Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer’s first few months in office have been turbulent and highlighted by extremely lengthy meetings and passive aggressive comments amount council colleagues. 

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | After viewing a video recording of the March 3 Alameda City Council meeting, blogger Lauren Do called it “my all-time favorite TV show episode.” Do favorably compared the meeting’s entertainment value to one particularly melodramatic episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. What she found so painfully watchable was the dysfunction that she believes typifies city council meetings since the election of Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer.

Do uploaded and annotated a two-minute YouTube video clip. As senior city staff members quietly huddled to answer some questions from council members, former Board of Education candidate Kurt Peterson approached the other side of the council dais and talked to the city clerk in an apparent effort to reopen public comment. Several council members looked exasperated by this unscripted interruption.

Then Mayor Spencer rose from her seat and began walking toward the audience member, as if to talk or receive a note from the man. That prompted City Manager John Russo to sternly scold the mayor. “Excuse me; Madam Mayor, I’m sorry,” Russo said. “You know, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the public process. This, however, is a business meeting that needs to be conducted like a business meeting, and Mr. Peterson walking up to the proscenium and directing everybody how the meeting should proceed is, frankly, inappropriate. … This is the point; Madam Mayor, I need you to get control of the chamber, please.”

Russo’s admonition echoed criticism from the mayor’s detractors, who are still smarting from her surprise upset of former Mayor Marie Gilmore. Now, some of Spencer’s opponents from her six years on the Alameda school board are champing at the bit to capitalize on her transition to the mayor’s office, drawing attention to her missteps and the perceived ineffectiveness of her laissez-faire management style. The interlude also highlighted a nagging subtext of council infighting and dysfunction since Spencer’s December swearing-in…