Santa Clara City Council Voting Bloc Continues to Ignore Ethics, Proving Need for an Independent Commission

By Kirk Vartan

Editor’s Note: These are the comments Vartan made during a public presentation at the May 9 Council meeting. They are edited slightly for clarity and length.

During the Oct 18, 2022 City Council meeting, just three weeks before the election, Vice Mayor Kevin Park was super comfortable accusing Mayor Lisa Gillmor of lying multiple times to the public and dismissing the need for an Independent Ethics Commission.

Vice Mayor Park insisted the existing city systems were more than adequate, specifically referencing the Governance and Ethics Committee as that place. 

There were many ethics and public trust issues referenced in the Civil Grand Jury report “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council.” The report was highly critical of Vice Mayor Park and four other council members regarding unethical behavior. Those issues have never been addressed or discussed. In fact, the response to the Civil Grand Jury— one that only the accused council majority supported— basically dismissed all concerns, including the one that suggested creating an Independent Ethics Commission. 

First, the City’s Governance and Ethics Committee is not independent. It is basically run by members of the Voting Bloc (Councilmembers Raj Chahal, Chair Suds Jain and Park were the last group of Governance and Ethics Commitee members who met).

Second, the many ethical issues identified in this report about the City Council were not brought up in either of the last two meetings, even after Chair Suds Jain met with ethics expert Dr. Tom Shanks for over two hours on Thursday, March 9, just four days before the last Ethics meeting.

Vice Mayor Park was also at the last Ethics committee meeting. And no ethics issues or the Grand Jury report were brought up.

Since we have a new City Attorney and City Manager, it seems the responsibility to hold this City Council accountable falls on those two city officials. This City Council majority clearly cannot police itself nor hold itself accountable. Please step in and install an Independent Ethics Commission and make ethics in the City of Santa Clara a priority again. 

Vice Mayor Park used the very existence of the Governance and Ethics Committee as the sole reason to not support the Grand Jury’s suggestions and Mayor Gillmor’s request to create an Independent Ethics Commission. It has now been shown the Governance and Ethics Committee is not a place for this accountability.

AND now a member of the City Council majority is indicted for felony perjury for lying about leaking this very report (also an ethics violation). 

Can Vice Mayor Park please explain if he still believes there is no need for an Independent Ethics Commission? The law is the floor, not the ceiling, and even that seems impossible to achieve with this council. 

Why won’t this council support the creation of an Independent Ethics Commission? What are they afraid of?


  1. Wow… it might be happening right in front of our eyes….
    is it possible that “The Inmates are running the Asylum?”
    1. Why worry about Ethics if you have a 5-2 vote.
    2. Why worry about getting reelected. With 49er $$ we almost saw a person now being fitted for an Orange Jumpsuit to become our Mayor….

    The only long term answer is Election Reform. I think I just heard old Jed Baby drop his donut… with Election Reform we can start to minimize the outside interest of companies like the 49ers.
    Dare to Dream Big…

    Burt Field

    • An ethics commission could be an check on everyone. That is the key
      Lisa is willing to gamble that. Jain is a coward..

    • Ethics Commission

      Each council appoints 1

      Chair selected by council

      Cac appoints 1 member

      Chamber appoints 1 member

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