Raj Chahal Demanded Closed Session Meeting to Discuss CVRA Lawsuit But Wouldn’t Say Why

By Robert Haugh

It was supposed to be a nice, ceremonial meeting last night. It started out that way. The City Council said goodbye to outgoing members and swore in newly elected members.

Then Raj Chahal made a motion to discuss the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) lawsuit in closed session.

That’s the lawsuit that created six districts because a judge concluded that there’s “racially polarized” voting in Santa Clara. The City has appealed the decision.

But Chahal wouldn’t tell the Council or City Attorney Brian Doyle why he thought a closed session was needed or why he wanted to discuss it.

So there was a lengthy discussion and debate. It took over two hours. Wow.

Days ago, Chahal asked that a closed session be scheduled for December 15. A majority of the Council would have to agree to put it on that future meeting’s agenda.  

Doyle gave the Council a memo updating the CVRA lawsuit. It’s scheduled for a hearing on December 17. According to Doyle, all the legal fees and court costs (except for a few hundred dollars) have been paid. Doyle said the arguments for both sides have been written and submitted.

Doyle pressed Chahal for a reason for a closed session. But Chahal wouldn’t say why.  

Doyle told the Council that he couldn’t participate in a closed session without knowing the topic. He also raised issues about transparency. So did members of the public who spoke later. 

Doyle said that he’d have to advise the new Councilmembers that they had major serious issues to be concerned about. That’s because as candidates some of them had made statements about dropping the lawsuit during their campaigns.

Doyle cited common law conflicts rules, quid pro quo issues and gift of public funds possibilities.

After a few hours of debate, Chahal finally admitted that he wanted to explore dropping the lawsuit and settling. (Although earlier in the debate at one point, Chahal said he didn’t want to dismiss the case). 

So, Chahal wants to consider dropping the lawsuit or settling 48 hours before the hearing. After both sides turned in written arguments weeks ago. And all the fees have been paid. Wow. 

Doyle said that many attorneys that he’s consulted with laughed at the idea of dropping or settling this close to a hearing. Doyle also said in response to questions that he thought the City had a good chance to win. But he wouldn’t put a percentage number on the chances.

“I think the public has a right to know that the Council is making an irrational decision,“ Doyle said about Chahal’s idea.

Newly elected Councilman Kevin Park made a motion to have Chahal and Doyle meet to figure out what needs to be discussed. And then the Council could review the issue later, maybe on the December 15th meeting or after the December 17th hearing.

That motion passed unanimously, 7-0. Yup, Chahal voted for it, too.

If the first meeting is an example, it’s going to be a long year.

Councilman Raj Chahal


  1. All of us residents need to watch and see if the unscrupulous Jed is influencing any of our council members. The mad amount of money Jed is willing to spend is life changing and sinfully enticing and criminal.

    Keep your eyes open, there will be a signs.

    • Ok “Bolo,” (not using your name?). Look. About 60% of Santa Clara residents supported the $875MM subsidy to a billionaire from residents’ wallets. It’s what they wanted. Neither Becker, Jain nor Park supported the subsidy nor took $1 from York. Look on council who did.

  2. I appreciate Raj Chahal for representing his district and getting down to business. There are many residents who are dismayed that the previous city council voted to appeal the CVRA lawsuit upon Doyle’s legal advice. It’s a complete waste of taxpayer money and quite frankly we like having distinct districts where we get to vote for our representative here in North Santa Clara.

    I’m also shocked that we still have Brian Doyle as our City Attorney. We need better legal counsel – I hope the new city council will find a replacement after last night’s embarrassing debacle. What a great way to start off the first city council meeting by throwing around the negative campaigning tropes and attacking the new council members. It’s actually mind boggling if you watch the entire exchange. Did Doyle really say that he would refuse to attend a closed city council meeting unless he can set the agenda? And the shady pseudo legal tactics – since when does a council members statement during an election campaign prevent them from discussing and voting on an issue? Does this mean Watanabe can’t vote on the stadium curfew because she campaigned for it? I expect more professionalism from our city attorney.

    • Gee, Sara! Sounds like you watched Raj and Anthony’s version of the council meeting! What channel was it on? I’m curious. Definitely not what I and my neighbors saw. What we saw was the “Greatest $h** Show On Earth” featuring Raj and Anthony!

  3. “Democracy dies in darkness.” – Motto of the Washington Post.

    Councilman Chahal isn’t giving us leadership – he’s enabling the 49ers’ deception and deceit.

    No closed session, as Matthews and Caserta attempted to do with the SC Youth Soccer Park. Not then, and not now.

  4. What’s with all the deception, is he embarrassed of his own position? Pretty telling and not honest.

    Raj has suddenly changed!

  5. It certainly looks like Raj is in the pocket of the 49ers. He is not very respectful of staff and fellow council peoples time by going on for 2 hours before finally saying what could of been said in 10 minutes.

  6. Jon Ramos post is spot on. The request was to discuss a matter of pending litigation. That’s all required. What was very troubling was Doyle’s (embarrassing) diversion from that issue to
    incoherent rambling nonsense about conflicts, ethics, professional rules of conduct, 49ers and criminal investigations. The matter should have been calendared for closed session. Period.
    You think Doyle is a little defensive about screwing up the CVRA litigation where he advocated effectively disenfranchising Asian Santa Clarans while blowing over $4MM of resident money in the process? He screwed up big time.
    Doyle is out of control. He’s misleading Council on the law to presumably cover up his mishandling of a case where residents have paid dearly.

    • I agree with J. Byron Fleck. The City attorney’s actions last night were very unprofessional. Thank you for the insight Mr Fleck. I appreciate the opinion of another attorney such as you.

    • I agree, Brian Doyle is not acting professionally. I think that either Raj or Lisa should have put a stop to the discussion. 2 hours and it really should have been a 10 minute discussion. No one came out of last night’s council meeting looking good.

  7. Raj likes to question staff business and contracts. This is already paid for, duh.

    Remember the niners supported the Asian law alliance.

    Raj Chahal is a Sell Out! Let’s all keep an eye on Raj!🕵️‍♀️🕵🏽‍♂️🕵️🕵🏽‍♀️

  8. The only items that can be discussed in a close door meeting legally in California are: City Council may meet in closed session before, during or after a meeting to discuss matters such as pending or threatened litigation, conference with real property negotiators, or consideration of appointment, performance evaluation, discipline, dismissal or release of a public employee. Mr. Chahal is within his rights, but should give a reason before making the request.

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