In a press release issued yesterday by Lisa Goldman, Acting City Manager for the City of Alameda, the City said that the Council’s actions on December 28th, including the firing of former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant, were legal and in compliance with the Brown Act.
At the end of a closed-session City Council meeting on December 28th, Council announced that it had voted to effectively terminate then-Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant. Critics of the move have called it political-payback for Gallant’s initiation last year of an investigation into alleged Brown Act violations and other misconduct by Councilmember Lena Tam related primarily to the City’s negotiations with SunCal for the redevelopment of Alameda Point.
Community members have also been writing the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, and Alameda’s Interim City Attorney’s office to complain that Council’s actions on December 28th violated the Brown Act and the Charter of the City of Alameda.
The City’s press release yesterday noted that City Council retained Edward Kreisberg of Meyers Nave, a Bay Area law firm, and that advised the council that “all aspects” of the December 28th meeting complied with the noticing provisions of the Brown Act, the City Charter and Gallant’s employment contract. In the release, Vice Mayor Rob Bonta was quoted as saying, “The Brown Act indicates that personnel matters should be discussed in closed session for the protection of the employee. That’s what the Council did. The Council’s decision to issue the ‘notice of non-renewal’ to Ms. Gallant was well within our purview.”
Gretchen Lipow, a retired teacher and a community organizer who also has spoken out against the process around Gallant’s firing, said, “The fact that it took them 10 days to respond tells you something. There was a lack of transparency in this whole process, because inquiries to the Mayor [Marie Gilmore] showed that Ann Marie Gallant’s continued employment wouldn’t be a problem. People that might have gone to the meeting were declined the right to participate in the discussion the Council has before they go into closed session. Ann Marie Gallant herself said that she asked several times if her employment was on the agenda, and she said she was told no.”
Rosemary McNally, an Alameda realtor and a critic of the closed-session actions told Action Alameda News, “While campaigning, Rob Bonta was asked: ‘Should you be elected, what about Ann Marie Gallant?’ He responded: ‘I haven’t worked with her. I can’t make a decision.’ After only one week in office, Bonta voted to send Gallant out of her office. Consequently, while he remains in his seat as a council member, I will question everything he says.”
Benjamin T. Reyes, of Alameda, and an attorney at Meyers Nave, according to campaign filings, made contributions to both Lena Tam’s and Rob Bonta’s successful 2010 City Council election campaigns.