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City of Alameda to Pay Consultant $19,500 to Conduct “Independent Review” of Raymond Zack Death

The City of Alameda is set to pay a consultant $195/hour, plus expenses, for about 100 hours of work, or, roughly, $19,500, to conduct what the City has previously characterized as an “independent review” of the events leading to Raymond Zack’s death on Robert Crown Memorial Beach on May 30th, 2011.

The consultant, retired State Fire Marshal Ruben Grijalva is the CEO and Principal of LLC, which is described on its website as “a network of experienced and professional fire chiefs,” that provides, “the expertise and results you’ll come to expect and enjoy.” The company is based in San Jose, California.

In a June 8th press release, Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore emphasized that an independent review of the Raymond Zack incident was warranted to “determine what happened and when it happened.”

Responding to a public records request, City of Alameda officials provided details on Mr. Grijalva’s rate, and explained that there was no written contract or agreement in place yet.

In a one page proposal that Mr. Grijalva provided to the City of Alameda, and which was released to the media yesterday along with a City press release, and a copy of Mr. Grijalva’s resume, Grijalva stated that his objective was to, “conduct an impartial evaluation of the water rescue program for the City of Alameda including the governance and administration, planning, policy and procedures, operations, finances, human resources, and standards & training. Prepare documentation of the history of the program, review of key incidents, and recommendations for future consideration.”

A separate letter from Grijalva to Alameda City Manager John Russo indicates that he would also bill the City for documented mileage and incidental expenses. Neither the letter nor the proposal are marked with a date.

Former Oakland City Attorney John Russo took the helm as Alameda City manager on June 13th of this year. His first official action was to appoint Interim Alameda Police Chief Mike Noonan, who was in command of the police department on May 30th, Police Chief.

The report is to be completed by late September and presented at an open City Council meeting thereafter.

18 comments to City of Alameda to Pay Consultant $19,500 to Conduct “Independent Review” of Raymond Zack Death

  • smart voter

    Unbelievable, this is an outrage, a retired fireman doing the investigating ???

  • Maria

    Try googling this guy. Not only is he a retired fireman,
    but his reputation is less than stellar. He appears to be
    part of the problem, raking in big bucks and leaving a mess behind him in Palo Alto, Milpitas, and on the State level.

    Definitely part of the ole boys network and far, far, far from independent.

  • Liz

    I see cronyism is alive and well. We’ve now got a real juggernaut of corruption at Alameda city hall: the Mayor appears to be in bed with Firefighter Union Political Director Jeff DelBono, and is wasting no time paying back the over 20K the firefighters spent to get her elected. That Russo now joins Glimore, Bonta and Tam in singing from the corruption hymnbook is chilling. Beverly Johnson seems to have given in to them as well. I wonder why?

  • Barb

    JOHNSON has no will or strength to fight GILBONTAM armed with Russo. It is worse than spitting into the wind. It is like being in an outhouse on the beach when a tsunami hits.

    The report will read like this:
    1) AFD’s funding for water training was to be restored within 45 days of the 2009 letter.
    2) AFD was funded and staffed to perform 10 water rescues in 2011.
    3) AFD and APD took control of hte situation.
    4) There were communications failures (no one really asked for help)
    5) There were equipment failures (the batteries went dead.)

    These problems were caused, at least in part, by management which is no longer employed by AFD and APD. The problems have been corrected as proven by the recent rescue. No one currently employed is to blame. We thank the family of Raymond Zack for his efforts in pointing out our previous and now rectified shortcomings.

    The truth: Lifeguards do not forget how to swim or do rescues without recertification every 2 years, by another well paid life guard. The local pools recertify lifeguards for free and the main refreshers are on resuscitation, which firefighters are paid to get anyway.

    Raymond Zack paid the price, GILBONTAM got the check. Russo can now claim that he arrived after the problem had been rectified, and the MOU adopted thereby precluding him from really doing anything to earn his $215K plus 50% in fringe benefits.

    All we can hope for is to survive this next 3 years without more persons dying, or services declining even more than they already have. Keep the Animal shelter and hire Alameda County Fire and the Sheriff to take care of our public safety needs. And while I am at it, get rid of the City manager and his entire new staff by joining forces with San Leandro for management.

  • He sounds like a politician and a union buddy. Considering his purview and lack of teeth, I predict the following outcome: Nothing.

  • Dave

    I predict we’ll hear what we already know.

  • Karen

    Phooey. Yet another unsurprising disappointment from our corrupt city government.

  • Barb

    Gee after reading all the links above I have reaffirmed my confidence in my version of the report. Might I suggest the council cancel Grijalva and send the check directly to Zack’s family to pay for his funeral? We will learn nothing that is helpful, no one will be fired or even disciplined as a result of his report, and the Zack survivors will hire a real expert in their lawsuit against the City.

  • 94502

    This guy is a piece of work. That’s now a compliment.

  • 94502

    That’s noT a compliment.

  • 94502

    Grijalva did not even date his letter or proposal?

    How are we supposed to believe he even knows how to use a calendar, let alone a clock? How can he do an investigation based on timeliness?

    This is not good.

  • Brenda Agenda

    Here’s the latest, from next Tuesday’s agenda:


    Receive an Operational Update on the Fire Department’s Water Rescue
    Commercial Inspection , and Senior Safety Proqrams

    Water Rescue: The Alameda Fire Department Water Rescue/Fireboat Program was
    formally initiated in the late 1990′ s after being identified as a high-priority discipline for
    the City. The program was developed to include rescue swimmers, boat operators and
    crew members as a comprehensive plan for incidents involving rescues or fires in the
    waterways surrounding Alameda. Standardized , regular training was a vital function in
    keeping firefighters assigned to this program and certified in their roles.

    In FY08- , the Fire Chief made a recommendation to eliminate this program due to
    lack of adequate funding for necessary boat repairs and overtime expenses.
    Subsequently, both the fire boat and rescue boat were placed out of service, and the
    training for the rescue swimmers lagged behind the necessary certification requirement.
    The Division Chief assigned to oversee the rescue swimmer program did not follow
    through to ensure that the funding and training were coordinated. Eventually the
    program was deactivated.

  • Barb

    So do the taxpayers get the money back for the funded 8-10 rescues per year? Or did that turn into shopping money for the firefighters dinners?

  • 94502

    Did not even one single employee of the AFC think it inadequate (or plain stupid) not to have even one single rescue boat ready? Why did they have a full paddle board hanging in the main fire station? Did they take it home on their many days off?

  • 94502

    That’s AFD in the post above

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