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City Hall Confidential

Submitted by on 1, February 4, 2011 – 12:03 am5 Comments

Alameda Idol

Wednesday saw the waving of the green flag in Alameda’s search for a new city manager. The application deadline was Tuesday.

“Right now we have 61 applications, and those include a number of individuals who appear to be really strong candidates, ” said Rob Bonta, who joins Mayor Marie Gilmore on a city manager hiring subcommittee. Other council members described the applicant pool as “impressive.”

Job applicants are protected by state law from having their names disclosed at this point in the application process, so there is no news on exactly who has applied. But Gilmore told CHC that she was “surprised at how many out-of-state applicants there were.”

The subcommittee plans to whittle the list of applicants down to five to seven aspirants, with the full council interviewing each candidate on February 19. The council’s proposed process would see a new city manager being hired in early April if all goes well.

Bonta wrote on In Alameda earlier in the week that the city is working diligently on creating a web page for citizens to add their input on the qualities they would like to see in Alameda’s first permanent city manager in two years.

Protected, in part

The city notched a partial victory in their effort to win a protective order against SunCal and the developer’s “aggressive, argumentative, abusive, irrelevant, and burdensome deposition questions” in a pending public records lawsuit. Alameda County Superior Court Judge David Hunter quashed SunCal’s request to depose Alameda City Attorney Teresa Highsmith and Acting City Attorney Donna Mooney, saying that any information sought from these two could be discovered through the depositions of other city employees. The court also directed SunCal to limit the scope of their questions to those questions narrowly related to the “identity, existence and location of public records” in the city and the time of each deposition to two hours.

The court refused, however, to prohibit SunCal from “asking questions that are argumentative, repetitive, legal contentions, call for legal conclusions, contain intentional false statements, or are intended to intimidate, annoy embarrass or oppress or cause undue burden and expense” as the city had requested because it was unlikely that both parties would agree on whether deposition questions fall within these categories.

Judge Hunter gave the city $2,015 of the $15,000 in sanctions they sought.

In an interview this week, SunCal attorney Skip Miller admitted to asking questions that went beyond the specific public records retention because he said he was “shocked” that city officials had admitted to not retaining public documents and that “destruction of evidence is a pretty serious case.” SunCal’s filings in the case claim their depositions conclusively show high level city staff were either unaware of city policy on retention of public information or that they did not follow the policies and destroyed documents that should have been retained.

Mooney declined to discuss the ruling, saying it relates to “legal strategy and on that we can’t comment.”

The records case is now scheduled to be heard on April 22.

Golf on the agenda, again

Golfers are up in arms again after the City Council asked KemperSports and city staff to make public the financial numbers around several golf complex configurations that Kemper had presented to the city. At a January 25 council meeting, Kemper announced that they had submitted five or six alternatives to Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant, but neither the council nor Acting City Manager Lisa Goldman had seen or heard anything about them.

Prior to the January council meeting, there had been weekly meetings between Gallant, Recreation and Park Director Dale Lillard and Kemper staff to discuss the proposals, but the issue was put on hold during the fall to keep the contentious issue from becoming an election season football, according to a source.

On Tuesday, the city provided a one-page spreadsheet that Goldman said includes all the non-proprietary information for Kemper’s proposal. The proposal provides the annual total assumed revenues and total assumed expenditures, line items for debt service and capital expenditures and nothing else. Members of the golf community said they’re concerned that the sheet provides next to no information for the public to become informed on what is actually being proposed. Early yesterday, Goldman sent over the proposed capital improvements which include course improvements and maintenance systems, but do not include any renovations to the existing clubhouse but clarified that Kemper considers the assumptions related to predictions about what amount of play will be at the complex and the rates for golfers to be trade secrets.

The council has scheduled a closed session on February 16 to meet with Kemper and discuss the proposals, including any proprietary information. Stay tuned.

5 Comments »

  • Adam Gillitt says:

    John-
    How are you able to take possession of documents from the City while other everyday citizens have to put in formal requests via the City Clerk’s office? There is due process of transparency that cannot be violated, yet seems not to apply to you. Please explain?

  • Carole says:

    Ask nicely and politely, and you may actually get public information from city staff and community leaders that is interesting.

  • Adam Gillitt says:

    Interesting is not the same as legitimate, authorized and legal, Carole.

    • Adam,

      I think what you’re asking about is a copy of a letter you were sent in response to inquiries about the 12/28 meeting of the council that resulted in our Interim City Manager being put on administrative leave, which I also received. The version of the letter that I posted was sent to multiple people. It was e-mailed to me a day after it was mailed to you, by one of the original recipients who knew that I had asked the same questions you did and was interested in the city’s response to them.

      Because this issue has been a matter of discussion at the council level, apparently someone in the City felt that key decision-makers, including the entire City Council and some staffers, should be kept in the loop of the City Attorney’s communication with the public. Why your letter was chosen as the example, rather than one of the other exact copies, or a blank, unaddressed copy is completely unknown to me. I would guess it’s because you stood before the council and asked for a response to questions about the council’s actions, and someone in the City Attorney’s office wanted the council and staff to know that they had responded to you.

      As I’m sure you know, any correspondence to or from a city official is a public document, which is available to anyone who asks for it and can also be distributed to anyone. One cannot illegally receive a public document, whether they asked for it or not.

      I’m sorry the letter arrived in my e-mail box before it hit your mailbox; that’s awkward and unfortunate. I understand it may have felt weird to find the letter online before it hit your mailbox. Before I posted it, I actually looked at the date the letter was sent and waited until I thought you would have it to post. (I think your conversation with Denise L on her blog, where she discusses having received her version of the same letter on the day I posted it, will confirm that my assumption was not unreasonable.)

  • John Piziali says:

    Carol, my guess is that if he were to do the same thing that JKW did to get information he would also get information. Adam are you saying that there was a law broken, if so would you please elaborate? if not then what is your point?

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