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City Makes Headway On Securing FIFA Documents

The Santa Clara City Attorney said he feels much better about the status of obtaining the necessary documents for the 2026 FIFA World Cup to be held at Levi’s Stadium.

“We don’t have all the documents, and I won’t stand here and tell you I do. But I feel a heck of lot better than I did 45 days ago,” said Glen Googins, city attorney.

While the City does not have all it needs, Googins said he believes the City has a “path forward” to getting it. In addition to forming a legal group to discuss matters surrounding securing the necessary documents, FIFA and the City have reached a consensus regarding document sharing.

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That consensus breaks down documents into three categories: documents that are widely available to the public, documents the Stadium Authority has available to it for review and documents the Stadium Authority is able to identify but not have available to it.

The first category of documents includes such paperwork as the bid and the stadium agreement. The second includes documents to which the Stadium Authority is not a party, such as the host agreement. The third would include such documents as hotel and airport agreements that the Stadium Authority would only have access to as it relates to its responsibilities.

Many issues surrounding document access revolve around confidentiality, Googins said. However, he was relieved to discover that obtaining compliance from FIFA was “not as hard as we thought.” While Googins categorized many parameters as “very FIFA friendly,” he said he believed a subpoena — as proposed by Mayor Lisa Gillmor — was not necessary.

The World Cup is slated to take place between June 8 and July 2, 2026, but several events across the Bay Area will likely ramp up prior to the start date. FIFA announces the schedule for the games in late summer to early fall this year.

To deal with public safety and a plethora of other City responsibilities, City Manager Jovan Grogan said the Stadium Authority can opt to handle the World Cup like any other non-NFL event, but it doesn’t need to. Instead, it can proceed like other big-ticket events such as Super Bowl 50 or the College Football Playoff, both hosted at Levi’s Stadium.

John Haggerty was slightly miffed at, what he saw as, a cloak-and-dagger routine regarding access to documents to which the public is unable to contribute.

“I don’t see why the host city agreement should only be available on [an] eyes-only basis. If you have a high school dropout, and he buys a car, by law, he is entitled to have a copy of the agreement,” he said. “I don’t know why we can’t have possession of what is called the host-city agreement. We are only able to look at it in a secret room? This is a contract.”

Gillmor added a “friendly” amendment to the City employee recommendation, wanting the motion to ensure full reimbursement for City costs and ensure that all parties follow the law and act ethically and transparently.

The motion passed 6-1, with Vice Mayor Kevin Park voting “no.”

Council Approves PD’s “Military” Equipment

The Council also approved the Santa Clara Police Department’s inventory of so-called military equipment. To be in compliance with AB 481, the police department must present the inventory to the Council annually.

The goal of the legislation is to make police departments more transparent with regard to military equipment. It requires police departments to seek approval for the acquisition of new equipment the law designates “military.” Santa Clara’s inventory of such equipment includes SWAT vehicles, rubber bullets, flashbang grenades and drones.

Several members of the Council applauded the use of drones, saying it helps keep officers safe.

Despite the equipment’s categorization under the law, Police Chief Pat Nikolai all but scoffed at calling Santa Clara’s inventory “military” equipment, saying it is hardly equipment a military would use to fight a war. Anytime police need to use force, Nikolai said the incident undergoes review and protocols on use of the equipment govern its use.

No policy violations have been found in the past year, he added, and no public members have complained. He said the police department is not “arming” itself.

“We are continuing to use the equipment that we have always had,” he said. “They can’t just take the drone and decide they want to fly it over the pool today…None of them are armed. They are not military drones, and we will not be calling in air strikes.”

The Council unanimously adopted the report.

Parks And Rec Commissioner’s Reappointment Blocked

Council Member Anthony Becker spearheaded a campaign against Burt Field, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Field’s reappointment to the commission — a volunteer position — came up on the consent calendar along with eight other commissions, but Becker pulled the item to have the reappointment denied.

Becker declined to explain why he didn’t want to reappoint Field. However, Field is a member of Stand Up for Santa Clara, a political group known for its alliance with Mayor Lisa Gillmor and her blogger Robert Haugh, political adversaries to Becker.

Commenting public members found the move petty, saying it puts committee members’ free speech under the microscope.

Kelly Cox, chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, called the move “school yard play,” accusing Becker of trying to have someone removed simply because Becker didn’t like something Field said.

“We are entering a slippery slope where manipulation of words can be used to pull your volunteer committees off boards. I know a few years ago, joining the Parks and Rec Commission, it may have been my ambition to be a Council Member, but I kind of watch the circus going on, and I kind of say ‘who wants to take part in this right now?’” Cox said.

She continued: “It is disheartening to me that a member of our board, in an action of trying to preserve what he felt was the best intention of Santa Clara is now being persecuted in this manner. It makes me think that my volunteer work here can be scrutinized at a level like this when I feel like you guys have better work to do.”

Many said the move would have a “chilling effect.”

Gillmor said the City has trouble finding good people to serve on commissions and that she is “forever grateful” to those who do.

“Whether they agree with me personally or not doesn’t matter,” she said. “If we start removing people because they don’t agree with you, we are not going to have anybody left to serve our city, and it is going to have such a chilling effect on people applying for commissions.”

The motion to reappoint Field failed in a 3-3-1 vote, with Council Members Karen Hardy, Park and Becker voting “no;” Gillmor and Council Members Kathy Watanabe and Suds Jain voted “yes.” Council Member Raj Chahal abstained.

Gillmor called the vote a “game to not get [Field] appointed.”

Utility Hikes to Hit Santa Clara

Two utilities will get 5% rate increases.

Because of cost-of-living adjustments, garbage rates will increase in July. The average residential customer will see either $1.59 or $2.78 increase in their garbage rate, depending on whether they have a 32-gallon or 64-gallon bin.

A historic surge in the price of natural gas will also necessitate the first mid-year increase for Silicon Valley Power since 2006.

Manuel Pineda, public utilities officer, told the Council that the spike saw increases up to 400%, for which SVP’s January increase did not account. While SVP has taken measures to help mitigate the $74 million deficit the surge caused — selling energy credits, a lawsuit settlement, deferred maintenance — the remaining $70 million deficit necessitated a mid-year rate increase.

Pineda said the City would likely take three to four years to recover from damage caused by the jump. Santa Clara is not alone, Pineda said, noting that the problem is rampant across the state.

Pineda noted that SVP still offers significantly lower rates than PG&E, in the case of residential rates, 58% lower.

Consent Calendar Spending

  • A $293,710 agreement with CSG Consultants, Inc. for asphalt and concrete maintenance and repair.
  • A three-year $352,000 agreement with Integrated Communication Systems to provide fire alarm testing, inspection, maintenance and related services at Levi’s Stadium.
  • Retroactive approval of $39,407 for events-related marketing, networking, travel and entertainment activities, including client entertainment with alcohol incurred by the stadium manager.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, June 6 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.

Members of the public can participate in the City Council meetings on Zoom at https://santaclaraca.zoom.us/j/99706759306; Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or call 1(669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or by email to PublicComment@santaclaraca.gov.

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2 Comments
  1. Buchser Alum 11 months ago
    Reply

    Thank you for reporting on the de facto political removal of Burt Field from the Parks and Rec commission pretty straight.
    .
    Shameful and cowardly behavior from Becker. Motioning to deny reappointment but refusing to give a reason. And doing so even though he knew that he and his council allies had already prearranged to deny reappointment. Despite his track record of acting this way it is still startling to see an elected councilperson of Santa Clara acting like a petulant child during council meetings.
    .
    Shame on Raj Chahal as well for abstaining from voting to reappoint Field and like Becker refusing to give an explanation for his vote or his supposed need to abstain from voting. It appears that the Forty Niner Five made a plan to have Field’s reappointment simply fail due to lack of affirmative votes so that it could not be said that they denied his reappointment.
    .
    What a silly game to play on top of the petty act of imposing political retribution upon a Parks and Rec commissioner for political speech unrelated to his duties as a commissioner.
    .
    I must assume he did nothing wrong as a commissioner and they simply resent that he is critical of them politically. That is the natural conclusion and they offered no reasoning or explanation.
    .
    Petty cowards.

  2. And... 11 months ago
    Reply

    Shame on Hardy and Parks for supporting Becker’s motion. What an embarrassment to Santa Clara!

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