Santa Clara Business Leader Creates Video to Challenge Ethics of 49er Five

By Robert Haugh

Last Tuesday at the Santa Clara City Council meeting, community leader Debbie Tryforos presented a video created by local business leader Kirk Vartan.

Vartan challenges the ethical standards of the 49er Five.

“Knowing you all just completed your AB 1234 ethics training about a week ago, how many Councilmembers have the courage to comment on the many ethical violations in just this one example?” Vartan asks.

“On October 10th 2022, the day the grand jury report was released to the public, Councilmember (Anthony) Becker made a press release that I believe is one of the worst and most disingenuous statements he has made:”

“How credible and ethical is Councilmember Becker when he says this just four days after he gave the confidential grand jury report to the 49ers?

“How can this Council majority remain silent ignoring Councilmember Becker’s unethical actions in hiding his contact with the 49ers from the public?”

It’s a 3-minute presentation that you can watch here

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.


  1. Did I miss the part where Burt Field confirmed or denied that he has not discussed city business with Lisa Gillmor in the past 7 years? Odd because they were at the same election related press conference in front of City Hall within 100 feet of a ballot box in on October 22, 2020 and it seemed to me that they coordinated their presence.

    • Juds Pain
      Is that it? We were at a Public Event, which was at a Public Building together? I also saw her at the Art and Wine Festival, and maybe at a soccer game or two. We live less than a mile apart.
      What else have you got? You seem to be very interested in what I am doing, or I guess what I am not doing.
      How is this helping you to navigate this tough time for our City? Curious as to your end game here.
      Playing the “Pound the table and yell like hell” card grows old fast.
      So maybe just trying to get people to look elsewhere is the goal?
      Trust me, even though the residents voted for you once, I really doubt they are going to do it twice. If I was the 49ers I would have already “Punched your Ticket” and started to look for some fresh meat to throw in front of the voters.
      Everyone knows how desperate you are, and honestly, I can see why.
      But here is a very key point … I do respect that at least you have the guts to put your own name to whatever stupid comments you think other people might find interesting.
      There is some value in that. So to say you are worthless is no longer an accurate statement at all.
      It’s ok, you now have at least the same value I have placed in my dog’s poop bags.

      Sorry, just got back from a walk in the park with my 125lb. Rottweiler. She reminded me, that you are just below my value of her poop bags.
      I mean we are talking pretty low point here, but honestly at least the poop bags have redeeming value at some point.

      Burt Field

    • Councilperson Jain,

      Responding to valid criticism by deflecting from it with your own attack is behavior that is not befitting a Councilperson who represents the people.

      It is the sort of rhetorical device used by politicians like Trump. And immature schoolchildren.

      I have missed the part where you have made any explanation for knowing that Councilperson Becker gave privileged information to the San Francisco Forty Niners and to a partisan press outlet but not saying anything about it until you were directly asked about it during sworn testimony.

      Whether or not Mayor Gillmor has had improper contact with a lead figure in a political nonprofit is unrelated to your conduct which you should answer for.

    • Make room in Sudsy’s head. Obviously, Mayor Gillmor, Kirk Vartan and Burt Field occupy a helluva lot of space up there. Creepy. Stalker behavior. That’s the job of the Whiner 5 I guess.

    • Suds! Did you know this about Jed’s uncle? He failed to report a felony. Just like you did! Wow! Say your prayers, Sudsy boy! If Trump gets elected maybe Jed will ask him to pardon you. Wouldn’t that be a riot??

      DeBartolo was involved in the 1998 corruption case of Edwin Edwards, former governor of Louisiana. DeBartolo pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to report a felony, and received a $1 million fine and two years of probation in return for his testimony against Edwards. DeBartolo was fined by the NFL, and barred from active control of the 49ers for a year.[4] On February 18, 2020, President Donald Trump granted DeBartolo a presidential pardon.[5]

    • We have the world inching towards war.

      Protests all over

      What is Jain investigating??

      A business owner and activist..


  2. Interesting that Lisa Gillmor’s public calendar shows zero meetings with Burt Field between Feb. 29, 2016 and May 2, 2023. Santa Clara’s City Code requires the following per a note from staff:
    * All scheduled non-internal city-related appointments, meetings, including regular and special City Council meetings, public events or speaking arrangements, meetings with citizens, developers, union representatives, consultants, lobbyists, regional meetings and meetings of subcommittees or task forces ( collectively, “constituents”).

    * Also include all non-scheduled city-related meetings or discussions with constituents

    * Include the name(s), title(s), and affiliated organization(s) and a general statement of the issues discussed.

    • Wow…
      Hail Mary pass for sure. Don’t you have some City Business to take care of?
      Really, go do something productive with the time you have left in office. Maybe stop accusing residents of doing something illegal, but I guess that would be ok with you, at least until the Grand Jury calls you to testify.
      Bottom-line, you just proved to everyone what everyone already knows.
      What I do is completely independent of her voice or guidance.
      FYI, we met when she transferred to Buchser in 1975. Surprised you did not ask to go back further than 2016 at some point, we may have communicated to each other about something.
      That said,
      Thanks for making this official for everyone to see.
      There is hope for you yet!!
      Now get to work for the City and quite worrying about what everyone is thinking about you. You already know no one respects you anymore, heck you turned in one of your only friends to the Grand Jury.
      Have a nice day.

      Burt Field

  3. Carol, what a great Idea.
    Imagine a third party, who is Independent of all outside influence actually taking a hard look at how our City is being run, and “Best Practice” going forward.
    Brilliant…. a term not commonly associated with our current 49er City Council (Except Santa Clara Mayor Gillmor and lone Santa Clara City Council Member Watanabe).
    Now the tough part…How do we get a 3rd party to actually do this?
    Tip….wait, wait…..
    Register to vote.
    Then talk to others and educate your neighbors to do the same. We just can’t do this for 30 more years.

    Burt Field

  4. Interesting that self described “special advisor to the Mayor”, Kirk Vartan, has time to create videos and attend Governance and Ethics committee meetings yet he has not been able to find the time to answer the following email from me to him on July 11, 2023:
    Hello Kirk,

    Thank you for being so concerned about ethics in the City of Santa Clara.

    I have attached the full extent of responses to my PRA23-545 which is now deemed complete by staff.

    I filed this PRA after the discussion you and I had where you indicated that you and Mayor Gillmor talk at least once a month and possibly every week.
    This PRA asks for two years of texts and emails and all I got were zero texts and a total of 14 emails over two years :

    ”I am requesting all emails and texts between Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Kirk Vartan using personal and City issued devices regarding worker cooperatives, electricity rates, Grand Jury investigations, parking, City Manager, and Related Santa Clara between the dates of 5/24/2021 and5/24/2023.”

    There were 5 emails from you to the full council and 7 emails from you to Lisa alone and only 2 emails from Lisa. Can you confirm that this is the full extent of written communications between you and Mayor Gillmor over the past two years? I have attached the California code on retention of records for two years. Perhaps you can suggest what recourse I might have if I don’t believe that all records were produced or that some were deleted. How should the new ethics commission handle this “complaint”?

    Also I looked at Lisa’s public calendar and found only the following recorded meetings which is far fewer that what I would expect based on the conversation that you and I had. I’ve also attached a memo from Maria Le indicating which meetings should be recorded in councilmembers’ calendars.

    5/9/2023 12:30 PM Co-op update Kirk Vartan
    3/9/2023 1:00 PM Call – City support letters Worker Coop Legislation Kirk Varta
    6/25/2022 1:30 PM Meeting regarding Worker Coops Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein, State Senator Josh Becker, Kirk Vartan and
    11/17/2021 3:00 PM Worker Co-Op Workshop Kirk Vartan, Owner, Slice of New York
    9/15/2020 11:00 AM
    Meeting to Prepare for Workers Cooperative Roundtable
    Event hosted by Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17)
    Tom Pyke, District Director, Office of Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17); Stacy
    Shih, District Director, Office of Assemblymember Ash Kalra (District 27); Zen
    Trenholm, Program Manager, The Democracy at Work Institute; Hilary Abell,
    Co-Founder, Project Equity; Kirk Vartan, Owner, A Slice of New York (ASONY)
    9/4/2018 10:00 AM Meeting to discuss the Agrihood project Kirk Vartan, Business Owner
    08/18/2017 3:30 PM Meeting regarding Worker-Co-Op Kirk Vartan, Business Owner; Marguerite Lee, Business Owner
    06/17/2017 10:30 AM Town Hall Discussion
    Hosam Haggag, Resident; Kurt Vartan, Resident; Habir Bhatia,
    Cultural Commisser and Resident; and Mayuri Restauran
    05/18/2017 8:00 PM
    Online Townhall Community Meeting Hosam Hoggag, Resident; Kirk Vartan, Local Business Owner;
    Public Meeting
    04/13/2017 12:00 PM
    Meeting regarding Placemaking and community outreach
    Council Member Teresa O’Neill; Hosam Haggag, Resident; Kirk
    Vartan and Marguerite Lee, Business Owners
    3/25/2017 6:00 PM
    Tri Village Visioning Dinner to discuss
    Winchester/Stevens Creek Blvd. area
    Don Weden, Former Santa Clara County Principal Planner; Alex
    Shoor, On-Site Senior Manager at Katz & Associates, Inc.; Hosam
    Hoggag, Resident; Jude Barry, Consultant, Catapult Strategies;
    Ken Pyle, San Jose Resident; Kirk Vartan, Co-chair, Stevens Creek
    Advisory Group (SCAG) and Business Owner; Marguerite Lee,
    Business Owner; Paul Ring, VP of Development, CORE; Scot
    Vallee, VP, Westfield Group PTY, Ltd.; Steve Landau, Steve
    Landau, Co-chair, Winchester Advisory Group (WAG); Zach Lewis,
    Executive Director of Garden to Table
    2/11/2017 11:30 AM Meeting regarding City issues
    Council Member Teresa O’Neill, Mayor; Marguerite Lee, Business
    Owner; Kirk Vartan, Business Owne

    • Is this guy really equating the lobbying efforts of a local pizza shop owner to a BILLION dollar out of town sports franchise? He’s saying the financial impact of their efforts to affect council decisions are the same? I’m laughing that he thinks anyone will swallow this spin!!

    • Juds Sain
      Why does this individual not have the time to answer such important legal questions you pose him?
      Well … I can let him answer that if he can find the time.
      Turns out, when you are so busy trying to maintain some balance in your life, you may forget to take out the trash now and then.
      So, continue to open your mouth and make enemies of the residents.
      You are a “Smart Guy”. What do you think the residents think when they hear you do that?
      “Stupid” would be the simple answer. However, being “Stupid” is not a Felony, it’s just a really bad way to run your life by.
      Yet, there you were the other night, front table at Santa Clara’s Ethics Training. You were making “Besties” with your pal, the Indicted for Perjury 49er Council Member Becker for all to see …
      Here is a tip:
      You may want to distance yourself from that person (At least). Especially on a televised training for the entire City on proper Ethics in Government.
      I also love how you get mad at people for asking your buddy to recuse himself from City Issues. You know, Innocent until proven Guilty right?
      Kind of strange coming from you, given you were the one of two people who actually turned him in?
      1. You, his friend
      2. His Mother

      Strike one
      Strike two
      All he needs now is for his “Cat to pee in his sock drawer.”
      Strike three

      In the next few weeks, try and show us that you actually work for the residents who voted you into office. Please, does it help if I say pretty please?

      Burt Field

  5. When I worked for a city in Southern California an outside city performed all of the city I worked for job interviews, and ratings. I think likewise a city outside of Santa Clara should have a solid hand in stadium decisions. Since money has been no object for the 49ers when it comes to our elections, this supporting role of another city could be on a rotational basis so that there would be no gain in buying public office holders.

    • I may disagree with readers here, but I regard them as intelligent. Suds Jain from his toy mansion not only calls people dumb, but belittles the disabled. Some humanist. Well, not only did Senator Butler get a call about Jain’s comments for which her staff expressed sorrow, but Santa Clara Now has been acted on by FPPC with Jain and Becker named as witnesses.

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