thinks we’re a ship of fools.

Quick note to address the misinformation published in The Alameda Sun recently.

There is no group of local activists called Raising Hell for Good. There is no RHG acronym.  Raising Hell is merely my blog. D’oh.

Letter to the State AG: The group of people who wrote and signed a request for an investigation into the city corruption to CA AG Kamala Harris are a group of friends who have HAD IT and thought it appropriate to engage the state AG and expedite a letter thereto. The signers are unaffiliated with my blog; I  just happen to be one of the signers; and the letter was sent quite a while ago, not last week. Our primary issue is that we have a right as residents to expect our fire services to at least meet contemporary standards in the industry of firefighting and actually, oh, rescue us and protect us and our environment, and we gave proof that we have been receiving substandard fire response and performance in the City of Alameda repeatedly, year after year, that is correlated deaths in years past, recent extreme toxic pollution to individual, public, and environmental health, and culminating in the death of Mr. Zack. It’s gotten worse, not better. We are not safe, people have died, and we need help because we have repeatedly asked for help from fire management, city management, the county DA, the county grand jury, and all have been unresponsive.

Dom Weaver (local fire union president) wants you to think that all those who signed this letter are all DeHaan supporters. He’s trying to get you to believe that there’s a politically split faction at play here. That couldn’t be further from the truth. … I myself did not support DeHaan in 2010. And I have no idea who each of the signers did support. We did not come together because we are politically aligned in any way. We came together because we fear for our safety and the safety of others in our city. And rightfully so! We came together because we could not sit here and do nothing; we could not NOT do something because fire services failures in our city have been escalating the harm to us year over year. What type of harm will we see and suffer from the next AFD failure?!

Dom Weaver (IAFF Local 689 President) thinks the Letter to state AG Harris is a political action. Okay, so let’s follow that line of thinking. Being polluted by 50,000 square feet of extremely toxic friable asbestos contaminating our children, families, land and water was very real. Recurring for years, if not decades,  pollution to our lungs, air and water with extremely toxic crude oil was very real. The unnecessary death of Mr. Zack was very real. The placement of a retired captain and prior IAFF Local 689 President to the top management position, and without any recruitment process whatsoever, is the very real; this puts all of us at increased risk from the very real fact that Acting Interim Chief D’Orazi has zero fire or public management degrees, certificates or experience, and he’s coming out of retirement after 5 years (usually a disqualifier for fire management positions). Rank and chain of command in fire and police services organizations are key to our safety, is it not? We-the-residents as well as our firefighters are the ones put at risk whenever those at the helm are unqualified for the position. Bringing these wholly unacceptable events AFD failures, and the AFD’s substandard management and responses/performances to the attention of those in charge is not political. It’s our obligation as residents to seek help when all else fails and from those who have the authority to do something about the problems.

BUT, since Mr. Weaver, a firefighter himself, perceives these complaints about very real AFD failures to be political in nature, then it would follow, would it not?, that the IAFF Local 689’s failures to perform technical, water, and toxic rescues in recent years have in and of themselves been political acts. (!)  This is something that is quite unbelievable to even consider, yet everything appears to indicate that this is true, does it not? And this is why we asked for AG Kamala Harris’ help; we need an expert investigation into the causes of the continued failures of our fires services and solutions therefor. It has been shown that we are not safe and that fire responses have exacerbated harm to us, not protected us. We have a right to be safe. And if those in charge won’t do their jobs to protect us, we have a right to have that investigated and our safety restored.

Questions: why hasn’t the city and the AFD be ALL OVER these series of distinct and extreme failures doing everything possible to prevent each type from happening in the future? Why wouldn’t the IAFF Local 689? (If Mr. Zack had not died, things still would be business as usual; despite the hailing of the Grijalva report as significant, it has done little to change anything.) Why wouldn’t the mayor, city manager, and IAFF Local 689 want to do a proper recruitment for a qualified fire chief? Why would they place a retired captain at the helm of our fire services? Why would none of them evaluate and consider a move to County Fire when that would provide us with significantly improved ability to serve and protect and save our city millions per year?  I want to know the answers to these questions; don’t you?

It’s a known fact that organizations and humans tend to evolve to lower their risk.  The only thing that would sustain unacceptable levels of risk within any organization is either ignorance or corruption. Since everyone tells me that those in charge of this city and her agencies are smart (even when they do dumb things), then we have to assume the latter, corruption, right?

We are not a ship of fools. I’m also, personally, am not fooled by the firetrucks that have headed west past my house, full sirens and lights, just for the one block, going nowhere. For five years, all firetrucks head east and only east down my street and only when there is an event on my street. Why have fire vehicles recently then, gone blazing headed west past my house, then turn off all their sound/lights and quietly zigzag over to Buena Vista Avenue? I’ll leave speculation to the reader.


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

6 responses to “thinks we’re a ship of fools.

  • Jeff DelBono Alameda Firefighters Association

    Denise- I copied the supporters column off of Dougs website from his 2010 site. Your name is at the bottom of the second column as a supporter. You should be real careful of who you accuse of being dishonest, especially with the group of people your aligned with. Dom is far from being dishonest.

    I’m sure you’ll have some bizarre justification of why your names on there. Just thought we would point it out to you. We pointed out to Doug the other day when he tried given us the same line about your RHG not being his supporters. Looks like you need to coordinate your attacks a little better. This is obviously political!

    ““`list of supporters removed; this site is not support free ads, folks.

  • Denise Lai

    Mr. DelBono: I do not know how my name got onto Mr. DeHaan’s supporter list. I gave no money to the DeHaan campaign, I had no sign in my yard. I signed no document lending my support. You can ask the DeHaan campaign manager: I don’t even know who that was, have never met him/her. Is that bizarre enough for you? Why would you expect me to offer “some bizarre justification” when the history of my blog is sufficient evidence to show that I stick to documented facts and the questions that arise therefrom? Facts that, IMO, be of grave concern to you too! So why are you attacking me?

    The AFD has been failing year over year to protect us—2009 FISC fire, 1990-2010 Crud Oil Transfers & Spiills, 2011 Zack Assisted Suicide, and more. Residents, firefighters, property, and environment have all been harmed. The residents in the City of Alameda have a right to be rescued and protected by fire services when there’s a water or toxic event. The AFD employees have a right to reasonable safety in a risky work place as provided by contemporary response protocols.

    The firefighters and residents should be on the same side here; why aren’t they?

    According to the IAFF Local 689, every firefighter would prefer to do the best job possible and would if they could. This sounds reasonable to me and I bet it’s true. But, following that line of logic then, why haven’t they been allowed to? What stopped them from calling CalEPA and evacuating residents during the FISC fire? What stopped them from properly reporting the extremely toxic crude oil transfers and spills? Why has our fire management continued to oversee and ensure substandard performance? What stopped the firefighters from carrying out the rescue swimmer training so they would have been able to rescue Mr. Zack?

    I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but am simply pointing out the obvious possible inferences from what’s known. According to you, I’m really wrong here. So clearly there’s a missing piece of the puzzle. What is it?

    I’m all about where the evidence points; what’s missing in my discussions about fire services then?

    Please explain. I’m listening.

  • Jeff DelBono Alameda Firefighters Association

    “So why are you attacking me” Denise all it takes is one to look through the history of your blog, your comments at city council meetings and letters to the local papers to see that your attacking every individual that works for the City of Alameda Fire Department. Everyone one of those individuals from the Rank of Captain down are members of IAFF Local 689. RHG complaint to the States District Attorney was also directed at IAFF Local 689, not the Fire Department Management or City Management. I’m simply correcting the record that you where an advertised supporter on Doug Dehaan’s web page and Domenick is not the one who spreads false information. Good luck with your quest.

    • B Knott

      Hey, Mr. DelBono! Don’t act so simple minded!I have NEVER voted for DeHaan before{not that I might not do so in the future}. But I can see like everyone else in the Nation that the answers to all your questions is the same: a profound lack of integrity in IAFF Local 689! There’s a bounty for the name of the cop who lobbed a canister @Scott Olsen. There should be a bounty for the names of the looky-loos in uniforms who stood on the beach & watched Zack die. And be brought in by a person w/no rescue training, no muthaf’in boat, no budget, no policy, NO freakin’ EXCUSES like your pathetic ones. Why don’t you resign?

  • Denise Lai

    Mr. DelBono: I find it curious that, by omission, you’re declining to answer any of the questions. Thanks for letting me know I was on the DeHaan supporter list; I just remembered: I did original ask for a DeHaan sign, but then did not keep it up in my yard (switched to Mataresse). So DeHaan’s campaign is not at error either here.

    And, no. I’m not attacking any one firefighter; why do you say I have? Saying D’Orazi is not qualified is not attacking him; that’s a pure and simple fact. That’s all. And it is true that Mr. Weaver did spread disinformation in the recent Alameda Sun article: he said that the Letter to the State AG was a political act. 100% not true. Oh, and I’ve never stood in public and heckled Mr. Weaver; yet he did just that last week at the press conference announcing our Letter to AG Harris. Poor form at best, that.

    We’ve been told that Acting Interim Fire Chief D’Orazi’s work has been addressing the problems with the substandard water rescue GOBs, and that’s great if it’s true. Finally already! Yet no one, including Mr. Weaver, can explain to me why it makes sense for a retired captain to be placed at the helm of fire services for a city of 74K people. It contradicts everything we know about fire management, rank, and ICS.

    I continue to look at unanswered questions about toxic events that were mismanaged by the AFD, and unanswered questions about Memorial Day 2011.

    I do not claim to know where the corruption lies—at city hall, fire management, fire unions, somewhere in between—but the evidence is very clear that something is wrong. It appears that there is trading in influence. It appears that there is something unknown/unseen ensuring the substandard responses by the AFD for years. It appears that there is something unknown/unseen causing the city leadership and management to prioritize things that are not in the resident’s best interest, to put residents and our city’s solvency at increase risk. What is it?

    And no one, including you, Kapler, Fisher, and Weaver, can explain why firefighters haven’t done the jobs they know how to do or haven’t been allowed to do the jobs they know how to do, and haven’t done the training they were funded to do so that they could have done the water rescues that residents have a right to expect them to do.

    I have not attacked a single firefighter; in fact, I haven’t even looked at individuals as the cause of the problem (well, except for Kapler who, IMO, didn’t have the stones or the regional knowledge to do his job well). I’ve looked at systemic failures, organizational dysfunctions, interorganization connections, and seen evidence of undeniable problems.

    The (non-RHG) complaint to the state AG does not claim to know where the corruption is, only that it must exist between the various agencies because no one is fixing the problems and in fact they’ve gotten worse: the inordinate unusual/unnecessary risks to individual, public, and environmental health from substandard fire management, services, and responses, continue to exist and have gotten worse rather than addressed and fixed by those in charge, those with the responsibilities to ensure proper fire management and services. No one can deny that! It asks the AG to use her expertise to figure out what’s wrong and enforce the solution, to ensure the protection of all residents in the City of Alameda.

    If, as you imply, the IAFF Local 689 is not a part of the problem, then why would you be upset with a closer look and a solution for improved fire services? One would think that the fire union would want the same thing as I do: contemporary rescue and response standards with performance-based management.

  • Marie


    Your last three paragraphs speak for themselves.
    No one is attacking individuals on this site. There are
    obvious systemic problems that need to be acknowledged
    and addressed.

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