Letters to the Editor
I wish all Alameda residents had witnessed last weeks’ City Council meeting during which City Manager John Russo frequently bickered and badgered public speakers who were there to speak in support of the Crown Beach/Neptune Point ordinance, and against recent attempted adulterations of the same ordinance by the city and the City Council. It was not a pretty display by our city government.
I’ve lived in Alameda for 40 years, and I’ve not seen such a degree of interruption of public speakers. And let’s not forget condescension, which was also in evidence.
In the past, I’ve seen Mayor Marie Gilmore handle disputed matters much better, which is necessary as Russo has developed a reputation as someone who cannot let criticism or even minor points go by without a defensive response, and frequently an aggressive one.
This tendency was very evident at this meeting. It would behoove Russo, given his authority, power, education, large salary and strong voice to exercise diplomatic restraint when dealing with the public. Alameda residents deserve to expect restraint and civility from their public officials and city manager.
If the city manager interrupts and disrupts public speakers, my information is that it is the mayor’s duty to bring the City Council to order. Unfortunately, that evening our mayor chose not to undertake her authorized role. All in all, it was an unpleasant display to watch or listen to, and the meeting lasted way too long.
If you think my summary or interpretation may be an exaggeration, please review the meeting yourselves online, and come to your own conclusions.
This is a complaint regarding John Russo’s conduct at the City Council meeting on July 15.
I was appalled to observe the vehemence with which he interrogated Ms. Karin Lucas and Ms. Irene Dieter. He was vitriolic and overwhelmingly intent on intimidating and belittling them. His behavior was both extreme and outrageous.
As chair, you should have exercised control over your staff member so that the meeting could have proceeded in a more civil manner. Shouldn’t the council meetings be held in a hostile free environment and one in which citizens can voice their concerns and opinions without fear of intimidation and humiliation? I had planned to speak but changed my mind after Russo’s unwarranted and intolerable attack.
Both Ms. Lucas and Ms. Dieter maintained cool and calm demeanors and most importantly, exhibited grace and dignity throughout their inquisition. These are just some of the qualities that Russo sorely lacks and because of this, he seriously undermines the free expression of Alameda residents and the very purpose of the public comment agenda.
It is unfortunate that over the years you have become oblivious to his controlling, manipulative, aggressive and intolerant behavior towards citizens who courageously attempt to engage in civil discourse with you and the City Council.
On these and other grounds, his contract should not be extended beyond the present termination date.
Safety first and foremost. When one is out on the streets after dark, walking, or cycling, it is for your safety that others see you. Driving home Tuesday evening, I encountered a startling experience. As both a San Francisco taxicab driver and survivor of a car crash, I consider safety first and foremost regardless of how one is traveling; walking, or cycling.
I was driving 25 miles per hour on Shore Line Drive between Park and Willow streets. At the post office I noticed movement in the uncontrolled intersection and cross walk. In the darkness, a cyclist dressed in dark clothing with no reflective lights or clothing, was running to the other side of the street, directly in front of me. Fortunately for both of us, I did see him and stopped. It could have been a nightmare for both of us.
Please, if you are out at night, wear white or reflective tape on your clothing for safety’s sake. Money cannot be an issue for why you are not dressed accordingly in the darkness.
There are so many distracted drivers on the road, it is responsible to take your own safety into consideration. I know because I was crushed in a car by a distracted driver not watching the road so I personally know what harm it can do if you are hit as I was. It is a whole lot easier than becoming a statistic, I promise you!