Thanksgiving is obviously over. Our City Council has not, and is not, giving thanks to the Chamber of Commerce for 35 years of commendable service.
You may recall the Chamber has been managers of our Convention Center and Convention Visitors Bureau for more than three decades. What makes this remarkable is the length of time they have served Santa Clara in this position of responsibility.
The entire Chamber Board has provided this supervision as volunteers, costing the City virtually nothing.
Most unusual is the Chamber has defied the law of economic gravity and turned a profit for the City during most of those years. This includes the $2.2 million they made for our City this past fiscal year. Add in the Convention and Visitors Bureau and it was astounding.
When you compare this remarkable record with other convention centers, which run at huge loses, you would normally be thankful.
San Jose and San Francisco lose millions every year. Santa Clara has made millions.
However, Santa Clara has a most unusual Council.
This Council wants our Convention Center to be like other cities. You must assume then, they want Santa Clara to run like San Francisco and San Jose and lose millions.
Awkward position you might think.
Look at the actions of our Council. With the assistance of City Manager Deanna Santana, they hired a performance audit firm called TAP. The lead auditor is Denise Callahan, whose credentials are a master’s degree in public administration. She is not a CPA.
The “performance audit” turned into a “financial audit” performed by a non-qualified financial individual.
The financial findings were flagrantly flawed and so full of holes it could pass for swiss cheese.
But this Council assumed the audit to be a new Gideon Bible, apparently believing every word.
It is not enough to pass off these actions of our Council as politics. These actions demand the truth be revealed for what they are…corruption!
A major strike against the City is collusion between the City Council, City Manager and the auditor.
Note that City Manager Santana failed to disclose her former relationship with auditor Callahan. Santana hired Callahan when she worked in the City Manager’s office in San Jose. She had Callahan perform an “audit” that contradicted the City audit on the San Jose Police Department. Callahan “painted” her audit to make the Police Department look clean in contrast to the damning actions by the department. She was seriously criticized for this, which may have led to her leaving San Jose for Oakland. She was also criticized in Oakland trying to change reports.
Now, Santana has used Callahan to paint the Chamber as brazen black and its dozens of volunteers as bungling idiots. The Council (God help us) is using this audit as Gospel.
Critics have suggested Santana wanted the Convention Visitors Bureau payroll money back in the General Fund. Firing these employees saved the City $1.5 million, but what will that cost our City in lost revenue? Last year they produced over $100 million in economic activity. Now what?
Currently we have no department selling and promoting our City meetings and conventions.
So much for Thanksgiving at City Hall.
Miles Barber was president of the Chamber board in 1984. He has continued to serve on the board periodically over the years.