ALAMEDA The interim city attorney for Barstow was placed on paid administrative leave last week in the city of Alameda while the city looks for a permanent replacement.

Teresa Highsmith was hired in December by City Council to be the interim city attorney for Barstow after former city attorney Yvette Abich-Garcia left to be the city attorney for Downey. The city has a contract with law firm Colantuono & Levin for city attorneys. Abich-Garcia worked for Colantuono & Levin and Highsmith began working for the firm last month.

According to the Alameda Times-Star, Highsmith called on the city of Alameda to investigate Councilmember Lena Tam for allegedly leaking confidential city e-mails to SunCal, a company looking to develop a former Navy base in the city. Highsmith asked the city to hire Colantuono & Levin to investigate Tam for potential prosecution.
Alameda County's district attorney decided not to pursue the case, and the firm received an estimated $60,000 for the investigation from the city, according to an article in the San Francisco Gate. The Gate reported that Tam subsequently gave city officials a bill for $44,000 for legal fees in December.

Highsmith is now working for Colantuono & Levin, the same firm that she asked the city of Alameda to hire for the investigation of Tam. She was unavailable for comment on Friday morning.

Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore said in a statement released Thursday that the city was looking for a team that respects open debate and public dialogue.

"[Alameda] need[s] a team that views public service as an honor and respects the public's right to participate in community affairs."

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