Santa Clara mayoral candidate Anthony Becker came out swinging after what he calls a fabrication by his opponent, sitting mayor Lisa Gillmor, accusing her of twisting the facts of last Tuesday’s City Council meeting closed session, and leaking a misleading narrative that she broadcast through the Gillmor-friendly San Francisco Chronicle.
“I believe the public has the right to know the whole truth about this matter and there are significant differences between what the mayor has leaked and what actually happened,” Becker said in a statement Saturday.
“I respect the laws that prevent me from talking about closed session agenda items,” Becker continued. “I am pleased the majority of the Council approved seeking an end to the litigation over the stadium. It had gone on too long and cost the City too much money. With the settlement, we now have millions coming to the City.”
Via the Chronicle, Gillmor accused her colleague of telling her to “go f—k yourself” and making a rude gesture in the closed session. Other council members, as well as the City Manager, told The Weekly that they had been advised by the City Attorney not to comment on the matter. None of them would confirm Gillmor’s version of the story.
However, The Weekly has been told by City Hall sources that shouting was heard from the closed session, and Council Member Kathy Watanabe shouted at Becker, “I’m sick of your bulls—t” as she opened the door and walked out — apparently provoking Becker’s retort to “eff” — not the full expletive — herself,” and slamming the door so loudly that it was heard throughout City Hall. Gillmor followed Watanabe out the door. Their departure allowed the rest of the Council to conduct its business.
Watanabe was apparently still nursing her grievance hours after the contentious session, refusing to participate in a group photo recognizing Intel’s donation of COVID test kits to the City.
No one denied that there was an acrimonious discussion. It’s no secret that Gillmor and Watanabe’s conduct toward their colleagues is frequently rude and insulting. Since Gillmor lost her majority on the Council, she and her allies, Watanabe and fired City Attorney Brian Doyle, routinely attempt to create procedural roadblocks in the path of Council action.
Gillmor also told the Chronicle that she felt so threatened at the meeting that she called the police.
In fact, the police weren’t at City Hall because she called them, but because someone with an apparent mental disturbance had been wandering around City Hall since 8 a.m. and appeared to be very confused.
City Manager Rajeev Batra called SCPD after the person was still in the Council chambers late into the evening.
“I started worrying that about them, about how they were going to get home, what they were going to do when the building closed,” said Batra. “I called the Assistant Chief and he sent the crisis intervention unit. They were able to contact the person’s family and their father came to pick them up.”
The most recent leak of closed session Santa Clara City Council information to the Chronicle — the regular channel for City Hall leaks — concerned the 49ers settlement offer, and Gillmor, Watanabe and Doyle were on hand to comment immediately for the Chronicle’s story. In the present case, it appears that Gillmor volunteered the information to the Chronicle.
Leaking closed session and confidential public agency information can be referred to a grand jury and punished as contempt of court with a $1,000 fine and/or five days in jail.