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
- 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
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.