Self-serving, greedy and not service-minded….

Didn’t you just love Friday?  What a day. Our first week of council-manager city government with Gilmore/Russo in charge is a doozy. And does not portend well for our future.



-Speaking out with our well-researched, reasonable, and very serious concerns at city council meetings, letter writing, public demonstrations, and reports in the local news, demanding our city do what’s right


-that our considerable efforts to inform and collaborate with our city government to help them do what should be their Job #1: looking out first and foremost for us-


-they have unambiguously demonstrated this week that they are not interested in optimizing the city for us.


Friday’s Glaring Missing News Item: It’s been three weeks since Mr. Zack died. It’s unacceptable for the city to be stalling on the Independent Investigation. Unacceptable. Who are these heinous firefighters who would not allow even one of their team—without their water rescue certifications—to walk out into the shallow lake-like water on Crown Beach but could send three firefighters out yesterday on rescue boards to paddle out into the deep-water estuary in a water response rescue effort???  News story here.  Seriously?! WHERE’s THE FREAKING INVESTIGATION?!

IT GETS WORSE: The city made the time last week to move forward with the firefighters contract and to try to sneak two things in under most people’s radars: a legal-fees reimbursement for Tam and a promotion sans city recruitment process for Lisa Goldman (sans resume for the new position) to Assistant City Manager, and told me that the procedures and protocols at the fire department are only available in hardcopy, they are that outdated.…yes, pre-PC, circa 1980s….

Last Friday’s news shouted volumes…..   

Friday’s News Item #1

–       THE NEW FIREFIGHTERS CONTRACT: no cuts to their pocketbooks. NONE.

–        THE MAYOR GETS LONGTERM CONCESSIONS FROM FIREFIGHTERS: A $146,000 savings per year for two whole years on pension costs is a “long-term” “concession”?  HUH?

–        THE CITY CAVED TO THE IAFF LOCAL 689’s DEMANDS: What? The heat from the firefighters strike substitute—the ballot measure to require minimum firefighter staffing levels—was too much? And they had to give them everything they wanted in a contract? Or is there something else in play here…

The firefighters responsible for the friable asbestos and crude oil fumes in your lungs, the firefighters responsible for the $800K  judgment against the city in April 2011 (news article here, lawsuit here [unbelievably horrid; reading warning: rated NC-17!), the firefighters responsible for Mr. Zack’s death….are getting rewarded. And, say folks, what about that recession? dah dum cha!  (drummer’s joke punctuation)

What is Gilmore smoking?! Last time I checked, the City of Alameda is in such financial dire straits, that we are literally going down the drain within months if we don’t do everything possible to avert bankruptcy yesterday! And Mayor Gilmore and City Manager Russo are NOT even pursueing reduced salaries from the firefighters.

Every other mayor in this serious economic recession is working hard for their constituents, negotiating substantive contract changes to protect their city’s future, working for their people. Why isn’t our mayor? 

Dunno. Maybe it has something to do with her relationships with the firefighters? See Mayor Gilmore, on election night 2011, hanging off the shoulder of the very same paramedic (the IAFF Local 689’s political director to boot!) whose behavior at work caused a jury to find the city at fault earlier this year to the tune of $800+K here.

Friday’s News Item #2: our city is reimbursing Lena Tam for her legal fees because she needed to defend herself against the criminal actions she confirmed she did engage in.  $50k?

Friday’s Discovery Item #3: The city’s press release “City of Alameda Reaches Agreement with Firefighters Union on MOU containing Important Concessions” is submitted by “Lara Goldman, Assistant City Manager”. <<<<Since when?! Interim City Manager Gallant had eliminated that position to save money! There has been no recruitment process for this new, restored, position. There was no announcement of Goldman’s promotion. In 6 months, Goldman has gone from Deputy City Manager, to Interim City Manager (by default) to Assistant City Manager—quite the implausible, and extraordinary, career advancement, wouldn’t you say? According to city payscales—-and we know what a stickler the City Council is on everyone being paid higher according to the pay of those below them!—, Goldman has received a 30% to 50% increase in salary and benefits! <<I suggest you read between the lines here…. This is an iteration of Worst HR Practices.

Friday’s IMPOSSIBLE TO BELIEVE (Explains a Lot!) Item #4:  the Alameda City Clerk tells me that if I want copies of the Fire Department procedures and protocols, I have to pay 10 cents per page…. Why?  Because they do not have them in softcopies.  You read that right: THE ALAMEDA FIRE DEPARTMENT PROTOCOLS AND PROCEDURES ARE SO ANTIQUATED, SO OBSOLETE, THAT THEY ONLY HAVE THEM IN HARDCOPIES.  From the days of typewriters and distribution via hardcopy photocopying…  HUH?


The firefighters contract is unsustainable and exacerbates the known, quantifiable risk of bankruptcy. This is fact.  The AFD, allowed to continue doing business as usual, puts every Alamedan at risk from future firefighter failures to perform. This is a reasonable expectation based on factual history.


CONTRAST: Some SF Bay Area firefighter unions actually want to be part of the solution, causal in the survival, not demise, of their cities.

On June 14th, the San Jose police agreed to a 10% cut in pay.  In March, the San Jose Fire Fighters Union Local 230 put a proposal on the table for a wage freeze AND a 10% reduction in pay. Other firefighter unions proposed 10% salary cuts to their cities to effect annual savings of $1,000,000 or more over several years.

Are you getting that?! The unions themselves proposed the pay cuts to their cities. The unions originated the solutions and brought them to their cities. Not ours, however. NosirreeBOB. The sadists in charge of our firefighters union demonstrated on Memorial Day that their priorities are themselves—their pay, healthcare and retirement benefits—and no one else.

COMPARE: “The Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury’s report is in and it is critical. It calls the county’s fire department resistant to change, wasteful, and outdated….some firefighters are self serving, greedy, and not service minded, since many live outside the county they work in.” – ABC 7 June 16, 2011.

Consider for one moment that the obsolete responsibilities (outdated P&Ps) and detached incompetence at the AFD did not exist. It would still make sense to reduce pay across the board for firefighters! EVERY CITY today needs to negotiate DOWN the firefighter contracts. It’s the recession (duh). That, and past ridiculous unsustainable contracts from The Good Times era. Add AFD performance issues and it makes absolutely no sense any which way they try to sell it to you—it only makes sense within the context of their own cognition traps. They are failing us. Or worse.

WHO AMONG US would get to keep our jobs let alone extraordinary pay and pension packages if we underperformed? If our actions led to someone dying or to the toxic contamination of a facility let alone a whole city, twice?! Not one of us!

Do not allow the Gilmore-Russo snake oil to seep into your brain. Keep vigilant: their dissembling soundbites are meant to disarm you; do not let them. They are quite clearly demonstrating that they are “self-serving, greedy, and not service minded”.

I’m not seeing evidence that Mayor Gilmore and CM Russo are running a city prioritized on the best/highest service to Alameda residents. I’m seeing evidence of something else.

YOU CAN SEE, CAN’T YOU? That it’s no longer an appearance that city leadership/management and the firefighters are trafficking influence…it looks like the trafficking is very, very real.  It looks like this is preventing the city from doing what’s right here: real negotiation with the firefighters that should reduce annual fire services costs to the city by a million dollars or more. Then we could surely retain Animal and other services and protect the quality of life we are all supposed to be able to enjoy. What a thought, right? Yet this doesn’t even look like a priority let alone a possibility under Gilmore/Russo.


I want a government that is taking this recession and our city’s future seriously and doing everything possible to avert financial disaster. Don’t you?


Agenda Item 5.N: Adoption of Resolution Approving Revised Memorandum of Understanding Between the International Association of Firefighters, Local 689 and the City of Alameda for the Period Commencing January 3, 2010, and Ending January 12, 2013. (Human Resources)

Date and Time
June 21, 2011 7:00 PM

Meeting Location
City Hall
2263 Santa Clara Avenue, 3rd Floor
Alameda, CA 94501


About Denise Lai

Alive. Swim (fly is the best). Walking with my dog (weims are the best). Life is good. Would prefer people understood negative externalities and prevented themselves from creating them. Feeling the love anyway. View all posts by Denise Lai

Comments are disabled.

%d bloggers like this: