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Dear Editor,

At 50 cents per mile (the IRS reimbursement amount for personal car usage), Kapler is getting reimbursed ($250/month) for driving 500 miles per month. That takes him around our fair island city about 36 times per month, or almost twice a day per workday. That seems sufficient, right?

I doubt very seriously that he drives, for work, more then 500 miles per month! Standard business practices make it very clear (who doesn’t know this?!) that this is what the $250/month stipend must be for. Why is he taking advantage of the AFD gas pump all these years? Maybe it’s his MO. Remember, he’s been pulling down $195K plus benefits per year without actually knowing how to do all of his job.

You’ll recall the FISC fire last year…one would think that a fire chief with a defunct, toxic Navy base full of abandoned buildings would have prepared for a toxic fire. Or that his employer (the City) would require this of him. But I met with Kapler personally after the FISC fire and I asked him: why didn’t you engage the regional and state agencies at the time of the fire? His face went blank. These agencies bring the expertise AND state and federal resources (funds) to SAFELY address toxic fires and water runoff into the bay at the time of an event and afterwards–helping cities like Alameda during a toxic event is a why they exist! Yet Kapler did not appear to know the name of even one of these agencies.

Moreover, he appeared completely confident that his job performance was good enough; he said he’d learned a lot from the FISC fire. Seriously? At his salary, one would expect a highly capable chief. You’ll remember too that this is the fire chief that instructed West End residents to mow the asbestos that blanketed our yards. The problem is, Alamedans followed his instructions and did just that! Why? Because West Enders were never advised that the debris in their yard was asbestos. Which is incredible: it was common knowledge that the roof of the FISC building was 50,000 square feet of asbestos alone! I even had the flotsam in my yard (a mile away from the fire) confirmed as friable (dangerous) asbestos roofing by a professional lab.

Faced with this report, the chief (and our city attorney) denied that my testing proved anything and continued their political CYA campaign that dissembled about this fact and the very serious long-term risk to our individual, public, and environmental health. Kapler’s behavior indicates that he cares more about his bottom line (and 2nd pension/retirement package) than he does about us. I’m so happy that–in this recession and at our very real expense—he can afford to drive a BMW coupe (not!).

As furious as I am at Kapler for his failures which caused the wholly unnecessary asbestos contamination to myself, my family, my friends, my neighbors and our yards, we must also place blame where it is due and demand a wholesale re-evaluation of the City’s hiring and contract processes. The failures at the FISC fire should have been enough to suspend if not fire Kapler, yet they were not. Why is his contract protecting him and not us? And why did the City hire someone unfamiliar with the known problems that come with an abandoned, defunct Navy base?

— Denise Lai, Alameda

3 comments to Kaplergate

  • Barb

    I couldn’t agree more. Have always said, Fire should have promoted D’Orazi to Chief. But that was Kurita. Alameda has a great many things on its plate right now. First and foremost should be electing candidates that know our city and agree to represent it. 85% plus voted No on SUNCAL. Yet only Sweeney, Johnson, DeHaan and Mataresse appear to be inclined to get rid of SUNCAL for once and for all. The remainder of the candidates either have direct lines to SUNCAL (via emails), or are getting exhorbitant sums of money “donated” to their campaigns. One can only guess who these candidates will truly represent and how they will vote. There is no room for guessing right now. We need to elect candidates that will do the best for Alamedans and not outsiders. Then and only then will ICM Gallant be given the kind of backing that it will take to deal with her employees. Right now, some persons are blaming every misdeed and action on her in an attempt to take away the focus from two current office holders whose loyalties are pretty clearly not to Alameda.

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  • j cloren

    The hand is quicker than the eye


    While we may be incensed by the alleged inappropriate actions of our Fire Chief involving a few gallons of gasoline, it is more important to keep things in proper perspective.

    Consider this: it would take 125,000 gallons of gas to equal what SunCal cost the Alameda taxpayers with ONE ballot initiative ($400,000 divided by $3.20 per gallon = 125,000 gallons) !

    The SunCal Ballot Initiative (Measure B) was delivered to our doorsteps early this year. This Ballot Measure was soundly defeated by more than 85% of our community… nearly six months later 80% of the City Council in a 4-0 vote with 1 abstention then voted not to extend the agreement with SunCal. So SunCal then filed a lawsuit against our city.

    Which would SunCal prefer? Find a judge willing to overturn our ballot box or the votes of our elected officials? By challenging the voters they seek to undermine the basis of our American democracy.

    It sure makes our Fire Chief and a few gallons of gas seem like small potatoes compared to one-third of our island and several hundred thousand dollars.

    Let’s not lose sight of the big picture. In this upcoming political season we must defeat SunCal politics once and for all.