Santa Clara Waffles on Domestic Violence Resolution

Santa Clara got swept up in the NFL’s domestic violence controversy after city leaders were called out for watering down a resolution that would have taken a shot at their new business partners—the 49ers.

It started last week with a resolution proposed by Next Door, a San Jose-based nonprofit dedicated to helping victims of abuse. The group demanded that the team bench defensive lineman Ray McDonald until the case stemming from his August arrest on suspicion of domestic violence is resolved.

Next Door CEO Kathleen Krenek submitted a strongly worded statement to Santa Clara city officials last week, only to learn that she missed the deadline to place it on the next council agenda. Mayor Jamie Matthews, however, drafted a resolution of his own. The mayor’s proclamation echoed Krenek’s stance against domestic violence—minus any mention of McDonald.

This is what Krenek's original resolution looked like. And here's a link to Matthews' kinder, gentler version.

Krenek, who had spoken to reporters all month about keeping a close eye on the NFL as it deals with players caught up on domestic violence charges, told Phil Matier of the San Francisco Chronicle that she was disappointed in Matthews’ watered-down resolution.

“No Ray McDonald? I guess they don’t want to rock the boat with their new business partners,” she reportedly said, referring to the council’s approval of an $850 million loan to build the new Levi’s Stadium.

Krenek also vowed to bring a “show of force” to the council meeting. “I’m disappointed, but this is the best we are going to get,” she told Matier.

But sometime between Sunday and Tuesday’s council meeting, it looks like Krenek changed her mind. Just before the council met, she sent out a press release alleging that Matier had misquoted her.

“I’ve never known of a time where somebody took so many things out of context,” she told San Jose Inside. “He kept prodding me. I think he wanted there to be a controversy where there was none.”

During the council meeting, which you can watch here, Krenek speaks extemporaneously except for a moment when she reads off her notes, to explain why she changed her mind on the resolution. Krenek offers to “work with you,” she tells the council, promising to address the issue in the community.

Some people weren’t pleased. Council candidate Mohammed Nadeem spoke up, saying the resolution does not go far enough. Mayoral candidate and Levi’s Stadium critic Deborah Bress says she was a victim of domestic violence and thinks the council should take it a step further. Councilwoman Teresa O’Neil and her colleague Lisa Gillmor agreed, raising questions about why Next Door lost heart.

“I’ve had people who are ardent fans of the 49ers say to me that they are very disappointed that they haven’t come out and made a stronger statement, or taken action,” O’Neil said at the meeting. “The 49ers are our partner and I think we should be asking more from them."

The exchange wraps up when Patty Mahan comes out in support of Matthews’ resolution and promises to partner with Next Door to use city funds for public anti-violence education.

Krenek told San Jose Inside that, despite her earlier criticism, she welcomed the new, vaguer resolution because it broadened the issue.

“Everybody’s talking about Ray McDonald, but maybe it’s time to step back and look at how this affects our own community,” she said.

Her reasoning was very similar to Matthews'.

“Although the high-profile instances that have occurred in the NFL provided the opportunity for us to highlight the issue, the broader message is that it happens everywhere and there is nowhere that’s acceptable for it to occur,” he told San Jose Inside Wednesday. “By having a broader message, it’s more than just a news cycle or a single-story, it’s an affirmation of what should be every community’s commitment to address this issue and for our individual and collective responsibility to speak up and speak out when we know it’s occurring.”

It could be that Krenek felt pressured to comply with the mayor's wishes, considering her organization gets funding from the city, where it has run a shelter for the past 15 years.

For her part, Krenek says she's signed several petitions asking the 49ers to bench McDonald for the duration of his criminal investigation.

"I still think he needs to be banned," she said.

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


  1. The nfl is sending the wrong message to our youth and hurting wives, daughters, sisters and children…
    The NFL players in the article below are still playing even after being arrested for domestic violence…
    What does this say to our women and children?…What does it say about American morals?
    It is time to tell the nfl that placing greed before the welfare of women and children will not be tolerated in our society (nor will covering up such dispicable acts) … Boycott the nfl by boycotting all corporations that advertise during nfl games… Do it for your wives… do it for your sisters… do it for your daughters…do it for your children… do it for the morality of America. The NFL is a disgrace to the fabric of american morals and the human race… A money hungry morally corrupt monopoly played by millionaire wife/ child / animal abusers, rapist, steroid users, murderers and pretty boys who have hung up their jock straps for dresses while trying not to damage their million dollar peticures.The NFL (National Felons League) is damaging to the reputation of America and a shameful role model for our youth. It is time for a new football league to emerge so that we can end this corruption of American morals… called the NFL.

  2. Innocent until proven guilty applies only in the court system. When there is clear evidence, such as in the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases, lengthy suspension WITHOUT PAY should be automatic. I suggest a minimum of however many games are in a full season for the particular sport. Second offense—a lifetime ban from all professional sports. The NFL and the individual teams need not be constrained by constitutional issues that apply in the courts when the evidence is so clear. Suspensions in all cases should NOT depend on the effectiveness of a good, expensive criminal lawyer. But for all professional sports, it remains all about the money. Despite clear evidence, the Vikings let Peterson play, because he’s a draw. It’s all about the money. Only after a major sponsor, Radisson Hotels, threatened to pull its sponsorship did the Vikings do the right thing and suspend Peterson. That was all about the money. Hit them where it hurts! Everyone who is outraged by these acts of violence needs to write or email every sponsor of the involved teams and the NFL indicating they are boycotting their products and services, and do it, until the teams and the NFL do the right thing.

    • If a player wants to play, he has to comply with the drug testing policy. That’s part of what players have to agree to if they want to play professional football. There is nothing illegal or unconstitutional about that. To try to make someone abide by an edict when there was no prior agreement would probably be illegal though.

      I’m sure there will be a new policy soon that players and team owners will agree to. That new policy will almost certainly pay players accused of certain crimes to sit while “due process” takes place.

      A reasonable person would have to believe that the reason Ray McDonald is still playing is that the 49ers want Ray McDonald to play. Dollars to donuts the NFL would rather Ray McDonald NOT play now.

  3. I think members of the Santa Clara City Council are more worried about the way that the 49ers are playing than about Ray McDonald’s trouble with the law.

    I believe all the concern and unhappiness about traffic and parking is really a manifestation of unhappiness about the team’s on-the-field performance. It’s OK to complain about the traffic and parking when you’re paying an arm and a leg for tickets, but it’s not OK to complain about the team’s performance. That makes you look “unfaithful.” If the floundering continues, you will start hearing the complaining though. That’s what happens when you displace a bunch of loyal season ticket holders and replace them with those that can afford to pay an arm and a leg.

    So if for instance, the 49ers lose to the Eagles, you will get to hear people complain about traffic, parking, youth soccer, how the 49er’s aren’t worth the arm and leg it costs to see them, and how not having Ray McDonald on the field wasn’t going to matter anyway.

    If they bench Ray McDonald and lose, they lose because they’re doing the right thing. If they lose with Ray McDonald on the field, they have no excuses, and they haven’t done the right thing.

  4. S Randall opined: “To try to make someone abide by an edict when there was no prior agreement would probably be illegal though.” ILLEGAL? It’s attitudes like yours, Randall, that allow this violence to continue. You have the attitude of a team owner. Isn’t beating the sh*t out of someone illegal? Why does there need to be an “edict” that you don’t cold cock your wife or fiancée or beat your four year old kid with a switch in order for your team or the NFL to suspend you? It would never be “illegal” to suspend a player, but apparently you need to spell it out to the ghetto thug crowd in professional sports, or the union and Randall will come to their defense.

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