Rent Increase Survey

Have you submitted your latest rent increase data to the rent increase survey?

Sources Describe “Stalinist Purge” At Alameda City Hall

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.”

77 comments to Sources Describe “Stalinist Purge” At Alameda City Hall

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Hot R. I was wondering when someone would call out Vania for his/her comments about Gilmore and Bonta.

    I don’t think qualifications from elite universities are a guarantee of excellence. Gilmore and Bonta have degrees from top universities; deHaan, Sweeney and Johnson don’t. No big deal. But to devalue Bonta and Gilmore’s qualifications and their subsequent work experience based on race is at very best insensitive and unfair.

    Here’s the principal offending statement: “Too often minority law students skate through law school, get hired by law firms’ hiring partners who are charmed by their b.s. (despite mediocre grades) and who feel obligated to fill a quota. The minority lawyers work for law firms for a few years, and then get fired by their law firms because the quality of their legal work is so bad the law firms cannot justify keeping them employed on a cost/benefit basis.”

    I’m surprised that Barb, Action Alameda, DHL and the others who are normally so quick to pounce on things to which they object were silent.

    And, out of curiosity, what has the post about Rodney Gilmore and the sports commentators got to do with anything? Did you randomly happen upon it?

  • >And, out of curiosity, what has the post about Rodney Gilmore and the sports commentators got to do with anything? Did you randomly happen upon it?

    It’s not obvious? Rodney evidently condones that kind of sexist behavior.

    As for Vania’s comments – don’t try to make a mountain out of a molehill. Not every mention of a person’s race is a pejorative. Typical of Hot R to try to blow it up into the utterance of a slur that was not, in fact, uttered.

    President Obama was right – the people of this country truly are afraid to have any frank discussion or acknowledgement of racial issues.

  • Barb

    It is obvious from reading Vania’s comments that she is a very well researched and competent attorney. Her legal insights are intelligent and detailed. One doesn’t have to agree with every phrase or word that is included in a comment, to know that it is substantively correct. It is also pretty clear that Vania is volunteering her time and efforts to provide additional data about SUNCAL that we wouldn’t have otherwise. She is not our Mayor, not on our Council, not on our City staff so her personal choice of words to convey her opinions otherwise is not really the issue here. It is merely a focus shifting device for those who do not really have an answer as to why our Mayor after 2 terms on the Council does not know that we do not have a strong Mayor form of government. Wew are entitled to know why Mayor Gilmore and the Council are doing what they are doing in their official capacioties. Gilmore’s husband’s actions most logically have an input and effect on Gilmore. Why does she believe she has the right to personally call up city employees and place them on administrative leave? Didn’t come from Vania,the Charter or the law. The City has so much money that she can just do this without the citizens being entitled to answers? And the Yale SF City lawyer, didn’t know much better.
    The real problem is not the commentors or personal biases or prejudices, it is that we now have a flock of ignorant clowns on the council who are so arrogant they do not need to read or follow the law. They give lip service to SUNSHINE in GOVERNMENT, then run and hide and take their actions behind closed doors. They claim to want public input, but the fact is they were elected by a “minority” (voting minority-not race, national origin, sex, age or other qualification) and do not want to hear from the majority. They have not done anything but what they want to do, without consideration of the voices of Alamedans, or what is best for Alameda.

  • James

    Typical response from Barb … the Action Alameda lemmings can do nothing wrong.

  • James – it sounds like you may be more comfortable reading one of the local blogs in town that heaps nothing but praise on Gilmore/Tam/Bonta.

  • Barb

    My comments are based on living in Alameda all my life, attending Alameda public schools, UC Berkeley, and Hastings College of Law. I have served on the City Council and been a practicing attorney for over 30 years.

    I have clients all the time who tell me how to defend them, tearing apart their cases. They do this tearing apart the tree they see against them, toothpick by toothpick. They do not realize that they are in the middle of a forest, and that it is on fire. They can only see their toothpick approach.

    Get real James.

  • For me personally, and as someone who has devoted many volunteer hours to the good folks of Alameda, is that the new Mayor and her two cohorts on the City Council have already lost our TRUST, and without that, nothing they have to say or do will have any legitimacy, but only our suspicion, rightly, and distrust!

  • Hot r

    Apologists, spin meisters, rumor mongers and grudge holders unite!

    Dennis- get real, none of these politicians ever had your support or trust

    Action: scratch the surface of Alameda and you have a community who’s “coded” language would close those bridges so that “those” people cannot move here. Development is NOT really about traffic is it?

    Your comment about the ESPN incident is truly inane. It was not made by Gilmore but by an older white announcer who must not think a lot of women reporters. Reading between the lines Gilmore probably reported it. His responsibility for the comment is zero. the fact you try to make something of it says a lot about your objectivity. I would think that women like Vania and Barb would be sympathetic to a professional woman trying to to her job but called names by a sexist man in a position of authority.

    As for Vania, here words speak for themselves. If she is a lawyer I hope she doesn’t have any Black clients. she wouldn’t keep them for long if her comments got out. Don’t spend any time defending her.

    And Barb, go ahead and “haunt” the city council like Chris Daley in SF, but base it on facts, not ad hominem attacks.

  • Hot R – the school district you work for has their own codes for enforcing the de facto segregation of Alameda’s schools. It’s called “maintain neighborhood schools.” Heaven forbid a kid from a rich white family in the East-end would have to go to school with a kid from a poor black family west of grand street, right? Have to be careful to keep “the element” out of _our_ school, right?

    Alameda residents enjoy a relatively crime-free community, and presumably like it that way, and like to keep the bad guys out, agreed. But when you imply that Alameda residents are racist because they want to keep criminals out, you are implying that only certain races commit crimes. What prejudices of your own are you projecting?

    As for Rodney Gilmore, your “reading between the lines” conclusion is completely baseless. The news reports clearly stated it that it was the victimized woman that reported. Nice try to spin it, but it’s not working.

  • Barb

    Hot r shows the complete ignornace of someone who works at AUSD and therefore never has to leave/return to Alameda during commute hours.

    “Development is NOT really about traffic is it?”

    Yes it most assuredly is. Having to wait 16 minutes to enter the tube yesterday on an easy commute day, one without accidents, and then begin the other legs of one’s commute wastes time, energy (gas or electric & human) and creates pollution. The additional infill projects to add additional homes and cars currently going on or planned are going to exacerbate this time delay. Only an ostrich with her head in the ground (and yes I know they don’t really do that, but it was cleaner than what I was thinking) would think that adding anything such as that proposed by SUNCAL and supported by Gilmore and Tam at the base would not seriously degrade the quality of life for existing Alameda residents.

    We all watched as the new Council claimed to want SUNSHINE in City Hall, and then went inside the backroom and closed and locked the door, and stared firing competent city employees, and the Mayor embarked on an illegal telephonic hit spree, only to be told you really can’t do THAT! They said or are saying one thing and doing the exact opposite after being elected by SUNCAL’s dollars. With Alameda’s future at stake, we can’t afford to sit around until these stooges welcome SUNCAL back in. And no one is stupid enough to believe they aren’t going to do just that after being bought and paid for by SUNCAL’s money. Those who are focusing on personalities other than those of our elected officials, or a word or a phrase here, are intentionally trying to detract from what the stooges are about to do. Alamedans need to put aside differences on minor points until later. We need to unite to get rid of these Bozos, before they runin our island forever. It is not theirs, it is ours. And we need to take it back.

  • Hot R is trotting out the old trope about anti-development residents in Alameda being racist. This is an accusation regularly hurled at supporters of the density-limiting charter article 26. (Enacted in 1973 by a ballot measure, also known then as “Measure A”)

    The problem is, this argument doesn’t hold water. A look at the census data shows that racial diversity in Alameda has increased since 1973. Roughly half of the housing stock in Alameda are rental units – so lower-income people of any race are likely to find rental housing here. The median income for Alameda residents has traditionally been low for the Bay area – under $70K per year. Alameda has traditionally been mostly a working class town.

    The City of Alameda Housing Authority operates thousands of low-income units for low-income people of any race to apply for.

    The California Density Bonus Law has been in place since the 1970s, which would permit developers to side-step Measure A and build low-income multi-family housing units. And not all of the so-called “Guyton settlement” units that would permit over 300 Measure A non-compliant multi-family units be constructed have been built. If no multi-family units for low-income people have been built in Alameda over the past 10-20 years under either of these authorities, it’s not due to resident NIMBY-ism, but instead to the operating power establishment in Alameda. Hot R is in fact part of that same power establishment. For example, either AUSD or the City of Alameda could actively recruit builders to develop multi-family dwellings under one of these strictures to provide low-income housing for AUSD employees or the public in general. (oh wait! we found out last year that few if any AUSD employees would actually qualify for low-income housing, as they make too much money to qualify.)

    There was a study done by Sentinel Housing in 2004 that indicated a bias in Alameda against African-American rental applicants, but it made no connection to opposition to development or growth. Anecdotally, we have heard that many of the biased landlords were Asian, not Caucasian. (Racism being a human foible not limited to any particular ethnic group.)

    Hot R will no doubt pounce on that study and hold it up as proof of racist motivations behind Alameda residents’ objections to overdevelopment, but I could just as easily point to that study as proof of a desire among certain Alameda residents to “maintain neighborhood schools” as a way to enforce the de facto segregation of AUSD’s elementary schools.

    Note that the parcel taxes that AUSD brings forth – and which Hot R endorses – effectively reinforce and perpetuate the de facto segregation of Alameda’s elementary schools.

  • Barb

    After years of AUSD spending $300,000 per parcel tax election and $180,000 every year or so to recruit out of town students in increase enrollment to fill their too many schools, one would think it is about time that AUSD stops spending money on stuff other than CORE education. How many teachers can you hire for $800,000 in one fiscal year?

  • Roughly 9. The District published figures late last year that placed the average salary and benefits burden of an AUSD teacher at about $88K/year.

  • Richard Hausman

    Kate, Hot r, James: There’s really no point in attempting to present civil, clear, logical points on this blog. In spite of its Comment Policy, “We will delete comments that include profanity, name-calling, personal attacks, racial slurs or threats,” they don’t. The postings are filled with such comments as: “clowns,” “retarded,” “stupid,” “dictators,” “stooges,” “Bozos,” “self-interested hypocrites;” referring to people as “Stalin,” “Hitler,” “Lady MacBeth” (sic); and include racist comments about minority law students and “Sicilian nature.”

    Just let them prattle on to each other and continue to make these kinds of comments, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

  • Kay

    And let’s not forget these comments – these comments were particularly telling:

    Comment 1:
    PS: to notoz: don’t let the carpetbaggers get you down!

    Comment 2:
    1. FYI: carpetbagger = a Northerner in the South after the civil war seeking private gain thru (re)construction.

    A little history about the reconstruction:

    The reconstruction period was the period after the civil war which called for ratification of the 14th Amendment (giving the newly freed slaves the right to vote) and the abolishment of “black codes” (laws passed by the ex confederate states which restricted the ability of blacks to own land and to work as free laborers) in order to be readmitted to the union.

    The southerners that allied with the Radicals were called “scalawags” who were against reconstruction, and the northerners who went south to assist in reconstruction were called “carpetbaggers”.

  • Yes, Richard – I’m sure that you and Kate, Hot R, Kay and James would be happier on that blog with Do-Bots and the vile sniping and name-calling there. You are free to blow things out of proportion on those other sites and no one seems to recognize it or call you out on it.

  • Kay

    David, I think it’s entirely appropriate to challenge your commentators to explain what they mean by using code words like minority law students, carpet baggers, and referencing the reconstruction period to describe the newly elected city council.

    It’s offensive and I think you should be aware of it!

  • Barb

    Yes, a few comments by a few bloggers do not meet the criteria set forth by a few other bloggers. It is not their blog. Action Alameda still presents news that is otherwise unavailable and is worth visiting daily. Most of what one gets on the Do Report/Island are opinions of those who are on Tam’s direct email list, and few persons who feel it appropriate to engage them no matter how vituperative the comments get. The Do page seemed to have no news whatsoever only gossip, so no point in going there. The Island, although better intellectually, had a very distintive agenda, and more social news. If one didn’t agree with the Island or want its social highlights, no point in going there either.

  • Kay


    I’m not shying away from reading any of the blogs, I just would like an explanation of what she meant. I see you’re defending the remarks — maybe you can explain them.

  • But Kay,

    You and others aren’t stopping at challenging others to explain their words – you are going far beyond that an attributing your own meanings to others’ words.

    People like Richard aren’t necessarily genuinely offended, but pretending to be so because a) they disagree with other people’s opinions, so feel it necessary to attack those people on some basis and b) they want to distract people from the facts of the issue which they can’t dispute. It’s the same for Hot R, and I suspect you fall in the same category.

    The term “carpetbaggers” has come into common usage today to refer to someone looking to opportunistically take advantage of a situation to make a quick buck, as well as other meanings, such as a politician moving to an area where he/she can be elected. It’s pretty clear to me what the implication was – that some of our local politicians are simply self-serving, possibly making a quick buck for themselves, and not looking out for the interests of all residents of Alameda. Why would you try to stifle residents’/voters’ opinions of their elected officials?

    As for the phrase “minority law students” – it was not code language at all. Vania is well-positioned to have observed many a junior lawyer. To take the phrase “All too often, minority law students…” and equate that with using the n-word in a derogatory sense, as Hot R did, and in a derogatory sense, as you have done, is stretching the facts of the matter and a dis-service to the issue of fighting genuine racism and bigotry. Why don’t you explain what judgment that YOU think Vania was making with that observation? Or just ask her to explain herself and leave it at that, rather than just decrying the statement?

    If you want to talk about a truly offensive issue of race in Alameda – instead of something contrived – let’s talk about the opinion held by some that AUSD, whether by design or by accident, enforces the de facto segregation of our elementary schools – rich white and asian families in the East End and Bay Farm, and poor, more diverse schools with high numbers of african-american and hispanic kids in west-end schools? How about the anecdote reported to me about a black father who said “Edison school is the only school where my son has been called a n*****” ? How about the use of the term “the element” among some of this rich white parents to refer to the low-income minority kids they don’t want going to their schools, as in “We can’t let attendance zone boundaries extend west, lest we let the element in.”

  • Here is a scholarly treatment of the pros and cons of affirmative action:

    I suppose because the article includes the phrase “Nor is it clear that even those minorities and women qualifying for preferential treatment benefit from such special consideration,” Kay and Hot R will leap to their feet and shout “racism!” and “sexism!”

    And here are any number of other scholarly articles on the topic:

  • Kay

    We certainly won’t solve the race issue in one day — it’s deep and obviously impacts us all. But as leaders of this community, I think we all have a responsibility to be sensitive and reflect on what our words mean and how they impact our neighbors, our friends and our community at large. I take full responsibility for my words, and I’m asking that you do the same. This issue was not about race — it was about support for AMG, but some folks have decided to project race into this issue.

    I just wanted you to be aware how these words impact me — someone who loves this community very much and who has stood strong to support AMG. I find your words hurtful and offensive, and I just wanted to make you aware.

  • Barb


    I am not sure everyone who comments here is a resident of our community. I have no idea what the Cartpetbagggers comment meant. It would be a waste of my time to try to explain what it meant for the writer. I am familiar with the Bakke case which precludes race (or other suspect category) from being considered in admissions, etc., absent a finding of previous disrimination against that particular grouping. Some people believe that using race as a criteria lowers the overall standard. I don’t know. I also understand human nature to be exactly like Tam, bitter, vengeful, petty and criminal at times. I expected better from Bonta, but he is simply doing what Tam tells him to do without exercising the judgment he was elected to use. Words by other than City officials do not rise to the level of what offends me personally.
    I have never seen a 2 term councilmember take office as Mayor without knowing or checking what the limitations of her power was before she embarked on nihilistic rage against city employees. These employees work for the residents. They clean our parks, maintain our streets and perform limitless other functions that allow our City to function. They are protected from such rampages by law. I cannot impage the emotional distress and harm that was caused by the acts of these revengeful councilmembers to persons who were simply doing their jobs. Not only do I not condone it, I would advise such persons to seek competent legal council as to their remedies. The Mayor/Council have thus far been empowered by the voters to act on behalf of the City of Alameda. I am ashamed of their actions. Imagine if that fired City staffer was you, your daughter, your mother, your sister. She is all that to someone. Imagine being told over the telphone that she had lost her job, (illegally) and to go away. And yet speaking of behalf of our City, Mayor Gilmore, intentionally chose to fire her in such a callous and unfeeling way. Really poor HR skills and now she wants to hire the next City Manager?

    Gilmore was all sweet and smiles before the election. No one would have suspected she was capable of such cruelty. Those smiles hid the truth and the real person she is. She never apoligized, she has no remorse. We the tax payers get to pay for any damage or emotional harm to the employee. The real question is what else is Gilmore capable of? And how much damage can she do to the City before the voters can stop her? How can you believe any thing she said based on her actions since taking office? Openness? Transparency? Just more untruths spoken to get elected.
    Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. The stakes are too high for Alameda to take the risk that anything this council does in the future will be of any different quality or based on any other emotions, than those which have just been accomplished by our “leaders”.

  • Anonymous

    The way Barb hurls personal insults around is amazing as it is ugly. Let’s take her latest malodorous contribution. No one has ever accused Barb of being “all sweet and smiles,” I’ll bet. But “bitter, vengeful, petty.” Now we’re getting closer.

  • Betty

    I am not sure who hot r is or the rest of you…but after everyone has their say and expresses their opinions I don’t think you’re going to change anyone’s mind. However there is one way for me to voice my opinion and that is to vote..
    So, if measure A does not pass can the City Council pass it anyway? It seems they are just going about THEIR business and doing whatever they want.

  • Ellie

    This is not about Barb, Hot r, Vania, Kate, Kay or even Action Alameda. It is about the City Council- what they have done, and what they are going to do.

  • […] staff person.” Yet that ‘support person’, Christina Baines, said this to the Action Alameda News: “That may have been/is her intent [to fire me]; no one has said anything to me as of yet. The […]