Dirk Brazil Officially Named Alameda Interim City Manager

File Photo--Dirk Brazil began his position as Alameda Interim City Manager on May 23.

Dirk Brazil Officially Named Alameda Interim City Manager

The Alameda City Council approved an agreement to appoint Dirk Brazil as the city’s Interim City Manager at its May 17 meeting. Brazil will oversee city operations while the City Council searches for a new permanent City Manager.

The agreement calls for Brazil to work no more than 960 hours in a fiscal year at a salary of $133.85 hourly.

Brazil has more than 35 years of experience working in state and local government, most recently as City Manager for Davis and Assistant County Administrator for Yolo County. Brazil has also held positions in the State legislature, the Office of Lieutenant Governor Gray Davis, and for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Since his retirement in 2017, Brazil has acted as Interim City Manager for South Lake Tahoe and as Interim Executive Director for Yolo Habitat Conservancy.

“I’m excited to step in as Alameda’s Interim City Manager,” said Brazil in a press release. “The City Council and city staff have a large and interesting mix of projects in motion and my job is to keep everything moving forward until a new, permanent City Manager is appointed by the council. I look forward to digging into the work and getting to know the community.”

Before council voted on Brazil’s appointment, he was asked by Council to address an incident that took place during his tenure as City of Davis City Manager and the follow-up investigation.

The incident is called the “Picnic-Day Incident,” by many publications in the Davis area. On April 22, 2017, during a Picnic Day event, a van occupied by three plain clothes officers of the Davis Police Department made a U-turn and stopped in front of a crowd of about 50 people seemingly blocking an intersection. An argument ensued between the officers and a group of individuals at the intersection — it appeared it was unbeknownst to crowd that the occupants of the vehicle were police officers. Moments later the officers left their vehicle and a fight ensued between the two parties. One of the officers wore a vest that read “police” on it, according to reports. Two officers were hurt and five people were arrested.

After the incident an investigation began was scheduled. In his role as City Manager, Brazil hired John McGinness as the outside investigator. However, after the selection, the Davis Vanguard uncovered statements by McGinness on his right-wing radio talk show where he questioned whether African Americans were better off before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“We hired an investigator, who was a former sheriff,” said Brazil at the meeting via Zoom. “It wasn’t very long into the investigation that some concerns were raised about something the investigator had said on talk radio that was unbeknownst to us. We severed the contract with him.”

Brazil told the council that he was recommended McGinness by the then Davis Police Chief. He said after the police chief notified him of the comments, they agreed they needed to sever ties with McGinness to have a valid investigation.

Brazil eventually hired former U.S. Attorney for the Sacramento Region McGregor Scott to conduct the investigation. The investigation ultimately revealed the officers were in the wrong. “The ‘plan’ the involved officers had initially devised to clear the crowd was inherently problematic, and it largely set the stage for what happened next,” the report read. Brazil retired from his Davis City Manager position before the report was released.

Councilmembers were not made aware of the incident and the investigation until the day of the meeting, after they already selected Brazil for the Interim City Manager position, (“Dirk Brazil Expected to Become Interim City Manager,” May 12). A resident emailed a letter to the council with a link to the Davis Vanguard article.

Nonetheless, council voted 3-2 to approve the agreement with Councilmembers Tony Daysog and Trish Herrera Spencer carrying the dissenting votes.

“Mr. Brazil has the background and experience to be an effective leader for Alameda and help move our city forward as we conduct a search for a new permanent City Manager,” said Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft in the same press release.

Brazil began his tenure as Interim City Manager on May 23.