By Robert Haugh
Last night, the Council updated its conflict of interest code. This is a routine thing that’s done annually. But the 49ers and their executives don’t want to comply with state law.
So City Attorney Brian Doyle had to lay out a detailed case about why 49ers executives are required to do so. Doyle showed how they sign contracts involving public funds on behalf of the Stadium Authority.
Doyle also documented how team executives have stonewalled the City by ignoring repeated requests. It’s a good presentation and you can watch it for yourself here.
There was some damaging documentation on how 49ers executive Al Guido has been caught signing documents that look like self-dealing. That’s a major violation of the conflict of interests law.
When it came time to take action, Councilmember Kathy Watanabe made a motion to accept Doyle’s recommendation but received no second. None.
After some discussion, Mayor Lisa Gillmor did a smart thing. She seconded Watanabe’s motion because she said she wanted to force a vote on the issue. Usually, Gillmor doesn’t second motions.
Gillmor’s move forced the 49ers-supported candidates to take a position. And it worked. The Council unanimously approved Doyle’s recommendation to make clear to the 49ers that they have to follow state law.
Vice Mayor Raj Chahal abstained. He said he didn’t have a certain document even though Doyle provided a lot of documentation. Wow.
Chahal meets with 49ers executives monthly. He has been their most reliable Council supporter for the last two years.
The Council gave a two-year contract to Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. (JLL) for consulting services for the development, implementation, and operation of a Comprehensive Tourism Strategy. They were the highest-ranked firm during a competitive bid.
But Councilmembers Anthony Becker and Kevin Park argued against giving JLL the contract. They brought up issues from over a decade ago.
It sounded like they were carrying the political water for the former Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce who ran the Convention Center and the former ConVis Bureau. Neither of those organizations did a good job. That’s why the Council had to get rid of them.
Chahal also objected to JLL. He did a lengthy presentation on the details of the contract. But Chahal made errors in his analysis that had to be corrected by City staff. Oops.
During the discussion, their arguments were shot down by the City staff and industry experts who actually know what they’re talking about.
Hyatt Regency Hotel General Manager Eron Hodges and new CEO of Discover Santa Clara Matt Stewart made a strong case that it would fiscally irresponsible to choose another contractor or for the City to hire employees to do what JLL does.
The experts said the objections by Becker, Park and Chahal would cost Santa Clara millions of dollars in future convention business.
The motion to award JLL the contract passed 4-3. Mayor Gillmor and Councilmembers Suds Jain, Karen Hardy and Watanabe voted in favor.
Editor’s Note: At the end of the meeting, Becker apologized to me for a comment he made at a previous meeting. I appreciate it and will reach out to him and write about it in the coming days.