The City of Alameda has released the audio and transcript of the August 2017 meeting between former Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach and Councilmembers Malia Vella and Jim Oddie, Wednesday, Nov. 20, on its website.
In the one-and-a-half-hour meeting, Keimach expressed her exasperation for the perceived pressure she received from now-former Alameda Firefighters Union President Jeff Del Bono to hire Domenick Weaver as the city’s new Fire Chief. Weaver was backed by the firefighters’ union. At one point in the audio Keimach describes a conversation she had with Del Bono.
“I told him ‘I just want it to be open, and a fair process,’” Keimach said about filling the Fire Chief role. “‘And I want everyone to be treated equally.’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ Then he came back two days later and said, ‘I have the person I want you to hire.’ And I said, ‘Well, remember, this is an open and fair process.’ And he said, ‘Yes, I remember.’ But then he started a campaign. And a campaign isn’t an open-and -fair, treating-everyone-equally process.’”
Vella and Oddie also supported Weaver. They believed appointing Weaver as chief would help labor negotiations with the firefighters’ union and the city’s budget.
“We have priorities about OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) and some of this other stuff,” said Vella. “I think that it would be helpful for us to have a partner in that position who’s been through it before, and who is going to be able to work with those members who are going to be very opinionated.”
Keimach said that Weaver should go through the interview process like the other 40 applicants. She directly asked the Councilmembers if they wanted her to hire Weaver, regardless of who else applied. Neither Councilmember agreed.
Later on in the meeting Oddie made it clear to Keimach that neither he, nor Vella, asked her to appoint Weaver directly.
“I didn’t tell you who to hire,” said Oddie. “And I don’t think Malia did, either. That was not the point of the meeting.”
The pressure from the firefighters’ union, along with the letters supporting Weaver, prompted Keimach to secretly record the meeting, which is illegal under California state law. However, Keimach was cleared by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office because state law allows recording confidential communications if there is reason to believe it would relate to criminal conduct, including bribery or extortion.
Keimach resigned from the City Manager post in May 2018 with a $945,000 separation agreement.
To view the transcript or listen to the audio of the meeting, visit www.alamedaca.gov/government/recording-release.