During Tuesday’s Stadium Authority meeting, the Board opted to continue adopting new guidelines for the conflict of interest code. These guidelines more clearly delineate who is subject to Political Reform Act regulation.
The Forty Niners Management Company (ManCo) asked the Board to delay the item. Board Members Kevin Park and Anthony Becker both said they would like more information about the specifics of the changes.
Stadium Authority Counsel Brian Doyle said the update became necessary because of gaps in the management agreement.
“It is absolutely riddled and fraught with possibilities for violation of state law with respect to conflict of interest,” he said.
Further, several actions ManCo has taken are clear conflicts of interest, he said. Namely, since ManCo is a consultant acting on behalf of a public agency — i.e., the Stadium Authority — the law requires the submittal of a Form 700, a public official’s disclosure of assets that may be affected by its official action. ManCo has even “confessed” to these conflicts in letters to his office, he added.
Doyle said he has repeatedly tried to contact ManCo’s attorney to amend the management agreement and better understand the conflicts of President Al Guido and Stadium Manager Jim Mercurio. ManCo, Doyle said, has “refused to cooperate.”
But Park said he has yet to “hear the other side of the story,” adding that he cannot “make a judgment without full information.”
The request from ManCo came in the eleventh hour, with Doyle saying he has “heard nothing but stony silence since May until six minutes before the meeting.” He said the letter is not a “good faith effort” and anybody who thinks otherwise is “sorely mistaken,” adding that ManCo is “flat-out misleading” the Board that it is not “making governmental decisions” since it is signing contracts on the behalf of the Stadium Authority.
“They have been playing games with this,” Doyle said. “They have been passing their own budget, they have been operating under their own budgets, they have been taking money out of a revolving loan, acting as though they are public officials when they do that, and they think somehow they should be exempt from state law when they do this. This is absolutely appalling that they are taking this position.”
If the the Board delays adopting the code, it is rewarding bad behavior, Doyle said.
Executive Director Deanna Santana said ManCo tends to label matters as urgent only to delay or waste City employees’ time.
Chair Lisa Gillmor said the issue was about transparency and took digs at other members of the Board, calling them “friends” of ManCo, a comment which drew umbridge from Board Members Becker, Park and Vice Chair Raj Chahal.
Becker said the Board needs to get past such characterizations and instead learn to look at each instance with sober eyes. If ManCo really has a pattern of behavior in line with what the mayor and others claim, he said, the new Board members will see it soon enough.
“It can’t be that the 49ers are always the bad guys and the City is always the victim,” he said.
Becker moved to continue the item to the next meeting, which, he said, would give ManCo time to respond to Doyle’s questions and City employees time to write a report bringing new Board members up to speed. The motion passed 6-1 with Board Member Kathy Watanabe voting “no.”
Committee Assignments Get Scrutiny
Council Member Suds Jain requested the Council assign committee roles more equally.
Gillmor suggested the Council form an ad hoc committee to discuss the distribution of roles on committees. She repeatedly stressed the importance of experience in such roles, saying Council Members should pay their dues by serving as alternates until they learn the ropes.
“When you have a new hire, you don’t make them vice president of the company,” she said.
Becker disagreed, saying the old “experience” excuse is something young people have grown accustomed to hearing as a way to keep them out of decision making. The Council needs “fresh, new voices,” he said.
“How do you get the experience if nobody gives you the opportunity to get experience?” he said.
The Council voted 5-2 to form an ad hoc committee to determine committee assignments. Watanabe and Becker voted “no.”
ManCo Catches Flak For SBL Management
The Stadium Authority also approved $16,400 in agreements with FedEx and the United States Postal Service to mail 1,200 notices of default and termination for stadium builders licenses (SBL). The Board also denied retroactive approval of the $10,100 in costs associated with postage, printing and mailing the 2021 SBL invoices.
The request from the stadium manager comes following the Board’s revocation of ManCo’s ability to execute contracts. Santana said ManCo has not been maintaining appropriate financial records and overall has demonstrated a “poor management” and a “lack of procurement expertise,” adding that mailing notices are among the easiest of procurement tasks.
Because of this, Santana said ManCo has been unable to properly manage its SBLs. Payments for 2020 SBLs are a year behind, she said, with more coming due at the beginning of March. The Board unanimously approved the motion.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Feb. 9 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.
Members of the public can participate in the City Council meetings on Zoom at https://santaclaraca.zoom.us/j/99706759306; Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or call 1(669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or by email to PublicComment@santaclaraca.gov