Witness the Loss of Civility


“Dys-” from Greek, means painful. “Dysfunction” does not mean something fails to function, rather that it functions but does so painfully. At present Alameda is feeling like a dysfunctional family. 

We’re a community agitated and at times in denial about our recent peek at the elephant in our collective living room — racism, xenophobia, misogyny, hatred and intolerance. The consequences of these personal attitudes and beliefs — acted out on the public stage — has led to the toxic atmosphere currently hanging over our island community and politics.

Public spaces have played host to human interaction and political discourse since ancient times. They are open to all and they are where we navigate the unfamiliar, interact with strangers and conduct our economic, political and social business. Behavior that makes public spaces safe is called “civility.” 

Civility is defined as “claiming and caring for one’s identity and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.” Civility is essential for trust and a healthy community. Civility is essential for a healthy democracy.

We have been witness to a textbook case of incivility in the recent cringe-worthy skewering of Vice Mayor Malia Vella, not to mention a similar attack on our Assemblymember, Rob Bonta. To set the record straight:

  • Vella is the only Councilmember born in Alameda.
  • Vella is the only Councilmember whose parent is an Alameda Unified School District alumnus.
  • Vella did not receive campaign donations from our local Fire Fighters (IAFF 689) knowing she would review their contract.
  • Vella took no contributions from developers.
  • Vella did not vote for the severance payment to former City Manager Jill Keimach.
  • Vella received more votes than anyone else on the current Council (including the Mayor) in the most recent election and received more votes in Alameda alone (13,865) than accuser Stephen Slauson received running for Assemblyman in three major Alameda County cities (10,546).

Our dysfunctional “elephant in the living room” was confirmed with the appearance of “birtherism” in Alameda. Birtherism was a movement in national politics started by our current President, which doubted our first Black president was a natural-born U.S. citizen, thus implying he was ineligible to be President.

  • Vella is the only Councilmember whose citizenship has been questioned implying she is ineligible for being our Vice Mayor. 
  • Vella is the only Councilmember whose residency has been questioned. 
  • Vella is the only Councilmember to be called a “union whore” 
  • Vella is the only Councilmember in the midst of a bullying campaign in the form of purposely mispronouncing her name in public.

Peace and safety in public spaces preserves the social fabric — our community. It allows economies, societies and cultures to flourish. Without the promise and hope of civility we live in that anxious limbo wondering when and from where the next attack be launched.
Stay awake, Alameda.