City: Manager leave handled properly
In a press release issued late Thursday afternoon, they said they complied with the terms of Gallant’s contract, the city charter and the Brown Act, the state law that establishes open meeting rules, when they decided in a December 28, 2010 closed-door meeting to place Gallant on paid leave and to not renew her contract to run the city.
Edward Kreisberg, an outside attorney hired by the city affirmed their closed-door decision to put Gallant on leave was lawful, the press release said. “He advised the City Council that all aspects of the December 28, 2010 closed session, including the Council’s deliberations, fully complied with the noticing provisions of the Brown Act, the city charter, and Ms. Gallant’s employment contract,” it said.
Gallant’s contract required the council to offer 90 days notice if it decided not to renew, the press release said.
Residents who supported Gallant accused members of the council of violating the Brown Act, the City Charter and Gallant’s contract when the council put her on leave and chose not to renew her contract on a 3-2 vote. They said Gallant should have been given the right to have any charges against her heard in a public session, and that the charter forbids the council from firing the city manager, city attorney or city clerk for 90 days after new council members are seated.
But Gallant hasn’t been fired, the release said.
“Ann Marie Gallant is still an employee of the City of Alameda and will remain so until the end of her contract,” Mayor Marie Gilmore was quoted as saying in the release. “I stand by the council majority’s decision.”
Gallant’s backers continued to press their case Thursday. City Councilman Doug deHaan is asking his dais-mates to consider offering the public more clarification on the process the council undertook to place Gallant and City Attorney Teresa Highsmith on leave.
Highsmith, who took a contract job to serve as Barstow’s interim city attorney while remaining as Alameda’s city attorney, was placed on leave by a 5-0 vote on December 28.
In an e-mail received by a reporter Thursday afternoon, a person or group identifying themselves as Citizens for a Better Alameda claimed the council majority that ousted Gallant acted illegally.
“While we expected some changes in city operations, we didn’t expect this to be done in the manner chosen by the City Council: during the heavy vacation time between Christmas and New Years, and we didn’t expect the City Council to take actions in secret behind closed doors. Especially without notifying the individuals involved or the public,” the e-mail said.
The person who sent the e-mail, Gretchen Lipow, didn’t identify members of Citizens for a Better Alameda.
Meanwhile, the city has started its search for a new city manager. The city’s initial application deadline is Feburary 1, and interviews are slated to being on February 19. An appointment could be made as soon as April. The city’s recruitment brochure is available on its newly designed website.