SUNCAL DEMANDS THE RIGHT TO STAY; ACCUSES ICM OF ‘OUTRAGEOUS FALSEHOODS’
An attorney representing SunCal Companies has accused Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant of engaging in a “malicious campaign” to stall the developer’s plans in an effort to put the city in charge of development at Alameda Point – and demanded the city extend its exclusive agreement to negotiate a development deal for the Point beyond its July 20 expiration date.
Attorney Louis R. “Skip” Miller, who put the city on notice that it could be facing legal claims as a result of Gallant’s alleged actions, also sent the city a sweeping public records request seeking records relating to efforts by SunCal – or others – to develop the project and communications between city officials and SunCal’s reps, a pair of local developers, leaders of the local Chamber of Commerce and a local blogger as part of a trio of letters to city officials Monday.
“We understand that the Alameda staff intends to place on the July 20, 2010 agenda of the City, the ARRA and the CIC (collectively, “Alameda”) a vote on whether to extend the term of the (exclusive negotiating agreement). This vote on the ENA is wholly unnecessary,” Miller wrote. “The ENA will be extended by its own terms and by operation of law. Therefore, we request that the vote be removed from the agenda.”
Failure to extend the agreement “would be an unlawful violation of the rights of SCC Alameda,” Miller wrote.
Gallant said the city disagrees with Miller’s assessment and that the vote will proceed as scheduled. And she accused him of mounting a “slanderous, libelous attack” against her.
“Some of the stuff they say is not factual at all. People can say whatever they want in an allegation,” Gallant said. “This is deflection. And that’s what works. But ultimately the truth will come out.”
As part of its agreement with the city, SunCal is required to finalize three key documents before its negotiating agreement expires: a development proposal, a deal with the Navy to purchase its land and a disposition and development agreement, one of two key development agreements they must reach with the city. The development proposal has been submitted and deemed complete by city officials, and Miller said the developer intends to submit its “best and final offer” in place of the disposition and development agreement this week.
But a deal with the Navy has not yet been reached, and Miller claimed Gallant and city staff are to blame, not SunCal. He said Gallant halted negotiations with the Navy in May 2009 and that city staff falsely told the Navy that SunCal was “backing off” of its commitment to paying the Navy’s $108.5 million asking price for the Point, costing the developer a promised letter from the Pentagon supporting extension of the negotiating agreement.
City officials have said they have held off on presenting SunCal’s plan to the Navy until they feel they have a viable plan to present.
He accused Gallant of putting up roadblocks to SunCal’s plans because, Miller said, she wants the city to take over the job of developing the Point. And he said letters written by an attorney hired to investigate City Councilwoman Lena Tam for allegedly leaking confidential information to the developer and others were libelous and an attempt to keep Tam, who has supported SunCal, from voting on whether to extend the negotiating agreement. Tam, with whom Miller said SunCal’s reps had “frequent and open communication” about the project, has denied the accusations.
“We are writing to put you on notice that Ms. Gallant is exposing not only herself, but also the City and possibly other City officials to serious legal claims seeking millions of dollars in damages. SCC Alameda has worked long and hard on this project and is now being dragged through the mud, causing potentially very substantial harm to its reputation and business as a result,” Miller wrote.
The attorney is also seeking a wealth of city documents related to the project and communications with or about SunCal’s reps, and communications with developers Aiden Barry and Ron Cowan; Alameda Chamber of Commerce executive director Melody Marr and former president Blake Brydon; the Navy; and local blogger David Howard. Miller accused Gallant of secretly supplying information to SunCal’s opponents and destroying the evidence, though he offered no evidence to back that claim Monday.
Miller is also seeking disciplinary records of Gallant and City Attorney Teresa Highsmith, and agreements with and invoices for Michael Colantuono, who the pair hired to investigate Tam. He also raised questions about Gallant’s job performance in other cities, noting her short stays in other top positions and her lawsuit against one city that fired her after she blew the whistle on contracting improprieties there.
Gallant said Miller’s public records request will “go through the city’s standard process” and that the city attorney’s office would determine what records are public. She said the city has a policy of destroying e-mails after 30 days because its servers can’t handle the load.
Gallant questioned Miller’s version of the facts. She denied supplying information to the developer’s opponents and said claims that she torpedoed a pair of efforts in Desert Hot Springs, where she once served as city manager, were false. And she said a statement Miller attributed to her as proof she is seeking to have the city develop the Point instead of SunCal did not reflect her personal views.
Of Colantuono’s letters regarding Tam, Gallant said, “they are what they are,” and she called Miller’s claim that they were issued to stop Tam from voting “red herring logic.”
“I knew this was going to happen,” Gallant said. “That’s just how it works.”
Here are the documents in question.