Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce Tries to Defend Itself — Weakly

By Robert Haugh

Last night, the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce got into the ring to defend itself against the convention center management audit — sorta.

Chamber CEO Nick Kaspar showed up and talked through a 10-minute powerpoint presentation. He didn’t present any new or great info.

Then the City’s auditor Denise Callahan of TAP International body slammed him with info from her audit — the one that led the Council to drop the Chamber months ago.

The City staff knocked down Kaspar’s arguments, too. And so did the Council.

Councilwoman Debi Davis criticized the Chamber for trying “to spin the audit as a frivolous waste of time and money. “This audit should have been done years ago to ensure that fiscal responsibility and contractual review were being followed,” she said.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor agreed. “The Chamber continues to vilify the Council, the City Manager, the auditor,” she said. “It’s all just a bunch of noise. The real fact of the matter here is that there is mismanagement of public funds and that’s clear.”

Kaspar did his best, but he was overmatched. It was like watching Gillberg take on The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan.

No Chamber board members showed up to say anything or back up Kaspar. Here’s the Chamber’s “leadership.” They were all no-shows:

  • Jan Eric Nordmo, Chair
    Off the Wall Soccer
  • Christopher Boyd, Chair-Elect
    Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center
  • Joe Siecinski, Immediate Past Chair
    ActionCoach of Santa Clara
  • Christian Pellecchia, Treasurer
    Slatter Construction, Inc.
  • Harbir Bhatia, Chair — 2018-2019 Community Relations Committee
    Selectiva Systems
  • Ravinder Lal, Chair — 2018-2019 Economic Development Committee
    The UPS Store #4636
  • Jamal Newborn, Chair — 2018-2019 Membership Services Committee
  • Lou Mariani, Chair — 2018-2019 Government Relations Committee
    Mariani’s Inn & Restaurant
  • Arlyne M. Diamond Ph.D — 2018-2019 Service Committee
    Diamond Associates

Last night, we learned that the auditor still has some work to do. The council approved a work plan to review credit card expenses and bonuses paid to convention center staff. They’ll also review the lease of the UPS Store at the convention center that Lal currently operates.

The motion passed 5-0. Councilwoman Patty Mahan, the biggest Chamber supporter on the Council, also wasn’t there for the vote. She felt ill and had to leave the meeting early.

The Council also heard Callahan discuss some findings from the Tourism Improvement District (TID) funds audit. The Chamber mismanaged that, too. The auditor has discovered about $300,000 in expenditures that are undocumented. And payments for legal fees that seem to have no purpose. The Council unanimously approved a work plan to get more info in these areas.

So there are some more rounds to go for the Chamber. We wonder if anyone besides Kaspar will show up the next time.

Other Interesting News

City Manager Deanna Santana discussed a bunch of major items about the Stadium. The City is finally getting the info that its entitled to get from the 49ers. They pushed the team for years. Kudos to her and City staff.

But some of the info is good. Some of it is not. We’ll save that for another day.


  1. It is obvious that the Chamber made a lot of mistakes. But so did the Council, but in particular the city staff. There is a lot that over the years they ignored. It seemed to me that was glossed over at the Council meeting. I noted that Debi Davis asked City Attorney, what kind of position is the city in? And he said he did not want to answer that question publicly. Obviously the City is at fault also. I would like to see the blame game end. Fix the problem and let’s move on.

  2. Great defense Nick! The issues you mentioned which amount to grammatical errors do not defend the Chambers previous felonious actions. The real criminals should get up and defend their thievery. I’m talking about those ancient individuals that have stolen from the people of Santa Clara.

    • The Chamber Gang,
      Miles Barber/ Pubisher “ The Ring Leader”
      Rahul Chandhok/ 49er VP “ The Hitman”
      Dave Tobkin / CPA “The wife abuser”
      Dave De Lozier/ former council person “ The clueless one”
      John Mlnarik/ Attorney for Caserta, enough said
      These chamber board and PAC members went all out this past election and viciously attact our Mayor. They didn’t want to expose for who they are well what goes around comes around. I only hope you get everything you all deserve and much more.
      And I want to thank our city manger, council and most of all our Courageous Mayor for steering our city in the right direction.

    • Nick Kaspar! Stop selling yourself short! Why are you taking the heat for these chumps? The Chamber Gang is a train wreck waiting to happen. Actually, it already happened and the fallout doesn’t stop!! Why do you keep going down the rabbit hole with these clowns?? You are a young guy with a lot to offer!! Didn’t you get engaged recently? Do yourself a favor!! Move along!! It’s time to start over, Grasshopper!!

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