How to Crash a Santa Clara Council Committee Meeting

A recent trip to review records at Santa Clara City Hall started out as an exercise in futility. All we found to inspect were a bunch design-build invoices for Levi’s Stadium, which is set to host Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7. Looking for more answers, Fly crashed a governance committee meeting held in a small conference room. Many key political players were present, including council members Teresa O’Neill and Pat Kolstad, as well as Mayor Jamie Matthews, who seemed a bit startled by an unexpected reporter’s entrance into the room. The meeting touched on topics such as how Public Records Act (PRA) requests are handled and how items should make it onto council agendas, which led to a few observations on how the Mission City sausage gets tubed. Interaction between transparency-challenged city officials and lobbyists has drawn attention of late, and Fly couldn’t help but note the opaque manner in which city officials interact with the 49ers’ representatives at the weekly meetings—especially when all notes at these meetings are apparently taken by City Attorney REN Nosky, rendering them protectable communications under the claim of attorney-client privilege. City Manager Julio Fuentes bristled at the suggestion that the city and club should be anything but BFFs, and he groused something about the media’s duty to make more specific PRA requests if they want better information. Thankfully, there was no need to play defense as Nosky informed Fuentes that Fly has been playing nice so far. Any grumpiness on Fuentes’ part could be attributed to the council’s recent decision to give senior administrators pay bumps based on performance, and Fuentes got a smaller boost. He was apparently so offended he rejected the offer and could be on his way out.

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The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

5 Comments

  1. Was there a tape worm you were looking for or just some night crawlers to go fishing with?

  2. so you know if you want to ask public records request in Santa Clara you have to be so specific it comes, so you want to ask about the Weather well make sure you ask about the weather that was discussed in the meeting on X day between Mr C and Mr W and then you have to be very precise because you better whittle it down to the discussion about clouds. Because your nice people that work for Fuentes will say sorry we can’t find anything about the weather on that day you specified. When really you should have been asking about the clouds. These people are tricky, and think they have teflon coating, but one day I hope in the near future the under belly lying and deception of this city council will be found out. And instead of building over crowded apartments that look like prisons some of our city council and their co-horts will be doing their own time in their own prisons. Keep up the good work Fly you are definitely on to something there…. keep baiting them

    • If you have something specific in mind, just say it. Insinuating government corruption in general, is an easy, hollow, and generally mindless task.

      I imaging Santa Clara, similar to all jurisdictions, is struggling to stay on time with the flood of PRAs. I doubt Manapause has even once submitted a PRA (if so provide # so we can verify).

  3. san Jose is totally unconstitutional. they violate the 1 st the 5th and the 14th amendments to the us constitution. no court for parking violations.

  4. Hi Fly,
    Thank you for this article.

    Please feel free to attend another Santa Clara City Council committee meeting. Here’s an agenda for Wed. morning Jan. 6th, 7:30 am, City Hall Staff Conference Room. Note that the committee member names aren’t listed – and they should be. Also note that there’s no backup materials provided for citizens to read prior to the meeting.

    santaclaraca.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=17172