By Robert Haugh
For the first time in Santa Clara history, a city manager has been fired.
In a closed session meeting last night, the 49er “Four” dismissed Deanna Santana. The reason they cited was “lack of confidence.” But they provided no detail.
Councilmembers Anthony Becker, Raj Chahal, Karen Hardy and Kevin Park voted to oust Santana effective immediately.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilwoman Kathy Watanabe voted against the move. Vice Mayor Suds Jain was absent.
According to a reliable source, the 49ers made Santana the topic of discussion with Councilmembers during multiple recent meetings.
Before the closed session meeting, Assistant City Attorney Su Reuter warned the City Council that she could not help them with legal advice. Reuter technically reports to the City Manager and has a conflict of interest.
“The first step you should take is to go out and retain counsel before you go down this path any more,” Reuter said.
But the 49er Four ignored her advice. Gillmor and Watanabe said they would go into closed session “under protest.”
After the closed session, Gillmor said she questioned “the adherence to the City Charter, the City Manager’s employment agreement, and the Brown Act.”
“The council majority has clearly put themselves and the city of Santa Clara in a really precarious situation,” said Gillmor.
“No city council has ever gutted City Hall and put our residents in jeopardy. No city council has put private interests above the public interest. I think this is a really, really sad day in Santa Clara history,” said Gillmor.
The Council said they would meet within a week to discuss how to select or find an interim City Manager. That may take awhile.
The 49er Five fired then-City Attorney Brian Doyle without cause at the end of October, 2021. That, too, was a Santa Clara first.
The 49er Five were urged by the 49ers to get rid of Doyle. That position is still unfilled.
According to the City Charter, Santana has a right to a public hearing in the next 30 days. We could learn a lot from that.
This is a developing story.