Represent Residents, Not Political Donors


Has the entire Alameda Democratic Party establishment lost its collective marbles? 

First we have Assm. Rob Bonta’s letter accusing anyone who opposes Vice Mayor Malia Vella’s attempts to influence former City Manager Jill Keimach’s selection of Fire Chief Edmond Rodriguez of being a racist. (“Birther Movement Comes to Alameda,” July 5)

I am not a racist I just think what Vella did was wrong. Bonta seems to be taking a leaf from the Republican Party’s playbook by fanning the flames of racism, turning people against each other in a very personal way to divert attention from the actual issue — and I don’t like it one bit. I presume he’s a reasonably intelligent person, so he can’t actually think that because some of Vella’s opponents seem to be racist, therefore everyone who wanted to sign her recall petition is racist. Bonta owes Alamedans an apology.

Second, we have Gaby Dolphin, co-president of the Alameda Democratic Club, accusing everyone else of making Alameda “dysfunctional” (“Witness the Loss of Civility,” July 26). 

  • Yes, I agree that civility has been lost. And Bonta’s letter was a classic example! 
  • While I would never call anyone a “whore,” it is not surprising that “[Malia] Vella is the only Councilmember to be called a ‘union whore’” in view of the fact that she was by far the largest recipient of union campaign money. 

According to an Alameda Sun article (“Follow the Money, Nov. 1, 2016), Vella had received $32,000, 66 percent of her total contributions, from unions, with the next-largest City Council candidate receiving $5,000. On top of that, Vella’s day job is working for the Teamsters Union.

  • I had to laugh at Dolphin’s point that, “Vella did not receive campaign donations from our local firefighters (IAFF 689) knowing she would review their contract.” Note that she didn’t deny the donations; she just seems to be implying that Vella is blameless because she was supposedly unable to figure out that the union would be wanting something in exchange for its contributions. 

If that were the case, poor, naive Vella should have recused herself from pertinent votes once she realized that the Council would indeed be voting on issues that would benefit the union that contributed to her campaign. And she definitely would not have tried to influence the selection of Rodriguez in accordance with the firefighters’ union’s preferences.

Maybe Vella did not vote for former City Manager Jill Keimach’s severance package, but the fact remains that Vella’s actions in trying to influence the selection of the Fire Chief along with Councilmember Jim Oddie’s behavior, cost Alameda taxpayers more than a million bucks. Even if Vella was not found technically in violation of the law, in my opinion, the investigation showed that she behaved inappropriately and in violation of the spirit of the law. I believe that Oddie was at fault to an even greater degree, but his term is expiring so there was no point in trying to recall him.

There may be a few who really do seem to be racially motivated regarding Vella, but most of us don’t give a rat’s behind where she was born or the color of her skin. Indeed, Alamedans elected her in the first place. I am not alone in thinking City Councilmembers should start making decisions in the best interest of the residents they are elected to represent, rather than doing the bidding of their large campaign donors.