Tag Archives: Alameda Police Department

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

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C: Post mortem

Congratulations to all the Alamedans who read up on the facts and became informed voters. You took our city back for all Alameda residents!  And protected us from a financial debacle of tremendous proportions. And thank you to the Alameda Sun for having the stones to publish hard-hitting facts that know no political sides, for publishing the truths as the city documents state them. And to the Alameda Journal: you shoulda been agnostic to our politics; shame on you!

Now for the really hard work: get the city leadership and management to properly manage our general fund and prioritize we-the-residents in this fine city.  The multi-millions we would save from proper staffing levels and reduced salaries would easily restore our library and senior center staffing, pave our roads, fix our sidewalks, and start addressing some of the desirable capital improvements.

In looking at this recent election over the backdrop of past elections, I hate to think that this might be true, but is sure looks like two things:

1. Have the fire unions have been getting overpaid overstaffing in exchange for approximately $50,000 per election? Were they promised  much, much more with the passage of Measure C?  Multi-million dollar fire stations, training tower, computer center, and control of our city’s emergency operations center? All of which would further increase already over-staffed staffing levels! The fire unions paid $20,000 to ‘Citizens Preserving Alameda Committee for Measure C’ (source is here), walked the streets for C knocking on doors, and manned phone banks.

2. Did someone tell the understaffed and usually reticent police department to play ball politically?  Is this what it takes to get the city to provide proper police staffing levels to service our city safely? I don’t recall seeing donations from our police unions in past elections. They gave a whopping $28,000 to ‘Citizens Preserving Alameda Committee for Measure C’ (source is here).

Yes, we have overpaid firefighters and police, but we also have some people in positions for which they are unqualified yet they are making the salaries/benefits of someone who is an out-performer/over-qualified.  And we have some city workers in top positions with questionable performances getting reviews that reward them.  And we have had under-performing fire services delivering us significant failures year after year primarily, IMO, due to a lack of performance (outcome) management tied to contemporary (fully updated) performance protocols and procedures. Our GOBs (general operating bulletins) continue to be substandard, incomplete, and inadequate, putting both the fire staff and all residents at unnecessary risk. Having staff unqualified for the position of chief doesn’t really help. Fire Chief D’Orazi seems affable, seems to know fire fighting stuff. But there’s zero in his CV that prepared him to be fire chief for a city of 80,000 residents. As I said, we have staff in some departments who don’t have the CVs for the position or the exorbitant pay. There are many ways for our city leadership and management to adjust staffing levels and salaries in order to properly allocate our money for better & higher uses that will improve our city’s ability to serve us.  Note to the city: laying off the janitor at our senior center is not one of them!

Let’s stay on it, Alameda. We’ve got November ahead of us coming up pretty soon here. Stay informed. Stay engaged. Manage up.


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 (www.AlamedaNoOnC.com) and join me—June 5thvote NO on Measure C.


Pointing out the obvious . . .

I’ve written a fact-based well-researched blogpost (see below or here) about Measure C on the June 5th ballot. Curiously, the firefighters are suddenly driving past my house, driving on my block alone (zig-zagging over from the main nearby throughfare streets) on a daily basis now. Is this meant to threaten and silence me?

They did this in 2011 when my op-eds online and in the local papers addressed the several significant failures we’ve suffered from at the hands of the Alameda Fire Department, and when I had my cameo in the SF Chronicle’s scathing article about city management. So this is  a pattern, not just a happenstance.

Are they trying to bully me? Doesn’t it seem ridiculous in the 21st century? That we cannot have open dialogs about the facts without being threatened? Kind of proves the point I make in my op-ed if the ff’s feel they have to act out in this way, doesn’t it?

The fire services needs some serious downsizing in staff and facilities, per national firefighting industry standards. Pointing the obvious out—when everyone who runs the city is ignoring this basic point—is apparently not acceptable to those benefiting from the largess of pay and the high staff-to-call ratio in our city.

Tell me, just what is so wrong with demanding the city streamline fire services since streamlining services is also optimizing them?! AND saving a minimum of $5 million dollars per year?! It’s in everyone’s best interests. Including the firefighters who, as employees, will be happier if their buildings, vehicles, equipments and work better fits our needs!

And if you haven’t seen KTVU Channel 2’s report last night on the anniversary of Mr. Zack’s wrongful death, you really should. It’s here.


Pablum.

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


Jux.

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


Props. Or not.

Props to the city and the APD for being responsive and cleaning up blight within 2 weeks of my reporting it to CM Russo’s office: a broken down truck with a camper shell and a tarp over it parked in someone’s yard (not even in a driveway). It’d been there for at least 5 years.  So I’m wondering why, if this is illegal—to have broken down cars on a property in front of the house forever—, that the APD doesn’t regularly initiate these sorts of clean-ups on their own?  If they did, we’d know the city cares about the conditions we live next to, right?  So why hasn’t the city cared until now?  Evidence: in my neighborhood there have been several broken down cars for years with tarps over them and they have never been required to be moved, until now. Until I complained.

Maybe it’s all the blighted front yards we all have to view in our West End neighborhoods and that everyone drives past.  That’s right: far too many West Enders really don’t care….the evidence is in the number of front yards left to overgrown weeds, trash, and trash containers.

Now, I’m not asking for upscale landscaping, just a neat clean yard, litter-free, .. Continue reading