ALAMEDA: Firefighters union president said former city manager retaliated against him; city settled claim this week

The three-page letter sent by former Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach that ignited a nine-month firestorm last year at City Hall contained a mysterious redacted passage.

After the Alameda City Council approved a $21,735 settlement with now-former Alameda Firefighters Union President Jeff Del Bono last Tuesday, he said, in an interview, that the redacted portion of Keimach’s letter referred to him and amounted to retaliation against his job at the fire department.

“She was retaliating against me for doing my job,” said Del Bono, who served as union president since 2011 before stepping down from the post last November. Del Bono is now deputy fire chief.

Del Bono
Alameda firefighter Jeff Del Bono

 

In addition, Keimach disseminated the letter to others, breaking employee confidentiality rules, said Del Bono. “I’m an employee. She’s the boss.”

Once Keimach’s Oct. 2, 2017 letter accusing some councilmembers of interfering in her search for a new fire chief was made public, the redacted portion of the complaint suggested the sensitivity of the quarter-page paragraph.

It was then reported in April 2018 that Del Bono had filed a complaint alleging Keimach and then-Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft made “false” allegations about him, and asked for $200,000 in damages.

Each was accused of passing on the allegations made in the Keimach letter to private citizens, like Alameda political consultant Becca Perata, the daughter of former State Senate Pro Tem Don Perata, and the eventual selection for Alameda fire chief, Ed Rodriguez.

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Former Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach

In the letter, Keimach accused Del Bono of violating various state and city laws and regulations and “involves the use by firefighter and union president Jeff DelBono of a city vehicle to drive to Mr. DelBono’s personal cabin,” she wrote.

“Mr. DelBono apparently used a city command vehicle and gasoline, and city pump and fire hose, for his own personal use to drive to his cabin. I believe that this was a violation of our city’s rules and regulations, and I also believe that Mr. DelBono made false claims in violation of the California Government Code 12650.”

Keimach called for an investigation into the matter and speculated that DelBono had misused public funds in the past, but included no specifics.

“I feel it is appropriate to report this at this time because much of the political pressure mentioned above to hire Mr. Weaver appears to have a connection to Mr. DelBono, perhaps because Mr. DelBono would like the city to hire a fire chief who may overlook such transgressions and violations of the law,” wrote Keimach.

After an investigation, DelBono was cleared of any wrongdoing. He says the trip was authorized by then-Alameda Fire Chief Doug Long to monitor the August 2017 Railroad Fire in the Sierra National Forest, which included other Alameda firefighters.

“She’s a liar. This is part that makes the point that she’s full of shit,” said Del Bono, referencing the allegations made by Keimach in the letter. Keimach could not be reached for comment.

Although Del Bono’s complaint, typically a precursor to a potential lawsuit, included a demand for $200,000, he never pursued the amount, he said. Last Tuesday’s vote awarded Del Bono $21,735, the same amount as the union’s legal costs for representing him in the case. “I just want to be cleared and make the union whole,” he added.