Despite an admonition that Alameda City Council candidates not address the city’s recent city manager scandal while one of her actions are under review by the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, one candidate went there with his very first sentence during a forum last week.

The aggressive attack by Alameda council candidate Tony Daysog set the tone for a rollicking and informative debate where battle lines among the five candidates for two at-large seats were clearly delineated between backers of renters and landlords, along with those who believe public safety unions are running amok at City Hall.

“If the events of 2017, and going into 2018 indicate anything, we are indeed, at a critical juncture in the city of Alameda,” said Daysog, a former Alameda councilmember who is hoping for a return to the council after losing his seat two years ago.

“The choice for the residents is, going forward, whether we want to go down the path of a city hall that is controlled by an overly-intrusive fire union and out-of-town developers or if we want to return city hall to the professional-level staff that we can depend on and work with our councilmembers and our community in moving our city forward together. That is our stark choice.”

Alameda City Council candidates, left to right, Jim Oddie, Tony Daysog, John Knox White, Robert Matz, and Stewart Chen.

Daysog’s comments Wednesday night revealed that he intends to use the scandal earlier this year involving former city manager Jill Keimach against incumbent Councilmember Jim Oddie. Keimach alleged in October 2017 that Oddie and another councilmember applied pressure against her to hire a specific candidate for the open fire chief position in violation of the City Charter’s provision against council interference with the city manager’s powers.

Keimach, however, was placed on paid leave after it was discovered she secretly made digital audio recordings of a meeting along with Oddie and Councilmember Malia Vella. The city and Keimach parted ways after a $900,000 settlement, but not before an independent investigator found Oddie violated the charter by advocating, in a letter to Keimach using city letterhead, that she choose a specific fire chief candidate. But at the same time, the investigator also cast doubt about the the provision he believed Oddie violated and urged that it be should be amended.

Daysog made several attempts at stoking the furor following the Keimach affair that consumed the city’s traditional constituency in opposition to public employee unions, which rankled Oddie, along with another council candidate, John Knox White.

Oddie alluded to his strong support among labor unions as opposed to Daysog’s connections to landlords’ interests. “Is it important to you that someone is supported by a wide range of working people–regular Alamedans and regular citizens–or are you going to support someone who received a lot of money from the landlords, Realtor oligarchy?”

John Knox White, left, along with Jim Oddie, center, participated in some verbal jousting with Tony Daysog, over his ties to landlords.

But a pivotal moment in the 90-minute forum hosted by the City of Alameda Democratic Club came when the candidates were asked for their opinions on “Alamedans in Charge,” the local independent expenditure committee backed by landlords. The group spent more than $200,000 to get the landlords-backed Measure K rent stabilization charter amendment on the November ballot and previously vowed to raised $500,000 to defeat the council’s progressive majority.

Stewart Chen, like Daysog, a former Alameda councilmember seeking a return to dais, said he had never heard of Alamedans in Charge. Alameda attorney Robert Matz echoed Chen’s comment, as did Daysog, who added the group was formed in response to frustration to the council’s handling of the housing issues. “I have met with people but I do not know if they are part of Alamedans in Charge or not.” The commnent was met with guffaws in the audience.

Oddie was incredulous. “That was an interesting answers considering the attorneys for Alamedans in Charge are the same attorneys that he had for his lawsuit,” said Oddie.

The Sutton Law Firm of San Francisco has represented the group and was the attorneys who filed the lawsuit last June on behalf of Daysog and another asking an Alameda County Superior Court judge to block a ballot question for Measure K written by the city council from appearing on the November ballot. The judge ruled against Daysog last month.

Knox White also slammed Daysog for his ties to Alamedans in Charge attorneys and his support of Measure K. The groups financial support for Daysog’s lawsuit, in addition, to doorhangers in support of the measure that include Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer’s likeness has benefited both candidates, said Knox White.