Former Alameda city manager who secretly taped public officials eyes a comeback in Richmond

Less than three months after negotiating a separation package with the City of Alameda worth $900,000, former City Manager Jill Keimach is among three finalists for the open city manager position in Richmond.

Keimach’s turbulent past year in Alameda ended after during the course of an investigation of claims she made against two councilmembers, it was also learned she secretly recorded both public officials.

Keimach was placed on paid administrative leave and later the Alameda City Council unanimously referred the recording incident to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Secretly recording individuals as Keimach admitted to last spring is potentially a violation of state law. But there has been no determination yet from the DA’s office.

During a candidate forum Monday night in Richmond, Keimach quickly acknowledged the controversies in Alameda that began in October 2017 when she accused then-unnamed councilmembers of violating an anti-interference provision in the City Charter. Keimach claimed Alameda elected officials and members of the firefighters union members unduly pressured her to choose their preferred candidate to become the next fire chief.

An independent investigator, however, found few of Keimach’s claims were credible. Instead, Keimach refocused Monday night on an alternative view she and her attorneys used in Alameda to assert her actions, instead, were intended to reveal an underbelly of corruption at City Hall. Moreover, Keimach remains very popular among Alameda’s older, conservative population for her fierce stance against the firefighters union in Alameda.

“I am well-known, most recently, for my ethics and my integrity and I have decided every time I’ve been tested to put the community first. To choose what was in the best interest of the community even when it meant it was going against hard-fought local politics, cronyism, and my own job,” said Keimach.

The City of Richmond received 30 resumes seeking to replace former City Manager Bill Lindsay, who retired last March. Richmond councilmembers interviewed five candidates last Friday and whittled the list to the three who participated in Monday night’s forum–Keimach, East Palo Alto City Manager Carlos Martínez and Ruth Osuna, a former Oxnard assistant city manager.

Over the past decade, Richmond’s political scene has become in some ways the new capital of the progressive movement in the East Bay. The Richmond City Council, led by the Progressive Richmond Alliance, which includes 15th Assembly District candidate Jovanka Beckles have led the way in passing rent control, raising the minimum wage, and making corporations and banks accountable for their actions following the Great Recession. Many of the moves have been mimicked in Oakland, Berkeley and other parts of the East Bay.

The possible selection of Keimach by the Richmond City Council and its progressive majority, however, would be curious. Keimach’s tenure in Alameda was littered with skirmishes not only with the city’s powerful firefighters union, but she was viewed by some as a hindrance for moving forward with progressive touchstones such as rent control and cannabis. During Monday’s forum, she mentioned her work on each issue, but left out any specifics. Among Alameda’s renters’ advocates there was a belief that Keimach kowtowed to the city’s landlords groups.

Similarly, Alameda’s progress when it comes to cannabis was repeatedly stunted by Keimach’s intransigence. While nearly every city in the East Bay that has shown a willingness to allow the cannabis industry to set up shop, Alameda lags well behind. For instance, Alameda is still in the application process while other city’s like Hayward, which got a late start, recently awarded 11 permits.

News of Keimach’s possible resurgence in Richmond comes two weeks after former San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata, who was also part of similarly high-profile controversy, was hired for the same position in Anaheim. Zapata, who also negotiated a separation agreement, unlike Keimach, announced he would donate his severance award to a San Leandro non-profit for the homeless. The amount is estimated to be roughly $100,000.



Categories: Alameda, Richmond, Uncategorized

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17 replies

  1. Steve, I thought she did a good job standing up against the pressure. She will do well for Richmond.

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  2. rent control, cannabis and whoring for the fire union are not the qualities we need in a city manager

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  3. John, you nicely noted the issues in Alameda. Those were issues she supported in Alameda. You might want to think a little before you post. A little civility in word choice is appreciated.

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  4. Hidden in this article, and not very well I might add, is unadulterated sexism. Steve brings up CIty Manager Chris Zapata in this article as some kind of comparison the guy accused of sexual harassment who while being investigated was interviewing for other jobs. His severance wasn’t “about $100,000,” as a reporter you surely know the reported amount is over $350,000.so he might (we shall see) donate his severance and get a nice tax deduction at that ( A better and less self serving donation would be to direct the city to make a direct donation in his name or on his behalf to a nonprofit ). Regardless, comparing Ms, Keimach who stood up against harassment to the guy accused of harassing is blatantly sexist and is an attempt to further discredit her. Let’s give the guy who harassed people a pass and beat down the woman who stood up for ethics. Interesting too you u didn’t compare her the other candidates , one with no experience at all. City councils need experienced city managers and Richmond would be lucky if Ms. Keimach agrees to take on the task.

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    • San Leandro City Council gave Zapata $350,000. $82,000 was for his attorneys. The $100,000 figure is roughly the amount the non-profit April Showers may receive. As for your allegation of “sexism,” what if I respond by calling you stupid. Maybe that’s sexism too, according to you, but I think stupid is all-encomposing. An investigator found Keimach’s claims lacking. In San Leandro, they found the claims against Zapata even less credible. You’re an anti-union crusader who defends Keimach. I don’t blame you. She was doing your bidding and then she took $900,000 of your money and ran.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Factually, Alameda City Councilmembers Gave Ms. Keimach her severance package. The decision was made solely by the City Councilmembers. The majority of the Council chose to compensate her for the damages they caused, which speaks volumes. Anyone receiving a severance of such substance was clearly wronged. Regardless of any report, the severance speaks for itself.

        Also, your statement in the article that Chris Zapata was going to “donate his severance” purposely implied to the public he was donating ALL. Of his severance. Only when I pointed out the inaccuracy of your statement, did you then try and correct it in your reply. However, $350,000-82,000 is still more than $100,000. So maybe he is donating a portion of his severance, but that is not what you wrote.

        There is only one explanation for choosing to be false and misleading, that is to manipulate and influence. Your article and your reploesarguing with people, demonstrate your bias. Rather than consider other views, you’re calling people names for writing comments. rather than acknowledge inaccuracies, you stoop to playground antics with name calling, personal attacks. Those actions indicate these assessments of your writing are hitting home, thanks for letting us know.

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  5. I wish Ms. Keimach all the best in her efforts to secure a new position in Richmond. Ms. Keimach is a thoughtful, collegial leader who, in her brief time in Alameda and previous stint at Moraga, had proven to be capable at bringing together diverse persons and communities from all walks of life, toward a common goal. What happened in the latter portion of her time in Alameda was as unfortunate as I am sure emotionally painful, but I am certain Ms. Keimach is ready to get back into things, to offer her skills, experience, and leadership in implementing Richmond Council’s policies and perogatives. All the best to Jill and the City of Richmond.

    /s/ Tony Daysog, former Alameda Councilmember (1996-2006 and 2012-2016)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Stupid or inept, its a close call describing the author of this article. This is an elementary attempt at shading Ms. Keimach. Please explain what you meant by “While nearly every city in the East Bay that has shown a willingness to allow the cannabis industry to set up shop, Alameda lags well behind.” It is pretty obvious that cities who are interested in moving forward by opening cannabis shops will surely move in that direction. What about cities who don’t want to make a hasty decision or have made a decision not to pursue cannabis shops? Again, obviously, they would be expected to move slower or vote against issuing cannabis permits. What is your point?

    In your response to Wake Up, you stated, ” You’re an anti-union crusader who defends Keimach.” I don’t know Wake Up, do you or did you somehow deduce your opinion from their comments? Even more importantly, do you know the qualifications of the Firefighters union’s candidate compared to the person Ms. Keimach hired? There was no contest. The union candidate was not in a management position, did not have hiring and firing authority and had minimal supervisory experience. Compare this to someone who has years of experience as the Fire Chief of Salinas and Acting Fire Chief of Stockton. One doesn’t have to be anti-union to vigorously support proper decision making. If I had the same minimal threshold for making a decision that you exhibited in determining Wake Up is anti-union, I would easily conclude that your pro-union stance dramatically and negatively influences your capability to make informed decisions.

    You also replied to Wake Up, “An investigator found Keimach’s claims lacking.” Did you know the Alameda City Counsel, including those accused of improper influence, hired and managed the not so independent investigator. Also, did you know the council edited the report before it was published?

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  7. This article is so biased that I wonder if you are a professional journalist or just a tool for the fire union bosses and the corrupt two council members. If you look at the record and know public sector responsibilities you would know the council makes the decisions on the Cannabis and other ordinances, and staff presents options for Council consideration. The city manager supported the options going to council. The rent Control Ordinance was adopted by Council before the city manager Keimach was even on board. She supported the revisions to the ordinance, placing it on the ballot for the voters to decide, and developing the process to implement it, but the council decided it.
    Just curious, who did you interview for the content of this article? What professional research have you done besides talking to Oddie and Vella? The controversy was only about having an open process for fire chief candidates. It had nothing to do with liberal or conservative politics. Corruption can happen on either side and if we progressives are going to succeed, we need to monitor ourselves.

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    • Instead of talking to all public officials in Alameda, should I instead focus my energy on getting the opinions of someone like yourself who doesn’t know shit and gets their information from the Alameda affiliate for Fox News?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I need to make a correction to my earlier post that implied that you actually had a threshold of collecting facts before making a decision. Please ignore those words, you have made it very clear that no threshold exists. Stupid or inept? No need to limit yourself to just one answer.

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  8. Mr. Tavares & EBCitizen Editor:

    I submitted a comment around 1:30 this afternoon, but it’s not showing in the Comments. When I tried to re-submit, it said that my comment was a duplicate. Is this a WordPress issue, or is there some reason why my comment was not published??

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  9. Bearpaw5

    This posted. Steve has not to my knowledge censored comments unless they violated decency or the law.

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  10. I am guessing the issue is as you stated, with Word Press. Good luck with them.

    Like

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  1. No charges against Keimach in Alameda secret audio recording scandal

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