John Russo left the Alameda City Manager’s
Office in February 2015.
With Alameda’s city manager situation in a state of disarray, comes news its former top administrator, John Russo, was fired Wednesday from the same position in Riverside.
Russo left Alameda in 2015 to become Riverside’s city manager and was replaced in March 2016 by Jill Keimach, whose days on the island appear numbered following reports she unlawfully recorded a meeting with two Alameda councilmembers.
Like Russo’s tenure in Alameda, news reports detail a successfully tenure as Riverside’s city manager. But a recent dispute between the city council and mayor over Russo’s recent pay increase apparently poisoned the atmosphere at City Hall.
Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey attempted to block a proposed new contract for Russo in excess of $471,000 in salary and benefits, in addition, to a $675,000 low-interest home loan, that was approved by the Riverside City Council last February. Bailey, however, has no authority to veto the proposed contract and, instead, filed a lawsuit.
Russo’s time in Alameda was viewed as successful, especially his stewardship at Alameda Point, among other accomplishments. But rumors of his departure began circulating before the November 2014 mayoral election. Those whispers increased after Trish Herrera Spencer upset incumbent mayor Marie Gilmore.
While Russo, a former councilmember and city attorney in Oakland, worked well within the political establishment in Alameda, he often clashed with Spencer. The relationship was exemplified in one of the most infamous lines in recent Alameda history.
During a council meeting in which Spencer’s supporters appeared to have taken over the agenda, chaos ensued. Russo then admonished Spencer, “Madame Mayor, I need you to get control of the chamber, please.”