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Council Calendars Still Lacking Transparency

The December calendars of Santa Clara City Council Members have been out for over a week, and there’s still something missing: all meetings with Banner Public Affairs from previous months. As the Weekly reported back in November, Peter Hillan and Banner Public Affairs had multiple meetings with members of council and those meetings were not disclosed within their monthly public calendars. During that same month, City Attorney Brian Doyle said the biggest repercussion for a Council Member omitting meetings outlined by the ordinance was that the calendars be rectified.

As Santa Clarans wait for Council to abide by its own rules, which include calendars being posted by the tenth of each month—a rarity—the Weekly will continue to report the facts and meetings outlined within the calendars each month.

At the Nov. 21 Council meeting, Doyle made a note that calls were not required reporting material, but soon thereafter then-Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta began listing phone conversations relating to City business as a showing of his attempt at being more transparent. This month, Mayor Lisa Gillmor followed suit, listing a phone call with Related Executive Vice President Steve Eimer regarding the City Place project on Dec. 11 and a second on Dec. 27. Other notables from the Mayor’s calendar include a Dec. 4 introduction meeting with Council Member Teresa O’Neill and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Chief Executive Office Nuria Fernandez, a Dec. 11 meeting with Menlo Equities’ Jane Vaughn about the development at Tasman and Great America Parkway, a meeting on Dec. 12 with Mariani’s Inn and Restaurant’s Lou Mariani and Linda Leca about the Mariani project on El Camino Real, a meeting with Andy Ratermann of the Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees on Dec. 15 regarding a potential school district bond, and a meeting with San Jose Council Member and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors candidate Donald Rocha about “Santa Clara civic issues.”

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Newly appointed Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe had a Dec. 15 meeting with Judi Muirhead of SCUSD’s Board of Trustees and her husband, WVMCCD Board of Trustees Member Karl Watanabe, regarding the aforementioned bond; a Dec. 13 meeting with O’Neill and retired engineer and Mountain View resident Robert Holbrook about “south flow air traffic;” and a meeting with Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors candidate Pierluigi Oliverio regarding Supervisor Seat 4 on Dec. 26.

Caserta’s calendar continued to list phone conversations, showing just how much of Council’s meetings regarding developments and other issues occur over the phone. To close out 2017, he had four phone calls regarding affordable housing, one with Eimer on Dec. 5, four calls regarding the new Nob Hill store in Santa Clara and labor issues, a call with former City Attorney Ren Nosky regarding City Attorney issues on Dec. 18 and one with former City Manager Rajeev Batra about his retirement benefits issue on the same day, three with the Santa Clara Weekly, another with Eimer on Dec. 19 and a call with communications consultant Shawn Spano on community engagement for Levi’s Stadium on the same day, and finally, a call with David Neale of The Core Companies on 90 North Winchester on Dec. 20.

Caserta had only two in-person meetings to note in December, one with Bob Mendholson of Republic Metropolitian and attorney Robert Mezzetti about the Santa Clara University housing project on Dec. 5 and one with Slater Construction’s Chris Pellecchia regarding “City business.”

O’Neill’s calendar showed a briefing for governance discussion with VTA and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) with Fernandez and VTA staff members Angelique Gaeta, Carolyn Gonot, and Dennis Ratcliffe and Board Members Jeannie Bruins, Supervisor Cindy Chaves. and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. Ironically the Dec. 4 meeting happened two and a half hours prior to the introduction meeting O’Neill had with Gillmor and Fernandez. O’Neill is currently the Vice Chair of VTA’s Governance and Audit Committee.  Other finds on O’Neil’s calendar include a meeting with Ratermann about the SCUSD bond on Dec. 15, a lunch meeting with former City Council candidate and current Parks and Recreation Commissioner Tino Silva “to discuss career developments, charter review recommendations [and] Santa Clara [sic] future direction” on Dec. 15, an introduction with Senator Bob Wieckowski’s staff liaison to Santa Clara Alexandra Gallo on Dec. 20 and Rocha regarding Santa Clara and Santa Clara County District 4 issues.

Council Member Pat Kolstad’s calendar was light again, with only six public meetings and one public event listed, while Council Member Debi Davis’ calendar contained all public meetings and public events less two holiday lunches with Gillmor and Watanable and Gillmor and O’Neill on Dec. 18 and Dec. 20 respectively, and a social lunch with Gillmor and O’Neill on Dec. 30.

Lastly, Council Member Patricia Mahan, attended only one public meeting and one public event before announcing on Dec. 5 she would be taking the remainder of the month off to undergo surgery and treatment for a tumor in her spine.

Since the current council took office in November of 2016, Related Companies or its lobbyist Jude Barry has publicly recorded 40 meetings regarding City Place or other topics. Although most developers did not have any recorded meetings with Council Members in December, the tally of 34 meetings between SummerHill and City Council and 11 meetings between Council and the Irvine Company or its lobbyist Jim Cunneen remains.

View Santa Clara Council Member calendars at http://santaclaraca.gov/government/about-santa-clara/public-calendars-of-certain-city-officials.

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