City Hall Confidential
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.