Anthony Becker is currently the Chair of the Santa Clara Planning Commission. In last year’s election, he was a candidate for Mayor. While he has been politically active for several years, he was virtually unknown by the community. With little money and only his enthusiasm, he ran for Mayor against one of the most known names in Santa Clara, Lisa Gillmor.
Unhappy with the turmoil and direction our City was moving, Becker felt he could bring a spirit of collaboration to the Council.
While he may have been right, most voters didn’t recognize his name and returned Gillmor to office. However, this virtually unknown young man pulled 25% of the vote.
Becker was not unhappy with his campaign results. He was unhappy with the way the City was being run or, in his mind, the way the City was being run over.
Following the election, he filed a complaint with the Santa Clara Grand Jury. It was not an issue about the election but about obtaining public records from the City. He initially was looking for contracts that were provided without Council consent.
While the City Manager has authority to enter into contracts of $100,000 or less, Becker noticed that Singer Associates (a PR Firm) was hired by the City for $100,000 and also hired by the Stadium Authority (a City entity) for $100,000. His argument was simple. “The Mayor split the contract in half to avoid Council required approval.”
Becker wished to see these documents, which are public records. However, the City reacted as quickly as a crippled slug. The law governing public records is quite clear and a response from any public entity is required within 10 days. Out of frustration by Santa Clara’s delays, he directed his complaint to the Grand Jury.
The Grand Jury thought it would be worth looking at these contract awards. However, they neither could obtain them from the City. Therefore, they began investigating the record producing practices of the City. What they discovered was a wide-awake nightmare.
After months of requests to the City for responsive records, the Grand Jury published a very damming report that you can read in detail at www.SvVoice.com.
The results were not, and are not, positive for Santa Clara.
If we jump to the bottom line, record keeping in the City is a mess. In their investigation, the Grand Jury received delay after delay and in some cases only partial documents.
The City responded with a letter disagreeing with the Grand Jury report. Are you surprised?
This investigation report is scathing and does not cast a favorable light on our current leadership.
City Manager Deanna Santana brought the records issue to the attention of the Council in January 2018. However, more than a year later, it appears our record keeping policy has the familiar touch of our Council majority…out to lunch.
Of course, there may be some records the Council does not want the public or Grand Jury to see. These might include the multiple $100,000 contracts awarded to individuals without Council approval.
Thank you, Anthony Becker, for taking the time, energy and diligence to bring these issues to the public. Thanks to the Grand Jury who has pulled back the curtain on a city that advertises transparency, yet is in turmoil, disguised as Disneyland.