Guest Opinion: Why Santa Clara is Divided: It’s About Money

By Tino Silva

At recent city council meetings, some council members have railed against how our city council is divided.

And the Santa Clara Weekly regularly regurgitates the same horrible criticism. But it’s not a respected publication in our community — and it’s not really even a weekly. My neighbors and I receive it about once a month. Their criticism of Mayor Lisa Gillmor and her council allies is an annoying drumbeat.

I believe the negativity coming from certain council members and the Weekly is purposeful. It’s an attempt to divide our city. Because if you can divide, you can conquer.

But, fortunately, it’s not working. Since Mayor Gillmor took over, things have been different. City Hall has become more transparent, the newly hired staff is more skilled, and — most importantly — the 49ers are not calling the shots at City Hall.

So what’s causing the division? Let’s be honest. The mayor and the majority of the council are representing the interests of Santa Clara first. A minority of the council is representing the 49ers, a corporate interest first. We’ve seen this play out from the fight over the Youth Soccer Park, to the Measure J audit, to the weekday stadium curfew. We’ll probably continue to see it play out because there’s a lot of money at stake.

I know the mayor and all the councilmembers well. I’ve had breakfast, lunches, and dinner with them and I believe deep down they are all of good character.

But when you consistently side with financial contributors instead of putting what’s best for Santa Clara first, citizens progressively become disgruntled. Unfortunately, that’s the way politics works. I know a little about it. I’ve run for city council. Campaigns are a tough — and sometimes dirty — business. Financial contributors expect a return on their investment.

So when you see the division on the city council, remember that it’s not necessarily all about personality or character. It’s often times about money!



  1. You should be more responsible when you throw around words like laundering money. The POA lists all their donors. BluPac doesn’t. That’s why they are a dark money organization. So who do you think is laundering money?

    The 49ers won’t say if they’re behind BluPac. They won’t even comment. Damn that says a lot.

  2. Gosh, how come you all know what’s in the Santa Clara Weekly if you do not read it? What better testimonial to that newspaper’s authority than that its rabid enemies read it so faithfully!

    • Hi Miles Barber! Nice to know you’re reading the Santa Clara News Online and are actively commenting under the pseudonym of Jondoe. LOLLL

  3. I would like to thank Tino for the article and Robert for allowing “Guest Opinions” with full autonomy.

    But I think we need to peel the onion back even deeper to the senior Santa Clara staff. We have so many issues because of the corrupted politicians and senior staff (many of which are still working for the City!). The new City Manager needs to clean house!

    There are so many City Staff memos and proposals that are blatantly written by special interests. I realize this is how it works in most levels of government, but it does NOT have to be this way in Santa Clara too.

    The best things that happened to the City are when the citizenry drive the bus along with our political leaders. The worst are when City politicians and senior staff do the bidding of big developers. That was as true as when downtown Santa Clara was destroyed as when the Measure J’s “$150M contribution plus $30M to move the SVP substation ballooned to $850M plus $30M.

    There are many more instances of corruption such as the General Plan not being followed and a tsunami of “Planned Developments” are taking over Santa Clara with these overpriced townhomes and apartments.

    Let’s hope the new City Manager will in fact clean house and I hope that Robert and other local residents will expose corruption, incompetence and greed. Whether it’s from a politician, a senior city staff member or a local developer/land owner/company.

    Thanks again!

  4. The bulk of November 2016 election campaign money came from corporations, much of it being laundered through the Police Association Organization PAC (PAC’s even contributed to that PAC, though mostly developer $’s), presumably to limit “transparency”. A large portion of monies spent towards Mr. Silva’s campaign were included in that.
    SC Online chose to investigate the $49k BluPAC, but not the $85k+ PAOPAC.
    Accusing opponents of pandering to financial interests, while upholding your own virtues and independence is, as Mr. Silva says, (unfortunately) “the way politics works”. Every single council member has railed against the divisions… and blames it on the other side. The division has been labeled pro-49er, anti-49er just as was much of the November 2016 election campaigns.
    The 49ers and the Stadium are issues that need to be dealt with (although still a positive cash flow to the General Fund). They are not the largest of the issues confronting the City. We’re spending more time and money, including increasing and not at all transparent “on-going legal expenses”, than we need or can afford. At best they are distractions, at worse, simply convenient, self-serving attacks.
    Money is going in all directions. Debate arguments, not contributions.

    • Mike, The difference between BluePac and the POAPAC is that the POA disclosed where it received its’ money, whereas BluPac hid behind the 503c.4. I for one wish we had a better relationship with the Niners and I don’t think all council disagreements are in regards to the Niners (and by the way, I hope our council would disagree with each other as disagreement fosters more creative solutions). I would argue that all (or most) of our council members would like to see the relationship with the Niners move in a more positive direction. However, where the money flows the votes go…

  5. I don’t care as much about the money as I do the fact that some council members don’t seem to be voting in favor of residents.
    Money may or may not be the cause but the end result is some disappointing and damaging votes.

  6. Thanks Tino, nicely put. My hope is you have the stomach to run once again. The residents of this great City need people like you to step up and keep our City going in the right direction. What you had to go through, was in short brutal, unfair and classless. I have more respect for you now then I had before you went through that mess, and I was one of your biggest supporters to begin with.
    Keep up the good work, and pay no attention to anything negative the Weekly will write about you. I think there is a good analogy here. If we question the sound of a tree falling in a forest, and wondering if any sound is made because no one actually hears it, then why should we care what the SC Weekly writes since no one actually reads it?
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

  7. A few years ago, the Weekly strongly opposed the SCUSD candidacy of Stampolis — complete with a full-page ad against this destructive politician. Stampolis won. Nothing more strongly supports Robert’s comment about Santa Clarans lack of respect for the Weekly. My guess is the Weekly’s claim as the “best read publication in Santa Clara” is fake news.

    • Wolfgang, just an FYI, this piece was written by Tino Silva. The views are that of the author. One of the first rules of journalism though, is “follow the money” … Mr. Silva offered this piece for Santa Clara News Online.

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