Dr. Gottstein is right.

The City Charter is super simple to read. (Bolds below are mine).

“Sec. 2-2.

(A) The following offices are hereby established and the incumbents thereof shall be appointed or removed by a vote of a majority of the full Council: City Manager, City Attorney, City Clerk.

(B) During a period of ninety days immediately following the date of installation of any person newly elected to the Council at a regular or special municipal election or of any person newly appointed to the Council, the Council shall take no action, whether immediate or prospective, to remove, suspend, request the resignation of, or reduce the salary of, the incumbents in the aforementioned appointive offices.”

Who doesn’t understand this section?

Mr. Bonta is NEW on the City Council, a first-timer, is he not?  Therefore, the WHOLE City Council is proscribed from acting on any of the three appointed offices.  Duh….

How did Meyers Nave interpret this section to advise Mayor Gilmore that what she wanted to do was legal when–clearly–it was not?

Moreover, for all y’all recall-minded folks (and who isn’t?):

“Sec. 20-1. The holder of any elective office of this City may be recalled from office at any time by the qualified electors thereof, provided he has held his or her office for a least six months. The provisions of this article are intended to apply to officials now in office, as well as to those hereafter elected.”

That means Councilmembers deHaan, Johnson, or Tam could be recalled.  Mayor Gilmore has been on the city council for years so she could be recalled anytime.  But she’s only been mayor for one exceedingly long month, so some might argue that point; the charter doesn’t seem very clear here. But in that case, I’m sure we could get an opinion sans a public supportive argument (their apparent specialty) from the law firm of Mayers Nave that would ‘prove’ she’s qualified for a recall the day she took office as mayor, right?  However, to recall Councilmember Bonta, ya gotta wait six months; that’s clear (and I still don’t understand yawl who voted for him; did you not pay attention to the strategic travesties he led at the hospital?).

The point here is: Section 20-1 makes Section 2-2 undeniably clear, right?

Alamedans across the board are waking up and starting to take charge of their very own city. To all you bureaucrats and medicrats: with or without you, we are going to demand good government which will ensure any creation of our future is optimized for us. It’s your choice. Feel free to jump on, or under, the bus.


About Denise Lai

Alive. Swim (fly is the best). Walking with my dog (weims are the best). Life is good. Would prefer people understood negative externalities and prevented themselves from creating them. Feeling the love anyway. View all posts by Denise Lai

17 responses to “Dr. Gottstein is right.

  • alamedapete

    Regarding section 2-2, can you say which of the actions the city council took is in violation? They did not remove, suspend, request resignation, or adjust the salary of either Gallant or Highsmith. They were both placed on paid leave and were told that when their current contracts expire, they won’t be offered new ones. Regardless of the spirit of the law, what was the exact violation of the law as written?

    Regarding 20-1, Gilmore can clearly not be recalled. She is not part of the city council because she was elected to the position of Councilperson, but because she was elected to the position of Mayor. Any recall for Gilmore will have to wait another 5 months.

    Also your sentence “The point here is: Section 20-1 makes Section 2-2 is undeniably clear, right?” is unparsable.

  • Denise Lai

    Pete: 1. how do you define “take no action”? 2. If we apply Gilmore’s reasoning techniques, then Gilmore could very well be recallable at this point (and please, don’t tell me that’s not a word; it is), and 3. Thanks for pointing out the needed edit (removal of ‘is’)

  • alamedapete

    Hi Denise, thanks for responding.

    I think your bolding is misleading. The Charter does not say that the city council can not take *any* action. It specifically says which actions they are not permitted to take:
    “the Council shall take no action […] to remove, suspend, request the resignation of, or reduce the salary …”

    What I am asking is, did the city council take one of those four actions? It seems clear that they did not “request the resignation of” or “reduce the salary” for either of the two. What is the definition of “remove” and “suspend” with regards to the city charter? Does placing them on paid administrative leave mean they have been “removed” or “suspended”?

    I am unconvinced that being put on paid administrative leave and being told their contracts will not be renewed counts as a violation of the charter. Please convince me!

    And I don’t care about Gilmore’s reasoning techniques, or Adam Gillett’s, or Lauren Do’s. I’m explaining my reasoning technique that makes it clear to me that the city charter prohibits a recall attempt on Gilmore until she’s been the mayor for six months.

    I have been following your posts with a lot of interest, and I see interesting questions being raised, but in many cases I don’t see sufficient justification in your articles to agree with your position.

  • Denise Lai

    Hi Pete. I was just being wry and facetious about Gilmore in my post, making a point that way. If the legal basis for her actions against the ICM are so above board, why was outhouse counsel hired, why did they wait so long to defend it publicly, and why is the legal opinion and reasoning not made public? I disagree with you about the letter of the law here; it does say ‘take no action’ against the 3 appointed positions. Whether it’s this action that action, does not imply that those are the only actions that cannot be taken. It’s NO ACTION can be taken. But this is one of the reasons that I started this blog—to have these discussions, to share our reasoning, and to drive better outcomes. I appreciate the discussion with you today.

  • Denise Lai

    oh, and Pete: I don’t expect to be right 100% of the time. I try to say I’m speculating and guestimating when I am. But sometimes I fail to do that. These discussions are critical to sharing knowledge and parsing out what really is accurate. And I’m the first one to raise my hand and cry foul on myself once I’ve discovered, or it’s been pointed out, that I’ve erred. But the discussions continue, don’t they?, until we’ve sorted things out, e.g., today; I don’t suppose my logic has changed your mind. If we had the legal opinion to discuss, that would be helpful here.

  • alamedapete


    When it comes to legal interpretation, though, the specifics of the document are critical. I am not a lawyer, but the fact that the Charter spells out the actions that may not be taken can be interpreted to say that they city council *is* allowed to take actions that are not specifically prohibited.

    If your interpretation is that the city council may not take any action of any kind against one of the listed elected officials, then I can’t agree.

    My sense is that much of your blog is just to ascribe the most negative possible view to the actions of Gilmore, Tam, and Bonta, and I think you’ll find yourself relegated to a fringe position without backing up “wry and facetious” comments.

  • Denise Lai

    Pete: given Bonta’s tenure on the Alameda HEATHCARE board that led strategies diametrically opposed to contemporary medical standards, that ensured substandard emergency care for tax-paying stroke victims, in order to drive revenue for a tax-supported hospital…everyone has good reason to have a negative and skeptical view of Bonta. I had no opinion of Gilmore until she acted hastily in December, without prudence, with financial recklessness, destroying any stable transition–which the city charter intends to ensure– and in such a way as to deliberately disenfranchise the public from being heard prior to any actions. There is every reason to be concerned about Gilmore and Bonta. There is every reason to be negative about Gilmore’s first month as mayor, and about Bonta’s history of disregarding what’s the right thing to do (which, when it comes to medicine, is a pretty terrible thing).

  • alamedapete

    I don’t know. What I’m seeing is that:

    A) You are the one who doesn’t understand Sec 2-2 of the city charter.
    B) When issues are raised you are quick to point at other issues rather than addressing the raised issues.

    At the moment, my belief is that your concerns about Bonta and the health board, and the position of the city hospital with regards to stroke treatment may well have a strong point. I think that while not against the letter of the law, the council’s actions against Highsmith and Gallant are likely in violation of the spirit of the law, and I’m all in favor of scrutiny and openness.

    I also believe that your terminology, lack of follow-through, and reactionary response only undermines you and makes reasonable people less likely to take your opinions seriously.

  • notmayberry

    The clause “whether immediate or prospective” is not insignificant. I think this has the effect of NOT limiting actions to the ones listed. Otherwise the charter would not have been written including said clause.

    • alamedapete


      I could see your point, but I interpreted it to mean that that clause was merely to prevent the council from voting in something that didn’t take action for a couple of weeks or months and that it was irrelevant to the actions they could take.

      My position would be to rely on legal interpretation, and as far as I know, that has happened, and it was stated that there was no violation.

      I’ve yet to see any legal argument that explains exactly what the alleged violation was, which was kind of the entire point of my initial response to Denise.

  • Denise Lai

    Pete: have you seen the Mayers Nave’s legal interpretation of Section 2-2 as it relates to the 12/28/2010 actions? And by legal interpretation, I mean more than just “trust us, we say it’s so”; I mean the legal argument.

  • Denise Lai

    Pete: exactly. no one has. why do you ‘rely in (a) legal interpretation’ of section 2-2 when it has not been even explained, let alone made public? The only statements I’ve seen are ones that demand blind faith in unexplained actions, arguments, reasoning. If this argument must be concealed in order to protect the actions of Mayor Gilmore, then there is something very wrong here.

  • alamedapete

    Well, I haven’t seen any opinion by a legal expert that says that there was a violation, either. It comes across as sour grapes from people who don’t like the new majority on the council.

    Attacking the other side is not equivalent to promoting or backing up your own claims.

  • Denise Lai

    Pete: as I’ve said before, my own ability to read and assess the Brown Act and the City Charter indicate to me that laws were broken. It’s incumbent upon our elected officials and the city attorney, and now the outhouse attorney, to prove otherwise. No one has. There’s only been trust-me’s provided and that’s insufficient because it proves nothing. It’s not sour grapes. In fact, had I voted for Gilmore, I would not only have the same concerns and demands, I would be even more outraged at the betrayal of confidence at having not been given an opportunity to speak publicly before their closed session discussions, and at the increased expenditures and government instability wrought by her actions. I expect better of our elected officials whether I voted for them or not. I expect prudence, maturity, and an unabridged process. Mayor Gilmore has displayed and acted with haste and immaturity forcing an abridged process that undermines the institution (its work, and the outcomes) that she was elected to lead.

  • Denise Lai

    Pete: I refer you to the top of this page, the post on which we are commenting, and to the fact that the discussions in the 12/28/2010 city council meeting about both the City Manager and the City Attorney were conducted secretively: neither the public nor the employees being discussed knew about them. This is wrong. The Brown Act is supposed to proscribe elected officials from holding secretive meetings. Right?

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