Civil Grand Jury Investigates Stadium Authority for Levi’s Stadium, Site of Super Bowl 50

Julio Fuentes lost his cool during the holiday break. While other city officials were off for vacation, and fewer still went through the motions at work in the closing days of 2015, the city manager of Santa Clara threw a tantrum.

He cleaned off his desk and stripped his office’s walls of photos, according to sources at City Hall, and a paper shredder’s gears could be heard in the long corridor that bisects the municipal headquarters’ east wing. These were not the actions of a man getting a jump on his spring cleaning as much as an outburst by the city’s highest paid employee. He was letting his colleagues know that he’d had it.

In October, the City Council authorized a pay increase for the city attorney, but not for Fuentes, who in the months prior had quietly handed out 5-percent merit pay increases to the city clerk and police chief without the council’s knowledge. Instead of getting a raise, the city manager of nearly three years was granted the indignity of a stipend, a one-time 5-percent boost to his $290,000 annual salary.

Julio Fuentes

Julio Fuentes

Fuentes refused it outright, and has since declined interview requests until after Super Bowl 50. He also mysteriously disappeared from his office for two days last week in the all-important lead up to the big game, which is being held at Levi’s Stadium. A request to take a view of Fuentes’ office was denied by his executive assistant, who noted such a sneak peek is “not how we do things.”

Two weeks after the meltdown—which elicited chortles at City Hall over the unrequited, hold-me-back chest puffing—Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews admitted he’d heard about the city manager’s unusual office purge.

“I don’t know what that’s about,” the mayor said, adding that he hopes Fuentes decides to stick around.

Other electeds in Santa Clara seem less sanguine.

Fuentes, and by extension other top city staff, are suspected of withholding and/or obfuscating information related to the operations of Levi’s Stadium, the two-year home of the San Francisco 49ers. The city manager, in response, is apparently fed up and feeling underappreciated for his efforts, but that isn’t the story he’s selling.

Fuentes has explained his housecleaning by informing colleagues he simply wants to “stay nimble.”

That’s one possibility. Another reason could be the civil grand jury investigation that has been quietly looking into the city’s Stadium Authority—tasked with overseeing all operations at Levi’s Stadium—for the last three months.

Play Past the Whistle

The Big Game is just the beginning.

When the million or so visitors to the Bay Area return home and attention shifts away from pursuits involving genetically engineered cyborgs in shoulder pads—and several kickers—giving each other brain damage, the vision for what Santa Clara intends to become will take shape. Football, in fact, is just one piece of Santa Clara’s bid to become the “Capital of Silicon Valley,” if there is such a thing. It’s a title neighboring San Jose—the Bay Area’s largest city and the seat of Northern California’s biggest county—introduced in the 1980s as a marketing slogan. 

The rivalry dates back to 1777, when San Jose was established as a pueblo and Santa Clara became home to a mission. Both remained tiny villages of less than a thousand inhabitants until the Gold Rush, when San Jose became the bigger city, and for a short time, California’s capitol. By the early 1950s, San Jose had 100,000 residents and doubled its population in the decade that followed. Santa Clara was a little more than a tenth the size.

The sprawl San Jose cultivated in the 1960s, as it annexed neighboring towns and cities, took a catastrophic turn in 1978, when Proposition 13 capped property taxes. The city’s past emphasis on housing over jobs has steadily diminished the level of core services in San Jose, and startups and established industrial giants favored the Peninsula and San Francisco, despite San Jose’s aggressive wooing of technology companies.

Meanwhile, Santa Clara has remained lean and independent.

The Mission City has its own electric power utility, bypassing the PG&E monopoly and giving residents and some businesses energy bills as much as 40 percent lower than in San Jose. Companies like Intel, Nvidia, Cisco, Oracle, Ericsson and a host of others have scooped up office space in Santa Clara over the years, building a job base that more than doubles the city’s total population Monday through Friday. And, despite being just four miles wide, it’s home to a highly regarded regional university and a shiny new NFL stadium.

Santa Clara scores high marks in every category except the two that make a city livable: residential capacity and a downtown retail district. This will change very soon, and the winners will be measured not in wins and losses but in millions and billions.

Next door to Levi’s Stadium, Related Companies has announced plans to create a $6.5 billion, 239-acre “entertainment destination” district that will be roughly six times the size of Santana Row, the Mediterranean-influenced mixed-use development that creeps right up to the border of Santa Clara’s southern boundary. An environmental impact report is currently making the rounds, after stalling in part because the project requires a 40-acre concrete “podium” to first be built over the city’s old municipal landfill. That aspect of the project alone is expected to cost $800 million.

Surrounding Levi’s Stadium, a collection of 10 properties up for sale, which include Great America theme park’s 116 acres, as well as a Hilton, a Hyatt, the Techmart Center office building and the property under Irvine Company’s Gateway Project office campus, will go up for sale later this year. The city must sell off the land as required by the state’s mandate to purge all properties obtained through now-defunct redevelopment agencies.

Suitors include Related and the Newport Beach-based Irvine Company. It would stand to reason Irvine owner Donald Bren would want to avoid paying rent on the very office property his buildings sit. The developer’s many other Santa Clara projects include a Whole Foods Market, 1,800 neighboring residential units and a 400-unit project by the city’s Caltrain station.

For a sense of how many big projects are taking place in Santa Clara, this is the same city that rejoiced in 2014 over getting a Target.

“We were very excited when we got our first Target,” Mayor Jamie Matthews said. “Practically, key to the city time.”

The celebration, however, may be short-lived as residents realize their gains could come at a cost.

Irvine Company has an exceptionally close working relationship with the 49ers, and recent efforts by the team to displace a youth soccer league from a parcel adjacent to Levi’s Stadium are apparently part of a much larger plan. City Hall insiders discreetly admit that Great America, which has been in operation since 1976, could be demolished in the very near future to make way for a mix of high-density housing and office space.

In a governance committee meeting near the end of 2015, City Manager Fuentes acknowledged, “Whether you want to believe it or not, we’re becoming a big city.”

Santa Clara Jamie Matthews, center, has been an ardent supporter of Levi’s Stadium and the 49ers. (Photo via Facebook)

Santa Clara Jamie Matthews, center, has been an ardent supporter of Levi’s Stadium and the 49ers. (Photo via Facebook)

Baby Goes for a Ride

Head down and engrossed in his phone, Jamie Matthews sits large on the loveseat in the waiting room that also serves as his executive assistant’s office. He greets with a squinting smile and a question that is equal parts unexpected and ingratiating.

“How we doing, baby?”

Baby has come to City Hall for a ride-along at the invitation of the mayor of Santa Clara, and within a few minutes we’re strapped into his burnt orange Fiat 500e, an electronic lunchbox on wheels that zips from 0 to 60 in six seconds. I know the specs because the mayor tells them to me as we floor it out of the parking lot to begin our tour of Santa Clara, a.k.a. The Mission City.

First stop: Santa Clara University, the pristine private school that counts among its graduates Gov. Jerry Brown, author Khaled Hosseini and expected NBA hall of famer Steve Nash. Instruction at the school has been grounded in Jesuit principles since 1851, just five years after the Matthews family’s story took a fortuitous turn.

We pull up to a security tollbooth on the campus’ perimeter, and the mayor says casually as pie, “This is actually where my family story begins, after my family came by wagon train in 1846. My family split up; half of them went through the Donner Party experience, and half of them went the tried and true route. And that’s how William McCutcheon—”

“When you say Donner Party experience,” I interject, “we’re not saying they were part of the people eating each other, are we?”

“Yes, yes.”

“Your family ate people?”



“No, they didn’t.” The mayor chuckles. “But some of them died and were eaten.”

Matthews informs the university security guard that we intend to take a quick drive through campus, and I realize I’m not the only one.

“Hey, brother. We’re just doing a tour. I’m the mayor,” he says. “How are things going, baby?”

Red and Goooooold

Twice a month representatives of the San Francisco 49ers’ stadium operations meet with Santa Clara city officials. The get-togethers allow representatives of two team subsidiaries, StadCo and ManagementCo, to provide updates on all of Levi’s Stadium operations, expenditures and revenue. In its first year of operation the stadium reportedly netted the city $2.9 million.

Jim Mercurio, 49ers vice president of stadium ops and general manager, will sit with an assortment of his colleagues on one side of a table in a City Hall conference room, and city manager Julio Fuentes, chief financial officer Gary Ameling and city attorney Ren Nosky will sit on the other side of the table to represent Santa Clara. For all intents and purposes, the two sides might as well sit on the same side of the room.

A recent records requests for all notes taken at the meetings, where multi-million dollar decisions are regularly made, turned up nothing. This is due to the fact that Nosky is the only city official to take any notes at these meetings, and he happens to have the unique ability to shield any document he touches under the umbrella of attorney-client privilege. The city manager and CFO say they stick to their memories or handwritten honey-do lists, which are scrapped shortly thereafter.

Beyond Nosky’s confidential journals and a few jotted-down reminders that are quickly tossed, CFO Ameling said, “I don’t see anybody (from the city) taking notes. The Niners, I see them carrying notebooks, passing notes back and forth, but their notes are private. They take notes as they see fit. They usually bring a computer.”

The few notes Ameling admitted to taking with stadium managers and club officials present occurred during negotiations on the financing of Levi’s Stadium. These too have been discarded.

“I do not have those notes,” he says. “They’ve all been destroyed, I guess.”

The dearth of documentation on the city’s side is compounded by the fact that few emails are shared between the club and executive staff beyond coordinating invitations to team-sponsored photo-ops.

The Niners did not return multiple requests for comment for this story until Wednesday morning. When asked about the civil grand jury investigation, 49ers senior communications manager Roger Hacker said the team would follow up after the Super Bowl.

Records requests to the city found that team representatives routinely email city staff and council members at their personal email addresses, which could mean additional communications have circumvented the public’s ability to monitor interactions with the club.

It should come as little surprise then, that a few members of the Stadium Authority board (the mayor and council) have raised doubts that they’re receiving a clear picture from staff on how the stadium is operating, and where the money is moving.

“I have concerns,” said Teresa O’Neill, a Santa Clara councilwoman who, along with colleagues Lisa Gillmor and Debi Davis, spent last fall requesting special study sessions on Stadium Authority financials. Those meetings with the CFO were called off after the second installment.

“Ultimately, we got to have meetings,” O’Neill said, “and we realized there was no point, because they didn’t bring back the information we requested from the first meeting.”

Super Bowl 50, held at Levi’s Stadium, is expected to bring one million visitors  to the Bay Area. Photo by Greg Ramar)

Super Bowl 50, held at Levi’s Stadium, is expected to bring one million visitors to the Bay Area. Photo by Greg Ramar)

What Women Want

Lisa Gillmor has played on both sides of the 49ers fence, and she says the grass isn’t greener where the underdogs reside. She admits that saying as much could spell the end of her time on the Santa Clara City Council. A thrice-elected councilwoman whose roots run deep at City Hall—her developer father, Gary, served as mayor for the better part of the ’70s—Gillmor was for the 49ers until she wasn’t.

Terming off the part-time council in 2000, Gillmor focused on her real estate business for 10 years before being recruited by the team to serve as spokesperson for Measure J, the $937 million ballot initiative to build Levi’s Stadium. Voters passed the measure in 2010 with 58 percent of the vote, and Gillmor was granted an appointment back to the council in 2011. City Hall watchers viewed the homecoming as a bonus for leading the successful stadium effort.

Gillmor’s support for the club slowly eroded after rejoining the council, with the breaking point coming in the spring of 2014—around the same time 49ers CEO and owner Jed York started the swift descent from boy wonder to fan base pariah. Of all the groups he had to go and upset, he foolishly meddled with soccer moms.

In a letter from 2012, York promised to locate alternate soccer fields for the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League, which plays its games on fields adjacent to Levi’s. But two years after penning a letter expressing the team’s “commitment” to the league, York shrugged and said talks had broken off. The soccer league didn’t even know it had been ghosted.

“After the election and during the negotiations, [the 49ers] started pulling back from the community,” Gillmor said. “They had built up a lot of goodwill before that point. I figured that maybe it was temporary, and then they made a move for the soccer park.”

For the last year, Gillmor has pushed for more transparency in how the 49ers deal with the city. To date, a sampling of the reports she said the Stadium Authority board has yet to receive include: updates on tenant alterations to the stadium; a marketing plan for non-NFL events; quarterly reports on non-NFL events in which attendance exceeds 25,000 in attendance (say WrestleMania, or a Taylor Swift concert); a shared expense budget between the 49ers and the city; and an annual capital expenditure plan, which the city CFO has argued would be premature even though the 49ers have completed two seasons at Levi’s.

“There’s no way we can get a handle on the specific financial expenditures and revenues from the stadium, because we don’t have detailed reports given to the Stadium Authority,” Gillmor said. “Many of the revenues and expenditures are lumped together, so it’s impossible to know where they came from.”

A particularly worrisome lack of information concerns stadium security and related costs attributed to Santa Clara police and the city’s general fund. Public safety costs for NFL events in the 49ers’ first season exceeded the $1.7 million projection by roughly $600,000, according to the CFO, who admitted to only spending 10 percent of his work week on stadium operations.

The excess security costs are covered by a reserve fund, but there are misgivings that city administrators are cutting the 49ers a special deal that violates the terms of Measure J, which forbid general fund money from going toward stadium operations.

In a public council meeting last year, Fire Department inspector Steve Silva raised the issue of engines “going dark”—cutting off communications to eliminate records of activity—as they transport equipment from stations to the stadium on game days. The undocumented overhead expenses, city manager Fuentes responded, isn’t a big deal because it doesn’t take much time to move the trucks.

Such casual indifference to disbursing public funds contrary to voter mandates may be part of the gender-biased culture surrounding major league sports. In the lead-up to the three council members’ special study sessions with the CFO on Stadium Authority operations, Councilwoman O’Neill recalls one of her four male colleagues on the council scoffing as she walked by, “Just wait till they find out they’re not entitled to get any of this information.”

There are also concerns that some costs are being pushed from 49ers activities to non-NFL events, of which all revenue is split evenly between the city and team after expenses.

“I understand confidentiality requirements,” O’Neill said, “but I’m not talking about how many bottles of Perrier did Taylor Swift want in her dressing room. I think we’re going to have to get much more sophisticated as a local government.”

A Slice of Santa Clara

Kirk Vartan’s pizza passes the fold test. It collapses easily in the hand, and, when held over a paper plate, drips bright orange grease. It’s a classic slice of New York pizza, which is probably why Vartan named his joint A Slice of New York.

A former digital content director for NBC in New York, Vartan moved to San Jose in 1998 to work for Cisco before opening the pizzeria eight-and-a-half years ago. Hard pressed to pack more than five people inside at a time, we sit on the patio looking out over Stevens Creek Boulevard as evening commuters make their way home, the occasional street bike popping a wheelie.

Five years into making a home in the South Bay, Vartan got involved in the 2003 land dispute to preserve Santa Clara’s Bay Area Research and Extension Center (BAREC), a public farmland formerly owned by the University of California. His group lost the fight, but the land-use junkie gained invaluable experience in monitoring the city, whose border is at his business’ backdoor. He’s now coordinating community efforts to oversee an “agrihood,” or urban farm, on the last six acres of the original BAREC property.

An admitted numbers guy, Vartan knows the numbers because he knows the minutes. He’s attended every single City Council meeting in Santa Clara for the last year-and-a-half, and he usually stays to the end. By memory, he can recall the expansive growth proposals for nearby shopping malls Santana Row and Valley Fair, the latter of which straddles the border of San Jose and Santa Clara and plans to expand into a 2.2 million-square-foot “retail powerhouse” by 2017.

He reels off statistics regarding the Related Companies’ 7.9 million-square-foot expansion plans by Levi’s Stadium and the leverage it’ll hold over the city with 1,400-plus high-end housing units, expansive retail options and a 700-room hotel. And then the Irvine Company, which is likely to pump in an additional few billion dollars of development over the years as it builds the city’s Whole Foods, multiple other housing and business park developments and bids on the 10-property liquidation package that includes Great America and Irvine’s own office park.

“These are massive, massive investments that are going to make the development community a lot of money,” Vartan says, in between slices. “The city is changing so rapidly, people are freaking out.”

Santa Clara Plays Fair is the most rabid of anti-stadium groups in Santa Clara, but while Vartan rarely shies away from offering his opinion, he’s taken pains to position himself not as a NIMBY or council adversary but a partner to the city. As a businessman—he owns a second pizzeria by the same name in Sunnyvale—he forgoes opposition to encourage smarter growth, focusing more on traffic and infrastructure, such as suggesting a ratio cap similar to San Francisco’s for vehicles to new housing units.

He also has concerns that large development projects are being considered absent a real dialogue on transportation, as many land-use restrictions were put in place so infrastructure would have time to develop.

In regards to oversight of operations at Levi’s Stadium, few Santa Clarans have witnessed as closely as Vartan the unusual manner in which council members Gillmor, O’Neill and Davis have been brushed off.

“They’re asking for very specific accounting records, and still to this day I’ve never seen them provided,” he said. “It hasn’t happened.

“We’re seeing a lot of dirty laundry in the council chambers, which is good, because it’s being transparent, but it’s not good because we’re seeing our city break down in its effectiveness to work together.”

Great America has been a Santa  Clara attraction since 1976. Great America (Photo by Oleg Alexandrov, via Wikimedia Commons)

Great America has been a Santa Clara attraction since 1976. Great America (Photo by Oleg Alexandrov, via Wikimedia Commons)

Goodbye, Great America?

We pull over to the side of the road throughout our tour of Santa Clara, and Mayor Matthews tells me why his city has little reason to worry about losing its soul to billionaire developers, or its theme park, Great America, for that matter.

First of all, he says, the 49ers will have a hell of a time trying to buy land surrounding its stadium that isn’t already spoken for, because other suitors will come calling. Second, the property just doesn’t create much revenue by operating six months out of the year. And third, and most important, the theme park has a 40-year lease that would require the council to approve any change to its land use.

“There are lot of rumors out there,” Matthews says, “but the Niners would have a lot of competition, because they got the Irvine Company, Related Companies; you gotta think of these big companies coming in. The [49ers] aren’t the only one interested in it.”

This statement was made before I learned the mayor took part in a private meeting with executives of the Irvine Company and Councilwoman Gillmor, in which he led a presentation that included a model of the Great America theme park grounds being replaced with high-density housing, retail and office space.

City officials are often hesitant to discuss such a scenario, due to the fallout from community members, but that doesn't mean it can't happen.

“I don’t think that’s beyond the realm of possibility—at all,” Councilwoman O’Neill said. “I think that’s a credible scenario.”

The longer the mayor and I discuss the fate of Great America, and the resistance to losing Santa Clara’s best known landmark beyond a football stadium, the more he admits the developers will win. What are the chances Great America will exist in 10 years?

“I think it’s gotta be at least 80 percent,” he says.

Matthews remains adamant that Levi’s Stadium has been an unprecedented success, noting that $500 million of the stadium’s billion dollar debt created by Measure J has already been paid. He also argues there is only upside to be found in the neighboring development projects.

“It is going to transform (the city) in lots of ways,” he says, “not the least being it’s going to generate $28 million a year between the ground lease and sales tax to the city.”

The San Francisco 49ers have a keen interest in the direction of the Santa Clara’s City Council. Photo via Facebook)

The San Francisco 49ers have a keen interest in the direction of the Santa Clara’s City Council. (Photo via Facebook)

Election 2016

The stakes of the November 2016 election couldn’t be higher in Santa Clara, but it’s not even about what’s to come.

“It’s what is happening,” Gillmor said. “Not what’s about to happen.”

More than $10 billion in development will easily take place over the next five years in Santa Clara, and the only gatekeepers currently in place are: a city staff that has been stretched to the limits by a stadium worth 1/10th of that operating scale; a city manager who doesn’t keep notes and appears to have one foot out the door; and a part-time council whose future composition is unknown.

All three women on the council—Davis, Gillmor and O’Neill—are up for re-election, as is Councilman Jerry Marsalli, who is not expected to run again. Santa Clara has a history of elected officials coming back for more, and with Mayor Matthews avoiding terming out when he moved from the council to mayor, he’ll remain in place the next three years with retread councilmen Pat Kolstad and Dominic Caserta, who previously served terms on the council before taking time off and successfully running again in 2014.

Four council votes make a majority in Santa Clara, and sources say the 49ers have been actively recruiting challengers to the councilwomen to remove any opposition to their increasing hold on the city. Joe Sweeney, president of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, is one expected candidate, as is Steve Lodge, whose work history is itself a conflict of interest. A former city police chief, Lodge went to work for the Niners shortly after leaving the department.

In the meantime, city manager Fuentes has been directed by the council to recruit and hire a real estate assets manager to keep a close watch on city properties and the stadium authority. That goal was set a year ago, but a rubric of timelines recently given to the council suggests the hire could wait until June 30, 2017.

“By then,” Vartan says, “everything will already be decided.”

Or perhaps, it already has been.

Correction: The ground lease for Great America runs until 2074, not 40 years as previously reported. San Jose Inside regrets the error.

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


  1. How do you politically steal from the taxpayers???? Organizing Redevelopment Agencies. Why go down to the cafeteria and steal from the lunch money when you can set up a taxpayer, Federal and State fund to improve your infrastructure and then slowly turn it into your pay bank for your Chiefs of Staff and additional City Council pay. Then when no one is paying attention you start the old Baseball Stadium Parcel collection game. You build Condos that high ranking City Employees live in for free when they don’t sell. Like San Jose who had an employee obtain a house from the City, refinanced and got $100,000.00, out was then fired skipped out on the mortgage. The City paid the entire bill. bill. You pay a man who couldn’t get employment as a Mariachi $290,000.00 a year? Well the problem is really the fact that the finances are missing which pay the Cities $1,000,000,000.00 loan from the bank. That’s the key, San Jose stole the money and never had a team or a stadium, Santa Clara has both and has embezzled the bank loan payment money.

  2. > All three women on the council—Davis, Gillmor and O’Neill—are up for re-election, as is Councilman Jerry Marsalli, who is not expected to run again.

    Is there any reason to believe that there is a “gender” divide on public development and civic corruption?

    If not, why bring it up.

    If there IS a gender dimension, please advise us WHICH gender is more corrupt so we can vote for only the good gender.

    • I believe the gender divide is more accidental than not. Can it be that the ladies just care more about the city and its residents than the men? But knowing the mayor and council I can tell you the three women are more ethical. Are they more concerned because they are coming up for re-election? Maybe but I can tell you the men on the council will do what they can to avoid having to deal with them after the election. If some of the 3 women lose and Jerry is replaced with another ‘good old boy’, our city will be the worse off. I am sure of it.

      • Absolutely correct Howard! Santa Clare NEEDS all three women back on the council and another like minded member elected to protect Santa Clara from even more financial ruin! The “good ‘ol boys” are destroying Santa Clara in addition to the City,Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk. They are lots of sucks ups that need to be removed and investigated for fraud and corruption.

        • We need to recruit Tony Marine who was on the Planning Commission for years. He is very ethical and would be a great addition to our City Council.

  3. When I was a child my family would travel
    Down the Peninsula to Santa Clara, home to the prune blossoms and pears
    And there’s a backwards old town that’s often remembered
    So many times that my memories are worn

    And daddy won’t you take me back to the Mission City
    Down by the Alameda where the stunning Mission Santa Clara lays
    Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
    Mister Fuentes and Matthews done haul it away

    Well, sometimes we’d travel right down Hwy 101
    Past the Stanford Farm and the great trees of Sunnyvale
    Where the air smelled like snakes and we’d see a movie at a drive in near Moonlite Lane
    Munching on hot Fry’s bread and watching the great movies of the day

    And daddy won’t you take me back to the Mission City
    Where the towering statue of St. Claire stands
    Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
    Mr Fuentes took that in the same truck he took his office things

    Then the big companies laid the shovel on the Soccer Park

    And they tortured the Ferris Wheel at Great America and hauled It away
    Well, they dug up the Soccer Park for CNN
    Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man

    And daddy won’t you take me back to the Mission City
    Down James Lick Mansion where kids play soccer
    Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
    Mister Fuentes and Mr. Matthews told the kids to beat it

    Then they took the three nice ladies
    And shut them in a tower
    Keeping Debi from her apricot jam
    and cutting off Bravo cable

    And daddy won’t you take me back to the Mission City
    It was a city of Paradise where Mayberry worked
    Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
    The four caballeros of the Big Vote done lock it all up

  4. My favorite part is the effort that the City staff went to to avoid having any record of their dealings with the 49ers. People with nothing to hide, don’t spend so much time hiding things.

  5. This article reminds me of Frederic Bastiat: things seen… and things not seen. What’s not seen are the finances.

    From the article, the Mayor and Council…

    …have raised doubts that they’re receiving a clear picture from staff on how the stadium is operating, and where the money is moving.

    Excuse me? Who’s in charge here? The Mayor and Council could very easily have passed a motion to hire an independent auditor/CPA to look at the finances and explain everything. Instead, the tail is wagging the dog, with Fuentes calling the shots and the tame city council going along. They remind me of the Chinese “See no evil…” monkeys.

    And the city manager has the authority to just hand out pay increases when he wants to?? The Mayor and Council are doing an enormous disservice to the resident/voters/taxpayers. Why do we even need them, when we have a city manager who can hand out our money at will?

    It’s also clear that the 49ers have far too much influence. They say ‘money talks’. No, it screams! We’ve tried for the past 8 years to get a simple limited parking sign on our street, because we’re the first street without those signs and employees of businesses along Stevens Creek park their cars in front of our corner house all day long, every week day. Does the city listen? No. But if the 49ers want something, the Council trips over its feet hurrying to comply. It will be interesting to see who gets the good tickets.

    These cities only care about special interests now. If you’re just a resident, they could not care less. So bring on the Grand Jury! At least there will be some satisfying schadenfreude for us little folks.

  6. Very comprehensive report Josh Koehn. Great piece!

    I do wonder where you get your information about the City Manger’s raise (or lack there of) and his clearing out of his office when no pictures were taken? Since this is not public record, is the City Manger’s own staff leaking inside information? If so, do they despise him so much they want to see him fall? His reputation certainly is that he is liked by no one.

    I think the idea the SC City Council is divided beyond repair is a reach though. SC Council from an outsider’s perspective, has always found a way to be unified despite it’s differences. Maybe SB50 will break them, or maybe Julio Fuentes will? Probably the latter.

    • They’re probably in the same bathroom as George W. Bush’s, since there’s all kinds of room in there are after 22 million of his emails went missing from his time in office.

  7. It was July of 2009, and we Santa Clarans were fed a load of malarkey out of the 49ers and their hanger-on consultants about the so-called “synergy” among the Youth Soccer Park, the Golf and Tennis Club and Great America.

    The team was only stroking us because we had something that they wanted. Once they got their stadium, all of their promises went out the window. Now, Mr. Koehn’s comprehensive article underlines what we in Santa Clara have known for some time: If the San Francisco 49ers have their way, all three of the locales above will be gone from Tasman Drive, one way or another.

    The episode that exposed the utter dishonesty of the 49ers’ front office was the ironclad commitment in the terms for the Stadium’s Subdivision Map of Nov. 9th, 2010: If the 49ers suddenly decided that some City of Santa Clara facility was too close to “their” stadium, then the 49ers were required to pay for all relocation costs.***

    Man, you shoulda seen Jed York back-pedaling away from *that* commitment.

    When our Council actually had the gall to try and take discussions of the future of the Youth Soccer Park into closed session, it was soccer players, parents and coaches who saved the day by demanding that the giveaway of the YSP at least be heard in public.

    Anyway you slice it: The San Francisco 49ers are simply showing their true colors.

    From Super Bowel 50, the NFL and Jed York will scoop easily $200,000,000 out of the stadium, while telling us that our city’s General Fund will simply have to settle for $2M to $4M. This was a bad deal when Measure Jed got passed, and it’s an even worse deal today.

    (A clarification: Mr. Vartan is not affiliated with Santa Clara Plays Fair.)

    Best regards,
    William F. “Bill” Bailey, Treasurer,


    • Keep in mind that because of Levi’s Stadium the City of Santa Clara had to renegotiate Great America’s lease. The end result of the reduction in annual rent payments from Cedar Fair effectively eliminates the $2.9 million “net gain” to the general fund.

  8. John Prine would be proud.
    I grew up a 49er fan.
    York and his cronies are distasteful at best.
    You can be a successful businessman and not be a dirtbag,
    but that is not York’s business model.
    By the way, the readers may find the city manager’s employment history “enlightening”.
    Dig a little more into York’s influence on the council –
    you might be surprised to find ties to the school board also.
    That may be “just business”, but it’s also pathetic.

  9. Santa Clarans had to live though the Measure J ad campaign with outsiders telling us what’s good for our community. It was obvious then that the desires of construction unions, self aggrandizing council members and city staffers, and most of all the Yorks were never going to dovetail with those of residents but the special interests were able to play upon a naive, misinformed, and oblivious populace’s love of the 49ers.

    I appreciate Mr. Koehn’s excellent report. I never attended council meetings on a habitual basis, but I saw enough to be very concerned about the quality of the members who were on it in a seeming perpetual basis. It seems wrong to me though to paint Lisa G. as somehow a aggrieved defender of the city–she worked exceedingly hard to make the stadium a reality when anyone who bothered to research it would know NFL teams do not care about the welfare of the city they operate in–that’s just their nature.

    It should also be mentioned that the 49ers not only want to completely control the city council, but that they are well on the way to controlling the school board also in order to relocate the youth soccer fields onto school properties.

  10. Grand Jury reports typically come out in May or June. It takes a super majority of the CGJ members plus the approval of the Presiding Judge to authorize the release of a report. I am interested to see the CGJ’s analysis and recommendations.

    • California Gov Code 54950:
      The California Legislature has declared that the People of the State of California are sovereign:
      THE GOVERNMENT CODE (1999), § 54950:
      “In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
      “The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”(emphasis added).

      California Penal Code and the California Supreme Court has made it clear no one can prevent a Grand Jury from issuing their report, irregardless if the judge likes it, approves of it, or otherwise.

      It was just rules on in the last 10 years or so I want to say.
      I believe it was the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury vs Superior Court.

      People v. Superior Court (1973 Grand Jury) , 13 Cal.3d 430
      [L.A. No. 30178. Supreme Court of California. January 29, 1975.]
      THE PEOPLE et al., Petitioners, v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Respondent; 1973 GRAND JURY FOR SANTA BARBARA COUNTY et al., Real Parties in Interest
      In Bank. (Opinion by Tobriner, J., with Wright, C. J., Sullivan and Clark, JJ., concurring. Separate dissenting opinion by Mosk, J., with McComb, J., and Burke, J., concurring.)
      David D. Minier, District Attorney, and Patrick J. McKinley, Deputy District Attorney, for Petitioners.
      Evelle J. Younger, Attorney General, Edward A. Hinz, Jr., Chief Assistant Attorney General, Arlo E. Smith and Doris H. Maier, Assistant Attorneys General, Derald E. Granberg and April P. Kestell, Deputy Attorneys General, and Stanford D. Herlick, County Counsel (San Bernardino), as Amici Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.
      George P. Kading, County Counsel, Robert D. Curiel, Chief Assistant County Counsel, and Marvin Levine, Deputy County Counsel, for Respondent. [13 Cal.3d 433]
      John H. Larson, County Counsel (Los Angeles), Robert C. Lynch, Deputy County Counsel, and Edward L. Lascher as Amici Curiae on behalf of Respondent.
      No appearance for Real Parties in Interest.
      TOBRINER, J.
      In California the grand jury, in addition to determining whether or not to indict individuals suspected of crime, exercises an important “watchdog” function over the operation of many facets of local government. To fulfill this oversight role, the grand jury has been granted extensive statutory authority to prepare “reports” disclosing its findings and recommendations for improvement in the administration of local government. At the same time the decisions, without contradiction, hold that the grand jury is a component part of the superior court. The question presented in this case is whether that superior court must accept and file any report which the grand jury prepares or may refuse to accept and file a report which exceeds the grand jury’s legal authority.
      In an original proceeding instituted by the District Attorney of Santa Barbara County, the Court of Appeal concluded that a superior court must accept any report submitted by a grand jury; in accordance with this conclusion, the appellate court determined that a writ of prohibition should issue restraining the respondent superior court from reviewing any grand jury report submitted to it in the future.
      For the reasons discussed hereafter, we have concluded that in this state superior courts are empowered to exercise a limited review of a proposed grand jury report to ensure that the report does not exceed the grand jury’s lawful authority. [1a] As we shall explain, although California statutes establish a broad realm in which the grand jury is authorized to investigate and report, the grand jury’s domain is not unlimited; if a proposed grand jury report exceeds established legal limits, the superior court which convenes the grand jury and which is responsible for its supervision may properly refuse to file the report. Although no California statute explicitly authorizes such judicial action, this limited review is implicit in the statutory scheme confining the grand jury’s investigatory authority to specifically enumerated subjects and is confirmed by the numerous common law decisions throughout the [13 Cal.3d 434] United States which uniformly recognize the propriety of a restricted court review of grand jury reports.
      In so holding, however, we emphasize that the scope of the superior court’s reviewing role is strictly confined to ensuring that reports do not extend beyond the legal boundaries of the grand jury’s broad reportorial power. The superior court possesses no authority to edit or seal a report simply because the court disagrees with the report’s conclusion, or believes that its recommendations were hastily reached or were not “justified.” The court’s sole function in this realm lies in its power to prevent the official filing of an illegal report: for example, a report on matters which the grand jury has not itself investigated or a report concerning activities of a distant municipality not lying within the grand jury’s province. [2] Because the requested relief would preclude even this most restricted superior court review, we deny the writ.
      The facts which gave rise to the instant proceeding are not in dispute. On October 3, 1972, the Santa Barbara District Attorney presented evidence before the 1972 Santa Barbara Grand Jury concerning the county pathologist, Dr. McAlpine. Witnesses before the grand jury included a deputy sheriff assigned to the coroner’s detail, a representative of a mortuary, the sheriff, the county hospital administrator and Dr. McAlpine. After hearing the testimony the grand jury submitted to the superior court an “Interim Report” detailing a series of “irregularities” for which Dr. McAlpine was allegedly responsible and setting forth certain recommendations for procedural changes in the handling of financial and other matters in the county hospital’s pathology department.
      On October 24, 1972, Judge Dodson, the presiding judge of the Santa Barbara Superior Court, met with the grand jury and explained at some length why he believed that the interim report did not satisfy applicable legal standards. Judge Dodson stressed that a grand jury report which directs serious accusations at a specified individual “‘castigates him, impugns his integrity … and … subjects him to the odium of condemnation by an arm of the judicial branch of the government, without giving him the slightest chance to defend himself. …'” The presiding judge also warned the jurors that statements in the report could subject each of them to libel actions. (See Pen. Code, § 930.) Finally, the judge informed the jurors that because of his conclusions as to the impropriety of the report, he had both a right and a duty to see that the report was not filed or made public. Judge Dodson then ordered the [13 Cal.3d 435] interim report sealed and directed the jury to turn to preparation of its final report with assistance, if necessary, of the county counsel.
      On January 9, 1973, the grand jury submitted a final report to the superior court which contained a “special report” on the pathology department of the county hospital. This special report reiterated many of the recommendations contained in the earlier interim report but omitted the specific allegations of misconduct by Dr. McAlpine which the earlier report detailed. The superior court accepted and filed the final report.
      Thereafter, in advising the 1973 grand jury of its powers and duties (see Pen. Code, § 914), Judge Dodson instructed: “In accordance with established policy of many courts, I instruct you to deliver to me all grand jury reports prior to filing them, and I instruct the clerk of this court not to accept for filing any grand jury report until I have accepted it for filing.”
      The District Attorney of Santa Barbara County then filed the instant petition for writ of mandate and prohibition in the Court of Appeal, seeking (1) to restrain the superior court from requiring the 1973 grand jury to submit all reports to the presiding judge for his approval prior to filing, and (2) to compel the superior court to set aside its order sealing the interim report of the 1972 grand jury. fn. 1
      Relying upon the absence of any specific statutory provision authorizing a court’s review of grand jury reports, the Court of Appeal granted petitioner’s initial request, and determined that a writ should issue “prohibiting the respondent Superior Court of Santa Barbara County from … altering, amending or in any way interfering with the filing of future reports of the Grand Jury. …” The Court of Appeal declined, however, to order the superior court to unseal the interim report, reasoning that the filing of the grand jury’s final report — containing many of the same items covered by the interim report — had rendered the district attorney’s second request moot. fn. 2 Respondent court thereafter [13 Cal.3d 436] sought review of the Court of Appeal’s determination that superior courts have no authority under any circumstances to review a proposed grand jury report prior to filing. Because of the novelty and statewide significance of this issue, fn. 3 we granted the petition for hearing.
      In California, unlike some other American jurisdictions, fn. 4 the grand jury’s role as a vigilant “watchdog” over the operations of a variety of local governmental activities has a long and well respected heritage. As long ago as 1880, the Legislature assigned to the grand jury the responsibility of making “a careful and complete examination of the books, records and accounts of all officers of the county … and to report thereon.” (Italics added.) (Pen. Code Ann. 1880, ch. 109, p. 43; see Pen. Code, § 925.) fn. 5 Over the ensuing years, the Legislature has continually expanded the boundaries of the grand jury’s investigatory and reportorial domain, authorizing the grand jury to make inquiry into and report on the “needs of all county officers” including the desirability of abolishing or creating county offices and the adequacy of the existing “method or system of performing” county duties (Stats. 1911, ch. 200, § 1, p. 373; Pen. Code, § 928), the propriety of the salaries paid to various public officials (Stats. 1943, ch. 93, § 1, p. 798; Pen. Code, § 927), the operation of special-purpose assessing or taxing districts located wholly or in part within the county (Stats. 1961, ch. 1461, § 2, p. 3313; Stats. 1969, ch. 931, § 1, p. 1870; Pen. Code, § 933.5), and, most recently, the state of the fiscal affairs of any incorporated city within the county (Stats. 1973, ch. 1036, § 3, p. 2055; Pen. Code, § 925a.)
      Past cases have recognized the valuable and unique role a grand jury [13 Cal.3d 437] fulfills in carrying out its authorized investigations and reporting on its findings and recommendations. As the court in Monroe v. Garrett (1971) 17 Cal.App.3d 280, 284 [94 Cal.Rptr. 531] recently observed: “In our system of government, a grand jury is the only agency free from possible political or official bias that has an opportunity to see … the operation of government … on any broad basis. It performs a valuable public purpose in presenting its conclusions drawn from that overview. The public may, of course, ultimately conclude that the jury’s fears were exaggerated or that its proposed solutions are unwise. But the debate which reports … provoke [can] lead only to a better understanding of public governmental problems.” (See generally Olson, Ombudsman on the West Coast: An Analysis and Evaluation of the Watchdog Function of the California Grand Jury (1968) Cont. Ed. Ser., Mich. St. U., Institute for Community Devel. Series.)
      Although the propriety of grand jury reports on local governmental affairs finds support in a long history, a grand jury’s investigatory and reporting power has been bounded. Penal Code section 939.9 constitutes perhaps the most obvious limitation on the grand jury’s reportorial authority, providing explicitly that “[a] grand jury shall make no report, declaration or recommendation on any matter except on the basis of its own investigation of the matter. …” fn. 6
      The numerous statutory provisions noted above, which grant the grand jury authority to investigate and report on numerous facets of local government, also limit the grand jury’s investigation and reporting authority to the specifically enumerated fields. As the Court of Appeal noted in Board of Trustees v. Leach (1968) 258 Cal.App.2d 281, 285 [65 Cal.Rptr. 588]: “Although [the grand jury’s] powers are broad, they are carefully defined and limited by statute, and the grand jury has no inherent investigatory powers beyond those granted by the Legislature.” fn. 7 (Cf. Allen v. Payne (1934) 1 Cal.2d 607 [36 P.2d 614].) Thus, although a grand jury has extensive authority to investigate and recommend improvements within its own county, it is not authorized to [13 Cal.3d 438] roam at will throughout the state or country reporting on what it might view as shortcomings in distant locales.
      Despite these recognized legal limitations on the grand jury’s reporting authority, petitioner contends that even if a proposed grand jury report contravenes such legal bounds, a superior court must accept the report for filing; petitioner maintains that because no statute explicitly gives the superior court authority to enforce the legal restrictions on the grand jury’s reporting power by refusing to accept an unauthorized report, the superior court lacks any such authority. In this regard plaintiff urges that the grand jury is completely independent of the superior court and thus that, in the absence of statute, the court lacks any legitimate basis on which to “censor” even a legally unauthorized grand jury report.
      Petitioner’s argument misconceives the nature of the grand jury institution in California and its relationship to the courts. Although petitioner suggests that the grand jury is a completely freewheeling entity, separate and distinct from the judicial branch of government, the governing provisions uniformly refute such a characterization. Penal Code section 888 defines a grand jury as “a body of the required number of persons returned from the citizens of the county before a court of competent jurisdiction ….” (Italics added.) [4] As this section indicates, and as the California precedents have long recognized, the grand jury is a “judicial body” (Ex parte Sternes (1889) 82 Cal. 245, 247 [23 P. 38]), “an instrumentality of the courts of this state ….” (In re Shuler (1930) 210 Cal. 377, 405 [292 P. 481]; see, e.g., Turpen v. Booth (1880) 56 Cal. 65, 69; McFarland v. Superior Court (1948) 88 Cal.App.2d 153, 160 [198 P.2d 318]; Irwin v. Murphy (1933) 129 Cal.App. 713, 716 [19 P.2d 292].)
      As this court stated emphatically almost 90 years ago: “There is no doubt that a grand jury is part of the court by which it is convened, and that it is under the control of the court ….” (In re Gannon (1886) 69 Cal. 541, 543 [11 P. 240]. See generally Kennedy & Briggs, Historical and Legal Aspects of the California Grand Jury System (1955) 43 Cal.L.Rev. 251, 260-262; accord Levine v. United States (1960) 362 U.S. 610, 617 [4 L.Ed.2d 989, 995, 80 S.Ct. 1038]; Brown v. United States (1959) 359 U.S. 41, 49 [3 L.Ed.2d 609, 616, 79 S.Ct. 539].) fn. 8 [5] In this regard, it is well [13 Cal.3d 439] established that the convening court “may at any time, in the exercise of its jurisdiction, order [the grand jury] to be discharged.” (In re Gannon, supra, 69 Cal. 541, 547; see Pen. Code, § 915.)
      In recognizing that the grand jury serves as an integral part of the court system, subject to the court’s general supervision, we do not at all diminish the full independence of action which the grand jury must, and does, enjoy in performing its vital investigatory and reporting function. [6] The superior court must respect the grand jury’s independence of judgment; the court has no authority either to impose its own views on the grand jury or to suppress a report simply because it considers it ill-advised, insufficiently documented or even libelous. (See Kuh, The Grand Jury “Presentment”: Foul Blow or Fair Play? (1955) 55 Colum.L.Rev. 1103, 1133.)
      Petitioner, however, seeks to extend the grand jury’s independence to indefensible extremes, arguing that even when a grand jury violates its statutory mandate, a superior court has no choice but to file an unlawful report. Petitioner contends that nothing in the codes authorizes the courts to do otherwise and that without statutory authorization the court may not refuse to accept any proposed report. For several reasons, we cannot agree with this contention.
      First, although there is no statute which explicitly authorizes the superior court to refuse to accept an unauthorized report, fn. 9 such authority is implicit in the statutory provisions establishing definite, albeit broad, limits for the grand jury’s reporting power. In the absence of judicial authority to refuse to file an unauthorized report, the established statutory limits would be largely meaningless. Thus, for example, if a superior court were obligated to file any proposed report, a grand jury could — despite the clear proscription of section 939.9 (see fn. 6, ante) — simply adopt the recommendations of some other, perhaps partisan, organization without conducting its own investigation of the [13 Cal.3d 440] matter. The Legislature could not have intended the limits on the grand jury reporting power to be so easily evaded. fn. 10
      Moreover, not only do the existing statutes suggest the propriety of a limited court review of proposed grand jury reports, but such judicial authority is confirmed by the established common law doctrine in this area. fn. 11 [7] Although the question has not before arisen in California, the numerous cases throughout the United States which have addressed the question uniformly recognize that under the common law the court which convenes a grand jury has the authority to refuse to file a report that violates governing legal standards. For example, in Burke v. Oklahoma (1894) 2 Okla. 499 [37 P. 829, 836], the Supreme Court of Oklahoma held: “The court is not bound to receive and accept from the grand jury everything which it may present. One of the legal and judicial steps to be taken before any return of the grand jury becomes … [a] report is that it must be presented to and received by the court; and the court has a right, before accepting it and receiving it, to return it to the [13 Cal.3d 441] grand jury, or to receive it, as the court thinks proper. This required judicial action. … [I]t was not only the power, but it was the duty, of the court to take the matter, and give it fair and candid consideration, before passing judgment upon its propriety and validity.”
      [8] The decisions of every other jurisdiction which has passed on this question are just as emphatic in confirming the common law authority of a court to review the legality of a proposed grand jury report. (See In re Presentment of Camden County Grand Jury (1952) 10 N.J. 23 [89 A.2d 416, 444]; Ex parte Cook (1940) 199 Ark. 1187 [137 S.W.2d 248, 249]; State v. Bramlett (1932) 166 S.C. 323 [164 S.E. 873, 876-877]; State v. Wurdeman (Mo. 1916) 187 S.W. 257, 259; Bennett v. Kalamazoo Circuit Judge (1914) 183 Mich. 200, 212 [150 N.W. 141, 144]. See generally Kuh, The Grand Jury “Presentment”: Foul Blow or Fair Play? (1955) 55 Colum.L.Rev. 1103, 1132; Note, The Grand Jury: Power, Procedures and Problems (1973) 9 Colum.J. L. & Soc. Prob. 681, 704.) Petitioner has cited no authority to the contrary.
      [1b] In light of the uniformity of these common law decisions, and the implicit authority which we find in the various statutory limitations on the grand jury’s reporting power, we conclude that superior courts in this state do possess a limited authority to refuse to file proposed grand jury reports which exceed the grand jury’s authority. fn. 12 [9] As we have stressed above, however, the superior court’s reviewing authority in this area is narrowly circumscribed, for the court may only refuse to file a proposed report if it exceeds the grand jury’s lawful reporting powers. fn. 13 Given the limited scope of the superior court’s reviewing authority, we believe petitioner’s fears of judicial “censorship” of grand jury investigations are unfounded. fn. 14 [13 Cal.3d 442]
      We adjudicate only the district attorney’s contention that the superior courts have no authority under any circumstances to review a proposed grand jury report before filing; we reject that absolute denial of authority. We have pointed out two situations which inexorably call for such exercise of the superior court’s power; they are enough to refute the district attorney’s extreme position. Although other situations may support a superior court’s refusal to file a grand jury report, we do not consider, or pass upon them at this time.
      As in so many other instances, we face here competing values; the value of the protection of the public through the unrestricted power of the grand jury to probe and expose the operations of government, as opposed to the value of the protection of the individual from unlawful and unauthorized conduct of that tribunal. Although we recognize the advantage of a wide range in the grand jury’s investigatory authority, we do not accept the extreme position that such authority is absolute or that its sweep is so extensive that under any and all circumstances its proposed reports may be publicized. Since the grand jury is an arm of the court and part of the judicial system, the court, subject to appellate review, may in some instances, limited though they may be, refuse to file a proposed report. It would be anomalous for a court of law to participate in the law’s violation by filing a report that was itself the statute’s violation.
      In light of the above conclusion, petitioner’s request for a writ of prohibition restraining the superior court from reviewing any grand jury report prior to filing is denied.
      Wright, C. J., Sullivan, J., and Clark, J., concurred.
      MOSK, J.
      I dissent.
      Preliminarily two observations are appropriate. First, it should be clearly understood that we are here concerned with the grand jury’s investigative function, as distinguished from its accusatory role. The latter is an integral part of the criminal judicial process and thus invokes issues of constitutional dimension not apposite in this proceeding.
      Second, no party appears to doubt that the superior court judge, in refusing to accept and file the grand jury’s report, was well motivated. [13 Cal.3d 443] But as the melancholy lessons of history teach us, the road to censorship is paved with good intentions.
      The majority sugar-coat their conclusion by referring to “restricted” court control of grand jury reports (ante, p. 434) and “limited” authority to bury a proposed report (ante, pp. 440, 441). However polite the terminology, the ultimate result is that the grand jury, a duly constituted public agency, is denied the right to file its investigative conclusions with the court, and thus its report must remain forever concealed from the public. Censorship by any other name — restricted or limited — is nevertheless censorship. And censorship by a benevolent censor is no less censorship.
      All parties concede there is no statutory authority for the superior court to refuse to accept and file the grand jury report, which by law shall be submitted to the presiding judge of that court. (Pen. Code, § 933.) That should end all judicial inquiry. However, the superior court relies on a vague and undefined inherent power to coerce the grand jury into refraining from reporting on subjects beyond the court’s subjective concept of grand jury limitations. The anomalous result is that the court expands its jurisdiction in order to contract the jurisdiction of the grand jury.
      As the majority note, a number of California cases have recognized the grand jury’s investigative role. The case of Monroe v. Garrett (1971) 17 Cal.App.3d 280, 284 [94 Cal.Rptr. 531], is cited (ante, p. 437), but the majority overlook the impact of the very language they quote: “The public may, of course, ultimately conclude that the jury’s fears were exaggerated or that its proposed solutions are unwise. But the debate which reports … provoke [can] lead only to a better understanding of public governmental problems.” (Italics added.) The public, not a judge, is to draw conclusions from the grand jury report. The public is to be provoked into debate; the judge is not to prevent debate by suppressing the report.
      There are a number of cases which refer to the grand jury as a “judicial body,” and from such references the majority leap to the loose generalization of an 1886 dictum (In re Gannon (1886) 69 Cal. 541, 543 [11 P. 240]) that the grand jury “is under the control of the court ….” I cannot believe that the majority really mean to approve absolute court control of a grand jury.
      In any event, the cases employed to support the majority’s conclusion [13 Cal.3d 444] are inapposite. Gannon was a contempt of court matter. Ex parte Sternes (1889) 82 Cal. 245 [23 P. 38], was a habeas corpus petition involving reasonable or probable cause to hold the petitioner for trial. In re Shuler (1930) 210 Cal. 377, 405 [292 P. 481], used the expression quoted in the majority opinion (ante, p. 438) in a criminal context (“an instrumentality of the courts”), but the same case continued on to declare that the grand jury is charged with an “inquisition into the conduct of citizens and of public institutions and officials, and is to be as fully protected in the exercise of its powers and functions in that regard as the courts themselves.” (Italics added.)
      Turpen v. Booth (1880) 56 Cal. 65, 69, involved a claim for civil damages against grand jurors; and in deciding against liability, the court said of grand jurors that “in the performance of such duties the law invests them with judgment and discretion.” McFarland v. Superior Court (1948) 88 Cal.App.2d 153, 160 [198 P.2d 318], involved a writ of prohibition growing out of a manslaughter prosecution; said the court of the grand jury, “It is entitled to the respect and support of the courts.”
      Irwin v. Murphy (1933) 129 Cal.App. 713 [19 P.2d 292], not only fails to support the majority, it contains a discussion leading to a directly contrary conclusion. Said the court, at page 717: “Appellant argues that when the commission of a public offense is being inquired into or investigated the power of the grand jury is limited to a definite charge, whether by indictment or otherwise, against the person being investigated; that if the grand jury does not find sufficient evidence to indict, the power of the body terminates and any act thereafter is in excess of jurisdiction. We think this too narrow a construction to be placed upon the powers of a grand jury. As a matter of routine, if nothing further, the power to investigate includes as an integral part thereof the right and duty to report the result of such investigation.” (Italics added.)
      The several authorities from other jurisdictions cited by the majority are not helpful. They originate from states the grand jury traditions of which are so divergent that in totality they prove little other than that the digests will provide a case for virtually any proposition. The fact remains that no California case has held, or suggested, that a right exists in a judge to subject to prior approval the work product of the grand jury.
      Indeed, no statute gives to a court the duty or right to investigate or report on county or other governmental affairs. Nevertheless the ability to suppress the whole, or to excise parts, of a report, in effect places with the court responsibility over the investigating and reporting of matters [13 Cal.3d 445] entirely extraneous to the judicial function. By authorizing this procedure, the majority thrust the court into the maelstrom of local government controversy. For if the court may suppress reports with which it finds fault, a failure to suppress will be deemed approval.
      The proper course is the traditional course. The grand jury may file its report — with the court only because the law directs that to be the resting place — and the grand jury alone assumes the responsibility for content. If there is to be any prior restraint on the grand jury, its work or its work product, the Legislature must authorize it. To date that has not been done.
      The majority declare that fears of judicial censorship of grand jury investigations “are unfounded.” (Ante, p. 441.) While they are understandably reluctant to discuss specifics of the case which gave rise to the problem before us, the majority graphically illustrate, by their conclusion, that there are very real perils to free public communication by a grand jury which has performed its duties.
      The grand jury in this case considered operations of the county hospital’s pathology department. The interim report sealed by the judge was the result of this investigation; the inquiry had been prompted by testimony of the sheriff-coroner of the county. The sheriff-coroner recited specific instances of maladministration of the pathology department of the county hospital, and related his apprehensions over the manner in which the alleged irregularities could affect homicide investigations, autopsies, insurance and potential civil liability. The hospital administrator is a county department head appointed by the board of supervisors, and the hospital itself is a revenue collecting agency of the county. Accordingly there can be no doubt that the grand jury’s inquiry was justified under Penal Code section 925 (revenue), section 928 (county officers) and section 933 (county government).
      Despite the manifest propriety of the investigation and of the substance of the subsequent report, the superior court judge saw fit to arbitrarily suppress the document. Such result in circumstances as clear as these certainly fails to warrant the sanguinity of the majority in discounting as “unfounded” any fears of judicial censorship.
      But if we assume arguendo that the body proposed to report on subjects outside its ken, such a report might reflect upon its source, yet the irrelevance or impropriety of the official document does not justify its suppression. There are traditional and statutory boundaries to grand jury [13 Cal.3d 446] activities. Penal Code section 939.9 is cited as an example. But if an irresponsible grand jury elects to violate that or any other statutory inhibition, it may suffer penalties the law provides, if any, but it cannot be restrained from so acting.
      A legislature may not enact an unconstitutional statute; such an act is wholly beyond its authority and jurisdiction. Yet no court would attempt to prevent the legislative body, by injunction or other order, from proceeding as it sees fit. As an independent public body it has the right to proceed, even in error. A court cannot enjoin the publication of a libel, prevent the erroneous exercise of discretion by a public official, or prohibit the commission of a crime. By parity of reasoning, a court cannot prevent a grand jury from expressing views on subjects the court believes improper, whether by direct order or by suppression of a report. When the court here attempted to do so, it acted on a misguided notion that its general advisory function embraced the role of censor. Yet pertinent code sections refer only to the court’s duty to instruct the grand jurors (Pen. Code, § 914.1), to charge them as to their duties (ibid.), and to advise them when such advice is asked (Pen. Code, § 934). No authorization to tamper with the grand jury report is given to the court. Indeed, under Penal Code section 928, the grand jury is to submit a copy of its report on needs of county officers directly to each member of the board of supervisors. Since such copy does not go to the supervisors through the court, it seems clear that the Legislature anticipated no judicial revision.
      Justice Black declared in New York Times Co. v. United States (1971) 403 U.S. 713, 724 [29 L.Ed.2d 822, 830, 91 S.Ct. 2140]: “Secrecy in government is fundamentally anti-democratic, perpetuating bureaucratic errors. Open debate and discussion of public issues are vital to our national health.” Justice Frankfurter wrote in Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson (1952) 343 U.S. 495, 532 [96 L.Ed. 1098, 1121, 72 S.Ct. 777]: “To paraphrase Doctor Johnson, if nothing may be shown but what licensors may have previously approved, power, the yea-or-nay-saying by officials, becomes the standard of the permissible.” Or, to quote the blunt characterization by Justice Douglas in Hannegan v. Esquire, Inc. (1946) 327 U.S. 146, 158 [90 L.Ed. 586, 593, 66 S.Ct. 456]: “[A] requirement that literature or art [or public reports] conform to some norm prescribed by an official smacks of an ideology foreign to our system.”
      When Plato wrote that poets should be banished from his idyllic republic, he based his magisterial proposal on grounds that have been [13 Cal.3d 447] repeated by all the censorial thereafter: the poets taught false ideas. The censors of the world hold their posts as self-appointed guardians of their own particular narrow concept of orthodoxy — in literature, art, and government. The judge in this instance believed he was serving the public interest. But it was his interpretation of the public interest. Obviously the grand jury marched to a different drummer. The jury conclusions may have been wrong. But they had a right to be wrong. It is axiomatic that in a democratic society an evil is never corrected by suppression or censorship; it is made right by exposure to the marketplace of thought, discussion and controversy.
      I would issue the writ.
      McComb, J., and Burke, J., concurred.
      FN 1. Upon stipulation of the parties, the Court of Appeal considered the petition on the merits without issuing an alternative writ or any other interim relief.
      FN 2. The Court of Appeal reasoned in this regard: “Both the report and the grand jury have been overtaken by the passage of time. The regular impanelment of the 1973 grand jury ended the life of the old jury [citation] and the content of the interim report appears to have been substantially covered in the final report of the grand jury. It is now a practical impossibility at this date to determine if the 1972 jury intended the final report to subsume its interim report. In any event, since a comparison of interim and final reports indicates substantially similar content, the problem of the interim report appears to be moot.” We concur in this assessment of the issue, and consequently we confine our discussion to the propriety of the Court of Appeal’s initial order restraining the superior court from conducting any review of a proposed grand jury report prior to accepting it for filing.
      FN 3. Amicus curiae briefs filed on behalf of the superior courts of several of California’s largest counties (Los Angeles, San Bernardino) point out that the charge to the grand jury given by the Santa Barbara Superior Court, and invalidated by the decision below, is essentially the same charge regularly given to grand jurors in their respective counties.
      FN 4. Federal courts have generally held that federal grand juries lack authority to issue “reports” on public affairs. (See, e.g., Application of United Electrical, Radio v. M. Workers (S.D.N.Y. 1953) 111 F.Supp. 858; United States v. Cox (5th Cir. 1965) 342 F.2d 167, 186 fn. 2 (Wisdom, J., concurring).) The New York Court of Appeals reached a similar conclusion in the absence of explicit statutory authority for grand jury reports (see, e.g., Wood v. Hughes (1961) 9 N.Y.2d 144 [212 N.Y.S.2d 33, 173 N.E.2d 21]); thereafter New York enacted specific legislation authorizing such reports. (See In re Second Report of Nov., 1968 Grand Jury (1970) 26 N.Y.2d 200 [309 N.Y.S.2d 297, 257 N.E.2d 859] (upholding constitutionality of statute).)
      FN 5. Indeed, the origin of the California grand jury’s reporting authority can probably be traced to an 1851 statute, which directed the grand jury to investigate inter alia “the condition and management of public prisons.” (Stats 1851, ch. 29, § 214, p. 235; see Pen. Code, § 919.)
      FN 6. Section 939.9 provides in full: “A grand jury shall make no report, declaration, or recommendation on any matter except on the basis of its own investigation of the matter made by such grand jury. A grand jury shall not adopt as its own the recommendation of another grand jury unless the grand jury adopting such recommendation does so after its own investigation of the matter as to which the recommendation is made, as required by this section.”
      FN 7. In Leach, the Court of Appeal concluded that the applicable statute (Pen. Code, § 933.5) conferred no authority upon the grand jury to investigate the personnel records of the defendant school district; the court accordingly granted a writ of mandate quashing a subpoena of such records.
      FN 8. A host of statutory provisions reflect this relationship between the grand jury and its convening court. Thus, the court determines when a grand jury should be empaneled (Pen. Code, §§ 904, 904.5, 904.6, 904.7), appoints the foreman of the grand jury (Pen. Code, § 912), instructs the grand jury as to its powers and responsibilities (Pen. Code, §§ 914, 914.1), approves expenditures for investigatory personnel (Pen. Code, §§ 914.5, 926, 931), and determines whether to permit public grand jury sessions. (Pen. Code, § 939.1.)
      FN 9. Penal Code section 933, the most recent statutory enactment pertaining to grand jury reports, does provide that the grand jury “shall submit to the presiding judge of the superior court a final report of its findings and recommendations that pertain to county government.” (Italics added.) Although this language could conceivably be construed as a legislative grant of authority to the superior court to review the report, the context of the entire provision makes such a reading questionable. In a later portion of the same provision, the section declares that comments of the board of supervisors on the grand jury report “shall … be submitted to the presiding judge of the superior court ….” Since the judge could not, of course, properly review any of these latter comments, it appears that the legislative use of the “submission” language was not intended as a grant of reviewing power.
      FN 10. Petitioner contends that under all circumstances the only available remedy is for an individual harmed by an unauthorized report to bring a libel action against the grand jurors. In this regard, petitioner points to Penal Code section 930 which provides that a comment in a grand jury report upon an individual who is not indicted is not privileged. A libel action, however, will generally not be an appropriate means to challenge a report which is illegal because the grand jury conducted no personal investigation or exceeded its proper sphere of inquiry. Nothing in the language of section 930 indicates that the provision was intended to preclude a superior court from refusing to file an illegal grand jury report.
      FN 11. Fitts v. Superior Court (1936) 6 Cal.2d 230 [57 P.2d 510] establishes the propriety of considering common law principles as supplementary to the applicable California statutes relating to grand juries. The question at issue in Fitts was the number of grand jurors necessary to return an accusation against a public official. No statute specifically spoke to this point, but the district attorney claimed that a general provision in the Penal Code, declaring that a majority generally had authority to act for any group of individuals, governed and authorized an accusation approved by 11 of the 19 grand jurors. The Fitts court rejected this contention, and concluded that the general common law rule requiring the concurrence of 12 grand jurors to support any action of the grand jury should be applied.
      In reaching this conclusion the court rejected the contention that the California grand jury was a “purely” statutory body, wholly distinct from its common law predecessor. The court declared: “The [California] grand jury system is a product of the common law. … The members of the [1849] constitutional convention in providing for a grand jury must have had in mind the grand jury as known to the common law. … The Constitution of 1879 did not attempt to change the historic character of the grand jury, and the system its members had in mind was evidently the same system that had come down to them from the common law. It is in no sense a statutory grand jury as distinguished from the common-law grand jury …. We must conclude … that the Constitution of 1879 when it refers to the grand jury refers to it as it had always been known and understood prior thereto.” (6 Cal.2d at pp. 240-241.) (See generally Kennedy & Briggs, Historical and Legal Aspects of the California Grand Jury System (1955) 43 Cal.L.Rev. 251, 262.)
      FN 12. Cf. Craemer v. Superior Court (1968) 265 Cal.App.2d 216, 225-226 [71 Cal.Rptr. 193]. See also Note, The Grand Jury Report as an Infringement of Private Rights (1972) 23 Hastings L.J. 561, 582-584.
      FN 13. A superior court’s refusal to file a proposed grand jury report is, of course, subject to appellate review. (See In re Presentment of Camden County Grand Jury (1952) 10 N.J. 23 [89 A.2d 416, 444].) Appellate courts have not hesitated to reverse a lower court decision when it is demonstrated that the court suppressed a legally valid report. (See Clemmons v. State (Fla.App. 1962) 141 So.2d 749, 756-757.)
      FN 14. The dissent’s suggestion that the present opinion condones censorship of First Amendment expression ignores several critical points. In the first place, the grand jury is not a private body and its report is not an expression of private citizens’ views; rather the grand jury is a governmental body and its official report, carrying the aura of a judicial pronouncement, is authorized only within established legal limits. Second, although the dissent (without authority) suggests otherwise, as discussed above the grand jury has from its inception in Anglo-American jurisprudence always been considered an integral part of the judicial branch — “an instrumentality of the courts.” (In re Shuler, supra, 210 Cal. 377, 405.) In applying the established common law rule that a court may prevent one of its instrumentalities from taking action explicitly prohibited by statute, we certainly give no sanction to governmental suppression of protected expression.

  11. To everyone … Thank God Santa Clara Plays Fair had the courage to stand up and bravely provide the truth when the majority of the voters gave them $hit and bad mouthed them! SCPF was the ONLY group telling the truth … Too bad no one wanted to hear it. I hope they are proudly cheering “I told you so” and hopefully Santa Clarans will finally listen and get off their red ‘n gold @$$es and run the blood suckers out of Santa Clara!

    Bring on the Grand Jury and criminal charges! The public has the RIGHT to know how their public money is spent!! Shread the shredders and fit,them for orange jumpsuits to match their new city “look”!

  12. How can Nosky, the city’s attorney, “shield any document he touches under the umbrella of attorney-client privilege” ? It is my understanding that he works for the people of the city and not the business interests negotiating with it.

    How can the city stadium authority refuse to release the details of the financing of a $1.3B stadium by a city of 100,000 people? That’s $13,000 per person, before you add on fees and interest (costs we don’t know). Is the stadium authority not a public entity?

    As a resident of santa clara I have lost all faith in my local government and local courts. It will take action by the county, state or FBI to force an audit of the city and stadium authority. We’re the next Bell, California.

    • E: Contrary to popular opinion, city attorneys do not work for “the people of the city”, despite the fact that the taxpayers of the city pay her/his salary. A City Attorney’s client is “the City”. The vast majority of City Attorneys in California are appointed, usually by the City Council. Fewer than a dozen City Attorneys in California are elected, including SF, Oakland, and L.A. Santa Clara’s City Attorney is appointed by the City Council and serves at the council’s pleasure.

      • In this case the City Attorney does have a duty directly to the people of the City of Santa Clara as they enacted the law which the City Attorney has a continuing duty to enforce: Measure J. Measure J prohibits expenditure of City money (not just General Fund money) on Stadium Authority expenses. The Council does not have the power to amend Measure J; only the people do. The City Attorney is directly answerable to the voters on this one. So far we haven’t seen any answers.

    • ah Mr Nosky is he the same attorney that has ties to Modesto or Stockton and helped them go bankrupt?? ahh yes a trustworthy attorney

  13. I wish this article was actually about a grand jury investigation, if that’s what’s going on. Idk. I couldn’t find anything about that in the article.

  14. Thank you Mr. Koehn for publishing this article. I hope all of Santa Clara reads it and then takes the action(s) needed!

  15. Mark is correct — there’s nothing about any investigation. But good clickbait for 3 days before the Super Bowl – especially since it looks like it’s not going to rain and fulfill the deepest desires of Santa Clara Plays Fair, which has been retailing the grand jury story.

    Lisa Gillmor was on the council when the stadium contract was approved and voted to approve it — she had no questions at that time about protecting the city’s interests. For the record, when the majority of council members were women, the same people were saying the same things — the council was a bunch of crooks, liars, chiselers, self-dealers, embezzlers, tools of billionaires/developers/sports franchises who were hiding their backroom deals and selling the city down the river. And the previous city manager was equally vilified by SCPF.

    • This has nothing to do with men vs. women. It just so happens that the women in this case happen to be looking out for the average Santa Claran while the men are more concerned with pleasing the moneyed interests who want to develop every last square inch of remaining dirt in the City. Nor is this a replay of Santa Clara Plays Fair vs. the 49ers. There are many more people concerned about the secrecy and unresponsiveness of the City staff and the Council majority. Why shouldn’t the Mayor and the City Council want to create a public impression that they are willing to stand up to the 49ers in the City’s 40 year relationship with them? They recently got good press for standing up to the NFL with respect to getting reimbursed for the costs of the Super Bowl public safety costs. All Ms. Gillmor and her council allies are asking for is to look into whether the deal that was inked (without any real analysis of the issue) is in compliance with Measure J. Why are the Councilmen opposed to looking into this now that we have two full years of experience with the real costs of providing City services to the billionaire owners of the 49ers?

  16. Same with santa clara valley water, the taxpayer always gets screwed, and the people we pay to work for us, are lying, stealing, covering up for fast bucks etc.(golden goldie, fung, kamenjati etc. @valleywater) SC city is no different, They will get golden parachutes like golden goldie, 250k + 300k retirement, same will happen to the crooks in the city.

  17. Jed York and the Niners organization were very much like a man trying to get a woman into bed—they said anything necessary to get the desired result. When the morning dawns, it’s an entirely different story, as the residents of Santa Clara and the youth soccer league are now finding out. Overall, I am of the opinion that Levi’s will be a boon for Santa Clara, though not for kids’ soccer, as long as companies keep buying luxury boxes and prime seats to give to their employees and customers, most of whom care little about the live game experience as they watch it on the gazillion screens in the boxes and clubs within the highly sterile stadium and don’t tip the servers. The true football fans I know have said unanimously that the Levi’s Stadium experience sucks for a true football fan. But maybe that’s just because the team sucks, and the organization sucks, and Jed sucks. I’ll ask them again if the Niners ever start winning again. Jed, whatever happened to “hold me accountable”? So far, the sole gainer in this whole deal is the Yorks, whose franchise is now worth almost $2 billion more than it was worth when they played at Candlestick.

  18. And yet when you see any news reports of Superbowl 50 the only city mentioned is San Francisco. It has been said time and time again by persons who have actually studied the economics that stadiums are a bad deal for cities no matter how much development occurs alongside.

    • The salsa bowls are filled, and the chips are opened. The beer and coke cans are being drained, and the game is on.

      Was it all worth it?

      At the end of the day, Debi Davis and Lisa Gillmor can go home with pride, as can Teresa O’Neill and Patricia Mahan. They led their community and kept their integrity.

      They tried to keep Paradise.

      It is Matthews, Kolstad and others who must now go to the Land of Nod, East of Eden with marks of people who bargained away innocence. Others who talk of a Hail Mary Pass and run in and out chic restaurants in contrived events also have little to say as an apology to the defacement they made of the ideal of the Mission City.

      Yes, oil and gold and treasure was discovered in Santa Clara, that of how much this stadium brought riches to the city But the lack of humility and community demonstrated by the men involved in this has sown a great wound in our town. It is sad the K and the M letters associated with three of the players of this Romanov soap opera may no longer be gold, but dark.

  19. I live here in a santa clara and let me tell you this council is all about mistrust my kids play soccer on the field and now we heard of back talks agian about it it’s all about who can pay the most to get into someone’s bed it’s sad I feel even ibwill be kicked out of her cause we don’t make enough to afford our own homes and we live with our parents just to stay afloat I remember fields and yes little streets and quite , but now all u see I’d big buisness and employees coming from far away it’s sad what we have done to this little city it should of been left alone all the little shops going away and on the El Camino too mush dam housing and khols is gone for more housing and yes we go to sanjose and pay taxes to them cause our stupid council could not keep them here.

    • I believe I’d likely have agreed with you but, due to your lack of punctuation, I will not bother to read your comment. You may not think punctuation is important but it does clarify the meaning of the point you’re attempting to make.

  20. I am disgusted by the City of San Jose and Santa Clara! Did either of the two city’s even try to get any real events that would generate money for local businesses during Superbowl?!
    What the hell did we get a stadium for if they weren’t going to even show our cities during the Superbowl game?! The whole superbowl was embrassing for the City if San Jose that I was over here touting was going to be so exciting during this time. I could care less about the Niners now move them to Yorks residence for all I care.

  21. Let me add we knew this event was coming years ago to this area! What did we do to even attract people to come to the SOUTH BAY?! Nothing. ATHERTON had bigger parties then SAN José. I am just so sick and upset at how we got screwed!

  22. Smoke-Fire: Where did you get the notion that The Santa Clara City Attorney has a continuing duty to enforce any law?

    • Is it your belief that when the City Attorney was negotiating the contracts with the 49ers he had no duty of care to the voters to make sure that the ballot initiative was being complied with? And when asked similar questions about Measure J from the Council members, he had no duty to provide competent advice consistent with the voters’ intent in adopting the law?

  23. Super Bowl week was a huge bust for DT SJ merchants. Original Joe’s, usually bustling with regulars during the day, was devoid of many regulars and few Super Bowl revelers replaced the mostly absent regulars, despite the fact that the Panthers were a block away at The Marriott. Some cheerleader chick from the city was touting on KLIV radio what a great event would be happening in Plaza de Cesar Chavez. What was actually there when I visited on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday afternoons was some fool in a boom box with two turntables, two taco trucks (which we called roach coaches in my day), a couple of ping pong tables, some picnic benches, and virtually no customers. Everyone I spoke with echoed the same story—locals were absent from every DT SJ restaurant and they were not replaced by out of towners here for SB50. Of course they weren’t, all the big spenders were in The City. But the powers that be—the folks we elected and the bureaucrats who carry out their policy—ordered Walt and his flute, and many others, to take a hike for the week. San Jose elected officials and its bureaucrats have far less than a small town attitude; they are completely hick town. San Jose calls itself the Capital of Silicon Valley. The City announced that Media Day @ SAP was sold out, when in fact it was well under half full. In reality, SJ is the largest hick town by population in the developed world. This week’s SB50 “events” in DT SJ proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

  24. I find it interesting that the City Manager was insulted by a stipend for a “raise” when that is exactly what a majority of city employees have received for the past two years under his management. If was good enough for us, it should have been good enough for him.

  25. Interesting that in December there was a vote of no confidence on the city manager by the council, and he kept his job by one vote. Wonder if that one vote was the Mayor…..the majority of the city employees and the majority of the council think he should leave. “cleaning his office” and “throwing a tantrum” is a typical day for this city manager.

  26. Rather than talking about a “gender divide” on the council and who “cares more,” the men or the women council members, we need to look way beyond gender in this upcoming election to learn exactly what is truly motivating each perspective council member to run for election. If a perspective council member is a real estate developer, you can be sure that development is the motivation behind that person’s plan to get elected to city council. If the prospective council person is a retired police/fire chief, you can be sure that motivation is to make sure that those city pensions don’t messed with. In addition, the city manager (and city attorney) is appointed by the city council we elect. So if we elected a city council made up primarily of developers, which we did, it follows that the council members would then appoint a city manager (and city attorney) who’s sole interest is major development, which they did. So this is now where this city is, right where we elected it to be. Local city governments are accountable to no one (they have no “boss”) other than the voters so if we want to change the way our city is doing things, we need to change the way we vote. So pay very close attention to the motivation behind a prospective council member who wants to get elected and what he/she or his/her family does for a living and what motivates his/her interest in politics.

      • Well, that’s very nice but make sure you know what MY motivation is for running before you vote for me :-)

    • Maxwell,

      I think it’s a very small subset of residents in Santa Clara who are paying any attention to this. You perfectly correct: the SC Council represents first and foremost public safety unions, developers, 49ers, etc. There have been attractive candidates without axes to grind but there are usually underfunded and get drowned out by mailers and yard signs by entrenched candidates each election cycle.

      You might say people get the representation they deserve, however I’m not sure anyone deserves the type of city government that exists in Santa Clara.

    • Maxwell – I agree with you Council recently has been beholden to public safety pensions, although that “Golden Cow” is typical on most cities. Question though: Council supporting major developments, don’t you think santa clara could use some redevelopment? Especially El Camino – looks really bad (liquor stores, auto repair, massage) between sunnyvale and the Rose Garden.

      • Ted – I am not against development in Santa Clara. However, development must be done with careful consideration for all – location, traffic, parking, safety, residents – not just consideration for the businesses. The problem is when you have a council, a planning department, and a planning commission, such as SC council, planning department and planning commission whose main concern is to hurry up and get developed into a “big city” with big city revenues, there has been no consideration for anything other than the businesses. This is exactly how a city ends up with an “El Camino” that looks as trashy as it does along the corridor you mention. I own a home in the “Hilmar neighborhood” next to Santa Clara University and residents of our neighborhood have long fought city staff and council on the types of businesses they have allowed to open and operate adjacent to residential neighborhoods along the El Camino/ The Alameda corridor. During the time I have lived there, the city has approved extremely questionable businesses in that area next to the University and historic residential neighborhood – such as a hookah lounge that attracts hundreds of hoodlums from East Bay into our neighborhood on a nightly basis; a gun store that specialized in semi-automatic assault rifles that they manufactured kits for to fully “automate” them; a couple of sleazy front shops that pretend to be selling vulgar t-shirts but were obviously doing business as something else behind the fronts. Those were the “neighborhood businesses” the city planning department and council thought were good for this city. And in the same block, the city permitted large-capacity, high-volume retail such as Ike’s and Starbucks, which are OK businesses; however, in our city’s infinite wisdom, they allowed these extremely high-volume shops to open without requiring any of them to provide one single parking space for their customers and employees. The narrow residential streets in front of our homes then became the high-volume commercial parking lot for these businesses at all hours of the day and night. The city even installed commercial one-hour parking signs in front of our homes to help the businesses keep the parking flowing and to prevent residents from parking their own cars or their own visitors in front of their own homes for over an hour taking up parking for these businesses. There are two very seedy hotels in that corridor as well that provide a haven for drug dealers and users as well as the city contracting with the state prison system to have sex-offenders move into when they are released from prison. After the horrible rape and beating of a 20 year-old SCU student by one of these sex-offenders in this neighborhood last year, the city toned down the number of parolees at these hotels. However, SC is now working in conjunction with SJ to use one of these seedy hotels as a homeless shelter. It isn’t even a homeless shelter yet and our neighborhood already has lots of homeless people hanging out in our front yards and hiding out in our basements. Myself and my neighbors have had quite a lot of experience over the last five years in dealing with this city’s staff and council and I can tell you with absolute certainty that with one, possibly two, exceptions, this city council and staff have zero interest in protecting residents from large growth and development by making sure to place specific businesses in appropriate locations to mitigate negative impacts to local residents, zero interest in carefully planning development to include traffic planning, adequate parking, and health and safety measures. This city’s council and staff want to run with the big dogs, as evidenced by their pushing of building an NFL stadium in a city of only 100,000 people, however, there is not one person on this council or on city staff who has any clue how to run with the big dogs and the proof of this is happening now, unfortunately too late for the residents of SC. We elected this council and trusted them and their staff to adequately manage public funds and do what is best for the residents of this city and they have failed us in many large, expensive ways. We now have a mayor who resigns overnight in the middle of his term because the civil grand jury investigation is looming over the very thing he was responsible for; we have a city manager who is throwing tantrums because at an annual salary of almost $300,000, he feels he is being slighted with his compensation but is claiming racism and a “hostile work environment.” We have a city council whose members are split over the mishandling of stadium funds and accounting – half of the council believing that there should be some sort of adequate reporting system for the use of these funds and the other half asking why there needs to be an adequate reporting system for the handling of millions of dollars.??? They attempted to run with the big dogs and ended up getting eaten alive by York and the NFL, at the expense of the residents of SC. And unfortunately the only recourse residents have is to vote them out in the next election and get in a new crop of council members who also have personal agendas.

  27. As a former City of Santa Clara employee, I was required to adhere to the City’s Code of Ethics and Values. This Code was incorporated by reference into all MOUs and contracts with non-City employees doing business with and for the City. What ever happened to this requirement? And where is Jennifer Sparacino when the City needs her? Check it out at:

  28. Was the City Manger’s absence from Santa Clara’s Council meeting tonight a sign that he was fired in close session? No reportable actions? Come’on Mr. Nosky, we all know Julio was fired and the City is only waiting for the press release with the negotiated settlement to be finalized. Just say what we all know you want to say:

    “The Council took action to fire the CM earlier this evening. They found that he was in way over his head on this job, lacked any real city experience, celebrated sexist and masochistic beliefs, and was an egomaniac that lacked the natural intelligence to back it up. On a brighter note, City staff will be throwing a party tomorrow. I personally will be overjoyed to be out from under his yoke of oppression and madness. That concludes the Closed Session Report.”

    Just saying….

    • They are ALL in way over their heads but apparently Fuentes is going to take the fall for it. I wonder if they feel that firing the city manager (if he was actually fired) will mitigate the anger SC residents are going to feel when it comes out just how much the NFL, the Niners and York screwed this city over. Oh well, at least we have a brand new stadium and a winning pro football team in SC now. Oh, wait . . . .

  29. Our downtown was eliminated years ago by heartless,and greedy city council members. I am sure a few individuals got rich .,Zero investigations took place to see if all of this business was on the up and up. Franklin Mall has turned out to be a joke.( Lets not let this happen to our northeast corridor) Years later we still suffer from the absence of a legitimate downtown. Big money, represented by the Niners and developers, will eliminate the golf course, the amusement park, and the soccer venues. Developers will get RICH, and we citizens will be bereft of two recreational venues. We will suffer as a city, many different ways because of this, most importantly, .a quality of life issue. While losing the three mentioned venues to the niners,and developers, the new Santana Row shopping center will also exacerbate, traffic,and create a logjam similiar to what we see by Valley Fair. Try driving down Stevens Creek or hiway 17. Deplorable! .Welcome to the another oasis of doom and gloom…….. Our mayor has flown the coupe , what does this tell us?….The ripples of these questionable city decisions, will eventually turn in tidal waves .At Lawrence Expressway and Monroe Ave, an eight-hundred unit complex is going up. The developer can not provide enough parking space, and .even if their were a space for each apartment, usually two or more drivers live in each unit. How many cars will find a parking spot. Needless to say, neighborhoods will be impacted be this overflow. This is just an example of a rubber stamped project permitted by our ravenous ,and greedy city staff.

    • @ Jeff W:
      The neighborhoods have already been impacted just by the cars of the construction workers. Wilcox parents have to add time to their commutes because of the backup on Monroe and Lawrence.

      Our council members/mayor never put big developments in their own neighborhoods, and only the older single-family home area of Santa Clara has any representation on the council.

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