By Robert Haugh
During the heat of last night’s council meeting debate, Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta asked “What about tomorrow morning when Robert Haugh writes that I’m throwing a tantrum?”
He’s right. I’m writing that Caserta threw a tantrum. He actually exploded a few times during the Banner PR contract debate.
Caserta was joined by Councilwoman Patty Mahan in questioning city staff for almost an hour about details of Banner’s contract and actions to help city staff and Mayor Lisa Gillmor.
What did we learn? Not much since last week’s story, except Banner still hasn’t been paid.
Caserta and Mahan wanted to turn their allegations into a charter violation. But City Manager Deanna Santana and Interim City Attorney Brian Doyle shot them down. Every accusation was met by a calm response from Santana or Doyle with factual information. Kudos to them for doing their homework and not getting caught up in the emotion of the debate.
Mahan even complimented them for “unraveling” the mess and she voted with the majority to approve the Banner contract, with some noted concerns. It passed 5-1 with Caserta opposed and Councilman Pat Kolstad absent again.
Here are some video highlights from the debate. It’s worth watching, with popcorn.
2:42:30 — Caserta begins his questions and he’s calm, for now.
2:44:25 — Santana explains what happened and how staff messed up. Caserta continues to question.
3:14:52 — Caserta interrupts Santana and rants.
3:17:10 — Mahan begins her questions, frequently interrupting Santana.
3:33:27 — Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill begins her questions. For the first time, someone asks about other stadium expenditures: SBLs which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Banner contract is $44,000. O’Neill says that Banner was doing some work that staff was incapable of doing. She also says that there’s a lot of misinformation floating around. “Just because it’s in the newspaper, doesn’t mean it’s correct.”
3:54:30 — Councilwoman Debi Davis begins her questions. At 3:55:25 Caserta makes off camera comment that Davis shrugs off. She states that a Mercury News article was “full of inaccuracies” and finishes with a forceful speech defending Gillmor and urging the city to get back to more important business.
4:01:05– Councilmember Kathy Watanabe begins by asking staff to confirm amount of money that stadium contributed to the general fund last year: only $1.9 million. She then criticizes Mercury News story for number of changes and factual mistakes. She ends with strong statement about how the 49ers and supporters turn issues into personal attacks on Gillmor and attempt to intimidate and harass others.
4:09:55 — Caserta reacts to Watanabe and says no one is willing to work with him. He ends by saying “shame on you.”
4:12:30 — Public comment begins. Excellent statements from Kirk Vartan, Mike O’Halloran, Deborah Bress, Hosam Haggag and Tino Silva.
4:26:00 — Gillmor makes a strong but calm statement about how City Hall is moving in the right direction, especially by questioning the 49ers. She says that it’s unfortunate that councilmembers “who have taken thousands of dollars from the 49ers” side with the team over residents.
4:28:09 — Mahan defends herself saying she only received $1,000 from team officials in 2006.
4:28:45 — A really angry Caserta erupts and says that Gillmor is lying because he’s received only one contribution from Jed York. But Caserta also says that he’s received money from 49ers staff and affiliates. Huh? Did he just write his own hit piece?
After an hour of testimony, the Council moved to send the item for comment to the Historic and Landmarks Commission. Many neighboring residents voiced displeasure in the proposed design.
Santa Clara Square
The council unanimously approved an environmental impact report addendum to the Santa Clara Square residential project (2600 Augustine Drive) with the addition of 40 units and other minor changes to the project.
Candida Aurelia Diaz was appointed to the Cultural Commission from nine applicants. Eversley Forte was recognized for his years of service on the Commission.