By Robert Haugh
For the first time in Santa Clara history, we have a part-time City Manager and part-time law firm as the “City Attorney” representing the Mission City.
On Tuesday, the Council hired Rajeev Batra as Interim City Manager. Batra is a former Santa Clara City Manager and a “retired annuitant” so he can only work part-time.
Batra will be paid approximately $445,000 annually to work only 960 hours in a fiscal year.
The Council also hired Lozano Smith LLP as the law firm that will serve as “City Attorney.”
The City’s contract caps the firm’s fees at $300,000. The billable rate for their attorneys is $300 per hour. They will only be able to work 1,000 hours. That’s approximately 20 hours per week over the course of a year.
The firm is required to attend Council meetings. Last Tuesday’s meeting lasted eight hours. They won’t have much time for other legal work.
No other city in the Bay Area has a part-time city manager and city attorney.
Because the top two officials are working part-time, local government watchers believe government services in Santa Clara will deteriorate.
According to sources familiar with both searches, Santa Clara cannot find qualified people to apply for City Manager or City Attorney because of the 49er Five.
For example, this week Los Gatos hired a City Attorney from a list of multiple candidates. They started searching in January. Santa Clara had no qualified applicants and has been searching for a candidate since last September.
The 49er Five are the Councilmembers who meet weekly with the team, usually before council meetings. They have voted to help the team on every issue where the 49ers received a financial benefit at the City’s expense.
The 49er Five fired former City Attorney Brian Doyle “without cause” last August. They fired former City Manager Deanna Santana for “lack of confidence” in February.
According to Councilmembers and others, the 49ers wanted both Doyle and Santana replaced.
The 49er Five are: Anthony Becker, Raj Chahal, Karen Hardy, Suds Jain and Kevin Park.
49ers owner Jed York spent $3 million to elect Becker, Jain and Park in 2020.
This is terrible, is no one watching the hen house? What can be done? With everything that is happening in Santa Clara (growth, development, roads) the city absolutely needs a city manager and attorney in dedicated full-time positions. Terrible how the Forty-Niners ownership has taken over the governance of our city.