Santa Clara Focus – Opinion


By Robert Haugh

Santa Clara deserves better: better news coverage, better ethics in campaigning and better transparency.

For the past few years, the City has seen an increase in transparency, largely thanks to the efforts of several Council members and a proactive Mayor who have fought for thorough transparency.

Recently, the Santa Clara WEEKLY published several politically-motivated articles and a cover photo that featured images of several candidates for office whom the Publisher opposes.

The cover story was regarding FPPC complaints filed by attorney John Mlnarik, who lost a City Council race to one of the individuals named in the complaints. He was also subject to an FPPC investigation himself, and sued an online blogger over content. Mlnarik lacks credibility and the WEEKLY features his complaints on their front page. This is not journalism. It’s more like an unpaid political ad. Speaking of ads – coincidence that Mlnarik’s law firm has an ad in the same issue newspaper? Santa Clara deserves better.

* According to sources, the WEEKLY has refused publishing letters from candidates that their Publisher doesn’t support – this is not only morally wrong as a newspaper, it is highly unethical. I will offer to print them here, so Santa Clarans can get two sides of a story, not just the WEEKLY’s side which we are learning is frequently biased and wrong. Santa Clara deserves better.  

* I filed a formal complaint with the IRS regarding the newspaper publisher’s conflict of interest on the Chamber Board of Directors …  The Publisher helps decide whom the Chamber supports then the publication then gets paid by the Chamber to advertise for those candidates.   According to a Chamber board member Dave Tobkin: “The PAC uses some of its separate funds to pay for political ads, flyers, and televised interviews.  Almost all of these expenses are paid to Chamber board and members.” That sounds like “self dealing” which is legally prohibited by the IRS. I think this is wrong. The practice certainly isn’t transparent.  Santa Clara deserves better.

Robert Haugh’s column will appear on Tuesdays and Thursdays. journalist

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  1. Funny, but during the 22 years we lived in “south” Santa Clara (i.e. south of 101) we received the weekly on our doorstep, but have never received one issue since we moved to the Lake Santa Clara neighborhood (nearly adjacent to Levi’s). I still read it online, and am frequently befuddled by Miles Barber’s totally clueless perspectives and the paper’s self-serving, smug tone.

  2. They also fail to disclose that they are currently the ONLY newspaper in Santa Clara … Those little details DO make a huge difference.


  3. The Weekly is just awful. They say are the “most read newspaper in Santa Clara”. Most delivered, but not most read. Total fraud on the front page every week. If you ever scan their “articles” they have always read like, “Here’s some bias from someone powerful who hides behind a front.” The people of Silicon Valley/Santa Clara today are highly educated, intelligent, & diverse, & see through this BS. Too bad we don’t have great local alternatives. I’ll check out this/your site more often to see what you can offer us.

  4. Hey Robert … How about “investigating and reporting” on why Matthews really quit? The people of Santa Clara keep asking and really do deserve an answer from a 5th generation Santa Claran who continually stressed his deep love and dedication to Santa Clara.

    Actions speak louder than words … So what happened, Jamie And, what is he still hiding from.

    How about it Robert? Up to bringing us some In-depth investigative reporting?

    • Absolutely! I’ll try to get some answers. No promises, as Matthews may not want to discuss his reasons for stepping down. I’m working on several investigative pieces, as well as informative pieces also. Stay tuned!!!

  5. Here is a copy of a letter to the Santa Clara Weekly that they refused to publish:
    Once again Mr. Barber got it wrong in his most recent column on the audit of public safety costs at the Stadium. If he had done even minimum research on the issue, he would realize that even after the first season of play, the City administration had not lifted a finger to enforce Measure J’s prohibition on general fund expenditures on Stadium operations, and that it was only this summer (2016) that they started to provide any guidance at all to their personnel about how to bill their time to prevent an illegal subsidy to the 49er’s billionaire owners. And as for the 49ers “having nothing to do with the matter,” they are the ones that insisted on a cap on public safety expenditures in their annual reimbursement of the expenses. The Niners are the ones who sold the voters on Measure J, yet is no legal justification in Measure J for such a cap. It seems pretty dirty to me. Finally, Mr. Barber’s citation to KPMG’s audit is entirely misplaced. KPMG clearly stated to both the Audit Committee and the Council that they had not audited the Stadium contract for compliance with Measure J. Does the Santa Clara Weekly have any journalistic ethics? They should at least tell their readers that they are bought and paid for by Jed York.

    • Thank you very much Brian. The WEEKLY does have word count limits- I am not there and am unsure of their policy now, it use to be 150 words or less. Your letter is around 220 words, which is not too drastically long. Thank you for sharing.

    • Is this the same Brian Doyle who is the attorney for Santa Clara’s Housing Authority? Another one of Mayor Gillmor’s yes men? I wonder what role you might have played in her blackmailing our former Mayor out of office. It’s so hush hush nobody is writing about.
      I hope you feel good about helping Gillmor continue to ruin the lives of good people, members of our community. Like the owners of the Avalon nightclub who she drove out of town when she lied to prevent them from getting into a new location at Garden City. Wonder’s never cease…. look what’s at that location now… ROCK BAR, a nightclub that has booked a majority of the talent that used to play at the Avalon. But you won’t see a story about that here or in the Weekly or in the Merc.
      How high does the corruption go? Hasn’t anyone looked at their sample ballot and seen that every single one of Gillmor’s “candidates” is the first choice for voters in their election? With a long ballot and voter fatigue that is sure to play a role in the outcome. And NOBODY is saying a word.
      If you think the 9ers and the Weekly are the problem Brian, you’d better take a good hard look at who you jumped into bed with.

    • Francis, RockBAR has been closed for almost a year – the building sits vacant … Avalon closed due to financial difficulties … Regarding the ballot names, that is done by a random “alphabet” drawing by the Secretary of State and RoV. Thank you for sharing your opinion and reading.

    • Reply to comment by rhaugh2154 :
      The RockBar’s closing has nothing to do with the actions Gillmor took against the Avalon, the lives she destroyed and the business opportunity she helped someone else steal. How the ballot names are “randomly” selected also misses the point but does draw attention to how improbable it is that each of Gillmor’s candidates ended up at the top EACH TIME. Who do you have to know… who do you have to threaten… what do you have to do to rig the system like that?

    • It’s simply a coincidence on the ballot names and the placements. If people focused on getting out there and saying why there are campaigning rather than attacking one another, we all would benefit. By the way, Avalon was in serious trouble for a while.

    • Why are you so angry, Francis, that you would make stuff up about me and post it to a blog? Don’t you know that your publication of false and defamatory statements about me and could subject you to legal liability? Instead of addressing the facts I reported in my response to Mr. Barber’s column you engage in an ad hominem against me. That would lead me to believe my assertions about the 49ers’ attempt to quash an audit that would hold them to their promises in Measure J are valid. Anyone who knows me knows that I know nothing about why our former mayor resigned and that I am nobody’s “yes man”, You obviously know nothing about me. Please leave me out of your grudges against Mayor Gillmor.

  6. Thanks Robert for stepping forward to publish this.. It would be a refreshing breath of fresh air to have a publication in Santa Clara actually provides news. It would also be wonderful to have a reporter who actually investigates and writes articles instead of puppets who regurgitate what they are given to print. The Weaky is a disgrace and has been for decades. I wish you the best and hope that you have cleared all the Weaky poison out of your system.

    • Thank you Deborah. I have pride in being an ethical journalist and practicing integrity. I am not perfect, and no one is, but from my days as a student journalist leading a team of students to produce a special unscheduled newspaper in the aftermath of the infamous De Anza bomb plot, to the years of covering Levi’s Stadium/Measure J, to an array of local community and sports events, to hard news coverage like “Jose-Clara Co-Op” drug/guns undercover sting operation and more, I’ve been around the Santa Clara community and love Santa Clara. I hope I can provide balances and neutral news to Santa Clarans with a place where people have a voice.

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