Regarding Highsmith's work in Alameda

As Barstow's city attorney for 10 years and as the managing shareholder of the law firm that has served the city for some 16 years, I want to clarify a few points in your recent news stories regarding the city's interim City Attorney, Terri Highsmith.

Your stories cite the San Francisco Gate news blog. That is a Web site maintained by the San Francisco Chronicle, a legitimate newspaper, but the site collects blog postings from individuals. Alameda politics are pretty energetic and a number of bloggers write about the city frequently and not always in a fair and balanced way. Thus you have relied on sources that are not trustworthy.

Two points need to be corrected. First, Terri Highsmith did not call on the City of Alameda to investigate a councilmember who used the city's e-mail system to leak the city's confidential information including sharing labor negotiations information with the firefighters union and the city attorney's advice with a developer suing the City. Terri stayed out of this whole matter, telling the city manager that she had a conflict of interest and that another lawyer would have to work on it.

Second, Terri Highsmith did not ask the city to hire me for this project. We have worked for Alameda for more than a decade and were hired by Terri's predecessor, who retired from the city a few years ago. The city manager has power under Alameda's charter to investigate wrong-doing by councilmembers and she assigned this project to me.

We appreciate the hard work your reporters do in covering the city and those who serve it. We're sorry you were misled by political blogs in Alameda that pass themselves off as legitimate news when they are little more than partisan opinion.

Thank you for the opportunity to clear this up.

Michael G. Colantuono, Colantuono and Levin