Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 9, 2019

Sit this one out

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

And just like that the Grand Jury report is on the agenda for the City Council to provide a response.  Because it has to provide a response within 90 days of receiving the report and this is the last meeting of the City Council before it heads into its August break when there will be no meetings.  So it’s very important that the City Council publicly determine what the response will be.

From the staff report:

The findings and recommendations are summarized below.  In addition, the City Attorney and City Manager are providing a draft letter with options for the City Council to consider on each finding and recommendation.

For each Finding, it is required that responses shall be either 1) agree, 2) disagree wholly, with an explanation, or 3) disagree partially, with an explanation.

And that is indeed what staff did, they provide options for each finding and recommendation for the City Council to select from.

Maybe I’ll go through the options in a future post but I think that the first elephant in the room to acknowledge is the question of who stays on the dais to run through this exercise.

I’ll add this staff report is very straightforward and doesn’t mention anything about this issue but I do think it’s going to be an issue.  I imagine that there will be a recommendation from the City Attorney about whether or not to recuse, it’s just not a part of this packet.  I wonder if I should put in a pre-emptive public records request.

Anyway.

Given that the entire Grand Jury document centers around two members of the City Council it’s important that they recuse from discussions and decisions about the report in their official capacity as City Councilmembers.

Hear me out.

The bulk of the response are pretty standard, both Options 1 and 2 are nearly identical even when the option is to “partially disagree.”  However there is one section where it is critical that neither of the subjects of the Grand Jury report take a vote on:

Finding 19-4: In violation of the City’s Charter they had sworn to uphold, two
Councilmembers did interfere with the City Manager’s ability to conduct an open and transparent recruitment for a new Fire Chief.

The two options, one is to agree that both were in violation, the second option is to hold firm to the Jenkins report which found only one member violated the charter:

Option 1:
Response: Agree
While the City of Alameda agrees with this finding, it is important to point out that the City’s independent investigator concluded that one Council Member, not two, violated the City Charter. Additionally, the City further recognizes the grand jury’s conclusion that the conduct at issue, even if violative of the City Charter, does not rise to the level of “willful or corrupt misconduct in office” necessitating removal from Office.

Option 2:
Response: Partially Disagree
The City of Alameda engaged the law firm of Jenkins & Hogin, LLP to conduct an
independent investigation of the alleged conduct at issue. The independent investigation involved interviews with 22 people along with a review of a substantial volume of relevant documents. This investigation concluded that one Council Member, not two, violated the City Charter.

It does neither of the two members called out in the Grand Jury report to make a determination on Options 1 or 2 for this particular finding, and would be cleaner for the City Council as a whole to make the determination as to what to accept and agree to without the allegations that the votes for the two members somehow tainted the outcome.  Allowing the three other members to unanimously, and I think it would have to be unanimous since there will only be three left, come to a determination on these issues would send a signal that the City is taking the GJ report seriously.

But I guess if the determination from the City Attorney is that the City Councilmembers need not recuse then I guess that is that.  After all it is the City Attorney’s role to protect the City and he wouldn’t put the City in any jeopardy by recommending recusal if unnecessary and vice versa.

4 Comments »

  1. Vella and Oddie: “I disagree I did anything wrong, and move to reject the GJ report. If you don’t agree I will block your pet projects, not endorse you for re-election, and find reasons to oppose rehiring of key city employees. Now pay my legal fees.”

    Comment by Nowyouknow — July 9, 2019 @ 6:43 am

  2. The City Council surely knows that they are not limited to “Option 1” and “Option 2”. Another option – also “clean” – would just leave it as: “XXX [T]he City Alameda agrees with this finding[.]XXXX”

    If the Council feels the response must include mention of the independent investigation’s conclusion that only one councilmember violated the charter, why not also also point out that the independent investigator did not listen to the tape-recorded meeting in the City Manager’s library whereas the Grand Jury did?

    Comment by MP — July 9, 2019 @ 7:41 am

  3. Lauren, why do you think, if the two recuse, that the three remaining cm’s have to be unanimous? And what are the chances of a unanimous agreement, given whom the third cm is? What happens if they don’t agree unanimously?

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — July 9, 2019 @ 11:27 am

    • I’m not sure if it would need to be unanimous or a simple majority. But in the past when two members have had to recuse (I’m thinking about an appeal for a house in the Gold Coast and Doug deHaan and Marie Gilmore has to recuse), because one City Council member voted “no” the appeal wasn’t successful even though the other two voted “yes.”

      Comment by Lauren Do — July 9, 2019 @ 12:05 pm


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