By Robert Haugh
We’ve been following the massive Mariani development proposal for a while. It’s the largest development proposal in Santa Clara near a neighborhood.
Santa Clara community leader Howard Myers is a nearby resident who opposes the current development as proposed. He’s written a couple of opinion pieces about how it’s too big and too high:
City Hall Needs Input About High Density Housing from Santa Clarans
Massive Mariani Development Proposal Is Not Fooling Neighbors
But he’s also pointed out that Lou Mariani hired Santa Clara Weekly Publisher/Lobbyist Miles Barber as a “contract lobbyist” to meet with City Hall officials.
Myers asked the Council’s Ethics Committee if Barber or his paper should have been registered as an “expenditure lobbyist” too. That’s a person or company who supports the project through public relations or advertising or “similar activities.” There’s been no report yet on the Barber complaint.
We’ve learned that other individuals have been hired by Mariani to help promote the project. But no one has registered as a “contract” or “expenditure” lobbyist. Some people in the community believe they may need to.
Former Councilman Kevin Moore is working for Mariani. Mariani tells us that “we have utilized Moore as an advisor in the area of community relations.” Moore is a registered lobbyist working for many development clients. But he’s not registered for Mariani.
Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce Boardmember Harbir Bahtia “advised how to use digital media, websites etc. more effectively” said Mariani.
Bahtia confirmed that role. But she added: “Later I attended some of the community meetings as a volunteer ombudsman for the community to make sure all the inputs from (the) community were recorded and would stay visible to the whole community. Since I was also trying (to) implement what I thought was good community engagement. To make sure the truth was visible, and Lou said it was ok to do that. I was only on consulting for a short while.”
Also, Mariani said “we have consulted with Singer and Associates on communication needs. Currently, they have no role in the project.”
We asked Adam Alberti of Singer and Associates if he felt they should register as lobbyists. Alberti wrote: “Private individuals or companies are not subject to the same practices and codes and have no obligation to report who they contract with for professional services like communications advice. Just as you have no requirement to disclose who pays you and/or who you pay.”
We told Alberti that we this website doesn’t take payments or advertising (except when protecting our First Amendment rights)
And we asked him if he’s familiar with the lobbyist ordinance. It covers “contract”, “expenditure” and public relations or advertising or “similar activities.”
Alberti responded: “I am familiar with the column, and we are familiar with the ordinance. It carries disclosure requirements for those engaged in lobbying. We do not lobby.”
We expect to hear more about this issue as the massive Mariani development project continues to a Council vote.