Category Archives: The Zack Assisted Suicide

Be advised:

LAST WEEK our city argued in court last week the our public safety services (police and fire) did not have a duty to rescue Mr. Raymond Zack (who did not know how to swim) when he was despondent and standing in 4 to 5 feet of extremely calm water at Crown Beach while his elderly mother stood on the shore begging for action.

TODAY the judge ruled for immunity of firefighters over duty. And the judge finds further that: “under the circumstances presented there was no moral blame attendant to the conduct of responding officers and firefighters.”

I have been told that this ruling impacts all cities in the state of California, not just the City of Alameda.

I’m wondering why our fire and police are some of the highest paid in the SF Bay Area . . .    I’ve argued for years that because the fire procedures and protocols are so exceedingly substandard for the industry of firefighting (and I’ve shown this), that the fire staff cannot be held to any performance standards. Hell, our city has worked multiple times, year after year, to cover up fire failures . . . Continue reading


City of Alameda: Villainous

Our city took a position in court yesterday that our public safety services did not have a duty to rescue Raymond Zack.  Our elected officials and city manager should be ashamed of themselves.

See the story on last night’s ABC news here; excellent reporting by Alan Wang.

Mr. Wang, however, was provided false information. He reported that our fire department did not have funding for water rescue training. To do that, Mr. Wang had to have believed what he was told, which means that disinformation had to have come from a source he believed to be credible. So who gave him the disinformation? Was it our city? Our fire department? The firefighter’s union, IAFF Local 689?

The City of Alameda funded water rescue training and re-certifications to be completed in 2009 (source document is here).

The City of Alameda budgeted for the AFD to perform 8 to 10 water rescues per year for 2009 -2012 (source document is here).

Every resident and visitor to the City of Alameda has a right to expect to be rescued by our public safety services.

Given the information in the source documents noted above: Without a doubt (it is incontrovertible that) we all—

Mr. Zack, his family, and all residents and visitors to the City of Alameda—

had a right to expect Mr. Zack to be rescued by our public safety services.

Our city is arguing that they had no duty to perform. How perverse. It is unconscionable that our city should argue this. And it is villainous . . . Continue reading

Vote NO on Measure C.

Republishing my opinion piece because that’s what I really want people to read; not the garbage dealing with the no/c shenanigans.  Also, if you missed Jeffrey Smith’s opinion on Measure A in the May 31 Alameda Sun, you really should read it; we can expect more of the exact same irresponsible spending patterns with any new tax revenue, particularly because Measure C has zero accountabilities built in:  MEASURE A EXPECTATIONS DON’T MEET REALITY

Vote NO on Measure C. Here’s why:

In 2009, the City tasked the ICMA (International City/County Management Association) with providing a professional assessment of Alameda’s fire service needs. Their report stated 75% of calls are medical and the Alameda Fire Department (AFD) should focus on medical responses and fire prevention.  ICMA advised, per industry standards, 78 personnel, two fire stations, and five captains are sufficient to retain response time and safety.

National firefighting industry standards call for one fire station for every 1.5 mile radius, and one ladder truck for every 2 mile radius. Alameda is 4 miles long; we need two stations and 1 ladder truck.

If our city did just three things—-reduce four fire stations to two, mothballed two of our three ladder trucks, and cut 15 of our 20 fire captains (who earn on average $217/K/year [$3.25M/year alone!])-—it would make Measure C’s relatively paltry $1.8m tax revenue per year irrelevant

Instead, the City has acted in opposition to that independent evaluation.Today, we have 92 station personnel, four open fire stations, 20 captains, and plans for six new facilities requiring additional staffing. The AFD’s overstaffing currently costs Alameda Citizens $4M+ annually. Measure C’s projected $11M cost for fire facilities will actually be doubled by the bond costs. We are being asked for $22M for fire facilities we don’t need.

According to the City’s Fiscal Sustainability Committee, actual City debt was almost $12M in 2009, despite the passing of the Measure P property tax in 2008.

In 2011, debt spiked 250% to $4.4M, and another 24% since then, to $5.1M, making actual debt today north of $15M. It was deceptive or shockingly uninformed of Vice Mayor Bonta to tell people that the City’s debt is decreasing each year and soon the City will be debt-free.

2011 city worker earnings skyrocketed $4.8M above 2010. 30% of fire and police earn $200K – $400K. 88% take home over $150K. Additionally, there are 66 retired workers drawing annual pensions over $100k.

Measure C does three things:

1) Suggests, but does not guarantee, city improvements (Carnegie Library, 50m pool, lighted fields)

2) Allocates 50% of the tax revenue to offload 90% of our annual city-vehicle costs from the General Fund, to offset continued overstaffing and exorbitant worker pay, and

3) Allocates the other 50% to pay for bonds to build fire stations we don’t need, to prioritize firefighting when only 25% of AFD calls are for fire responses. These costs will only continue to spike as we hire new staff .

Why are firefighters going house to house to campaign for Measure C? Why does the firefighters’ union pump nearly $50K each year into our local elections? Is it because they can afford to? Six fire staff earn over $240/K per year, 34 earn over $200K, and the rest mostly earn over $150K. Is it because the AFD’s high staff-to-call ratio makes it so easy?  Are firefighters campaigning for their own security or the security of the Citizens of Alameda?  The ICMA found the AFD lacked performance management and measurements. Despite our talented personnel, the AFD is responsible for a string of failures in recent years: they didn’t protect our public and environmental health from toxic and regulated substances (friable asbestos and crude oil), they didn’t  rescue Raymond Zack one year ago, and they have engaged in other behavior that has incurred several lawsuits against the City.

In the future, a well-written sales tax measure could be a great idea. But today, there is no justification to impose a 30-year sales tax to fund an excess of fire facilities.

Alameda needs fiscal responsibility focused on necessary services. We demand that the City stop wasting our hard-earned money and get to work for the Citizens of Alameda.

Get informed, read the facts ( and join me—June 5thvote NO on Measure C.


Letter to local newspaper editors:

We are a small unaffiliated group of Alameda residents who wrote, signed, and sent a request for an investigation to California State Attorney General (AG) Kamala Harris. We are unrelated by campaigns or any politics but are united in a single purpose: we have a right to expect fire services to rescue and protect us and we have a right to expect our city management to ensure this.

It seems simple, yet our city has been failing us in this regard for years—we have been subjected to a series of extreme city-wide exposures to highly toxic and regulated substances (asbestos and crude oil) and now these failings have culminated in the death of Raymond Zack.

Why?  Moreover, what or whom is next?!

Our fire services have politicized the issue, and rather than take our complaints seriously, our mayor exacerbated the situation: without a recruitment process, she placed a retired captain unqualified to lead at the helm of our fire services of a city of 74,000 residents. This contradicts everything we know about how fire and public management skills, rank, ICS (Incident Command System), and recent experience matter when it comes to public safety services. We brought our concerns to fire and city management and leadership. When those proved unresponsive, we felt it was necessary for the safety of this community to escalate it and bring these issues to the attention of AG Harris.

Signed: Horst Breuer (former Economic Development Commission Chair), Greg de Haan, Adam Gillitt (2010 city council candidate), Denise Lai, Mark Linde, Karin Lucas (attorney, former city council member), Rosemary McNally,  Liz Williams.

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. … Continue reading


I finally had time to read the Grijalva Report—you know, the output of the “independent investigation” into the City of Alameda’s response to Mr. Zack on May 31, 2011, when he went out in to the water at Crown Beach to pray, perhaps to commit suicide but this is not certain. The city council meeting is tomorrow/Tuesday night (10/11/11) at Alameda City Hall, 7p, to discuss this report. Be there. Why?

The Grijalva Report is a sham. …  Continue reading


Juxtaposed events (below) are proof, self evidence, of the immoral and substantive failures of both our city management and pubic safety services on Memorial Day 2011.  It is then nothing less than appropriate for the City of Alameda’s citizenry to demand practical changes in our city and particularly in our fire department.  Given the series of extreme AFD failures in recent years, it’s appropriate to demand revolutionary change of the AFD. Why? To address the evident and endemic substandard systems in the city’s fire organizations. I cannot imagine that our firefighters and paramedics disagree here: the department’s marginal and minimum requirements to perform have been dumbed-down for far too long by the outdated, incomplete, substandard and probably obsolete, Alameda Fire Department’s protocols and procedures….they cannot outperform under the AFD management’s current general operating bulletins (GOBs) because the GOBs do not even begin to describe—-let alone support and cause—even contemporary levels of performance.

Compare this:

Fire Engineer/Paramedic Dave Manzeck; Contra Costa Fire Protection District
On April 11, 2010 a 9-1-1 caller reported a vehicle upside down in the Walnut Creek flood channel with victims trapped inside and other victims possibly floating downstream. The Incident Commander immediately called …   Continue reading