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Alameda City Council: We won’t sue Tam

Submitted by on 1, September 10, 2010 – 4:50 am51 Comments

City Councilwoman Lena Tam talked to supporters Thursday night after her dais-mates declined to move forward on a lawsuit against her. Photo by Michele Ellson.

Alameda’s City Council on Thursday night declined to sue Councilwoman Lena Tam over accusations she leaked confidential information and violated the state’s open meetings law. But the outside attorney who pressed the case unsuccessfully with District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said he’ll try to get her to reconsider.

The council’s unanimous decision came at the end of a dramatic 90-minute public session that was originally scheduled to be held behind closed doors and had the air of a court hearing. But ultimately, council members determined that nothing would be gained by suing their embattled dais-mate, a call that even the attorney, Michael Colantuono, agreed with.

Still, he said he will ask O’Malley to reconsider her September 2 decision not to pursue a criminal misconduct case against Tam or forward the case to a grand jury so they could consider removing Tam from office. And he said it will be up to Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant – and not the council – to decide whether to move forward, even as members of the council said they’d prefer he didn’t.

“We started with some serious questions raised. They were investigated and a report was published, which was put in full view of the public. It was given to the district attorney, and the district attorney evaluated it and rendered a decision. And we need to move on now,” Councilman Frank Matarrese said. He later said he’d like any additional findings Colantuono makes to come back to the council.

Mayor Beverly Johnson also declined to support a suit against Tam, though she said that Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant and City Attorney Teresa Highsmith were right to bring the information about Tam’s alleged misdeeds forward. She said the matter should now be left to voters. Tam is up for re-election in November.

“It’s wrong to release information that’s confidential information to parties that the city is negotiating with,” Johnson said. “Councilmember Tam has not denied doing what the report said that she did. And that included releasing confidential information to parties, including SunCal, which the city was negotiating with.”

Tam said she’s done nothing wrong. She said Colantuono mischaracterized the content and spirit of the e-mails he forwarded to the district attorney as evidence in his allegations against her.

“When SunCal was selected, a City Council majority supported (their) plan. They were our business partners. The firefighters are our partners. The citizens are our partners,” Tam said, addressing members of the public who told the council they should sue her. “I view those as communications with the community.”

Colantuono followed up the council’s remarks with an impassioned summation of what he said were Tam’s trail of alleged leaks of confidential information to SunCal and the firefighters union and of improper e-mail communications with council members. And he said O’Malley got it wrong when she determined there wasn’t enough evidence for her to proceed with a case against Tam or to ask a grand jury to consider removing the councilwoman from office.

“I’m (well) positioned to make the determinations that I have, and quite frankly, I’m better positioned than your district attorney is,” Colantuono said as he laid out his bona fides.

The attorney also got into a testy exchange with Tam over whether she sent information protected by attorney-client privilege to SunCal, which even appeared to make Vice Mayor Doug deHaan, who signed off on Thursday’s meeting agenda, uncomfortable.

“This sounds like we’re trying a case, and we shouldn’t be there. It’s not fair. You can’t go back and forth without her having counsel too,” deHaan said.

Colantuono said he wants a chance to respond to an August 12 letter Tam’s attorney, John Keker, sent to O’Malley, which he said he didn’t get. Johnson said she didn’t want to spend any more money on pursuing the matter. But Colantuono said that Gallant, and not the council, gets to make that decision.

Councilwoman Marie Gilmore asked how much the investigation into Tam cost the city – and who approved the expenditures. Gallant has to ask for council approval to spend $75,000 or more on any given thing, and Highsmith needs council approval to spend more than $35,000 – something she got just this week to fight a lawsuit filed by SunCal. Gallant said she authorized the investigation and is paying for it with money from Highsmith’s budget.

A few dozen mostly City Hall regulars attended Thursday’s meeting to offer their support for Tam – or Gallant and Highsmith, though people from both camps said the city was facing one of the worst political climates even longtime residents had ever seen.

“I’ve lived here 50 years, and I’ve been active in many issues including the schools and the library,” Tam supporter Honora Murphy said. “There was always controversy in the community. But I’ve never experienced what’s happening right now.”

Tam’s supporters blamed the investigation and Gallant for the tough political climate, while detractors blamed Tam and SunCal, the city’s former master developer for Alameda Point.

“My estimation of this whole thing is, Councilmember Tam is carrying the SunCal virus and she doesn’t even know it. And it’s a sickness that’s infecting the whole city,” Ashley Jones said.

When asked, Tam said she’s exploring her own legal options with her attorney.

“I think what happened this evening may be part of the conversation as well,” she said.


  • j cloren says:

    Thank You city manager and staff for doing a great job of defending our city!!!
    We still believe in honesty and democracy! And now we a chance to restore them both.
    Thank You

  • Dave L. says:

    It looks to me that Gallant has even pushed the rest of the council too far. It was going to happen sooner or later.

    I agree with Honora; has it ever been this bad in Alameda politics?

  • Kate Quick says:

    For those in the audience last night chortling and doing a bit of cat-calling to encourage the City’s paid attorney in his effort to publicly destroy Councilmember Tam to fulfill the needs of others running for office and the ICM and City Attorney, I say “shame.” It is not the American way to try a person in public when they have no counsel present. The total soullessness of what transpired last night appalled me. Obviously, Mr. C. was plenty mad that he lost his case and felt a need to “diss” the DA and restate all that had been stated before to try, pathetically to recoup his losses.

    Enough is enough.

  • Adam Gillitt says:

    Kate Quick:

    You have an awfully short-term, or, shall I be more charitable and say “selective,” memory, when it comes to trying to publicly destroy people and chortling: Your comment attacking Mayoral Candidate Kenneth Kahn’s family life on another local blog.

    Your soulless attacks coupled with your hypocrisy, in light of your previous Civic leadership, make your unwavering support of Lena Tam’s self-admitted wrongdoing, appalling and anything else you say impossible to take seriously.

    You do not set a good example for leadership in this community, and your need to “diss” anyone who is not your close personal friend does far more harm than good to your reputation.

    As you rightfully said, “Enough is Enough.”

    And to you, Kate Quick, again, I say, “Shame.”

  • Dave Needle says:

    Let us all remember the facts here.
    Tam did send confidential city information to SunCal. Tam did support the false claims of Suncal during their ENA.
    The City Manager did her job as demanded by the City Charter.
    the ONLY fault here is that Tam cheated us all and now wants to stay and do it again.

    Lets keep our eye on the ball, lets remember who did their job (City Staff) and who leaked confidential information (Tam).

  • EastBay2010 says:

    Alameda is the laughing stock of the Bay Area right now. I know that is tough for some people to hear, but it’s true. In order to get some pride back, Staff and any councilmemebers involved in this witch hunt need to be accountable now, and not in November.

  • ct says:

    The idea that “it will be up to Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant — and not the Council — to decide whether to move forward” is so ass backwards that it could be comical. It’s understandable, though, why Michael Colantuono assumes that Gallant holds more power than the City Council. She does, and that’s why this isn’t funny, but gravely serious.

    When Michele Ellson initially reported the Council’s unanimous vote last night, I was surprised and relieved by the possibility that Mayor Beverly Johnson, Vice Mayor Doug deHaan, and Councilman Frank Matarrese might finally be starting to behave like rational adults willing to leave behind the pettiness of provincial politics. However, today’s reports about Gallant and Johnson’s kangaroo court setup prove that Gallant won’t drop this matter until Councilwoman Lena Tam is defeated. It isn’t clear whether Johnson, deHaan, and Matarrese voted against the lawsuit to cover their own hindquarters or because they genuinely believe civil action is unnecessary, but it’s perfectly clear their unanimous vote (and all future votes) amounts to nothing but political theater if “it will be up to Gallant” in the end.

  • ct says:

    Mr Needle,

    The information the City’s outside attorney presented as evidence to the district attorney was not “privileged” or “confidential”. What facts would support your claim that the communication of that information somehow cheated us all?

    Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant and City Attorney Teresa Highsmith attempted to draw attention away from Gallant’s questionable contracting practices by attacking Councilwoman Lena Tam’s character. Wasting taxpayer dollars on a politically motivated distraction is not a part of their job.

  • Mike says:

    So now Colantuono says it is Gallant and not the Council who gets to make the decision whether to keep pursuing Tam or not? Well, who put this guy in charge of making that determination? I don’t recall him being elected to office in Alameda. Colantuono has no official role with our city, nor is he the end-all, be-all legal authority on this matter. The City Council is the body that has the final say in our city, not the city manager, not city staff and not any consultant.

  • Carole says:

    deHaan ‘leaked’information about the council closed session of October 9, 2007 to Mr. Needle on the vote regarding Ron Cowan’s lawsuit against the City that insisted Harbor Bay Isle can build 108 homes at North Loop Road, by Peets. Now Cowan wants to take over the Mif Albright Golf Course so he can once again profit on the backs of Alameda taxpayers. Remember the $10M soccer fields the city bought from Cowan?


    Let’s begin the investigation of ALL the Mayor and the councilmembers on their discussions with Ron Cowan.

  • Kate Quick says:

    Adam, you are right, I made a mistake some time ago in my comment about Kenny, who I have known (and his family) since he was a little kid. He calls me “his other mother” because I have often had the role as he was growing up of setting him straight. I love Kenny but sometimes I don’t like what he does (as mothers often do). I had no right to publicly comment, and I apologized and withdrew the comment. It is unfair to say I do this all the time. I do hope you never make a similar error in judgment which is used to discount you as a totally horrible person forevermore.

  • Tom Schweich says:

    Some of the more interesting conversation last night occurred after the meeting adjourned. The camera was turned off, but the microphones were left on. While I could not hear every single word, it certainly sounded like a city council member was attempting to mend fences with a city staff member. The city staff member wasn’t having any part of it. I’m just a little confused about how it seems that the city council has to be deferential to city staff. While I very much appreciate the attempt of the city council member, it seems to me it should be the other way around.

  • Carole says:

    Good point. Actually, the improper noticing of the meeting (closed session) and not open session is a violation of the Brown Act. I’m surprised your City Attorney did not point this out. I’m sure other people would have like to attend if they knew it was going to be an open session circus.

  • Adam Gillitt says:

    Kate Quick:

    Then how about judging you by this mudslinging comment you posted today? I think it’s fair to say you do this all the time.

  • Folks,

    Let me take this opportunity to remind you that we’re here to talk about the topic at hand, and not to attack one another. Any additional comments that look even remotely like personal attacks are subject to edit or deletion.

  • Karen Bey says:


    Thank you for that!

    For those of us who want to focus on the future of Alameda Point and work on getting Lawrence Berkeley Lab to come to Alameda Point –this is a major distraction.

    Many of us who admire Lena Tam and appreciate the many years of service she contributed to our community, was very disappointed when the accusation that she leaked confidential information to SunCal surfaced. For those of us who vehemently worked hard to get rid of SunCal, we felt betrayed when these accusations were made public, but chose to wait for the DA’s decision before making any rush to judgment. I am very happy that Lena Tam has been exonerated of these charges; she is an important role model in this community and we need her. We need her leadership in this community and we need her contributions on the city council. A decision has been made, and now its time to move on. It will take strong leadership to bring us back together as a community and heal from the after effects of SunCal, but we can do it. It’s important that we do, if we are to be successful in developing Alameda Point.

    SunCal has taught us all some very important lessons. I personally am taking some quite time to reflect on what I’ve learned from this experience, and what we can do differently to avoid a similar mistake like this in the future.

    In the meantime, we have some important decisions to make about Alameda Point and an exciting opportunity in front of us: Lawrence Berkley Lab. It is my hope that we move on, that we learn from our mistakes, and we focus on Alameda’s bright future.

    • Karen,

      Thanks for bringing up the Point, because that reminds me that I got a press release from Pete Stark’s office announcing that Makani Power out at Alameda Point just won a $3 million research grant:

      WASHINGTON – Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) today praised news that the Department of Energy has awarded a $3 million grant to Makani Power of Alameda to research airborne wind turbine technology. The grant is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and was awarded by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency.

      Rep. Stark: “The East Bay is quickly becoming a center for green jobs, building electric cars, solar panels, energy storage units, and soon advanced wind turbines. Thanks to the Recovery Act, an Alameda company will be able to research and develop a wind turbine that could revolutionize the way wind power is collected.”

      According to the Department of Energy, this money will allow Makani Power to pursue development of an Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT). The AWT is a high performance wing connected to the ground by a tether, will be developed to demonstrate autonomous flight, power generation, and flight modes under a wide range of wind conditions. Due to its enhanced performance at lower wind speeds, the AWT technology has the potential to expand the area suitable for wind power and deliver energy at a significantly lower cost than conventional horizontal-axis wind turbines. This project will receive $3 million in funding.

  • Adam Gillitt says:

    The simple fact was stated clearly in the above article:

    “Councilmember Tam has not denied doing what the report said that she did. And that included releasing confidential information to parties, including SunCal, which the city was negotiating with.”

    Is that the kind of person Alameda wants representing us in our City Council? Someone who says with one side of her mouth that she is in favor of transparency and Sunshine in City government, while sharing secrets out the other side of her mouth? Or do we want the kind of leadership that respects the Citizens enough not to make “mistakes” like this?

    Do we want a City Councilmember who hires a Fire Chief without fully vetting his past nor getting his entire contract written down? Or a City Councilmember who hires City Staff and then complains the Staff is on a vendetta when the Councilmember is exposed for wrong-doing? Or even more simply, do we want a City Councilmember who is unwavering in support of SunCal’s vision for Alameda Point when our citizens voted 85% to reject it at the polls?

    DA action or not, lawsuit or not, it remains up to the citizens to vote for two people who will represent their best interests on City Council this November. You can find out more about my campaign at AdamForAlameda.com, and why you may want to choose to use one of your votes for me.

  • Karen Bey says:


    Thanks for sharing this. Lots of exciting things happening in Alameda right now – VF Outdoors, the VA, possibly Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Makani Power, and much much more!

    I will be supporting candidates with proven leadership skills that can position us to take advantage of these great opportunities!

  • David Howard says:

    Great news re: Makani Power. I have long been advocating for the expansion of tenants at Alameda Point, re-using as many existing buildings as possible, along these lines. There’s a lot of money for these endeavors – in the second quarter of 2010, venture capitalists pumped $1.03 billion into 58 cleantech, alternative energy and environmental businesses.


    As for Lena Tam… If you are disappointed at the procedure of last night’s meeting, you’ve only Lena Tam and Marie Gilmore themselves to blame, both of whom enthusiastically voted to turn the closed session meeting into open session. Listen to the tape – they voted in favor. (The City should do that more often, actually.)

    Further, at the outset of this affair, Lena Tam made the obligatory, off-the-shelf, “I’ll be glad to address these false charges!” noises of a public official under investigation, so she should be happy she had the opportunity to confront her accuser in Council chambers, just as she said she would.

    And then, Ms. Tam and her supporters tried to spin her act of leaking City secrets to SunCal – something she admitted last night – as actions motivated by a desire for transparency and open government. Lena tried to paint herself as the model of openness and transparency. So if she’s sincere about that, her and her supporters should be happy that the meeting was held in open session.

    Finally, Ms. Tam was offered the opportunity to question Mr. Colantuono, which she used to challenge him. She could have chosen to say nothing instead.

    As for the so-called “investigation,” by the D.A.’s office, as Mr. Colontuono noted, there’s no evidence that the D.A.’s office did anything other than review the original submission and the letters from the two attorneys. No evidence was gathered, no subpoenas issued, no witnesses interviewed or anything like that.

    Had the D.A. issued subpoenas for records of Tam’s personal gmail account activity, they might have, for example, been able to prove conclusively one way or another whether she in fact forwarded confidential e-mails from her City of Alameda e-mail account to her Gmail account and then on to SunCal. Now THAT would have been an investigation.

  • Jon Spangler says:


    I hope that some of your readers will learn the difference between “mudslinging” personal attacks and what is a matter of public record. And how to handle both appropriately.

    It is a matter of record that the Vice-mayor has used racial slurs during a City Council meeting. (He later said that he did not mean to cause offense, but the term he used was pretty inexcusable according to most observers.) What happened to Frank Matarrese’s son is also a matter of public record. Neither event by itself necessarily determines an official’s continuing fitness for public office, but to discuss these historic events does not necessarily constitute a personal attack, either.

    Having human foibles and imperfections is universal, Knowing what to do with our own shortcomings and those of others–whether we are officeholders or voters–takes a great dal of discernment and wisdom, no matter who we are. And it is the presence (or absence) of discernment and wisdom in a candidate or an elected official that is perhaps most important to me–before, during, and after an election campaign.

  • Just repeating the Lena Tam has admitted to sharing privileged/confidential information with SunCal doesn’t make it so.

    The DA looked at the issue and found it to be untrue.

    Tam has admitted to sending emails that were not privileged or confidential. It’s all on tape, so find the quote or quit the spin.

  • Adam Gillitt says:

    Jon Spangler:

    How is this laundry list germane to the topic at hand?

    As a public representative of the Sierra Club, you already made up your mind as a public supporter of both Rob Bonta and Lena Tam before the Sierra Club’s endorsement process was conducted and are now, under the guise of entering into public record, spreading even more muck about our elected City Officials.

    This is the exact manufactured controversy at the hands of Lena Tam supporters to which Honora Murphy referred in the article above that is destroying our city.

    As Alamedans, can’t we be more civil?

    Mr. Spangler, add yourself to the list of people who should be ashamed of themselves, you’re no better than a schoolyard tattletale.

  • Adam Gillitt says:

    John Knox White:

    Nancy O’Malley, Alameda resident who is also the DA and Ms Tam’s close personal friend, decided not to press charges, that’s all. The acts Lena Tam committed are still valid, actual and factual.

    No one has ever said that the charges were untrue, not even Lena Tam herself. She freely admits she shared the emails with you, Lauren Do, other bloggers, Unions, SunCal and anyone else who wanted them.

    Is that a quality we want in an elected official?

  • j cloren says:

    John Knox White: Why do you prefer to shoot the messenger rather than heed the message?

  • You guys should read the DA’s letter. It says that they did an exhaustive investigation and found insufficient factual and legal evidence to support the claims.

    The DA in two words: no violation.

    Try and mince the words all you like, the letter lays out that they did a thorough investigation due to the important nature of the accusations and found nothing of action.

    Cleverly redacted emails, and lots of hyperbolic spin do not make a “fact.”

    Enjoy your weekends, and stop by the Sunshine Task Force meeting to hear Terry Francke, an expert on the Brown Act and Open Government.

  • j cloren says:

    Obviously, John Knox White, you did not pay close attention during the special City Council meeting last night. Shame on you for ignoring the facts.
    Don’t shoot the messenger – heed the message.

  • Adam Gillitt says:

    John Knox White:

    Please take a moment away from your STF coffee party, thoughtfully timed to welcome the Firefighters on 9-11, to explain just exactly what hyperbolic spin is contained in the statement Lena Tam got caught sharing emails she was not allowed to share?

  • Jon Spangler says:

    Adam G.,

    For the record:

    1) I have never been an official spokesman or representative of the Sierra Club. I am just a member (for over 40 years) and have been asked to occasionally help evaluate local candidates during elections.

    2) The 4-member Alameda Sierra Club committee’s vote to endorse Tam and Bonta for City Council was unanimous: my presence or absence would not have made any difference in the outcome. In any case, assessing candidates in the SC’s process entails different criteria and processes than evaluating them on a personal basis. Everyone on the committee knew about and was comfortable with my prior public statements, and the entire evaluation process was conducted fairly, carefully, and according to current SC guidelines.

    3) The very public news events I referred to were covered extensively in the press at the time. The press and Google are not a “tattle-tale.” These events were raised (probably thanks to Google) by a previous commenter. Had you carefully read (and understood) my post, you might have realized that I was responding to that query and also was addressing your recycled personal attack against Kate Quick as well as other similar incidents.

    Once again, my point was that we are all fallible and it helps if we can gently and charitably accept at least some of our own shortcomings as well as others’–even, perhaps, the faults or mistakes of political candidates or Suncal supporters. We will all still be neighbors on November 3…

  • Lauren Do says:


    You say:

    …what hyperbolic spin is contained in the statement Lena Tam got caught sharing emails she was not allowed to share?

    The whole passage is hyperbolic spin. If you are arguing that the emails were privileged, then that is a question of fact, not law. The DA’s team reviewed the evidence (the facts) produced by Michael Colantuono and determined that there was insufficient evidence to support, in your words, that Lena Tam shared “emails she was not allowed to share.”

    As JKW mentioned, you can keep claiming that they were privileged, or rather “not allowed” to be shared, but the DA’s team disagrees with you.

  • j cloren says:


    In order to forgive and move on, the wrongdoer should openly admit their errors and apologize! How can one forgive the issue when no apology has been offered? The trust of the community was violated. The voters will speak loudly (85/15%) once again on November 2nd.


    Sending information via a bcc is done so no one knows to whom the e-mail is being sent. That is sneaky – especially when it is a sensitive document involving business of the city. As has been stated many times, voters put their faith in the leadership of this city and when the elected officials take office, they take an oath to uphold their duty and obligation. Part of that obligation is not sharing information of a sensitive nature. Tam admitted to doing this and has not apologized to this community. Instead she takes the position that she did nothing wrong. Perhaps a little humility at this time would go a long way.


    Thank you for the invitation. You talk about holding transparency in government, yet you make excuses for two city council members who have violated the very thing you claim to admire most. This is not democracy – it is hypocrisy!

  • RM says:

    What exactly does “Confidential” mean to you?

    I address that to anyone reading here.

  • Lauren Do says:

    j cloren: alternately anyone with an email account knows that you could cut the text from out of an email and paste into a separate email. Is that any different than sending a “bcc”? At least the provenance of the email is clear that in case of questions of ethical conduct if the sender bcc’s an email.

    The reality of all this, if the DA had agreed to move forward and send this to the Grand Jury, folks that are still questioning Councilmember Tam would be gloating to high heaven about how this was “proof” of her guilt.

  • dlm says:

    With an election that is coming up very fast, maybe it’s time to turn our attention to the broader election issues. See the very relevant quote below:

    “The November Election Starts in October This Year

    Now that Labor Day is behind us, the campaigns have begun in earnest. The next election is less than a month away.

    What, you say? I thought the election was in November. Well, not any more. Not just in November.

    Here’s the calendar, as posted by the Alameda County Clerk’s office:

    Important dates:

    First day to mail sample ballots – Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Early Voting will begin on Monday, October 4, 2010

    Close of Voter Registration Period – Monday, October 18, 2010

    Last day to request a Vote By Mail Ballot – Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    It has formerly been customary for the media to endorse candidates and propositions sometime in late October, just prior to the traditional in-person election day. But with the new emphasis on Vote-by-Mail, that’s way too late to make a difference. These days the news media’s endorsements are coming thick and fast.”

  • Adam Gillitt says:


    John Knox White is lucky to have a big sister like you to fight all his fights for him. If only your attempt at spin made any sense?

    Again: Lena Tam shared emails that were marked as confidential and got caught doing it.

    That is a fact. You received these emails. John Knox White received these emails. Others received them. Perhaps that is why you’re trying so hard to deflect?

    Self-interest is a powerful force, isn’t it?

    Lena Tam needs to go, and you need to pipe down and restore some civility to Alameda.

  • Carole says:

    What ‘confidential’ e-mails are you talking about? From Lauren Do’s tracking of this issue…. is it …

    The one where Tam asked the ICM about contracting out the ambulance service on a letter that the Firefighters sent the entire council?

    The one where Tam asked and justified the need for a closed session to discuss the City Attorney’s performance and ICM’s oversight on the Fire Chief’s ‘management practice’ (vis-a-vis stealing gas)?

    The one where Tam asked Suncal about their public blog?

    The one where a citizen complains about the ICM spending money on a branding study and giving her friend in the financial world a $196,000 commission (Daysog’s comment)?

    What did you NOT know want the public to know?

  • Adam, you’re falling victim to a selective presentation of information. I’ve explained myself publicly on the issue and have no need to engage you further on the issue. Your continued statement does not make it so.

    Yes, the subject line had the word “confidential” at the end of it. What was sent to me, and what was read, was a public agenda, the same as on the website. It turned out, I learned on July 2, that there were other attachments in the email. I was interested in the agenda, having filed a complaint about improper noticing in it with the City Council, and the website had not been updated and Ms. Tam forwarded the email to confirm that they had pulled the item I was concerned about..

    So yes, I received the email, but the idea that Lena went out of her way to send me the entire packet is pure fantasy.

    By the way, this email to me was the only email in the Colantuono packet that had the word “confidential” in the subject, and none of the emails that were Bcc’ed had the word “confidential” in them.

    Like with the City press release, Michael Colantuono is a master of creative writing, but not so great at non-fiction. Give him the conclusion you want and he can weave a story out of whole-cloth for you.

    And Joe, on Thursday night, he presented the case that was presented to the District Attorney (his words, it was the same exact info), the DA’s office did a thorough investigation and found nothing.

    Disappointing if you wanted Lena to be removed from office, I”m sure. But that’s reality based on facts.

  • Adam Gillitt says:


    Thank you for confirming you received email marked “Confidential” from Lena Tam. I look forward to further disclosures as they become necessary.

  • William Smith says:

    To Those Interested in the Sierra Club Endorsement Process:

    I concur with Jon’s characterization of the Sierra Club endorsement process – it does apply different criteria than most individuals. More on that for students of politcial process below.

    I would like to clarify one of Jon’s comments – every member of the Sierra Club is encouraged to publicize and explain OFFICIAL Club policies in appropriate fora. Only authorized Club officials may speak on behalf of the Club to insure that those so identifying themselves are familiar with the nuances of Club policy and communicate it accurately.

    Generally members who regularly attend the Club’s monthly conservation committee meetings, become familiar with the nuances of a range of issues, and become known to elected Club officials can become authorized to speak on behalf of the Club. I am often authorized to speak on Alameda Point Issues, especially development issues, and am sometimes asked to speak on other issues as well. Members of the Club, including officers, are encouraged to make inquiries into issues into which the Club is considering taking a position, but no one can speak for the Club on an issue upon which the Club has taken no official position.


    Sierra Club Interview Committees – Membership and Process

    Typically the Sierra Club endorsement process involves three committees, one advisory and two independent governing committees. Both governing committees must endorse a candidate by a 2/3 margin or greater. In the case of elections totally within the City of Almameda’s boundaries the local committee is the Alameda Interview Committee. The two governing committees are the Northern Alameda County Group Executive Committee, whose 9 members are elected by the members with mid-term vacancies filled by appointment, and the San Francisco Bay Chapter Political Committee.

    The San Francisco Bay Chapter includes the Counties of Marin, San Francisco, Contra Costa and Alameda. As you might expect from this membership, the Chapter committee gives strong weight to regional issues. The Northern Alameda County Group committee weights transit oriented development heavily. The Alameda advisory committee weights parks and open space, the Alameda National Wildlife Refuge, cleanup of toxics at Alameda Point and resource efficiency (the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle)and energy efficiency heavily.

    The Alameda Interview committee consisted of Ruth Abbe, Dale Smith, Jon Spangler and Bill Smith. This advisory committee’s recommendations were passed to the 8 members of the Northern Alameda County Group Executive Committee (1 vacancy), of which I, Bill Smith, am the Alameda representative, along with representatives, primarily from Berkeley and Oakland, elected by the membership.

    As the convener of the Alameda Interview committee, it was my responsibility to insure that Jon Spangler’s publicly announced positions supporing Lena Tam and Rob Bonta were known to the other members of the Alameda interview and NACG executive committees. It is my practice, and those of others in the Club, time permitting, to invite all serious candidates to an interview, even if their positions on Club policies or their slim chances of winning make them unendorsable. The interview then is an opportunity to explore for common ground upon which we can work together – and maybe we’ll get unendorsable to slightly modify their positions and endorse our policies – or they convince us that we misunderstand their positions!

    Although I had not publicly announced a preference prior to the interviews, nor in fact had I actually made up my mind on which candiates to support, I did disclose my analysis of candidates positions on a single issue, housing, at a private strategy meeting of regional housing advocates shortly before the interview. At that meeting I stated that Lena Tam and Rob Bonta were the candidates most likely to be supportive of cost and resource efficient housing (both market and below market cost) that enabled residents to use less energy for heating and travel and water for landscaping.

    As all members of the interview committee agreed that the written questionnaires and the personal interviews did confirm Jon’s early public endorsements, there was no need for me or other Club leaders to ask Jon to recuse himself from the vote on the Council candidates. As there was substantial support from other members of the interview committee for Marie Gilmore, the mayoral candidate that Jon has publicly endorsed, neither I nor other Club leaders have found it necessary to ask Jon to recuse himself.

    Here are the Club criteria for endorsement of candidates, some of which I agree with Jon are different from those an individual might use:

    1) Commitment to Club goals and policies,

    2) Heavily favors previously endorsed incumbent with acceptable committment to Club goals, even if challenger is more committed to those goals,

    3) Viability as a candidate – endorsing acceptable winners yields more results than endorsing policy soulmates with little chance of winning.

    Although I could not possibly explain all of the complex ins and outs of the Club endorsement process, the above gives students of political process an overview of our goals and procedures.

    As many readers of these blogs know, I am a strong advocate for transparency, and that includes providing those impacted by Club actions with insights into our, at times, messy processes. My insistence on transparency at times makes my own Club’s leaders uneasy, just as transparency often annoys City and other government leaders. Although unavoidably stressful in complex and conflicted environments within which decisions are not readily explained with a single sound bite suitable for the evening news, transparency does empower both employees, citizens and managers and owners!

    If you have further questions on the Club’s endorsement process, I’ll answer them if I can. Like many processes in the real world such as biology, chemistry (my profession) and politics (my avocation), there often is not a simple answer as complex processes are often poorly characterized or understood.


  • j cloren says:


    Thank you for your comment — interesting, though how you try to weave this your way. You talk about holding transparency in government, yet you make excuses for two city council members who have violated the very thing you claim to admire most. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and everyone will have an opportunity to speak their mind at the polls in November.

    I’ll say it again: what you represent is not democracy – it is HYPOCRISY.

  • ct says:

    The perversion of facts by those who support Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant’s persecution of Councilwoman Lena Tam resembles the absurd reasoning used by hard-core demagogues to justify totalitarian regimes like Iran and the former Soviet Union. This attempt to fabricate and proselytize an alternate reality is appalling.

    These are the facts:

    1. The city of Alameda’s outside attorney, Michael Colantuono, presented so-called evidence to the Alameda County District Attorney that was supposed to have supported Gallant’s allegations against Councilwoman Lena Tam.

    2. The district attorney examined this information and determined “that an insufficient factual and legal basis exists to justify opening a criminal investigation,” that “this conclusion is based on our belief [Colantuono has] provided us with all factual documentation necessary for us to reach a decision,” and that until “additional information is presented, this office … considers the matter closed.”

    3. The information in question was not “privileged” or “confidential”.

  • j cloren says:

    What has lena tam got, that we can’t get from an honest politician, with a better reputation ???

  • Adam Gillitt says:


    In the former Soviet Union or in the Iranian regime, you would not be allowed to ask any sort of questions, much less permitted the anonymity you hide behind.

    Lena Tam shared Alameda city emails marked ‘Confidential’ against City interest and got caught.

    There is no denying that fact. Please read John Knox White’s admission that he received Confidential emails from Lena Tam, and stop defending the indefensible.

  • Adam, you should start paying attention more often. The big “admission” you’re so excited about was given to the council well over a month ago. The big “admission” was that there was a single email (not emails) containing publicly available information and that the confidential attachments were included by mistake (and still have never been read).

    Anyway, I think we’ve covered this topic well enough, best of luck in your campaign.

  • Adam Gillitt says:


    You’re right. We have spent enough time covering Lena Tam’s corruption.

    Lena Tam got caught sharing confidential emails with you and Lauren Do and SunCal and others.

    Now we can move on.

    Shall we discuss the corruption of your City of Alameda Democratic Club and their efforts to silence my campaign? How about shedding some transparency on your STF Coffee Party on 9-11? Best of luck spinning that into silk!

  • Adam Gillitt says:

    Thanks Michele,

    I look forward to a thorough investigation of the CADC’s exclusionary and corrupt practices that they try to excuse as “mistakes.”



  • ct says:

    j cloren,

    Integrity, common sense, and intelligence.

    Mr Gillitt,

    A totalitarian regime promotes the illusion that everyone is free to ask all sorts of questions, but then those who do ask contrary questions are harassed and silenced. That’s what we’re seeing in Alameda.

    The fact is the information in the Alameda City emails marked “Confidential” being discussed here was not “privileged” or “confidential”.

  • Adam Gillitt says:


    You’re absolutely correct

    “…those who do ask contrary questions are harassed and silenced. That’s what we’re seeing in Alameda.”

    Please follow the City of Alameda “Democratic” Club’s actions toward me and my campaign.

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