke into City Hall West and accessed an employee computer.

    Comment by Eyeroll — September 23, 2016 @ 1:40 pm

  8. If not true about how he may have been targeted, Mr Spencer should take his lumps like a big boy and deal with the dui privately. If true, it’s understandable the course this is now on. Who knows. Either way, tossing this into the political arena is wrong. But if all want to play that game, watch what you wish for, even you bloggers as personal dirt on all is easy to come by these days. And to that point, then why is a current city council member even allowed to vote on any financial matters whatsoever within this City if they have a recent personal bankruptcy? To me, that’s more of a discussion than a spouse having a dui.

    Comment by Jim D. — September 23, 2016 @ 1:41 pm

    • 1) this was a government claim filed against the City of Alameda, ergo it is a public record. 2) the claim alleges misconduct of the Alameda Police Department which everyone should be concerned about if true. 3) the claim alleges that the release of this information to media (aka Alameda Magazine) damaged the reputation of the claimant’s family members, the most prominent is, of course is the Mayor of Alameda, which brings this squarely into an issue of public interest.

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2016 @ 1:53 pm

  9. Sounds to me like Mr. Spencer is defaming the character of the arresting Police Officer. The City should pursue this and if successful go after Mr. Spencer for all defense costs.

    Comment by dc — September 23, 2016 @ 1:57 pm

    • We need body cameras filming every police officer at all times they are on duty and the videos should be available to the citizens.

      Comment by jack — September 23, 2016 @ 2:42 pm

  10. #8 a personal bankruptcy has nothing to do with City business. I private DUI has nothing to do with City business. But a claim against the City for false arrest and fraud is City business. And if there is a criminal still pending against Spencer why file a claim now? To embarrass the City and APDA? If Spencer was/is found guilty then the claim is bogus. If Spencer was/is found innocent then the claim may be legit. Anyone know the status of the criminal action? This smells like another attempt by the Mayor to punish the City for not putting her on the Disaster Council.

    Comment by Eyeroll — September 23, 2016 @ 2:43 pm

  11. I’m curious about the assertion that he was “jailed.” The APD no longer has a jail. Is Spencer’s attorney confusing being jailed with being detained?

    Comment by TK — September 23, 2016 @ 2:47 pm

  12. I believe that he was taken to Santa Rita. That would qualify as a jail.

    Filing a lawsuit just brings more press to this issue. It does not seem to be a smart way forward. If he had a alcohol level of 0.15, he very likely was giving officers every reason to pull him over. That could have given them probable cause, but most certainly not probably cause (whatever that is).

    A lawsuit also opens a possible interesting can of worms. I was under the impression that the mayor was in the car at the time of the arrest. If that is true, he had an attorney with him and instead of insisting on a blood alcohol, agreed to have a breath alcohol test. Most people would advise their drinking client to go for the blood, since it takes longer to get and if you are on the border, the added time might get you under 0.08. The delay would likely not be enough to help someone arrested at 015, but who knows. However, his possible front seat passenger attorney might also have been drinking and not able to provide the suspect with the best advice at the time.

    Also, if the mayor was in the car and they are filing a civil lawsuit, she could be deposed. I would think that deposition would become public and again do her and her family no favors.

    I think this lawsuit sounds like a very bad idea. Perhaps low key negotiations with the District Attorney haven’t gone well, and this is some sort of Hail Mary pass. We’ll see.

    Comment by JohnB — September 23, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

    • If the mayor was indeed in the car, it shows lack of judgment at best on her part to allow a drunk person to drive. Do we know whether she was in the car? If she’s not, this thing isn’t really about her.

      Comment by BC — September 23, 2016 @ 4:13 pm

    • The document says “jailed at the Alameda Police Department.” I would be very surprised if he had been taken to Santa Rita.

      Comment by TK — September 23, 2016 @ 4:23 pm

      • The Alameda Magazine says that he went to a county jail. I had assumed Santa Rita, but it could easily have been North County next to OPD headquarters.

        The article really wasn’t about the appropriateness of Mr. Spencer’s arrest. It was about the inappropriateness of his wife, the mayor, involving herself in a dispute between another citizen and the same officer that arrested her husband. This case just brings more attention to the mayor’s ill advised involvement that could logically be viewed as harassment and retaliation against the officer who arrested her husband on a DUI.

        Again, I think this lawsuit will not serve the mayor and her husband’s long term best interests.

        Comment by JohnB — September 24, 2016 @ 2:21 am

    • The mayor was not in the car, and I think that is a good part of the reason why the many folks that knew about this shortly after it happened(it was in the police log the next day) held off out of respect for the office (clearly not the person though). Once the mayor attempted to influence the investigation and once the lawsuit was filed, then it became about the decorum of the office, and is fair game for public disclosure and debate.

      Comment by notadave — September 24, 2016 @ 8:16 am

  13. I strongly disagree #10. If you can’t manage your personal finances and overextend yourself (and stiff many creditors in the process) then why the hell would we allow you to vote on financial matters that impact us all? No thanks, this one is basic common sense.

    Comment by Jim D. — September 23, 2016 @ 4:00 pm

    • You may think it’s common sense, but it’s not the law. Of course, you’re free to vote how you choose. But not to determine the laws about who can stand.

      Comment by BC — September 23, 2016 @ 4:09 pm

    • Great point. How can we trust anyone who has had financial difficulty to help shape public policy? For that matter, why are poor people even allowed to vote? Anyone who has gone bankrupt due to medical issues or a foreclosure in the biggest housing crash in almost a century should just go away, they aren’t needed. We should only trust rich people to make policy, especially ones that inherited their wealth, since that means they are genetically superior.

      Comment by BMac — September 23, 2016 @ 4:20 pm

      • Save some room to hold Trump’s bankruptcies against him….not that there isn’t plenty of other stuff

        Comment by MP — September 23, 2016 @ 5:32 pm

    • Because names are being thrown around here, what council member’s name relates to the bankruptcy that has been mentioned?

      Comment by A Neighbor — September 24, 2016 @ 8:22 pm

  14. Question for the lawyers here:

    Would Spencer have to be found not guilty of DUI for his case against the city to prevail?

    That seems logical, if he was in fact drunk he has no complaint about being caught, but such things don’t always follow logic.

    Comment by dave — September 24, 2016 @ 8:30 am

    • In the civil claim for defamation, Spencer will have the burden of showing that the statements made about him were false. If he’s convicted, that will be hard to do. It will be hard to do even if he is acquitted. But a criminal conviction would not be dispositive in civil case.

      The opposite is true in the criminal case, the prosecutor will have the burden of showing that he was drunk. Again, however, if he is acquitted, it will have no effect on the civil case. See, e.g. OJ Simpson.

      Comment by Page Barnes — September 24, 2016 @ 11:34 am

  15. The question is whether the police officer administered the breath test correctly and whether the breath analyzer itself was held as evidence. If it wasn’t held how does the City prove in court that the analyzer was correctly calibrated and the test was administered correctly? If the DA is relying solely on the field sobriety test and no blood test or second breath test was administered at the station, there are myriad ways to beat the charge. That Spencer’s attorney had his client choose the breath analyzer test in the field instead of a blood test drawn at the station, to me, means that his attorney knew he had a better chance of beating a DUI breath analyzer charge than a blood test DUI charge.

    Comment by jack — September 24, 2016 @ 10:04 am

  16. Interesting Catch 22. Joel Spencer claims that he was targeted because his wife is mayor. However, the flip side to that claim is that Joel Spencer thinks he shouldn’t be pulled over by the police because his wife is mayor, even if driving at 0.15.

    I also think that this argument that he wasn’t driving in a way to justify him being pulled over is a ridiculous argument unless he can get rid of the 0.15. Since Joel Spencer would have to be the one to argue that he wasn’t speeding or running stop signs or whatever, he would not be able to really make that argument if the 0.15 stands. The 0.15 level would by definition impair his ability to recognize that he was driving poorly.

    This whole thing is just such a bad idea.

    Comment by JohnB — September 24, 2016 @ 12:28 pm

  17. At the end of TV show TMZ ( the show of salacious gossip about celebrities) there is s still of Harvey Levin where his mouth is crudely animated like a ventriloquist dummy. The words the emanate from the animation are “I’m a loi-yah.”, in some whiny nasal New York City dialect. As this case unfurls I keep hearing Trish remind us of that fact when she was a candidate. Further, the animation is some kind of self deprecating Humor. Self serious Trish could learn a thing or two from crass TV.

    Comment by MI — September 24, 2016 @ 6:08 pm

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