49er Settlement Offer Should Not Be Decided Behind Closed Doors, Should Be Reviewed by Experts and the Public

By Teresa O’Neill

For the last few weeks, I have been reading with great surprise the details of the 49ers’ proposal to settle their lawsuits against the City of Santa Clara. Why am I surprised?

Violation of Closed Session Discussion

First and foremost, legal settlement discussions should happen in closed sessions. As a former Council member and member of a number of other governing boards, I have been part of hundreds of these meetings. For obvious reasons, the City doesn’t want its legal strategy discussed in open sessions where legal opponents may learn of it. The fact that details of the 49ers’ offer have made their way to news reporters is a violation of closed session rules and state law if a Council member is found responsible.

Equally concerning to me are reports that the pro-49er Council majority meets with the team regularly and has discussed the team’s lawsuits against the City, according to their published calendars. However, they refuse to share the details of those meetings with our City staff, the people responsible for representing Santa Clara residents against lawsuits. Councilmember Suds Jain even told City staff that he considered his conversations with the team “confidential.” If a Councilmember’s first duty lis to protect the City’s interests, this activity is unacceptable.

Unproven Settlement Numbers

Second, almost all news reports of the 49er’s settlement offer assume the team’s numbers are accurate and honest. But one of the reasons the City has been at odds with the 49ers is because they refuse to share their accounting of stadium operations as required by our agreements. 

A good example of how the team can easily manipulate numbers is demonstrated by their payment of performance rent to the City. From 2014-17, the team paid the City $2.4-2.5 million annually. The team would not disclose how this amount was calculated or demonstrate if it was accurate. Since 2018 (before the pandemic), the team has paid the City zero in performance rent and has projected that they won’t pay anything through 2024, a total of six years.  Coincidentally, 2018 was the year that the City stopped the team from reducing its own rent and was awarded an extra $10 million from an arbiter.  

Today, it’s irresponsible for anyone to believe the 49ers’ settlement numbers without evidence. This is particularly true for Council members. But if public quotes are to be believed, some of them do. Santa Clara residents should not just be disappointed but alarmed.

Potential Conflicts of Interest

Third, Council members clearly have a close relationship with the 49ers. Some of them may even have a legal conflict. Council members Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy are currently being investigated by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for “passes” they received to attend a Monday Night Football game at Levi’s Stadium. Their defense is that they were there to view operations. But the visit was never authorized by the City or the Stadium Authority. While it would be fair to wait for the investigation to conclude before determining if they violated any laws, it’s clear that an ethical cloud hangs over them. Yet, when they were asked to recuse themselves on this settlement issue by numerous residents last week, they refused. 

Other Council members also have a close relationship with the 49ers, which calls into question their objectivity. Jain, Anthony Becker, and Kevin Park were elected when 49er CEO Jed York spent an unprecedented $3 million to support them. While this was legal, the amount of money raises serious questions about what York expects in return and what these three are willing to do if he makes demands.

How to Move Forward

While I am concerned about the public reports of the 49ers settlement offer and am skeptical about the accuracy of the numbers, I do not oppose the idea of settlement – as long as it’s a good deal for the City.

Unfortunately, with closed session discussions becoming public, unproven numbers, and conflicts of interest, I cannot trust that the current process will yield an honest or positive result. I know many Santa Clarans share my concerns.

So, I suggest that the settlement should be presented in an open session and evaluated by independent third-party experts. This transparency will assure the public that the settlement will be good for Santa Clara and not a gift or payback to the team.

After public discussion with an opportunity to hear from residents, the City Council may use a closed session to discuss legal strategy or to craft a counteroffer.  

This process is similar to that followed by the City in 2009-10 to evaluate the possibility of building the stadium. There were dozens of public meetings over  many months.  I don’t believe that amount of time will be necessary for this issue. But I do believe that some public review and discussion is necessary if the public is to trust that this is a good deal for Santa Clara. 

A few days ago, the 49ers issued a public “take it or leave it” statement about their settlement offer. While that timeline may serve their interests, it does not serve our City. Our City Council should say “no” to the team’s demand and “yes” to a transparent process that Santa Clarans can trust. It’s in their interest and that of our residents to do this right. This is probably our only chance to get a fair resolution for the residents of Santa Clara who have sacrificed to have Levi’s Stadium in our community.

Editor’s Note: Teresa O’Neill served on the Santa Clara City Council from 2012-20.


  1. Greetings Sudhanshu,
    You come off as a thin-skinned individual when you constantly respond to articles and comments posted in the Santa Clara News Online. Why do you spend your energy reading a publication that you despise so much? As an elected official, your behavior must model the highest level of integrity/professionalism/honesty/ethics and good citizenship. Sudhanshu, your professional decorum is lacking and needs a major overhaul. DO BETTER SUDHANSHU and stop acting like Big Belly Becker…you know better, now do better!

    • What were the infamous cpras about??

      A) emails and texts from 49ers
      B) emails about loyalton property that jain wants city to sell
      C) notes at meetings with 49ers
      D) comments about mayor
      E) Jain invests in a competitor of silicon valley power. Is there a conflict
      F) communications with becker about city council
      G) discussions about firing of city manager

      Seems like information relevant

      Cpra filed because jain refuses to disclose

  2. It makes me wonder how effective former Councilmember Teresa O’Neill was when no one could EVER tell her anything in confidence or expect her to keep things private. Perhaps she should ask the President of the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Christian Malesic about the confidential conversation that he and I had over the the Business License Tax. I wonder how Santa Clara Councilmembers were able to get the 49ers to build their Stadium in Santa Clara without ever having any discussions in confidence. Seems to me there must have been private conversations before the public got involved.

    James Rowen AKA John Galt AKA Stan Garcia AKA Diane Torres seems to be particularly active recently at attacking me. I wonder if his benefactors have given him an extra wedge of Tillamook or some Government cheese. He’s filed over 90 CPRA requests against me costing the City tens of thousands of dollars. So far I have heard nothing from the FPPC. He doesn’t care because this is just a game to him to break his boredom. He’s even said “I will stop filing cpras if becker park and jain stop personally attacking council members residents commissioners”. So it’s not really about rooting out corruption but just to be a “dirty trickster”. He’s just weaponizing the CPRA to serve Lisa Gillmor without regard to how it affects the City’s deficit.

    • Gosh, suds, you seem to hate people needing help. Teresa was elected to the city council after june 2010. As a matter of fact you funded santa clata fair which alleged the santa clara city council held secret meetings with the city council. Remember? Since you are so fascinated about food, cheese is very bad for people immoblized with a disability. On our dime, we eat oatmeal and minestrone.

      Yes our own dime.

      Now, no elected official has the right to share confidential information with a litigant. Their boss is the people. Ps, lisa gillmor was appointed to the council after matthews was elected mayor, remember? You opposed the appointment. You seem to hate Gillmors. Ever sued them and won?? The people you hate and insult did and they won. It was a brown act suit. You know, the act you violate with bugsy and the king of peppertree when the three of you meet with rahul

      I have strongly attacked robert haugh for years, but haugh has a sense of decency. He has never attacked someone with a disability. NEVER. Vartan, haggag, Teresa, Jude singer, howard myers have never attacked me or anyone else with a disability neither has burt field. The people i mentioned including haugh have hit me pretty hard over the years, largely in self defense, but as fierce as they have hit me, they have never used my immobility against me. They have morals. Lisa gillmor has done a lot for santa clara. You have done NOTHING. Haugh has documeted as has teresa that half dozen times in the last decade where we have publicly opposed lisa.

      You violate your oath to the people of santa clara, you hide records, name on cpra filed about you regarding personal information. I can name a half dozen filed against field, gillmor, vartan, and haugh asking for personal records done by your colleague. You and becker even want to know about watanabe coffee cups.

      Watanabe got into her car three times and delivered groceries and food to amputees.

      Have you??

      Name one business downtown you helped.

      Burt Field and Lisa Gillmor coach kids.
      ONeill helps people find jobs. Vartan helps parks, haugh works with kids watanabe helps libraries

      You meet with rahul in secret

    • Dear Vice Mayor Suds, as a concerned resident of Santa Clara I’d like to understand how pointing to the past and not addressing the concerns of 1) millions of dollars being given the 49ers against the stadium contract residents voted for, and 2) not providing transparency into the current status / timeline of the council’s work with the 49ers in regards to the settlement is to the benefit of us residents?

      I’m sure your more adept and experienced than I am regarding politics, but wouldn’t transparency and some clear statement why this is to our benefit help?

      Recently my neighbor’s house was broken into in broad daylight while he drove away for 15m to pickup his daughter from school. The police told him there wasn’t much they could do? Wouldn’t more money for patrols, technology tools like license plate readers, or a task force to proactively find out-of-box solutions help? If we could get the money that the 49ers agreed to pay as part of the Stadium contract that would help, instead we are paying $3m for signs, $36m for property tax refunds ($11m of that from our schools), etc.

      What should have been a blessing has now become a distraction at best and a money pit for residents at worst. There is still time till the November elections to convince us that our council things “Resident’s 1st” vs “49ers 1st”.

    • It’s funny how Suds attacks Teresa O’Neill now, but I distinctly remember him having her election signs in his yard when she was running for office.

    • Actially the offer was to withdraw cpras, which you have refused to hand over, Smeagol, if you stop holding secret meetings with 49ers. Ps, how is Stephen Hazel these days??

    • Fppc a 21 056 Suds Jain

      He claims fppc never contacted him

      Wrong. 2021. Downtown issues

      Jain represents downtown but cannot vote on downtown issues.

      Jain = worthless

      He has emotional issues involving lisa and kathy. Frankly jain has committed numerous misconduct issues.

      A) carrying a camera to public events snapping pictures of the mayor.

      B) attacking disabled people use of medical assistance.

      C) refusing to disclose meeting details of parties suing city

      D) sharing confidential closed session details with 49ers

      E) seeking reoeal of public records act

      Jain along with becker seek to jan 6 city government

  3. Where is our City Clerk in all this? He used to get involved in these types of disputes. Did he quit? According to the description on our city web site:
    “The City Clerk’s Office also conducts municipal elections and acts as compliance officer for local, state and federal statutes including the Political Reform Act, the Brown Act, the Public Records Act and all legislative actions ensuring transparency to the public.”

    • Hey there Howard. I’m right here. As the governing body, elected by the people, the City Council has within its authority the ability to make decisions on legal disputes including arbitration and settlement, so long as their decisions do not conflict with overruling law (like the City Charter, State Law, Federal Law).

      In the case of this settlement, there is little within the confines of the authority of the City Clerk. It is true that there is an FPPC investigation into the possible violation of acceptance of gifts to elected officials and whether individual councilmembers would have had the authority to act on behalf of or represent the City without a formal approved motion from the Council as a body. However, as the FPPC is the authoritative governing body in this aspect, until they make a determination of violation, parties are presumed to be innocent. This is a core tenet derived from our Constitution’s 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments: “innocent until proven guilty.”

      It is worth noting that if there is a finding of wrongdoing, this could potentially nullify any and all related actions by those parties who were found to be in violation of these laws, which could mean that actions taken by the City Council on matters pertaining to any finding of violation may be legally challenged and reversed.

      Your City Clerk

    • That bad ol’ Teresa Baginss, she attacks my precious. Rahul gives me ring and that gillmor baginsss takes my ring. Curse the Hobbits for taking my preciouss. Curse the hobbit haugh. My previous. Rahul give me new precious!!

  4. Gosh, go over to San Jose Spotlight, the Becker gang thinks Alex Jones and Trump are paying Haugh, Vartan, Lisa Gillmor and Teresa ONeill. Dont think so

  5. The 49er aholes want to negotiate over every payment. Just follow the contract and pay your bills. The Santa Claran’s should not take one dime less than their owed.

    Any council member that wants to take less than what we’re owed needs to be voted out. They’re obviously on the take. Big Jed is paying them off.

  6. Take it or leave it? Wait a minute, didn’t the 49ers bring this litigation to the table?
    My suggestion is “Leave it”, and let a Judge hear their weak ass case.
    Page One of their playbook in dealing with the City is lie.
    Page Two is treat Measure “J” not as a Law, but guidelines to be managed / negotiated.
    Page Three is sue.
    Page Four is offer to settle out of court. Wait, didn’t they start the litigation? Is it common for the party who sues, to then offer to settle out of court???
    So far… the 49ers or 0-7, in regards to court cases that actually go to court.
    So if their final offer is take it or leave it….my comment to that is, “We will see you in court”.
    Can we hire Brian Doyle, I hear he has never been defeated by the 49ers, except when he was fired for, wait for it….really this is pretty heinous, make sure no kids read this.
    He was fired for officially “No Cause”.
    I mean, anyone who does that deserves to be fired!
    What has that cost our City? Besides being embarrassed in every possible way, it has cost us untold amount of money, good will, confidence and even the ability to hire another City Attorney.
    Page Five is putting Santa Clara into “Chaos mode”.
    Important to remember when you have chaos, you have also opportunity. Especially if you are the one who is creating the chaos. This is exactly what Jed York wants. Santa Clara bleeds money and time. He gets rich and enjoys his life sitting up in his Castle telling us all to “Eat Cake”.
    Burt Field

  7. John Galt – good question? when have they had a conversation with an entity engaged in a contract…….find out if they did before you throw stones!!! Now you are pitting one of “Their” team against another member of their “Team”!!! Be careful of what you ask for……Desperation is showing.

    • 26 CPRAs were denied regarding getting the facts. Why?? Because Suds Jain demanded it. The date that the cpra filed about Jain meeting with 49ers will be released is in October.

  8. The City of Santa Clara shouldn’t accept a settlement offer that has not included full transparency. We should continue to use Measure J as the legal authority to make sure the City is upholding it’s fiduciary responsibility to the residents of Santa Clara.

  9. Breaking news

    Suds Jain had at least two meetings with 49ers in August. Settlement offer was discussed.

    • If Teresa ONeill is correct, Suds Jain has violated his oath and should be removed by civil grand jury. Jain told staff his conversations with 49ers are confidential??? Huh??? The people of Santa Clara voted him in office. When has ONeill or Gillmor or Mahan had a conversation with an entity engaged in a contract with the city and refused to disclose those details?? This is clearly misconduct

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