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.