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Friday, April 13, 2018

What We Know: Alameda City Manager Scandal -- Keimach admits to recordings; later implicates city attorney

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL
➤On Thursday, I reported for the East Bay Express that Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach secretly recorded a conversation between two Alameda councilemembers and, separately, a city department manager. An attorney representing Keimach denied she did anything wrong. Keimach, in fact, is who gave the recordings to the investigator hired by the City Council to probe allegations she made against unnamed elected officials for illegally interfering in her decision-making process to hire a new fire chief. This is the prevailing reason why the City Council surprisingly placed Keimach on paid administrative leave Mar. 9 following a lengthy closed session. Recording individuals without their consent is illegal under state law.

➤In an interview with KCBS radio on Friday morning, Keimach admitted to recording the councilmembers, which she personally identified for the first time as Councilmembers Jim Oddie and Malia Vella. The incident occurred in August during a private meeting that included a conversation about the hiring of a new fire chief. It's the same meeting Keimach referenced in her original complaint letter. But Keimach did not acknowledged she may have broken the law. Instead, she recorded the councilmembers to gather evidence to show the councilmembers were indeed applying undue political pressure on her to select the firefighters' choice for chief, said Keimach. She also told KCBS the recording was the first time in her career that she had ever recorded what she believed was illegal activity.

Jill Keimach
➤Keimach has been making the rounds. Later, Friday, Keimach told the San Francisco Chronicle that she did not make the decision to record Oddie and Vella on her own, but sought the advice beforehand of Alameda City Attorney Janet Kern, who Keimach says, vouched for its legality in this instance. Kern had no comment for the paper's Matier & Ross. Yesterday, I asked Kern the same question. She also had no comment. But sources had told me that Keimach had made this assertion previously.

➤After Thursday's bombshell it appears more likely than ever that the council will dismiss Keimach following Monday night's closed session meeting. This may be a reason why Keimach's attorneys are now proffering the idea to the Chronicle and East Bay Times that Oddie and Vella should be barred from voting on the agenda item pertaining to Keimach's potential firing. Subtracting these presumably affirmative votes for Kerimach's dismissal complicates things in the near future and in November. The most likely to support Keimach over the past few months is Councilmembers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Frank Matarrese. Both are on the record running for mayor this fall. Since this is likely the biggest story in Alameda this year, it's a vote that could be highly consequential for both. Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer, who is running for re-election, however, is looking quite prescient at this moment. Recall, Spencer was the only member of the council to vote against Keimach hiring. It was her belief that Keimach, who arrived from Moraga, would be in over her head in Alameda.

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