Home » Featured, Island News


Submitted by on 1, September 4, 2010 – 9:38 am18 Comments

City Councilwoman Lena Tam is set to hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday on the steps of City Hall to discuss District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s findings on city leaders’ accusations against her, a source told The Island this morning.

An attorney hired by Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant and City Attorney Teresa Highsmith claimed Tam had violated the state’s public records and open meetings laws, saying she leaked confidential documents to SunCal and the firefighters union and discussed city business over e-mail that should have been handled in publicly noticed meetings. The attorney, Michael Colantuono, asked the district attorney to forward the accusations to a grand jury to consider removing Tam from office.

Tam denied the accusations, saying they were politically motivated by a city manager seeking to get rid of her because of questions she was asking about the way the city was handling SunCal and issues with Fire Chief David Kapler and the fire department. Representatives for both SunCal and the firefighters union also denied receiving confidential information, with an attorney for SunCal calling the charges against Tam part of a smear campaign and the firefighters union saying they already had the documents Tam was accused to leaking to them. Attorneys with expertise on the state’s public records and open meetings laws who were contacted by The Island also questioned the accusations.

Tam is running for reelection to her council seat this year.

More to come.


  • Barbara Kahn says:

    How many hudreds of thousands of dollars did the city manager expend to conduct her witch hunt? What could it have bought in terms of police/fire protection, parks etc. What did this have to do with the upcoming election where lena is running? who benefits from this unwarranted and unsubstantiated attack?

  • Leland Traiman says:

    I like Lena Tam and voted for her and was disappointed that she did not run for mayor. I was saddened when Ms. Tam supported Measure B and SunCal. However, I am very concerned about any elected official, whether I support them or not, leaking confidential information. Although there seems to be a lot of evidence that Ms. Tam did violate the law, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. It appears that people are judging Ms. Tam’s guilt or innocence based on whether they agreed or disagreed with her politics. This is wrong. Hopefully, her guilt or innocence will proven by the facts, and not based on anyone’s political leanings.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    This will be a l-o-n-g weekend, either way: I understand that the DA has written an opinion already but will not release it until Monday or Tuesday.

    I agree with those who believe this has been a politically motivated effort to remove Lena Tam from the City Council. Her opponents would be very unlikely to succeed at the ballot box using only orthodox and civil electoral methods.

  • David Howard says:

    Let me see if I can sum this story up… “The news today on Lena Tam is that there should be some news on Tuesday…”

    Stranger still is that an ‘anonymous’ source in Tam’s camp should see a need to apparently leak to a news outlet word of an upcoming press conference. Why does this have to be attributed to an un-named source? If Tam is having a press conference, she, or her press secretary, can simply tell the press – that’s the way its usually done.

    An upcoming press conference is not some secret to keep from the press only to be accidentally disclosed – on the contrary, one normally wants all available press outlets to know about it – “Yes, please come, I have something to say. Yes, it’s really me doing this press conference.” etc.

    Sounds like Councilmember Tam is trying to get in front of some bad news.

    And, Michele, you have now twice missed a nuance on the Lena Tam-firefighters issue. Nobody ever alleged that the documents Tam gave to the firefighters, which they already had, were confidential information that was improperly given to the firefighters. Rather, the allegation was that the e-mails Tam sent around – and she never denied sending the e-mails – constituted a Brown Act violation in terms of closed meetings that should be open.

    I suggest you go back and carefully read the packet of allegations. Nobody ever said the firefighters did anything wrong, and nobody every said that it was the act of providing the firefighters those documents that was wrong. It was, allegedly, Tam’s e-mails which were wrong by constituting a closed-session meeting.

    As I wrote some time ago:

    “This is the letter that Colantuono, in his written allegations against Tam, says that Tam referred to when she wrote to the Interim City Manager, and all City Councilmembers on February 25th, attempting to, according to Colantuono, “seek to persuade the Council to reject any proposal to remove the EMS – something the Brown Act permits her to do in open session only.”

    Further, Colantuono wrote that “By using the ‘blind carbon copy,’ however, she concealed from the other Councilmembers that she was advocating on behalf of the IAFF. Thus, effectively, there was a non-public meeting of the City Council on this issue before the Council, to which only the IAFF had access.” Indeed, Colantuno asserts no wrong-doing on the part of the IAFF, but alleges that Tam violated the Brown Act by sending an e-mail about the Paramedics Plus letter to all City councilmembers.”

  • Jon Spangler says:

    David Howard is criticizing Lena Tam for getting the word out about a press conference? What’s his problem with the Tam campaign’s notification process?

    Just because the notification to the press is partial to date or proceeds in stages (which is quite normal) does not mean there is any sort of conspiracy. Nor does it mean that Lena Tam is anticipating bad news. She could just as easily be impatient to share and address being exonerated of all of the allegations…

    There is nothing particularly unusual about notifying the press in stages, specially when campaign staff or news reporters may be gone for the long weekend anyway. And the email blast for this would be just fine going out as late as Monday for a Tuesday event.

    Perhaps someone (who for any number of reasons may not have wanted his/her name used in print) from Tam’s campaign had not yet sent out the email or press release “blast” to all the press but just wanted to start getting the word out.

    Perhaps someone wanted to give Michelle Ellson the scoop while preparing to notify other members of the press. (It happens all the time when journalists earn the trust of their sources by reporting the facts accurately and maintaining confidentiality when asked.)

    Mr. Howard’s comment is a case of looking for conspiracies and trying to spin the news before there is any.

  • Kate Quick says:

    No one said the source was anonymous, or that the information was leaked. Lena has been asking her friends and supporters to join her on Tuesday when she will be having a press conference. She has not spoken to specifics as she is awaiting the DA’s formal statement which she has been notified will be forthcoming on Tuesday morning. It is just good manners not to discuss particulars until the statement has been issued, but how does she get people to come to hear what she has to say unless she lets folks know she is scheduling a time when she will be speaking?

    Gosh, David, not everything is a wicked conspiracy. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  • alameda says:

    Really odd to see David Howard complaining about “anonymous” sources. A quick search of “sources tell” on action alameda news shows several instances of him doing likewise!


  • Mark Irons says:


    Obviously the nuances and detail of the conspiracy are too subtle for you. There are very few people in Alameda who get what’s going on, maybe only one who really gets it all, like Lena staying ahead of bad news, etc..

  • David Howard says:

    Gosh, Kate, the article said “….a source told The Island this morning.”

    That’s called an un-named source. And usually sources are un-named when they a) aren’t supposed to be speaking to the press, or b) are providing information to the press they aren’t supposed to be providing, i.e. leaking information.

    So, who is this un-named source? And why must word of Lena Tam’s press conference reach the media via an un-named source? Why isn’t it simply “…a representative for Lena Tam told The Island this morning…” or “… Lena Tam’s office told The Island…” etc.

    And as I already wrote – there’s no story in what was posted. The real news – “D.A. Opinion on Lena Tam Allegations Expected Tuesday” was buried.

    And it’s funny that both Jon Spangler and Kate Quick are throwing allegations of conspiracy theorism around. Their circle of people, if not themselves directly, have alleged that the charges against Tam are a conspiracy by the Interim City Manager and others to get rid of Tam, or a witch hunt, or a personal vendetta, or whatever.

    Sometimes, Kate, and Jon, a cigar is just a cigar.

  • Okay, folks. Let’s try to bring it back on track, please.

    I think what I can say is that I personally have a strong sense that this issue has been resolved and how based on emails I got from a few people Saturday, which is why you’re getting a story about a press conference in the first place. But while it has been my experience that people typically don’t have press conferences to announce that something didn’t go their way, I don’t feel I have enough solid information in hand to tell you what happened one way or the other. So until the DA/Lena announce what’s happening (or Lena returns my phone call), this is unfortunately all I can offer you all at this moment. Stay tuned.

  • David Howard says:

    I don’t have an issue with anonymous sources per se – I called into question why the source for notice of this press conference needed to be anonymous. It’s not like it was secret information that was being shared.

    And people certainly do hold press conferences to deal with bad news – witness Mark Sanford (affair), Gavin Newsom (philandering), Rod Blagojevich (alleged corruption), Bill Clinton (“I did not have sex with that woman!”) etc. etc. And oftentimes, people or organizations facing bad news do trickle information out in advance – typically to publications they know will be sympathetic to them.

    So, Michele, if you have an indication that the Lena Tam issue has been resolved and how, please post it. That truly would be some breaking news. Has Lena Tam been absolved? Did she strike a deal to step down from Council, with no charges laid, as some people have suggested might happen?

    For all any of us – outside of Lena Tam’s circle of supporters and sympathizers privy to the e-mails that Michele received – maybe at this press conference she’s announcing that she’s stepping down from City Council to devote her time to fighting “…these false charges that are part of a personal vendetta…” [insert standard denial and victimization language here]

    • David,

      As I said, I don’t have enough information to write a news story that Lena has or has not been absolved, only that it very much looks like we will be getting an answer on Tuesday. I will definitely let folks know what the answer is here as soon as I have enough information to offer it.

  • Matt says:

    Prosecutors often dismiss cases when they don’t have enough evidence. Guilt or innocence isn’t the deciding factor.

    Whether the case moves forward or not, I respect the city manager for investigating this issue brought before her by the mayor’s office. Anything short of doing that would have been reckless.

    No matter what happens it’s good that elected officials around the Bay Area will not take their responsibilities lightly.

  • Mike says:

    Nothing like someone hijacking another website and writing a thesis about potential scenarios, etc. based on conjecture. Amazing, we get a heads up from The Island about a press conference and then we are treated to imaginative theories. Give me a break. Let’s just wait for the press conference and see what’s announced.

  • ct says:


    Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant hired outside attorney Michael Colantuono to tart up weak evidence purportedly supporting her accusations of Brown Act violations. Gallant then obligated the District Attorney’s office to investigate her flimsy allegations. These actions by Gallant were a reckless waste of taxpayers’ money. Her cloak-and-dagger method of communicating a concern to a council member perfectly encapsulates Gallant’s apparent philosophy of a closed, totalitarian government.

  • j cloren says:

    why does lena tam have so many sour grapes in her camp??

  • alameda says:

    David, care to answer why anonymous sources are ok for Action Alameda but not for The Island? I noticed that you conveniently forgot to answer my question.

  • Kate Quick says:

    I don’t think sour grapes is an appropriate appelation for those of us who are appalled at a ham-fisted attempt to destroy the character of a person serving the city and taking hundreds of thousands of dollars of the taxpayers money, not to mention the waste of City and County staff time to do it. Accountability is in order now for this egregious waste and poor judgment. It is not a light thing to set out to destroy someone. This was a coldly calculated ploy to get rid of Lena, “an inconvenient woman.” If these same people were to stand on the steps of City Hall and burn up some $200,000 of our taxpayers dollar bills, there would be outrage. But that is what they did, in effect, and the public’s money was spent not for cops on the beat or firefighters in the trucks, but for NOTHING. Not good government, not morally right, and in need of corrective action to ensure it does not happen again.

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.