By Robert Haugh
Last night, Councilmember Anthony Becker tried to stop a decision to award a contract that was won by Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) during a competitive process. They scored the highest over three other national firms according to the city staff report.
The contract was an extension of JLL’s current effort to help create a new Destination Marketing Organization (DMO).
What’s disturbing is that It looks like Becker was trying to kill the contract for political reasons.
Becker blamed JLL executive Dan Fenton for problems with the San Jose Convention Center 10 years ago. Yup. Ten years ago. Becker also said Fenton was responsible for getting rid of the old Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (CVB).
Councilmember Kathy Watanabe had to correct Becker and say that former Councilmember Debi Davis led the effort to find the mismanagement and make the CVB change. Becker said that Davis only did that because she wasn’t endorsed in her council races by the Chamber of Commerce who managed the CVB.
Becker has been endorsed by the Chamber in multiple unsuccessful city elections. But for some reason, he didn’t acknowledge that last night.
Councilmember Kevin Park had a similar objection to Becker. But at least he was honest about it. Park said that he had a close relationship with former CVB director Annette Manhart.
Park says he thinks the CVB did a good job even if the Chamber didn’t. He also suggested that CVB employees could be rehired now to help. Park may have to do some homework and look at the former CVB track record like some of their advertising claims and decisions.
At the end of the discussion, the newly hired DMO director Matt Stewart called unexpectedly to weigh in. He’s the person who will actually have to make a new organization work. Here’s what Stewart said:
“I just wanted to voice my support of JLL and Dan Fenton as an integral part of the onboarding that I’ve had over the past six weeks. (garbled) invaluable experience that JLL adds to this particular initiative. And to be honest there is so much work to do when setting up a new organization, in essence, a startup.”
“Dan has actually been an integral part of me accepting this job not only from an innovative standpoint and what he sees has happened in other entities across the country and what stakeholder and what the community as a whole needs from a DMO in particular.”
The Council decided unanimously to defer the decision to take a closer look at JLL’s performance over the last few years in Santa Clara and the cost of hiring in-house staff to do the job.
As we predicted, it’s going to be a long year.