Opinion: Councilmember Karen Hardy Violated the City Charter and Must be Prosecuted or Special Interests Will Write Our Laws

By Bob O’Keefe

At the City Council meeting on May 4, 2021, during the discussion of censure for Councilmember Kathy Watanabe and admonishment of Mayor Lisa Gillmor, Councilmember Karen Hardy publicly stated that she had retained an outside attorney and had that attorney prepare a resolution of censure for Councilmember Watanabe and a resolution of admonishment for Mayor Gillmor.

Later in the discussion, Councilmember Hardy read those resolutions publicly, thus entering the content of those resolutions into the permanent record of the meeting.  Based on the information and specific charges contained in those documents, several actions were then taken by the city council: a motion, a second to a motion, and a vote to move forward and place the matter of censure for Councilmember Watanabe and the admonishment of Mayor Gillmor on a future council agenda.

On review of the Santa Clara City Charter, Councilmember Hardy, while acting in her official capacity as a Councilmember violated at least one provision of the Santa Clara City Charter. In simple terms, she broke the law! 

Specifically, Councilmember Hardy committed two violations of the Santa Clara City Charter:

  1. Section 908(e): “The City Attorney shall prepare any and all proposed ordinances and resolutions for the City and amendments thereto.”

Councilmember Hardy violated this provision by reading two proposed resolutions that she had prepared by an outside private attorney, not by the City Attorney, into the public record of the council meeting of May 4th 2021. 

In our City’s Charter, Section 1801 states “The violation of any provision of the Charter shall be deemed a misdemeanor.”  That makes these violations criminal in nature.

And Section 908(f) requires the City Attorney to prosecute on behalf of the people all criminal cases for violation of the charter. 

Public officials must be held to the highest standard.  Per the Charter, the City Attorney must initiate an investigation for the prosecution of Councilmember Hardy for the aforementioned violations of the Santa Clara City Charter. 

Also, Councilmember Hardy, by her actions, has shown a predetermined bias and must be required to recuse herself from any further participation in the separate but related matter of the censure of Councilmember Watanabe and the admonishment of Mayor Gillmor.

Why This is An Important Precedent

If we do not enforce this violation of the law, think about the precedent it would set, it would be okay for any developer, corporation, even the San Francisco 49ers to have their attorneys draw up an ordinance or resolution to give it to a sympathetic council member.

That councilmember could bring it to the dais. It could be voted on and passed by other sympathetic council members.  That developer, corporation or football team, just wrote law in the City of Santa Clara. 

Please don’t just laugh it off and say that can’t happen, because it just very well might be happening right now!

Editor’s Note: Bob O’Keefe is a Santa Clara community leader in the Old Quad who ran for City Clerk and City Council.

13 comments

  1. Hopefully this is the last time the city gets Flecked by JB. It’s always happy hour somewhere for JB.

  2. Oh, sounds like BJ Fleck is working on his defense already. Probably not a bad idea. All this does help to explain why JB is so involved in SC politics while not being a resident.

  3. Unless and until (after due process), the City Attorney is instructed to prepare and introduce to the City Council a proposed ordinance or resolution for their consideration, a formal “proposed ordinance or resolution” as set forth under Section 908(e) of the City Charter simply does not exist.

    Councilmember Hardy’s submission of written documents memorializing her argument in favor of a proposed outcome for the Council’s consideration can be in any format she chooses. Whatever that format may be, however, it is simply “argument” which does not (and can not) rise to the level set forth in Section 908(e) of the City Charter unless and until it comes by way of the City Attorney, as set forth above.

    • Well, Mr. No Bias-Just the Facts or should I say J. Byron Fleck, another great mess Fleck got a councilmember into. Since it was he that prepared the two resolutions for Hardy. No wonder as to why you now want to claim that they aren’t really resolutions although you printed “Resolution For The City of Santa Clara” it on the top of each document but it is to late your client, Hardy has already entered those documents into the public record or could it be the fact that you also could be held criminally or civilly liable for assisting her in violating the Santa Clara City Charter. Another great piece of legal advice from J. Byron Fleck Esq.

      • …more like Patty Mahan authored the post by No Bias – Just The Facts, it is to well written with no spelling or grammatical errors, way above Flecks abilities. Just take a look at the resolutions Hardy submitted that were authored by Fleck and you’ll see the poor grammar, sentence structure and spelling errors, not all his fault (PITT grad).

        Robert Haugh, since the PRA from another poster, these documents are now open public record, why not update this story and publish them, and everyone can see the quality of work that SOMEONE? paid for.

  4. Interesting you might ask that question of who did this document. I asked several questions after that meeting myself directly to the City as required by law. Here are the questions I asked originally and the second questions are those I sent back and asked more questions since the first where not answered. .My second set of request went to Karen and she has not replied as of today 5/27. Keep in mind since I did not get any answer other than who the attorney was ( J Byron Fleck Esq.) I asked several more questions which were sent from Julie Minot, SPHR | Executive Assistant, Mayor and City Council. Here are the questions I ask for my first round.
    On May 4th at the City Council Meeting, Karen Hardy introduced a motion to Censure Councilwoman Watanabe and Admonish Mayor Lisa Gillmore. Karen read the document to the public and council. I am requesting the following information as it should be public records.

    1. A copy of the document that Karen Hardy read.
    2. A copy of her agreement with the Attorney.
    3. Who was the Attorney that drafted the document of Censure and Admonish.
    4. Who retained the Attorney?
    5. Who paid for the Attorney?
    6. What association does this Attorney have with the City of Santa Clara and or the 49er organization?
    7. What was the cost of the Attorney?
    8. If there was no cost for the documents, please explain why?

    This should all be public knowledge since it was introduced at a public meeting in which all council members where present. Please send via email.

    Basted on the fact I only got attorney information. I sent a second message with more questions that specifically asked specifically about who paid for the documents and if there was no cost, then asking why? As of today, I have not received anything from Karen even thought. I also noticed that it appears the original documents in my opinion came from Karen’s personnel email address. I also ask about this as I didn’t think it was legal for council members to use there personnel email addresses for City Business?
    Here is the document I submitted on my second round a questions which have not been answer as of now but it was noted that and I quote this from the document that Karen was sent: “Please note any
    response you consider providing is voluntary and is not required under the CPRA.”

    1. A copy of the document that Karen Hardy read.
    The City has released responsive document pursuant to the
    California Public Records Act and are available for download
    through the https://santaclara.nextrequest.com/ portal.
    Question: Why is there no document for Mayor Lisa Gillmor?
    2. A copy of her agreement with the Attorney.
    The City does not possess records responsive to this request.
    Question: Why is there no agreement with the Attorney? Is
    Karen Hardy hiding this document? This should be on
    record with the City since she made it an issue and brought
    it up during a council meeting.
    3. Who was the Attorney that drafted the document of
    Censure and Admonish.
    The City has released responsive document pursuant to the California Public Records Act and are available for download
    through the https://santaclara.nextrequest.com/ portal.
    Question: It appears to me that the document from Karen
    came from her personal email address? Does the City
    Charter allow for this? I would think all documents need to
    be with the City. In addition, does the city charter allow for
    this?
    4. Who retained the Attorney?
    The City does not possess records responsive to this request and
    the California Public Records Act does not create an obligation to
    respond to questions nor create records to respond to a question.
    Question: Again, this should be on record and should of
    been discussed with the City Attorney and all Council
    members.
    5. Who paid for the Attorney?
    The City does not possess records responsive to this request and
    the California Public Records Act does not create an obligation to
    respond to questions nor create records to respond to a question.
    Question: Again, this should be public knowledge as Karen
    made this City business in the Council meeting on May 4th
    2021.
    6. What association does this Attorney have with the City of
    Santa Clara and or the 49er organization?
    The City does not possess records responsive to this request and
    the California Public Records Act does not create an obligation to
    respond to questions nor create records to respond to a question.
    Comment: It appears that this Attorney lives in San Jose. It
    apparent that this Attorney does not support our Mayor and
    has made comments on Facebook. I suspect that J Byron
    Fleck Esq. wants our City Attorney’s job although he has not
    said that directly.7. What was the cost of the Attorney?
    The City does not possess records responsive to this request and
    the California Public Records Act does not create an obligation to
    respond to questions nor create records to respond to a question.
    Question: Again, this should be on public records. What is
    she hiding and who is advising her to hide it?
    8. If there was no cost for the documents, please explain why?
    The City does not possess records responsive to this request and
    the California Public Records Act does not create an obligation to
    respond to questions nor create records to respond to a question

    Go figure, when I saw that, I knew she would not respond. We need to work to remove these members from our City Council and continue to ask hard questions to keep them in line….

    Just my Opinion again…. 🙂

  5. Bob, I completely agree with your comments. I have shared this on my Facebook page as well. I am also wondering why it is ok for Sud Jain to lie to the voters of his district in being able to vote on the downtown? Is this also not a reason to censure him as well? I wonder how many times the Brown Act has been violated, with all of the new councilmembers meeting with the 49ers on their own and not even telling the city attorney of the or sharing notes from the meetings.

    • Go for it Mike! Residents can call for censure not just the high and mighty buffoons!

  6. I love to see hate backfire. Karen Hardy is just a
    special needs shill for the rest of Jed’s idiots.

    I’m glad she doesn’t teach my children.

  7. Follow the money right back to Jed. I can’t imagine this was that important to Karen for her to dip in your own pocket and pay legal fees.

    Just a follower.

  8. Thanks Bob for bringing this up. It may be the little things (Which are never little) that brings this Three Ring Circus to a halt.
    First and foremost we need to get our City Council back.
    Somehow, someway, we need to remove the “Clowns” that are obviously not representing the best interest of the residents. Time and again we are taking a back seat to one local company and their best interest.
    Please recommend what we need to do. I believe we have enough educated, knowledgable people who are willing to invest time, money and energy into fixing our City.

    Burt Field

  9. Just out of curiosity, did Hardy pay the atty out of her pocket?
    Did the atty do it pro bono?
    If so does the atty have any association with the same jed york that has bought Santa Clara .City Council?
    No coincident hardy’s motion is against the only two members not owned by jed york.

Leave a Reply