Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 11, 2018

Policy of appeasement

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

I have a lot of video clips waiting in the hopper to share, but this one — which I initially clipped to point out Frank Matarrese throwing a bit of shade at Jim Oddie over his concern for all the time Trish Spencer (and I guess all of them) spend navigating the complaints from constituents that get thrown their way.  It’s still funny, but when I clipped out Jim Oddie’s comments to provide context to the Frank Matarrese comment another thing hit me.

Jim Oddie doesn’t understand what a policy decision is.

Hear me out.

I realize that he’s a lawyer and I’m not.  But I am also not someone with a huge chip on my shoulder who is looking to point to all the things that a City Manager has done wrong.  I’m also not someone who is looking to obviously curry favor with a possible ally. So perhaps it is those two things that have clouded Jim Oddie’s ability to recognize policy making from implementation of policy.

Let me set the scene.  This was an agenda item about LimeBike which is being — I guess — used as a proxy to show how poor Jill Keimach’s decision making skills were for getting us embroiled in this obviously terrible scheme which has caused mass anarchy and has caused children to go biking on these awful machines without helmets.  Because LimeBike are the cause of  kids to going helmet-less where they would never dare to on their own bikes.  Because it’s the LimeBikes that make them do it and not because they’re kids.  The agenda item was to talk about a future RFP to extract every bit of blood from LimeBike or future bikeshare company as possible because even though they are providing a service (dockless bikeshare to help people bridge that last mileage commuting problem) we need to get more out of this relationship.  Because the company is making money and we need to try to get in on that somehow.  Clearly a lot of these City Council people also don’t understand how these new tech companies work either because I’m going to guess, not knowing anything about the specifics of the company, that they’re getting huge amounts of VC funding but are burning through their capital.  But that’s another topic for another day.

Anyway, Jim Oddie goes on and on about how this was a policy decision (pilot with LimeBike) that should have been made by the City Council and then brings in the whole bike lanes being controversial thing.  But it’s not a policy decision, the pilot thing, because the City Council already set the policy decision when they approved the Transportation Choices Plan earlier this year.  I’m fairly sure Jim Oddie was on the City Council for that vote.  The sight of Trish Spencer enthusiastically nodding along in agreement simply reinforces what we already knew about her not understanding the difference between policy and what staff is supposed to do either.  Here’s the time line of the policy from that vote:

On November 7, 2017, the City Council reviewed the Draft Transportation Choices Plan after receiving input from the Planning Board on September 25, 2017, the Transportation Commission on September 27, 2017, and 2 years of community process and review.  The City Council directed staff to return to a subsequent City Council meeting for final approval of a Draft Plan that shows a redline version and a final copy clean version as a consent item.  At tonight’s City Council meeting, City staff is requesting that the City Council approve the Draft Transportation Choices Plan (Exhibit 1), which incorporates comments received at the November 7, 2017 City Council meeting.  The revisions to the Draft Plan are shown in the redline version (Exhibit 1), and are summarized in the Discussion section below in this staff report.

I’ll note none of the revisions from November included revising the bike sharing stuff to say “and the City Council must approved all contracts for bike sharing.”

From Priority Strategy #3 (page 12 on the doc, number page 46) which is to Improve Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety within Alameda one of the related programs and projects to address this strategy is…BIKE SHARE.

And in the Implementation Part 1 document. (page 6 on the doc, number page 56) Bike Share is listed as project/program #13 under the Near Term projects for completion.  And in case it wasn’t clear on who was working on the implementation portion, also from that document:

While all projects and programs recommended in the plan are important, completion time frames and priority were identified to provide City staff with direction on which projects to focus on moving forward.

The City Council really needs to understand better its lane. The City Council already approved Bike Share in Alameda as a policy direction and they should entrust staff to implement programs and projects to ensure that the policy gets carried out.  Otherwise we’re back to the ridiculous micromanage-y style that has plagued other past City Councils and honestly this one too.

Totally spaced, video here:


  1. This is all interesting and you may or may not be right about whether the agenda item amounted to driving in the wrong lane. You can say at least one thing for it, though: whether you call it oversight, Monday morning quarterbacking, consideration of policies re bike share for the future or the present, or interference, at least it WAS an agenda item and done in the OPEN.

    That contrasts with the two-City Councilmember (Oddie and Vella) meeting with Jill Keimach on August 16 – in which they were doing oversight or whatever you want to call it behind closed doors – and about which conflicting accounts have emerged. That wasn’t put on an agenda and the two Councilmembers in question appear to not want the recording of that meeting be made public.

    Comment by MP — May 11, 2018 @ 7:55 am

    • Oddie and Vella do not want to be in their own lanes and violated the intent and the letter of the City’s constitution. The sad part is that they don’t care. Oddie’s response was ‘so what’ that I violated the charter. The law should be changed. It’s like telling a cop that I went over 25 mph in Alameda, but the speed limit should be changed. Oddie and Vella do not understand the reason Section 7-3 was placed in the City’s Charter to prevent political patronage: “An attempt by a Councilmember to influence the City Manager in the making of any appointment or the purchase of any materials or supplies shall subject such Councilmember to removal from office for malfeasance.”

      Comment by Alan — May 11, 2018 @ 11:22 am

      • It seems like no one cares, about any of this.

        The “investigator” avoided the primary evidence and comes off as scared to make a firm conclusion. Council has not acted to boot Oddie, Vella or Keimach (IMO all three should go, but depending on your POV at least one has to). Very little fuss about self-dealing, ie O&V voting on matters dealing with their own behavior.

        This whole thing is the biggest anticlimax since Geraldo & Capone.

        Comment by dave — May 11, 2018 @ 11:54 am

        • or the sound of people waiting to see which way the wind blows

          Comment by MP — May 11, 2018 @ 1:16 pm

        • The wind ain’t shifting unless/until we hear the tape. All we hear now is the sound of stones being stacked into a wall

          Comment by dave — May 11, 2018 @ 2:59 pm

        • The only change that the charter needs is for mandatory penalties to be added for charter violations. Like: the violator must be locked out of his/her city hall office; their car will be ticketed if found in a council reserved parking spot; and their city-sponsored health insurance will immediately be cancelled.That last one might at least get the attention of the offending city council member, if nothing else will.

          Comment by vigi — May 11, 2018 @ 3:19 pm

        • dave, you’re suggesting someone has something to hide. how could you think that?

          vigi, you are heavy on the retribution and light on prevention. someone else suggested mandatory body-cams for all councilmembers. I think that goes too far.

          Comment by MP — May 11, 2018 @ 3:46 pm

        • My comments are a bit tongue in cheek. but seriously, if there are no consequences, why shouldn’t Oddie just say “so what?”. I’d say dock their pay, but it ain’t much. If there are no penalties for misbehavior, voters become cynical and lose all faith in government.

          Comment by vigi — May 11, 2018 @ 3:55 pm

      • Arguments to change the Charter to permit this in the future would be a lot more interesting if those doing the arguing would also call for release of the Aug 16 tape –

        (1) so that, as fair warning, we can hear what the future would sound like, if the presently-drawn lines were crossed; or

        (2) if Charter s 7-3 was respected during the Aug 16 meeting, as Exhibit A in the argument that Charter s 7-3 deprives Councilmembers of power essential to the sound governing of the City and, therefore, shouldt be weakened.

        Comment by MP — May 11, 2018 @ 12:15 pm

  2. The city council really needs to understand better it’s lime.

    Comment by Jack — May 11, 2018 @ 8:01 am

  3. in the end only one person will go, and she won’t be a person who was elected.

    Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — May 12, 2018 @ 6:24 pm

    • “will go”…are you suggesting that the City Manager will voluntarily resign or will be forced to leave her post under Article XXII Section 22-4 of the City Charter?

      Comment by Jack — May 12, 2018 @ 7:43 pm

      • take your choice, but she will be gone.

        Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — May 13, 2018 @ 11:25 am

        • When?

          Comment by Jack — May 13, 2018 @ 6:06 pm

        • Everyone is gone sooner or later

          Comment by Jack — May 13, 2018 @ 6:08 pm

        • Tuesday, May 15th. pretty quick wouldn’t you say.

          Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — May 16, 2018 @ 7:59 am


    Comment by Catherine — May 14, 2018 @ 8:33 pm

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