Ethical Behavior Wanted from City Council

What will $11,800 buy you? This amount may have influenced new contracts with the city of Alameda. In this last general election only one elected official collected contributions from a Public Safety Employee Union. That individual was Councilman Jim Oddie. 

According to the City Clerk’s office he accepted $11,799.57 from the Alameda Firefighters Association (local firefighters union) for mailers and phone banking. Not surprisingly, he fully supported and pushed for the new public safety (fire and police) contracts that were approved on April 29.

In support of these contracts, he was the only current City Councilmember who wrote a commentary (“Council Members Can Bring City CLoser to Fiscal Sustainability,” April 23) about the issue wherein he claimed there was a dire need to adopt these contracts (which are actually four-year extensions to contracts that would have expired in December 2017). 

Oddie said that the previous City Council worked to resolve the city’s health retirement plan issue. Since the old public safety contracts were established in 2013 (approved by this prior Council that Oddie mentions) the liability has continued to rise.

Need I remind the public that four of the five members of that prior City Council — former Mayor Marie Gilmore, Lena Tam, Stewart Chen and Marilyn Ashcraft — accepted considerable election funding from the Alameda Firefighters Association. Only Tony Daysog did not receive contribution support from the organization. 

Oddie says the contract will save the City $47 million. What he failed to mention in his commentary was that these contracts, according to Interim City Manager Liz Warmerdam, will only reduce the city’s $91 million liability by approximately $ 5 million. 

All the contracts do for the city is float the debt out to a later time. In essence like paying the minimum on a house payment while continuing to have an incredibly large balloon payment still lurking ahead. 

Oddie also failed to mention that the extension portion of the contract gives the employees a 6 to 15 percent raise over four years. 

This alone more than covers the 4 percent that the fire and police employees will contribute to the trust. Oddie stated in his commentary that the fire and police employees faced the hardship of not receiving any raises during a seven-year period. 

Both the City Treasurer and Auditor stated to the City Council that reviewing and further negotiating would be the wise approach with these 
contracts. 

No surprise, Oddie stated  during the April 29 City Council meeting that the Council must act now and that not doing so would send some sort of bad message to the fire and police unions.

Taking money from contributors at election time and then voting for something that appears beneficial to that party is not against the law. But is it ethical?

Kurt Peterson is an Alameda resident.