Letters to the Editor
I am writing in support of the current ballot measure to upgrade critical elements of Alameda’s storm-drain system. The wind is blowing 25 mph as I write, fanning the flames approaching Healdsburg, and as I look at the leaves and dirt swirling in the gusts, I am grateful that I live on a relatively protected island, but mindful that we have our own issues and responsibilities. The global heating that drives California’s wildfires is the same driver of more powerful rainstorms and a rising sea level. We must do what we can to:
- Keep those swirling leaves from reaching the bay and depleting oxygen needed by sea life.
- Filter out the trash and pollutants that would foul the same bay we admire and play in.
- Reduce flooding and protect our threatened shoreline from rising seas and storm surge.
Our storm-drain system — street drains, trash filters, underground pipe, pumps, outfalls and sea walls — is our first line of defense and it needs more money than our out-dated fee structure provides. Three of our 10 pumping stations are 70 years old and need $30 million in upgrades.
The city’s full report is available online at www.alamedaca.gov.
If you own a typical Alameda home, you recently received a mail-in ballot which must be returned by Monday, Nov. 25, to raise your annual fee from $56 to $134. If you rent, persuade your landlord of the importance of this vote. Just do it, by Nov. 25.
Meanwhile, having already mailed my ballot to extend the life of our drains, pumps and shoreline, I will be sweeping, not just raking, the leaves from my own curb and gutter to help all the clams and mussels, all the crabs and sandpipers, and all the Nemos and Dorys and Squirts that animate my children, and, with luck and effort, their children and their children’s children.
Please join me — thanks.
The Alameda Sun received a copy of this Oct. 22 letter District Attorney Nancy O’Malley sent to Alameda City Attorney Yibin Shen.
Dear Mr. Shen:
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office (DA) has received multiple requests under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) for a copy of the recording made by former City Manager Jill Keimach of the Aug. 16, 2017, meeting between her and Alameda City Councilmembers Malia Vella and Jim Oddie regarding the selection of Alameda’s next Fire Department Chief. The DA has declined to provide the recording under the CPRA because the recording was provided by the City of Alameda in a request for criminal investigation. As such, the request falls within the investigative exception of Government Code section 6254(f).
After a thorough review, it is the opinion of the DA that there is a strong public interest in disclosing the recording. It involves conversations of the public’s business by public employees during the scope of their public employment.
Nevertheless, the DA is mindful of the fact that the recording was provided in confidence, as a part of a request for criminal investigation. As such, we are persuaded that we may not disclose the tape without violating Government Code section 6254(f), the investigative exemption to the CPRA. To disclose the document after receiving it in confidence would run afoul of that exemption.
As the criminal and Civil Grand Jury investigations are now complete, it is the opinion of the DA that the investigative exemption no longer applies to the city. We urge the city to consider the public interest, open governance and transparency when making its final decision.
Sometimes it can be hard to picture a sophomore in high school understanding local politics. The formalities and unspoken codes of conduct can allude to an almost elitist sense of not belonging and lack of community.
However, despite being a sophomore at Alameda High School, I feel I can figure my way around any given board meeting: don’t bounce your leg underneath the desk, only talk when acknowledged by the board president and, of course, always say thank you when you’re finished asking a question.
These are things I am learning as the Student Representative from Alameda High School to the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Education. As there is no written rule book on etiquette in the City Hall chambers, I must never improvise but follow the example of other board members.
Despite the intricacies of the formal board meeting, this board of education is doing things sleeker and younger to appeal to all generations. As anyone who may walk into a board meeting while it is in session may notice, there aren’t many people there. But, this has not impeded the district’s ability to connect with the Alameda community.
For example, the Senior Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, Kerri Lonergan, will greet all attendees of the public with a smile and nod followed by the sincerest, “How are you?” I have ever heard. She also works tirelessly to make sure all meeting minutes are made transparent and the archives of past meetings kept up to date.
The amazing city and district staff work in tandem to broadcast the board meetings live as a way of reaching a wider audience.
In addition, the phenomenal work of Susan Davis, AUSD’s community manager can not be overstated. During the course of the school board meetings she will live tweet all the happenings of the meeting with due diligence and efficiency.
It’s not uncommon to hear concerns with the lack of attendance at board meetings as there can be hardly anyone in the room, but I would argue that technology is taking us away from traditional in-person attendance to a wider digital footprint.
I am satisfied with the direction the AUSD Board of Education is taking to be as transparent as possible in the new landscape of digital records.