City Hall Confidential
One council candidate apparently followed her loss in last November’s bruising election by filing a building permit complaint against a fellow candidate less than a week after the vote results were released.
About a week after being elected mayor, Marie Gilmore arrived home to find a note on her front door stating that a city building inspector had been by, and that she needed to contact the building department to discuss a complaint that had been filed. According to documents received by CHC, the complaint was filed by Jean Sweeney, who came in fourth for three seats in her campaign for City Council.
CHC has obtained a copy of an e-mail former candidate Sweeney wrote to inform Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant that she had received information that Gilmore had “built a garage on her property without a permit when she was on the Planning Board” and that she was looking into it.
Asked about the issue, Sweeney denied filing a complaint against Gilmore, though she did say she inquired about the matter “I did call the permit office to see if she was in violation of the permit laws and it turned out that she got a permit after her garage was built,”Sweeney said.
But in her note to Gallant, Sweeney wrote that when she called the permit office and the staffer “asked if I wanted to talk to enforcement officer and I said I would.” City officials confirmed that such a call would be logged as a complaint and that at that time, code enforcement officers are required to follow up on it.
When asked about the post-project permit issue, Planning Services Manager Andrew Thomas said that Gilmore’s project not only went through the proper permitting process prior to the construction, but also ended up going through major design review.
Asked about the timing of the complaint – a few days after a fractious election on a nearly 10-year old home remodel – Sweeney said: “It is serious business for a Planning Board member to do unpermitted work and I wanted to check the facts man. Just the facts.”
Highsmith in the high desert
In the odd case of the city attorney who held two jobs, reality continues to be more confounding than fiction. Alameda City Attorney Teresa Highsmith, who was placed on administrative leave in December after it came to light that she had accepted a job as the interim city attorney in Barstow without resigning her $200,000 a year position in Alameda, continues to remain employed as the interim city attorney for the Desert City, according to Barstow City Manager Curt Mitchell.
While there is no contract between Barstow and Highsmith, and Highsmith has yet to attend a Barstow City Council meeting since appearing on the dais to accept the position publicly, Mitchell confirmed that Highsmith is still the official interim city attorney for Barstow.
The council has not been told why Highsmith has not attended their meetings.
Highsmith’s boss, Michael Colantuono has attended every meeting since December in her place.