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City of Alameda Releases Statement on District Attorney’s Conclusion on Councilmember Lena Tam Investigation

Updated – 11:07 a.m. to include a statement from Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant.

At around 11:00 a.m. this morning, the City of Alameda released a statement regarding the Alameda County District Attorney’s results of an investigation into allegations of misconduct by Alameda City Councilmember Lena Tam. According to the Statement, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley has tentatively refused to allow the Grand Jury to evaluate the charges against Ms. Tam, and has suggested that the City pursue other remedies like a lawsuit, or that voters “solve this problem” in this November’s City Council elections. The full text of the City’s statement is reproduced below. The City is re-directing all press inquiries to Special Counsel Michael Colantuono.

However, in response to an e-mail sent to her before the City’s statement was released, Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant wrote to Action Alameda News, “It is important to note that she was NOT exonerated. The DA chose NOT to investigate and to rely on two letters from Kecker and one from Colantuono. We are trying now to get the DA to release the letter or at best to allow us to release the letter, so that there is no misunderstanding on this.”

City of Alameda Statement:

On Friday, September 3, 2010, the City of Alameda received a letter from Alameda District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley (D-Alameda) announcing her tentative conclusion not to investigate Councilmember Lena Tam’s release of confidential City information, including the City Attorney’s legal advice to SunCal, the developer which had proposed to redevelop Alameda Point, and to IAFF representatives, the union which represents the City’s firefighters.

Ms. O’Malley has also tentatively refused to allow the Grand Jury to evaluate the charges against Ms. Tam. Although the City has had public records requests for the letter, Ms. O’Malley marked it “Confidential,” and the City is seeking guidance from her office as to whether the letter can be released publicly. Meanwhile, the City has the following initial response:

First, Ms. O’Malley’s conclusions are tentative. Her letter invites the City to provide further comment on these issues, and the City intends to do so. Second, Ms. O’Malley did not provide Michael Colantuono, the City’s outside counsel, access to an August 12, 2010 letter from John Keker, Councilmember Tam’s criminal defense lawyer, although all of Mr. Colantuono’s letters and evidence were provided to Mr. Keker.

The City would like an opportunity to review and comment on that letter before the District Attorney’s office accepts its assertions unquestioned. Third, Mr. Colantuono, a public law attorney with twenty years experience in the laws governing public officials and a former Chair of the City Attorney’s Department of the League of California Cities, has advised the City that the District Attorney’s office made an error accepting a legal argument from Councilmember Tam’s criminal defense lawyer. “The argument is, in fact, plainly wrong – one does not need to show a criminal act to ask the Grand Jury to consider whether Councilmember Tam should be removed from office for misconduct,” stated Mr. Colantuono.

“If a crime had to be proven to remove a Councilmember from office, there would be no need for a State statute authorizing a Grand Jury to institute a civil removal proceeding.” Mr. Colantuono hopes to demonstrate this error to the District Attorney’s office after review of Mr. Keker’s August 12, 2010 letter.

The City also notes that Councilmember Tam does not deny sending the emails in issue here and has not apologized for secretly – and without authority to do so – sharing the City’s confidential information with SunCal and the firefighters’ union. Councilmember Tam continues to defend her conduct and apparently believes she did nothing wrong. Thus, there is every reason to believe she will continue to leak City confidential information to developers, unions and others if further confidential information is provided to her. For this reason, the City is avoiding closed sessions of the City Council that include Ms. Tam until this matter is resolved.

Finally, 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. On the evening of Thursday, September 9, 2010, the City Council will meet in a special meeting in a closed session from which Councilmember Tam is excluded to consider filing a civil lawsuit, as the DISTRICT ATTORNEY has suggested it do. The City may have further comment at that time.

5 comments to City of Alameda Releases Statement on District Attorney’s Conclusion on Councilmember Lena Tam Investigation

  • Tam is claiming that she has been cleared of all charges, which is not at all true. Since the voters of Alameda have already overwhelmingly kicked SunCal to the curb with the 85% vote against Measure B, it will not be surprising when, regardless of whether a lawsuit is filed against Tam or not, we voters, in November, will do the same to her. We cannot trust someone in city government who colludes with developers and unions in conflict with our better interests, and then claims she did nothing wrong.

  • Barb

    If TAM is not returned to office in the November election, it would arguably be a waste of money to prosecute her. The damage TAM could inflict would be over, and so far, we are rid of SUNCAL. It doesn’t address how the City is to conduct business in the meantime, with a stealth Councilbmember that cannot be trusted to keep confidential city business, to herself.
    We can’t take it for granted that SUNCAL is gone for good. It is suing Alameda, and has got a slew of candidates running for Office. If BONTA, TAM, and IZZY ASHCRAFT get onto the council come the new term, SUNCAL will be back with its wallet open. Those three will gladly hand SUNCAL the keys to the City.

  • […] below. The City is re-directing all press inquiries to Special Counsel Michael Colantuono. More at Action Alameda News.Alameda County District Attorney Releases Statement on Lena Tam InvestigationThe Alameda County […]

  • Thank God for Barb and her cogent reminders. We need to be very alert in the upcoming election, not simply voting Tam out of office, but also Bonta and Izzy. The so-called “Sunshine Task Force” should be next in the ashcan in it’s present form, and why, if that body is serving our needs, don’t we get a vote on it’s membership? And it’s duration, let alone it’s charge and purpose..?

  • […] and worst of all, SunCal, in the middle of important City negotiations over Alameda Point. Nor that she admitted to it and that she would do it again. The problem is that Lena Tam and her supporters don’t understand that this is unethical […]