By Anne Lowe

OPEN GOVERNMENT -- Comments on Alameda’s Sunshine Ordinance draft will be welcome at a public task force meeting this Saturday, Sept. 11. The city’s first Sunshine Ordinance, if adopted, would give Alameda citizens greater access to city records and meetings. Meanwhile a city council member has just been cleared of accusations she leaked confidential information in violation of the Brown Act.


The meeting will take place in the Stafford Meeting Room of the Alameda Free Library, located at 1550 Oak Street, starting at 1 p.m. Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware, will provide an overview of open meetings and public records laws in California, and he will also speak about why sunshine Oordinances are so important in local government.

Members of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force will also present Alameda’s draft Sunshine Ordinance to the public and give an overview of its key points. Comments from the public are welcome after the presentations and will be noted by the task force.

The meeting will take place four days after Alameda County prosecutors cleared City Councilmember Lena Tam of charges relating to alleged Brown Act violations. Tam was suspected of leaking confidential information to parties involved in negotiations with the city, the San Jose Mercury News reports:

Prosecutors began investigating Tam in July, when an attorney brought in by the interim city manager said that Tam had leaked confidential information, including to representatives from the company that wanted to redevelop the former Alameda Naval Air Station.

Along with providing information to SunCal Companies while the city was negotiating with the developer over the former base's future, Tam also was accused of leaking information to the Alameda firefighters union and of violating the state's open meeting law by using e-mails to influence her fellow City Council members.

The leaks undermined Tam's constituents and exposed the city to liability because some who allegedly received the information were opposing city leaders in private negotiations, such as SunCal representatives, said Michael Colantuono, the outside attorney who city officials hired to investigate Tam.

The Mercury News reports that Tam maintains her innocence and has called for the resignation of interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant as well as an apology from Mayor Beverly Johnson.