Blogging Bayport Alameda

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.


January 18, 2011

You take the high road and I’ll take the low

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

Over the weekend, Carolyn Jones over at the SF Chronicle covered the story that broke in late December about Teresa (Terri) Highsmith and her newest job with the City of Barstow as their Interim City Manager via a contract with Colantuono and Levin.

What was enlightening about this story was that Carolyn Jones actually managed to get Terri Highsmith to talk on the record about her true intention.  So far she had been fairly tight lipped up until this interview.   While some folks believed that Terri Highsmith had actually quit her job as City Attorney of Alameda in order to take the interim position in Barstow.  Turns out that was not the case.  Highlights from the Chronicle article:

In Barstow, where she will be paid by the hour, her pay is officially confidential because she’s working for a private firm, Colantuono & Levin, that contracts with the city to provide legal services. But, according to Barstow’s 2011 budget, the city plans to spend $160,000 on city attorney services.

Highsmith, 55, a resident of Clayton, said that nothing in her contract with Alameda prevents her from working for two cities. Her contract, she said, allows her to work 10 hours a month, on her own time, on other jobs.


December 28, 2010

Closed session call

Tonight, the newly constituted City Council is meeting in a specially called meeting to specifically address three closed session items.   What is nice about this agenda is that it is a lot more explicit about what is going to be discussed in the closed session.

So this is the agenda:

Title: City Clerk

Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to Gov. Code Section 54956.9 (b)
Number of cases: One



December 27, 2010

Barstow brouhaha

The saga of City Attorney Teresa (Terri) Highsmith continues folks.   According to reports, she was supposed to start work on Christmas Eve in Barstow, but the reporter at the Barstow Desert Dispatch could not reach her at Alameda City Hall or at the Colantuono & Levin offices for comment.   In an additionally interesting twist, Karen Jonas, the Barstow Desert Dispatch reporter elicited these comments from the Barstow City Council about the drama that has surrounded their Interim City Attorney:

Members of the Barstow City Council said Thursday that they were unaware of the controversy surrounding the new interim city attorney.

Mayor Pro-Tem Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre said that the City Council approved the temporary hiring of Highsmith based on her resume in the closed session meeting on Monday.

Mayor Joe Gomez said that the City Council hired Highsmith on a temporary basis because the city has a contract with the law firm she works for. He said the City Council may decide next month if they will keep the same law firm or if they will look for new representation because of the departure of Abich-Garcia.


December 22, 2010

Notice me

All right folks, last night I received a hot tip from a reader to check out the City of Barstow’s last meeting on Monday night.   Now, I generally enjoy watching meetings, so I said, what the hey and gave it a whirl.   It started off innocously enough until I got to the City Attorney farewell address and then as soon as I stopped saying “Ohmigod,  ohmigod” outloud, I tweeted this:


October 22, 2010

Yoshii’s Island

On a lighter note to start the weekend, on Tuesday night, while others were focusing on public speakers attempting to connect certain candidates to SunCal/DE Shaw and to a Chinese banking company, which I am still unsure why that information is significant.     Unfortunately the commenter that posted that information has yet to connect all the dots for us and tell us why we should be fearful of this Mingsheng Banking and how that differs from the City’s attempts to create a Foreign Trade Zone in Alameda (Alameda Point or elsewhere) to allow Chinese companies to skirt customs and tax laws, but I digress.

Anyway, one of the public speakers was Reverend Michael Yoshii, who I’m sure that most people are familiar with.  He is the pastor at Buena Vista United Methodist Church and is involved with a lot of great groups around the City.   He has also well know for his work on human rights issues both locally and nationally.    Essentially, he is one of the good guys.   So he came to speak to the Council about the whole issue of, what we shall now term Colantuno-gate, after the hired gun lawyer City Attorney Teresa Highsmith and Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant contracted with.

Here’s what he had to say Tuesday night:


October 12, 2010

Why can’t we be “Friends”

Those that read In Alameda might have seen the item that John Knox White posted on Thursday, but I just wanted to highlight it in the case that you had not.   As a reminder, after the Alameda County District Attorney’s office essentially said to the City of Alameda and the City of Alameda’s hired hand lawyer Michael Colantuono that they had no case against Lena Tam and that their slam dunk evidence and interpretation of existing law was wrong, Michael Colantuono decided to send yet another letter on the taxpayer’s dime.   The letter essentially said that the DA was wrong and biased.   And went further to explain DA Nancy O’Malley’s bias which culminated in an anecdote about a car ride that involved Lena Tam, County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker and a broken car.

All three ladies: Nancy O’Malley, Lena Tam, and Alice Lai-Bitker deny that this car ride ever happened which makes the existence of the incident in the letter super strange.     In response, Nancy O’Malley sends this letter to Michael Colatuono, highlights:

I am disturbed by the unprofessional tone of [the September 20 letter] and also feel compelled to address the mischaracterizations you have made, as well as the false or inaccurate presumptions you have attempted to proffer.


September 29, 2010

How soon is now?

Here’s what I really liked about  Michele Ellson’s article Monday about Michael Colantuono’s latest letter to the Alameda County District Attorney.   This was a great example of journalism.  Somewhere along the years  journalism morphed from reporting the important facts into the need to report what “all sides” think.   Even if the “other side” is one cranky person sitting with a tin foil hat on and takes that contrary position on all issues.   It’s a journalist’s job to call bullshit when there is bullshit present and that’s exactly what Michele E. did in her article.

So the lead up to the letter Michele discusses in her article is that during Michael Colantuono’s performance at the “Special Meeting” to decide whether or not the City Council was going to authorize the City to file a civil lawsuit against Councilwoman Lena Tam, Michael Colantuono mentioned several times that he didn’t get one letter from John Keker, Lena Tam’s attorney.  And despite not having received it yet, but having received the letter from the District Attorney declining to move forward with the fruits of his investigation, he intended to spend more City money to send a response letter to John Keker’s final letter.


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