Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 23, 2012

Do you have an opinion

So remember a couple of years ago when some non-incumbent candidates running for political office were barred from participating in the Mayor’s 4th of July Parade if they didn’t censor their entries?

For those new to the site or have short memories, let me refresh it for you.   This was during a hot election year with a lot at stake.   The sitting Mayor at that time, Beverly Johnson, was terming out and so there was an open Mayor’s seat and since another City Councilmember was also termed out there was at least two — if one of the sitting City Councilmembers won the Mayors race — open City Council seats.  Suffice it to say, the stakes were pretty high in 2010.

The City Attorney, at that time, Teresa Highsmith, released an opinion that declared that since the City was providing funding to the 4th of July Parade that the Parade Committee could restrict the entries:

The Parade Committee of the Mayor’s 4th of July Parade may restrict entries which advocate the election or reelection of a particular candidate or advocate for or against a local ballot measure, on the basis that such political advocacy is not consistent with the purpose of the traditional home-town, family celebration purpose of the Parade.


June 10, 2011

Need a lawyer?

As with all other news these days, lost in the shuffle of the obvious hot news item, is the news that the City of Alameda has started recruiting efforts for a new City Attorney to replace Terri Highsmith who resigned after taking an additional job with a former contractor for the City of Alameda.   Right now we already know that there is one candidate for the job, Acting City Attorney, Donna Mooney, who announced that she would be applying for the position when this issue came up at a previous City Council meeting.

Although given the legal issues  facing Alameda right now, whoever applies has to really really like a challenge.   The subcommittee of Councilmembers Lena Tam and Beverly Johnson — bet those meetings are awkward — have crafted a wish list for the “Ideal Candidate” for Alameda’s top legal eagle:


May 27, 2011

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose

As part of Alameda Citizens Task Force’s letter to the City Council urging the City Council to not reimburse Councilmember Lena Tam for her legal expenses incurred during the whole “investigation” at the very end they threw in a zinger, pointing out that:

…it should be emphasized that while the District Attorney’s  Office failed to prosecute Ms. Tam, it did not fully exonerate her of any wrongdoing either.

In light of the recent lawsuit threats and lawsuits brought on by City Attorney Teresa (Terri) Highsmith and Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant.   I find the rhetoric that surrounds these two cases rather contradictory.   On one hand, those that believe that Terri Highsmith and Ann Marie Gallant have a legal case are content to let the courts “sort out” who is right and who is wrong.  (I’m going to go with the assumption that folks that are supportive of both women will paint any settlement as a “win”.)  On the other hand, those that are convinced of Lena Tam’s guilt in the whole “was she leaking confidential information” are not placated by the District Attorney dismissing the case because the evidence was lacking and the legal theory unsound.


March 23, 2011

Whistle-blow hard

Yesterday, Carolyn Jones over at the San Francisco Chronicle covered the whole “Who’s suing Alameda Now” beat and included the preludes to lawsuits government claims by City Attorney Teresa “Terri” Highsmith and Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant.

As mentioned previously, both are claiming that they were retailated against because they were “whistle-blowers.”  For Ann Marie Gallant history buffs this may sound familiar since she has used this once before to get a huge settlement out of one of the cities that she used to work for.   However for Terri Highsmith, the styling as a whistleblower may be a bit more difficult given that she had claimed previously that she had nothing to do with the investigation into Councilmember Lena Tam.


March 16, 2011

Don’t leave me high

Folks this must be the “high road” that Teresa (Terri) Highsmith was referring to in her interview with the SF Chronicle.

That’s right, as mentioned by Kate Quick last night, emails were abuzzing yesterday evening with news that Terri Highsmith, our current City Attorney and the Interim City Attorney of record for the city of Barstow has decided to follow in the footsteps of Ann Marie Gallant and file a damages claim against the City.   I don’t know if the Action Alameda type folks will be cheering on this lawsuit as well hoping that Terri Highsmith also “sues the snot” out of Alameda as well, after all, they weren’t that outraged when she was placed on paid administrative leave in the first place.

Michele Ellson has the deets on some of what is in Terri Highsmith’s claim.   It appears that in Terri Highsmith’s rush to cash in on her perceived wronging by the City Council — let’s not forget the ENTIRE City Council voted to place her on administrative paid leave, all five of them, unanimously — in her rush she has decided to throw as many people under the bus as possible in casting blame on how we all got here.   Despite Ann Marie Gallant styling herself as an independent maverick-y whistleblower type that was doing everything for the good of the City by investigating Lena Tam.   According to Terri Highsmith’s claim it was Beverly Johnson and Doug deHaan that went to Terri Highsmith to point the finger of blame at one of the other City Councilmembers as potentially leaking closed session information.


February 18, 2011

Prove yourself

So one thing I failed to touch on in yesterday’s fact check of the East Bay Express article on Alameda is that the main thesis of the piece is flawed.

It sort of came up during the fact check around Dennis Evanvosky’s claim about the spirit of the Alameda charter and the supposition that Alameda has a “strong city manager” form of government, but let’s examine this further in light of the main thrust of the article, which was summed up in the subheader:

Some island residents worry that a new three–member council majority intends to undermine the city’s strong–city–manager form of government.

First of all, as I stated yesterday, this notion of a “strong-city-manager” form of government seems to have taken off during the Ann Marie Gallant regime as Interim City Manager.   Alameda has had the same form of government since the City Charter was written but at least during the Debra Kurita regime, you never heard anyone suggest that we had a “strong-city-manager” system in place.   As I wrote the other day:


February 17, 2011

Express yourself

Oh lord.  Where to start.   For those that don’t read the East Bay Express, count yourself among the lucky ones.   For those that do, I’m sure that the most recent Alameda narrative that the EBX has decided to run with is no surprise.   Riddled with factual errors and conclusions based on fairly little information, it is what we have all come to expect from a paper that relishes jumping to conclusions about a city they  know so little about.

Let me just dive right in and perform some fact checking and point out that the “article” crossed the line from reporting to commentary right off the bat.

A series of investigations, recriminations, and apparent reprisals have left Alameda government in disarray… The situation has undermined the faith Alameda voters place in their elected officials.

First of all, while a lot of Alamedans are tapped in politically and get politically involved.  Most Alamedans don’t care what’s is going on in City Hall.  You stop 10 people on Park Street and ask who “Ann Marie Gallant” is or ask then to name all five members on the City Council and few could probably answer the question, unless standing in front of the Civic Center Garage where the plaque hangs listing four of the five current members.    So the notion that the “faith” of Alameda voters in their elected officials has been undermined is a really huge leap based on sourced information that is not made clear in the reporting.


January 28, 2011

Wiki wiki whack

Yesterday, John Knox White posted on In Alameda a letter from Acting City Attorney Donna Mooney that was sent to various Alameda residents who have been upset about what took place at the City Council’s Special Meeting on December 28th.

Of course, what hasn’t helped has been the Alameda Sun’s “newsanalysis on the subject which appears to have been written before the actual meetings took place and therefore largely analyzed the issue in a complete vacuum.   Also the “news analysis” opted to be light on actual news and heavy on analysis which bordered on wild conjecture.  But let’s put that to the side for now.

So there’s a group of folks who understand the plain language of the Brown Act and City Charter so well that they don’t need no stinkin’ lawyers to tell them what the legal interpretation of the plain language actually is.   In fact one person opined that since the City Charter was written in the “early 1900s” and , wait a second, let me just repost what was written since my nutshelling simply won’t do it proper justice:


January 5, 2011

Violator: best Depeche Mode album ever!

Apologies in advance for the SUPER LONG post ahead…

All righty then.   So I was just going to let the whole “Brown Act violations” die on its own on the little space on the Interwebs over there –>

But since the accusations have found their way to my space of the Interwebs, I figured that I should probably discuss these alleged Brown Act violations.   So below are the screencaps from Denise Lai’s blog detailing the alleged violations from the December 28th meeting:


December 30, 2010

Onward and upward

Old news, but definitely worthy of its own post, on Tuesday night after what was predicted to be a marathon meeting was indeed a marathon meeting, clocking in at a five hour long closed session, according to the first report out by John Knox White over on In Alameda last night.   In the end the City Council went above and beyond I had guessed that they would.

While I thought there was a pretty good chance that they would be giving notice to Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant that her contract would definitely be ending on in March 2011, I didn’t even guess that the next step would be to place her on paid administrative leave.   But in retrospect, it does make sense.   Someone mentioned that it wouldn’t be fair to expect Ann Marie Gallant to work as a “lame duck” so to speak in these next three months.   The City is under contract to pay her anyway for those three months and parting ways now will give Ann Marie Gallant the opportunity to search for a new job without needing to worry about her current job.  (more…)

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