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$434,000 Worth of Silence at City Hall – OP-ED

When it comes to the voting rights lawsuit Santa Clara lost again last month, the proverbial cat seems to have City Hall’s tongue.

You’d think that Santa Clara didn’t lose a reckless appeal of a voting rights judgment a month ago. You’d think that the plaintiffs in that lawsuit hadn’t made a settlement offer to the City more than six weeks ago.

Because when Santa Clara wins in court, it’s all celebration. If the City wins a nickel from the City of San Jose or the 49ers, the presses are burning up.


But when the City loses it’s like North Korea. You need a surveillance satellite to get any clues about what’s going on.

Instead of telling people they lost a costly lawsuit, the City is broadcasting its program promoting worker cooperatives.

Because, when you’re out of work, can’t pay the rent, are watching your kids’ virtual schooling turn into no schooling and trying to recover from COVID-19, promoting private business reorganizations is front of mind — right?

City Hall’s silence on this is truly golden; as in, costing the City hundreds every day as interest accrues on the $3.2 million 2019 judgment against the City. That interest is now up to $434,000. Perhaps there’s a consultant out there with a goose to lay some golden eggs to pay this escalating bill.

Instead of coming clean with the community rumor has it Gillmor and her lapdog City Attorney Brian Doyle are indulging in yet more magical thinking: an appeal to the California Supreme Court.

This fool’s errand is endorsed by Gillmor bootlicker and blogger Robert Haugh, whose only press credential is his devoted worship at Gillmor’s altar. Fortunately for Santa Clarans, Haugh and Doyle don’t have votes on the City Council, despite their bloviating.

This debacle has also been golden for its architects: City Attorney Doyle and outside counsel Steve Churchwell.

Churchwell has already collected about $800,000 in fees from the City in his rookie year of voting rights litigation. Doyle is still collecting his $320,000 salary — on top of a $106,000 pension from San Jose. Good money for losing millions for your client.

Just since Attorney Doyle and Churchwell received a settlement offer the award has ticked up to $33,000. That’s $600 a day every day since Dec. 11, 2020.

What would $434,000 buy for the community? Here are some ideas, using numbers from the 2019/20 and 2020/21 City budgets:

  • An extra 2 hours a day at every library for several years
  • Another bookmobile for two years
  • 18 years of senior nutrition services
  • 86 small business COVID grants or loans of $5,000
  • 200 emergency rent grants of $2,000 — something that Santa Clara doesn’t provide at all

The money that’s been spent since December alone would almost double the amount earmarked to boost digital library services like ebooks — including the “unsustainable pay-per-use digital collection” Hoopla, which is slated to get the ax when things get back to normal.

And we haven’t even started talking about the hundreds of thousands — maybe even millions — that might have been saved if Doyle hadn’t sat on Rubin’s settlement offer from the Council until it was too late.

And there’s more.  The case will come back to the county court where the judge will award the plaintiffs additional legal fees. Plaintiffs’ attorneys have told The Weekly that those could add up as much as another million: in short, a $4.6 million judgment.

It’s money that would make a measurable dent in the City’s deficit.

The fact that no City official has publicly acknowledged that the City lost its foolhardy attempt to overturn the Superior Court’s judgment is shameful.

That these officials have spent another $434,000 of taxpayers’ money during a time when so many in our community are in need is beyond shameful.

That Attorney Doyle concealed a settlement offer is the icing on this reprehensible cake. We should be asking him to at least pay the $434,000 in interest — preferably on his way out the door.

Got an idea about how the City should spend $434,000? We welcome reader suggestions, online at or email


  1. John 3 years ago

    If the majority is aware of this and against it, why has nothing been done by the majority to stop. If this is true, they are all complicit in the silence.

  2. Kathleen Stagi 3 years ago

    You shouldn’t be kicking a dead attorney around. Doyle died a few months ago.

  3. Wesley Mukoyama 3 years ago

    There is definitely nondisclosure of vital information leading back to Mayor Lisa Gilmor and her cohort,
    Brian Doyle. It is illegal and unethical and both should resign from their positions

  4. Ian Wilkinson 3 years ago

    ‘lapdog’, ‘devoted worship’, ‘bloviating’. You might do a better job of convincing people of something if you stuck to the facts, made the message concise and didn’t resort to petty insults.

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