Tag Archives: Robert Bonta

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.

Speak Truth to Power

Written May 28, 2012 by Janet Gibson, Alameda resident & retired teacher

I feel that most people want to believe that firemen, as well as policemen, are “our friends”.   It is, therefore, quite alarming to hear a number of Alamedans express fear and concern when it comes to our local Fire Department.

When residents. . .  .

*  know about the callous act of our firefighters “not lifting a hand” while a despondent Raymond Zack waded to his drowning;

*  learn that the Fire Fighters Union has contributed almost $70,000 in the past several years to our City Council members;

*  observe Alameda Fire Fighters and their Union being the major supporters and contributors to the passage of Measure C:     assertively knocking at voter’s doors,  running telephone banks,  distributing campaign signs; sending $12,000 mailers

*  experience engine and ladder trucks with lights and blaring sirens driving past the homes of known opposition bloggers,     without an observable emergency response event;

.  .  .  .it is not hard to understand the intimidation being felt by a number of people.

As the June 5th Vote  nears, people who oppose Measure C feel particularly vulnerable.   Scores of “No on C” signs are being taken from the lawns of private homes.  One homeowner reports that four consecutive signs have been stolen from her yard.    Another neighbor expressed the fear that fire fighters might not be as diligent in responding to an emergency call, if they saw a “No Sign” in front of her home.

What a sad state of affairs. . for community members to lose confidence in their public servants!  The perception exists that our fire fighters’ powerful union has taken over City Hall.  The public is not against unions who bargain collectively for members.  The public is against the excessive use of that power. The public is not against our civil servants having good salaries and benefits.  They are against excessively high salaries/benefits and employees who work only for their own self-interest.

We must not be afraid to “Speak Truth to Power”.    VOTE NO on C   Inform yourself: www.AlamedaNoOnC.com

Janet Gibson

Fire management.

Interim Chief D’Orazi does not have the state credentials, training, or experience, to be a fire chief. Or even a second or third in command, let alone a first in command. He does not have the qualifications to be able to hire the person who shall replace Chief Fisher (who quit quite suddenly earlier this summer, wouldn’t you say?). His certifications and experience sets are meager compared to that those directly under him: Olson, Tenny, Zombeck.

Fisher had state chief certifications. Yet Mayor Gilmore and Interim City Manager Goldman saw fit to replace him with a wholly unqualified-for-chief firefighter.  Why?

Isn’t it enough that the fire department has shown time and time again that they cannot perform? That their procedures and protocols are dangerously inadequate?! I guess not: Mayor Gilmore added fuel to that fire by placing an unqualified-for-chief firefighter at the helm of the AFD. … Continue reading

Political $$.

During the first six months of this year, January 1, 2011 to June 30, 2011, the 2010 political campaigns for our mayor and every city council member except Mr. DeHaan received monies from the same donor.

Gilmore: $1,000

Bonta: $2,500

Tam: $5,000

Johnson: $2,000

$10,500 in total. From who? The Alameda Firefighters Political Action Committee (AFA PAC), that’s who!

That’s right. The Alameda firefighters made sizeable donations to the elected officials while the firefighters were negotiating their contract with the city. Ahem: our elected officials accepted these donations while they were negotiating the firefighters contract. Source documents are here.

Johnson, ignored by the AFA PAC in 2010, suddenly this year, in 2011, gets money from the AFA PAC for her 2010 campaign. Why? Moreover, her FPPC (Fair Political Practices Commission) filings show she also paid the Local IAFF 689 Printshop $10,000 (!) for mailers and/or fliers. HUH?

And those four—GilBonTamJo—who accepted those monies, voted to approve a contract that got ZERO concessions in pay & benefits from current fire employees. This is what is known as trading in influence. It is corruption.

And then there’s this little tidbit reported on over at Action Alameda News: The Boys & Girls Club made a donation this year to Gilmore’s 2010 campaign for mayor. This is a BIG NO-NO. Both the B&G Club and Gilmore know that no political candidate can receive donations from a 503(c) corporation, that no 503(c) corporation can make a donation to a political candidate. The rules are very, very clear. And this kind of thing really rubs the IRS the wrong way. And rubs the FPPC too: there’s that little thing Gilmore’s supposed to check before she signs her FPPC form: accuracy and legality of donations and payments.

More corruption than you can shake a stick at in our city and everyone involved in the corruption expects us to think this is normal, just people helping each other out. What the heck.

I sure hope yawl are outraged about these very real facts, this data. Because if you aren’t, then seriously, Alameda: we have a problem and it is you. For we have nothing less on our hands than a ship of fools.

Next election.

Remember Mr. Oh’s advice: “…we must vote based on not what they [candidates] say, but from where their money flows. After all, it’s not the puppets we’re voting in but the hands that hold the (purse) strings.”  It’s easy enough to keep track of the money going into each candidate’s pocket, between candidates’ and elected officials’ pockets, and flowing out of special interests pockets, businesses, PACs (Political Action Committee), NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations), etc.  Alameda County Registrar of Voters searchable database is here.  Searchable city database is here.


Mr. Oh’s Open Letter to Mr. Bonta

Dear Mr. Bonta:

Congratulations in announcing your run for District Assembly in 2012. I’m sure you’ve learned much in your few months in office as Alameda councilmember, such as: relying on the Democratic Party machine and pandering to Asian American voters, as they’ll surely put a check on that box regardless of your actions and campaign funding sources. Negotiating with unions such as the Alameda firefighters while accepting campaign contributions from them. Next time, you’ll learn not to undershoot the amount of kick-back money you could get for your treasury, Rob!

Professing the desire to help one constituency, meanwhile opening the door to the next step up. I’m sure you’ll yet again say, “I’ve always hoped I could serve Alameda for as long as the voters would have me and this is a chance to strengthen and deepen my commitment to Alameda” as you run for U.S. Senate.

I’m sure you’re a real nice fellow. But everything you’ve done while in office has only reinforced my perception that you are simply another politician willing sell your votes for a chance at the next step up the ladder.

Your time in Alameda was well served — for you. You’ve learned that old politician’s tricks are still the most effective at getting elected, and re-elected, over and again. Just keep looking upwards and climbing, baby, because the responsibilities you leave behind may not be so pleasant.

To my fellow Alameda residents, let’s please use our heads instead of our hearts next time election time comes. One’s skin tone, party affiliation, or appealing rhetoric does not mean they stand for our interests. Be it President of the United States or a simple city councilmember, we must vote based on not what they say, but from where their money flows. After all, it’s not the puppets we’re voting in but the hands that hold the (purse) strings.

— Gene Oh