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LENA TAM: Should the city sue? (Poll)

Submitted by on 1, September 9, 2010 – 5:05 am15 Comments

Members of the City Council are set to meet in a closed session scheduled for 6 p.m. today to decide whether to sue City Councilwoman Lena Tam because top city staffers believe she leaked confidential information and violated state open meetings laws by including multiple council members on e-mails.

Tam has denied she did anything wrong, and last week District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said she didn’t plan to press a case against Tam, saying her attorneys found “an insufficient factual and legal basis” to press a criminal misconduct case against Tam and that there wasn’t enough evidence to ask a grand jury to consider removing Tam from office.

What do you think? Should the city pursue legal action against Tam? Or should they let the matter rest with the district attorney’s decision?

Let us know by registering your answer in our poll. And feel free to discuss your vote in the comments section below.

Should the city sue Lena Tam?

  • No, the matter is settled (78%, 116 Votes)
  • Yes, pursue a suit against Tam (22%, 33 Votes)

Total Voters: 149

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15 Comments »

  • Barbara Kahn says:

    I think that the city or the city manaager etal should have to pay her legal expenses–add that to the 100k this has already cost the taxpayers.

  • Mary says:

    I agree with Barbara, the city should have to reimburse Councilmember Tam for her expenses on this. This has been a witch hunt from the beginning. Get rid of Ann Marie Gallant now!

  • j cloren says:

    Lena Tam, did leak City negotiating information to SunCal, thereby compromising the City’s position. In doing so, she acted to undermine the City’s negotiating efforts involving hundreds of millions, maybe billions of dollars. Such leaking of information is a ethical violation of a City Council member’s financial responsibility to the City and the residents. Regardless of whether we like SunCal’s plan’s we citizens deserve to have City Council members who we can trust.
    On top of that, even having had her bad faith conduct pointed out, she not only continues to defend her actions, but also goes on the aggressive.
    In fact, at her press conference yesterday on the steps of City Hall, Ms Tam had the opportunity to act statesman like. But instead she demanded an apology from the Mayor. On top of that, she then called for the resignation of the City Manager.
    If Ms. Tam is re-elected we can be certain she will try to get Ann-Marie Gallant, the very best City Manager we’ve had in many,many years, fired from her job. And we need Ann-Marie Gallant far more than we need Lena Tam.
    Come this November,let us hope that Alameda residents vote Ms Tam out of office. Enough is enough.

    Riddle me this .. what does sun cal have, that Alameda can’t get, from an honest developer with a better reputation ??

  • EastBay2010 says:

    Tonight should be interesting. If the City Council decides not to further pursue the issue with Lena, hopefully that is not the end of it. Someone(s) needs to be held accountable.

  • John says:

    The voter can settle this in November. The city does not need to get into litigation. The City needs to get back to fixing streets, keeping the parks open and clean, ect.

    Move on.

  • Mike says:

    Reimburse Tam for all her expenses. Gallant and Highsmith should resign, and if they won’t leave, then the city council should replace them. $100,000 of the taxpayers’ money has already been wasted.

  • nancy vicknair says:

    What? How could this be considered finished? She was (is) in bed with the developers–she should be forced to step down. If I had done this at any job (i.e. conflict of interest, etc), I would have been escorted out that very day. Yes to Gallant and a big NO to Tam.

  • William Smith says:

    J Cloren,

    You mentioned that Ms. Lena Tam leaked negotiating information to SunCal that compromised the City’s position. Could you please post that information, or at least provide a description of that information? It would seem that you have information that the District Attorney does not.

    I grant you that I consider it poor team play for Ms. Tam to have sent information that the City Attorney had marked confidential to what many perceived to be the opposite party in a hostile negotiation. By doing so, she unilaterally overruled the City attorney’s judgment. But evidently the information was not really confidential,or of little consequence, as the County Attorney did not consider the information to be substantial.

    Of course, we may yet find out that the City has not yet sent the County Attorney the actual confidential documents in question, and that these documents are what the City now plans to send to the DA. Such a delay in submission would be evidence of either incompetence on the part of our City Attorney or good strategy on the part of our Interim City Manager to prolong suspicions regarding Ms. Tam through the election season. Either way, if true, such a delay in submitting relevant documents is counterproductive to the functioning of our City government and our political process.

    Without seeing the documents in question, I am willing to move past this incident without making a judgment as to Ms. Tam’s guilt or innocence. The County Attorney has moved on, as evidence by their closing the case.

    I urge the Council to move on as well and turn down the City Manager’s request to pursue civil action against Ms. Tam. Instead, the Council’s time would be better spent clarifying and codifying their procedures for closed meetings and for complying with the Brown Act.

  • j cloren says:

    feels like jury tampering to me

  • ct says:

    j cloren,

    Mr Smith politely asked if you could post “information, or at least provide a description of that information” backing up your assertion that “City negotiating information” had been leaked, “thereby compromising the City’s position.” Does this information exist?

    Also, it seems you missed the last two times I asked the following question, which is: What do you think about Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant’s wasting your taxpayer dollars on a personal vendetta against a council member?

  • j cloren says:

    C T why are you afraid to use your name? post your name please.

  • David Howard says:

    A summary description of the material that Tam sent to SunCal was provided in the letter that the City’s special counsel sent to the D.A. The details of the confidential information were not included – it’s confidential information, after all – but were offered to the D.A. if they should need it in their investigation. If the D.A. doesn’t have it, it’s because they didn’t ask the City for it.

    All of this is included in the letter at the link below, should anyone want to read it: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34010954/Lena-Tam-Allegations-July-6-2010

    The suggestion that the ICM is pursuing a personal vendetta against Tam subsequent to a controversy over Tam’s challenging the ICM on the branding contract has been proven false by a documented timeline of events. As I recall, even our host summarized the timeline which illustrates the same point.

    http://www.action-alameda-news.com/2010/07/14/lena-tamgate-timeline/

    Note also – consistent with the City’s press release – the D.A.’s letter said that they are “mindful of other remedies” to Tam’s actions. According to California Government Code, those other remedies are to seek a court order (injunctive relief) to prohibit Tam from releasing confidential information in the future.

    The DA’s letter could easily be construed as saying – “Take Tam to court and get a court-order to prevent her from doing it again, if you want to stop her.” Otherwise, why mention that they are mindful of “other remedies” ?

    That may well be what the City does. It’s not clear that there are monetary damages to the City resulting from Tam’s sharing of confidential information. (She never denied sending the e-mails – the proof was plain.) So the City might not be able to sue and recover damages. However, they might ask the court for an injunction precluding her from sending out confidential information again.

    It all comes down to a cost benefit analysis. What is the potential cost to the City if Tam is allowed to continue her practices as documented in the original submissions to the D.A.? If that potential risk/cost is greater than the cost of a suit seeking injunctive relieve, then it is in the interest of the people of Alameda to pursue it.

    54963. (a) A person may not disclose confidential information that has been acquired by being present in a closed session authorized by Section 54956.7, 54956.8, 54956.86, 54956.87, 54956.9, 54957, 54957.6, 54957.8, or 54957.10 to a person not entitled to receive it, unless the legislative body authorizes disclosure of that confidential information.

    (b) For purposes of this section, “confidential information” means a communication made in a closed session that is specifically related to the basis for the legislative body of a local agency to meet lawfully in closed session under this chapter.

    (c) Violation of this section may be addressed by the use of such remedies as are currently available by law, including, but not limited to:

    (1) Injunctive relief to prevent the disclosure of confidential information prohibited by this section.

  • ct says:

    j cloren,

    Please read and respond to my previous comment.

    Mr Howard,

    Thank you for stepping in for “j cloren”.

    The outside attorney for the City would have been doing his job very poorly if, in making Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant’s case to the D.A., he neglected to include any incriminating “private” and “confidential” information that was supposed to be part of the investigation.

    The fact that Gallant planned to continue persecuting Councilwoman Lena Tam after the D.A.’s decision was announced is evidence enough that “the ICM is pursuing a personal vendetta against Tam.” Tam has been pushing for more transparency in City Hall; Gallant wants to stop her.

    In the end, Mr Smith’s original question remains unanswered, and “j cloren”‘s assertion that “City negotiating information” had been leaked, “thereby compromising the City’s position,” remains pure speculation and more fodder for the rumor mill.

  • Dave L. says:

    J Cloren: your jury tampering comment is insightful.

    Thanks for contributing to the debate.

  • anotherfrank says:

    I’m not voting for ANY of them.

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