By Robert Haugh
At last night’s City Council meeting, lots of serious questions were raised about the Charter Review Committee’s process and its survey that was manipulated by individuals or bots.
But the Santa Clara City Council decided to accept the Committee’s recommendation to eliminate the right of voters to elect our Police Chief and City Clerk on a 5-2 vote.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilmembers Anthony Becker, Raj Chahal, Karen Hardy, and Suds Jain accepted the recommendation.
Gillmor said she disagreed with the recommendation, but found the Committee’s work acceptable. She added to the motion a directive for City Staff to investigate who was responsible.
Councilmembers Kevin Park and Kathy Watanabe voted against the Committee’s recommendation.
Watanabe said the corrupted survey invalidated the Committee’s entire report. Park supported the recommendation but did not like the directive that City Staff investigate who tampered with the survey.
Many speakers spoke against the Committee’s recommendation.
One of the Committee members, Satish Chandra said the survey “shows someone gamed the system and leads to the lack of public trust.” He voted against the recommendation in the Committee.
He was also concerned that Committee members predetermined their decisions and there was a lack of open and honest discussion about options during Committee meetings.
Santa Clara Police Officers Association President Jeremy Schmidt complimented the Committee members but said that it was a “rushed, botched job” because of the survey tampering.
“We need to have new, legitimate process and not a rush to strip the voters’ rights,” he said.
“Somebody gamed the system to make it look like Santa Clarans support getting rid of the right to vote for our Police Chief and City Clerk — and we don’t,” said community leader Dana Caldwell.
“A Grand Jury report said the Council majority doesn’t act in the best interests of Santa Clara residents. Now, we have a Charter Review Committee survey that has been obviously manipulated. We can’t restore public trust in Santa Clara unless we know the truth,” said Caldwell.
On December 5, City Staff will agendize the decision of the City Council to put the issue on the ballot or not.
There will also be discussion about the accuracy and transparency of any ballot language.