OPINION: Stop The Dysfunction at City Hall

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.


  1. What a wasteful agenda. I’m embarrassed by all the fighting within, no wonder we have such a low voter turnout.

    I really don’t believe censure is going to make Kevin Park anymore charming. Becker is all hopped up because he got to raise the queer flag, settle down we don’t need an apology.

    How about trying to govern the city to make it a better place for the residents?

  2. Thank you Burt, nicely said.
    Looking at how the CFH* is behaving it is easy to see what would happen if they got their way. Like children having a tantrum and destroying a room they would stand in the middle of the destruction and wonder what to do. Considering how the CFH behaves now and how unproductive the meetings are imagine if they were on their own.
    And imagine Santa Clara with no legal representation that sides with Santa Clara and not the NFL. When jed has the city attorney fired who will he pick to replace him?
    No, I don’t see how this ends well.
    *Council From Hell

  3. How disappointing it is to read and watch this drama play out in a City that I have enjoyed working with over the last couple of elections. As an elected in another city, I am dismayed by the narrow-minded politics and elapsed grievances being aired in an effort to offend colleagues. People that I respect and have had the extreme pleasure of working with.

    During the past year, the message around the great USA has been “LOVE NOT HATE.” What are you doing newly elected Santa Clarans? Where is your heart? Where is your consideration of your City? Your residents who are looking up to you for hope? How can they trust you as leaders?

    Think about your City and the residents you were elected to serve!

    Enough is enough!

    Shape up or expect to be shipped out,

    A distressed local elected

  4. A previous article in the Santa Clara News Online clearly showed how Hardy broke the law in her censure/admonishment attempt. What if anything is happening about that? Jain lied to the public during the election on his need to recuse from the downtown project. What is happening about that? Park says he got his feelings hurt because he was not allowed to speak at an event that he never RSVP’d attendance or asked to speak at prior to the ending of the event. Park later made the statement “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?” Well Kevin, what about the Asian wife(your wife) that claimed she was abused by her Asian husband (you)? Just take a peek at the police reports from 2017 and 2018. Hardy’s, Jain’s and Park’s actions are criminal and deserve far more that censure!

  5. Kevin Park has done nothing for the Korean community. Now he is using his Korean background as a weapon. Kevin Park has never done anything for anyone other than himself.

    This narcissist is such a wimp to be offended by Watanabe. Or maybe it’s just a ploy?

    Perhaps if Kevin wasn’t so lazy he would actually initiate something on his own rather than just trade our city away to Jed York for his own personal gains.

    • Don’t leave Becker out of this!
      Just go back to December 8 and watch the
      tirade he exhibited when he was told by
      the Mayor he couldn’t speak. He yelled
      and showed behavior not befitting
      someone who was just elected.
      Chahal has continually offended City
      staff telling them their job where a
      staff director had to tell
      Chahal he was insulting staff. Then
      Chahal got all defensive!
      AlLL THESE 5 show their incompetentcy
      and should be censured!

      Actually what would be better is to just
      recall. Get them on the ballot with

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