Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 12, 2013

Anti-SLAPP happy

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

Ack!  It totally slipped my attention that I was going to eventually dedicate a post to former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant’s appeals case.   To refresh your memory, former ICM Ann Marie Gallant filed a lawsuit against the City for wrongful termination.  The City filed an anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) motion asking the court to dismiss her case because the action of the City Council was a legislative act which is protected speech.  The lower court judge didn’t understand who anti-SLAPP applied, said it wasn’t an anti-SLAPP case and the City’s lawyers appealed.   By the way, this is the exact same thing that happened in the David Kapler case: suit, anti-SLAPP motion, anti-SLAPP motion ruled against in lower court, City appeals, appeals court says lower court is wrong.

Here’s a snippet of what the City’s appeals case looked like.

So like the David Kapler case the appeals court ruled that in the Ann Marie Gallant case, the action that the City Council took was a protected activity:

In sum, we conclude the city met its burden of showing that the complaint’s causes of action were based on “constitutional free speech and petitioning activity as defined in the anti-SLAPP statute[],” and “arose from activity protected by the anti-SLAPP statute.”

The City met the first of the two prongs of anti-SLAPP and both sides asked the appeals court to rule on the second of the two prongs, whether the plaintiff (Ann Marie Gallant) had a reasonable chance of success by offering evidence that would be admissible in trial.   The appeals court declined to rule on that because they said that the lower court did not rule on the written objections to the evidence offered by Ann Marie Gallant.

Therefore, unlike the David Kapler case in which the appeals court handed down a judgment that really sealed David Kapler’s legal fate — and resulted in an award of attorney’s fees to the City — the Ann Marie Gallant case swings back to Ann Marie Gallant to prove that there is something there there.   Since she is relying on the whole “I am a whistleblower” but it wasn’t me it was Michael Colantuono who initiated the whole investigation, it might be hard to find evidence that would be admissible in trial to support her case.

Anyway, the case now resides in the Alameda County court again, there is a new judge assigned to this case aka not the one who incorrectly ruled on the anti-SLAPP motion.  The number is: RG11590505 if you want to keep track of it.

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12 Comments

  1. Former Interim City Manager Gallant is long gone but the bad taste of her legacy lingers on. I wonder how long it will be before our community is free of the “hangover” following her reign….

    Comment by Jon Spangler — July 13, 2013 @ 7:47 am

  2. Probably about the time the community feels the “hangover” from the current inebriate’s reign.

    Comment by Jack R — July 13, 2013 @ 9:20 am

  3. #2. Say what? AMG did some serious damage to City finances, not to mention personnel issues during her tenure as Interim CM. While one may not agree with all of John Russo’s leadership, several very positive things have taken place, in spite of economic turndown and state budget woes which have impacted many cities and counties adversely. The Naval Air Station has finally been conveyed, Police and Fire contracts have been settled (with some gains in progress toward eventual solutions to the pension obligation problem) and the relationships between these groups and the City and with each other have greatly improved, our crime statistics are looking good, especially in comparison to other cities, and we have moved forward on some rather sticky, long-languishing planning issues. Several important lawsuits have been settled, especially the one the former Fire Chief had – to the City’s benefit.

    While individuals may not like the details of every decision, I think City operations are showing a transparency and future planning growth we have not seen for many years. I think the eventual transition from this CM to the next will be much smoother because the City is much better administered. Carp away at issues, it is our duty and our right to do so, but there are some real gains being made due to more thoughtful and appropriate administrative actions. I do not always agree with Mr. Russo’s decisions, but as a person with years of administrative experience, I see a real difference in the overall quality and ability to get results of these two.

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — July 13, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

  4. #3 Say again? Ms Sancho Quick, since you’re an expert on all city things financial, would you please solve the dichotomy that exists between Mr. Russo’s plea for more sales tax and Mr dave’s explanation that the city chasing sales tax revenue is akin to Quixote tilting at windmills?

    Comment by Jack R — July 13, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

  5. I am not an expert at anything financial. I was only stating my opinion. I disagree with Dave. I believe the trend is that tax revenue will be increasing, from many sources. It needs to increase faster than it has, and we have had very little in Alameda in many years which would help it to incrementalize at a speedier rate. We can’t manufacture the kinds of things some other cities have, and some of the things other cities have I am not sure we want. But I don’t think you can blame Mr. Russo for the fact that we have no car dealerships any more or that we don’t have megamalls with Macys, etc. I do not accept the correlation that the theater’s debt service cost means we can’t fund our pension obligation issue. There is no magic cure for structural deficits, but they do require good planning and administration to reduce. The focus should remain on how we, as a City can work to insure that the budget is set to reduce the obligations, maximize the revenues, and hold the expenditures to what we need and value, not to a lot of “wants”. I see evidence that we are trying to do that, and are having some small successes on which we can build, I hope.
    Mounting my trusty Rocinante, off I go. . .

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — July 13, 2013 @ 11:34 pm

  6. From what I’ve heard/read, dave is the financial sheriff around here … cold facts (backed up with data analysis) always trump cliches such as “reduce obligations, maximize the revenues, and hold the expenditures to what we need and value”

    Empty words, at best.

    Comment by alameda — July 14, 2013 @ 8:49 am

  7. Something that I’ve never seen in any of the various blogs is the final cost of the Measure C Sales Tax . Preliminary estimates were between $100K ++++++. Wondering if anyone knows the final cost.

    Comment by frank — July 14, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

  8. Back to the original topic: so is the City’s defense to now & future violations the council commits against its own charter; that such anti-charter actions are protected free speech???

    What good is the charter then? [I am easily confused by double-negatives like “anti-SLAPP”…]

    Comment by vigi — July 14, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

  9. Current city government is worst ever!!!

    Comment by Cher — July 15, 2013 @ 7:45 am

  10. city manager is very overpaid and unimpressive as a leader

    Comment by Cher — July 15, 2013 @ 7:46 am

  11. No question a public position will draw differing perspectives and differing points of view. My perspective: Russo is intelligent, experienced and a “can do” kinda guy. He’s taken Alameda off of “stuck” and got her moving again..like it or not. For that, he gets my support and applause.

    Comment by Gabrielle — July 15, 2013 @ 11:54 am

  12. I agree with #11. Gallant was so secretive. She wanted to float a public bond to pay for the golf renovations, and when it was deemed illegal, she said it could be combined with other ‘essential services’ like fire station 3. Even if I don’t agree with Russo’s recommendations like the sales tax measure, he is open about his plans and doesn’t fear having the public see the light of day.

    Comment by Alan — July 15, 2013 @ 6:01 pm


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