Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 12, 2018

By your administrative leave

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

Well, well, well.

Fire Chief/Memo/City Manager-gate sure did take quite the unexpected turn.  From Steven Tavares writing for the East Bay Express:

Following a nearly five-hour closed session meeting Friday evening, the Alameda City Council, in a surprise move, unanimously voted to place City Manager Jill Keimach on paid administrative leave.

Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer declined to comment on Friday’s announcement or offer a reason for placing Keimach on leave. But the post-closed-door meeting statement read by Spencer suggests that the city’s investigation into Keimach’s claims may have uncovered new information.

“The report includes confidential advice regarding potential litigation given to the council, which the council is currently assessing in conjunction with its attorneys. The city will release the actual findings of the investigative report as soon as possible after the requisite legal analysis has been completed and delivered to the city council,” according to the statement.

“The city manager has been place on paid administrative leave with full salary and benefits during this assessment by unanimous vote of the city council.”

And since “confidential advice” is being referenced here, I guess that means that we will not be getting a vote on releasing the entire report to the public any time soon.  Because I still haven’t received the report that was written about the Lena Tam incident that lead to the City Council voting to reimburse all legal costs incurred from the whole AMG/Highsmith/Colantuono fallout.  Did I ever mention that Teresa Highsmith ended up becoming a partner at Michael Colantuono’s law firm after she left the City of Alameda?  I guess some folks didn’t find that weird at all.

But I digress.

Anyway, as others have mentioned all over the internets, this latest development certainly puts a really big wrench in all of the varying narratives and conspiracy theories   that have been floating around out there.  Anyone who watches the City Council knows how well they work together so you understand how this rare unanimous vote on such a huge decision is causing a lot of preconceived beliefs to be questioned.  Particularly if one had used this particular scenario as a proxy to attack the public safety unions in Alameda.

Clearly whatever the report revealed was fairly explosive because there is one thing that is clear: none of the individual City Councilmembers would make such a decision if it were to save one or two individual City Councilmembers from embarrassment or censure. Specifically: this means that if the resulting analysis was that Jim Oddie and/or Malia Vella were found to have interfered with the City Manager’s job, Trish Spencer wouldn’t vote to place the City Manager on leave to protect either of them.  Maybe Jim Oddie since they seem to have gotten pretty friendly lately, but definitely not Malia Vella.  But Frank Matarrese and Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft also wouldn’t protect either Jim Oddie or Malia Vella, so anyone floating the theory that they’re all in it together doesn’t understand the existing political dynamics.

I’ll also have to add that I’ve seen reference as well to the political majority getting its way with this vote.  See explanation above and also that the political majority thing is an illusion.  Maybe that requires some more close watching of the City Council dynamics, but if you think Jim Oddie or Malia Vella actually personally enjoy Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft — I’m assuming that’s the political majority people are referring to — then you need to watch a few more of the late night meetings to get a feel for the true dysfunction even amongst the members who may align on very specific political issues.

The one major possibility for the unanimous vote to place the City Manager on leave would be that the report indicated some sort of wrongdoing from all of the City Councilmembers individually.  I could totally see this happening and I’m not sure how wide the net was cast to uncover if individual City Councilmembers were interfering with the job of the City Manager, but this set of City Councilmembers contain a whole lot of micromanagers.   It could be very probably that at some point each City Councilmember stepped a wee bit over the line between policy and day-to-day operations and — depending on the seriousness of the issue — could have triggered a recommendation from the report.

Another possible theory is that the report pointed to some major transgression by the City Manager.  This is the most simple theory that one could reach if you’re looking only at the result: unanimous vote to place the City Manager on administrative leave.  But at that point if it were a major transgression by the City Manager, the City Council could have opted to terminate her rather than go through the rigamarole of administrative leave first.  I have not reviewed the City Manager’s contract lately, but maybe the administrative leave step is always the first CYA step toward a termination vote.

Whatever the reason, there are few attractive options left for the City Manager.  One is to fight in the vein of Ann Marie Gallant who did not go away quietly even after losing lawsuit after lawsuit.  The other is to take the Debbie Kurita route which is to resign and allow people to speculate (positively and negatively) as to why you resigned.

On another note though, unless Jim Oddie gets a complete bill of clearance from the report, I think he is in deep trouble politically for the upcoming election.  Because the likelihood that we’ll read as many absolving articles and opinion pieces that we read in October and to the present that indicted Jim Oddie will probably be minimal.  The only thing that most people will recall is that Jim Oddie was connected to something vaguely scandalous and, I think, that will take a toll on his electability.


  1. Humorous and true observations about the outwardly visible Council dynamics. If you really want to see it, and can endure sitting through all of the proclamations while foregoing other productive tasks, you have to go to a meeting. Video doesn’t do it justice.

    Something to keep in mind about the City Charter and Fire Chief hiring. The Charter reads like a very strict prohibition: “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.” Read literally, this prohibition could encompass a letter of reference or support for a potential appointee to the City Manager from a councilmember. And creating that type of firewall may have been the intent of the Charter provision when adopted. The First Amendment, however, probably requires a more intense use of the levers of power – levers not available to non-councilmembers – for there to be grounds for removal.

    Comment by MP — March 12, 2018 @ 7:26 am

  2. This is politics today. Funds from seven different unions supporting Vella and Oddie in the defense of their own legal scandal undoubtedly were used to hire private investigators who found dirt on the city manager prompting her suspension pending an investigation.

    The losers? Alameda taxpayers will ultimately pick up the bill for Oddie, Vella, and the city manager. Is there any question this is the worst city council ever?

    Comment by Nowyouknow — March 12, 2018 @ 7:43 am

    • This is an odd theory without any supporting evidence at all. You do realize that the investigators that researched and wrote the support were hired by the City of Alameda.

      Comment by Lauren Do — March 12, 2018 @ 8:10 am

      • Your blog today is pure speculation. Nowyouknow’s theory is as valid as yours.

        Comment by Eyeroll — March 12, 2018 @ 8:56 am

        • Except I couched my blog all as theories, nowyouknow couched his/her theory as “undoubtedly” then proceeded to undermine the validity of the independent investigation’s report and findings. Now where else have I seen that done recently….

          Comment by Lauren Do — March 12, 2018 @ 9:03 am

    • Hands down the worst Council ever. Hopefully the voters change that in November.

      Comment by Eyeroll — March 12, 2018 @ 8:54 am

  3. We’ve sure put out a lot of $$$ on city managers in the last decade, haven’t we?

    Comment by TK — March 12, 2018 @ 7:59 am

  4. the only thing I know for sure is, “Nowyouknow” doesn’t really know.


    Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — March 12, 2018 @ 8:08 am

  5. Friday, March 9, 2018: the day hell froze over.

    Comment by abronto4900 — March 12, 2018 @ 8:08 am

  6. The tick tock is getting louder…what a sad state of affairs!

    Comment by Il Cane di Ferro — March 12, 2018 @ 8:49 am

  7. Corruption and the union win again. It’s business as usual in Alameda. The fact that the City Manager may have done something wrong does not change the fact that Jim and Malia violated the Charter. I’m sure they would like everyone to focus on the CM and not them.

    Comment by Eyeroll — March 12, 2018 @ 8:49 am

    • Pick your poison! I’ll take union corruption over landlord/NIMBY corruption any day of the week.

      Comment by Rod — March 12, 2018 @ 2:03 pm

      • I think union corruption is far more wide reaching.

        Comment by Eyeroll — March 12, 2018 @ 8:03 pm

        • I’ll still take it over the alternative!

          Comment by Rod — March 13, 2018 @ 10:20 am

  8. Eyeroll, you say the city mgr. may have done something wrong, but the two council members have Factually done something wrong. can you offer any proof that would get them removed from office? where is the corruption? again any facts or just your opinion?

    Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — March 12, 2018 @ 9:14 am

    • Interfering with the selection of Fire Chief is a Charter violation. What this looks like to me is a page straight out of Trump’s playbook – blame the victim and get rid of her.

      Comment by Eyeroll — March 12, 2018 @ 9:44 am

  9. I’m willing to wait and see who leaves this city at the end of this.

    Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — March 12, 2018 @ 10:23 am

  10. I’m interested to see how long it takes to find someone who wants to be CM in Alameda. Heck it could be awhile before they find someone to be interim city manager.

    Comment by Eyeroll — March 12, 2018 @ 11:54 am

    • I am pretty certain the assistant city manager is now acting city manager. She has done thos job in the past and I know we are in good hands ahain.

      Comment by Al p — March 12, 2018 @ 7:06 pm

      • Yes I read on Facebook Liz is acting city manager. But acting city manager is different than interim city manager. Makes me think this is a short term assisgnment rather than a long haul.

        Comment by Eyeroll — March 12, 2018 @ 7:36 pm

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