Santa Clara City Council has a new majority which voters approved last November. Potentially these new members offer to bring changes voters hoped for, including personnel, policy, and procedures.
Kevin Park, Suds Jain, and Anthony Becker philosophically joined Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy with a more moderate approach to administration duties. Many of these duties are demanding and diversified, which involve more than simply locating the paper clips and pencils.
Since the November election, tens of millions in contracts have been approved and awarded by this Santa Clara Council and it is virtually impossible to know all the details of these awards given the time they had available between their election and the approval process.
The ramrod mentality of Mayor Gillmor and City Manager Santana made sure these items came early in the new councils’ term knowing there was a higher probability of these contracts avoiding intense scrutiny.
One of these ramrod contracts was extending the managerial position of Dan Fenton at Santa Clara’s Convention Center. Fenton was fired by San Jose for a variety of abuses and somehow, he was going to be a gift to Santa Clara?
By taking a little more time and reviewing the City’s options, Santa Clara might have, and still could, benefit from hiring Annette Manhart. Manhart was director of Santa Clara’s Convention and Visitors Bureau which was a money machine for the City. She directed 14 employees who were setting new records in convention center bookings and earned in 2017-18 a $2.2 million profit. Then Mayor Lisa Gillmor abruptly and without warning fired all 15 employees.
This was a simple case of shooting yourself in the foot and it was only one of the many casualties created by her scorched earth policy.
While so many of Gillmor’s decisions defied gravity, her council advocates supported her decisions to drop the axe, create a surge in salaries, reward those who were loyal to her and decimate those who disagreed.
Now that Gillmor no longer has a strangle hold on Council, voter expectations have escalated. However, clear cut, seemingly easy decisions are still not forthcoming.
As a major example, Chief Legal Counsel Brian Doyle. If Doyle has been one thing, he has been consistent. Consistently bad. He has lied to this Council, provided spurious advice, withheld proprietary and critical information from this council, flagrantly violated the basic rule of good judgement and cost Santa Clara millions. And…he is still there?
This is one action the Santa Clara Council should be able to make with no indecision. It is time for Doyle to go. Failure to reward incompetence appropriately is a failure of this council to be any different then Gillmor’s former council allies.
“Do your job and you get to keep it,” is an old axiom that applies to appointments, employees and…elected councilmembers.