By Robert Haugh
Last night, we learned that five Councilmembers meet regularly with the 49ers: Councilmembers Anthony Becker, Raj Chahal, Suds Jain, Karen Hardy and Kevin Park.
They’re legally required to put the meetings on their calendars. But they won’t disclose to the public what they’re talking about. Wow.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilmember Kathy Watanabe asked councilmembers to report on their 49ers meetings. They argued that the team is suing the City. So it makes sense that the City staff and public should know what the team is telling Councilmembers. Or what they’re asking them to do.
“Just disclose what you’re talking about to the public, said Gillmor. “In a previous administration, that’s how business was done (behind closed doors). We’re trying to change it and make it more transparent.”
“It’s important that we know what is being discussed especially since a lot of our discussions regarding the lawsuits are in closed session,” said Watanabe. “And we want to make sure that those conversations are not being shared.”
City Attorney Brian Doyle said: “I don’t know how I can be expected to defend seven lawsuits against the Stadium Authority, the public entity, when I have board members dealing separately with the 49ers and refusing to tell me what the 49ers are telling them.”
Doyle said that two Councilmembers even refuse to discuss the 49ers’ meetings with him when he asks about them.
During the discussion, Becker and Hardy said that they tell City staff about what they’ve learned from the 49ers. Chahal, Jain and Park were silent on the issue.
Becker said he was offended by the implication that the 49ers own him.
But last year, Jed York spent $3 million to help elect Becker, Jain and Park. All of them had lost elections in the Mission City multiple times before York’s independent expenditure put them over the top.
Now, all three of the York-backed Councilmembers are now pushing to change the stadium curfew, something the team has been pushing for.
Gillmor and Watanabe pointed out that Chahal insisted last year that City Manager Deanna Santana provide minutes for 49ers’ meetings with City staff, but he’s not willing to do the same thing himself.
Park questioned the fact that the 49ers have sued Santa Clara seven times and the City has never sued the team. We’ve heard 49ers executive Rahul Chandhok tell community members that. But it’s wrong.
Doyle had to correct Park. Whoops.
Jain tried to dismiss the argument that lawsuits were significant. Jain said that he currently meets with San Jose officials on transportation issues even though Santa Clara is suing San Jose.
Gillmor and Doyle had to correct Jain. There is no current lawsuit between the two cities. Double whoops.
The vote failed 2-5 with Becker, Chahal, Jain, Hardy and Park refusing to disclose information from their private 49ers meetings.
Editor’s Note: Tomorrow, we’ll write about the El Camino Real Specific Plan study session.