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Alameda City Manager John Russo Defends Ruben Grijalva

By Erica Madison

At last Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, Alameda City Manager John Russo vehemently defended Alameda City’s decision to hire Ruben Grijalva.

Ruben Grijalva has been hired to conduct an independent review of the Crown Beach tragedy.

City Manager Russo said that he is aware of many Alameda citizens’ concerns regarding the City’s decision to hire Grijalva and addressed these concerns by going over Grijalva’s qualifications.

First of all, Russo informed the City Council and the public that the incident calls for investigation into police and fire. Russo also mentioned that it’s hard to find someone who has experience in both professions, a quality Grijalva happens to posses.

“Grijalva’s the only person in the history of California to be a State Fire Marshal and Director of Forestry and Fire, said Russo. “His credentials are impeccable.”

Some people want a citizen’s review, but Russo warns that “this is not a recipe for discovering the truth; this is a recipe for grandstanding, politics and pre-existing conclusions.”

“The approach the city has taken is to hire the person who is the most qualified and has the most experience with police and fire,“ said City Manager Russo.

Grijalva is charging $195 an hour for a total of 100 hours. The City Manager believes the price is beyond reasonable and suspects the project will take longer than 100 hours.

Here’s what the city is paying Grijalva to produce:

• A three part report.

• The first part is going to review the last several years to help the city understand how they arrived at the Crown beach tragedy. However, Russo says the City of Alameda is not interested in passing blame.

• The second part of the report will be a minute by minute account of what happened on May 30th.

• The last part of Grijalva’s report will look at what steps the City has taken since May 30th and he will include recommendations for how Alameda City can improve and identify the City’s weaknesses.

“We’re looking for a professional report for the Alameda City Council to consider,” said Alameda City Manager Russo.

The report will be made public as soon as it’s finished and will be available at City Hall and online 12 days before the City Council meeting. The report is expected to be completed by late September. Russo is also encouraging the public to come to the city council meeting in September and ask questions. Grijalva will be there to present his report to the Council and answer questions.

14 comments to Alameda City Manager John Russo Defends Ruben Grijalva

  • Barb

    WHO needs a report to report the obvious? We all saw or read about it. The firefighters were funded to do water rescues, training that had been previously cancelled had been restored, and in spite of all this, RAYMOND ZACK died. If he had wanted to die, he could have done it late at night, but he choose to seek attention and thereby help, by doing it in broad daylight. His family suffered severe emotional distress watching him die. The failure of the fire department and police department is the worst national embarassment this City has ever committed.
    The report will blame departed fire figures for the failures, and claim that this has all been cured. That their new MOU is justified, even though they bought and paid for the council majority and its newly purchased City Manager. They removed the ballot measure – not to save $300,000, but because they did not want the public to be allowed to air its extreme continuing disgust of the Fire Department and City management.

  • In another report, Russo said Grijalva was the only person he spoke to, and was the cheapest guy available. And then that weekend, he went for a ride on a fire engine in the parade. Very encouraging.

  • Ellie

    What are Mr. Russo’s credentials? A City Attorney who abandoned the electorate in Oakland? What is his track record and why should anyone care what he says about anything? He is here to rubber stamp the council that saved his butt from the embarassment of his inability to get along with others due to his blind political ambition.

  • 94502

    Things are bubbling up to the surface here in Mayberry. We may need boots to wade through the layers of muck.

  • ralph

    Please forgive me but could not avoid putting thoose 2 comments together , they speak volume of corruption .
    It’s pretty disgusting. Now I know they’re all in bed with each other.
    that weekend, he went for a ride on a fire engine in the parade. Very encouraging.

  • alameda vigilante

    John Russo needs to check his premises, starting w/the premise that all the skills requred for this investigation can even be found in a single human being. They can’t, & he seems to be the only person that thinks so. As I have written before, you can always find someONE to support your agenda for the right price. Paying w/taxpayer dollars does not avoid the appearance of impropriety. And, while The Raymond Zack Project has been a spontaneous cooperative effort by concerned citizens who don’t want this to ever happen again, I’m not aware of a call for a “citizen’s committee” as Russo suggests. Rather, the call has been for a panel of persons of expertise in appropriate fields & mutual aid representatives from surrounding communities. Word has it this idea was suggested to our new City Manager, but he would have none of it, w/o saying why.

  • 94502

    Russo has underestimated the citizens of Alameda. Their eyes are opening to the chaos in city hall.

    Mr. Russo needs to get with a program that serves the average citizens here. Some of our average citizens are highly qualified to question the goings on at city hall.

    The big money donors such as the firemen’s union, and Ron Cowan et al, aka Harbor Bay are running the city. They tell “staff” what they want, and “staff” confers with The Three (whoops, The Four) and all together, they arrange things with this new city manager so things turn out the way the big money donors want.

    Everywhere I go people are talking. They are disgusted with the way things are developing (and being developed)now with Gilmore, Tam, Bonta, and Johnson in control.

    Russo is defending his choice of Grijalva! I read the guy won’t even start working until the end of July!

    How many people who should be interviewed for this “investigation” will be away in August? How incomplete with Grijalva’s report be?

    Things are out of control at city hall.

  • Betty

    City hall has been in chaos for quite some time.

  • Marie

    Alameda Action News, thank you for your diligence in following this story.

    Dear Betty, I love your posts and all the others here, but actually,
    I think city hall is far from being in chaos, they are overly scripted and predictable and unaccountable.

  • Barb

    Who is ready to kick ass?

  • Betty

    Unfortunately this is what happens when no one votes. To have “this woman” as mayor of a city of 72,000 people being elected with just 6600 votes is an embarrassment. And to have a woman who should be on trial for breaking the law (I know she is innocent until proven guilty) is another embarrassment. And to make matters worse we end up paying for her attorney fees. Then we have the remaining stooges who are destroying this town. It amazes me that the citizens of Alameda were so gullible or down right stupid.
    Marie, thank you.

  • Marie

    It’s no wonder people are jaded and disillusioned with government in general. One feels powerless unless connected with others. I’m grateful to have “found” you folks.

  • acreccsucks

    How is it this guy Grijalva was selected again?

    Did the rfp go out for public bid, or was Grijalva simply chosen because he’s on a first name basis with most of the Fire Chiefs and the Fire Dispatch Manager who is also involved from Alameda County Fire (Yes, county – county fire dispatch mishandled this incident too despite Chief Gilbert’s denial of involvement on twitter and in the media).

    Everybody knows this was a massive screw up on the part of public safety. What they may not know is how often public safety screws up like this and contributes to a death of someone who could have been saved (medical patients mostly). Response delays and inappropriate responses such as the Zack case are common. Um, hello Alameda County Grand Jury? Are you investigating the mis-use of tax dollars or anything that’s gone wrong in local public safety? If not, why not? Oh, right. You’re county employees too.

  • ralph

    OK I am all for an independent review , how long does it take to listen to 1 1/2 hours of 911 tape .
    how long does it take to read the Fund were there,VIA HOMELAND SECURITY. they had the training and just ignored the facts .
    indeed a screw up of epic proportions, are we looking for the truth or finding way to hyde it like the Southen Californnia Cops that Murdered the son of one of their own because he was mentally disabled by beating him up to death , not much difference here . so can we hear the progress or please refund what you have been paid by us the taxpayers.