At a July meeting of the Milpitas Planning Commission, Mark Tiernan, the recently ousted chair, was heard hissing at fellow commissioner Noella Tabladillo, telling her (and anyone within earshot) that she couldn’t be trusted. Tiernan is convinced that Tabladillo was part of a “coup” that forced him out three weeks ago, and that Mayor Jose Esteves orchestrated the whole thing.
Tabladillo’s measured response included a reminder that Milpitas is not a third-world country, and a calm suggestion that Tiernan stop being such a “self-absorbed asshole.” Tiernan immediately filed a complaint with City Manager Tom Williams. The new commission chair, Sundhir Mandal, told Fly he will look into Tiernan’s dispute with Tabladillo, and then spent five minutes talking about his childhood in India—where people apparently get along much better than they do in Milpitas.
Tiernan, a famously gruff political consultant, has a history of rubbing people all kinds of wrong. After he ran Dave Cortese’s successful bid for a seat on the Board of Supervisors in 2008, nobody involved in the campaign was surprised when Tiernan did not receive a sweetheart job in return. Then, when he was slated to become Rose Herrera’s chief of staff later that year, Tiernan was abruptly fired following a power struggle with fellow aide Jennifer Malutta.
And last year, Tiernan alienated fellow staffers while helping five-time Milpitas mayor Pete McHugh lose a race to get his old job back. That campaign left Tiernan with enemies on all sides, including Esteves, whom the former chair now accuses of strong-arming commissioner Gurdev Sandhu into changing his vote at the 11th hour.
Tiernan’s combative six-month stint chairing the commission stands in stark contrast to his modest predecessor, Cliff Williams. But the Lincoln Law School graduate says he isn’t about to rest his case. Tiernan says he is determined to someday be an attorney, and a Milpitas City Council member.