Carol Gottstein, of Alameda, and herself disabled, was a mayoral nominee for the city’s Commission on Disability Issues.
Her nomination failed confirmation by city council on Tuesday night, apparently due to an incident over the February long weekend when she used a City of Alameda computer in a city building on Alameda Point to access her e-mail and print out medical documents.
A planning board member opposed to her nomination to the disabilities commission submitted a packet of police reports to council late in the day on Tuesday, before the council meeting.
Gottstein told Action Alameda News that she was never arrested nor charged in the incident – police didn’t contact her to make a statement until 10 days later – and that, having access to the building at Alameda Point, where Navy-base clean-up documents are stored in a repository, she saw an opportunity to print urgent documents related to her ongoing medical care over a long weekend when the Mastick Senior Center and Alameda Free Library were closed.
In fact, Gottstein said in police reports, the door to the building was ajar when she arrived there on the Presidents’ Day holiday, February 16th, 2015.
She was discovered using a city computer, apparently by public works transportation co-ordinator Gail Payne. City officials redacted witness names in the police reports, but failed to redact Payne’s last name in at least one instance.
Payne is the transportation co-ordinator leading the Central Avenue Complete Streets project, which aims to improve pedestrian and bicycle access on the western-most part of Central Avenue.
According to what looks to be Payne’s narrative in the police report, Payne believes that Gottstein comments on local blogs under the name “Vigi,” and told police that Gottstein may have been in her office prior the February long weekend incident, based on comments that “Vigi” made about public input comment cards in Payne’s office.
Gottstein has admitted to using the city computer, but denies being in the office previously, and points out that Payne routinely notes at public meetings that all the public input comment cards are kept – nobody needs to have been in Payne’s office to know that Payne keeps the comment cards, Gottstein said.
In Payne’s police narrative, she said Gottstein was opposed to some city projects, most recently the Shore Line Drive bicycle track.
Gottstein told Action Alameda News, “I’m a disabilities activist. I’m not against bicycles, I’ve been advocating for parking for disabled drivers as required by the Fortyune v. City of Lomita Ninth Circuit ruling. When they finished the Shore Line Drive cycle track, they only delivered two of eight promised disability parking spaces.
“They call the Central Avenue project a ‘complete street plan’ but how can they do that when they exclude a whole class of residents (disabled drivers.)”
Payne wouldn’t respond to an e-mail requesting confirmation regarding her un-redacted name in the police report.
Instead, she routed the request to City Attorney Janet Kern who wrote, “The police report you reference was released pursuant to a Public Records Act request with certain information redacted. Neither the City nor its individual employees have any further obligation to discuss or comment on that police report.”
Neither Payne nor the City Attorney responded to the question of whether Payne was attempting to expand the charges against Gottstein by linking her to “Vigi’s” remarks about public comment cards, and whether that amounted to some sort of retaliation that might chill public participation in city meetings.
Gottstein told Action Alameda News that the reason she applied to the disability commission in the first place was to help ensure that the City of Alameda adheres to the Fortyune v. City of Lomita ruling, which holds that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires cities to provide disabled-person-accessible street parking.