Note: I will be updating live so please forgive typos and misspellings. I will come back and tidy up after the meeting is over. (You can also watch the meeting live on the city's website and on Comcast's Channel 15.)
10:04 p.m. "Stick with us, we'll be back here in 90 days for a follow up," says Mayor Gilmore. And the meeting is adjourned. The City Council will hear another progress report on at its last meeting in February.
10:02 p.m. "There was dislike and mistrust between our police and our firefighters and it did make a difference that day," Russo says. He says that the failure on Memorial Day was not only what other agenices responders called on for help and when and not only bad policies, but also the relationship between the two Alameda departments. Russo says it's time to fix the culture of the relationship between the public safety departments.
10 p.m. The council discusses when the progress on the report's recommendations will come back to council for the community and councilmembers. City Manager Russo suggests the issue should come back soon so the community can see the progress that has been made.
9:58 p.m. Mayor Gilmore recalls a conversation she had with Raymond Zack's family on the day of his funeral. Gilmore says they said that they hoped some good could come from Zack's death. Gilmore says she believes that this can happen. "We want to feel safe in our community," she said. "We want to feel proud of our community."
9:56 p.m. Councilmember Lena Tam thanks Raymond Zack's family for coming to the meeting and apologizes. "I want to take the oppportunity to commend our new leadership in the police and fire departments," she says, for changing policies, procedures and practices. "We will be better at this," Tam says.
9:45 p.m. Vice Mayor Rob Bonta: "What happened on Memorial Day in Alameda is a great tragedy and I don't think anyone would dispute that.... My statement to the community is that we can do better, we must do better and we will do better." Bonta says now there are concrete steps the city can take to make certain it never happens again.
9:42 p.m. Councilmember deHaan tells Police Chief Noonan that "he's a man" for apologizing to the community. DeHaan says he'd like to see more apologies.
9:41 p.m. A heated moment. City Manager Russo asks for silence from the audience. "I'd like to hear the answers without the commentary from the audience," Russo said.
9:36 p.m. Councilmember Doug deHaan says he still wonders why no one walked into the water to talk to Zack. Grijalva says his interpretation is that incident commanders believed an apppropriate rescue craft would be arriving in time, and that it was a safety decision and precaution not to have their personnel wade into the water.
9:35 p.m. Mayor Gilmore says that the most consistent thing she hears from Alameda residents about the incident is, "Why didn't anyone talk to him."
9:33 p.m. Chief Noonan: "I don't disagree with a lot of things said here tonight. It is about talking to people." Noonan again notes that a lot went wrong on Memorial Day and that he is always working to have his department do better. "We're not a perfect organization. I've never claimed that we were. I think we're a pretty good organization and I think we can do better."
9:30 p.m. We're on to questions from city council members.
9:24 p.m. Grijalva answers questions about the temperature of the water — several speakers suggested that the water was warmer than indicated by Grijalva's report. City Manager Russo notes that if the water had been warmer, Zack would have been expected to survive longer, meaning that there would have been more time for the expected rescue craft to arrive.
9:21 p.m. Grijalva clarifies that his report does not say Zack was violent. Rather, that rescue workers in situations like this assume that it is possible that the subject could be violent.
9:19 p.m. Mayor Marie Gilmore invites Grijalva back to the podium to respond to the questions raised by community members.
9:16 p.m. Dawna Dowdell is speaking. She tells a story of how she attempted suicide when she was 19 and how a friend, Fred, talked to her and saved her life. She says, "I wish I had been there that day because I would have talked to Raymond Zack." She says she was a volunteer for the police department but stopped because of bad feelings about Zack's death.
9:10 p.m. A speaker questions the validity of report. "This wasn't what I would call a water rescue. I think the boat thing is a red herring, the coordination thing is a red herring."
9:06 Adam Gillitt says he has concerns about the report, including that responders decided Zack was violent and dangerous without actually talking to him.
9:03 p.m. . He says he understands Alamedans' anger and frustration. He says the fire department is working to improve their systems and water rescue program.
9 p.m. A speaker asks why the police and firefighters on the beach relied on the report of the kitesurfer who went and talked to Zack. The speaker also notes that Zack was not violent with the kitesurfer. "Despite all the talk about agency miscommunication, I don't get it," she says.
8:54 p.m. Rosemary McNally, a local real estate agent, is talking. She is finding fault with the report, including questioning the temperature of the water and the height of waves. McNally says the water was warmer and the ocean calmer than the report indicates.
8:51 p.m. Another friend of Zack's is talking about how Zack would come over and help her with household chores, about how she enjoyed his company and how they communicated.
8:43 p.m. A speaker is asking specific questions: He wonders why no one went down the beach to the kiteboard shop to borrow a piece of equipment that could have been used for a rescue.
8:40 p.m. A speaker is angry that so little was done and no consquences were paid by those in public safety. A man was allowed to die, she says, and highly paid workers stood by and did nothing.
8:26 p.m. We're on to public comment. Dee Berry identifies herself as Raymond Zack's 84-year-old foster mother. "I met him when we were working at Saint Vincent de Paul.... He suffered from depression."
"Ray was not violent... he was very gentle, kind, considerate. All the things you want from an individual.
The three-minute buzzer sounds, but no one interrupts Berry.
Berry says her husband was mentally ill and Zack helped her care for her husband when he was not well. "Ray stayed in his room most of the time. He didn't have much to say. He was a very private individual. But he was not violent, he would never be violent."
"We have to learn how to do things in a different way. We all make mistakes and we all have to learn from our mistakes and I know the Island will be better off from the new things that will be put into effect... No matter what —
Berry loses her train of thought: "I forgot what I was going to say." Then she reads from a book he had called Prayer and Walking.
Berry says he was praying at the beach and that he was very religious and would not have committed suicide. "That's why I'm here. I want that erased. I don't want anyone to think he was trying to commit suicide."
"I don't want to blame anyone, it's done. It's done. And we all have to carry forth."
8:23 p.m. Chief D'Orazi is talking about a conversation he had with Raymond Zack's mother. D'Orazi says Zack's mother said that she hoped the first responders' programs would improve to the point that nothing like this ever happens again. D'Orazi says of his department: "They want to make sure they are providing this city with the best services they possibly can."
8:13 p.m. Alameda Fire Chief Mike D'Orazi takes the podium. Says thanks for the report and its recommendations — he says he and his department have "taken them to heart" and are working toward fullfilling the recommendations.
8:12 p.m. Noonan said his department has done a lot of work, and will keep at it. "I'm very comfortable and confident that the men and women of this department are moving forward and making the right moves,"Noonan says.
8:07 p.m. Chief Noonan is going over the specific recommendations made by Grijalva, and explaining his department's progress toward meeting them. Lots of nitty-gritty detail about internal polices and procedures that Noonan says his department is working on.
8 p.m. Grijalva's presentation is over. Alameda Police Chief Mike Noonan is taking the podium. Noonan is apologizing to city council and the community: "You expect better, you deserve better, and from the police department you will get better."
7:56 p.m. Grijalva recommendation: Make sure funding for water rescue equipment and training is stable.
7:54 p.m. More Grijalva recommendations, all related to joint training with the police and fire departments so they're prepared to manage difficult incidents and able to coordinate their responses and have a clear chain of command.
7:51 p.m. Grijalva's recommendations: Provide Alameda's responders with the proper training and equipment to conduct water rescues; provide hands-on incident management training; provide communication training; develop clear policies for such incidents.
7:49 p.m. On the day of the incident, a kitesurfer talked to Raymond Zack, and then reported to emergency personnel that Zack said he was OK. At that time the kiteboarder talked to Zack, emergency responders on the beach were expecting the Coast Guard to be arriving in six minutes, which was, they thought, within the survivability window.
7:40 p.m. Initially, police officers on shore did not know that the fire department no longer had a water rescue program, says Grijalva. And, says, Grijalva, the initial communication from the fire department to the police incident commander was not positive. "In effect, they began operating in silos," he said. "Police and fire were not, initially at least, coordinating in a way that the incident required."
7:37 p.m. Grijalva is describing what he thinks incident commanders believed was happening: 1. They believed they had an appropriate rescue boat responding. 2. They believed the subject was within the survivability window. 3. They believed the subject was potentially dangerous 4. They believed it was unsafe to enter the cold water without training and personal protective equipment. "My personal experience with this type of situation," said Grijalva, "is that there's a high potential for violence."
7:34 p.m. "One of the things that's been widely reported is that police and fire stood there and did nothing," says Grijalva, but he says his findings are that that's not the case. Within two minutes a call went to the Coast Guard (they reported a response time of 30 to 40 minutes). Officers on the shore were actively exploring their options and assessing the situation.
7:30 p.m. Counting people in the room: Four people videotaping, one radio reporter. Roughly sixty other people PLUS the acting city attorney, the city manager, one deputy city manager, three councilmembers, one mayor, two city clerks.
7:29 p.m. Hare says responding someone in the act of committing suicide is inherently dangerous for both the person who is attempting suicide as well as those who are responding.
7:25 p.m. In giving background about the extent of suicide in our society, Hare says the police department records department has told him that Alameda has had 11 known suicides this year. I don't know if he means this calendar year, since January, or in a full year.
7::22 p.m. Grijalva calls on Dr. Anthony Hare, Psy.D., executive director of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management to talk about the specific challenges of responding to people who are suicidal. Hare has developed training courses for emergency responders.
7:19 p.m. "This call required coordination between police and fire to be able to handle an emergency of this nature," Grijalva says.
7:15 p.m. Grijalva reviewed all audio recordings related to the incident and interviewed all involved employees. He did not look at the independent investigations conducted by both the police and fire departments; he did not want to be biased by their findings.
7:14 p.m. Grijalva starts by explaining the purpose of the report. It was not meant to be an internal or administrative investigation, he says, but rather a review of the events of the day with recommendations for future best practices.
7:12 p.m. City Manager John Russo says the fire chief (Chief Ruben Grijalva) who authored report on the Memorial Day incident will give a presentation first.
7:09 p.m. The meeting is called to order. Councilmember Lena Tam leads the pledge. Councilmember Bev Johnson is joining from out of state... they're trying to get her back on the line. [We never hear from her during the meeting so it is not clear if she is listening in or not.]
7:07 p.m. The city council members have taken their seats. Now there are probably 45 people in the room. I'll stand up and count hopefully soon. ABC 7 is here. KQED is here. And at least one other network. Also, there is a film crew who says they're shooting a documentary on Raymond Zack's death.
6:57 p.m. The city council is meeting in closed session. Perhaps they will have something to announce when they come up out. [Nope, "No action taken."] There are only about 20 people waiting here in city council chambers, plus a dozen or so police officers and firefighters. If I were a betting person, I would say the meeting will be called to order at 7:17 p.m.