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Alameda fire chief’s fuel use absent from logs

Submitted by on 1, August 27, 2010 – 5:00 am10 Comments

City officials this week released computerized logs detailing nearly three years’ worth of fuel use by staffers at the Alameda Fire Department, but Fire Chief David Kapler’s fill-ups didn’t make the list.

Fire Operations Chief Michael Fisher said Kapler was never assigned a gas card, as other department staffers were, so his fuel use was documented only on handwritten logs that are for the most part no longer available.

Three months’ worth of handwritten logs released by the city this week showed Kapler gassed up at the department’s pumps seven times in June, pumping a total of 103 gallons of gas in that month. The logs document four fill-ups totaling 66 gallons of gas during a two-week period in July, and a single fill-up totaling 11 gallons in August – the August 14 visit to Station One’s gas pumps photographed by witnesses.

The logs don’t document which vehicle Kapler was fueling, though witnesses told The Island last week that they saw him pumping gas into a blue BMW coupe on several occasions. The handwritten logs typically detail which vehicle was being fueled, though the logs show Kapler, who doesn’t drive a city vehicle, using his radio identifier in place of a vehicle number.

Fisher said the computerized logs, which date back to Kapler’s October 1, 2007 start date, show the former chief’s vehicle number and radio call sign – the same radio call sign Kapler has now. But that vehicle has apparently been assigned to someone else.

He said the department is working to rectify the problem so that everyone’s fuel use is tracked.

Kapler came under fire last week when he was photographed fueling the BMW at the fire department’s pumps. He had maintained that former City Manager Debra Kurita told him he could use the city’s gas to fuel his personal vehicles, but Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant said Kurita had only agreed to let him fuel a truck he was using in lieu of a city vehicle, which the city had outfitted with a radio, lights and sirens for his official use.

News reports detailing similar allegations that helped lead to Kapler’s resignation from an earlier post also surfaced last week.

Gallant said she would sit down with the chief this week to discuss reimbursement to the city, but some city leaders have said that isn’t enough. Both Mayor Beverly Johnson and City Councilwoman Lena Tam have called for an investigation, with Tam suggesting Kapler should be placed on administrative leave.

Kapler said he was cleared of the earlier allegations, and he attributed the current ones to “frustrations” some department staffers feel over decisions he’s made.


  • cabforles says:

    103 gallons at a average of $3.00 per gallon, we need a report as to why

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    Administrative leave? Paid unearned vacation time while the Council thinks about $300 plus in gas use every month? If he earns $195,000 per annum, that amounts to about $750 for each day plus benefits on paid administrative leave. Not a very smart suggestion. Plus if there is a major fire call out, somebody will have to be in charge. That is what we pay the chief to do. If he has been using gas for other than his truck, simply ask him to repay the amount based on the logs and tell him not to do it again.

  • j cloren says:

    While we may be incensed by the alleged inappropriate actions of our Fire Chief involving a few gallons of gasoline, it is more important to keep things in proper perspective.

    Consider this: it would take 125,000 gallons of gas to equal what SunCal cost the Alameda taxpayers with ONE ballot initiative ($400,000 divided by $3.20 per gallon = 125,000 gallons) !

    The SunCal Ballot Initiative (Measure B) was delivered to our doorsteps early this year. This Ballot Measure was soundly defeated by more than 85% of our community… nearly six months later 80% of the City Council in a 4-0 vote with 1 abstention then voted not to extend the agreement with SunCal. So SunCal then filed a lawsuit against our city.

    Which would SunCal prefer? Find a judge willing to overturn our ballot box or the votes of our elected officials? By challenging the voters they seek to undermine the basis of our American democracy.

    It sure makes our Fire Chief and a few gallons of gas seem like small potatoes compared to one-third of our island and several hundred thousand dollars.

    Let’s not lose sight of the big picture. In this upcoming political season we must defeat SunCal politics once and for all.

  • Michael says:

    J. Cloren,

    I agree with you about the message sent to Sun Cal at the ballot box.

    Do you believe your opinion about what is important leads to more honest government?

    Given all the shenanigans around developing the point, it may be that more honest government is what is missing and needed.

  • Betty says:

    This Nov. Alameda’s elections are so important. We must be diligent
    about the people we vote for…because Sun Cal is still at our door.
    Even thought 85% of Alameda stated otherwise there are those running for
    our city council that will open that door for them.

    As we know Sun Cal is one sleazy company that doesn’t give the citizens of this city
    any respect. They thought we were idiots and they could just come in and take over.
    Sun Cal spent several million dollars on Measure B and those against Measure B had about 22,00.00.
    Well, now we have to show them again. Just be so careful who you vote for because you are
    putting the future of Alameda in their hands.

  • ct says:

    Ms Thomas,

    Mr Kapler was accused of misusing a department-owned vehicle when he was fire chief in Tahoe, which resulted in his resignation. Now he was caught filling his gas tanks at city pumps. If we “tell him not to do it again,” as you suggest, I’m not as convinced as you are that such a slap on the wrist will dissuade him from further misconduct.

    j cloren,

    The moral relativism you seem to be defending is exactly why Alameda needs the Sunshine Task Force. Lax or nonexistent ethics at City Hall has resulted in fast and loose interpretations of rules and codes; the task force could keep such lapses of judgement in check. Our fire chief takes city-owned fuel, our interim city manager hires her cronies and silences her opponents, our city attorney shoehorns the City’s justifications for parade-gate and 30-day email into warped legal reasoning, our mayor lobbies hard for campaign finance reform that would benefit her campaign the most — all this on the taxpayers’ dime — while a few blog commenters unaccountably try to divert attention away from such official negligence and towards a developer that is unfortunately but understandably suing our incompetent city officials. The fact remains that Ann Marie Gallant, Teresa Highsmith, Beverly Johnson, et al will continue to fight public pressure for open, transparent government so they can operate without oversight or accountability, which is the much bigger, deeper, and more significant issue here.

  • j cloren says:

    What does sun cal have that we can,t get from an Honest developer with a Better Reputation??

  • Michael says:

    “Sunshine Task Force” sounds like a Dilbert-esque solution, instead of the more common-sensical “Vote the bums out!”

    Just what the world needs, one more committee to study and recommend things. Great.

  • j cloren says:

    Dear C T
    Why the sour grape attitude?
    We are only trying to protect our children from a predator.

  • ct says:

    j cloren,

    It seems honest developers with a corresponding reputation don’t exist in the opinion of those who oppose development at Alameda Point.

    Also, I’m very curious to know what you think about the negligence and incompetence of some of our city officials?


    Shouldn’t citizens have a right to be engaged in and informed about the workings of their local government?

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