ALAMEDA: Mayor creates committee to study changes to City Charter

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft

Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft has created a special subcommittee to study potential changes to its City Charter.

Ashcraft announced formation of the two-person subcommittee during remarks following her swearing-in as mayor Tuesday night.

Alameda Councilmembers John Knox White and Tony Daysog will serve on the subcommittee, Ashcraft announced.

The need for changes to Alameda’s City

Alameda Councilmember John Knox White

Charter was mentioned in a independent investigator’s report last spring on potential violations involving the former city manager’s allegations of council misconduct.

The report determined Councilmember Jim Oddie violated a provision in the charter that prohibits council interference with the city manager’s decision-making powers.

But it also found the same section Oddie was found to have violated was vague. The investigator recommended the city council amend the section to include clarity.

But a more comprehensive look at the entire charter is likely to also occur. During the last election, Knox White floated an interest in examining whether to increase woefully low council pay. Alameda councilmembers currently receive $50 a meeting, a pay scale believed to be unchanged since the 1920s.

Knox White also raised the possibility of moving from an elected mayor to a rotating system similar locally to Emeryville.

But the most controversial change, if proposed, includes switching the Alameda’s city auditor and city treasurer from an elected position to an appointment.

Current officeholders City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy and City Auditor Kevin Kearney, the “Two Kevin’s,” as they are known, have held the office for decades.

Their vocal and conservative views when it comes to city finances has long made them villains to Alameda progressives and labor unions, who often label the pair hypocrites for advocating budgetary restraint while they receive health benefits from the city for work that is anything but year-round.

Over the years these same groups have often raised the question of whether to strip Kennedy and Kearney’s power from them, a strategy that would likely be met with strong opposition from Alameda’s small, but boisterous moderate and conservative residents.

Pressure to act on the wish lists of Alameda progressives might be high, though. Last month a clear progressive supermajority on the council was elected to office.

And fresh off a dominant defeat of a landlord-backed charter amendment, renters are already clamoring for the new council to flex its progressive muscle and approve just cause renters protections.

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