The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Council Ignores Public Plea For Becker’s Resignation

A public petition calling for Council Member Anthony Becker’s resignation failed to gain traction.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the Santa Clara City Council considered whether to implore Becker to step down from his position in light of the legal charges against him. Howard Myers, a frequent Council attendee, brought the petition to the Council, despite being unable to attend the meeting.

Instead, Burt Field, who — to the chagrin of many attending the Council’s last meeting — the Council opted to not reappoint to the Parks and Recreation Commission, read a statement from Myers.

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Myers called Becker’s continuing position on the Council a “distasteful distraction,” adding that it has made Santa Clara a “laughing stock.”

“You would expect a person dedicated to serving the people of Santa Clara would step down to keep our city from continuing embarrassment,” Field said, reading Myers’ comments. “As long as Mr. Becker is a sitting Council member, that will be a major part of any news story.”

Becker stands accused of lying to the civil grand jury that produced a report claiming that he — along with Council Members Suds Jain, Karen Hardy, Raj Chahal and Vice Mayor Kevin Park — is a stooge for the San Francisco 49ers.

Becker’s denial to the grand jury that he leaked the report, titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct,” constitutes perjury, which is a felony. District Attorney Jeff Rosen also charged Becker with a misdemeanor for “violating his duty.”

Becker pleaded “not guilty” last month.

Despite being innocent until proven guilty, many who spoke believed Becker being charged painted the City in a bad light, calling for the Council to act. However, Becker’s colleagues did not bite, voting the motion to hear the item at a subsequent meeting down 5-2.

Council Member Kathy Watanabe and Mayor Lisa Gillmor voted “yes,” and Hardy, Jain, Chahal and Park voted “no.” Becker abstained.

“My side of the story will be told in court,” Becker said.

Parks And Rec Commissioner’s Dismissal Stands

The public jeered the Council for not reconsidering the dismissal of Burt Field from the Parks and Recreation Commission. A 3-3-1 vote at the Council’s last meeting failed to reappoint Field to the volunteer position.

Following the same vote Tuesday, many in the Council Chambers derided the Council for playing politics. Many speculated that the Council did not reinstate Field because of personal opinions about Council members he has expressed publicly.

City Attorney Glen Googins cautioned the Council to avoid getting into substantive discussion about an item not agendized.

Consequently, only Hardy gave a glimmer of insight into why she didn’t reinstate Field, saying he has recused himself “a number of times,” which gave her cause for concern. She added that the testimony as to Field’s qualifications as a mentor were not relevant to whether he is fit to serve on the commission.

Watanabe and Gillmor both countered Hardy’s comments. Watanabe said Field’s recusals are a sign of his integrity, an acknowledgment that he has conflicts. Gillmor called the failure to reappoint Field a “vendetta,” adding that Hardy’s statement that testimony as to his character is irrelevant “makes no sense.”

Although policy hamstrung the Council members from discussing their reasoning at this week’s meeting, no such preclusion existed last meeting when the item was on the agenda. Still, none of the Council opted to give their reasons for not reinstating Field.

Many public commenters accused the Council of politicking, saying it was clear his dismissal was due to unfavorable opinions of the Council majority. More than a dozen people spoke on Field’s behalf, many testifying to his character. Only one public member spoke against the reconsideration.

Dana Caldwell, the vice chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said Field doesn’t forego his right to free speech simply by being a commissioner. He worries the Council will revoke his appointment when the time comes, he added.

“Being a leader isn’t easy. It requires thick skin, the ability to hear all sides and work to a consensus and accept criticism. Being a leader is not dismissing the opinions of others and only listening to those who attempt to wield the most power and influence,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell continued: “Everyone talks about the importance of free speech. It is very easy to tell us how you support free speech until someone says something you don’t agree with. Your reaction to hearing someone say something you don’t agree with speaks volumes to your ethical and moral compass.”

The vote was a repeat of the previous meeting, with Watanabe, Jain and Gillmor voting “yes,” Park, Hardy and Becker voting “no” and Chahal abstaining.

BART Extension Sees Support

The Council also approved the early construction of the Santa Clara portion of an extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit. The new line is six miles long, with five miles below ground. The extension will include four new stops, one of which will be in Santa Clara.

Early construction is slated to start this summer and will take roughly a year to complete. Major construction is slated for fall 2024, with completion slated for 2028. Construction during the early phase will begin at 6 a.m. and go until 6 p.m. During major construction, workers will be onsite from 6 a.m. to 4 a.m. weekdays and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.

Three-quarters of the trucks will be driving along Newhall Drive with the remainder driving on Brokaw Road. An average 10 trucks per hour along Newhall Drive will be driving during construction hours with a peak of 25 trucks an hour. Brokaw Road will see an average of four trucks an hour with nine trucks an hour during peak hours.

Trucker management and traffic response plans are in place. A noise curtain will be in place to shield residents from construction sound. Dust controls are also in place.

The Council approved the motion unanimously.

Water And Sewer Rates to Increase

Santa Clarans will see water and sewer rates increase at the beginning of July. The average Santa Clara resident will see their water bill increase by $7.68 a month and their sewer bill increase by either $1.46 or $1.19, depending on whether they live in a single-family home or a multi-family home.

The City has $20 million in sewer projects, ranging from rehabbing wells to replacing sewer mains, and the City’s $98-million share of $607 million worth of water projects over the next five years. Gary Welling, director of water and sewer, said rate increases will largely pay for those projects.

Increases in the rates from those who the City secures its water also necessitate the increase. The rate increases passed unanimously.

Consent Calendar Spending

  • Authorization for the City Manager to approve $4.72 million in vehicle replacement purchase orders for Silicon Valley Power and the water and sewer, public works and fire departments.
  • A $2.52 million contract with O’Grady Paving Inc. for paving and street maintenance.
  • A $10,862 amendment to a contract with Santa Clara County for the congregate meals program at the Santa Clara Senior Center. New total for the year is $135,780; total contract amount: $497,509.
  • A five-year, $2.5 million contract with Advanced Chemical Transport, Inc. for hazardous waste management services for Silicon Valley Power.
  • A five-year, $25 million contract with Davey Tree Surgery Company for power line clearance and tree trimming. This contract has an option to extend the contract to 10 years and $60 million.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, June 27 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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4 Comments
  1. Buchser Alum 9 months ago
    Reply

    What a cowardly showing by Becker and Hardy and Jain and Chahal and Park. Voting to replace a commissioner and refusing to give any explanation why they want to replace him. If he has done something wrong or failed in some way then say so. Without any explanation it appears that this is political retribution for Field criticizing their behavior in ways unrelated to Parks and Rec.

    Punishment for political disloyalty.

    The flip side of this is that if you are an ally then you can abuse your office to send privileged information to a corporate special interest who spends millions on your political campaigns and then lie about it to a grand jury and your allies on city council will have literally nothing to say about that.

    • Buchser 2 9 months ago
      Reply

      Buchser Alum-hole,
      I suggest someone should press the “down” button on your elevator shoes.

    • Buchser 2 9 months ago
      Reply

      Buchser Alum-hole,
      These are our elected council members. As such, they have privileges and responsibilities and information that you, Buchser Alum-hole, do not have. They have made their decisions on what they feel is in the best interest of our City. If you do not agree, I suggest you make contact with your district council member.

    • Buchser 2 9 months ago
      Reply

      Buchser Alum-hole,
      I suggest furthermore that you are the real cowardly one by hurling all these biased accusations and attacks and then hiding behind a phony hidden alias.

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