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Milestones: Smell the Stench?

It is a sorry sight to see the manufactured behavior of our City Council majority.

Watching our Council last week along with the 10 or so folks in the audience and the 40 people watching online, it was a tragedy of Shakespeare’s making.

Most of you know that Police Chief Mike Sellers retired at the end of August. He was honored at the last San Francisco 49ers pre-season game as a Hometown Hero. It was an incredibly special time.


This left a vacancy for Sellers’ job. A vacancy that would normally be filled by our Assistant Chief, who in this case is Dan Winter. Winter has advanced through the ranks, becoming a captain then assistant chief. Along the way, he also attained a law degree and certainly is highly qualified.

Barring this obvious choice, the Council could have appointed one of the four department captains.

Not the case.

Reading from her prepared script at Council, Council Member Debi Davis moved that there be no interviews for the Chief’s vacancy and the decision to select a chief proceed directly to the March primary election to choose Sellers’ replacement. The motion passed.

Assistant Chief Dan Winter will become Acting Chief until next March when he will need to run for election. But he will not have the title of Chief, (which could have given him an advantage).

It is no secret that Mayor Lisa Gillmor didn’t want Sellers as Chief and she is not thrilled with Dan Winter as Acting Chief.

You may remember that in 2016, Gillmor openly and brazenly handpicked Pat Nikolai as her candidate for the Chief’s job in opposition to Sellers. Sellers had over 30 years on the force, rose through the ranks and was elected Chief in 2012. In 2016, Nikolai was only a sergeant on the SCPD force, had not even finished his college degree and had not sought or qualified for advancement. However, he was a Gillmor supporter and Gillmor wanted Nikolai to run the department as she saw fit.

With enormous support from the Gillmor machine, the Sellers/Nicolai race was to become one of the most heated in Santa Clara memory. When the ballots were counted the numbers were so close a recount became mandatory. To Gillmor’s dismay, Sellers was declared victor by 104 votes.

Gillmor hand-picked Nikolai as her candidate in 2016 during the infamous 49ers audit, where she promised the “stench” of Santa Clara would be cleaned up. The audit found nothing and was quietly dismissed (Like a lot of accusations).

In anticipation that Nikolai would be called on again to run as an important member of the Gillmor Gang, he completed his degree and passed his test to become a lieutenant. Most likely in preparation for the upcoming race in March.

The not so obvious lack of transparency in Santa Clara politics is a blight on the community and an insult to the intelligence of our residents.

This Council majority has promoted themselves as visionary, transparent leaders (they are anything but…). However, they have been successful at creating a “genuine stench” that now permeates City Hall.


  1. John Smith 5 years ago

    When is this insane hiring going to end. Are there no HR guidelines that must be followed. Dan Winter is the best and brightest person for the job. I thought SantaClara used to hire the best folks for the job. It seems since Ms Santana has come to power no HR guidelines have been followed except that they are friends of hers. The City council needs to wake up and back the best qualified person for the Chief of Police which is Dan Winter

  2. Laura Fanelli 5 years ago

    Keep reporting Hopefully at some point Ms Gilmore will be eventually voted out. Dan Winter should have been appointed and this is Politics at it’s worst.

  3. ABecker 5 years ago

    I was recently in Santa Barbara for a City Planning Conference and I spoke to some planners and commissioners around the bay area like Campbell, Sunnyvale etc.

    I have to say after speaking to all of them, apparently they can smell the stench from their communities and those in Southern Cal laughed at me when they said your city does not know how to run a city let alone a stadium. I heard the word TOXIC a few times.

    It becomes more than a coincidence when more outsiders are talking about the turmoil in my city. The stench is so bad that the smell has gravitated further than the confines of the bay area, and others are starting to question leadership and accountability in Santa Clara. It’s based all on hypocrisy and it continues to damage our image. No wonder the insult from the Rolling Stones they probably could smell the stench of the Santa Clara swamp upon arrival and the micromanaging.

    More and more hopefully the masses of Santa Clara residents will wake up and smell this stench and send the current regime packing. Changes are needed for a more accountable, transparent Santa Clara. And with those sweeping changes will come a breath of fresh air, and some Febreze to eliminate that stench.

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