Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Alameda mayor's nominee to city commission was caught trespassing in city building; used employee's computer

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | A pending mayoral appointee to an Alameda city commission was caught multiple times last February trespassing after business hours at the Public Works Department’s office at City Hall West. In addition, it is alleged she also accessed a city employee’s personal email and tax records, said a police report.

Carol Gottstein, 59, admitted in a police report to using the city computers for personal use and entering the office through a door left ajar, she told police. In addition, Gottstein said she had a key procured from a member of city board that uses the facility for meetings, she said.

Mayor Trish Spencer recently nominated Gottstein to the Commission on Disability Issues. The city’s Public Works Department staffs the commission Gottstein is being nominated to serve. Her appointment is on Tuesday night’s agenda for approval by the City Council. Gottstein has been a vocal supporter of Spencer, who was elected last November, and a critic of some public work projects on the island.

The mayor’s power under the City Charter to nominate and remove members of city boards and commissions has recently been challenged by some council members. An agenda item referred by Councilmember Jim Oddie tonight asks city staff to study the practice.

According to the police report, a city employee asked to press charges against Gottstein for identity theft. The employee said their computer was accessed by Gottstein, said the report, with a passcode possibly found in a cabinet located in the office. Gottstein told police she entered the city employee's office and bumped into the computer. The screen then lit up and she accessed the computer without a passcode, she told police. The city employee who alleges their computer was illegally accessed had been away from work for six days prior because of an illness, said the police report.

Gottstein admitted to police that she did not have permission to use the city computers and was aware she should not have been inside the building after hours.

While on the computer terminal, Gottstein allegedly viewed the employee’s tax records and personal email. But, Gottstein told police, the employee’s email was already open and did not view its contents and she only used the terminal for her own personal use because computers at the Mastick Center and Free Library were unavailable.

The first instance of Gottstein seen inside the city office after business hours was last President’s Day, Feb. 16, said the police report, when a witness saw Gottstein inside the City Hall West offices. She was confronted by a city employee who later summoned the police.

Five days later, Feb. 21, Gottstein was again found inside City Hall West offices, said the police report. An Alameda police officer was instructed by the City Manager’s office to issue a formal warning for trespassing and escorted off the property.

UPDATE: The Alameda City Council Tuesday evening chose against appointing Gottstein to the Commission on Disability Issues, but approved the other nominees on the agenda.


  1. By MW:

    Is Gottstein a totally unethical person and with total contempt for the law? If so, based on the present standards of Bay area politics,it seems to me that she would be absolutely perfect for virtually any of the higher ranking jobs in local government, and extra especially in Alameda County and also in San Francisco.

  2. "Gottstein allegedly viewed the employee’s tax records and personal email"

    What about the "employee"? Why are his/her personal tax records and access to personal email on a public computer?

  3. How, exactly, was the city employee victimized? If Gottstein's account is true, she didn't do anything with the info, she used the computer to do something un-related.

    So it brings up the question of why city employees are using city computers for personal email, tax work, etc.

    It also brings up the question of which employee this is, and in whose political camp they fall.

  4. ​"Gottstein said she had a key procured from a member of city board that uses the facility for meetings, she said." This is a false statement. Once again, Steven Tavares has written an article about someone without bothering to actually interview that person. This is especially peculiar because, last night at the Alameda City Council meeting, Tavares was sitting on the other side of the aisle from Carol Gottstein, until 1:30 AM, when the meeting ended. Despite two breaks in the meeting, at no time did Tavares make any attempt to speak to Gottstein, before, during, or after. So, come on, Tavares, what kind of journalism is this?
    While the building is nominally called City Hall West, city offices make up only a quarter of this old NAS admin building. The rest of it is still being used by the Navy. Carol Gottstein has served on the Alameda NAS Restoration Advisory Board for five years. The NAS Information Repository has been located in this building since before the Navy decommissioned the base in 1997, and it is always open to RAB members, even when City Hall West offices are closed. On Feb 21, Gottstein was rousted, without cause, from this NAS Information Repository by APD. She was not found "inside City Hall West offices", as Tavares incorrectly reports.
    Carol Gottstein (this site won't let me sign in unless I have a URL)

  5. Let's be clear about what's going on here...

    The local firefighters union has it out for Spencer - the firefighters backed Gilmore for mayor last November, and lost.

    So they are using anything they can, no matter how chicken-sh*t to cast aspersions on Spencer.

    Possibly, in this case, with the collusion of a public works employee in city hall west who is sympathetic to their cause, and probably blowing it way out of proportion. "Identify theft" ? Really?

    They know Tavares will gleefully publish this stuff so they can re-broadcast it.

    Presumably, somebody with AFD, or even within APD, got ahold of the police report on the issue, and tipped Tavares off with a copy of it, and a narrative, just before the council meeting last night for an empty and meaningless "victory."

    Indeed Gottstein has been on the RAB and had access for those purposes to the "City Hall West" building at Alameda Point that houses the NAS repository.

  6. What's going on here is that "Save Our City" aka David Howard and others put Carol up to this because they knew she had held on to a key from the past to access City Hall West. They wanted to dig up dirt prior to last years election. As soon as Spencer was elected she put pressure on the Police Chief to drop charges. Now that its out they are going to protect their mayor. This should be investigated further.

  7. Drunk nights on the town, racial comments, out of control council meetings and now Alameda Gate! This mayor is off to a great start. I thought she was going to fix traffic and out of control rents? She's approved more development than the past two Mayors combined and rents have sky rocketed under her. We've been sold a bill of goods by her and her supporters. Now they are going to defend her once again.

  8. >> As soon as Spencer was elected she put pressure on the Police Chief to drop charges.

    Comical. Timeline doesn't even work. Spencer was elected in November last year, the Gottstein "incident" was in February.

    Not to mention, there's no basis at all for these allegations.

    The firefighter union membership is desperate.

  9. What's interesting to me is how the firefighters and their cronies project their own mentality onto others.

    Sneaking into city computers to "dig up dirt" on past elections sounds like firefighter union tactics of secretly recording the Mayor's conversations, taking secret photos of their fire chief whom they don't like, etc.

    These comments say more about the firefighters than anyone else.

  10. You better check your timeline because your wrong. This break-in happened before Spencer was elected. Don't worry "Action Alameda" aka "Save Our City" aka "David Howard" is running his version of the story for Mayor Spencer and her supporters. We know how credible he is. This kind of behavior is right up his alley.

  11. Wow. That guy must really burn your butt, huh?

  12. Regardless of the silly conspiracies Action Alameda sees here, Ms. Gottstein does seem to have displayed a serious lack of judgment. I've no idea whether her actions were malicious; I rather doubt they were. But they were really stupid--I mean, what sane person would go up to a computer in an office and start to use it? This isn't the type of behavior that one wants from person on a city commission. From her email above (written in the third person--never a reassuring sign about a person's mental well-being), she seems completely unapologetic. Another bad sign.

  13. I only viewed the police report at 5pm yesterday. This story relies on that report and quotes Gottstein. I wanted this to be known before the council voted on the item after 7pm. I'm not done with it and will asked people questions about it.

    Main takeaway: She admitted wrong-doing. Now why was she there? When did the mayor know about these incidents? If she knew why did she appoint Gottstein? Lots of questions.

  14. The fact that Gottstein was caught twice in City Employees offices, using City equipment without authorization, and accessing a City employee personal email account shows a complete disregard for the law and for City staff. The fact that Spencer nominated Gottstein knowing what she did shows a major lack of judgment.

  15. I've read the report. There as only an issue one time, on President's Day, when she was in a city office.

    The building that houses City Hall West, as Gottstein notes, is a repository for clean-up documents re: Naval Air Station Alameda. Gottstein has long been on the restoration advisory board. The second so-called "trespass" doesn't sound like a trespass at all - the repository is open to the public, and certainly to RAB members. There was no need for APD to ask Gottstein to leave that area.

    Questions abound about the city as well - doors open and unlocked over the long weekend? Are employees getting paid overtime for working the long weekend, but getting Friday's off?

  16. Anyone who cares to read the full packet (Steven? Will you publish and provide a link) will see the answer to the question of why Gottstein was using the computer - the library and mastick center were closed over the long weekend. Gottstein relies on those facilities for computer access.

    She printed some medical records she needed printed - a police forensic analysis confirmed that was the extent of it.

  17. My car breaks own. I need to go to the doctor. I see a car in a parking lot with the keys in the ignition. It's okay for me to drive it?

  18. Evidently she was not charged with any crime

  19. Have you ever worked for a news organization? Apparently you have been freelance since graduating from Cal State East Bay and contributed to a few local weeklies/monthlies, but never actually been employed as a journalist. Is that true? I could find nothing on your blog that establishes your credentials as a reporter. Apparently you have a B.A. in Journalism from Cal State East Bay. Is that true?

  20. Anonymous at 645 9/16 -- haven't you heard? Newspapers are dead and news is whatever people don't want you to know about. Tavares is at least as competent as the other guy. This is a story with legs. Whether it's a story about a failed nominee or a failed mayor is an open question. I'm looking forward to reading more.

  21. Anonymous says:
    September 16, 2015 at 7:58 PM

    Haven't you heard, news is whatever a blogger with an axe to grind says that it is. No shortage of major stories in Alameda or the East Bay. So, why this one? Exactly who suffered harm here? Looks to me like yet another attack against an elected official by those who believe that the rightful owner of the mayor's seat lost. I do not know the mayor and I do not know Carol Gottstein, but the whole things smells of, "Look what happens when the riff-raff take over the institution. "