Alameda group called out for labeling councilmember a ‘union whore’

Assemblymember Rob Bonta and Alameda Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Josie Camacho issued a stern rebuke against an Alameda political group after one of its supporters reportedly called Alameda Councilmember Malia Vella a “union whore” during a meeting last month.

The phrase was met with approval and shock by other members of the Alameda Citizens Task Force, who were holding an open planning meeting on the topic of forming a Political Action Committee to support a slate of candidates hoping to upend the city’s progressive council majority.

The scene was reported by Alameda freelance writer Rasheed Shabazz on Twitter. He described the June 20 meeting including 50-60, mostly older, white people in attendance. Who uttered the phrase is not known.

Vella posted the entire thread on various online platforms which caught the attention of local labor leaders. A statement was issued last week.

“While political life requires a thick skin, there are lines that must not be crossed in political discourse. The comments made against Alameda Councilmember Malia Vella— calling her a “whore”— which were documented on social media, reveal a disgusting, misogynistic and sexist underbelly in our beloved community.

There are those who— when they think no one is looking or that it’s otherwise safe to share their true feelings— only then reveal their hate and intolerance. They launch political attacks driven by personal vendettas and bigotry instead of the public good. This conduct is unacceptable. Period,” said the statement signed by Bonta and Camacho, and sent via Bonta’s re-election campaign.

Shabazz, who attended the group’s meeting, detailed other aspects of the gathering, including Alameda resident Paul Forman, one of the main proponents of forming a PAC to potentially dull the donor power of the Alameda firefighters union, referenced the lack of black representation at the meeting.

The incident comes at a time when some members of the same group are coordinating an effort to recall Vella for what proponents say was her improperly handling of the recent city manager scandal, resulting in a $900,000 settlement in order for the city to part ways with Jill Keimach. An investigator also found Vella committed no wrong doing in the matter.



Categories: Alameda, Alameda City Council, Uncategorized

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9 replies

  1. Alameda Citizen Task force is a group of older Alameda residents that want nothing to change on the Island. They want to keep Alameda small town which translates into no outsiders, no one of color and god forbid you are a renter or worker. This group is finally showing its true colors.

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  2. Call Ivanka Trump a Feckless C*&@ and you’re funny and prescient. Call Democrat shill a unon whore and you’ve committed the crime of the century.

    “reveal a disgusting, misogynistic and sexist underbelly in our beloved community”

    If it weren’t for double standards, your community would have no standards.

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  3. it’s okay to be a union whore but it’s not okay to call someone a union whore

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  4. I suspect that the group who called Malia this irresponsible name is also the same group that failed again at correctly filing recall papers. While Malia may well be a beard for the Fire Department and other unions, the right way to get out is to vote her out. There is no reason to not follow the rules here. There is also no reason to have a lack of civility when engaging in political discourse. There are too many trolls and ugly messages out there now. Ima not calling for polotical correctness, just decorum.

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  5. I was the Chairman of the June 20 public meeting. I am also on the Steering Committee of Alameda Citizens Task Force (ACT)

    I was in the front of a room designed to hold about 40 people that was attended by 60. I was the only person in the room with a microphone. Of the 60 people in the room, only 12 were members of ACT, including the five other members of the Steering Committee who attended.

    The person who made the statement was not a member of ACT, nor do I have any reason to believe he is a supporter of ACT. The purpose of the meeting was to explain the purpose and process of the proposed PAC, not to discuss any support or opposition to any candidate. I recognized this person in the course of a question and answer session. He started by suggesting that the PAC needed to not only promote candidates but oppose candidates, which was an appropriate remark. As soon as he made the outrageous remark about Ms. Vella, I cut him off, telling him that such a remark was inappropriate. From my vantage point, I saw nothing from the audience but shocked silence, but, of course, some in this large group may have nodded approval.

    The next day I wrote an email to Ms. Vella expressing my sorrow that this had happened. This was a well-advertised public meeting. ACT had no control over what attendees said other than me trying to keep the meeting going in a civil manner. With the one exception of this person’s statement, the meeting was very civil.

    I fully agree with the Bonta/Camacho statement that you quote in your article. There is nothing in that statement that I read as indicting anyone but the speaker who made the comments. However if the statement in your first paragraph is accurate in stating that Mr. Bonta and Ms. Camacho are indicting ACT or the whole group of attendees for one outrageous remark in a public meeting, or for a few people nodding their agreement, I most certainly would disagree.

    With regard to Mr. Shabazz’s recollection of the exchange between the two of us concerning his comments about the group’s lack of diversity, let me express my recollection.

    I did respond that I did not see dark skinned faces in the room, because I thought that I was agreeing with his observation that the room was mostly white. I then said that I was inexperienced in social media and had posted the meeting announcement in every place I could think of. Thinking that Mr. Shabazz was attending the meeting as a supporter of our cause, I said that I needed help in learning how to reach a more diverse group and asked for his help. I then related, as an example of my naiveté on this diversity issue, my experience with a group picture at City Hall to support a Council candidate in 2016 where I was criticized for not did attempting to “plant” people of color in the group.

    I also must take issue with your statement that our opposition to the current majority on City Council has anything to do with their progressivism. I submit that many in our group have a progressive political outlook. The PAC’s mission statement, still in draft, is looking for candidates who put the interests of residents above those of their major contributors, subjects City staff recommendations to critical review, avoids committing the City to unsustainable expenditures that lead to budget deficits, and evaluates large new housing developments based on their cumulative effect on the entire community.

    We do not think the current majority meets these standards. One may agree or disagree with us, but these issues have nothing to do with progressivism.

    Finally, I need to clarify my position concerning the political influence of the Alameda Firefighters Union. Their leaders are doing exactly what they were elected to do, and I have not been critical of them. However, I do insist that Councilmembers deal with them at arm’s length. Some of them are clearly not following that path; the Keimach mess being the prime example of the same.

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  6. Paul, nice response. I think civility at the least should he observed at all times.I think your censure of the person promulgating the denigrating description of Council person Malias’s relationship with the Firefighter’s Union is scurrilous and should not be tolerated in public discussion. However, that runs counter to our perceived American rights as citizens. I hope that the person who you censured sues the PAC. That will do more for your cause than any publicity.

    My question to you as well as the allusion By Steve in the article is whether your organization or the speaker were the same folks who did such a poor job of understanding how to recall Council person Malian.. I think her actions on behalf of her contributors in the Fireman Union are certainly worth censure if not recall.

    Ethnicity has nothing to do with whether some serves or is recalled. Malia’s actions should serve as notice that her judgement on behalf of her constituents is irresponsible, unprofessional and could be if investigated criminal. Whether these happen or not is up to the Fair Political Practices group or Nancy O’Malley or the Grand Jury to decide.

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  7. Union sluts is real

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  8. Union “whore” is a legitimate term. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary has a definition for this which has NOTHING to do with either women or sex/sexuality. In short, one who prostitutes himself/herself on behalf of an entrenched and corrupt person or group is absolutely a —–whore, fill in the preceding dashes with whichever adjective you like. Case in point, some of the most infamous union whores in addition to Bonta and Camacho are: Gavy Newsance, Boss Willie Brown, Boss London Breed, Dirty Dick Valley, Bill Quirk and Don Perata. Union whores are both men and women, Caucasian, black, Hispanic, etc. The list goes on and on.

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