The Silicon Valley Voice

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Milestones: Council Capitulates! – Opinion

Last week, in deference to campaign promises to rein in City expenses and restore the City budget to good health, Santa Clara’s new Council bought into the same old giveaway game.

City Manager Santana and Mayor Gillmor plotted the plan, drew the blueprint, and sold the Council by cleverly shifting some City employees from the City budget to the Stadium Authority payroll.

The Council voted 6 -1 in favor, with Council Member Kevin Park voting no. Park may have seen the reassignment of employees as a “sleight of hand” trick.

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The Council’s action resulted in an 83% increase in the Santa Clara Stadium Authority employee budget. While it may appear to some this action was a decrease in City costs, it’s not. It is a different twist on the old shell game.

Santa Clara must still pay their half of the Stadium Authority bills. That is if the City can ever get around to paying their Stadium obligations.

This transfer of City employees to the Stadium Authority payroll raises the question:

Why does the City need six or seven full-time employees hanging out at the Stadium tripping over each other in search of something to do? What is the City getting for this $1.7 million expenditure? What are the 49ers getting other than half of the City’s bloated payroll expenses?

On a different issue, notice how quickly City Manager Santana disavowed any relationship with the Santa Clara Police Officers Association. In an editorial, the Silicon Valley Voice exposed the POA solicitation letter the POA sent to Santa Clara businesses. It looked like, sounded like, read like… payola for the cops. “Make a donation to the POA and get a VIP decal for your window and the POA Friendly’s will look out for you?”

City Manager Santana immediately issued a press release, disavowing any ties to the POA.

Doesn’t this sound about as overt and obvious as any pay-for-protection scheme?

Police Chief Pat Nikolai went off the grid with this mailer. The POA makes flowery statements about how they support so many charitable organizations. This is the same POA  organization that spent $315,000 to support Mayor Gillmor’s Council candidates in the November election. That money had nothing to do with charity. These donations came primarily from developers like Related, Citation Homes and other builders who have major projects pending in Santa Clara. Now, those are some serious “pay to play” numbers.

The last time we checked, Santa Clara POA was only one of two POAs in California to solicit outside donations to their PACs to support Council candidates for local office.

And last, a stumper. Why is City Attorney Brain Doyle still employed?

Here’s a pencil. Draw your own conclusions.

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