By Robert Haugh
Santa Clarans have been inundated with No on Measure C advertising. The 49ers spent big. They created the No Committee and spent approximately $650,000. Wow.
The Yes on Measure C campaign spent zero dollars on advertising.
If you’re an undecided voter, here are some major questions and answers.
What’s Measure C about?
It’s a proposal that the Charter Review Committee came up with to create three districts in Santa Clara for our six council members. It would replace at-large districts. The Mayor will still be elected at-large. So each resident will be represented by two council members instead of one.
What’s the objection?
The critics say that it’s an attempt to avoid going to six districts. That’s what Judge Thomas Kuhnle imposed when he decided that there was racially polarized voting in Santa Clara.
If a Judge created 6 districts, why are we considering 3?
Kuhnle only imposed his plan until 2020. And he didn’t change the Santa Clara charter. So after 2020, the Mission City will have at-large elections unless voters change the charter, according to City Attorney Brian Doyle and the Registrar of Voters.
Do we have racially polarized voting in Santa Clara?
According to Kuhnle and the Measure C critics, yes. According to the City’s legal appeal of Kuhnle’s decision, no. Kuhnle had to lower a statistic from 95 percent probability to 80 percent probability to show that there was racially polarized voting. Some legal experts think that’s why the City will win the appeal. People who live in Santa Clara know that we don’t have racially polarized voting. We live in an integrated community without major ethnic neighborhoods.
Is there a big difference between 3 districts and 6 districts?
Santa Clara has approximately 120,000 residents. Measure C would create three districts of about 40,000 residents each. They would be represented by two councilmembers. Six districts means one councilmember would represent approximately 20,000 residents. Critics of six districts argue that the districts are too small and would result in councilmembers focusing too much on one neighborhood. If San Jose had 20,000 residents in their council districts, they would have 50 councilmembers. Wow.
Why do the 49ers oppose Measure C?
The team says they’re supporting voting rights. But there’s no evidence that they’ve ever done so before this election. So 49er critics think there’s another reason.
Is there any evidence of the 49ers’ true motivation?
The team says they were asked to oppose Measure C by the Asian Law Alliance (ALA). But the “letter” the 49ers released from the ALA with the request was dated February 1, 2020 (a Saturday!) just one day after City Clerk Hosam Haggag sent the team execs a warning letter about “dark money” on January 31, 2020. It was also the day before the Super Bowl. So the timing is suspicious.
So what could be the 49ers’ true motivation?
If the 49ers control the City Council, they could make a lot more money. The current City Council stopped them from taking the Youth Soccer Park. And they stopped them from lowering their own rent. Those two decisions saved the City $140-$200 million over the next 40 years, according to City staff. The team now wants to change the stadium curfew. That could be worth a lot of money, too. But it would come at the expense of Santa Clara neighborhoods. Vice Mayor Karen Hardy and Councilman Raj Chahal back the curfew change. The 49ers just need two more votes to get what they want.
Did the 49ers use “dark money” to oppose Measure C?
Yes and no. In December, someone did an anonymous poll. Haggag asked residents for info. He discovered that it was likely it was the 49ers. The problem is the team was required to report the poll but they never did. Well, they never did until they got caught. After Haggag’s letter, Jed York and the 49ers filed a report with $17,500 spent on the poll. That was only one business day after Haggag’s letter and the day after the Super Bowl! Since then, the 49ers have filed reports with expenditures of over $600,000. Only the $17,500 is being investigated as “dark money” by the city and the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).
What’s the penalty for the 49ers if they are found to have used “dark money?”
According to the City’s Dark Money Ordinance, the 49ers could lose their management contract of the stadium.