Rocha, Kalra Clash with Mayor-Elect Liccardo over D4 Seat

The City Council will consider an interim appointment to fill the seat vacated by Kansen Chu, who was elected to the state Assembly. But the motion drew criticism for being too hurried and for waiving sunshine rules.

Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilman/Mayor-elect Sam Liccardo support former councilwoman Margie Matthews for the District 4 seat. But council members Don Rocha and Ash Kalra say the process was rushed and that the city should wait until after the holidays to make a decision.

“Choosing the people's representative is one of the most important decisions that we can make in a democracy, but in this case we have been given extremely short notice of the decision and have made no effort to engage the public,” Rocha wrote in his memo. “If there were some urgent need to make this appointment I might feel differently, but I don't see that need. There are many past instances where the Council hasn't appointed anyone in advance of a special election. Why is this instance so different?”

He included a timeline to illustrate how short the notice has been:

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 2.35.09 PM

Rocha also noted that Matthews was listed on Liccardo’s campaign website as a supporter and that the appointment looks like an attempt to stack the council in his favor. With Chu’s seat vacated, the council would be more likely to end up with tied votes. And an election won’t be held until April 7, with the winner unlikely to take office until August before finishing the term at the end of 2016.

“I can appreciate the desire of any mayor to command a council majority,” Rocha continued. “The power of appointment, however, is not the tool to make that happen. The only reason Mayor-Elect Liccardo would need to worry about the Council deadlocking 5-5 over the next nine months is if he isn't willing to work collaboratively with his colleagues. I hope that's not the case.”

According to the Reed-Liccardo memo, Matthews served two terms on the council (back when her surname was Fernandez), from 1993 to 2000 and lived in the Berryessa district for 40 years. She was policy advisor for Susan Hammer during her tenure as District 3 councilwoman and later as mayor. (UPDATE: Liccardo authored a memo Monday asking the City Clerk to continue accepting applications for the appointment through 5pm Thursday, so a special meeting can be held Friday.)

To comply with CalPERS requirements for retired public employees, she wouldn’t accept a council salary if appointed. Liccard and Reed's memo also says Matthews wouldn't run in the special election for the district.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for December 16, 2014:

  • San Jose is set to pay $1.1 million to a man left paralyzed from the chest down after falling off his bike at a city park 10 years ago. Alex Ghenis was 16 when he rode his BMX bike over a dirt jump at Calabazas Park and crash-landed on his head, leaving him quadriplegic.
  • To recover costs from administering its new marijuana regulations, the city plans to charge an annual $72,000 fee to each pot club, in addition to other fees.
  • Council members may update the General Plan, the city's lead planning document, to require that 15 percent of new housing be affordable to low-income residents.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Is anybody REALLY surprised that the Reed/Liccardo regime would do this ? The corruption will continue as will the mass exodus , and the decline of San Jose as a city

  2. I must agree with Councilman Rocha in his statement “I think it’s relevant to point out that Margie Matthews is listed on the Mayor-Elect’s campaign website as an endorser. She is of course free to endorse whoever she chooses- I don’t hold her endorsement against her-but I believe it does reflect on the Mayor-Elect’s intent in this instance: it suggests that he may be attempting to stack the Council with his supporters.”

    There is no reason to rush this appointment. This is someone the new council must work with as such if an appoint is fact necessary the new council should be the one to do the appointment. Also, the residents of D-4 have not had an opportunity to even apply for this position being it is only 4 business days given to make this decision.

    “To comply with CalPERS requirements for retired public employees, she wouldn’t accept a council salary if appointed. Liccardo and Reed’s memo also says Matthews wouldn’t run in the special election for the district.” Is Sam Liccardo and Chuck Reed suggesting she is working for free? I think not.

  3. Let me re-emphasize my earlier comment and my comments made to previous posting regarding this very issue.


    Call your city council-person and urge them to vote against this rushed appointment.

  4. Gotta say I agree with Rocha/Kalra (but god Rocha, fix these traffic issues in my corner of the district, I’m getting sick and tired of the log jam of cars over here, Kalra, show him how to get it done)

    Reed, Mayor Elect Liccardo,

    Do you guys really want a fight? I know the area and the people well. No offense to Matthews either. I don’t think voters are going to be too happy with an appointment (Even if it was Jesus). Can you squeeze any more money out of your supporters for this? Aren’t your “Warchests” empty by now?

    I’m presenting you with an absolutist argument. I think D4 constituents would fight against any kind of appointment. Put it to a special election.

    Sam, it’d be the right foot to start on.

  5. Jenn W;

    Here is a little more substance to augment your latest article.

    The political mathematics of the Reed / Liccardo putsch for the interim D4 appointment is the last ditch effort to control Council votes by the aforementioned duo.

    If the interim issue is resolved prior to Jan 1, 2015 here is how the votes may turn out.

    Here are the potential six (6) votes) for Council control. Reed, Constant, Herrera, Liccardo, Nguyen, usually see it the same way. Councilmember Johnny “come lately” Khamis seems to have joined the Reed camp followers.

    But, on January 1st @ one- second past midnight only; Mayor Liccardo, Councilmember Herrera and Councilmember Khamis will be left. This fact may change allegiances but; newbie Council members from D1, D3, D5, D7 will join the remaining veteran Council members Kalra, Rocha and Oliverio.

    This makes the interim appointment process more of a challenge for Mayor Liccardo than a “slam dunk” and perhaps this is the reason why the interim-appointment issue for D4 was rammed -down the public’s throat at the last Rules and Open Government Committee meeting on December 10, 2014.

    The interim appointment of Margie Matthews would be a mistake for a variety of reasons.

    The main reason to avoid appointing Margie Matthews is obvious, possible (and probable) political favoritism and or corruption of democratic processes. For example, with crony Susan Hammer on Mayor Liccardo’s transition team, the Hammer Theatre might just get a $1 Million dollar-a-year taxpayer subsidy to stay alive when the entity should die the same ignominious death suffered by the San José Repertory Theatre.

    And speaking of the accursed San José Repertory Theatre-who brought this boondoggle upon the taxpayers? Mr. James P. Reber hoisted this crap before the taxpayers. How did Hammer, Matthews (then Fernandez) vote on this issue?

    Further, the systematic bail-out of the Hammer Theatre issue is from an official city committee known as the Hammer Theatre Advisory Committee (HTAC).

    Hammer Theatre Advisory Committee: (Check out Advisory Committee Member Eva Terrazas- a former Hammer Senior aide. It was Hammer who waived Civil Service Testing for Council employees. Terrazas was one of them.)

    Minutes from the HTAC 12.09.14 meeting:

    related Memorandum: (Update on Hammer Theatre Reuse Activities and Public Process 11.18.2014)

    Since the interim appointment process received a “Sunshine waiver) check out: (Sunshine Reform Task Force)- again we see Margie Matthews and Eva Terrazas.

    Now back to Mr. James P. Reber the “founder of the flop” San José Repertory Theatre. Currently, Mr. Reber’s latest outrage is pushing the “Levitt Pavilion” scam for St. James Park-heavily supported by Mayor-elect Liccardo.

    So…if Margie Matthews is appointed, with Eva Terrazas snaking about on committees, how is she going to vote for the “Hammer Theatre” and “Levitt Pavilion” issues?

    Margie Matthews should remain in Mayor Reed’s past history and the City Of San José’s distant memories.

    Here are the links for tomorrow’s city council meeting on the D4 issue.

    Mayor Reed / Councilmember Liccardo’s joint Memorandum dated 12.05.14:

    Councilmember Kalra’s Memorandum dated 12.12.14:

    Councilmember Rocha’s Memorandum dated 12.12.14:

    Councilmember Liccardo’s Memorandum dated 12.15.14:

    There are several tons more of documents and related stories.

    Where is the congenitally worthless San José Mercury News on the Margie Matthews-Hammer-Terrazas issues?

    David S. Wall

  6. I can’t wait for 2016 when I retire and get the hell out of this mess. This USED to be a great place to work…

  7. People innately know politicians are unscrupulous, yet actual and obvious bias at City Hall gets little attention.

    Meanwhile, people see a Police Officer and immediately assume he/she has racial bias… It’s dominating the news even though most of the basis is built on fabrication and lies. What’s wrong with society? Prejudiced media and politicians giving them taxpayer kickbacks play a big role, but is the public at large really that simple-minded and pliable? Sad…

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