Candidate Suds Jain Has Conflicts of Interest, Cannot Vote on Downtown or Santa Clara University — Major District 5 Issues

By Robert Haugh

We learned earlier this month that City Council District 5 candidate Suds Jain cannot vote on revitalizing downtown issues. His home is too close to downtown.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission, the state watchdog agency, told Jain in August it would be a conflict of interest.

That’s a big deal. A major issue for District 5 is the redevelopment of our downtown. 

For years, a great community group, Reclaiming Our Downtown, has made this a priority. 

But they were frustrated that former District 5 Councilwoman Patty Mahan had a conflict. She couldn’t represent them in her own district. Mahan’s home was also too close to downtown.

If Jain gets elected to the City Council, they’ll have the same problem.

Mary Grizzle, one of the founders of the downtown group, told San Jose Spotlight this when she heard about Jain’s downtown conflict:

“District 5 has been the unforgotten child — no more. I want somebody that has a voice and will be active in all of District 5. Everybody has their own district, everybody fights for their own district. We come in second place with all of the other councilmembers and I want to be first.”

Santa Clara University Conflict

Jain also has a conflict of interest on Santa Clara University (SCU) issues.

This is not widely known. Jain has not discussed it in his campaign, according to numerous people in the district and a review of his website.

But more than four years ago, Jain was told about his conflict by a city attorney at a Planning Commission meeting. That was July 27, 2016. 

Jain is a Planning Commissioner. The issue was SCU’s 5-year master plan for expansion. 

Jain asked:  “Do I need to recuse myself? My wife works there (SCU).” 

The answer was yes. Jain did not vote on the SCU master plan.

Here’s a link to the video. Jain asked his question around the 20:20 mark.

As we reported last year, SCU plans to expand its undergrads from around 5,500 to 6,000. 

That means more students in Old Quad neighborhoods.

Council Race Impact

Jain’s conflict could be a major issue in the District 5 Council race. 

The only other candidate, Bob O’Keefe, is a board member of the Old Quad Residents Association.

Last month, O’Keefe led the effort to get the Council to take a first step on relocating the downtown courthouse. That’s a major priority for Reclaiming Our Downtown.

O’Keefe’s home is not in the downtown area.

So, O’Keefe is the only candidate who is free of conflicts of interest and can legally vote on Reclaiming our Downtown and SCU neighborhood impacts.

Editor’s Note: My family and I live in District 5 and not too far from downtown.

14 comments

  1. I did not know Suds Jain was a supporter of SB 50 and state takeover of local control. Holy moly this guy cannot be put on council if he wants to hand over local control to Sacramento. That would explain all the endorsements from developer-friendly groups like South Bay YIMBY and state politicians. I cannot vote in D5, but I hope D5 residents think twice before casting their vote for him.

  2. It seems ironic for Suds, as a Planning Commissioner, to support state legislation that would over ride decisions made by the Planning Commission. Two state senators that support this state intrusion into local zoning, also support Suds. It makes sense to them to want a local ally for the take over of our zoning laws.

    • I’m right there with you, mrhmyers. Too much hankie pankie going on. Suds and his endorsements. Hah! Hah! Beall and Wickowski never been friends to Santa Clara or anyone else. Did anyone mention that Supervisor Chavez endorsed Suds over Bob? She was the head of of labor at one time? Doesn’t she support labor endorsees? Especially since Bob got the labor endorsement over Suds? Smells fishy to me!! Oh those San Jose 49er lovers. Always showing their red and gold allegiance!

      Just put your right hand in and vote O’Keefe! And THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT!!

  3. I have no objections to Mr. Haugh’s reporting. His thesis (Mr. Jain has conflicts of interest) is clearly stated and factually proven citing reliable and official sources.

    I also have no problem with Mr. Jain as a potential candidate. He may not be able to do anything about his home being situated too close to downtown. But he can quite easily address the issue about his wife’s employment. It is not a vexing problem.

    If Mr. Jain’s wife simply got another job or resigned to help out her husband, one of his conflicts would disappear literally overnight. Poof. Done. Mr. Jain can vote.

    — Free advice from a retired attorney

    • Hey “Retired Attorney” do you think that women these days should just step aside for a husband’s career? Maybe you think she should do it for cultural reasons? That’s just WRONG!

  4. These four disciples of Patty Mahan are so happy to dish it out in other articles claiming they are underprivileged by race and sexual orientation. Special needs Anthony Becker stated he’s coming after Mayor Lisa Gillmor after not even getting 30% of the votes in the Mayoral race. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

    Let me know when Patty and the 49ers start playing nice. I won’t hold my breath, feel free.

  5. If I’m reading Robert Haugh’s report correctly, while the FPPC did said that Suds Jain as a City Council member he would have to recuse himself from downtown development decisions — but had nothing to do with the other statement about recusing himself from Santa Clara University decisions because his wife works at SCU. This second statement was made by the City of Santa Clara attorney during a Planning Commission meeting while Jain was a Commissioner. As a City Councilmember, California law may view his position differently. After all, just as for Vallco, “many” District 5 residents live near SCU (SCU, like Vallco, is quite large). Yes, his wife works there but political couples -think Senator Feinstein’s banker husband- have ways of separating their professional interests from one another, often through legal measures. Jain should consult with a knowledgeable lawyer so that he can say with confidence where he may or may not have a legally binding conflict of interest. This is not something we should be inferring on the side. BTW, while I do not know Suds Jain well, I have met him and talked with him a little. While I can’t say that I agree with him on any number of issues, I can say that he is an honest, upright, intelligent and considerate person who would make a fine City Councilmember.

  6. why the big announcement – this happens all the time, feels like you are looking for dirt where there is none – Mr Jain has been a very involved person in the city, oh thats right he’s not backed by the Gillmor faction that wants to keep their hold on the city. Could that be the reason you make a big deal out of this. All council members have to excuse them self from developments in / near their homes – sorry I don’t see the point. Mr Jain is far more qualified than some of the previous candidates that have run in the city. As is Mr Park, Ms Habir and Mr Becker. We’ve seen the hit piece on Habir. Now waiting on the Park and Becker to fall you’re starting to sound like the mouth Piece for the Gillmor’s just like SC weekly was the mouth piece for the Niners. I really wish we could get some independent news in this city and not the news of the “royal Families” that have run this city for too many years, be it Gillmor’s or Mahan’s – about time we had some ‘new blood’ lets have some more independent none aligned thinkers. People hate Trump but let’s face it he’s not your normal thinker – kind threw a curve ball into the political arena I say Lets See a whole new Regime in City Hall, Becker, Habir, Jain, & Park have a lot to offer. Even the Mercury news is saying it’s time to see a change. Normally they go against the grain and back the normal candidates – oh yeh they usually follow the niners recommendations – so maybe the new potential candidates are Niner plants ? right I bet NOT. just independent and willing to listen to the whole argument – You’re become a little too obvious who you are ‘independent’ for – when will the hit piece on Park and Becker be coming out can’t wait to read that.

  7. So you are saying that those of us living within the magic line around the proposed downtown project are disqualified from running to represent District 5 and are therefore effectively disenfranchised within their own city? One wonders whether, if the mayor’s preferred candidate were on the wrong side of the line, you would be stooping to broadcasting where his spouse works to discredit him.

    • I’m not saying it. The FPPC and the law say Suds can’t vote on these two major issues. Let me know if you think anyone else has a conflict … I’ll write about it if it’s legit. I’ve written many times that Lisa Gillmor can’t vote on downtown either because her office property is downtown.

    • http://www.fppc.ca.gov/learn/conflicts-of-interest-rules.html
      would be useful reading for those who think the decision about what is a conflict of interest is being driven by Council members. This is driven by state law as a minimum requirement.

      The City Attorney’s Office scans the agendas for City Council, Planning Commission and other meetings to help ensure that relevant City officials recuse themselves from decisions when necessary based on those laws. Occasionally they will proactively ask the FPPC for a ruling

      If in any doubt, people often recuse themselves to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

      That document is just a high-level summary. Consider looking at
      https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/publications/coi.pdf . There will be a quiz later.

  8. We don’t need a Council Member that can’t vote on downtown or SCU issues.
    My biggest concern with Suds Jain is the hypocrisy of one of our planning commissioners supporting SB 50, which gives planning Transit areas to the state. I’m concerned about the El Camino real but also Monroe and possibly Lafayette. Franklin Mall used to be a VTA hub. I really did not want the state of California to plan our downtown area. It might look a little institutional and have the highest density housing you could even imagine. These are all goals of Suds Jain. Suds climate issues seem to be at the forefront of his agenda which are global issues far from District 5 and our immediate needs.

    Bob O’Keefe has been a champion for the downtown. Bob’s strong will is what District 5 needs to get the ball rolling for downtown and all other District 5 issues. Bob is unencumbered and ready to hit the ground running for us in district 5.

    Vote Bob O’Keefe for Downtown Revitalization and District 5!

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