By Robert Haugh
It’s unusual that people make comments before the City Council goes into closed session. But with this new City Council, a lot of unusual things are happening.
Former Councilmember Teresa O’Neill called in. She said she wasn’t planning on commenting so soon on City items since her term ended just weeks ago.
But O’Neill was concerned about the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) lawsuit and the way the new Council is handling it. She said, “I heard a lot of talk about transparency during the campaign, and what I’ve witnessed the last couple of weeks raised grave concerns for me about the actual commitment to that.”
O’Neill asked each Councilmember to disclose their discussions with plaintiffs’ attorneys.
Here’s what we learned:
Newly elected Councilman Anthony Becker said that Robert Rubin called him five or six times before he answered the call. Wow. Someone was desperate.
Becker said Rubin asked him if he received a settlement offer letter. According to Becker, he told Rubin he could not speak with him.
Newly elected Councilman Kevin Park said that Rubin had also contacted him by phone about the settlement offer.
Park also answered a question posed by O’Neill about a rumor in the community. According to the rumor, Park had been asked by Rubin to be a plaintiff in the CVRA case against the City. Park said last night that he was approached in 2014, but he declined. Hmmm.
Newly elected Councilman Suds Jain also said that Rubin called him a couple of days ago about the settlement offer. He also admitted that Rubin asked him to be a plaintiff years ago. Double hmmm.
Councilman Raj Chahal said he also received a call from the plaintiffs’ attorney about the settlement offer just a few days ago.
Chahal pushed hard at the December 8 meeting to force a Council meeting on settlement discussions. That meeting was only supposed to have ceremonial items. But Chahal forced a two-hour debate about trying to settle the CVRA case.
According to Chahal’s statement last night, he didn’t know there was a settlement offer until many days after December 8. Triple hmmm.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor, Vice Mayor Karen Hardy, and Councilwoman Kathy Watanabe had no contact with the plaintiffs’ attorneys or the plaintiffs.
We learned another interesting thing. Watanabe asked everyone to disclose if they’ve had contact with the 49ers. The team united with the CVRA lawsuit plaintiffs to defeat Measure C. They spent over $650,000.
The 49ers also spent $3 million just a few months ago to elect Becker, Jain and Park to create a more 49er friendly council.
Becker, Jain and Park admitted that they received congratulations from the team on the elections. They claim they did not discuss the CVRA lawsuit. Watanabe, who also won in November, did not get a congratulatory message.
Tomorrow, the Sixth District Court of Appeal should hear the CVRA case. The judicial panel will be Eugene Premo, Franklin Elia and Allison Danner.
We have to wonder how many times Rubin has called them recently.