By Robert Haugh
Before the Santa Clara City Council went into a closed session, almost 20 people showed up or sent in comments. That’s an unusually high number since it was an early meeting with a 3 p.m. start.
But the issue was important – a possible settlement of lawsuits the 49ers have filed against the City. All the commenters (except for one fake “John Galt”) opposed the settlement offer.
A few people raised questions about Councilmembers Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy participating since they have potentially violated state and city laws by accepting gifts from the 49ers.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is investigating them.
“Council members Chahal and Hardy are being investigated by the FPPC for accepting gifts from the 49ers,” wrote Burt Field.
“Council members Chahal and Hardy have violated the City Council Gift policy, number 050. That policy requires them to recuse themselves on the basis of an appearance of a conflict. The policy also requires them to follow FPPC guidelines and that is now the subject of an investigation that has not been resolved.”
“We have two sitting City Councilmembers that are under investigation for receiving gifts from the 49ers,” said Christian Pellecchia. “This is incredibly bad optics for our City and the City Council. And I ask that at least today, these two City Councilmembers recuse themselves from voting on this issue.”
Editor’s Note: Pellecchia is a City Council candidate running against Hardy.
“This issue to settle any of the 49er lawsuits is why we need change,” wrote Debbie Tryforos. “Members of the city council have already demonstrated whose interest they support by settling a (49er) lawsuit involving the golf course and it did not benefit the city or its residents.”
Editor’s Note: Tryforos is working for City Council candidate Larry McColloch who’s running against Chahal.
Councilmember Kathy Watanabe made a motion to table the issue.
“Based on the comments and concerns, including the appearance of impropriety, expressed here this afternoon, I am making a motion that any 49ers settlement discussions be continued until these legal and ethical issues are satisfactorily resolved, said Watanabe.
But that motion failed 2-5. Watanabe and Mayor Lisa Gillmor voted yes. The 49er Five voted no and went into closed session.
After the closed session, acting City Attorney Steve Ngo said there was no reportable action. That means there was no settlement but the discussions about a settlement could be ongoing.
This is a developing story.
Editor’s Note: The 49er Five are Councilmembers Anthony Becker, Raj Chahal, Suds Jain, Karen Hardy and Kevin Park.
Jed York spent $3 million in November 2020 to elect Becker, Jain, and Park. They were previously 0-6 in Santa Clara elections. Chahal and Hardy have received gifts from the team recently without reporting them.
The 49er Five meet with the team on an almost weekly basis and have voted to help the team win millions of dollars in concessions from the City since December 2020.