Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 19, 2017

She wrote me a letter

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

It was a tough choice whether to focus on the Alameda Magazine article today or Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.  I chose the City Council meeting because video, of course.  There were a lot of speakers that elected to speak before the Closed Session meeting.  I happened to be on park street around 5:45ish and noticed a few folks in front of City Hall.  I had assumed they were waiting for the regular session meeting to start but now it appears that they had opted to speak at the start of the Closed Session which was much wiser since they would have timed out if they have chosen non agenda Public Comment.

As you can guess the comments diverged into two camps and you can watch the approximately 30 minutes of public comment here.

There was only one truly bizarre portion which came when Janet Gibson started airing her personal grievances with Malia Vella during her six minute public comment time (she had someone cede time to her), including a demand for a private meeting with Malia Vella to clear up some miscommunication or something like that. Then she attempted to call out Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft for “smirk[ing]” and “sneer[ing]” even though Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft was remarking that she wished the comments did not need to be so personal.

However the more interesting part came during the read out of the Closed Session activity.  While we were all awaiting to see what happened with the performance evaluations (nothing, in case you were wondering), the first agenda item about anticipated litigation turned out to be also about that City Manager’s letter:

The Council met in closed session pursuant to Government Code Section
54956.9 to consider potential litigation relating to allegations made in City Manager Jill Keimach’s October 2, 2017 letter which did not identify the Mayor or any individual City Council members as being accused of potential wrongdoing. By an unanimous vote the City Council followed the City Attorney’s advise to cause an independent investigation of allegations arising out of the October 2nd letter written by the City Manager.

As you can see, the report from the other day was incorrect and the investigation specifically limited to the two City Councilmembers identified in either the editorials or the reporting is not necessarily the focus of the investigation.



  1. Lauren, I think you double posted the report out of the closed session

    Comment by MP — October 19, 2017 @ 6:48 am

    • I did, darn it. It’s been updated. The video might play a little wonky so you might have to scroll it to the start of the comments because it’s starting from a bookmarked point for the Janet Gibson link.

      Comment by Lauren Do — October 19, 2017 @ 6:53 am

  2. Thanks for posting.

    Is this a political clique (perhaps the dominant one) in Alameda closing ranks to protect some of its own against the City Manager’s assertions? Yes, of course. That is what people do. Nothing per se wrong with that. But, just as we should scrutinize City Manager Keimach’s assertions, we should also examine what is being asserted early on in the public defense against those assertions.

    One of the people who spoke out in response to the City Manager’s assertions, Grey Harris, school board, sure seems to know a lot about all of this, including her assertion that it was “clear” to her that City Manager Keimach knew she was about to be fired by the City Council and that, therefore, the Keimach letter alleging that there was an attempt to influence her fire chief appointment decision was an attempt to distract, or set up a retaliation claim in advance of, her impending firing. Harris called the assertions in the Keimach letter “false”; she does not dispute the news report that Jim Oddie told Police Chief Rolleri, before Keimach’s decision, that Keimach would be fired, if she made the wrong decision on the fire chief hire. (If that report is true, it would seem to undermine to some extent an argument that it was obvious to all, or that Keimach herself must have known, that she was already on the way out before the fire chief hiring/appointment because of, among other things, the amount of time it took to finalize the deal between the City and FAAS and the (thankfully) brief issue (I hesitate to call lead in drinking water “brief”) with the crossed water lines at Alameda point. In other words, despite those alleged failings of City Manager Keimach, what Oddie reportedly said suggests that the foregoing would have been forgiven if she made the “right” choice on the fire chief hiring.

    Perhaps Ms. Harris can share any other information supporting her prediction or knowledge that Keimach knew she was about to be fired – thus motivating Keimach, in Grey Harris’s view, to make false accusations about attempts to influence Keimach’s appointment of the new fire chief — or any other information she has supporting her assertion that it is a “waste of time” and a “waste of money” to investigate whether there was “[a]n attempt by a Councilmember to influence the City Manager in the making of any appointment” (City Charter 7-3).

    Perhaps, also, Ms. Harris can expound on her personal efforts, if any, as an influential leader in Alameda to prevent the hiring of Keimach in the first place. We all recall how Mayor Spencer was criticized (perhaps properly so) (including right here) for being the lone vote against hiring Keimach in the first place, yet Grey Harris now claims that “I don’t think it’s any secret” that Keimach “failed” as a City Manager in Moraga, where Harris also represents teachers. Naturally, then, she would have not only loudly supported the Mayor’s vote against hiring Keimach, but strongly (even desperately) encouraged others (Oddie or Ashcraft who were also on the Council?) to do the same, correct? (That is, unless Keimach’s alleged failings in Moraga (over a course of six years as Moraga City Manager) were, in fact, a “secret”, and only later — after she was hired as Alameda City Manager — became not a “secret”).

    Harris also said the problem with Keimach’s decision on the fire chief hire was not the person hired, Ed Rodriguez, but rather “the process” employed by the City Manager Keimach in making the selection. I guess you could also call the present controversy a “process” problem: “Sec. 7-3. …. An attempt by a Councilmember to influence the City Manager in the making of any appointment …shall subject such Councilmember to removal from office for malfeasance.”

    P.S. Another bone to pick with Grey Harris re the City Charter. Harris accused Keimach of putting measure L1 on the November 2016. In fact, the City Council voted to Measure L1 on the November 2016 ballot. As far as I know, the City Manager has zero authority to put anything on any ballot. Just as the City Charter delegates the fire chief hiring decision solely to the City Manager, it gives the City Council, not the City Manager, the power to place a measure on the ballot. If the City Manager had put something on the ballot, that would have been grounds for removal. If a Councilmember attempts to influence the City Manager’s fire chief hiring decision, that is grounds for removal.

    Comment by MP — October 19, 2017 @ 9:56 am

    • Gray Harris may have personal information about the firefighters position because she is married to Jeff Delbono, the head the firefighters’ union.

      Comment by BarbaraK — October 19, 2017 @ 10:43 am

    • I believe the Fire Chief “process” referred to by Gray Harris is what is detailed in Steven Tavares piece in the Alameda Magazine.

      Comment by Lauren Do — October 19, 2017 @ 2:02 pm

  3. Grey Harris can’t even decide what color she wants her hair to be. Next Grey Harris will be telling us Keimach bribed all the panelists on the three panels to reject Weaver and pick Rodriguez.
    Since Janet Gibson was a teacher, wouldn’t she also have been a member of the teachers’ union?

    I wish this video could have zoomed in on Arms Akimbo Ashcraft. Her startled reactions when Gibson started talking about her are priceless. All she needs are some pearls to clutch.

    Comment by vigi — October 19, 2017 @ 10:15 am

    • You debase yourself and your arguments with personal attacks. You are better than this. Attacking a person’s hair? Really? Is that all you got?

      Comment by Angela — October 19, 2017 @ 2:30 pm

      • Clearly Harris’ hair is intended to attract attention. Have you seen it? Mission Accomplished.

        Angela, you should take that chip off your shoulder and stop interpreting everything I say as a personal attack. Besides, I’m just agreeing with and using my sardonic wit to piggyback off MP’s post #2.. If you watch the video Lauren posted, notice that Grey Harris piles on the personal attacks on Jill Keimach–none of which do I have any reason to believe yet.

        And Angela, I agree completely with your previous post [previous day] about this sordid affair..

        Comment by vigi — October 19, 2017 @ 2:53 pm

        • Maybe I’ll get rid of the chip when you stop making the personal attacks. Did Ms Harris mention the city manager’s hair? I don’t think so. Was she questioning the choices and actions of a city employee without calling her names or criticizing her appearance? Well it appears that Ms. Harris has one up on you.

          Comment by Angela — October 19, 2017 @ 3:45 pm

        • Angela, in case you haven’t noticed [maybe you haven’t been reading it that long], this blog is a place where people poke fun at each other and public officials. Grey Harris is an AUSD Trustee [public official] and her hair isn’t really the issue–it is what she said at the podium, which was outrageously unfair. For a more complete analysis of Grey Harris’ speech, please read the latest “Alameda Merry-Go-Round” post.

          Comment by vigi — October 20, 2017 @ 4:33 pm

  4. #2–BarbaraK’s comment helps to make the dots more obvious —-as is connecting the dots. This is such a very small little town.

    Comment by A Neighbor — October 19, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

  5. who was that Judge that said, “let’s hang’em, and then give’em a fair trial”. sounds like he has come to Alameda.

    Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — October 19, 2017 @ 12:32 pm

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