Tag Archives: Doug deHaan

Redundant and unnecessary

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2012 • The Alameda Sun

Redundant and unnecessary

Editor,

Charles Fasso’s op-ed (“Closing Fire Station No. 3,” Sept. 13) can only be politically motivated as it could not be further from the truth! There are no reports that contradict the 2009 ICMA report.

Moreover, the ICMA report based its findings on national fire industry standards: each fire station needs to provide a 1.5-mile radius of coverage.

What the heck does that mean for us exactly? It means that out of all of the fire stations we have in Alameda, Fire Station No. 3 is the only fire station that we do not need.

Why? Because every other fire station perfectly and slightly overlaps to provide service for the entire city. That’s right: the coverage provided by Fire Station No. 3 is redundant and unnecessary.

So why is our city leadership and management hell bent on spending millions on the redesign and expansion of the Fire Station No. 3 facility and staff and exacerbating the annual multi-million dollar overspend on overstaffing of fire services? One needs only look at the political donations made by the firefighters’ union, IAFF Local 689, to figure this one out: the local fire union has been averaging $50,000 in donations per election to local candidates and measures.

Our city’s citizen legislature is anything but.

— Denise Lai

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Walker’s 3 Criteria

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s three criteria upon which the relationship between public workers and taxpayers should be evaluated, adapted for our city:

  1. Equity in employment benefits and burdens between public and private workers
  2. The preservation of core government services for all Alamedans
  3. Linked to both these goals: the improvement of the City of Alameda’s economic competitiveness.

Like Scott Walker, our city government needs to stop hiding from our budget plight, begin managing our general fund properly and that means first and foremost a.) reduce fire overstaffing b.) reduce top-paid city worker salaries across the board, and c.) negotiate in earnest with our fire and police unions for real concessions (not the meaningless kind you can splash across pricey mailers for sounds bites).

If the city laid off the 15 excess/unnecessary fire captains, we’d save nearly $4M just in salaries/benefits alone.  That’d be an immediate solution to our short-tem budget woes, would be a first step toward optimizing fire services, and give us time to map out a responsible long-term budget. It’s a win-win. There is no good reason for not doing this; so why isn’t our city leadership and management considering this?!


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.


The Good, The Sad, and The Ugly.

THE GOOD

Human Being Extraordinaire: Dee Berry. You’ll just have to watch last night’s council meeting….there are no words. Mr. Zack was a “gentle giant” who would never be violent or dangerous and moreover, would—because of his extremely strong Catholic faith—never consider suicide.  He was doing exactly what he was reported to say he was doing on Memorial Day: praying. And he’d done something similar before: APD had previously brought him home one morning from Crown Beach when he’d sat on the beach overnight praying…. Continue reading


Red.

Red’s speech to the Mayor and City Council Members at the July, 19, 2011 City Council Meeting

Mayor Gilmore and council members

Your recent secret dealings with two unions bring to mind an incident in which Winston Churchill asked a lady if she would sleep with him for a million pounds.

Well, I suppose so, she said.

Would you sleep with me for five pounds?

What kind of a woman do you think I am?!

He replied – We have already established that; now we are just haggling over price.

Following acceptance of the fire union contract it was clear that the police contract would also be accepted, but sliding it into the consent calendar is disingenuous at best. I am annoyed that either union would continue to demand benefits they knew would force dismissal of other city staff. But I am completely disgusted that council members – who have taken an oath of office – would accept payments from the people with whom they were negotiating a contract. The most fitting word I can find is corruption. And that your constituents can tolerate such conduct is beyond belief. … Continue reading


Opposite Day.

Tuesday night, Gilmore showed her true colors. Again. It’s interesting how well-prepared the GilBonTam are when their favorite past times are on the agenda (contracts that benefit their benefactors). She demonstrated another well-orchestrated offensive towards anyone who might question the integrity and intentions of the GilBonTamJo contracts with our public safety unions.

But Mr. DeHaan apparently had the audacity to speak up and do that thing, you know, they all were elected to do: speak up for us, represent the residents of Alameda? And Gilmore would have none of it (hilarious). She lost it, unable to maintain meeting decorum, she went off on Mr. DeHaan, shut down the discussion, and quickly moved to the vote that she knew she had the majority for.

Gilmore: seriously?!  Behaving that rudely in your private life is your own business, but on OUR city dais in OUR city hall to a fellow elected official? Well! We do not accept you behaving that way. That was poorer form than even I could have expected from you. And I have a pretty low regard for your abilities to manage a meeting, keep your hands still, and speak well in public.

And Gilmore’s “unclear” why DeHaan is “arguing”. HELLO?! I’m sorry, that’s what I expect to happen in a public forum grappling with critical issues, don’t you?  ….. Continue reading