A quiet mayhem has often highlighted recent council meetings in Alameda. Blogger Lauren Do captured one such scene in this video that precipitates a shocking admonishment of Mayor Trish Spencer by City Manager John Russo.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Oakland City Hall is no longer the epicenter of visible government dysfunction in the East Bay. It’s new home many now be in Alameda.
The Island’s recently elected mayor, suffice to say, is having a rough go of it over the past few months. At times, Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer has appeared hesitant in presiding over council meetings, while showing a stubborn streak, on other occasions, that may only be dividing the City Council.
For instance, earlier this month, council members began questioning the mayor’s insistence she be able to explain her votes after the fact. The method is highly unusual, in most part, since elected officials usually choose to explain their positions as a pretext to how they will vote on a particular item. Spencer, though, explained this is how it was done during her time on the school board.
But, increasingly, Councilmembers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and, specifically, Jim Oddie, have appeared exasperated by Spencer’s handling of city business. When Spencer suggested Tuesday night that the city should rely on social media to search for a permanent city manager to replace the out-going John Russo, Ashcraft cracked, this isn’t the school board.
Recently, Oddie pulled off a highly passive aggressive knock against Spencer’s slow-growth agenda when he specifically asked the city attorney whether limiting growth at areas of the island, like Alameda Point, could potentially be illegal. The question was a pointed jab at Spencer, who sat quietly during the exchange, as was the prolonged answer by the city attorney essentially agreeing with Oddie.
Alameda Firefighters Union President Jeff Del Bono, known for bombastic comments, also publicly blasted Spencer two weeks ago for voting against a new fire station.
Lauren Do, the author of Blogging Bayport Alameda, captured the mayhem recently at the Alameda City Hall chambers. In a two-minute video (see above), Do highlighted one of Spencer’s legion of very proactive supporters appearing to interfere with the running of a council meeting on Mar. 3.
In the clip, Spencer leaves her seat and begins to move toward the city clerk’s desk. Ashcraft then reacts incredulously to the extra-curriculars and exclaims, “Hello?” Others at the dais also turned their attention toward the mini-scene on the left.
Keep in mind, Spencer’s razor-thin upset victory over Marie Gilmore last November was due to a tremendous grassroots effort. However, the same group of residents have often interjected themselves in the running of meetings in the past.
Russo, who rests below the City Council in the chain of command, it should be noted here, had enough and called the move by the Spencer surrogate, “inappropriate.” He then unleashed a shocking admonishment of the mayor. “Madame Mayor, I need you to get control of the chamber,” said Russo.
A cooling off period seemed in order, so Ashcraft asked for a five-minute break. “Do we need a motion to do that, or, no?” asked Spencer.
Most City Managers come and go. They usually go after they screw things up or have a sex scandal. Sometimes they even end up with a seat on City Council if people are dumb enough to vote for them after they bail there manager jobs. At least that's the way it works in big green H-ville.
So, let's be clear about what's going on in Alameda…
Frank M. and Trish S. weren't “supposed” to get elected to council in November last year…
The election was “supposed” to go to Gilmore, Oddie and Stewart Chen.
The three of them, along with Ashcraft, who had tears in her eyes standing beside Gilmore as she conceded the election, were supposed to be a pro-development, give-the-firefighters-everything-they-want majority on council, acting in collusion with Russo, and with the support of bloggers like Lauren Do.
But residents stood up to take back their city.
So, that's why Russo is bent out of shape, and is leaving for Riverside.
That's why Jim Oddie, who, unexpectedly, is odd man out, like Doug deHaan was previously, feels the need to take his jabs at Spencer.
That's why Lauren Do has her panties in a twist, and persists in her ranting and raving.
And that's why Jeff Del Bono continues his bombastic tirades. (BTW – look for very, very close, personal, links between him and the teachers union…)
Yes, council meetings are a little imperfect, just 3 months into the new term. It's reasonable to expect them to get better.