Update, January 3, 2011 – City of Alameda employee Christina Baines confirmed accounts of Mayor Gilmore’s attempts to put her on paid administrative leave last week, writing to Action Alameda News today, “That may have been/is her intent [to fire me]; no one has said anything to me as of yet. The Mayor called me while I was on vacation in Southern Californian and told me I was on paid admin leave as of Wednesday at about 11:45am; about 25 hours later, I received a call from the Acting City Manager telling me to report to work today at 8am.”
Sources close to Alameda City Hall describe events there this week as a “Stalinist purge” intended to get rid of employees that had any involvement in the investigation of Lena Tam, and strike fear in the hearts of employees to warn them against speaking out – for fear of losing their job – against illegal or suspected illegal activity.
At a special City Council meeting on Tuesday night, Mayor Marie Gilmore and Councilmembers Lena Tam and Rob Bonta voted 3-2 to dismiss Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant and 5-0 to dismiss City Attorney Teresa Highsmith. Councilmembers Doug deHaan and Beverly Johnson voted against the motion to dismiss Gallant; the vote to terminate Highsmith was unanimous. Technically, both Gallant and Highsmith are on paid administrative leave and will not have their contracts renewed.
The special city council meeting had been publicly noticed with one agenda item, 3-C, related to public employee discipline, dismissal or release, and was widely believed to allow City Council to deal the departure of Teresa Highsmith. Last week, then-Alameda City Attorney Teresa Highsmith accepted a job as Interim City Attorney in Barstow, California.
But one source told Action Alameda News that in Tuesday’s closed-session meeting, which began at 5:30 p.m., Mayor Marie Gilmore, after Council had dealt with the dismissal of the City Attorney, brought up the dismissal of Interim City Manager Anne Marie Gallant, and insisted on a council vote on her ouster immediately, stating, “I can’t work with her, and I want her gone, now!”
Action Alameda News was also told that the assistant to the Interim City Manager, Christina Baines, was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday, presumably for her role in the investigation of Lena Tam.
None of the sources we spoke to were willing to speak on the record and Action Alameda News hasn’t been able to independently verify the reports. We have made a public records request to the City of Alameda for a list of employees placed on administrative leave in December, but had not received a response by press time.
A statement issued by the City of Alameda yesterday announced that Lisa Goldman, heretofore a Deputy City Manager, would assume the role of Acting City Manager for several months while the City searches for a full-time City Manager free of qualifiers such as “interim” or “acting.”