Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach, who alleged that two city council members threatened her job during a controversy over the hiring of a new fire chief, has quit her position under a $945,000 separation agreement, her attorney said Thursday.
Therese Cannata, Keimach’s lawyer, said Keimach and the City Council reached the agreement Tuesday night at the end of two days of mediation.
Cannata described the settlement, which includes $125,000 for Keimach’s legal fees, as “an amicable resolution.”
Keimach alleged last fall that Vice Mayor Malia Vella and Councilman Jim Oddie pressured her to hire Capt. Domenick Weaver, the past president of the city’s firefighters’ union, instead of her preferred choice, Salinas Fire Chief Edmond Rodriguez, during a meeting last Aug. 16 that Keimach secretly recorded.
But Keimach, who was hired on a four-year contract on March 7, 2016, stuck to her choice and hired Rodriguez and he was appointed on Oct. 3.
The council put Keimach on leave on March 9 after it learned of the secret recording and later asked the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to review the secret recording.
The council considered firing Keimach at a meeting on April 16 but instead voted to keep her on paid administrative leave.
Cannata told the council at that meeting that Keimach’s tape recording of the Aug. 16 meeting was legal under the state’s penal code, which she said allows a person to tape record a conversation when she reasonably believes it will obtain evidence related to commission of certain crimes, including bribery, extortion and felony involving violence against the person.
Cannata said today that Keimach:
“… wanted to finish what she had started in her job as city manager but she and the council thought it was best to part ways and move on.”
Cannata said Keimach, who previously served as Moraga’s city manager, “is a remarkable city manager and will land on her feet” in another city.
The City Council said in a statement that it thanks Keimach for her service to the city “and the city wishes Ms. Keimach well in her continued public sector career.”
In her own statement, Keimach said the agreement:
“… is fair and reasonable and I appreciate that a majority of the city council voted in support.”
“I am sad to conclude my service to the citizens of Alameda as well as my work with the dedicated and remarkably talented city staff. I am very proud of all that was accomplished during my tenure and I leave the organization and community in a much healthier condition than which I inherited.”
She said the terms of the agreement “enable the city to move forward with its important business without the potential of years of litigation.”
“I would like to thank the community members who took time to weigh in during these past months of acrimony, regardless of their position.”
Cannata said she and Keimach are in favor of having the city release the tape recording that Keimach made of the Aug. 16 meeting.
Cannata said Keimach doesn’t want to prolong her dispute with the City Council but she said many Alameda citizens want to hear the recording.
Liz Warmerdam, who had been the assistant city manager, has been Alameda’s acting city manager since Keimach was put on leave.