Alameda mayor, councilman’s vote did not break the law, says city attorney

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer and Councilmember
Tony Daysog voted against funding its public safety
pension trust fund angering unions.

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Did Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer and Councilmember Tony Daysog break the law earlier this month when they voted against funding a previously approved employee pension trust fund? “The short answer is no,” Alameda City Attorney Janet Kern said Monday.

The allegation was first raised by Alameda Firefighters union president Jeff Del Bono following a Dec. 15 vote by the council approving, 3-2, an administrative item allocating $3 million to fund city employee pension obligations known as Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB).

The council voted by the same margin last April to share the cost of retirement benefits with public safety union members through the trust fund. However, Del Bono, incensed by the votes of Spencer and Daysog made this month, alleged on Twitter that they “broke the law.” During the Dec. 15 meeting Spencer said the agreement made by the city and public safety employees falls short of solving its unfunded liabilities problem. “I think long-term it does jeopardize the fiscal health of the city,” she said. Daysog offered a similar critique and argued the trust fund could be insolvent by 2034.

Following Del Bono’s allegation, Daysog quickly asked the city attorney’s office for an official inquiry into whether any laws were broken by the vote. In a memo to the city council Monday, Kern said no contract was breached by the council vote and that it “satisfies a City obligation under the Memorandum of Understanding with the City’s public safety bargaining units.”

Despite the allegation, Del Bono’s comments are another salvo in a long-running dispute between Spencer and the firefighters’ union that has periodically been inflamed during her first year in office. Earlier this year, firefighters released a recording of the mayor speaking negatively of the firefighters and former city manager John Russo. The conversation, surreptitiously recorded in a coffee shop, followed Spencer’s vote against funding a new fire station which, nonetheless, was approved by the council.

Shortly after the council vote earlier this month, Del Bono reiterated in an East Bay Citizen article his strong objection to the Dec. 15 comments made by Spencer and Daysog and labeled them “two derelicts.” He added, “It’s disappointing and sickening that we have two public officials who break their word on labor contracts.”

In a Dec. 21 letter, from the Alameda Firefighters, Local 689 to the City Council, the union argued the trust fund appropriation was agendized under the consent calendar and should not have been pulled for further discussion by Spencer.

In addition, the union said the council’s vote was one vote shy of exposing the city “to “liability and attorneys’ fees for a clear violation of the contractual commitments made on Apr. 29, 2015 to share the costs of prefunding retiree medical expenses.”

Meanwhile, the city attorney’s conclusion is no surprise to Daysog. In a statement Monday, he again expressed prudence by forwarding the allegation to the city attorney’s office. “As I had surmised from the outset, fortunately, I broke no laws during the course of the Dec. 15 meeting.”

10 thoughts on “Alameda mayor, councilman’s vote did not break the law, says city attorney

  1. In retail before you get your treats, you pay for them. In an eatery you pay for your supper before you clear out. In a wide range of private administration organizations, you get paid right on fulfillment of the work. It's counseling where it's gotten to be standard throughout the years to test experts' understanding by deferring their installments and other warnings that may originate from purchasers. Red Scare lawyer Roy


  2. By MW:

    While lawyers “lead” all major professions in having skyhigh rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, however firefighters also have skyhigh rates of alcoholism, and among the major professions are probably second only to lawyers in having skyhigh rates of alcoholism.

    Still furthermore it seems when some alcoholics get in the very highest ranks of a fire department, they then have a strong tendency to promote their drinking buddies and other alcoholics to management positions, so therefore if of all the firefighters in a particular fire department, twenty-five percent are extreme alcoholics, it would be very likely that fifty percent or more, or even one hundred percent, of the bosses, managers, and supervisors in a fire department would be extreme alcoholics.

    (NOTE: While that is true in many organizations that the percentage of extreme alcoholics in management, and especially upper management, is much higher than in the workforce, agency, or business as a whole, however it is especially true in fire departments, law firms, and DA's offices. More specifically, once an organization's management group gets infested with alcoholics, the alcoholic insiders have an extremely strong tendency to hire still more alcoholics to join them as members of upper management, and including since being around non-drinkers often makes them uncomfortable. As just one illustration of this, look at the SF Fire Department. And since in many communities the firefighters and the policemen are almost like brothers, therefore when a firefighter is stopped for drunken driving, usually he will not get a ticket and no paperwork will be made out, and instead he will be quietly given a ride home and/or allowed to sleep it off in the firehouse or police station.)

    And let's recall the Great Oakland Hills Fire, and in which approx twenty five people were killed and over two thousand homes were destroyed. A few hours before that fire got into really high gear, one of the local fire departments, Berkeley's if I remember correctly, responded to what was then a small fire, then quickly declared that it had totally put out the fire, and then the firefighters returned t their firehouse. However the firefighters had not totally put out that fire, but instead it was still smoldering, and then it reignited – CAUSING THE HUGE CONFLAGRATION THAT RESULTED IN THE LOSS OF APPROX TWENTY FIVE LIVES AND OVER TWO THOUSAND HOMES.

    QUESTION: So why did the firefighters almost immediately return to the firehouse, and without taking the time to ensue that the fire was really out?

    ANSWER: They were probably already drunk and/or wanted to get back to the firehouse to start and/or resume their drinking.



  3. C'mon… they “risk their lives daily” silencing 'burnt toast' smoke alarms across the 94501/94502…


  4. “They're your firefighters you ungrateful assholes”

    They are thugs, shaking down citizens and taxpayers for every penny.


  5. By MW:

    Actually, there is more than one issue here.

    For instance, the extreme underfunding of pension obligations, and including by various government agencies for their employees, is a huge timebomb that will eventually totally destroy US society if something else does not destroy it first.

    However in regard to the comment by 9:46PM, many Bay area fire department employees: one, are extremely overpaid; two, also are scheduled to receive huge pensions that the general public cannot possibly afford to give them; three, also get to retire extremely early, and therefore will also receive those huge pensions for decades; and four, are extreme alcoholics, and therefore the level of service they provide on a one to ten scale barely rates even a two.

    Of course until fairly recently most major public employees unions, and such as for instance the policemen and the firefighters, automatically voted for the Democratic Party, and that was a major reason that the members of certain public employees' unions got such huge pensions, and in some cases also got to retire extremely early at full pension. However it is going to be entertaining to watch as the DP begins to fall apart, and including since its ability to get virtually all of the votes from such groups as the policemen and the firefighters, etc, weakens.


  6. They're your firefighters you ungrateful assholes. Trish is a lunatic and firefighters risk their lives everyday..not hard.


  7. I am tired of AFD employees — almost all of whom do not live in Alameda — bullying the community, funding candidates and then disparaging those we have elected. The firefighters do not live here, do not pay taxes here, do not vote here and do not send their children to school here, yet they want to control the community for their own personal and financial gain.


  8. DUH! DelBono got some kind of Trumpish hold on the East Bay journalism folk. He says stupid stuff and it gets reported like it's news. Last year he said, “wah, wah, wah, I don't like that someone questions the unnecessary wasteful luxury accommodations that are being built at taxpayer expense (complete with private workout room),”and he got published in every EB paper. Stupid man saying stuff just to stir the pot for political purposes and you all fall for it.


  9. By MW:

    While I had never even heard of Janet Kern, and who evidently is Alameda's City Attorney, until one minute ago, in other words until just reading this article, however I am well aware of how such creatures as City Attorneys and County Counsels normally “think” and do their “research.”

    So let's have Kern give us a big laugh by her declaring that her “finding” that Spencer and Daysog did not break the law was based on real thinking, real analysis, and real research, and was not merely the product and completely predetermined result of a scripted, choreographed, prearranged, and totally phony “investigation” that would have declared Spencer and Daysog, AND WHO ARE CITY EMPLOYEES, innocent no matter which information and facts came up. So let's hear her insist that in a situation of this type, that she, and as an Alameda city employee and especially as also the Alameda City Attorney, and as someone who was obviously there to defend high ranking city officials, and no matter what they did, she would never engage in the standard lawyers' lies and garbage, and which denies anything and everything, and regardless of the facts.

    In other words in a situation of this type, if I myself really wanted to determine the real and actual facts, I would have a lot more confidence in a study that was performed even by the first elementary school dropout I saw walking down the street than in a study done by the weasels and other creatures that compose the overwhelming majority of the so called legal profession.

    In fact, let's even hear her insist that most lawyers: one, are honest and ethical people and with high standards of integrity and determined to get to the facts and the truth; and two, are not nothing more than highly paid, and in fact extremely overpaid, professional pathological liars.


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