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As DA Drops Charges, Tam Asks Gallant to Resign

Speaking outside Alameda City Hall on Tuesday, September, 7, City Councilwoman Lena Tam said that prosecutors had dropped their investigation into whether she violated the Brown Act by leaking confidential city information, and they will not refer the case to the grand jury.

In addition, Tam called for the resignation of Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant and an apology from Mayor Beverly Johnson.

Tam, who noted that the city could have used the money spent on her case for more civic-minded purpuses — such as the operation of the library — is running for re-election to the City Council in November; one of her opponents in the race is Johnson.

The Bay Area News Group is reporting that the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office notified city officials about the decision not to pursue the case in a confidential letter on Friday, September 3, citing insufficient evidence.

Nevertheless, the Alameda City Council is set to meet in closed session on Thursday, September 9, to consider whether the city should file a civil lawsuit against Tam. According to city officials, Tam was only “tentatively” cleared by the DA.

In July, an attorney hired by the city’s interim city manager said Tam had leaked confidential information, including to representatives from the SunCal, who wanted to redevelop the former Alameda Naval Air Station.

Tam also was accused of leaking information to the Alameda firefighters union and of violating the state’s open meeting law by using e-mails to influence other councilmembers.

Michael Colantuono, the attorney hired to investigate Tam, said in a statement: “It is plain that the district attorney has not given Councilmember Tam a clean bill of health, but suggests instead that the City pursue other remedies (like a lawsuit) or that the voters solve this problem on November 2.”

While the City Council may resolve the issue later this week, Tam’s request for Gallant’s resignation and Johnson’s apology will certainly resonate with voters for the next two months, at least.

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Life on the Island: Firefighter staffing levels

This week’s Life on the Island, the column I write for the Alameda Journal, is up online. This week it’s about cuts to the fire department, and how they’ll impact services for Alamedans. While on the one hand, no reduction in any public safety staff is acceptable—being less safe, having less access to quick medical care or having fewer firefighters on duty is not okay…no one wants this. But, in reality, these are horrible budget times and not just something, but everything, has to give.

As I write in the column, all city departments have cut back, police and fire by a smaller percentages than other departments. Alameda’s interim finance director Ann Marie Gallant addressed the fire department funding issue at this week’s city council meeting: “We don’t have too many options here. Other department services are going to have to be cut or you go into one time [payments from] cash reserves [to cover the fire department budget].” (All city departments, with the exception of police and fire, have already been cut by eight percent this year.) “Even if you were to solve it for this fiscal year, it doesn’t go away,” said Gallant. “It doesn’t go away until this city has more resources that are discretionary in the general fund to allocate for service levels you would like not necessarily service levels you can afford.”

More on the issue here.