Stadium Authority Meeting — Part 2
By Robert Haugh
For entertainment purposes, the Stadium Authority meeting on Aug. 24 couldn’t be beat. The meeting had substance and style.
First, the substance. The 49ers made a lengthy presentation about how non-NFL events have done well. Then, they asked to lift the weekday curfew from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. This was not technically agendized for action. We wonder why the agenda was vague or deceptive about this. So the Stadium Authority could only express its opinion to the Stadium Manager, Interim City Manager Rajeev Batra. (Note to new City Manager Deanna Santana: more openness and transparency for the agenda would be a good thing.)
The 49ers offered to pay $5,000 to four Northside schools and organizations each time they break the curfew and offered to to host free fireworks for the city on July 4th. (Yes, a franchise valued at $3 billion offered $20,000 and free fireworks).
Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta made the motion and passionately argued for the 49ers request. It failed 3-4, with only Councilmembers Pat Kolstad and Patty Mahan in support.
Look for this issue to come up again in the 2018 County Supervisors race. One candidate has already staked out a position against the curfew which should play well in Santa Clara, especially on the Northside.
Now, for the style part of the meeting or the fireworks — not the free ones the 49ers want to pay for on July 4th to bribe the city.
Police Chief Mike Sellers delivered a 6-minute tirade attacking Stadium Authority Chair Lisa Gillmor and defending his department against the Harvey Rose and Associates audit. The usually mild-mannered Sellers was visibly upset, but he was reading from a script the whole time which made it look more staged. Since the meeting, sources have sent us speculation about who wrote Sellers’s statement, including a high-ranking individual in the police department. (Note to sources: we need some evidence.) This was the most personal attack on an elected official in Santa Clara that we’ve seen in decades. Some of the more pointed statements made by Sellers against Gillmor:
- She engaged in “Political grandstanding and reckless claims of abuse, misappropriations of funds, and allegations of political corruption.”
- She has demonstrated a “lack of leadership, honesty and transparency.”
Sellers then went on to attack the audit and the auditors, using numbers that don’t appear in the audit, but have been generated by the city staff since the publication of the audit. This a criticism that we don’t get. The auditors used city staff’s numbers to determine how much the city is owed. Then city staff lowered the numbers. Wouldn’t city staff want taxpayers to get as much back as possible? Or are they just trying to minimize their mistakes?
Gillmor did not respond in kind. She said that she “would not address the personal issues.” But that she had confidence in the audit and its 37 recommendations and believes it will “change the way we’re doing business in Santa Clara.”
Stadium Authority Board member Teresa O’Neill then responded strongly that she feels Gillmor and the audit were acting in the best interest of the city. She said that although she respected Sellers and his department, “I don’t agree with a lot of what he had to say. She said that the issue has “Unfortunately, gotten into a battle of personalities.” O’Neill concluded: “We have not done the kind of job that our residents and our employees need in terms of management.”
O’Neill also told about the history of the audit and the selection of the auditor, which Sellers and the 49ers claim was started and pushed by Gillmor. O’Neill said she herself wrote the scope of the audit and gave it to staff and requested Harvey Rose be invited to respond to the Request for Proposal. She also said that the firm the staff recommended and Sellers preferred, Grant Thornton, “had a lot issues.” (i.e. $2 million Securities and Exchange Commission fine for audit irregularities).
O’Neill also addressed Sellers’ accusation that a copy of the draft audit report was leaked by Gillmor to the San Francisco Chronicle. She said she read details of the draft audit in the Santa Clara Weekly days before Gillmor visited the Chronicle. (Yes, we know and have documented).
O’Neill made the motion to accept the audit and have the Ad-Hoc Stadium Audit Subcommittee develop an action plan on its recommendations. It passed unanimously. They did not determine if there would be a second audit. Look for that to come back.
- Stadium Authority meeting dates for 2018 were approved.
- The Stadium Authority approved a reimbursement agreement between the 49ers and VTA for increased VTA train Services for non-NFL events.
- A transportation management and operations plan (TMOP) was presented regarding recent stadium events.
- Discussion on policies were for reservation procedures for Levi’s Stadium community rooms for Santa Clara civic groups and non-profits was tabled to the next Stadium Authority meeting on September 19.