Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 27, 2019

Failure to communicate

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

One of my big takeaways from the whole Grand Jury report, which I’ve now read cover to cover several times, is the level of dysfunction that was prevalent on the City Council at that time.  I thought that the dysfunction was mostly limited to the interpersonal relationships between all the City Councilmembers alone, but it’s clear now that it extended to the City Manager and (possibly) even the City Attorney.

It is unclear if that same level of dysfunction exists for this current Council but I think the handling of this report by the City Council when it comes before them will dictate how this Council will be able to work together moving forward.

While this does not excuse anything that happened during the Fire Chief hiring debacle it is informative to reflect upon some of the discussions via that lens.  I would, and do, argue that if there was a more collaborative relationship and an ability to communicate better between the City Councilmembers and their chief executive the discussions which felt like pressure to the City Manager would have been within the scope of a City Councilmember expressing his or her preferences and offering of an opinion.  But with — what has been characterized — as a high pressure pitch and an already strained working relationship I can understand the City Manager feeling as though she is being asked to come to a certain conclusion.

On the other hand, I can see how, possibly, the two City Councilmembers simply felt as though they were relaying their opinions and nothing else perhaps misreading the power dynamic and not being aware of how previous interactions may have served to color their current relationship with the City Manager.

Based on this overarching theme in the GJ report it would have been nice to see a recommendation about holding occasional retreats or similar for the City Council in order to finesse their communication skills with one another and their direct reports.  It’s not as though these people hang out with one another all the time and so it’s tough to building meaningful relationships in a scenario where you walk in with a certain amount of animosity from an election depending on who you supported, who you did not support, and maybe who you actively campaigned against.

I guess this is a long way of saying: it’s probably best to try to work well with everyone and not alienate certain people because they don’t align with your interests precisely.  We really deserve a City Council where it’s not good enough that everyone just not hate each other.  We need a functioning City Council because we’ve already witnessed what a non functioning City Council looks like and it’s ugly, full of recrimination, and expensive.


  1. On the other hand, I can see how, possibly, the two City Councilmembers simply felt as though they were relaying their opinions and nothing else perhaps misreading the power dynamic and not being aware of how previous interactions may have served to color their current relationship with the City Manager.


    Quotes from the tape in the GJ report indicate they knew exactly the line they were crossing. The energy expended in ’17/’18 to prevent the tape’s release and other obstructive behaviors indicates they they knew the tape would prove that, and indeed the tape does appear quite damning.

    At this point all we can do is get the tape released for everyone to hear and draw their own conclusion.

    Comment by dave — June 27, 2019 @ 6:19 am

    • At this point, if the argument is that the GJ drew the wrong conclusions from the taped conversation or that key points from the tape were not added or considered as part of the report then if I were a person on the tape making that claim now, I would support releasing the tape.

      Comment by Lauren Do — June 27, 2019 @ 6:52 am

      • Before this GJ report, Oddie & Vella were adamant that tape should not be released. If memory serves, Vella was particularly vociferous in her opposition. That was taken by many, myself included, as a tacit admission of guilt, not unlike Trump (and his lackeys) ignoring subpoenas, throwing stones at Mueller et al.

        Have you heard if they support release now?

        Comment by dave — June 27, 2019 @ 7:08 am

        • I haven’t seen any public statements by either, but honestly the best thing to do for both is to keep their profiles low until the City Council meeting where this issue will be discussed.

          Comment by Lauren Do — June 27, 2019 @ 8:04 am

        • Ms. Vella has always supported the release of the tape, but recognized that 1) she never had possession of the tape and 2) it would be unethical for her to call for its release if the tape was still under investigation. There are Twitter posts that prove this. You need to back up your claims about “prevent” and “obstruct.”

          Comment by JRB — June 27, 2019 @ 1:57 pm

        • I recall, and will try to dig up, posts (twitter or elsewhere) when she said the tape was an invasion of her privacy and should not be released. If I can dig up I will show here.

          Comment by dave — June 27, 2019 @ 2:07 pm

        • Note that the first investigation that “cleared” her pointedly did NOT review the tape. A grand jury that did hear it found her in violation.

          Malia Vella

          Follow Follow @Malia_Vella
          For those who keep chanting “release the tape” – (1) I don’t/have never had “the tape,” I was SECRETLY recorded. (2) There’s an active investigation by the District Attorney, it’s key evidence, I’m not interfering-that would be corrupt. (3) Like the report, it clears me. #alamtg

          7:18 AM – 20 Jun 2018
          3 Retweets 13 Likes Neural Channelsbrett webbSusan PaulukonisLauren Dosteve cortezGaylon ParsonsScottie A.Robert GammonAlameda Firefighters
          3 replies 3 retweets 13 likes
          Reply 3 Retweet 3 Like 13 Direct message

          Malia Vella

          20 Jun 2018
          It’s part of a criminal investigation. See above.

          Comment by dave — June 27, 2019 @ 2:21 pm

        • I can’t claim to have searched everything but I find no record of her calling for the tape’s release. I do find a few where she says the tape clears her but can’t be released.

          And as we know now, it did not clear her.

          Comment by dave — June 27, 2019 @ 2:38 pm

  2. To your last point on a functioning city council, hell will freeze over and pigs will fly before that will happen. But then hope springs eternal!

    Comment by Jeff Cambra — June 27, 2019 @ 9:13 am

    • I think the last time there was a functioning city council was when Chuck Corica was mayor.

      Comment by vigi — June 27, 2019 @ 10:40 am

  3. Too bad the comments section of this blog has become the almost exclusive jurisdiction of Dave Howard’s weird, vapid and psychotic rants.

    Comment by Mike Henneberry — June 27, 2019 @ 10:04 am

    • I assumed it was a different dave

      Comment by Gaylon — June 27, 2019 @ 11:10 am

    • “dave” is not David Howard.

      Comment by Lauren Do — June 27, 2019 @ 11:14 am

      • Not even close. I don’t engage in violence, as Howard and Henneberry have.

        Comment by dave — June 27, 2019 @ 11:36 am

        • OK if you say so, Mystery Dave is vapid, psychotic, weird and a wimp.

          Comment by Mike Henneberry — June 27, 2019 @ 12:46 pm

        • Should you care to grow up and address the points I made, and counterpoint out anything you believe is an error, feel free. I’ll play.

          But if all you have is inane ad hominems, well, keep at that too. It shows the world what you are.

          Comment by dave — June 27, 2019 @ 1:09 pm

  4. Yeah sure “Dave.” Have a nice day.

    Comment by Mike Henneberry — June 27, 2019 @ 1:12 pm

  5. Now that the investigation is over and the Grand Jury has released its report – including findings, recommendations, and a decision not to pursue an Accusation that could have led to removal from office of the two CMs the Grand Jury found violated the City Charter – it is difficult to think of a legal rationale for agencies in possession of “the tape” not to release if someone were to submit a public records request, since the exceptions to the public records act are pretty narrow.

    Given the public interest in the Grand Jury Report that itself that references “the tape” and the conflicting claims of the extent to which “the tape” is implicating or exonerating, it seems likely that at least one citizen will submit a public records request to the City, the Alameda County D.A, and the Alameda County Superior Court (since the the Civil Grand Jury is “an arm of the Superior Court).

    Comment by Public Records Are Public — June 27, 2019 @ 3:21 pm

  6. Release of this Grand Jury report reminds me of the release of the Mueller Report. There is almost nothing in it that we don’t already know, people holding opinions on each side are clinging to those opinions no matter what the report says, and the report did not recommend any prosecutions.

    Comment by vigi — June 28, 2019 @ 10:37 am

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