Council Preview – How Will Caserta’s Seat be Filled; Chamber Likely to Lose Management Fee

By Robert Haugh

The Council will address options to fill the seat vacated by Dominic Caserta at tonight’s meeting. The Council can appoint a candidate within 30 days, call a special election or possibly wait until the November general election — maybe.

Former planning commissioner and attorney J. Byron Fleck submitted a letter analyzing the Council’s options. Fleck doesn’t believe the city Charter allows the Council to leave the seat open until November.  He’s asking the Council to make a quick appointment rather than calling for a special election because of the huge potential cost.

Sunnyvale held a special election in August 2016 – which cost Sunnyvale taxpayers $794,978. Wow.  That would be a lot of money to waste in the Mission City.

The Council would need a super majority five votes to make an appointment.

Chamber Management Fee

Speaking of wasting money, no one really knows what this fee pays for. The fee has increased substantially the past few years, without a formal approval by Council. The fee went from $45,000 to $150,000. Many feel this is a gift of public funds.

Chamber Management Fee
The Santa Clara Chamber’s CVB “management fee” from 2013/14 through 2018/19.

Chamber representatives asked to continue this item from last week. Was it because of the letter submitted by Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill prior to the meeting? Their letter states:

“We are concerned that the management fee was increased dramatically in the last two years without proper documentation and without official city council authorization. We are grateful that our new city management team discovered and has stopped this practice. However, it’s important for us and the public to know how this may have happened. So, we look forward to receiving additional information.

Most importantly, we see little to no justification to use tax dollars for a “management fee.” Both the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Convention Center operations teams seem to function independently of the Chamber of Commerce. To date, the Chamber of Commerce has not provided us with much information about how they add value to either operation, especially for approximately $145,000 in management fees. Equally troubling, they have not accounted for how they used the increased funds the last two years.”

Interim Chamber CEO Nick Kaspar would not provide comment on the item.

Other Items

  • Jeremy Hicks or Anthony Becker will be appointed to the Planning Commission — if there isn’t a split vote.
  • The Moonlite Lanes project (2780 El Camino) is asking for a general plan amendment. The project proposes 50 for-sale townhomes. This development previously attracted a lot of neighborhood opposition when it was for high density apartments.
  • The Reed Street – Grant Street Sports Park project has an award contract for Council approval. The lowest bid was just under $20.2 million by O.C. Jones and Sons., Inc.




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