Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Bookmark and Share
File #: 2019-7074   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 7/16/2019
Title: Provide Direction on Letter to the Presiding Judge of the Alameda County Superior Court in Response to the 2018-19 Alameda County Grand Jury Final Report. (City Manager 2110)
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Grand Jury Final Report, 2. Exhibit 2 - Draft Letter, 3. Correspondence, 4. Submittal, 5. Exhibit 2 - REVISED FINAL Letter

Title

 

Provide Direction on Letter to the Presiding Judge of the Alameda County Superior Court in Response to the 2018-19 Alameda County Grand Jury Final Report. (City Manager 2110)

Body

 

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The Alameda County Grand Jury report cited four (4) findings and four (4) recommendations.  The attached letter provides alternative responses to the Grand Jury Report.

 

BACKGROUND

 

On June 24, 2019, the Alameda County Grand Jury released a report (Exhibit 1) on its investigation into the hiring process of a new Fire Chief after the position became vacant in 2017. The investigation focused on accusations of undue influence on the former City Manager, during the Fire Chief hiring process, in violation of the City Charter.

 

The City of Alameda (City) would like to thank the Grand Jury for its work and recommendations moving forward.

 

The  Grand Jury report found that two Councilmembers violated the City Charter by attempting to influence the Fire Chief selection, and that the incident and related controversy resulted in significant losses to the City, both financially and with the departure of key personnel. The report further concluded that the Grand Jury “believes [the conduct at issue] does not warrant moving forward with formal Accusation proceedings” to remove Councilmembers from Office.

 

One clarification to the Grand Jury report is that the vote to settle with the City Manager on her claim was a 3 - 2 vote (with former Mayor Spencer and Council Member Vella voting no).

 

The City is required to respond to the Grand Jury’s Findings and Recommendations within 90 days of receiving the report.

 

DISCUSSION

 

Pursuant to California Penal Code sections 933 and 933.05, the City Council is required to respond to Findings 19-1 through 19-4 and Recommendations 19-1 through 19-4 in the Grand Jury’s report.

 

The findings and recommendations are summarized below.  In addition, the City Attorney and City Manager are providing a draft letter with options for the City Council to consider on each finding and recommendation.

 

For each Finding, it is required that responses shall be either 1) agree, 2) disagree wholly, with an explanation, or 3) disagree partially, with an explanation.

 

For each Recommendation, responses shall be 1) has been implemented, with a brief summary of the implementation schedule, 2) will be implemented, with an implementation schedule, 3) requires further analysis, with an explanation and the scope and parameters of an analysis or study, and a completion date that is not more than six months after the issuance of this report, or 4) will not be implemented because it is not warranted or is not reasonable, with an explanation.

 

Grand Jury Findings 19-1 through 19-4

 

Finding 19-1: The City of Alameda’s failure to provide Councilmembers with adequate training upon first being elected to City Council as well as annual training on governance helped contribute to inappropriate interference in the Fire Chief hiring process.

 

Finding 19-2: The City of Alameda’s Charter fails to provide enforcement mechanisms when Councilmembers and staff violate provisions of the Charter, creating uncertainly when such violations occur.

 

Finding 19-3: Councilmembers who were the obvious subjects of the independent investigation were allowed to participate in the editing of the outside investigator’s report, damaging the “independence” of the analysis.

 

Finding 19-4: In violation of the City’s Charter they had sworn to uphold, two Councilmembers did interfere with the City Manager’s ability to conduct an open and transparent recruitment for a new Fire Chief.

 

Grand Jury Recommendations 19-1 through 19-4

 

Recommendation 19-1: The Alameda City Council must establish policies for mandating initial training and orientation and ongoing annual training for elected officials and senior staff related to ethics and governance.

 

Recommendation 19-2: The Alameda City Council must investigate possible Charter or Municipal Code amendments to clarify and strengthen provisions relating to City governance. The Charter should delineate the specific types of conduct that constitute a violation of section 7-3, as well as outline an enforcement process.

 

Recommendation 19-3: The Alameda City Council should adopt a policy stating that Councilmembers who knowingly violate ethical codes of conduct or charter provisions may not seek reimbursement for related legal representation.

 

Recommendation 19-4: The Alameda City Council working with the city attorney, city manager, and city clerk must develop and implement a code of conduct and councilmember handbook.

 

ALTERNATIVES

 

                     Pursuant to California Penal Code sections 933 and 933.05, the City Council is required to respond to Findings 19-1 through 19-4 and Recommendations 19-1 through 19-4 in the Grand Jury’s report. A letter with alternative responses for the City Council consideration on July 16, 2019 is attached.

 

                     The City Council could provide direction to come back with alternative recommendations in September.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

There is no financial impact from approving the attached letter to the Presiding Judge of the Alameda County Superior Court.

 

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

 

This action is consistent with Alameda Municipal Code and is necessary to ensure California Penal Code sections 933 and 933.05.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) applies only to projects that have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment.  This action is not a project pursuant to Public Resources Code section 21065 and CEQA Guidelines section 15378.

 

CLIMATE IMPACTS

 

There is no climate impact from approving the attached letter to the Presiding Judge of the Alameda County Superior Court.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Provide direction on letter to the Presiding Judge of the Alameda County Superior Court in response to the 2018-19 Alameda County Grand Jury Report.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Eric Levitt, City Manager

Yibin Shen, City Attorney

 

 

Exhibits:

1.                     Grand Jury Final Report

2.                     Draft Letter