Resolving Alamedagate Requires Action

Alameda’s got a lot of mudslinging going on.

Did Councilwoman Lena Tam leak confidential information via e-mail regarding Sun-Cal and fire-fighting contracts and thus engage in official misconduct?

Did a source of these allegations, Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant, have a political axe to grind after Tam raised issues regarding Gallant’s job performance?

Does the fact that these issues are being raised before the upcoming fall election and the next Sun-Cal vote before the City Council seem more than coincidence?

Yes, it’s Alamedagate.  And it’s messy.

(To see what Islanders and others are saying about the allegations, infighting and Tam’s self-defense, check out comments on The Island’s  recent coverage and the San Francisco Chronicle‘s coverage.)

As a city without paid political leaders, we rely on good relations between the paid city staff and our elected officials. We certainly know now that we can’t count on a stable relationship in this arena, at least in the near term.

We also need firm accountability when it comes to the performance of both our politicians and our administrators — and that seems very much in flux.

As the city is rocked by these matters and the ensuing political fallout, it’s worth asking: Who should be watching who? Are the pertinent laws and rules being applied to and followed by all politicians and administrators equally and adequately?

Do we as an Island community need to consider starting over with a clean slate – by embracing change and rigorously re-working our government?

It may be worth considering ways that can improve accountability, such as giving each geographic area of our community the ability to elect its own representative, so the political system is less centralized.

It also may be valuable to find other ways to regroup, both at the administrative level and at the elected-official level, so that significant issues — such as the future of Alameda Point — are dealt with more productively and innovatively.

An odd and disadvantageous mix of political interests seems to have hijacked the Island — and residents’ best interests are being lost in the process.    

In this instance, it’s up to us (and not the Coast Guard) to take it back.