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Op-Ed by David D. Tobkin, CPA Regarding Convention Center and CVB Audit

The Santa Clara City Manager issued three letters that are intentionally false and misleading, at taxpayer expense to destroy the reputations of Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce PAC.  City Manager Deanna Santana who in the past has been accused of leaving out important facts and misleading the reader has resorted to issuing false reports with no supporting information again this time while acting as the City Manager of Santa Clara.

On August 15, 2018 City Manager issued a letter outlining “preliminary observations” without ever discussing the issues with the Chamber and PAC.  City was made aware that there were errors in an opening meeting and ignored the corrections.

On September 20, 2018 City Manager issued a letter to the Fair Political Practices Commission filled with lies and misstatements.

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“Specifically, the performance audit has found that in 2012 the Chamber (referred to as Contractor in the audit) sponsored a fundraising event for its PAC.  The Chamber commingled the administrative resources, funded with public funds for other contract work, with Chamber PAC fundraising activities which resulted in an $8,000 check improperly issued to the Chamber PAC from CVB (pages 41-42 of the audit).  In particular the audit states: “In 2012, the Contractor sponsored a web-based fundraising event for a political action committee.  During the campaign, the Contractor received checks that totaled about $8,000 made payable to the CVB.  Rather than returning the political donor’s check, the Contractor deposited the checks and recorded and issued a check on May, 2012 under the CVB accounting records for about $8,000 to the Political Action Committee.  Contractor management attributed the problem to donor confusion about whom to make the checks payable.  When the CVB sent the payment to the Chamber PAC, it provided a gift of public funds by the use of public resources being used for political fundraising purposes that requires further review by the FPPC for potential violation of State law”

The facts of the report are completely flawed.  The Chamber did collect $8,003 on behalf of the PAC, not the CVB.  The Chamber was reimbursed for the cost of using their credit card machine.  The funds were collected for a PAC fundraiser.  Almost all payments were by credit card except for two checks for $550 each that were written to the Santa Clara Chamber PAC paid by members of the PAC.  The Contractor NEVER said there was confusion about whom to make the checks payable to.  In fact, paperwork had to be completed for reporting the information to the FPPC in 2012, a copy was sent to the City of Santa Clara at the same time.  The PAC also reimbursed the Chamber any out of pocket expense. In this case reimbursement was $1,000.  How am I so sure of the facts of the Fund Raiser?  Because we still have the records.  This is just one example of the Deanna Santana fake reporting that has followed her from the City of Oakland to Sunnyvale to Santa Clara.  The Chamber PAC never violated any laws.

The third letter dated September 21, 2018 provides a table called Lost Revenues and City Subsidies Resulting from Chamber’s Management of Public Funds.  The first thing you notice is the Audit pages referenced are all wrong.  None of the pages have anything to do with the listing of lost revenues.  An error of this magnitude lacks professionalism and is something you would expect from an 8th grader who turned in a report without doing their homework.  The next thing you notice is that the City manager has reported the “Lost Revenues” twice.  These are items (discounts and no charge) given to secure room nights and food and beverage orders that bring in lots of business to the City.  The City Manager reports the Direct Convention Financial impact and Net Income which should have already covered the lost revenues, thus reporting it twice.  Why would the City Manager be so careless and dangerous?  Why would the City Manager destroy a partnership in the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce that has been so successful for many years?  You would have to ask her bosses, the majority of the City Council.

 

David D. Tobkin

Former City Councilman

and CPA

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