By Robert Haugh
The last Santa Clara City Council meeting before the election was long. But some interesting new information came out.
A member of the public asked that Mayor Lisa Gillmor be considered for censure for leaking executive session information on the 49er settlement decision and for sending a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom in support of the Related Santa Clara development project.
Gillmor responded to the accusations by saying that she and Councilmember Kathy Watanabe walked out of the executive session before it started because of the abusive behavior of Councilmember Anthony Becker. So they could not have leaked any settlement agreement info.
“I shared this information publicly with the media at the time of the incident,” said Gillmor. “It was not privileged information from closed session. It was about behavior in closed session.”
That’s not news. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Gillmor and Watanabe felt threatened by Becker who yelled “F-you” at them and made an obscene gesture. Becker hung up the phone when a reporter asked him about the incident.
What’s news is that there’s a personnel investigation into Becker’s abusive behavior. Gillmor mentioned that when she asked that information from the results of the personnel investigation be included in any discussion.
Watanabe said that she left the closed session room because of Becker’s threats and sat in the Council chambers. “I came out here and I sat shaking for hours,” Watanabe said.
Becker said that he was the one being “bullied” during the executive session. That has been Becker’s standard response to the numerous times he’s been accused by residents of abusive behavior.
On the issue of the letter Gillmor wrote to Newsom, she said that it was in support of a project that was unanimously approved by the Council. The letter was also reviewed by City management and the City Attorney’s office.
Watanabe added that Gillmor was the only one to sign the letter. She suggested that Councilmembers be removed from the City letterhead if they have objections to official letters being sent out to support City projects.
The 49er Five voted to place the issue for discussion on a future agenda. The vote was 5-2 with Gillmor and Watanabe voting against.
Interim City Attorney Steve Ngo suggested that it may take a few meetings to deal with the issue because of personnel or legal issues involved.
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. York has spent approximately $1 million to support Chahal and Hardy in their reelection campaigns this November. York has spent approximately $2 million to support Becker this November in his election against Gillmor.
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.