By Robert Haugh
For the first time in Mission City history, two council members have been officially “admonished” by their colleagues.
Councilmembers Patty Mahan and Pat Kolstad were sanctioned by the City Council for the way they refused to appoint anyone to fill the seat of disgraced former Councilman Dominic Caserta.
Mahan and Kolstad refused to appoint anyone after interviewing more than two dozen candidates for over 6 hours on June 12. (Technically, the vote happened on June 13 after 1:30 a.m.) Councilmembers and the public said they had a right to vote anyway they wanted. But their actions to approve the process, then participate in it, then refuse to appoint anyone were: “dishonest,” “deceitful,” “unethical” and “deceptive.”
Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe prepared a written motion. Here’s an excerpt:
We, as a Council, had an opportunity — perhaps duty — to appoint a Councilmember from one of many communities who are unrepresented on our Council. Of the final six candidates, five of them were from communities of color. More significantly, all the candidates had excellent qualifications. They all had the potential to be outstanding public servants and community role models as an appointed member of our council. To reject all of them, as Councilmembers Kolstad and Mahan did, was a major lost opportunity for Santa Clara…
In conclusion, we believe it’s important for Santa Clara residents to know that our Council has standards and policies that reflect the goodness of our community. We support open and honest debate, but should not tolerate deception or dishonesty. We seek participation from all members of our community and should not condone actions that discourage individuals from participating. If our Council cannot enforce these standards upon ourselves, we are derelict in our duty as public servants and we will send an unfortunate and discouraging message to residents of Santa Clara. For these reasons, we recommend Councilmembers Kolstad and Mahan be officially admonished by the City Council.
Mahan was unhappy and unapologetic. She made a long speech including references to her father, husband and son. And she talked about her breast cancer in detail. (During public comment, a woman named Linda with ovarian cancer, asked Mahan to “please don’t use breast cancer as a weapon on somebody.”)
Mahan also had an attorney represent her. James McManis wrote a letter to the council asking for a continuance and threatened possible legal action.
Kolstad also had an attorney who spoke at the meeting: Guyton Jinkerson. Kolstad suggested that an admonishment may be illegal. It’ll be interesting to see if Mahan or Kolstad sue the City.
Councilwoman Debi Davis made a strong statement about how Mahan and Kolstad “disrespected the residents” and “it’s a sad commentary on our city.”
Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill voted admonishment because she felt Mahan and Kolstad wasted people’s valuable time and it was “an action that would discourage people” from participating in democracy.
The vote was 4-1-1. Kolstad voted against and Mahan abstained.
City Attorney Brian Doyle said he had “really, really good news for the city of Santa Clara.” It was actually old news.
The City won a major arbitration decision against the 49ers who tried to lower their rent. What we discovered last night is that the team tried to cut its rent in half during arbitration. Wow. The city saved $180 million with the win. The Mission City could have lost $492 million if the 49ers got their way. This wasn’t just a big win. It was a huge. We’ll write more soon.
Chamber and Convention Center Audit
City Manager Deanna Santana reported that the audit will be completed next week. We’re hearing that there’s a lot of new findings that are disturbing. Stay tuned.
Closed Session Report
City Attorney Doyle reported that the City Council voted unanimously to appeal the Yumori Kaku vs. Santa Clara decision. That’s the one that forced the city to create six districts. But the City won’t seek a “stay” of the decision, so the November elections to elect a Mayor and two council members are a go. That was also a unanimous vote.