By Burt Field
To many Santa Clara residents, it’s obvious that we have a dysfunctional City Council.
City Council meetings are long and the discussions are like water torture. This new City Council should be given a gold medal in wasting time and engaging in actions that are destructive to Santa Clara.
Since Jed York spent $3 million to elect his handpicked slate of candidates last year, things have really gone down hill fast. On tomorrow’s Council meeting agenda is a perfect example of what we should be concerned about.
The pro-49er Council majority wants to punish Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilmember Kathy Watanabe for offending Councilmember Kevin Park.
Why was Park offended? Because he wasn’t allowed to speak at a rally supporting the Asian community that Watanabe organized.
Why would Watanabe do such a thing since Park is a leader in the Santa Clara Asian community? Well, maybe it was because Park never RSVPd to attend the event and he requested to speak minutes before the ceremony was closing. At that point, over a dozen speakers, mostly Asian community leaders, had spoken.
But Park, who regularly offends people at City Council meetings, says he was offended. Here’s what he said at the April 7th meeting.
“I understand the desire to help the young girl, the young Asian girl, that was abused. She’s just a child. But what about the Asian man that was abused (Park) by a mother (Watanabe) who acted like a child?”
It’s unfortunate that Park places his needs above the young woman who was harmed and publicly insults another Councilmember.
And what do they want to punish Gillmor for? Because she tried to make peace and got both Park and Watanabe to say publicly that they would have done things differently. That’s it, really.
It’s also unfortunate that Park’s Council colleagues are making his grievance into an action they consider worthy of censure. By doing so they are establishing a low bar.
For example, shouldn’t Councilmember Suds Jain be censured for deliberately misleading voters during his campaign last year about his conflict of interest on downtown issues? Jain knew about his conflict years ago. Jain had to abstain from a July 27, 2016 Planning Commission vote on Santa Clara University issues. Yet, he repeatedly denied he had a conflict until last month when the FPPC forced him to recuse himself from downtown issues.
And Councilmember Karen Hardy complained last year about appointments to the City’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It’s an ethnically diverse group of talented individuals who will work on important issues for our City. But Hardy said on September 30th “the group I wouldn’t say looks like a cross-section of Santa Clara.” Her comments were viewed by many of us who serve on City commissions as somewhere between insensitive and offensive.
By the standard that this City Council is setting, many of them should be censured. And what’s worse is they are creating a toxic environment in Santa Clara that will continue the dysfunction at City Hall. That’s really bad for everyone who has to work there now. And I fear it will deter good people from running for office or serving the City on commissions or as employees.
That would not just be dysfunctional, that would be disastrous for Santa Clara.
Editor’s Note: Burt Field is co-founder of Stand Up for Santa Clara, a grass-roots watchdog organization born out of the fight to save the Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park in 2015.