Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 4, 2019

In your court

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

Early Saturday morning, Councilmember Jim Oddie sent out this press release via his personal email account:

Earlier today, I notified Alameda City Attorney Yiben Shen of my perspective that the audio recording of the conversation between me, the former City Manager, and Councilmember Vella should be released.

It is illegal to tape private conversations without the knowledge and permission of all parties, and the former City Manager violated those ethics.

However, I concur the public should have the opportunity to hear the recording themselves and draw their own conclusions. Those who have worked with me know that my style is blunt and straightforward, and my role in that conversation is no different.

It is my hope that we can all move past this to fully focus on addressing the needs and vital services for all Island families. Alamedans hold their leaders to the highest standards of transparency and conduct, which I agree with and will continue to work to earn.

The release is timely considering that this Tuesday is the first meeting post the DA letter’s to the City Attorney regarding the TAPE.

Unsurprisingly the DA’s office must have been inundated with public records requests for the release of the tape under the California Public Records Act (CPRA).  The DA’s office did a very sly job of kicking the responsibility (and therefore the liability) of releasing the tape back to the City.  Concluding the letter with:

Screen Shot 2019-11-04 at 5.27.59 AM

With the press release from Jim Oddie it looks like at least one of the two people who had initially expressed reservations about releasing the tape has determined that whatever is on the tape is probably not as bad as people’s active imaginations about what is on the tape.

In short, we’re probably getting a release of the tape in some form or other.


  1. It necessarily will not be “as bad” as “some” people’s imagination.

    The closer question might be, after hundreds of thousands of attorney fees, and sorting out claims against the city for the same, whether the tape shows that the former City Manager’s assertions were “baseless” (or the product somehow of her “anxiety”), as argued by some, repeatedly, or not.

    Comment by MP — November 4, 2019 @ 6:56 am

    • It’s hard to imagine what else could be revealed that wouldn’t have already been mentioned by the grand jury. Most likely, the tape will be released, the usual Trish-Daysog-ACT-anti-union Alameda crowd will study it and look for “ah ha!” quotes to try and make political hay, and the other side will admit that it’s unflattering but was already mentioned by the grand jury and/or the Jenkins report, and we all eventually get tired and move on. The only two things the citizenry can do that actually leads to progress – fix the flawed parts of the charter that lead to this, and let the people learn all the facts and then vote for the candidates that best represent their interests. Everything else is just noise from the rabble-rousers.

      Comment by JRB — November 4, 2019 @ 4:48 pm

      • 1) How do you define “rabble-rouser” and “noise”?

        2) “…the other side will admit that it’s unflattering but was already mentioned by the grand jury…”

        That would be a shift in the strategy of “the other side”, which up to now has consisted of attacking the credibility of the Grand Jury, accusing it of mischaracterizing the tape recording, saying things like “their search for the truth falls short”, “another investigation finds nothing new”, that the investigation was a “distraction”, and “today another independent review of events put into motion in 2017 by former City Manager Jill Keimach show again that her allegations against me were baseless.”

        But, hey, if arguing that something was “already mentioned by the grand jury” might lessen the impact of the tape, I’m sure someone will give it a try.

        3) Yes, I agree with you that the people should learn the facts. They should also listen to the tape and decide if it was a flaw in the City Charter that led to this, or something else.

        Comment by MP — November 4, 2019 @ 5:57 pm

        • The flaw lies not in the charter but in themselves*

          *CM1 and CM2

          Comment by Bill Shakespeare — November 4, 2019 @ 8:15 pm

  2. Back when this whole thing erupted 2 (!) years ago, I recall Vella saying that the tape would exonerate her, if only we could hear it.

    Is she still singing that tune?

    Comment by dave — November 4, 2019 @ 7:13 am

  3. Tavares reports that Vella’s request for payoff will be discussed *again* Tuesday night:

    Why there is a need to do this a second time is puzzling. Surely it cannot be so difficult to say “The Grand Jury found you in violation, we voted to agree with that finding. Sorry Ms. Vella, you’re SOL on this one.”

    Comment by dave — November 4, 2019 @ 7:28 am

  4. Can someone unpack this?: “It is ILLEGAL to tape private conversations……the former City Manager violated those ETHICS”

    Are we talking about two distinct concepts there?

    Will Councilman Oddie give us his full opinion about the ETHICS of and standards of conduct observed in the entire situation, start to finish, from the former Fire Chief’s retirement announcement, insertion of politics, or not, into the hiring process, and all the way through the claims made against the city, including by himself?

    Don’t worry, friends, not holding my breath.

    Comment by MP — November 4, 2019 @ 7:35 am

  5. Final question: It was over a year ago, in October 2018, that the District Attorney issued a no-prosecution letter re the Keimach tape. Better late than never, and there could be a good explanation for the delay, but why did Councilman Oddie take over a year after that to conclude that “the public should have the opportunity to hear the recording themselves and draw their own conclusions”?

    Comment by MP — November 4, 2019 @ 7:48 am

  6. Can someone report out on what action, if any, the Council took last night on this matter?

    Comment by Jeff Cambra — November 6, 2019 @ 7:58 am

    • Councilmembers read these pages regularly. I’m sure at least one of them will answer. Most likely it will be the Vice Mayor, who (we were reminded during his campaign) wrote Alameda’s Sunshine Law.

      It’s great to have such an advocate for transparency on council. I hope he has time soon to tell us what’s going on.

      Comment by dave — November 6, 2019 @ 8:14 am

      • While I support the disclosure of the “record” under the banner of transparency, I am far more interested in the rational the Council would use to support an exception to the mandatory disclosures requirement as provided to residents under the California Public Records Act.

        Comment by Jeff Cambra — November 6, 2019 @ 10:13 am

  7. I have received confirmation from two reliable sources that the Council took the following action:

    2. The City attorney reported that the Council rejected Vella’s $93k claim for reimbursement of attorney fees.
    3. The City Attorney reported that the City will prepare a redacted transcript of the tape for public release.

    I predict that the next fight will be over the redacted content. Stay tuned and hang on to those pearls.

    Comment by Jeff Cambra — November 6, 2019 @ 4:07 pm

    • Let us concede for the moment, Mr. Cambra, that the “rabble” (to use JRB’s term) do not deserve to hear the actual audio, and that it is right, proper and fitting that they shall be allowed a transcript only. (Two years – and one election – later, thank you very much)

      We still must decide whether the rabble shall receive a “rough transcript” only (a la what Trump did with the Ukraine call) or an actual transcript, word for word (without or without redactions). What say you, sir? I much prefer the “rough transcript” or summary-style (sanitized, in other words) for we need a check on the people since, although during most times their will is just, they too are “subject to the [periodic] infection of violent passions.”

      Comment by MP — November 6, 2019 @ 5:35 pm

      • MP. The CPRA requires the disclosure of the actual record, subject to the redaction of certain information based on statutory authority to do so. We may disagree with the redaction of specific information based on the interpretation of an exemption. In that case, residents can file a complaint with the Open Government Commission for a violation of the Sunshine Ordinance and/or file suit in Alameda County Superior Court for a violation of the CPRA.

        The release of a “rough” transcript of the conversation would be in violation of the CPRA. I do not believe the City will attempt to release a rough transcript. We have good people in the City Attorney’s Office, and I have the upmost confidence in their ability to handle this release in full conformity of the law.

        You do raise an interesting point in what format would the record be released in. Need to ponder over that for a day or two.



        Comment by Jeff Cambra — November 6, 2019 @ 10:07 pm

    • Hearing the tape will bring much more clarity than reading the swiss cheese transcript. Tone of voice, apparent demeanor & attitude, etc, will be illuminating.

      Comment by dave — November 6, 2019 @ 5:35 pm

      • Dave: You may not need an audio copy of the record depending on the content of the transcript. Let’s wait and see what the transcript reveals. j

        Comment by Jeff Cambra — November 6, 2019 @ 10:19 pm

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