DA Clears Keimach

DA Clears Keimach

 

Former Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach was absolved of any wrongdoing by the Alameda County District Attorney’s (DA) office after secretly recording a meeting that involved her, Vice Mayor Malia Vella and Councilmember Jim Oddie.

“I am extremely grateful to the District Attorney’s office for its careful examination of all the facts in this case and concluding that I told the truth in the face of extreme political pressure,” stated Keimach in a press release.  

The exoneration came after a six-month investigation by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley’s office where city officials including Oddie, Vella, Alameda fire union president Jeff DelBono and City Attorney Janet Kern were interviewed. The DA wrote in an eight-page report, released Friday, Oct. 19, that “while Ms. Keimach did record a private conversation there is insufficient evidence to prove a criminal violation of California state law beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

Investigators came to this decision using California Penal Code 633.5, that allows secret recordings with the intent to obtain evidence of criminal conduct including bribery and extortion.

The backdrop of the allegations came from the fire chief hiring process last year. Keimach stated that she felt immense pressure from Oddie and Vella leading up to her appointment decision, (“City Must Fully Investigate City Manager’s Allegations,” Oct. 16). 

Keimach was informed by Police Chief Paul Rolleri that Oddie told him directly at the National Night Out event on Aug. 1, 2017, that unless she hired the right person as fire chief, there were two votes to fire her and that they would get the third vote. The two votes were likely Oddie and Vella. The “right person” Oddie was referring to was Fire Capt. Domenick Weaver. Oddie denied he made the statement.

The DA’s office noted that the audio recording of the Aug. 16, 2017, meeting, which was scheduled by Vella and Oddie, did not include any extortion or bribery. However, regarding potential charges against Keimach, the actual content of the meeting is irrelevant, as long as she reasonably believed that an attempt to bribe or extort her would be made, absolves Keimach. Keimach said she received approval from Alameda City Attorney Janet Kern before recording the meeting. Kern denies this allegation.

Both Oddie and Vella denied they tried to influence Keimach’s decision. 

“The purpose of the meeting with Keimach was not to demand that Keimach appoint Weaver,” stated Vella in a press release after the report was released. “…the intent was to address concerns raised earlier with her that Keimach had already decided on a favored candidate. The meeting was cordial and professional, and Vella left satisfied that all candidates would get a fair shake.” 

Oddie did not make a comment after the report was released. Calls to Oddie were not returned by deadline.

On March 9, the City Council voted unanimously to place Keimach on paid administrative leave. On April 16, Council voted unanimously in closed session to instruct the City Attorney to refer the subject audio recording to the Alameda County District Attorney. Keimach left her position as City Manager on May 15 after she and the Council agreed on a $945,000 settlement (“City Settles with Keimach,” May 22). 

The report stated the allegations of City Charter violations by Oddie has been referred to the Alameda County Grand Jury.