Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 21, 2020

Back to the Start

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

About a month ago the City Council agreed to appoint a City Council subcommittee to begin the work of re-imagining what policing should look like in 2020 and beyond.  The City Council will be taking a first look tonight at what the subcommittee has proposed but it doesn’t seem as though the subcommittee has gotten any farther than what was already proposed in the framework on June 29.

So this is where the City would have been had they moved forward with the framework from June 29:

Proposed Process (one month):

  1. Identify a steering committee for the development of the scope and goal
  2. Hold multiple Town Hall meetings in July to develop a consensus Goals and Objectives within the identified scope.
  3. Before July 3rd, City staff to arrange 5 Town Halls the weeks for July 13th and July 20th, array of times and days to accommodate different schedules. Publicize list July 6th
  4. Return to a special council meeting for concurrence with proposed goals and outcomes during the week of July 27th

But based on the work of the subcommittee this is where we are:

  1. City Manager will appoint the Steering Committee
  2. The process will be community-led
  3. The Steering Committee will identify a pool of candidates for the five task forces
  4. The Steering Committee will work with the task force members to establish goals for the work and determine the best approach in receiving broad input
  5. Elected officials (current or if elected in the future) cannot serve on the Steering Committee or any of the task forces
  6. Check-ins with the City Council will be provided on the following timeline (at a minimum):
    • Short-term – Sept/October (Q1 City Budget)
    • Medium-term – December/January (with input relevant to the City’s next 2-year budget
    • Long-term – February/March (final information tying changes/new efforts to budget)
    • Longer-term – TBD, based on need and complexity of topic

Unlike the framework from June 29, we have no town halls set to collect more feedback from the community.  We also would have had the steering committee in place as that was an expectation from the first month of work starting after the June 29 City Council meeting.  Instead we’re still going to be at least another month out with the City Manager (or City Council depending on which option is chosen) to select a Steering Committee which will then choose candidates to fill the five task forces.

So it feels sort of like we haven’t made a whole lot of progress since June 29.

Perhaps there will be more elucidated at tonight’s meeting, but based on what is in the staff reports it looks like the real work has been left in the hands of staff.


  1. The present Council was elected in Nov 2018. Granted, this issue was not as of the moment as it is now (one councilmember having declared in 2017, for example, not having seen evidence of racial profiling in Alameda), and maybe it was raised in a lower profile way in 2019.

    Anyway, one difference between the two approaches above might be the greater likelihood of definitive Council action before the November 2020 election under the approach #1 where a series of town halls held between June 29 and July 27 and a consensus re objectives and goals developed sometime next week. Although the town hall* concept (live or on Zoom) can in practice range from mere stagecraft to reasoned, high level debate, a process that results in policy decisions before the election (and against which incumbents can be evaluated) is not undemocratic.

    On the other hand, haste might work against good policy. That is not to say that there must be complete reliance and dependence on staff reports and opinions. There can’t be. Part of this depends on data, but part depends on values (and none of it, not even one bit, on vote courting).

    * To what is the phrase “town hall” in big city Alameda meant to appeal? As a side note, the city of Camden NJ, which has been looked to as a case study in police department defunding/unbundling/reform, has a population of 77k, very similar to ours.

    Comment by MP — July 21, 2020 @ 9:27 am

    • Camden is not a good model. The city fired half of the police to save money, then the Stare of NJ took over policing. It is a very poorly run city.

      There are only 5 patrol officers on duty at any one time and the city council keeps development going and our cars and population expanding. Defund the police? Really dangerous idea in a Year of Living Dangerously.

      Comment by Nowyouknow — July 21, 2020 @ 11:15 am

      • I don’t doubt it. I also expect us to become a much better run country when Biden beats Trump (speaking of living dangerously), though the precedents he is setting will reverberate, unfortunately.

        Comment by MP — July 21, 2020 @ 12:12 pm

  2. Who is in this subcommittee?

    Comment by Jimbo — July 21, 2020 @ 10:37 am

  3. So, instead of the ten townhall meetings where citizens can find a convenient time to listen and be heard, the CM will appoint a Steering Committee (the same CM that found the ‘independent’ investigator for the incident that is driving this process), and his Steering Committee members will fill 5 task forces. Who gets to vet who is on these Task Forces? This is starting off very badly. How do we get a fair and balanced representation of the community on this Steering Committee and these task forces? How has this kind of process worked for us in the past? This process smells from the head, to use an expression my old Czech Babushka was fond of using. It will insure us getting the results that the CM wants.

    Comment by abronto4900 — July 21, 2020 @ 11:29 am

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