OPINION: Jed York Just Wrote a $1.1 Million Check to Take Over the City Council and Turn Santa Clara into Yorkville

By Burt Field

I don’t like the fact that Jed York is spending over $1 million to take over Santa Clara by buying four City Council seats. But for what Jed wants, it’s probably cheap.

We thought we stopped him in 2014. Jed tried to steal the Youth Soccer Park from the City after breaking his campaign promise to build new soccer fields. Maybe he thought it was too costly to fulfill his pledge. 

But the soccer community stood up and said no way. We are forever grateful to the brave councilwomen who were in the minority on the Council back then. They successfully fought Jed’s efforts: Lisa Gillmor, Teresa O’Neill, and Debi Davis.

The men on the Council at the time: Jamie Matthews, Jerry Marsalli, Pat Kolstad, and Dominic Caserta all supported giving the park away. Jed contributed money to all of their campaigns.

Former Santa Clara Councilmember and County Supervisor candidate Dominic Caserta chums it up with 49ers CEO Jed York. Mercury News photo.

Interestingly, despite the fact that Jed says his current campaign is to add ethnic diversity to the Council, he and 49er executives have never contributed to a single “minority” candidate for the Santa Clara City Council. Never.

The fight over the youth soccer park was the first time Jed proved himself to be untrustworthy. But it wasn’t the last.

Jed has tried to lower his own stadium rent by hundreds of millions of dollars. That was in 2018 and he lost when the City went to arbitration to stop him. Just a couple months ago, Jed tried to stiff the City on stadium rent by a couple millions of dollars but the City forced him to pay again by going to arbitration.

If that isn’t bad enough, in 2019, Jed’s management company who runs the stadium got caught ripping off workers and the City has reported the violations to the Attorney General in a major case of wage theft. Again, this could be millions of dollars that workers should be getting.

Jed has also tried to change the stadium curfew that’s existed since the day the stadium was opened. It protects our neighborhoods by limiting loud music concerts from going past 10 pm on weekdays. And allows events to be held later on weekends. 

If Jed can change the curfew, he’ll make millions of dollars more each year. But it will be done at the expense of Santa Clarans who have to work during the week and our kids who have to get up for school.

When you think about all the ways that Jed has tried to make more money by breaking his promises or the law, it’s amazing. If you add up the potential money, it’s astounding. 

I guess it makes sense for him to spend $1 million when he could be raking in hundreds of millions more with a compliant Council majority. That would be good for him, but bad for Santa Clara.

The candidates Jed is supporting are Anthony Becker, Harbir Bhatia, Suds Jain, and Kevin Park. I won’t be supporting any of them. I like living in the Mission City. I don’t want to live in Yorkville.

Editor’s Note: Burt Field is the President of Stand Up for Santa Clara. It started in March 2015, when the San Francisco 49ers and the majority of the Santa Clara City Council took action to sell the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park to the NFL Team. It’s a grassroots organization of volunteers.


  1. […] And York spent it, via his political action committee, with a purpose. The Niners have said that purpose was to diversify a previously-all-white council that didn’t reflect its city. (Santa Clara is 43% white; three of York’s favored candidates are Asian-American.) Critics, however, argue the team merely wants to reshape a council that has not been amenable to its interests, and turn the city into “Yorkville.” […]

  2. J Byron Fleck.
    Thank you and keep responding to those who do not know that there is not a single cent that goes into Harbir Bhatia’s, Kevin Park’s, Suds Jain’s and Anthony Becker’s hands. They each have disassociated them from JefYork and the 49ers. Rather, it is Lisa Gilmor who has handpicked BoB o’Keefe, Robyn. Mezetti, Kathy Watanabe and Teresa O’Neil who have funneled big Developers monies through the POA (who.Pat Nikolai Was the past President) to support them. Let me also remind them that the City Council used City funds and dark money to pay for mailers Measure A in 2018 and Measure C this past March which lost 66% to 38%. Plus. Tell me who is beholding to big money.

    • So how much money does the Asian Law Alliance stand to make if they ever win their lawsuit? How much money would Wesley Mukoyama pocket personally? How much is in it for J Byron Fleck?


      Oh right, this is all about minority voting rights?

      Tell me who is beholding to big money?

    • For ending 70 years of racist exclusion, one hopes the prevailing parties get everything in the law to which they are entitled x3. BTW, I have no involvement in the CVRA lawsuit. Lol!

    • Who has Santa Clara been racist against for the past 70 years? Are you at happy hour again? 🍸🍾

      You are as white or whiter than anyone on the council. Who have you been racist against over the past 70 years. Please don’t make us pay for your sins.

    • “Harbir Bhatia aims to expand diversity on Santa Clara council”

      In other words, don’t elect her for her positions, her stance on important issues, and please ignore the fact that the 49ers are spending $2M to get her in so she can be Jed York’s puppet and sell out Santa Clara to a foosball team.

      Instead, elect her because she’s Not White. Because affirmative action and a non-Caucasian Council member pretty much take precedence over anything else. Apparently Santa Clara is racist, and is the “Alabama of Silicon Valley” (wow, talk abut bigotry and prejudice!) so the only way to make amends is to drag a Non White into a token seat in the Council!

      Yeah, that’ll fix everything, and all the outraged Latte Liberal SJWs can sleep much more soundly having done their part.

    • > there is not a single cent that goes into Harbir Bhatia’s, Kevin Park’s, Suds Jain’s and Anthony Becker’s hands.

      And why do you think York and the 49ers are spending TWO MILLION DOLLARS to get them elected? Because Jed York cares about racial diversity in City Council? Because Jed York cares about the City of Santa Clara and its residents?

      He wants Kathy Watanabe out because – gasp – she actually cares about SC over York and his foosball team. You know, kinda what a Councilperson is supposed to do.

      Do you honestly believe that Jed York would spend $2M trying to get people elected that aren’t going to benefit him and his franchise without any doubts whatsoever? Council people that aren’t going to do his bidding and protect him and his stadium? You would not be spending that kind of money unless it was a sure thing…

      You must really be naive…

    • Watanabe actively supported Measure J. Harbir, Suds and Kevin Park actively opposed. Its just damage control now. That’s obvious to all. Watanabe fell for the hype. The others did not. The three listed ergo have better judgment than Watanabe. Who has the better judgment is dispositive when choosing elected officials.
      BTW, why don’t you use your real name? Hiding something?

    • Measure J was decided by the voters, not City Council. The voters believed it was good for the city. If Bhatia, Jain, and Park actively oppose the stadium today, why on earth would Jed be pumping $2M into their campaigns? You haven’t addressed that at all. Watanabe already said she is going to hold the 49ers accountable and protect our City, and she’s already proven that over and over with actions, not empty words.

      Bhatia advocates “negotiation” and deals with the Niners…euphemisms for “I’m Jed’s puppet”. She’s all for late night concerts that blast those poor residents out of their sleep. You honestly think York would spend that kind of money without a confident expectation of a greater return on his investment? You think he’d spend that if he was unsure these candidates would bow to his interests? You must be incredibly naive.

      Again – why is York spending SO much money on a City Council election?

  3. Might want to talk to folks in Oakland looking around wondering where the football and basketball teams went. I would put my money on the local business as opposed to the local government, any day.

  4. Hey Burt, Thanks for your opinion. I think too often we can confuse news with opinion. The difference is fact checking and vetting sources. This website is really providing me with a lot of fodder to help teach my students how to evaluate information.

  5. JB flake must be related to Patty Mayhan. they have the same talking points and they like the same candidates that have lost so many times before. What a group of losers.

    Patty props up the benevolent losers and the 49ers try to push them through. Not in our Santa Clara!

    JB, take your toxic agenda back to San Jose where you live.

    • Lol! Too funny! You don’t understand Santa Clara politics much! So bridges get burnt, get rebuild, burnt, rebuild. Just how it is. You’re on the same side until you’re not, but in the end, it Kinda all comes together. We’ve all shared a common bond of doing Santa Clara politics. Those transcend policy differences. All good friends on all sides.

  6. JB you haven’t lived in town for over 15 years, but you’re very interested in Santa Clara. What’s in it for you? Perhaps you’re being paid by the Asian law alliance? We have enough paid outside influence. Don’t you have to leave the bar to go chase an ambulance?

    Say no to Yorkville!📢

    Santa Clara is not for sale! ❤️

    • Lol! Nothing in it for me financially. I don’t do CVRA nor PI litigation. I do, however, have many dear friends in SC supporting candidates on all sides, as it should be. My analysis is honest. What evidence do you have otherwise? BTW, what’s your real name?

  7. Ginny, I’ve done my homework. Your comparison to the amount of money is the issue.
    $650,000 for Measure C. To date $1.1 Million to help elect four City Council Members. $25,000 from the POA, and I am sure similar numbers for any other special interest group.
    This is not comparing Apples to Oranges, but more like small rocks being tossed around to a Volcanic eruption landing on your house.
    One voice is now louder than anyone else ever imagined it could be, simply because he has the money to spend… right now legally.
    Do we need to address finance reform, absolutely. Right now, today, Oct 5th, is not the time to take up that fight.

    Burt Field

    • Good luck with that. Aside from groups like “Move to Amend” (constitutional amendment to over turn Citizens United), I don’t see how you can restrain independent expenditures by any individual or entity. What’s your idea?

  8. I hope that all of you complaining about the big money spending will join me in my long standing support of “Move to Amend” and the “California Clean Money Campaign”. For the record, I stopped talking with the 49ers when I filed my campaign forms. I have had zero contact with them since. I worked with Byron Fleck and Karen Hardy to oppose Measure J and the Stadium. Lisa Gillmor and Kathy Watanabe worked hard to pass Measure J. I was at the meeting to oppose relinquishing the Soccer Parks to the 49ers. Gillmor and Watanabe flip-flopped. Follow my record. I don’t want to throw away a $1.3 billion investment. BTW, the Related Santa Clara project is over $7 billion and Related is spending to support a pro-developer council.

    • You’re correct Mr. Jain’s, we are complaining about how the 49ers are trying to buy 4 council seats at the tune of $275K a seat. Which you are personally benefiting from. Why don’t you publicly denounce the 49er spending spree. And demand that they stop immediately, otherwise what’s your point. Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words. We want a council person with action not a cheap talker.

    • Might be too late, Adam. Those fancy commercials showcasing what wonderful candidates Jed York has bought seem very convincing they are going to be carrying the water to achieve York’s plan to score a touchdown. Just look at all the people who’ve taken Jed’s money. It comes with a cost. Paybacks are a must. Actions do speak louder than words when you belong to Jed York.

      Wake up Santa Clarans.

  9. First I want to say that I agree with most of what Burt is saying however as I told Burt on Saturday I believe in transparency. If we are going to hold the 49ers as trying to buy the election I’m OK with that, we should know how much there are spending and on which candidates. However we should also do that for Lisa Candidates. We know that the big Developers give money to the POA, who then send out mailers in support of .Lisa candidates and I’m OK with that. I want to Discuss issues as I told Burt I don’t want Pruneridge turned into One lane and I will support a candidate for District 6 that agrees with my position. I think that we need to have Levi’s stadium make money for the citizens of Santa Clara in order to find things like Park upgrades or recreation programs. Please look at all candidates and VOTE on Nov 3
    Thank you
    George Guerra
    50 year resident of Santa Clara

  10. Nice piece, Burt. My only difference with you on this is Harbir, Anthony, Suds and Kevin are the superior candidates notwithstanding the 49ers contribution. Of course we can all quibble about that.
    More fundamentally, this is precisely what Santa Clara residents voted for in passing Measure J (which, ironically was opposed by the candidates I’ve endorsed).
    As we in the opposition to measure J hammered (while being out spent $6MM to a mere $80,000), Santa Clara would become the proverbial Company Town owned by the 49ers. So here we are and as we shall be for the next 30 years.

    • Slight correction Byron–I was the chair Santa Clara Plays Fair [SCPF] during the Measure J campaign and during the battle to demand a citizen vote on the final deal.

      SCPF only raised about $25,000. We were outspent $200-1 officially, and probably by more unofficially. I am unaware of any other organization that spent money on to promote the “No on J” side. SCPF had an amazing grassroots, all-volunteer effort. I am deeply grateful to everyone who supported us in that fight.

  11. We need campaign finance reform. Jed York’s money shouldn’t allow him more speech and representation than the rest of the city. This is appalling and I think that all the candidates taking his money need to explain how we can expect them to hold York’s and the 49ers feet to the fire when they are receiving thousands of dollars in campaign donations? The CVRA appeal is a smokescreen and a distraction. This is the real issue.

    I wasn’t living in Santa Clara when the stadium was being voted on, but I can’t believe it passed. Cities are always left on the short end of the stick when it comes to these ‘public-private’ partnerships. Now that it’s here the only choice is to play ruthlessly and aggressively with team and their owner, and we shouldn’t expect any less from them. How do you think they got to where they are in the first place?

    If the stadium had even been built in San Jose, which has a real downtown, culture, and feel to the city, vs Santa Clara, it might make sense. Santa Clara was just the closest dumbest city to allow this thing. Santa Clara didn’t even get a football team for crying out loud! They’re still the SF 49ers! Go back to SF.

    Jed York shouldn’t be able to contribute unlimited amounts of money to this race. Santa Clara needs to pass campaign finance reform and ensure that the people of Santa Clara are not manipulated and deceived to vote against their interest.

    • Understand your frustration, GR. However, these are expenditures independent of the candidates. For better or worse, money is free speech so long as the donor is identified and all other requirements, as appears to be the case here.

    • Please explain to me how the money is independent of the candidates? I understand they can’t control who contributes to their campaign, and I’m not decrying them for accepting the money. If they don’t, Jed York will fund a candidate who will.

      My feelings is that I cannot and will not vote for or support a candidate who accepts that money, because we all know that money is not truly independent. I encourage all voters to do the same. Even if you don’t live by the Stadium and this won’t affect you directly (I live far enough away that this won’t affect me) but I don’t want my city council composed of ‘compromised’ persons, which is what these candidates will be. How can I trust that they will put my interests as a citizen of this city above those of Jed York, who funded their hypothetically successful campaign? Who’s going to ensure their victory next time? Are they going to talk to members of community and crowdsource the funds from each of us? Or are they just going to vote like York wants and wait for the check next time. The choice is obvious if I were in their shoes.

      This money makes a big difference, and you can see from just the style differences of Bhatia and Watanabe’s campaign. Bhatia has nice videos with interviews and transitions and they LOOK expensive. I’m sure they’re in ads being pushed to more Facebook pages. Watanabe seems to be practically doing this by herself in comparison. I really respect and admire that way more than some fancy directed advertisement.

    • Ok. Respectfully you are fundamentally missing it. The 49ers are not “contributing” to any of the candidates they are supporting. The money is not going to the candidate! York is, under Citizens United, expressing his first amendment (free speech) right. No candidate on any side knew this was coming down nor coordinated with the York’s/49ers. If you have evidence to the contrary, tell us what it is.
      Think of it this way:
      Your brother who is Jeff Bezos loves you and wants you to be elected to the Water Board in Alviso. He funds $1B campaign for your election. So long as no coordination with you, all good.
      Look. I don’t like the outcome of citizens United, but the reasoning (free speech) is not irrational.
      We’re stuck with this until Citizens United is somehow nullified. Not happening for decades, IMO.
      Just like the POA/ Related independent expenditures for the other side, same works for 49er expenditures.
      Well, Santa Clara voters wanted a stadium for the 49ers and all that came with it. Now, they live with it.

    • Sorry, J. B. Fleck but it seems that you’re the one who doesn’t get it. There are all sorts of ways to manipulate a campaign, and saying that as long as there’s no coordination with the candidate, everything’s good seems to be deliberately naive. Of course York/49er money is helping the Park, Bhatia, Jain and Becker campaigns. It’s just a shame that Jed York can’t find it in his heart to use that $1.1m to help those in the community who are hungry, sick, homeless, or otherwise victims of this terrible pandemic. What a waste.

    • Agreed. But that’s true of any political campaign. Look. I don’t care for Citizens United either.
      However, remember. In Measure J, the 49ers successfully sold 60% of resident voters that approving the measure was about “economic progress” and “helping schools.”
      It was bs of course and statistically most posting here voted for it!
      Too bad you can’t have a redo.

    • I see what you mean about being independent, and agree that it’s not directly going to their campaign under their control. I also understand that it’s his right and I get Citizen’s United, I was never in disagreement with you there. The money may not directly go to the candidates but it will support those candidates through ads, pamphlets, mailing, etc. I get it, I know it’s not illegal, and I also don’t think that it matters.

      So, respectfully, you are fundamentally missing my point. Citizens of Santa Clara should see this for what it is, a play to control the city council and have people in their pocket to bend the city to the whims of the stadium and the 49ers. Show him you see through this by voting for candidates York’s not funding. He can contribute all the money he wants, they can buy all the ads they want, but I already know all I need to about them. York’s interests conflict directly with mine, so if he’s supporting the candidates with that much money, they must be really good for him, which I take to mean they’re really bad for me.

      I won’t be voting for Harbir for many reasons, but this is a big one and I hope it is to other residents of District 1 as well.

    • While your goals maybe admirable, votes on measure J, C evidence you are peeing in the ocean. Only 7% of registered Santa Clara voters have any grasp of City issues, let alone can name the Mayor. That’s fact. Always has been. It’s over. Voters knew the outcome of Measure J when they voted. They got all starry eyed and now, and for the next 30 years, pay the price.
      Tell me how I’m wrong?

  12. Unfortunately, Anthony Becker’s opponent is Gautam Barve, who is a trump supporter and complete idiot (i guess thats kind of redundant).

  13. Looks like Jed is looking to buy more than nice mailers and social media for his 4 candidates. $25k is nothing compared to $1.1M!!

  14. The FB page You Know You’re from Santa Clara When pulled this post within minutes. Shame.
    It is about saving the Santa Clara we love.

  15. Thanks Burt for exposing the 49ers business side as the cancerous invasion it is. Some people want to play politics, when they wake up our City will be someone else’s and they will have zero to say it.

    Wake up Santa Clara!

  16. I like the article but I sure don’t like the message.
    I have not seen the TV ads but understand Becker and Jain, at the least, have quite a bit of local TV exposure. Who is manipulating these campaigns? How closely held are the puppet strings. Does anyone think they will be released after the election?
    Interesting that one reason for having districts was to reduce the cost of council election campaigns.
    Before districts the cost of a city wide campaign was around $30,000 – $40,000.
    Now, with districts the spending is $275,00 per seat.
    If it were city wide that would be the equivalence of $1,650,000.
    If the claim is the districts is to allow minority candidates it misses the mark.
    If they buy this election, like they did in 2010, it will be a rich white guy that won, not minorities.
    Shame on the candidates for taking this tainted money and selling our city down the Yorkville River

    • I also think this is just the start. Who knows how much more York is going to throw at this.
      Also thanks for pointing out, that during the Measure C campaign, one of the selling points was that the extra two seats would lower the amount of money candidates would need to spend on their campaigns.
      How is that working out?
      Burt Field

    • As intended actually, Burt. Look at the Candidates reports. Becker, for instance, has raised $7,000. Small bucks by any measure but enough to make him competitive. At large? Guessing he’d have to raise 10x that.
      This should not be confused with “Independent Expenditures” from the 49ers. That $1MM is their own money and they are free to spend it as they like (without sending to or coordinating with the candidate).
      You may not like Citizens United, but it’s constitutional law and we’re stuck with it.
      Point is, independent expenditures have absolutely nothing to do with a candidates cost to campaign. Those candidate costs are modest, thanks to six districts.

    • Well, call me psychic, Jed York just added another $300,000 to this fund. Odds are he is far from done.
      $1.4 Million just so far on this one election.
      How much can you spend on fliers, newspapers, local TV time, Google or Facebook adds… well I guess we are about to find out.
      I have not ruled out those little planes that drag banners behind it…

      Burt Field

    • Howard,

      The candidates never “took” money. Look at their financial forms they have not taken anything.
      You need to do more research on independent expenditures. They even state in the ad that this is not approved or funded by the candidate. Think before you leap.

      So there is no shame for the candidates to carry because they refuse money from Niners, corporations, special interests and developers.
      When someone does those independent expenditures the candidates have no control or knowledge of them.

      Maybe the niners did this because they want those candidates to lose because many say it is the kiss of death.

    • Ginny, your statement here reminded me of the time President Bill Clinton, was in front of the Grand Jury and tried to argue the meaning of the word ‘Is’ is. Feel free to look it up.
      Burt Field

    • “The candidates never “took” money” – Even YOU used double-quotes around “took”!

      Tell you what – buy me a car, register it in my name, put my name on the license plate, and leave the car and keys inside in front of my house and tell me to drive and enjoy! It’s not my car – I never “took” it from you!

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