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Monday, September 5, 2011

Alameda Councilman Searches for Closed Session Leakers

Sept. 6, 2011 | Alameda Councilman Doug DeHaan wants to know who is leaking the names of possible candidates for its city attorney job.

The second-term councilman will formally during Tuesday's meeting for help from his colleagues in identifying who is distributing the names of prospective candidates or procedures leading to the leaks.

"There continues to be a complete lack of confidentiality inside of city hall regarding identification of applicants for posted positions," De Haan wrote in a referral to the council.

It is not clear how extensive an inquiry into the disclosure of confidential candidates need to be since only a select few are privy to closed session meetings, including councilmmembers and the mayor.

De Haan is not the first Alameda official to express exasperation with the many instances of sensitive information has been given to local journalists and bloggers regarding the candidates for the city manager and attorney positions.

The Alameda City Council interviews candidates for the vacant city attorney position last week. John Russo, who was chosen to be the city's next city manager earlier this year was identified as the council's pick weeks before the official announcement, although, some in Oakland speculate the source of the leak was Russo, himself, who left his position as Oakland city attorney in a wake of discontent with the city's new leadership.

"Confidentiality must be upheld throughout all stages of the process, and particularly during the interview portion, thus not to jeopardize present employment of the applicant," said De Haan. "However, the selection criteria and timeline used in this process must be transparent and open to the public."

Although, the disclosure of potential candidates for high-profile opportunities can place applicants in an uncomfortable position of disloyalty to the communities they currently represent, the situation is not uncommon and potentially a benefit to citizens.

When Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts was revealed as a candidate for the same position in San Jose, the news of his interest gave the city pause before giving the city's top cop more control during times of increased homicides.

Reports in The Citizen of discontent at San Leandro City Hall, conversely, may have served prospective candidates who may have found a city government teetering in disarray before it was too late. San Leandro's search for a new city manager will likely extend into November, at the earliest, after the chosen candidate turned down the offer after the council approved him with far than a unanimous vote.

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