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Residents React to City Manager Dismissal

Alameda online communities erupted last week in reaction to a 3-2 decision by Alameda City Council to effectively dismiss Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant, with at least one blogger urging residents to demand an investigation from the Alameda County District Attorney’s office over apparent Brown Act violations by Mayor Gilmore.

The agenda for last Tuesday’s special meeting of the Alameda City Council agendized one item, 3-C for public employee/dismissal/release, and it was widely believed to be put on the agenda to deal with termination of former City Attorney Teresa Highsmith, who, the previous week, accepted a job as Interim City Attorney with the City of Barstow.

However, Council not only handled the issue of the City Attorney’s termination, but also held two votes to put the Interim City Manager, Ann Marie Gallant, on paid administrative leave, and to not renew her contract when it comes up in March. Through a public records requests, Action Alameda News has acquired copies of notes from the meeting, which, we were told, are the only public records that exist.

Alameda City Council 2010 12 28 Meeting Notes

Residents took to this website and others to debate the decision, and on her blog, Raising Hell for Good, Alameda resident Denise Lai wrote:

In her inaugural meeting, Mayor Gilmore violated The Brown Act on several counts.

Now it’s fine that our newly elected mayor and her council would want to address employee contracts; it’s appropriate. But there’s a legal and open process for doing so. And Mayor Gilmore did not even approximate that process in the recent 12/28/2010 City Council meeting.

Either she thinks the residents of Alameda won’t notice or she is not familiar with the law about closed session meetings.

Ms. Lai also urged residents to file a complaint with the Alameda County District Attorney’s office. Earlier this year, however, the same office declined to investigate a lengthy and detailed complaint against Councilmember Lena Tam for alleged Brown Act violations, and other, misconduct. Then-Councilmember Gilmore supported Tam in her defense, and accusations swirled that the reason that District Attorney Nancy O’Malley declined to investigate is that she is a personal friend of Lena Tam; both live in Alameda and both are active Democrats.

Action Alameda News asked both co-presidents of the Alameda League of Women Voters, Jeff Cambra and Anne Spanier, to comment on the events of the December 28th closed-session meeting; the League has been championing the efforts of the City’s Sunshine Task Force in the name of greater transparency in government. Jeff Cambra acknowledged the request but did not provide a statement by press time.

Tomorrow night, Alameda City Council will consider a referral item from Mayor Gilmore that would move the regularly schedule “oral communications” item forward in the agenda for city council meetings, but place a 15 minute time limit on the item.

15 comments to Residents React to City Manager Dismissal

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  • So, our new Mayor is an ignorant bumbler. Just great. I suppose the next closed session meeting will be the same three SunCal stooges “voting” in Lennar as master developer for Alameda Point, courtesy her husbands connections there. And SunCal will somehow be at the trough on that one.

    I’m torn – whle it’s a sad timr for Alameda, it’s a great time for real life drama. Alamedans: Turn off that TV and get down to city hall for some Shakespeare-level drama!

  • Vania

    “Tomorrow night, Alameda City Council will consider a referral item from Mayor Gilmore that would move the regularly schedule “oral communications” item forward in the agenda for city council meetings, but place a 15 minute time limit on the item.”

    Most City Attorneys in California advise their clients that a time limit on “public comment”, which would have the effect of preventing everyone who wants to, on a given night, from speaking, is unconstitutional under Article I, Section 3, of the California Constitution. The better practice is to set a time limit for each speaker, e.g. 2 minutes, and for the Council members to suffer silently through discharge of their constitutional obligation to allow local citizens to exercise their “right to instruct their
    representatives, petition government for redress of grievances”.

    Unfortunately, when you have an egotistical person like Marie Gilmore as Mayor, who could not cope with the rigors of the practice of law despite graduating from law school, who refuses to follow the law in her position as Mayor and who insists on intimidating the city’s acting City Attorney to the point she will not discharge her duty under the City Charter, to advise the Council of their legal obligations, the public has little recourse against the Mayor.

    The steps to solve the problems of Mayor Gilmore’s legal incompetence are (1) convincing the other lawyers on the Council to reign her in, or that failing (2) recalling the Mayor or (3) filing and prosecuting a lawsuit against the Council members to force them to comply with basic California law applicable to charter cities.

  • Vania

    Liz could you elaborate on your comment “courtesy her husbands connections there”? I presume you are speaking about Rodney C. Gilmore, California State Bar #126648, whose filing with the State Bar claims he works for Doty Barlow Britt & Thomas LLP in Palo Alto.

    What evidence is there that Mr. Gilmore or Doty Barlow Britt & Thomas LLP do work of any kind or nature for SunCal, SCC Acquisitions or their affiliates, or their owner Bruce Elieff?

    The California Fair Political Practices Commission operates under a presumption that each husband and wife’s income is community property. As a result, in an elected official’s financial disclosure forms filed under the Fair Political Practices Act, the sources and amounts of both the husband and wife’s income must be regularly disclosed if either of them are elected officials.

    The disclosure requirement, with respect to “business income” is particularly stringent.

    As an example, FPPC’s Enforcement Division aggressively demanded that a realtor in a real estate brokerage in Santa Clarita disclose the names of each of the brokerage’s clients and the amounts they paid the firm on an annual basis, because he is a member of Santa Clarita’s City Council.

    The realtor resisted making that disclosure, citing California case law that he had a fiduciary duty to his firm’s clients, and claiming that he could not disclose their identities or the amounts they paid his broker without the clients’ written consent and without the consent of the other stock holders in the real estate brokerage. The FPPC’s Enforcement Division insisted that the Fair Political Practices Act, and the agency’s regulations adopted under it concerning disclosures of sources of business income, superceded any case law based claims of fiduciary duty. The FPPC’s Enforcement Division insisted that the disclosure requirement for business income applied to both realtors and lawyers who are elected officials, as well as their spouses. They cited an appellate case where a lawyer unsuccessfully resisted disclosing his firm’s clients and the amounts of legal fees they paid.

    The realtor ultimately acquiesced, and made full disclosure of the firm’s clients and the amounts of fees they paid.

    As a result, if Mrs. Gilmore is not making a detailed disclosure of the sources and amounts of her husband’s business gross income with each of her filings, a written complaint should be made to the Fair Political Practices Commission’s Enforcement Division. Only with that detailed disclosure can members of the public determine whether she is disqualified from voting on a particular matter, such as one involving SunCal, because of her husband’s client list.

    Apparently, Mr. Gilmore claims he is “Of Counsel” to Doty Barlow Britt & Thomas LLP. The concept “Of Counsel” usually means a lawyer like Mr. Gilmore (1) rents office space from the law firm, (2) the law firm does the “Of Counsel” lawyer’s client billing and accounts receivable collection, (3) the law firm and the “Of Counsel” lawyer cross-refer clients to each other, (4) the law firm and the “Of Counsel” lawyer jointly work on some of the same client mattersm (5) the “Of Counsel” lawyer receives a percentage cut of the law firm’s billing on cases and clients he brings to the firm and (6) the “Of Counsel” lawyer receives payment for work he does for the law firm’s clients.

    Under the FPPC Enforcement Division’s interpretation of elected officials and their spouses’ duty to disclose sources and amounts of business income, the Gilmores ALSO should be making disclosure in their FPPA filings of any representation by Doty Barlow Britt & Thomas LLP of clients with business before the city.

    Doty Barlow Britt & Thomas LLP would undoubtedly object to disclosure of the amounts of legal fees paid by those clients with business before the city, if Mr. Gilmore did no legal work for the client and did not share in legal fees paid by that client. However, with the question about the Santa Clarita Councilman-realtor, FPPC’s enforcement division INSISTED that he had to disclose the amounts paid and client identities of clients of all realtors in his firm. Ultimately, that full firm-wide disclosure was made to avoid FPPC enforcement action against the Councilman-realtor.

    As a result, if anyone has information leading to the conclusion that Doty Barlow Britt & Thomas LLP represents SunCal, Catellus, or any other party with business before the City of Alameda, or any affiliate or owner of those businesses, and that relationship and the amounts of fees paid is not disclosed in Mrs. Gilmore’s Fair Political Practices Act filings, a written complaint (in the form of a letter, with attachments) should be filed with the FPPC’s Enforcement Division with a copy to Mrs. Gilmore and to the managing partner of Doty Barlow Britt & Thomas LLP.

  • Rodney Gilmore is also affiliated with CBC properties, also of Palo Alto:

  • dlm

    Re: the 15 minutes for non-agenda oral communications, per Marie Gilmore’s Council Referral. See pgs. 17-18 of the draft Sunshine Ordinance. It states that the time allotted for non-agenda public comment at the beginning of the meeting should be 15 minutes (at least).

    However, it also states that any remaining non-agenda public comments must be accommodated at the end of the meeting, in the traditional time slot for “oral communications”.

    So in sum,the time to speak is NOT limited ot 15 minutes in total, just 15 minutes at the outset. Here’s the text:


    (1) If the number of speakers interested in speaking under “Public Comment/Non-Agendized Items” exceeds the 15-minute period, additional time will be made available at the end of the meeting

    (2) In the instance where more speakers than can be accommodated within 15 minutes have signed up to speak, the City Clerk’s office will randomly select the order in which speakers will be chosen to speak at the beginning of the meeting.

    Both the presentation of the draft Sunshine Ordinance (Item 3-D) and the discussion of the Council Referral are on tomorrow night’s CC agenda:

    For the Sunshine Ordinance, see item 3-D, Exhibit 1:

  • dlm

    Something else I should have posted, re non-agenda oral communications, from pg. 17. See especially “meetings shall provide, before undertaking regular business and again at the end of the meeting…”. That’s very clear.


    Sec. 2.15. Public Testimony.

    (a) Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide, before undertaking regular business and again at the end of the meeting, an opportunity for members of the public to directly address a policy body on items of interest to the public that are within the policy body’s subject matter jurisdiction, provided that no action shall be taken on any item not appearing on the agenda unless the action is otherwise authorized by Section 2.5(e) of this article. The Council agenda shall provide up to fifteen minutes for this use.


  • DHL

    okay. but the file attached to the agenda item says specifically this—which does not include any additional time at the end of the meeting in the usual Oral Communications slot or anywhere:

    “Subject to City Council approval , the new order of the City Council meetings
    would be:
    1. Roll Call
    2. Agenda Changes
    3. Proclamations , Special Orders of the Day & Announcements
    4. Oral Communications , Non-Agenda
    5. Consent Calendar
    6. Regular Agenda Items
    7. City Manager Communications
    8. Council Referrals
    9. Council Communications
    10. Adjournment”

  • dlm

    DHL: Yes, that’s right. Without speculating as to why it’s omitted, the “new order” of the agenda items should include a period for “oral communications” at the end of the meetings, and that period should not have any time limit.

  • DHL

    dlm: given Mayor Gilmore’s mostly illegal tumble through all of last week, any reasonable speculation expect that she means what’s in the agenda document. It’s very very threatening. Just like her behavior last week.

  • cgottstein

    alert: B4 any of this happened I was planning on attending the ARRA mtg 1/5/11. Looks like the Mayor is changing the order of Oral Communications in these mtgs too?
    PS: to notoz:don’t let the carpetbaggers get you down!

  • cgottstein

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

  • dlm

    Further comments on the Brown Act / City Charter discussion:

    1) I think the Council majority is attempting to have it both ways:

    ** AMG was subject to “Discipline/Dismissal/Release” so her title was not disclosed on the agenda (per the Brown Act); vs.

    ** AMG was “put on administrative leave” so the Council’s actions were not subject to the Charter’s 90-day rule on “removal” of public employees.

    So, which is it? The Council (majority) can either comply with the Brown Act or the City Charter, but it can’t do both.

    2) AMG was not given notice that her contract would be under discussion. Legal notice has to be given within a certain time frame in a certain format, whether or not the recipient “ought to know” about it or not.

    Given that Ann Marie Gallant was out of town and did not participate in the meeting in any way, she could not have recognized the Council’s intent, anymore than anyone else did. Even Doug deHaan didn’t know this was coming, because this agenda item was handled in a secretive, misleading fashion.

    I do not know if this constitutes a violation of the Brown Act, but I’m guessing that it will be the grounds for litigation.

    I suspect we’ll be hearing from some real lawyers sometime soon.

  • Barb

    That would not be John Knox White.
    There are three things at issue here: 1. The spirit of the Brown Act; 2. The legal signiificance of the Brown Act’s requirements; and 3. What this really means for Alameda and Alamedans.
    1. What occured was definitely not within the spirit of providing the affected employees and the public notice generally, or specifically of the anticipated action which the 3 councilmembers had obviously communicated to each other prior to the meeting.
    2. It clearly did not meet the legal requirements of the Brown Act, especially if the Mayor and Council had notice that Ann Marie Gallant was going to be out of town and did not provide personal service to her that she was to be considered in close session; (Yes of course she has a cause of action against the City.
    3. This Council has made a great deal of campaign finance reform and allowing public input on actions affecting the City. “Transparency and Sunshine”. The only thing Transparent is that there is NO Sunshine. Their actions speak louder than their words.

    The current council gives rise to a modification of a joke regularly made about lawyers – it can now be asked how do you know when the Mayor/City Council is lying? Their lips are moving! Ha Ha! Except the joke is on the voters.
    (With Apologies to DeHaan and Johnson)

  • Well, it didn’t take long for the SunCal Slate/Three Stooges to reveal themselves. Corrupt and unethical politics at their worst. If also illegal, probable, they have also exposed the taxpayers to a much bigger hit than Tam’s 40K claim for legal fees. All this in the face of enormous deficits already faced by the City, not to mention those mismanaged schools!

    And after all this talk from the “mediators” and the Sunshine Boys, who seem to be quite content now with a heavy cloak of darkness and stifled commentary at those phony, scripted, public meetings. So our little town is just like Sacramento and D.C. And we the people get to foot the bills, and little more. Yikes!

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