A former Illinois Senator once said; “A billion here, a billion there and soon you’re talking about real money.”
And so is the case for Santa Clara.
It may not be billions however, it is millions.
Before the pandemic and the shut down of the economy, the Santa Clara City Council was on track to have zero surplus.
This forecasted loss was when the economy was booming, and business was humming.
What were the Santa Clara City Council and City Manager thinking? That there could never be a major problem? Were they thinking that magically they could spend themselves into prosperity or possibly borrow their way out of debt?
What if…there was an economic downturn?
Evidently, this was not a serious consideration before, during or after the monumental salary and benefit awards were given to the City Manager and her highly inflated staff.
Now, we’re facing a $34 million deficit this year and next.
Could Santa Clara use a few million dollars right now? If, you haven’t already decided the answer is… “yes” we could.
Examine with me for a minute how this Council literally caused millions to evaporate.
You might remember Measure J. This was the Measure voted on by Santa Clara residents to create what is now Levi’s Stadium.
The vote was nearly 60 percent in favor and the stadium became a reality over the next few years. It was highly promoted by Santa Clara’s current Mayor Lisa Gillmor and one of her close associates and a current Council Member, Kathy Watanabe.
They walked neighborhoods, did TV commercials, held community meetings all for the purpose of encouraging residents to adopt the stadium. One of their selling points was the partnership between the 49ers and the City. Santa Clara would share in the revenues from special
events at the stadium, such as concerts, high profile events and even a Super Bowl.
In 2016, there was a disagreement on parking between the Mayor and the 49ers. The 49ers offered to reconcile their differences, patch things up and move on. The 49ers did move on. However, the Mayor was not so forgiving. Then Gillmor and her Council majority refused to allow any exceptions to the 10 p.m. weeknight curfew imposed on the Stadium. These moves are called shooting yourself in the foot to spite your sore toe.
The loss of revenue to the City was between two and five million dollars a year. This is a few million that would patch a few holes in the crazy quilt budget at City Hall.
These millions of dollars lost to Santa Clara are now a Halloween haunt for ghost like funds, which are scary and scarce.
Santa Clara City Council needs balance. We have enough council members who always say “yes” to the Mayor. This works if the mayor is right, but if the past is an indication of the future, bad decisions can be made by well-meaning people.
This is not the time for a City Council to attempt an overthrow of the stadium management team when they cannot even balance the City budget.
That is one idea that has not arrived.