By Robert Haugh
Last October, the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury put out a major report: Unsportsmanlike Conduct.
They concluded that the 49er Five, who the Grand Jury calls the City Council Voting Bloc was selling out Santa Clara:
“The Civil Grand Jury has serious concerns that the current (Santa Clara) City Council Voting Bloc … is not acting in the best interests of the City (of Santa Clara) or acknowledging the ethical duties owed to their constituents.”
One of the recommendations they made was this one:
On a recent episode of the Public Trust Review, host Kirk Vartan and ethicist Dr. Tom Shanks demonstrate how the 49er Five deflected this recommendation.
Instead of an independent commission, Councilmember Kevin Park suggested the City Council’s Governance and Ethics Committee could handle ethics issues and recommendations.
But Shanks points out that the last two Committee meetings did not discuss the issues raised by the Grand Jury. Shanks said, “the Committee focuses on the refinement or establishment of policies and procedures regarding City Council operations and general good government practices, as well as the further implementation of the City’s Code of Ethics & Values program.” Shanks adds that the Committee has not mentioned the further implementation of the Ethics & Values Program, didn’t deal with any of the on-going ethics issues.
And the Committee’s work plan doesn’t include any Grand Jury recommendations for the rest of the year.
The Governance and Ethics Committee is chaired by Suds Jain who is one the members of the “Voting Bloc” that the Grand Jury identified.
Jain was also accused of being unethical when he ran for City Council in 2020.
Jain lied to voters when he claimed he had no conflicts of interest on downtown property issues. He was told by City attorneys in 2016 that he had conflicts and had to recuse himself when he was on the Planning Commission.
“It’s a bury-and-kill strategy,” said a former City employee. “Maybe the Grand Jury needs to revisit its report and recommendations.”
To watch a 5-minute discussion on this issue, you can watch the Public Trust Review’s episode number 22.
Editor’s Note: Minor corrections were made at 1:20 p.m. on Friday, March 24, 2023.