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Alameda City Council Members Fight to Provide Citizens with a Holistic SunCal Election Report

By Erica Madison

Despite Alameda City Manager Ann Marie Gallant’s attempts to steer City Council members away from the subject, the Council unanimously agreed on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009, that SunCal initiative negotiations should be disclosed to the public.

“We’re opening Pandora’s box”, said Alameda City Manager Ann Marie Gallant.

Gallant was protesting Council member Marie Gilmore’s suggestion for more public disclosure on SunCal negotiations.

But it wasn’t just Gilmore’s suggestion that Gallant was protesting. Throughout the evening, the City Manager was tight lipped about SunCal conversations in general.

The discussion derived from a referral brought in by Mayor Beverly Johnson. Due to the public concerns voiced about the SunCal initiative, the Mayor ordered a public presentation of SunCal’s election reports. The report will be presented to the public in January.

The Mayor hopes this will help educate the public on what the SunCal initiative will and won’t do. This should allow the public to make an educated voting decision.

However, Council member Marie Gilmore and Frank Matarrese felt the report was not complete.

“Before we do the election presentation, we need to know where SunCal negotiations stand,” said Council member Gilmore.

Gilmore said many public comments were raised, about how the election reports related to the negotiations. She felt the election reports needed to include information about where the City and SunCal were, in terms of reaching an agreement.

Councilmember Frank Matarrese agreed with her.

”We should have our negotiation team work on transparency with SunCal, so the public can make an educated decision.”

Even though this was the Mayor’s referral, Gallant refused to disclose information regarding negotiations with SunCal.

Upon further prodding from the Mayor, Gallant responded by reminding the City Council; they were only supposed to discuss the scheduling of the public presentation.

“In terms of the content it would be inappropriate for me to discuss. Any discussion of the negotiation is strictly off the table.” said Alameda City Manager Ann Marie Gallant.

However Council member Lena Tam read a letter submitted by SunCal, in which SunCal stated they had no objections to making their negotiations public. As long as SunCal’s proprietary information is not disclosed, they welcome the chance to resolve public concerns.

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