Tuesday’s City Council meeting’s agenda was largely appointments to the Planning and Senior Commissions, the Library Board of Trustees and the City Clerk post that became vacant when Acting City Clerk Jennifer Yamaguma took a job with the City of Milpitas.
The Council voted unanimously to appoint Assistant City Manager Nadine Nader to the post until a new Clerk is sworn in on Dec. 16. Nader, who joined Santa Clara in January from Manhattan Beach, has worked as Fremont’s City Clerk, noted City Manager Deanna Santana, as well as her roles as Executive Analyst and Assistant to the City Manager in San José. This appointment would “bifurcate” the City Clerk’s administrative and election duties, said Santana
“It’s important for the City Clerk to be entirely separate,” said Council Member Debi Davis as she made the motion to appoint Nader. The Assistant City Manager can be fired at will by the City Manager, who can be fired at will by the City Council.
Santa Clara has had four City Clerks in the last 100 years, but will have four more altogether in this calendar year, noted candidate for City Clerk Robert O’Keefe. “No matter how this election goes, we need to have stability in that office.”
After former City Clerk Rod Diridon resigned in February, City Attorney Brian Doyle proposed a plan, approved by the Council majority, to separate the duties of the City Clerk so that the responsibilities of the office, as defined in the City Charter, would be given to the Assistant City Clerk — who is appointed by the City Manager — and the elected City Clerk would be a figurehead.
The Council unanimously appointed Shawn Williams to serve a partial term on the Santa Clara Planning Commission. The self-employed Williams’ principal concerns appeared to be traffic, mass transportation and pedestrian safety. Williams has worked in the past for Bracher School in the area of traffic safety.
Williams said that the City must work toward being “a green and smart city” and “building a community that is forward thinking.” Williams most specific policy proposal was that new projects shouldn’t be built until there were buyers or renters lined up. “Why aren’t we filling it before we build it? Why aren’t we making it when we need it.”
Council Member Davis said Williams was a “breath of fresh air” and “my kind of person.”
The Council also appointed Deena Brocket to the Senior Advisory Commission and Debbie Tryforos to the Library Board of Trustees.
Complaints Against City Dismissed
One of the agenda items at Tuesday’s meeting was a reiteration of a City press release about no findings of misconduct in two recent anonymous complaints against Santa Clara filed with state agencies.
The first is an ethics complaint filed with California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) alleging that Assistant to the City Manager Mark Danaj was improperly enrolled in CalPERS during his eight weeks of part-time employment in Santa Clara.
CalPERS PIO Amy Morgan told the Weekly that investigators found Danaj was properly enrolled in the pension plan, and that any other “issues” about his employment were the City’s concerns.
The second complaint was one filed with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) alleging that City presentations and mailers about June’s Measure A (two-district, single transferrable ranked choice voting) constituted campaigning with public funds. The FPPC found no merit in the complaint.
While embracing the FPPC’s dismissal of the complaint, the Council majority attacked the complaint as being politically motivated. “The thing that bothered me the most was that this FPPC complaint was filed politically,” said Davis.
Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe said she canceled her membership in the Santa Clara County Democratic Club because of the complaint. “To see [names of] the five people who filed this anonymous complaint… They belong to the Santa Clara Democratic Club.
“If this is how they … respond to things we do for the good of our city,” she continued, “I don’t want to belong to a club that sponsors this kind of behavior.”
Council Member Patricia Mahan noted that anonymous complaints are just that — anonymous. “These five people were listed as witnesses,” she said. These were people the FPPC spoke to during the investigation.
Gillmor replied that she didn’t know about that, and questioned that they were “just five random witnesses.”
“These are not the complainants,” said Mahan.
“One could assume that they were,” Gillmor answered. “We can all draw our own conclusions.”