Johnny Khamis Can’t Keep His Story Straight

For the third time in five days, Councilmember Johnny Khamis offered a new timeline of events regarding his decision last week to abstain from voting on his own memo. He called San Jose Inside late Monday afternoon to clear up what he called “mistakes” in a previous article, which reported that Khamis had asked the council to defer a vote about rezoning a property he inquired about renting just days earlier. He would end up recusing himself from the vote altogether.

On Monday, Khamis told San Jose Inside that he first spoke with Councilmember Ash Kalra about getting in touch with the owner of San Jose Skate—formerly Aloha Skating Rink—on Monday, March 3. The rink is located on a property in Kalra’s district.

“I had talked to Councilmember Kalra on the 3rd of March, after I went roller-skating at the place (on Sunday),” Khamis said.

But Kalra, who alerted City Attorney Rich Doyle to a potential conflict of interest on Khamis’ part, leading to the latter’s recusal from the March 11 council vote, showed San Jose Inside text messages the two men shared starting on Sunday, March 2.

This a screenshot of text messages between San Jose councilmembers Ash Kalra (right column) and Johnny Khamis.

This a screenshot of text messages between San Jose councilmembers Ash Kalra (right column) and Johnny Khamis.

There was some initial confusion about who owned the property, but Kalra's office eventually connected Khamis staff to the right people.

On Monday, Khamis further revised his timeline of events by telling San Jose Inside that he didn’t speak to the skate rink’s ownership group, Imwalle Properties, until Friday, March 7—a full week later than the date he first proffered, Feb. 28. Adding a little uncertainty, Khamis said he could only remember speaking to “someone named Razumich or Don.” More than likely Khamis spoke to John Razumich and Don Imwalle Jr.

Through that conversation, Khamis said, it was clear that he no longer had an interest in leasing and renovating the space, because of the exorbitant cost of rent. The owners, he said, are considering renting out the skate rink to fitness gym operators, which could net them up to $70,000 a month.

Khamis then added another correction to his prior statements by saying he didn’t become aware of a March 11 agenda item regarding the property’s rezoning until reading his council packet during the weekend of March 8-9. When he spoke with San Jose Inside last week, Khamis said resident concerns alerted him to the rezoning on March 6 and 7.

While such a mix-up of dates is hard to believe, Khamis also appears to have conjured conversations.

On Monday, he claimed that he didn’t consult Kalra in his deferral request on Monday, March 10, “because all memos that are going to be joint have to be filed on Friday.” Khamis added that he feared contacting Kalra again would violate the Brown Act’s open meeting laws. “I had already talked to one other person, and I didn’t know if he talked to anybody,” Khamis said.

Khamis said he reached out to colleague Pete Constant before the March 11 council meeting. But Constant, who San Jose Inside contacted via text while Khamis was still on the phone Monday afternoon, said in a message that he never discussed the matter with Khamis before the March 11 meeting.

Challenged on his statement, Khamis had no answer for why Constant would not remember such a conversation. He instead accused Kalra of perpetrating a “hoax” on the community to replace the skating rink with a gym.

“You have your story,” Khamis said. “Whatever. Do what you want to do. The real story is [Kalra] is trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes about the skating rink. This is crazy. This is not the way we’re supposed to be behaving as councilmembers. This is completely unprofessional.”

Kalra, who on Monday put out a memo supporting the property’s new zoning designation, called Khamis’ comments “odd.”

“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Kalra said.

“The bottom line is this (agenda) item applies to zoning, not the use. It’s not our goal to tell people what to do with their private property. The gym is not the relevant part of the action. The relevant part is conforming the zoning with the general plan. It doesn’t speak to what it is or what it’s going to be.

“To those who are interested in keeping it a skating rink, they should take it up with the owner.”

City Attorney Rich Doyle said on Monday that he would continue to advise Khamis to recuse himself from any votes pertaining to the property.

Khamis, who said he was buying a new cell phone and picking up his son from school during his two conversations with San Jose Inside last week, said that he simply misremembered dates in prior conversations.

"I was very flustered from other things,” he said.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

10 Comments

  1. “You have your story,” Khamis said. “Whatever. Do what you want to do. The real story is [Kalra] is trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes about the skating rink. This is crazy. This is not the way we’re supposed to be behaving as councilmembers. This is completely unprofessional.”

    Khamis wrote the memo asking for the delay on the zoning decision. The fact that the property was in Kalra’s district and not Khamis’ district makes the memo irregular, to say the least. Khamis admitted he was interested in the property, but claims that he lost interest in the property, because it was too expensive. Without the rezoning, the property would become affordable again. That pretty much gives Khamis a motive for his intervention.

  2. Furthermore Connolly has been front out people and hiding behind Khamis for sometime now…. I smell Shana Patricia’s dainty finger prints all over this one

  3. San Jose Skate is run by a guy who favors polluting the streets of Santa Clara by a bar named Normandy House. The bar tenders encourage public drunkeness and also petty crime. The Santa Clara police have been trying to get Normandy House to clean up its act for years, but the owner of the bar, who happens also to be the big wheel at San Jose Skate, refuses to respect the neigborhood’s concerns. Everything from bar patrons running around with shirts off late at night to breaking into houses on their way home is done by the people who give the bar, owned by San Jose Skate’s big wheel, a bad name. No wonder Khammis is secret about it. The San Jose Skate owner who lives in an exclusive neighbohood in San Jose has told people that he does not care about the petty crime at Normandy House. Voters in San Jose: San Jose Skate encourages lewd conduct at Normandy House, Johnny Khamis and his aides enoourage San Jose Skate

  4. once a liar always a liar, seems to be a trend with Chuck and his want to be mayor council members. I hate to say it but the more things stay the same with this council things will never change. We need a major overhaul, but I fear the worst. San jose will continue down a negative spiral without some voters coming out of the closet and wanting change and paying attention to what is really going on in their city.

  5. Khamis is the worst kind of weasel . he refused to talk to public safety unless they paid him/or a charity of his choosing , simply because he felt slighted . He is nothing more than a hand puppet for Reed , and now it seems just as corrupt as his mentor

  6. You never can tell if its Khamis or his secretary Shane Patrick Connolly talking. Ever since Pete Constant installed his former mouthpiece in Khamis’ office, Connolly has not been shy in illuminating his arrogance and ignorance, chiming in on everything from city employee’s first amendment rights to Measure B, and wild hog hunts in Almaden. Consider, this is the secretary that self declared that he had to chaperone Khamis through a tour of Ireland to introduce him to his supposed contacts in Ireland! Pretty comical considering the insignificance of a failed city council candidate Lincoln log cabin member. I’m sure Josh Kohen has had to hit his reject call button 100 times as sorry Shane frantically tries to spin the mess he probably initiated and promoted while speaking for the office of Johnny Pinnochio Khamis.

  7. follow the money, funny how all liars sound the same, seems that they all go to the same school on how to screw the general public while they get richer and richer.

  8. Deceit has been Khamis’ M.O. since day one. He came to my door when he was running for City Council. It took him 20 minutes to admit that he was a Republican! I told him his ideas made him sound like a member of the Tea Party. He denied that but I was met with silence when I asked him how his positions differed from those of the Tea Party. Lastly, John Sununu the east coast conservative talking head and Western States Oil Company both endorsed or gave him money in the last election. What possible interest could they have in San Jose City council politics you ask? Khamis wrote an op-ed in the Mercury pushing for the county to convert their buses to Natural Gas even though County transportation is not the responsibility of the City Council. Looks like maybe Western States Oil Company was looking for a little pro quid pro.

  9. Khamis’ culture encourages “not quite telling the truth”. Lying or distorting the truth to be more precise. It’s a well known reality. One only needs to look at who got him elected. Yuck. The stink will only grow bigger and bigger as his government participation leads him to reveal his character or lack thereof.

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