Santa Clara City Council
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“The Civil Grand Jury has serious concerns that the current (Santa Clara) City Council Voting Bloc … is not acting in the best interests of the City (of Santa Clara) or acknowledging the ethical duties owed to their constituents.”
“The Civil Grand Jury learned that this City Council Voting Bloc frequently meets with registered 49ers lobbyists close in time to City Council meetings but does not reveal the substance of those meetings to the remainder of the City Council or the public, except to frequently repeat the lobbyists’ talking points. There is a serious question about whether their practice is in violation of state laws governing open meetings.”
The City Council Voting Bloc is not holding ManCo (49ers Stadium Management Company) accountable for its financial accounting deficiencies or its inability to hold non-NFL events that create revenue for the City. Neither does it require ManCo representatives or 49ers representatives to attend City Council meetings to explain matters related to the Stadium and its management.
The City and Stadium Authority have recently settled litigation brought by the 49ers. Two members of the City Council Voting Bloc (Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy) who are up for re-election, and one (Anthony Becker) who is challenging the current Mayor (Lisa Gillmor), received almost $750,000 in donations from 49ers PACs within days after the settlement was reached.
The Civil Grand Jury learned that some members of the City Council Voting Bloc have failed to follow City protocol regarding “operational tours” of the Stadium. The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has opened a case into whether two council members (Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy) violated state law regulating gift limitations related to these operational tours. This conduct potentially violated City policy as well. Not surprisingly, there is no City-level inquiry into these actions because that would require a vote by the City Council, which is ruled by the City Council Voting Bloc whose conduct is at issue.
The former City Attorney and former City Manager raised many of these financial, safety, and ethical concerns to the City Council publicly at City Council meetings. Registered lobbyists with the 49ers informed members of the City Council Voting Bloc that they wanted the City Attorney and City Manager fired. The City Council Voting Bloc obliged, and both the City Manager and City Attorney were fired – leaving City management rudderless and without strong leadership.
In 2019, before the current City Council Voting Bloc was in place, the City Council voted to terminate the contract with ManCo, triggering a lawsuit by the 49ers contesting the termination.
That lawsuit and others were combined by the court, and the parties were directed to attend mediation. Anxious to wrap this up quickly, the 49ers began an almost daily pressure campaign to sway public opinion and force the City to settle the lawsuits, all of which were initiated by the 49ers. The settlement would enable them to continue managing the Stadium.
A settlement was announced on August 31, 2022, pursuant to which ManCo would continue managing the Stadium and non-NFL events. There are reports of shouting, swearing, offensive hand gestures, and aggression by one of the members of the City Council Voting Bloc (Anthony Becker) during the closed session that occurred the evening prior to the announcement. The police were called, and they remained present for the balance of the Council meeting.