49er Five Fire Santa Clara City Attorney Brian Doyle — A First in the City’s History; He’s Dismissed for “No Cause”

By Robert Haugh

For the first time in Santa Clara history, a public employee has been fired by the City Council. 

City Attorney Brian Doyle was fired last night on a 5-2 vote.

The five Councilmembers who are 49er friendly voted to dismiss Doyle: Anthony Becker, Raj Chahal, Suds Jain, Karen Hardy and Kevin Park.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Kathy Watanabe voted against the dismissal.

Doyle has been a major advocate for Santa Clara. He’s defended the City against the numerous lawsuits initiated by the 49ers. And he’s been effective.

So the 49ers told the five Council members that they want to “see Brian Doyle gone,” according to Jain.

At the beginning of the meeting Doyle’s personal attorney Tom Stout requested an open session. That way the action would be transparent to the public.

But Gillmor said that wasn’t possible because of the way the meeting was called.

Becker specifically requested that it happen behind closed doors. He also told City staff not to publicly release the employee’s name.

After the City Council went behind closed doors, the deliberations took less than 15 minutes.  Then, Gillmor announced the results.

It was not announced last night if the dismissal is immediate or who will take over for Doyle.

During the public comment period, there were 27 total speakers. The overwhelming majority supported Doyle and criticized the 49er Five.

Doyle spoke eloquently of his service to the city. He mentioned the $170 million saved from stopping the 49ers from lowering their own rent.

Here’s  sampling of some other comments:

Bob O’Keefe – “You’ll face major problems if you fire Doyle.” (O’Keefe also researched with the City Clerk’s office to confirm that this is the first public employee firing in Santa Clara history).

Carolyn McAllister – “I think this is a sham.”

Debbie Algieri cited texts from PRA between Becker and other external attorneys. Becker in his messages called his constituents trolls. Aligieri said: “The wrong people are on trial here.”

Kiersten Vogel – “this is BS.”

Jerry Campi – “No one should be fired for no cause.”

Susan Hinton called Becker, Chahal, Jain and Park: ”the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse.”

Kirk Vartan – “the bitterness is obvious.”

Lee Broughman — mentioned former Councilman Jim Arno and past council misdeeds as a warning.

Linda Zazzarra – “what a tangled web you’re weaving.”

Deborah Von Huene – quoted Mark Twain’s advice to Becker – “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”

Teresa O’Neill – “This is trouble for the City that the City of Santa Clara does not need.”

Four people called to criticize Doyle. One of them was former Santa Clara resident and gadfly Deborah Bress. She calls in periodically using aliases. But her voice is and complaints are pretty obvious.

Bress and others used identical language about the CVRA lawsuit. It’s like they had talking points. Those people also did not disclose their names but had generic aliases.

Stay tuned for more coverage. This is not likely the end of the Brian Doyle story.


  1. Suds Jain did not care what the constituents of district 5 want regarding of the firing of Brian Doyle, just what Jed York wants.

  2. These five monsters are supposed to be our neighbors our friends our advocates. It’s so disturbing that they have obviously sold out to the 49ers, just ask Suds Jain. How are these five monsters going to be perceived in their neighborhoods and districts?

    If any of them have self-respect, they would pull a Mathews and run away and hide. These smug faces need a slap from their mamas.

  3. These so called City Council Members are so clearly not working for their city or voters. They work for Jed York – Period. Did someone call them clowns? No. Not clowns. They’re so much more dangerous than that.

    Seems a class action lawsuit is the way to go here.

  4. Please stop vilifying the council with the “blame the government” attitude. Santa Clara residents need to point the finger at themselves. They elected these 5 clowns, period. Now we are getting the results they voted for. Take ownership of this disaster and start focusing on good candidates for the next election.

  5. Your facts are inaccurate, this is not the first time Council has fired a City Attorney. Back in 2009, they voted to remove the City Attorney in a closed session.

    • The facts are accurate. In 2009, the Santa Clara City Attorney was Helene Leichter, she voluntarily resigned and was not terminated or fired by the City Council in open or closed session.

      I attached a copy of the url—– https://www.mercurynews.com/2009/10/30/santa-clara-city-attorney-leichter-resigning-will-get-242k-severance/

      and a short snippet of the story

      Santa Clara City Attorney Leichter resigning, will get $242K severance
      By MARK GOMEZ | Bay Area News Group
      October 30, 2009 at 6:49 a.m.
      The Santa Clara City Council has accepted the resignation of City Attorney Helene Leichter effective Jan. 1.

      As part of an agreement with the city, approved by the council Tuesday, Leichter will receive $242,828 in severance pay plus an additional $18,034 in unpaid vacation and sick leave. She will also remain on personal paid leave of absence through the end of the year, according to a city document.

    • Not entirely. The Special Meeting of 9/22/09 to discuss the performance of both the City Manager and City Attorney resulted in the Mayor advising the City Attorney she would be removed. http://sireweb.santaclaraca.gov/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=198&doctype=Minutes

      The City Attorney never again returned to City Hall or provided any services to the City. Negotiations resulted in her departure being labeled a resignation, but that’s not the full story. (And yes, the Council’s Brown Act violation was part of the settlement.)

      Your contention that this is a first in City history inflames this process into something which seems nefarious or malicious. It’s not; it is entirely within the purview of a Council majority and long overdue.

    • …give it up. First you post that Mr. O’Keefe is wrong in his statement that the City Council of Santa Clara has never fired a City Attorney. You stated that the City council voted to remove the City Attorney in 2009. He proves you wrong with news articles showing that the City Attorney resigned at the time, not fired. You come back with a copy of the minutes for a special meeting which shows that no votes or other actions were taken and the City Attorney was not fired. You are the best witness proving O’Keefe’s point. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF SANTA CLARA THAT THE CITY COUNCIL HAS FIRED A COUNCIL APPOINTED EMPLOYEE (City Manager, City Attorney, or City Auditor) and they did it with Becker and Jain’s own admission for no just cause. The only reason given by Jain was that the 49ers wanted the City Attorney fired. To use your own words, if that’s not inflaming, nefarious or malicious, I don’t know what is.

  6. It is easy to see the firing was for no cause. Just as easy to see while there was no cause there certainly was a reason. The reason is a sports franchise, our tenant, didn’t want him there. That was all the reason these fools needed. We, the residents, need to find a way to make this right.

  7. The DeBartalo mobsters “ordered a hit” on the Santa Clara City Attorney Brian Doyle and drove him out of office. The “hit persons” were the five that the 49ers bankrolled with the $3 million. This is chump change for an organization that bought the 49ers in 1977 for $17 million from the widows of the Morabito brothers that founded the 49ers.

    This is “chump change” because of sweetheart deals that saved the DeBartalo/Yorks hundreds of millions of dollars already. And helped make the 49ers worth over $3 Billion according to Forbes Magazine.

    Who is next? The Mayor and lone City Councilperson that had the guts to stand up to the criminal crime family running the 49ers? The City Manager?

    You may think my comments are hyperbolic and that I shouldn’t point out the crime family past of the DeBartalo family and how they “cleaned” their money via shopping malls and development. But it is because NOONE had the guts to expose this that these criminals were able to run roughshod of Santa Clarans. That and the “celebrity worship” disease that we in the USA have for sports and entertainment figures.

    So how do we STOP this madness and RETURN Santa Clara City Attorney Doyle back to his position where he has been fighting tirelessly for Santa Clarans?

    Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen has had plenty of opportunity to investigate the shenanigans over the past ten years but passed. Shameful.

    What about California State Attorney General Rob Bonta?
    What about California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Webber?

    Surely there have been many violations via both the Brown Act and the fiduciary duties of these MOBSTER 5 Hit Persons that have violated city and state rules regarding their duties, obligations, constitutional duties and moral convictions.

    We must start a RECALL now! Not later, NOW!

    We must push for the county, state and perhaps federal officials to investigate this NOW!
    (With the interstate aspect of an Ohio/California connection, the Feds may have jurisdiction)

    This TRAVESTY can NOT stand!

  8. Several public commenters stated that, for the purpose of firing an employee, according to the Brown Act, the Council would be acting illegally. I looked it up and those people are correct. Section 54957 (2) states “As a condition to holding a closed session on specific complaints or charges brought against an employee by another person or employee, the employee shall be given written notice of his or her right to have the complaints or charges heard in an open session rather than a closed session, which notice shall be delivered to the employee personally or by mail at least 24 hours before the time for holding the session. If notice is not given, any disciplinary or other action taken by the legislative body against the employee based on the specific complaints or charges in the closed session shall be null and void.” https://bit.ly/3mVRMuV I assume that is why the Council’s notice stated for “no cause” … probably in the hope that this gives the Council an out as they will say they fired Doyle for “no cause” rather than based on complaints or charges. However the Council also must keep minutes from the session. While these need not be disclosed to the public, they must be released to court if there is a case. (Also one wonders whether anyone will believe that a high ranking employee is fired for “no cause,” because what would “cause” such an action?) I wonder how much money the City is going to lose paying for a court case …

    BTW, I said Becker, Jain, Park and Chahal were “the 4 horsemen of the 49ers, council members of the apocalypse,” but shortening it to horsemen of the apocalypse is Ok.

    There was also a commenter who said he would be willing to help fund a recall effort for Council members. I would gladly join that effort …

    • Thank you Susan! My apologies! I don’t have a transcriptionist on standby ha! I try my best to capture the essence of comments! Thanks for the clarification!

    • I’m not wealthy but count me in for whatever my family can do to help our City.
      I’m so sick of this self inflicted wound which I even helped to bring into our City. Shame on me…
      This infection has grown, and what happens with untreated infections is they eventually either kill you, or make you so sick, you wish you were dead.
      Dead or wish you were dead… neither sound that good.
      How about a Recall, I like the way that sounds.

      Burt Field

    • I’m in as well. It’s time to get organized and start the process. We have a recall to get started.

  9. A little correction to the above; I stated during the council meeting that if this council was going to fire City Attorney Doyle, City Clerk records show this would be the first council in the history of Santa Clara to actually fire one of the council appointed positions, City Manager, City Attorney, or City Auditor (these are the only positions that the council can hire and fire).

    Congratulations Jain, Becker, Hardy, Park and Chahal, you all have done something never before done in the city of Santa Clara and as Becker listed on the agenda item for “NO CAUSE”. Think about that Santa Clara, these five fired a dedicated public employee for no cause or reason. Actually there is a known reason, the only reason given by any of these five council members, Council member Jain has publicly stated that the 49ers had told him that they wanted the City Attorney fired.

    So now we know, there was no cause to fire a dedicated city employee, nothing wrong with his work product, or performance, no personnel issues, or complaints. Again no cause to fire Doyle except the only reason is that the 49ers wanted him gone.

    Jain, Becker, and Park, the recall cries are getting much louder. Hardy and Chahal, 2022 does not look promising for your campaigns.

    Very seldom life gives us a chance to hit that redo button, in golf it’s called a mulligan. But for the good of Santa Clara these five must go either through immediate recall or the 2022 election. Santa Clara it is time to hit that button or tee it up again, I’m ready!

    • I’m so sorry for the error Mr. O’Keefe. I’m just one person looking out for the City I love. It’s hard to capture everyone’s comments at times! Thanks for the clarification!

  10. In California it is easy to hire an employee. It is however very difficult to fire someone. So when these 5 individuals thought it was a good idea to terminate Mr. Brian Doyle’s contract with our City, they now have unleashed all that goes with that.
    You are now known to me as the “5 Defendants”.

    Here is where it can get really messy for us, the residents of Santa Clara. Will Mr. Brian Doyle include the City of Santa Clara in this coming lawsuit?

    We are well past the time to remove any elected official who does not represent us, or our at least pretends to have our interest at heart. This “Trojan Horse” we have allowed into our inner workings is now going to cost us Millions of dollars. How much more are we going to take?

    I use to think it was bad. Now I know it’s bad.

    Burt Field

  11. Suds Jain did not care what the constituents of district 5 want regarding of the firing of Brian Doyle, just what Jed York wants.

    Bought and paid for, no credibility whatsoever. 🙁

  12. A crooked politician’s concept of integrity is “Once you’re bought you stay bought”. Fits, doesn’t it? These people seem to be living in an alternate reality. As I’ve said before, I used to think living in a fantasy world would be more fun.

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