Alameda fire chief, out on leave since last spring, is retiring

Rodriguez

Alameda Fire Chief Ed Rodriguez is retiring from the post he’s held since 2017.

Rodriguez made his decision known to Alameda city officials on Dec. 30, according to a memo sent by City Manager Eric Levitt.

Any short-term effects on the Alameda Fire Department’s chain of command will be minimal. Rodriguez has been out on disability leave since shortly after the pandemic began last March.

Acting Alameda Fire Chief Ricci Zombeck will be named the interim, according to the memo.

The departure of Rodriguez comes at a time when Alameda city officials are beginning a search to replace Police Chief Paul Rolleri, who announced his retirement last fall.

The hiring of Rodriguez in 2017 was the flashpoint for one of the most divisive political scandals in Alameda political history.

Former Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach alleged two Alameda councilmembers pressured her to hire a candidate favored by the powerful Alameda firefighters union. Keimach resisted, she said, and instead selected Rodriguez.

Although Alameda firefighters quickly embraced Rodriguez, the scandal ultimately led to Keimach leaving the city with a $1 million settlement.

The political ramifications of scandal are still present to this day. A civil grand jury report later reprimanded both councilmembers for their role in the alleged violation of a clause in the City Charter that bars interference by elected officials in the duties of the city manager.

Last November, one of the elected officials involved in Keimach’s allegations lost re-election. Two moderate members of the Alameda City Council – Tony Daysog and Trish Herrera Spencer – deftly used the scandal to win their seats in 2018 and last November.

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