Council Meeting Rescheduled Because of Error But Closed Session To Discuss Throwing in Towel on CVRA Lawsuit Mysteriously Happens Anyway

By Robert Haugh

As we predicted, it’s going to be an interesting year with this new City Council.

Last night, The City Council found out that their last three meetings were not properly noticed. The Council went to all virtual meetings in December. The new notices left out language required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Former Council candidate and City Clerk candidate Bob O’Keefe sent an email yesterday notifying the City staff and Council of that fact.

So the Council meeting last night could have been invalid if they took any action. Wow. 

A special council meeting is being scheduled for today. It will have time-sensitive items from last night. One of those items will be the certification of the seating of the new Councilmembers that happened on December 8

But the Council decided to have a closed session meeting last night to discuss and possibly take action on the California Voting Rights Act lawsuit. Huh? 

Why would they do that if any action taken might be invalid as they were told by City Attorney Brian Doyle.

During the debate, we got a big clue.

Councilman Kevin Park said, “I have just received communication from Robert Rubin saying that there is something that we should discuss or need to discuss and take action on in closed session.”

Mayor Lisa Gillmor asked Park if he was referring to the plaintiffs’ attorney and seemed surprised.

Park said “I was told that this is time sensitive. I don’t know what it is.”

Councilwoman Kathy Watanabe raised a major concern. She asked: “why is the plaintiffs’ attorney contacting our Council while we’re having discussions to go into closed session because there is a need?

“It’s not transparent and again it gives me pause,” said Watanabe. I don’t feel comfortable going into closed session knowing that there are these possible ex parte communications occurring.”

But the Council voted 5-2 to go into closed session to discuss Rubin’s CVRA case. Gillmor and Watanabe voted against it.

This discussion of throwing in the towel in the CVRA lawsuit is what Councilman Raj Chahal was pushing last week, but he wouldn’t tell anyone why at first.

Now we know more.  The motives appear clearer. 

Some Councilmembers want to give away Santa Clara tax dollars just 48 hours before a hearing. And they may be coordinating with the plaintiffs’ attorney.  Wow.

That’s a shame because Santa Clara has a strong appeal case according to the City Attorney and others.

Looks like it’s going to be a long year. And it’s going to be an expensive one with political payback for campaign supporters.


  1. Byron, shouldn’t Mr. Rubin have approached City Attorney Doyle first?

    That is, why did he go to a Councilman in the first place?

    • No doubt. That’s just weird. Makes me wonder if attorney Ruben was really who he said he was.
      Of course, once a client has representation, you only communicate through his/her attorney.
      I’m skeptical.

  2. Maybe in the future Raj and his followers will fight for the residents interest rather than special interest. When Raj votes with the plaintiff, he’s admitting his own racism. Raj is not representing the great kind people that make up Santa Clara.

    Team Racist!

  3. Two things can be equally true.

    The City should proceed with the appeal if it will save millions of dollars, especially since it’s about to be ruled upon. Why concede now?

    The City Charter should also be ammended to require district voting to improve representation.

    • If it were only so simple. Not how it works.
      Generally, there are three avenues open to the appellate court. They can affirm the trial court, reverse the trial court (see you at the CA Supreme Court) or remand to the trial court for another trial with instructions.
      If it were only a matter of costs/fees. It’s decidedly not.
      Look. Santa Clara could have easily avoided this mess by moving to district voting as did Sunnyvale. Doyle took the City here. It was very bad lawyering and bad public policy.
      Your suggestion to await court decision on appeal has merit if the issue was some or other garden variety personal injury, wrongful discharge, contract or any other claim.
      This matter, however, triggers our most sacred shared right as Americans. The right to a vote that counts. That right was denied Santa Clara Asian Americans for 70 years. That’s a big deal.
      So putting it in perspective, costs and attorneys fees through trial amount to about $4.1MM. Less than one month’s rent from that “Cash Cow” Levi’s stadium.
      The better approach for the City is to call off oral argument, go to mediation on the costs/attorneys fees issue and call it a day.
      The Plaintiffs earned every penny. The hit to the City could have/should have been avoided.
      Those who botched this, like the subsidy for a billionaire, must be held accountable.

    • Youre right!

      Hold Pretty Patty, Fat Jamie, Pat (I dont live here) Kolstad,Disgraced Dominic and Kevin (cant catch a HM pass) Moore accountable for there passed sins.

      Works for me!

  4. I am not a fan of the stadium. What will it cost if we lose the lawsuit, which I believe we will? No one is mentioning that figure for some reason.

    • The last figure we have is appx $3.4MM in Plaintiffs’s fees and appx $775,000 in Defense fees. It seems these are fees and costs just up through trial. Obviously appeal costs/fees bump up those totals.

    • Mark, I think you asked the right question. Let’s say this goes to the judge and City’s losses as most other cities have done. I think we are on the hook for around 6 million, let’s say Rubin based our latest election says I will take 3 million to settle, does the council roll the dice or cuts its loses? By the way any lawyer will tell you that this type of negotiations happen all the time, a deal is done at the last minute.

  5. Let me check, ok, it appears that these 5 Council Members were indeed voted in by the Residents of Santa Clara to represent us.
    Just had to double check because it does not appear that these 5 New Council members are acting in our best interest.
    Curious, I wonder who’s best interest they are acting for???
    Burt Field

    • Hi Bert. The new Council is indeed acting in the best interests of residents since they are presented with a matter of the utmost urgency. Getting rid of a 70 year racist legacy which resulted in a rigged election scheme to deny, especially Santa Clara Asian Americans, elected office.
      Consider this. Say the scheme was reversed. 70 years where the system was rigged against whites. You’d be content to forget all that only to look at financial cost? Of course not.
      Six districts work as intended. Time for Santa Clara to move on from Selma. There’s a much larger principal at stake.

    • Mr. Fleck, as a person who relocated to Santa Clara from the South, I take great exception to your comment comparing Selma to Santa Clara. I have lived here long enough to recognize racism if I see it and I have not. I have so enjoyed interacting with folks at many events and am delighted with the camaraderie exhibited everywhere. You can go anywhere in the South and come across racist people but not here in Santa Clara.

    • Howard, I guess we will find out soon enough what the cost will be to replace the City Attorney, Mayor and the “Last” Santa Clara City Council Member seat will cost….
      Any guess what that number will be?
      Not sure if the Residents of Santa Clara fully understood what their vote was going to get them, but this is what the majority voted for. By the time this is all said and done, I’m not sure what will be left for us to put back together.

      Reminds me of the “Humpty Dumpty” children’s story in so many ways. Maybe we will have better luck than “All the King’s Horses and all the King’s men” did. I sure hope we will be able to put Santa Clara back together again.

      Welcome to life in the newest City in the Bay Area.
      Yorkville California.

      Burt Field

    • Certainly agree with you that Santa Clara is a company town. “Yorkville” as you style it. But that’s what Santa Clara residents voted for. No putting that genie back in the bottle. Fortunately, my understanding is that all new Council members voted against Measure J while Lisa and Kathy supported Measure J. It’s just damage control, as has been the experience of every other NFL city who “elected” to subsidize a billionaire.
      Where, respectfully, you are in error, is ignoring the “cost” to residents of Santa Clara’s racist history. Doyle, by his actions in handling the CVRA, appears to have knowingly endorsed that track. Look, if you can’t get that right, he’s got to go. That’s just bad policy.
      As to the City Manager, her (and I suppose the top 10 highest paid city employees) accept a pay cut bringing them in line with surrounding cities, or leave.
      Take those savings and keep employed those city employees at the lower rungs who would otherwise be laid off.
      It’s just discerning right from wrong.

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