Alameda City Councilmember Lena Tam has apparently filed a claim with the City of Alameda to have the City reimburse her for legal fees incurred in her defense of the allegations of misconduct against her. Apparently as a result of that claim, the City of Alameda, and subsequently, through a public records request, Action Alameda News, have acquired a copy of an August 12th, 2010 letter from Tam’s attorney to the District Attorney – one that the D.A. previously refused to release either to the City or to this publication – and a copy of the letter that City of Alameda Special Counsel Michael Colontuono sent in response.
Both letters are reproduced in their entirety below. Mr. Colontuono indicated that Ms. Tam is asking for the City to pay for her legal fees by opening his September 20th letter with, “I have now had a opportunity to review Mr. Keker’s August 12, 2010 letter, which Ms. Tam provided to the City’s risk pool via an August 28, 2010 letter in an effort to obtain reimbursement from the City of Mr. Keker’s legal fees.” John Keker is Tam’s attorney, and Action Alameda News has made a public records request to the City of Alameda for a copy of Tam’s August 28th letter.
Colontuono follows this up by asserting that Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley erred in adopting Mr. Keker’s viewpoint on Tam’s actions, which resulted in the D.A.’s office dismissing the City’s complaint without pursuing an investigation.
Mid-way through the letter, Colontuono wrote, “I understand that some months ago, before my investigation began, Ms. Tam told other City officials that she and Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker had car trouble while driving in the city [of Alameda] and that you personally came to pick them up. That she felt comfortable sharing this story suggests that Ms. Tam feels a degree of personal familiarity with you. In addition, you live in the city and, as a newly elected official, were endorsed in your June campaign not only by Ms. Tam, but by a number of her political supporters, including Councilmember Marie Gilmore, Alameda Hospital Boardmember Rob Bonta, community activist Barbara Kahn, Supervisor Lai-Bitker, Supervisor-elect Wilma Chan, elected Oakland City Attorney John Russo and community activist C.C. Yin. Thus, it appears that you may have a sufficient personal and political relationship with Ms. Tam that you may wish to abstain from this matter.”
In addition to endorsing Lena Tam, Rob Bonta and Marie Gilmore for Alameda City Council and Mayoral seats, the Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee has also endorsed Nancy O’Malley for the District Attorney position.
At the end of the letter, Colontuono asks the District Attorney to refer the matter to the State Attorney General’s office for investigation, or “a respected neutral with no ties to the Alameda County political circles in which Ms. Tam, you and other elected officials must travel.”