City Pays Caserta to Attend Yosemite Conference and Stay at Luxury Hotel

By Robert Haugh

In February, 2017, we reported that Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta was attending a three-night conference at Yosemite and staying at a famous luxury hotel on the city dime, the Majestic Hotel (a.k.a. Ahwahnee Hotel) that charges $500 per night or higher.

majestic-hotelThat prompted Caserta to pledge at a council meeting two days later that he would reimburse the city for the difference between the luxury hotel and the conference hotel: the Yosemite Valley Lodge.

Recently, we asked city staff if Caserta had paid the difference. Lynn Garcia, who works at City Hall for the Mayor and Council and set up the Yosemite trip, sent us this spreadsheet that shows that Caserta “paid” the city $714.  Okay, so it looks like Caserta kept his pledge for the three-night conference.

CasertaSpreadsheet.jpg But there was no date on the spreadsheet, so we asked a follow up question: when did Caserta pay?

That’s when we learned that he didn’t pay. The initial email from Garcia was really deceptive. The city actually paid Caserta $98 on March 30. We found that out when Garcia sent us the expense report:

YosemitePolicymaker' Conference.pngIt shows that Caserta billed the city:

  • $196 for mileage to drive his own car to the conference from Santa Clara,
  • $30 for transportation (we presume parking),
  • $60 for meals (this would be in addition to the meals provided by the conference),
  • $526 for the third night at the the Majestic Hotel (the city paid the first two nights)

We still think that the city should have used like we did in our initial report to find Caserta last-minute lodging.

Instead of spending over $500 per night at one of America’s best hotels, Caserta and his family could have stayed at the Best Western Cedar Inn and Suites for $107 per night and the city would not have had to cut him a check.

Maybe next year.

***Editor’s note: the Best Western option is a substantial distance (up to 1.5 hours) from the conference site – rooms at the host site start at around $275/night***



  1. As someone else said, the APPOINTED Vice Mayor, has already been found guilty of City expense report shenanigans before and he’s up to it again. BTW, he should have taken a city car, like others do too when on local City business. But then again, he wouldn’t have been able to be in his Boomer Benz, panhandling for more campaign donations and acting like a wannabe big shot.

    Wonder if the toupee is coming soon to cover his growing bald / flat spot too? Hope he doesn’t try to charge the City for that too. And, he knows all about his guilt at Santa Clara High — goes with the keep away orders too.

    • If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that the person commenting with big exclamation points and one-liner responses and all caps was Donald Trump… sadly, it is Dominic Caserta posting using hidden aliases. How shameful that someone who is supposed to represent Santa Clarans on the city council, who is also aspiring to be our Board of Supervisors is such a petty little man-child…. like our President.

  2. I read O’Neill’s comments then looked at the documents. This matter really stinks now.

    The first document Garcia sent was “deceptive.” It clearly says that Caserta “paid” the city. He did not.

    If Haugh did not request the second document, Garcia would have led us all to believe that Caserta paid the city $714.27. He did not and she knew it. She sent a false document. Why didn’t she just send the second document that tells the whole truth? Maybe it was a dumb mistake. Maybe it was a coverup.

    Then, I did some research and discovered O’Neill has endorsed Caserta for Supervisor!!! Very interesting. Now, I’m thinking coverup. City Hall stinks.

  3. Hello everyone– I usually don’t wade in on blogs as I don’t want to interfere with members of our Santa Clara community sharing ideas with each other, but in this case, to promote fairness, especially to Mayor and Council Executive Assistant Lynn Garcia, I feel compelled to wade in. It is standard practice in private industry and in government service to reimburse someone who uses their personal vehicle in the course of performing their duties. Travel to conferences falls in this category. if you look at the “Notes” section of the expense report that Robert posted, it shows dollar amounts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner which are the maximum amounts that the City will reimburse for meals during City-related travel. If you spend more than that amount, the amount above the limit is on your dime. That section also shows a mileage rate of $.535 per mile. That rate comes from the number that the IRS publishes each year as the official reimbursement rate. When I was at HP, that same rate was used to reimburse employees or given to customers to show what HP would charge them if HP had to travel to a customer location. The City determines the number of miles from Santa Clara to the location and multiplies that number by the $.535 to come up with the reimbursement. As these expense forms go through several reviews, I am confident that the $195 reflects the miles for a roundtrip to Yosemite times the mileage rate. Under the City policy which applies to everyone, Vice Mayor Caserta is entitled to a reimbursement for using his vehicle. My comments are only on the issue of the mileage reimbursement.

    I am even more confident that there was no attempt by Lynn Garcia to be misleading. This was an unusual situation requiring Vice Mayor Caserta to pay the amount indicated as an out-of-pocket reimbursement, $714. That number is shown on the expense report, along with the mileage expense. I can personally attest that Lynn Garcia is extremely professional and has the highest in ethical standards. She takes her role as a public servant very seriously. She also works very long hours to serve not just the Mayor and Council, but all the members of the public. Please ask anyone who has called the Mayor’s office or has come to see her in person the quality of assistance they have received. I sincerely ask that we all be a little more considerate of each other’s feelings when we post comments. The elected officials and executive staff know what they are getting into when they pursue their positions, but our office staff should receive some consideration, as we would give our friends and neighbors.

    Thank you for being so passionate and caring about our city of Santa Clara.

    Council Member Teresa O’Neill

  4. Caserta is an embarrassment. I can’t believe he represents Santa Clara on the council. He will be a bigger embarrassment on the Board of Supervisors. People who have contributed should ask for money back. People who have endorsed should un-endorse. Any organization that is thinking of endorsing should run for the frigging hills.

  5. Robert,
    You, like this article, are trash with no integrity. But of course you won’t post my comment, because you rather enjoy silencing critics.

    You allow for incredibly dangerous comments with no accountability to the accusations made, and you fail to do any genuine work into any of the other members of the council and their travel expenses. You are a fraud peddling nonsense but thrive on the vitriol and negative feedback these posts generate. Do better.

    • That’s ironic. I just allowed your comment, despite your email bring bogus and your IP tracing to an interesting location. And you fail to leave your full name. Even when asked bu email. Thanks for reading! Please cite these “comments with no credibility.” Everyone has an opinion.

    • Robert you are simply lying! Dominic reimbursed the city for the full amount! Full amount. Why did you not post Lynn Garcia’s email from last night to you for the readers to see. Because you are biased and have an axe to grind with Mahan Kolstad and Caserta. You fail to mention the FPPC fines on Davis and Watanabe but LIE here implying the city paid for Caserta’s stay which is simply false. Why not get a quote for anyone at City Hall? Your standards are truly not worthy of being called a journalist! You are a hack. No wonder you were fired from the Weekly! This is truly FAKE NEWS!!! See if this gets through moderation!

      This article is libelous and simply inaccurate!

    • Caserta is using Diane alias Again!!😂😂😂”Do better” Caserta you re a sad little man

    • Caserta why are you posting using alias names telling everyone how honest and amazing you are. You need some serious help maybe adjust your dosage. You need to step down. You’re a joke.

  6. I am not surprised. Dominic is out for Dominic. Just another reason not to vote for him and spread the word.

    Lynn Garcia is a wonderful credible professional. Most likely she just got caught up in one of Dominic’s deceptions. It’s hard to stay clean when you work with dirt.

    • Her accounting of the expense report seems quite clear, and, as you say, professional. What she got caught up in was petty politics and poor journalism. A cheap shot.

  7. I guess people may see it different, but I don’t think bringing family members on a trip is that big an issue, particularly given the Council members semi-volunteer status vs. being full time paid position, as long as the family members are not having their own expenses reimbursed. I think this is another point for which you might crosscheck vs. other Council members’ travel before singling out Caserta. Bringing them has work/life balance benefits we should respect.

  8. The real story isn’t the reimbursement. It’s how Caserta got Garcia to book him and his family a stay at the Ahwahnee. That was NOT the conference hotel. The guy is clever. Sleazy too. But he does have help.

  9. “Henry”, I don’t think the other Supervisor candidate would touch your deplorable and possibly libelous comment with a 10ft. pole.

    • Mike, Henry speaks the truth and voters need to know about Caserta. Is a true statement libelous??

    • A true statement is not libelous. I’m not a lawyer, but his implications re the female high school students should be substantiated, or considered possibly libelous.

  10. Caserta has done this type of things many times before. Look it up people. He has issues with mileage reimbursements and cell phone usage. Diridon busted him before. Where’s our Clerk/Auditor these days?

  11. That’s a beautiful place. I’d like to stay there, too. It’s probably worth the money. But I should pay for it myself and not charge the city. Shame on Caserta.

  12. Time to share this with his fellow 2018 County Supervisor candidates as proof of what a dishonorable and unethical person Casserta really is.This is a great example of empty promises and yet another case of deceiving the public and not keeping his promise. He’s a leopard that will never change his sleezy spots … just ask Santa Clara High female students too

  13. I don’t think you’re reading this right. It looks like the City paid two nights up front & Caserta paid the 3rd night and put that on his expense report which the City accumulated in the total expense.. So it was a total of 3 nights paid by the City at the $526/day and the $714 reimbursement from Caserta resulted in the agreed 3 nights at $277.

    • Now the $277/night vs. the $107/night Best Western price is a different question. In asking that, you should also cross-check against other Council members hotel selections for their City business travel, as well as higher ranking City officials. There’s probably a range depending on City and event locations, but I would guess that $277 is within that range. Choosing the event’s host hotel also has advantages for participation and networking.

    • Thanks Mike. Even $277/night is rather steep. I am looking into other hotel rates for other travel expenses. Apparently, the host hotel only had rooms for two of the three nights when it was booked for Caserta. Very interesting knowing that the vice mayor brought family with him to stay in Yosemite.

  14. I’m glad you didn’t get fooled, Robert. Dominic Caserta should return the money and we should all vote him out of office. Lynn Garcia should be fired for trying to cover up for him. They’re both dishonorable.

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