Adding to the chorus


I’d like to add my voice to the chorus of kudos to Eric J. Kos for starting an important community discussion about the elephant in the room: the out-sized influence of the firefighters’ union in Alameda politics. (“Just Business as Usual in Alameda,” Nov. 16). 

Although I share many of the progressive views of those who have been elected to the City Council with the firefighters’ help, I am dismayed by what appear to be conflicts of interest when Councilmembers address issues of importance to the union.

Resolving this at the ballot box as Paul Foreman suggested last week (“After Next Election: Business as Usual?” Nov. 23) is fine, but longer-term safeguards are needed. 

I hope that someone with a better grasp of public policy than I can suggest ways in which we can (1) limit the influence of special-interest campaign contributions (by landlords and others as well as unions) through some kind of campaign-finance restrictions, and (2) limit the influence of major contributors on city business by requiring Councilmembers to recuse themselves from decisions related to individuals or organizations that have contributed over a certain amount to their campaigns.

While it is unlikely that the current City Council would enact such restrictions, perhaps Alameda residents could mount an initiative. In the absence of such an effort, critical governmental decisions will continue to be made by the highest bidder.


Allan Mann