By Robert Haugh
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Ron Kroichick and Lance Williams broke another big story online yesterday about how the 49er Five, City Manager Jovan Grogan, and City Attorney Glen Googins signed an agreement that may violate state law.
The “Information Sharing and Event Cooperation Agreement” is between the 49ers, FIFA (soccer’s world governing body) and the City.
(Santa Clara News Online first wrote about this story last month and how the 49ers won’t disclose the cost of the events that could involve public resources).
According to the Chronicle, the Mayor and City Council and a few City staffers could see some of the World Cup documents but they can’t copy or share them. The media and the public could not see them at all.
According to the story, Grogan and Googins came up with the idea.
Coincidentally (and ironically?), the two led an “Open Government and Ethics Training” session last night.
Unfortunately, the Chronicle story is behind a paywall.
Here are some key excerpts from the story:
One First Amendment expert said the agreement is fraught with apparent violations of the Public Records Act, the state law that safeguards people’s right to know in California. The deal shows “how some private companies have undue influence over public agencies,” said San Francisco lawyer Karl Olson, a specialist in open-government law who reviewed the document for the Chronicle.
At the 49ers’ behest, “the city of Santa Clara is saying they’re going to treat hosting a soccer tournament like the secret of the atom bomb,” Olson said.
“These guys are daring John Q. Public to sue them,” Olson said.
(Mayor Lisa) Gillmor said she’s “heading toward not signing (the agreement), because it ties my hands and doesn’t allow me to do my job.” Council member Kathy Watanabe, like Gillmor a longtime 49ers critic, also won’t sign it because, “I feel it’s illegal,” she said.
“The majority of this information has to do with our publicly owned stadium and public money used to support this event,” Gillmor told the Chronicle. “The 49ers’ executives have a long history of hiding relevant information to our city. So I have grave concerns about it, and I’m not going to sign anything that covers up or makes any attempt to hide what is happening.
“I want the World Cup, but it should be conducted openly and honestly.”
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 without reporting them and received $1 million each for their elections in November 2022.
In 2022, the team spent approximately $2.5 million for Becker in his failed attempt to unseat Mayor Lisa Gillmor.
The 49er Five met 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.