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Milestones: Can they pull the trigger? – Opinion

A New Year, a new Council with a shift in philosophy. However, the question now remains: will they make right what Mayor Lisa Gillmor made wrong?

Remember when, during 2018, the Mayor decimated the Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau?

This was near their fiscal year-end when the Chamber turned in a $2.2 million profit as managers of the Convention Center and the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).


Their reward? They were all fired.

The first question you would ask would be, “Why destroy something that is working and working very well?”

Answer: They did not slavishly support Mayor Gillmor.

Now Gillmor is lobbying to award a multi-year contract extension worth hundreds of thousands to Dan Fenton for overseeing the City’s Convention Center and new CVB — on top of more than $500,000 Fenton has already collected from the City since 2017.

Dan Fenton is the former CEO of Team San José and the San José Convention Center, with a proven record of mismanagement, waste and lost revenue in his oversight of those enterprises.

No, this is not a joke. Gillmor’s expectation was that this third contract extension would sail through just like the previous three. She has proven to be less than a visionary when it comes to personnel and money. Her track record is sketchy at best, considering Santa Clara is facing a $32 million budget deficit. Someone needs to pull the emergency brake.

Fortunately, newly elected Councilmember Anthony Becker put a hold on Fenton’s contract and delayed action until the Council made further review.

Gillmor was successful in decimating the Chamber and CVB, but now wants to start a new CVB? Check your pulse folks. The Mayor fired fabulous employees that had made millions for Santa Clara and now wants to reinvent the wheel?

It was actions like this that brought new Councilmembers to Santa Clara. Now they must take responsibility to represent the voters who put them in office. The Council should be cautious of any proposal pushed by the Mayor. Instead of contract amendments on autopilot, how about incentive-based contracts that award performance instead?

Right up there on the Council’s to-do list should be the termination of City Attorney Brain Doyle. His bad advice and non-disclosure, concealment even, of pertinent information to the new Council supersedes any no-cut contract he might hold.

In the CVRA lawsuit, Doyle withheld a settlement letter from the Council. This is certainly grounds for termination. In addition, after losing the CVRA appeal (which the city hasn’t announced publicly), rumor has it he is trying to gather support for another appeal to the Supreme Court. This attempt has about as much chance of winning as hitting the LOTTO — twice in a row. As a side note, interest in the CVRA lawsuit which Santa Clara lost is running $4,200 a week.

Yes, you have trouble right here in River City. It is going to take some backbone and tough actions by this Council to unwind the damage and right the ship.

This new Council was elected to change the course of the S.S. Santa Clara while preventing further damage to the City.

Can they pull the trigger?


1 Comment
  1. Srdjan Pantic 3 years ago

    You forgot to mention Chamber of Commerce self dealing which did happen. Gillmor is not blameless in general, but in that occasion that was a good call.

    It is up to City Council to do a due diligence who to hire, including bringing this in house.

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