CVRA Plaintiffs’ Attorney Calls Councilmembers Just Days Before Hearing on Lawsuit Against the City

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.


  1. Your article implies that communication with a represented elected official is improper. While not ideal, it is not prohibited. See California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 2-100(c)(1). And when a settlement offer is not timely conveyed to a client by a city attorney, communicating with an elected official may be necessary.

  2. When Santa Clara wins, how much will that reduce your cut JB?

    JB Flake from San Jose is looking out for his payday! 👀💵

    Really JB, we’re not racist… No matter how much you cash in for.

    • Pardon? I’m not affiliated in anyway to the action nor have any financial interest in the outcome. I do find Santa Clara’s “defense” to the suit to be morally and legally reprehensible.
      Base on questioning by the Sixth District today, I believe they see it similarly.
      Who are you, by the way?

  3. Just tuned to court of appeal oral arguments at 6th district.
    So here is what it is:
    City is arguing that Court of Appeal should adopt a “new rule” that “usually” in the CVRA statute means at least 51% of experts electoral samples (here, over last 14 years) evidence racial discrimination.
    Plaintiff’s expert testified he found evidence of racial discrimination in 5/10 of those elections or 50%. Trial court judge wrote in decision he had 80% confidence factor in Plaintiffs expert’s opinion.
    The justices pushed back against the City citing controlling authority
    Thornburg v. Gingles
    , 478 U.S. 30 (1986), a
    United States Supreme Court
    Case which instructed that voting rights are not subject to any one mathematical determination.
    My take:
    City did the best they could with the law they could work with. In reality, very little. (They relied on “precedent” from the US 4th district ie, Virginia, West Virginia?!?!?).
    Look, you don’t ask any court of appeal to adopt a new rule where the law is clear.
    Under Gingles and CVRA, it’s a “totality of the circumstances” argument. I suspect Counsel for the City knew that.
    Frankly, I was most surprised that the Justices obviously spent a lot of time analyzing the briefs and asking well prepared questions. Normally, you don’t get such a look see about how the court will rule.
    It was all over after Plaintiffs counsel cited the fact that in 70 years, not one Asian American Santa Claran who ran, was elected to Council over minority whites.
    City of Santa Clara gets hammered yet again.
    Coming shortly and not pretty.
    Ugly. City should settle, if they can.

  4. It seems as though closed session really makes a mess of our prime Time viewing. Maybe we can have closed session as a pay-per-view?

    I didn’t think I would enjoy watching a live train wreck.

  5. I hope the City attorney keeps an eye on Raj and especially the newbies. It would be a shame if they break the law.

    Rubin is trash, not weird.

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