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Today’s must-read: Highsmith offers her side of the story

Submitted by on 1, January 16, 2011 – 9:00 am11 Comments

In an interview with the Chronicle’s Carolyn Jones, Alameda City Attorney Teresa Highsmith has broken her silence about the reason for taking another job in Barstow while she was still working here in Alameda and her feelings on being placed on indefinite leave.

In a front-page story, Highsmith says that nothing in her contract prohibits her from working in two cities, and that her plan had been to work part time in Barstow and full time here through at least April, potentially retiring from her Island job and collecting benefits at that point.

And Highsmith, who said the council’s unanimous December 28 decision to place her on leave was unfair, said she plans to ask for six months’ severance if the city fires her – something it can’t legally do within 90 days of seating new council people.

“I am still the city attorney of Alameda. I am not resigning,” she said. “Ideally, I’d like the city and (Mayor) Marie Gilmore to take the high road and handle this with grace and dignity,”Highsmith told the Chron.

The full story is here.


  • Nothing says “grace and dignity” like taking a second job, and a day after accepting it publicly at a video taped meeting, denying that you had done so to your council-member-bosses and to your staff.

    If this was no big deal, why was Highsmith trying to hide it from everyone?

  • Steve says:

    [Highsmith] earns $191,568 plus benefits in Alameda.

    Gallant will continue to collect her $285,000 annual salary.


    In a state that has a 12.8% unemployment rate (49th out of the 50 states), these salaries are obscene. One day soon we’ll look back on what we paid these bureaucrats and say “what were we thinking!!”

    I really need to begin looking to move to a state that has a sustainable tax and spend policy!


  • Harold says:

    Is she for real – there is no way she could have done a good job for Alameda while trying to set up her self in another city. She is try to have it all… greedy greedy greed woman. I hope they do fire her.

  • Allan Mann says:

    If her taking a second job was legitimate and she intended to keep working in Alameda, why didn’t she tell someone before it was announced? I think both she and her boss have a lot of explaining to do. Something tells me that Highsmith is giving Alameda the middle finger salute on her way out and that we can expect the same from Gallant.

  • Mike K. says:

    Highsmith tries to portray herself as the injured party who was just minding her own business, and its funny that she wants the mayor to “take the high road.” It seems Highsmith did not take the high road in informing her present employer that she was going to take another position in another city, even if it was part-time. Her silence, her failure to keep her present employers informed, what else would any employer think if a member of their staff suddenly is welcomed in a similar position elsewhere and with no prior notice? Highsmith has created a mess of her own making and ought to be more contrite. But, of course, being an attorney, she expects a generous severance package if she is let go. And I’m sure there will be an “or else” if such a package is not forthcoming.

  • Seneca S. says:

    Geesh, wake up Alameda! After reading this article, I am thinking the Alameda government is appearing more and more corrupt and mismanaged to me every minute! As an outsider who moved here from the East Coast who is now a recent homeowner and taxpayer, I feel I should have investigated our move here more carefully. We chose to live here because of it’s small-town appeal, diversity, proximity to SF, and supposed small-town integrity. Alameda is a great town and could be one but seemingly now run by a bunch of incompetent fools and charlatans, for the most part, who seem to care about nothing more than the almighty dollar. I am appalled at the conduct of most of the city officials, including Teresa Highsmith, everyone from the SunCal klan, Lina Tam and her deeply disturbing conduct of low moral and dishonest character that was merely blinked at, and wary of our new mayor as well and her outside interests, including her husband’s company. Now this woman’s actions? These so-called Alameda leaders don’t seem to have any scruples whatsoever and are not ashamed of it! It is sickening and our community should be ashamed of themselves for electing these officials who are destroying the community. We need officials who will make Alameda a safe, beautiful place and are INVESTED IN OUR COMMUNITY FOR GOOD- NOT FOR MONEY. Furthermore, all officials from the police chief to the city attorney should be Alameda residents who commit to this community and will make sure it stays nice because their families live here. I am hoping to see Ms. Tam and the new mayor make a turn-around and show integrity and moral character and do the right thing for this community. I am now thinking we should have bought a house in Marin Co. like we had initially planned to, but with this new regime, our housing prices will likely plummet and we will be stuck here. Gosh, I do need to start attending the city council meetings!

    • John Piziali says:

      Your last sentence says it all, yes you need to start attending or watching on T.V. our council meetings. The information that you stated in the rest of your post seems to tell me that you are not well informed. Please don’t listen to peoples comments and then take them as truths. Inform yourself about Alameda and I think you will be very happy here.

      • Adam Gillitt says:

        I am well informed, politically active and attend City Council regularly, and have exactly the same opinion as Seneca S. She seems to have figured out exactly what is going on around here without her opinions being influenced by outside sources.

        Instead of scolding her, John, you might listen to her opinion as someone who recently moved to our City, and see how Alameda is viewed outside the elite CADC bubble of forgiveness.

      • Betty says:

        Sorry John, I grew up here and I agree with Seneca. We’re changing our minds about retiring here. Our city government looks like a band of fools, I don’t trust them at all.
        Also, who will want to work for the city. We fire employees because the mayor can’t work with them, we fire the fire chief because he filled his car with city gas, the police chief saw what was coming and left. We’re getting sued by a slimy developer and we’ll probably get sued by the ex ICM, attorney and fire chief. With all the open positions in the bay area, there’s no way I would work here.

  • Seneca S. says:

    Of course she will expect a generous severance package and as residents we should not allow it.

  • Moreland Drive says:

    Highsmith should not be fired for taking a second job, if her contract allows her to. She should instead be investigated for a flagrant conflict of interest, which is accepting a job from a law firm which she just awarded a large contract. That is absolutely unethical, handing a law firm $60,000 in work and getting a big contract in return. I do not understand how that can be legal.

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