By Burt Field, Stand Up for Santa Clara
I had to laugh when I read Miles Barber’s column last week in the Santa Clara Weekly complaining about questions City Attorney Brian Doyle asked him about his publication. Barber apparently doesn’t like scrutiny or criticism, although he loves to dish it out regularly.
As this site regularly points out, Barber makes lots of factual mistakes in his columns and the City has frequently corrected him. His columns are clearly not responsible journalism.
Barber has also been officially chastised in writing by the City for being verbally abusive to City staff at a public meeting. That’s not acceptable behavior in our community.
Barber, himself, has been a paid lobbyist for a major mixed-use development in Santa Clara and his paper has frequently written about the project. But never have they disclosed to their readers that Barber was a lobbyist. That is a failure of personal and journalistic ethics.
Barber’s publication has major funding from the 49ers and Barber routinely defends the team. He even defends them on things like their refusal to disclose documents or follow city law’s like the curfew. A good community paper wouldn’t do that.
And let’s not forget that Barber touts his publication as the “official” city newspaper. They even claim in their printed version (when you can find one) that they are the “most read publication” in Santa Clara.
So, I think Doyle’s scrutiny is appropriate. In fact, in 2017 I raised issues about Barber and Santa Clara Weekly twice. I made the case that the City is wasting taxpayers’ dollars on a publication that a lot of people believe inflates its numbers and overcharges the City.
I’m glad the City is finally taking this issue seriously. And there’s a really easy solution to the problem. It’s in the City Charter:
Sec. 815 Publishing of legal notices. The City Council shall by resolution designate one or more newspapers of general circulation in the City of Santa Clara as official newspaper for the publication of any legal notice or other matter required to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in said City. If it appears to the City Council that the rates offered are unfair, it need not designate an official newspaper. Upon making a finding to such effect, or if publication of newspapers which have been so designated are suspended, then legal notices, ordinances or other matter required to be published in an official newspaper may be published by posting copies thereof in at least three public places in the City. The places for posting of legal notices shall be fixed by ordinance of the City Council.
Let’s hope the City Attorney and City Council stop the waste of our tax dollars on a questionable publication.