UPDATED City attorney takes new job
Alameda City Attorney Teresa Highsmith has taken a new job as interim city attorney for the City of Barstow, The Island has learned. But city leaders said she hasn’t left her current post.
Highsmith publicly accepted the job at Barstow’s Monday City Council meeting, a video of the meeting shows, and her first official day is Thursday, the council’s outgoing city attorney, Yvette Abich Garcia, said Monday.
City officials in Barstow confirmed the appointment Tuesday and said Highsmith would be working with the city under contract with Colantuono & Levin, the firm she hired to conduct a leaks investigation against City Councilwoman Lena Tam and the firm where Abich Garcia works.
“It’s an honor to be asked to be your interim city attorney. I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you very well,” Highsmith can be seen saying on the video.
Mayor Marie Gilmore, and City Councilwomen Lena Tam and Beverly Johnson said Wednesday that Highsmith hasn’t resigned or retired from her Alameda post, and that she didn’t inform them directly about the Barstow job. Highsmith has not returned a phone call or an e-mail seeking comment.
Highsmith’s contract allows her only to take on an additional 10 hours per month of “teaching, consulting, speaking, or other non-City business for which compensation is paid” unless she has the prior consent of the City Council. She is not allowed to take on work that conflicts with her city duties, the contract says.
The contract also requires Highsmith to give at least 60 days’ written notice if she plans to retire or resign – though it also prohibits the council from removing Highsmith or requesting her resignation 90 days before or after new council members are installed, something that happened Tuesday night.
If Highsmith is terminated during that time period, the contract requires the city to pay her six months’ salary and benefits.
Highsmith became Alameda’s city attorney in 2006, replacing Carol Korade after serving as Korade’s assistant for nine years. Prior to that, she had worked as an attorney for several Bay Area cities. Her contract, which was to last through June 2012, guarantees her a base salary of $182,000 a year.