Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 30, 2012

Scotty, we need more man power

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Public Resources — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

This is a bit older news, but I think it serves as a bit of a cautionary tale, particularly as we enter into campaign season and the rhetoric begins to ramp up in order for certain candidates to appeal to their base, or maybe just appeal to the sentiment that seems to be prevalent right now that public employees are paid just too damn much.   The logic is that because there are such high levels of unemployment, someone will want the job at any rate of compensation.

I believe the City of San Carlos also had that belief when they spun off their Fire Department from the City of Belmont.  In mid July, the Belmont Patch ran this article, highlights:

The San Carlos Fire Department has reached a critical stage. There are not enough personnel to maintain even a minimal staff at both fire stations in town, forcing Fire Chief Jim Skinner and Deputy Fire Chief Stan Maupin to create a brown out at station 16 (on the Alameda) last week.

The current 17 fire personnel have been pushed to the brink of danger because of overtime. Fire captains have been asked to serve as drivers.

“I wish I was here to give you better news but, actually, we’re at a tipping point in staffing and managing the department the way it is now,” Skinner told the San Carlos city council at its last meeting.


July 25, 2012

But all I can do is Tri Data

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Public Resources — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

At the last City Council meeting, City Manager John Russo promised that he would have on the website all of the reports that were done by various consultants about Fire Department services.   True to his word, the files are up including one that had been missing because it was not accepted by the City when it was commissioned.

As I mentioned before there was this elusive Tri Data contract that was signed by Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant in March 2010.   This contract was executed after the Fire Department Union got all up in arms when former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant decided that she wanted to piggyback on the Alameda County EMS RFP for ambulance services in July 2009.   The Tri Data contract was specifically requested to study EMS services:

• GIS analysis and mapping of the City of Alameda EMS response
• Analysis of CAD data to include standard response time analysis, UH/U, and risk/demand
• EMS delivery models and costs for delivering these models
• Personnel needed to implement models
• A recommendation for model selection
• BLS transfer business model with ability to back-up 911 service
• Civilian/sworn combined models and costs.

Probably with the end goal of outsourcing ambulance services to the County or a private provider.


July 12, 2012

24 years ago…

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Public Resources — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

The earliest report that I have was one done in 1988 by Ryland Research out of Santa Barbara.   This report was also commissioned by the Interim City Manager at that time.  Who that person was, I’m not sure, my knowledge of Alameda City Managers doesn’t go that far.    The summary suggests that there might have been some tensions between the City Administration and the Fire Department, since the report refers to a breakdown in communication contributing to problems between the two.

Quick warning, the report is huge!

It’s interesting to note that one of the suggestions in the ICMA report recommended “flattening” command staff.   It’s in the Ryland report that the suggestion was to change “Administrative Chief” to “Deputy Chief” and “shift chief” to “Battalion Chief” to better distinguish command staff. (p.18)


July 11, 2012


Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Public Resources — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

Before the Measure C election when I wrote about a need for a report on how much it would cost to outsource Fire Department operations since the only report that was consistently getting cited by the opposition was the ICMA report, a commenter mentioned that lots of reports had already been commissioned by the City over the years and that the reports all reached slightly different conclusions.

At that time I had no idea that these other reports actually existed.   But apparently there are a lot of them out there.   And, something that came up in an op-ed last week was that former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant had actually commissioned yet another report after she had paid for the ICMA report to study the Alameda Fire Department operations.   If course we haven’t heard much about that report because it was never presented to the City Council for some reason.

I’m bringing up the ICMA report because I’m planning on posting the various reports that have been paid for by the City to study pretty much the same thing.   And as that commenter mentioned, they all say slightly different things and make different suggestions on how the City should tackle the issue.


July 29, 2011

I’m on a boat

Big props to Peter Hegarty over at the Alameda Journal for a really precise Request for Information query, yesterday the Alameda Journal ran this story, highlights:

Alameda city officials were put on notice that a water rescue program was necessary for public safety more than two years before a despondent man drowned himself off Crown Beach while firefighters watched because they said department policy prevented a rescue attempt, public records show.

The warning came in a Feb. 4, 2009 grievance letter filed by a leader of the firefighters union who said the department’s fire boat and water rescue programs were first implemented “due to the inherent risk that comes with providing service for an island community” and that an estimated 2,000 private boats are docked in Alameda.


July 8, 2011

A little bit of me and a whole lot of you

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Tags: , , , — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

After the Memorial Day drowning of Raymond Zack, many Alamedans called for an independent investigation/inquiry into the events surrounding that May morning.

When the City of Alameda announced that they had hired former State Fire Marshal and former director of CALFIRE, Ruben Grijalva, to perform an investigation  and present a report probably 95% of the people who cared were relieved that the City was taking this seriously and the other 5% started Googling Ruben Grijalva immediately to show that he was unqualified to perform this task.


July 7, 2011

People hearing without listening

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Tags: , , , — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

I have been slowly catching up on my City meeting watching and wanted to share this little bit from one of John Russo’s first City Council meetings — maybe it was his first — let me set it up for you.  The agenda item was about ratifying the Firefighters contract which had newly negotiated terms.

As an aside, I thought that the new contract was a good start which included concessions like removing spouses from the lifetime health benefit upon retirement for new hires.    Firefighters would now contribute 11% to their retirement (an increase from 9%).  But I think that it could go farther.   The promise from the elected officials and City staff if that this is just a start to begin chipping away at the projected deficit.


June 16, 2011

So live your life

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Tags: , , , — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

For some reason on Alameda Patch a select few people have been calling for the City’s Interim Fire Chief, Michael D’orazi, to resign.   Some bad information regarding his tenure at the City of Alameda has led some commenters to repeat the faulty factoid that he was in charge of the Fire Department’s training division in 2009 when the rescue swimmers program was suspended.   The weirdest part was the comment was placed in the comments section of the article explaining that he had retired from the Department in 2007.

But as a part of this critique folks have also begun insisting that City employees live in Alameda.   The percentage this commenter cited was 80% of all municipal employees, with an additional requirement that all “top management”, live in Alameda.

While technically this is a requirement per the either the City’s Charter or the Municipal Code, it’s been a while since I’ve checked, it is actually against state law to require that municipal employees live within the City.   Let me quickly clarify that the requirement is only for that “top management” tier, not for rank and file employees.


June 8, 2011

Re-examine retirement

Filed under: Alameda, Public Resources — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

Yesterday was my attempt to get people talking about salaries and what is an appropriate base salary for public employees, my first example was Firefighters, but most people veered toward post-retirement benefits.

Before I talk about specific possibilities, I want to frame the issue by bringing your attention to what is going on in San Jose right now.  For those that don’t know San Jose’s Mayor wants to put a measure on November’s ballot to reduce pensions for current and new employees.   Last Friday, the unions were supposed to meet with San Jose’s HR director to discuss pension reform, but instead felt as though they were blindsided when the conversation turned toward the ballot language.   The three unions set up a camper with a big sign outside that read “Tell the Truth, Negotiate Now.”  The San Jose Merc wrote a scathing editorial, highlights:


June 7, 2011

What’s it worth?

Filed under: Alameda, Public Resources — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

Do you remember that game that they used to play on the Price is Right?   Maybe they still play it, but I haven’t seen an episode in a long time, plus I’m not a huge Drew Carey fan anyway.  But it was the one where they had some product and you had to guess how much it cost or how much it was worth.  It’s sort of like the Showcase Showdown, but that was a lot about strategy and luck.  I mean, c’mon, $1?  We all know that furniture set is not worth $1.

So let’s do that today with Firefighter salaries.  Because lots of people are talking about “cutting salaries” as some sort of magic bullet for fixing our budget issues, and while asking everyone to take a 5, 10, 15, or 50% salary cut may solve our problems in the short term, right now we have a problem of expenditures out-pacing revenue.  Eventually if we do nothing to increase revenue or change something systemically,  we’ll end up in the same place we are now, no matter how much we ask people to take out of their paychecks.


Older Posts »

Blog at