49ers Stadium Audit Report Leaked (Sort Of) to the Santa Clara Weekly (Opinion)
By Robert Haugh
Congratulations to Santa Clara Weekly reporter Carolyn Schuk for getting info about the Harvey Rose audit on stadium operations and finances. It’s still confidential and it’s still in draft form. So she found a good leak. Is Santa Clara City Hall becoming the Trump White House?
But the Weekly story leaves out lots of major facts.
- The audit was requested by the Civil Grand Jury a year ago in June, 2016. The Weekly, in this story and especially in Miles Barber’s columns have questioned the legitimacy of the audit for a long time. But, more knowledgeable people know that it started with the Grand Jury. That’s an important fact to leave out of a story.
- The $500,000 that the Weekly reports that the 49ers owe the City is not the total amount of the audit findings according to our sources. Unfortunately, our sources aren’t as leaky as Carolyn’s and won’t say how much more. But we think it’s way higher.
- The audit is not finished despite the article’s headline and sloppy reporting. That’s because the 49ers are allegedly withholding documents that they are legally required to give to the City. So this is just the first phase of the audit. The courts will probably have to force the team to give up the documents. There’s a legal battle now. Then we’ll see another audit or two. And maybe the 49ers will owe more money to the City.
- Measure J violations were previously reported by the Mercury News in October, 2016. (Measure J is the law that Santa Clarans voted for to prevent the city’s general fund from being used for the stadium.) So that’s not news. We just don’t know how much or who’s responsible. Back then, Ramona Giwargis reported that “Despite a push from Santa Clara residents at the meeting, the auditors could not say exactly how the potential Measure J violations occurred.” Let’s hope the audit when it comes out answers that question. That will be news.
Speaking of responsibility … since the audit started, the following people have left City Hall: former City Manager Julio Fuentes, former City Attorney Ren Noskey, former Finance Director Gary Ameling. Plus Interim City Manager Rajeev Batra officially retired on March 31. These were the top people responsible for stadium expenditures. Is this just a coincidence? Will there be others?
Finally, we should give Carolyn some credit for getting at least one thing right: “The story is still developing,” she writes.