By Robert Haugh
Many residents called for the Santa Clara City Council to have an open public meeting to discuss the 49ers settlement deal.
They didn’t want an important decision decided in a back room.
The 49er-friendly Council majority rejected the idea on a 4-2 vote.
Councilmembers Anthony Becker, Suds Jain, Karen Hardy and Kevin Park voted to go into closed session.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilmember Kathy Watanabe voted for a public discussion.
Councilmember Raj Chahal was absent for family reasons.
Two weeks ago, Chahal voted to participate in a closed-session settlement meeting even though numerous residents said that he and Hardy should recuse themselves.
They’re both being investigated by the FPPC for possibly accepting gifts from the 49ers.
After the closed session meeting, Interim City Attorney Steve Ngo said there was “no reportable action” taken in closed session.
So it looks like the settlement deal is still being discussed.
During the public comment period, two former Councilmembers spoke.
Former Councilmember Will Kennedy warned the Council not to waive future claims if they settle.
Kennedy also warned that the 49ers are threatening people with their political spending.
“I think that this state of affairs is the most concerning thing to come out of this whole stadium deal,” Kennedy said.
“Let’s do what many of you (Councilmembers) wanted 10 years ago when the idea of an NFL stadium in Santa Clara was proposed, said former Councilmember Teresa O’Neill.
“Stop private meetings and have open public discussions to review the litigation.”
Two current City Council candidates weighed in.
“I’d like to suggest that any Council members that have had private meetings or accepted gifts from the 49ers should recuse themselves from votes this afternoon,” said Larry McColloch.
McColloch is running in District 2 against Chahal.
Christian Pellecchia pointed out that Becker, Jain and Park pledged to be more transparent during their 2020 campaigns.
“All of the newer City Council people are trying to accomplish a backroom deal with taxpayer money,” said Pellecchia.
“I asked that the newer city council people live up to their campaign promises and be more transparent, especially with this issue at hand.”
Pellecchia is running in District 3 against Hardy.
Hotel representatives for various Santa Clara hotels showed up to support the 49ers.
They touted how concerts help fill their rooms on the weekends even though the settlement has nothing to do with concert activities.
This message was part of a deceptive ad campaign run by Santa Clara Now, a fake grassroots “non-profit” organization run by the 49ers.
Their ads were suspended by Facebook.
Santa Clara Now spent thousands of dollars and months asking people on social media to send in postcards to support the 49ers and concerts.
According to City staff, 300-400 cards came in.
Stand Up for Santa Clara created a Change.org petition two days ago to push for an open meeting and independent review of the settlement numbers.
At the time of the Council meeting, the petition had 234 signers.