Please Read the Grand Jury Report
The just-published grand jury investigation regarding two Alameda City Councilmembers is essential reading for Alamedans. The grand jury said, “CM1 was the only Councilmember who wrote a letter of recommendation and CM1 and CM2 were the only members of the Council who met with the City Manager about the process.” That would be Jim Oddie and Malia Vella. Except where bracketed, the following are exact quote excerpts from the report.
- “Grand Jury heard testimony from a number of current and former City of Alameda staff, elected officials and statewide governance experts … reviewed City Council agendas, minutes and meeting videos … examined city emails, calendars and other documents related to the fire chief hiring process, including the investigative reports prepared by the legal consultant hired by the City Council to independently look into the matter. [Unlike the investigator hired by the City Council,] The Jury also listened to the recorded conversation between the City Manager and two Councilmembers.”
- “CM1 brought up with the police chief the issue of the fire chief hiring process ... that the city manager better “do the right thing”; if not, there were already two Councilmembers ready to fire her.
- “They appeared to be doing the labor leader’s bidding ... They appeared to be demanding that the City Manager give the labor leader daily access and input into the hiring process … The real issue for CM1 and CM2 appears to be the City Manager’s unwillingness to select the labor-backed candidate outright.”
- “In May 2017 the City Council directed the City Attorney to hire a governance expert to help the Council with performance evaluations of top city management, including the City Manager ... it appeared that the process was being hijacked to accomplish individual Councilmembers’ goals of installing their preferred candidate for fire chief.
- “Because of this behavior, the consultant terminated his firm’s contract with the city prior to completion of any of the reviews …It is quite telling that an outside consultant with years of city management experience terminated his contract with the city, foregoing full payment for his future services, because he did not want to participate in an unethical misuse of the performance review process.”
- “The Grand Jury is concerned that the report’s ‘independence’ was damaged after the subjects of the investigation participated with the rest of the Council in modifying or editing the final report in closed session.”
- The “fiasco cost the city more than a million dollars, the loss of multiple, talented and hard-to-replace senior staff and left a government body with a very damaged reputation … Cronyism and back-room deals are corrosive and can destroy the public’s trust in the fair administration of government … The resulting damage caused by the actions of elected officials and staff that followed is undeniable.”