Council Investigation Proceeds Above Board

 

The City Council sat in closed session for some five hours on Tuesday, Jan. 30. As with all closed meetings the subject matter remains sealed. A call to City Clerk Lara Weisiger’s office revealed that the City Council was scheduled to approve the minutes of that meeting in closed session before its regularly scheduled meeting last Tuesday after the Alameda Sun went to press. 

At this time the Council will not reveal what it discussed at that Jan. 30 meeting. This is normal procedure when handling a closed-session meeting. Some City Hall watchers speculate that the Councilmembers discussed the results of the investigation into whether two members of the City Council may have violated the City Charter by attempting to influence City Manager Jill Keimach’s decision concerning the hiring of a new fire department chief. 

However, until the Sun learns what was discussed behind closed doors, this newspaper will treat these musings as speculation. If the Councilmembers focused on this particular investigation behind closed doors, they may have violated the state’s Sunshine Ordinance.  

The ordinance does permit a city council to discuss pending litigation behind closed doors only when such discussion in open session would prejudice the position of the city in the litigation. Currently, the answer to the question whether the Jan. 30 discussion involved this investigation must remained sealed with the minutes to that meeting. 

In a story related to this investigation, Robert Sullwold released on his blog, Alameda Merry-Go-Round, a detailed description of the way the same two members of the City Council have chosen to pay attorney’s fees. Sullwold reports that both have spent all the money in their campaign committee coffers on legal fees. The government code does allow officeholders to set up separate bank accounts to cover costs that include attorney’s fees. The question remains whether any misconduct arises from their alleged influence peddling arises out of their activitie or status as Councilmembers. The answer to this question lies at the heart of the investigation.