Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 4, 2017

Hail to the Fire Chief

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

So did you know that we were looking for a new Fire Chief?  And by “we” I mean the City of Alameda.

I mean, I guess I sort of knew because the existing Fire Chief had a good bye celebration and I saw a cake on someone’s Facebook post, but it seemed to not have the same fanfare as when previous department heads have left and the position needed to be filled.

There are some slightly vague details here about some purported machinations behind the scenes.  But yesterday the City put out this press release:

Edmond Rodriguez, age 51, was named the City of Alameda’s new Fire Chief today. Rodriguez, who is expected to begin service to the City on November 13, 2017, assumes responsibility for a department of 111 positions, 104 sworn personnel, and a budget of $33.6 million. Rodriguez will be coming in at step 4 which represents an annual salary of $235,619. The appointment follows the retirement of Doug Long, who has served as Fire Chief since 2015.

“Chief Rodriguez brings exemplary skills to the Alameda community, and he has a strong track record of leadership and innovation,” noted City Manager Jill Keimach. “The City conducted a thorough and rigorous recruitment and selection process, and Chief Rodriguez was the clear choice for this vitally important public safety position.”

Chief Rodriguez has 29 years of experience in the fire service and has been serving as Fire Chief for the City of Salinas since 2012. In Salinas, he supervised a staff of 101 sworn and civilian personnel, administered a budget of $21 million, and oversaw a complete rebuild of that organization; he has also served twice as President of the Monterey County Fire Chief’s Association. Prior to joining the City of Salinas, Rodriguez served the City of Stockton for over 24 years, most recently as the Deputy Fire Chief of Operations; he has also served as a Flight Nurse/Paramedic for Medi-Flight of Modesto and California Shock Trauma Rescue (Calstar).

In 2007 at the City of Stockton, Rodriguez was instrumental in bringing the Rescue Systems II Site Coordinator and planner from the State of California, Level II Haz/Mat training Site Coordinator and planner and Flood and Swift Water rescue coordinator from the State of California. He currently sits on the California Fire Chiefs Association, Northern Section EMS Subcommittee, and is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). Rodriguez has proven skills in water rescue, tactical paramedic programs, and has been a strong voice at the State and County level in support of local ambulance transport cities (like Alameda). He is a long-time instructor and mentor to facilitate the upward movement of quality firefighters into leadership positions within the department.

“I am truly honored and humbled to serve as the City of Alameda’s next Fire Chief,” said Rodriguez. “I will work tirelessly with community members, labor, City leadership, and City staff to ensure Alameda provides the highest level of fire and life-safety services in the Bay Area.”

Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer welcomed the announcement, noting, “I look forward to working with Ed Rodriguez and welcome him to our City as our next Fire Chief. I am pleased that our City Manager was able to find such a highly qualified candidate for the position. I also think it’s notable that he will be our first person of color to serve in this leadership capacity. I applaud our City Manager’s efforts to have an open process that attracted highly qualified candidates within the larger Bay Area. Moving forward, I am hopeful that Rodriguez and our City Manager will work with our current workforce to provide training and support for upward mobility.”

Rodriguez has earned a Master’s Degree in Fire Leadership Service, a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science, and an Associate Degree in Nursing; he is a California Certified Fire Chief and a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program; he is a licensed registered nurse and certified paramedic.

Evidently there was a few internal candidates that made it through to the final round, but opted to step down from the process possibly because of the vague details from the EB Citizen post above.  A lot of the details regarding the process are a bit of he said/she said or rather City of Alameda said/Internal candidate said, so the truth is probably somewhere squarely in the middle.

Sounds like, based on the comments, there is may be possible involvement from some City Council members, but it’s hard to say if that’s just conjecture from the commenters or inside knowledge.

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12 Comments »

  1. “So did you know…?” Yeah. We read https://alamedamgr.wordpress.com/2017/09/30/our-next-fire-chief/

    Comment by vigi — October 4, 2017 @ 10:05 am

  2. Vigi, you little Ray of sunshine, I’ve missed your thoughtful comments.

    According to East Bay Citizen, there was a lot of pressure applied to the City Manager from elected and appointed officials to rubber stamp the Fire Union’s pick. Sleazy politics in Alameda. Shocking. It’s no secret the Fire Union runs Alameda and elected officials fall all over themselves to please the Union.

    Comment by Eyeroll — October 4, 2017 @ 10:23 am

  3. I do not understand why some posters here and at the East Bay Citizen (http://www.ebcitizen.com/2017/09/alameda-city-managers-choice-of-new.html?showComment=1507140609684#c6021779836116246588) are so vehemently anti-union – at least behind the veil of spineless anonymity. If you have something worthwhile to say, you should be willing to put your (real) name on it: don’t (falsely) call principled officials who are working for justice and fairness “morally bankrupt” unless you have the guts to sign your name to them, OK?

    Union activists in the United States have fought – and died – for a century in order to bring about safer working conditions for all of us (including for firefighters, who encounter toxic and carcinogenic chemicals almost every day). They also gave us the 40-hour work week (and weekends), safer food, and an array of other workers’ rights and benefits. And unionized firefighters have the same rights to organize and speak out politically for what they believe in as big corporations.

    Big real estate corporations and lobbyists bought last November’s renter’s rights election with over $1,000,000 in expenditures. The same people funded this year’s “astroturf” petition drive to keep screwing renters out of fair housing rights with a few more hundreds of thousands of greenbacks. And the slimebalms from Suncal tried to buy the 2010 City Council election for over $500,000… The unions’ local expenditures pale in comparison.

    Now, back to the EB Citizen article and today’s post…

    I think calling the reaction to our city manager’s decision to hire an outsider as our fire chief is a “stunning reversal” is overblown and premature. While Alameda Fire has had a tradition of home-grown chiefs, it has also had outsiders at the helm. While our locally-developed AFD leaders have done very well, it seems wise to get a fresh leadership perspective – at least once in a while. (You may disagree with City Manager Keimach’s choice this time but there is wisdom in her approach.)

    I have many friends and acquaintances among the AFD, including the command staff, and I have seen them at work. Our firefighters are responsible, dedicated people who will adapt to the new chief and give him a fair chance. I am sure they will welcome him and help him do a good job as the leader of what already is a terrific fire department.

    I hope the posters who oppose union workers and fair working conditions and seem to see corruption everywhere they look are not so unfortunate as to need the services of the AFD. But if they are, they will be in very capable hands. At that point, perhaps they will change their misinformed opinions about the sworn firefighters who serve them 24/7/365 at great personal risk.

    In the interim, let’s not blow this or any other single decision by our hard-working city manager out of proportion. (Remember who is in the mayor’s chair or watch 10 minutes of any City Council meeting if you think the CM’s job is not difficult these days…)

    Comment by Jon Spangler — October 4, 2017 @ 11:24 am

    • Mr. Spangler, there are valid reasons some people wish to stay anonymous – fear of retaliation, harassment, threats, etc. Do not assume anyone who doesn’t sign his name is a coward.

      The issue is not whether unions are good. The issue is elected officials are not permitted to use their position to intimidate appointees or interfere with the business of running the City on a day-to-basis. The fact that 2 Council members did just that solely to advance their agenda – unions – should not be condoned by anyone.

      Comment by Eyeroll — October 4, 2017 @ 12:51 pm

      • Eyeroll – Since there is no justification for the paranoia regarding harassment or retaliation, why does it (the paranoia, that is) persist? Is it easier – or more convenient for propaganda purposes – to pretend that the big, bad firefighters (the ones I have seen walking precincts with their kids in favor of our public schools bond issues, for instance) will attack you in your beds in the middle of the night?
        Where is your documentation of “retaliation, harassment, threats, etc.”? Otherwise your claims are pure BS…

        (Got none? I thought so.)

        Jen is correct: there is NOTHING improper about lobbying and recommending a candidate. And calling that “coercion” is inappropriate. If you want examples of coercion or improper behavior, just ask the people who were accosted by the paid petition gatherers in the employ of the real estate lobby and apartment owning corporations who flooded Alameda with threats and misinformation.

        But don’t pick on and mischaracterize our firefighters, who are not bullies and they do not coerce people. On the contrary–in case you really did NOT know what they actually do–they risk their lives every day for you and for me – regardless of how ungrateful or insulting some of our community residents seem to be regarding their daily efforts.

        Comment by Jon Spangler — October 12, 2017 @ 10:04 am

    • coercion is not the same as lobbying.

      Comment by Jen — October 5, 2017 @ 10:11 am

  4. Who runs Alameda, city manager … or the fire union?

    http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/10/12/borenstein-who-runs-alameda-city-manager-or-the-fire-union/

    Comment by Jack B. — October 12, 2017 @ 9:08 am

  5. Jack – I thought you already knew the answer to this Civics 101 question and would not have to resort to quoting a right-wing ideologue like Daniel Borenstein, who always has a far-right axe to grind.

    The City Council and the Mayor (when we have one of the latter who can do the job) set policies and set direction for the City Manager, who – as her title implies – runs the daily affairs of the city.
    Her responsibilities also include hiring the police chief and fire chief.

    I do not think she is in the danger that Borenstein and others characterize for making a decision that some people sits not like, but opportunists like Borenstein never miss an opportunity to
    poke liberal communities like Alameda in the eye with his supposedly sharp (but, IMHO, irrelevant and dull-witted) stick.

    (Personally, I miss having intelligent conservatives around and I get tired of Borenstein’s one-trick-pony, anti-everything-that-has-a-social-benefit message. I imagine it must be difficult for him to have that disability and be stuck in that rut, too.)

    Comment by Jon Spangler — October 12, 2017 @ 10:20 am

    • You might be right about Borenstein. I’m not particularly familiar with him, but his factual assertions (assuming they are true) are significant, as is the letter reportedly from the City Manager to the Council that he links to in the article.

      Comment by MP — October 12, 2017 @ 10:46 am

    • Are we heading into an Alameda Groundhog Day situation (the movie)?

      Comment by MP — October 12, 2017 @ 10:57 am

    • I have no idea who Borenstein is, but I really, really want to hear what the “social benefit” is of having the IAFF buy council members to increase their salaries keep the council on their puppet strings.

      Is paying them 3-4x the local median income a “social benefit?”

      Is paying them more than double what a teacher earns — and teaching requires a higher level of education & qualification — a “social benefit?”

      Is paying them 2-3x what a Federal firefighter earns a “social benefit?”

      Is paying them several fold what a military service person earns a “social benefit?”

      (And I’ll save you some keystrokes: before you rhapsodize about firefighters risking their lives, note that the 3rd and 4th groups above VOLUNTEER at much greater risk to their lives for a fraction of the compensation. Lots of them are doing so right now in Napa & Sonoma.)

      Please, Jon, tell us how that is a “social benefit.”

      Comment by dave — October 12, 2017 @ 11:37 am


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