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Alameda Elections: 31 Days and Counting

Tiki Tom’s may have burned down Thursday across the estuary, but it’s still real hot on the Island.

The red, gold and black political mailers that arrived this week call attention to concerns over “red flags” at City Hall, namely Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant, aka ICM.

The mailer was put out by SCC Alameda Point LLC, aka SunCal, who is suing the city over the ending of its exclusive negotiating arrangements and development at Alameda Point.

SunCal’s also set up a website about Gallant, which doesn’t offer any new information or documents to substantiate points in its mailer.

It does point to the city’s investigation of councilwoman Lena Tam as a “personal vendetta” and asks residents to call Mayor Beverly Johnson to see how she defends the ICM.

But it doesn’t go so far as to tell voters who SunCal would like us to elect on November 2 ….

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A separate mailing takes a different tack at voters: It highlights photos of a cool sailboat cruising along with no captain but flying a sail that says “leadership at the helm.”

The flyer is for Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft for City Council.

But this mailing has this blogger asking: Why hasn’t Ashcraft been more visible as a candidate before now? Has there been some media/public relations leadership missing at the campaign’s helm?

(The same can be said of some other campaigns around town, for sure …)

She’s got Neil Tam of the board of education and Billl Sonneman of the Alameda Education Foundation’s support, fyi.

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Second Council Candidate Demands That City Manager Go

Alameda City Council candidate Jeff Mitchell and Alameda resident John Knox White are calling on the city to put Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant and City Attorney Teresa Highsmith on immediate paid administrative leave.

The two Alamedans and their supporters are meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 7, at Alameda City Hall, just eight hours after city councilmember Lena Tam asked for Gallant to resign and for Mayor Beverly Johnson to apologize for a county investigation of her.

The district attorney conducting the investigation ruled on Friday, September 3, that there was not enough evidence to support claims that Tam violated the Brown Act by leaking confidential city information. The City Council, though, is poised to consider whether or not it should file a civil lawsuit against Tam in a special closed session on Thursday, September 9.

In a press release, Mitchell says that he filed a citizen complaint with the Alameda County Grand Civil Jury alleging “malfeasance of office and misuse of public funds by Gallant and Highsmith to pursue their secret investigation of Lena Tam — an investigation which many have labeled a political witch hunt.”

Furthermore, Mitchell argues that while an audit of the public funds used in the investigation against Tam has not been conducted, Tam claims the amount may be over $100,000.

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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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Alameda Point – The Real Issue Is?

With the expected vote tomorrow – Tuesday, July 20 — over whether or not to extend SunCal’s exclusive agreement to negotiate a development deal with the city, we can expect more fireworks from politicans, community members and outside organizations over the future of Alameda Point, and (not to mention) other issues. 

It seems that the Lena Tam vs. Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant debate is eclipsing a few items, which a kind assortment of Alameda residents have shared with me via e-mail, phone and other forms of polite conversation:

1. The vote over the major SunCal issue — namely its plan to develop Alameda Point, Measure B – failed roughly by 70% (about 15% for and 85% against).

2. The residents of Alameda clearly believe we can do better than what we’ve got; we also deserve a forum for moving forward to define what “doing better” is and how to make it happen.

3. A project that so divides a community — or at least some politicians in that community — may no longer be in the community’s (and the politicians’) best interests.

 4. The economic foundation for a massive project/development does not exist at the present time.

5.  Maybe — in the interim — the city leaders should spend some time defining what is and isn’t confidential information and what the city could be doing to expand or at least fully protect residents’  freedom of information, including access to city e-mail records for longer than 30 days. 

Then, residents tell me, we can hopefully all get back to focusing on the real “Alameda Point.”