Year in Review: 2018 Was a Good Year for Santa Clara (Part 2)

By Robert Haugh

Here’s part 2 of the recap of some of the major things that happened each month in Santa Clara last year (from July to December). The second half of the year was just as good for the Mission City as the first half.


Judge Thomas Kuhnle created six council districts in Santa Clara to help elect Asian candidates. So two-thirds of Santa Clarans didn’t get a chance to vote for a council candidate in 2018.

We think the ruling is a big mistake. We don’t think Santa Clara voters are racist (as this November proved). We’re glad the City is appealing this ruling. But not everyone agrees. Councilwoman Patty Mahan and her sister Jeannie Mahan sat with the group suing Santa Clara at the trial. We learned that Jeannie even drove them around the city to carve out districts. Wow.


For the first time in Mission City history, two council members were officially “admonished” by their colleagues.

Councilmembers 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. It’s too bad, because the list of candidates was excellent and diverse.

Mahan and Kolstad were criticized by community leaders for months. Even former Councilmember Keri Procunier made a rare and unannounced public statement criticizing them.

In another major event this month, Santa Clara won a big legal decision over the 49ers on Levi’s stadium rent. The team tried to lower their own rent by $170 million. The arbitrator raised it by $10 million. Santa Clara taxpayers won’t be on the hook for a net $180 million. Kudos to City Hall. You know you’ve won a big victory when the other side goes nuts. That’s what 49ers VP Rahul Chandhok did in the press.


Two years ago, we found some evidence of Santa Clara Weekly lobbyist/publisher Miles Barber engaging in self-dealing with the Chamber and its PAC. We published a story on October 20, 2016.

Last September, City auditors found lots of problems. Here’s what they wrote:

The audit showed a disturbing pattern of financial and operational mismanagement which reduced the financial potential and performance of both entities while also raising major ethical concerns. The Auditor recommends that the City engage state and federal agencies to investigate potential violations of law.

Wow. It’s no surprise that the Chamber lost its Convention Center management contract. Now, the City is in the process of finding a new group to operate the building.  There’s lots of chatter in the business community about the Chamber going under.


According to our research, the Chamber PAC failed to file FPPC reports with the City for four years! Yup. From April 2010 to October 2014, there are no reports with the City Clerk. The Chamber may have filed them with other agencies and forgot to file with the City.  Oops.

A month later, City staff estimated that the Chamber PAC is potentially liable for $43,250. Wow. But the Chamber PAC spent all its money in the November election unsuccessfully attacking Mayor Gillmor. That means that Treasurer Dave Tobkin is personally liable for the fine. Ouch.


Mayor Gillmor won with 75 percent. She asked the voters to let her continue the reforms that she started two years ago, especially against the 49ers. Santa Clarans said yes — in a big way.

Hosam Haggag was down on election night, but later votes put him over the top to be City Clerk. He will be the first Muslim-American to be elected in Santa Clara.

Wilcox High School teacher Karen Hardy, a major stadium and 49ers critic in 2010, was elected in a landslide. Raj Chahal won a closer race to be the first Asian American on the City Council.  Unfortunately, Chahal publicly misrepresents himself as the “first minority.”


49ers linebacker Rueben Foster was arrested for a domestic violence incident in Tampa before a game. He was cut from the team.  But it was discovered that there was an earlier incident in Santa Clara that no one knew about on October 12. Multiple sources say there was a cover-up of some kind. An investigation is underway and we expect this to be a potentially big story in 2019.
















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