John Russo

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing city leaders seeking to redevelop Alameda Point during tough economic times is finding the money to revitalize the 918-acre former Naval base. To address that challenge, some City Council candidates are suggesting Alameda take a look overseas.

“This world economy should not be a one way street. It should be a two way street. And I’d like to foster that,” said Stewart Chen, a council candidate who says Alameda should consider talking to foreign investors.

John Russo seems strangely uncomfortable detailing what he’s accomplished during his inaugural year as Alameda’s city manager. Russo – a man who has passionately argued his case at any number of City Council meetings, where he has showcased his erudition with a steady peppering of 50-cent words and even warbled the occasional Beach Boys tune – doesn’t want to come off like he’s trying to brag.

When city leaders announced plans to contract Alameda’s animal shelter services out to another city to save money, animal lovers here quickly mobilized to stop them. But instead of fighting opponents of the outsourcing plan, the city decided to hand them the Alameda Animal Shelter’s keys.

Sixty-five days later the shelter’s new director, Mim Carlson, said she’s busy managing a staff of nine and training what she hopes will ultimately be more than a hundred volunteers – and finding ways to raise the nonprofit that now runs the shelter’s half of its $600,000 annual budget.