Alameda birther starts fourth petition to recall councilman

Alameda resident Steve Slauson demanding the resignation of Councilmembers Jim Oddie and Malia Vella at an Alameda City Council meeting on July 2.

An Alameda resident, who as a candidate for the state legislature, questioned whether his opponent, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, is a U.S. citizenship, and then unsuccessfully attempted six total recall petitions against two Alameda councilmembers in the past year, has launched a seventh.

In the wake of an Alameda County grand jury report last month that, among its findings, said Alameda Councilmembers Jim Oddie and Malia Vella violated the City Charter’s council interference rules, Steve Slauson filed a petition with the city clerk’s office last week to begin the process of collecting almost 10,000 valid signatures for a recall of Oddie.

Oddie Jim head shot
Oddie

It is the fourth time Oddie has been served by Slauson for his involvement in the city hall scandal that involved allegations by former city manager Jill Keimach that Oddie and Vella attempted to interfere in her selection of a new fire chief. None of the three previous attempts came close to securing enough signatures to qualify for a recall election.

Oddie was served with the latest recall petition prior to last Tuesday’s council meeting. Later, during public comment, Slauson demanded Oddie and Vella resign from the council. “The grand jury report was very explicit. Two councilmembers damaged the people of Alameda and caused irreparable damage to the city of Alameda,” he said. “There is only one way for you to square the pot with the people of Alameda. Resign. That demand is made for your resignation tonight.”

Like other recalls attempted by Slauson, the reason is a vaguely-worded reference to Oddie’s involvement in the “Keimach matter.” The same sentence has been used for three other unsuccessful recall petitions against Vella.

The recent grand jury report is the second independent investigation to find Oddie violated a charter provision that prohibits elected officials from interfering with the duties of the city manager. The primary reason being a letter of recommendation Oddie wrote to Keimach while using city letterhead. An independent investigations the city last year was also troubled by charter’s lack of clarity and urged the city to make amendments soon. There has been much less consensus on Vella’s role in the matter.

Vella Malia
Vella

When asked why he did not focus on Oddie’s recall, instead of being sidetracked by another for Vella, Slauson did not have a reason. He added, that Oddie caused a $1 million settlement with Keimach and was one of the people who approved the “ordinance to screw landlords.”

“He is a Bonta lackey and I think Oddie only serves special interests,” said Slauson. Oddie is Bonta’s former assembly district director.

Oddie said he did not want to respond to questions about the latest recall, but said in a statement: “I am focused on championing the affordable housing, senior, and public safety services Alamedans elected me to advocate for—and my priority is to continue serving those needs.  The voters will have another opportunity to judge my record in November 2020.  In the meantime, as for the latest maneuver by my opponents, this is a waste of taxpayer dollars and politics as usual.”

Meanwhile, Slauson’s effort to petition Vella’s recall earlier this year never panned out, he said in an interview. “It’s dead,” he added, because of winter rains and a signature-gathering operation running at the same time for Alameda’s Measure A special election initiative to block the city from zoning a property at Crab Cove for a senior and homeless respite center.

Vella’s pregnancy earlier this year, also made for poor optics, said Slauson. “We didn’t want to cause a miscarriage,” Vella gave birth in late May.

“I call bullshit,” Vella told the East Bay Citizen. “Nobody wanted to sign his petition.”