City Hall Confidential
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Alameda’s firefighters issued a fresh press release last week suggesting that the city is stalling in their negotiations until after the elections. Alameda firefighters have been without a contract for over nine months, and say they have been unable set up meetings with city staff since July. Domenick Weaver had this to say in the release: “To date, City staff has declined offers to meet. Instead, they set a meeting for after Election Day.” E-mails to Karen Willis of Human Resources were not returned. Last week, Deputy City Manager Lisa Goldman said the city would have a statement, but they have yet to release one.
Firefighters are claiming that they have offered more than $15 million in cost savings, including an immediate $1 million in savings, but that the city has not responded to them. More to come, I’m sure.
As reported on The Island, SunCal has filed a public records lawsuit against the City of Alameda alleging that the city is withholding public documents by relying on an incorrect reading of the California Public Records Act. Last week, Alameda’s legal representative, David Newdorf, filed a motion asking Judge Frank Roesch to recuse himself, which he has. Judge David Hunter will be hearing the case.
The California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) rule 170.6 requires that judges recuse themselves from a case if asked, and that no reason must be given as a part of the request.
This is at least the second time the city has asked for Roesch to recuse himself. The city asked Roesch to recuse himself, and the judge complied, in the city’s legal dispute with the firefighters over arbitration. Neither City Attorney Teresa Highsmith nor Judge Roesch responded to inquiries regarding the alleged prejudicial bias against the City of Alameda or its interests.
Interestingly, Roesch’s most recent case involving the City of Alameda, Francis Collins’ lawsuit over the Boatworks project on Clement Avenue, saw the judge rule in the city’s favor.
Letters from down south
In the last week and a half, City Council members have received letters from two former members of the Desert Hot Springs, the last city that employed Alameda’s interim city manager, Ann Marie Gallant. At the beginning of last week, former Desert Hot Springs City Councilman Henry Hohenstein wrote that he had been a supporter in hiring Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant in Desert Hot Springs and that “(s)he did many things well, but the City is still reeling from the negative consequences of her actions and some individuals will never recover.” The full letter is below.
A second letter, this one from Mary Stephens, the former vice mayor from Desert Hot Springs, arrived on Tuesday. “I also see that one of your council members is being investigated,” she wrote. “This all sounds so familiar…I want you to know that [I] was investigated. This was very embarrassing. I was investigated by the Grand Jury, FBI and Fair Political Practices (Commission). There was no finding.”
After the first letter arrived, I reached out to all five council members and Interim City Manager Gallant for comment. Councilman Frank Matarrese responded, saying he thinks “the content is suspect given the timing and SunCal’s involvement in this election.”
Hohenstein did not respond to calls seeking comment. But Stephens said that no one had asked her to write her letter, but that she had spoken to SunCal back in July or August and that they had mentioned Alameda and that she had been cursorily following the goings-on in town and felt compelled to write. Asked about the letter from Hohenstein, Stephens said she was surprised he had written because “he was her biggest supporter” on the Desert Hot Springs council.