Team San Jose in Crisis

Team San Jose, the peculiar alliance of hoteliers, unions and city bureaucrats that runs the city’s entertainment and convention venues, is facing the biggest crisis in its short, contentious history.

Last Wednesday, finance chief Scott P. Johnson issued a report showing that the quasi-public entity overshot its budget by $750,000, and tangled its bookkeeping so badly that director Dan Fenton can’t even say exactly where the missing money went. Then on Monday, City Councilmember Sam Liccardo turned up the heat, asking city manager Deb Figone to dig into the hotel-tax-funded entity, which is run by Fenton and an executive committee including South Bay Labor Council boss Cindy Chavez.

Meanwhile, with the rest of the city reeling from massive budget cuts, Fenton took a little trip to Fort Lauderdale late last month to speak at a convention for the convention industry—the Destination Marketing Association International. As that organization’s outgoing chair, Fenton apparently needed the moral support of a large posse of Team San Jose staff members—he reportedly brought a half-dozen with him on the trip to the Sunshine State.

Ironically, Fenton was there to speak about how cities can attract tourism while dealing with disasters: “very public environmental and political issues (i.e. oil spills, floods, volcanic ash, travel boycotts, etc.).” He should have added financial scandals to the list. Word is that Fenton also did a tongue-in-cheek skit at the convention about his desperate need of a “make-over and re-branding,” considering Team San Jose’s reputation in the trade press, as Mayor Chuck Reed so delicately put it, as “a disaster in the industry.”

That comment came after Team San Jose was called on the carpet by a civil grand jury for its financial mismanagement—for the second time in three years.

Keri McLain, CEO of the local YWCA, is among those who are beyond frustrated with TSJ, to the point where she moved her organization’s annual fundraising luncheon from the McEnery Center to Santa Clara because she couldn’t afford TSJ’s rates. “As much as we wanted to stay in San Jose, we had the obligation to move,” McLain says, sounding apologetic.

Fenton, on the other hand, is chipper, according to a quote in the Biz Journal: “I continue to look at future opportunities to improve together,” he said. “We’re pleased to do it.”

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


  1. “I continue to look at future opportunities to improve together,”

    Is there a class that executive directors and politicians take to learn these bullsh*t phrases?

    • The kind of people who run this society give the impression that instead of saying, “Would you like something to drink?,” that they would favor the phrasing, “Would you like to incorporate a refreshing beverage into your lifestyle options?”

      I’m not sure what that says about them…but it ain’t good.  Politically Correct jargon, marketing & public relations blather, and human resources-derived claptrap should be banished from contemporary usage.  Perhaps people should respond to such talk with laughter?  A touch rude, perhaps, but it would probably end it quickly.

  2. Team San Jose has inadequately managed Convention Center for City of San Jose for many years requiring unknown to most public millions in bailouts and extra tax subsidies

    1) In 1st or 2nd year
    – TSJ made mistakes and poorly estimated costs and revenues typically called inadequate or poor management and did not communicate to city government problems with estimates or city contract

    – City management and contract staff inadequately administrated TSJ contract

    So Council told TSJ and city administration to work together to fix reporting and estimate problems but gave TSJ more millions

    2) In 3rd and 4th years TSJ gave monthly estimates to city management and contract staff but TSJ estimates were still off and Council was suprised again with request for more millions to TSJ

    Where is Team San Jose accountability for poor estimates and yearly asking city for more tax subsidies –

    FIRE Dan Fenton who poorly manages Team San Jose and comes back to city for millions each year in tax subsidies

    Fenton can “continue to look at future opportunities to improve together,” in some other city and
    another convention center FIRE FENTON


    – Fenton who TOOK and WASTED CITY TAXES then yearly asked for BAILOUTS
    –  City Contract Management who can NOT MANAGE CITY CONTRACTS and or grossly mismanaged TSJ contract for years

    San Jose will always have Structural Budget Crisis since COUNCIL


    • Dan Fenton made a Faustian bargain to create Team SJ.  In this case the Devil was Labor, led by Phaedra Ellis then and Cindy Chavez now.

      This assured Dan of getting the contract and maybe keeping his job today because Labor controls enough votes.  But Labor cannot manage anything, that’s why they’re called “labor”.  Just look at their track record on local politics recently.  And they drive up the cost so SJ loses customers.  It works only if no one knows what’s going on and the city council continues to subsidize this situation knowing that it was a flawed premise from the beginning.

      • Dan Fenton knew what he was getting when HE approached labor to form TSJ. You can’t blame labor for doing what they do. Dan Fenton set this whole thing up and he has lied to City Council every year. In his defense, City Council was completely complicit, until the budget when haywire.
        Dan Fenton has personally made over a million dollars since the formation of TSJ. This is obscene considering the huge number of people who were displaced from their jobs in the convention center and theaters. Fire him!

  3. Good Bye Dan and Good Riddance unless our

    Talk Big but Do Little Council lacks political backbone to fire Fenton and Team San Jose ( TSJ )

    which should have been more accurately named

    Tax Subsidized Jobs ( TSJ ) or Taxpaid Sweetheart Jobs

    • You forgot to mention that this song is sung in a round.

      Changing the director won’t change the system.  TSJ was always meant to give SBLC control of a tax stream, so that it could pay political assets with public funds.

      It has done that, and it will continue to do it as long as it exists.

  4. The TSJ and their allies aren’t worth the powder it would take to blow them to hell.  Of course, the same could be said for other organizations heavily subsidized by the city.  Those shall remain unnamed. lest I be attacked by the uber-lib PCr’s.

  5. Could someone tell me if money from this contract is in anyway going to pay Cindy Chavez’s salary that is somewhere north of $225,000. If that is the case, this is certainly worth a grand jury investigation because it’s a waste of taxpayer dollar big time my friends.

  6. What are Team San Jose Directors paid and do they get other benefits – trips, meals, mileage etc ?

    “As that organization’s outgoing chair, Fenton apparently needed the moral support of a large posse of Team San Jose staff members—he reportedly brought a half-dozen with him on the trip to the Sunshine State. “

    Who went on the Fort Lauderdale Destination Marketing Association trip and what did it cost ?

  7. > Keri McLain, CEO of the local YWCA, is among those who are beyond frustrated with TSJ, to the point where she moved her organization’s annual fundraising luncheon from the McEnery Center to Santa Clara because she couldn’t afford TSJ’s rates.

    It would seem to me that Team San Jose’s job is to get paying customers to actually USE the convention center rather than driving them to competing venues.

    Call me a tough grader, but I would give the TSJ Bozo’s an “F” for delivery on promises.

    Perhaps they should take a page from Joe DiSalvo’s and the public educrat’s playbook and demand a doubling of their budget to give them an incentive to try harder and deliver improved results.

        • Interestingly enough, the Santa Clara Convention and Visitors Bureau is largely made up of former San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau staff. They were displace, fired or resigned under Dan Fenton’s reign and they are all flourishing in Santa Clara…BTW they LOVE taking business from Fenton and will do so at any opportunity. See Dan, being a jerk has its’ consequences!

  8. Rather than have the two mid sized conventions centers compete against the other – have them cooperate to attract larger conventions together. The convention space would double attracting bigger events. They could certainly be “teched” together with sponsored communications and get this.
    there happens to be rail line that connects the two venues making for a unique place to have conventions, trolly car them together back and forth along North First w/ the hotels, resturants, etc providing many unique visitor options.
    this would create more business w/o having expensive site expansion.

    • Regionalism for competitive gain (south bay bookings versus SF or elsewhere) certainly makes sense.  Can we think outside the box (or the turf of our mini-fiefdoms and look at the larger good for the larger region?)

      This kind of reminds me of the SJSU Event Center built by student fees but then priced so high that no student group could use it.  Why?  Salaries, overhead and a business model that forgets that the building actually belongs to the taxpayers of the community (in this case the students.)

    • That will never happen: Dan’s ego would not allow it. More than 1/2 the Santa Clara CVB folks are people that Dan booted out. The guy is out of control: you only need to look at the parade of executives that Dan has booted out since TSJ started: Mike Ross, Jonathan Comacho, David Jones, Teresa Alvarado, Dan Cunningham, Jerry von Tress: the list is crazy and the City Manager really needs to look into the “non-disclosure” packages that were arranged for these people. But who is at the root of all this: Dan.

    • OhMyGawd!  An actual use for a trolley!

      But wouldn’t it be faster if the two venues were connected with the High Speed Rail?

      There must be SOME justification for building this anachronistic money-sucking turkey.

  9. Furthermore, could someone please justify the vas layoffs of loyal City of San Jose employees from the Convention Center yet Dan and his crew of Team San Jose Employees get lavish vacations with huge salaries? City workers loyal to the Convention Center, who actually know the “in’s & out’s” of what it takes to make a successfull event occur are let go after decades of service. I can’t wait to see Dan Fenton, that two faced liar, get his come-up-ends! Man that will be a day I know myself and many he’s screwed over and betrayed will enjoy!

  10. Team San Jose failures shield the real culprits in this fiasco from detection and accountability.

      First analyze how the Hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is used to fund Downtown Entertainment. Then analyze the “Art stabilization fund”. Then try to figure out why “a third party entity (TSJ) was given authority-by city contract over San Jose’s Civil Servants. Then ask, repeatedly, who was really “in charge” of this “side show”?

      Then start rembering the scandals involving the San Jose Reparatory Theatre. Then scratch off those “little grey cells” and try to remember what administration really started this funding scenario of extorting money from Hotels to set up revenue streams to fund the aforementioned nightmares. This “squeeze job” kills businesses.

      The justification is always the same diatribe, “It’s good for the city. It’s good for the Downtown”. What this story is all about is a “Treatise on Unjust Enrichment” for a very select few, including, dare I say, “Organized Crime..err..Organized Labor”, I do so dare. Meanwhile the taxpayer’s are bent over and made to “squeal like a pig”.

      But, let us stay in the present. The real culprits to this abject and continuously unabated failure associated with the NOTICE OF DEFAULT lies squarely in the lap of the Office of the City Manager.

      The Office of the City Manager oversees the Office of Economic Development. The work product of this entity, in my opinion, is likened to the manure ejected continuously and without warning from the rear end of a Bull. You don’t dare get to close. And “up close and personal” is what a City Manager is supposed to do when public funds are being bantered about. The City Manager has enormous resources to carry out simple accounting and business plan expenditures, in my opinion.

      OED has “direct and significant influence over TSJ”, thus a few questions; “What is OED’s responsibility for this mess? Are “heads going to be taken”? What about the Office of the City Manager? Is this fiasco enough for regime change”?

      Tomorrow at the “Rules and Open Government Committee”, his Honor, Councilmember Liccardo will be putting forth a detailed work plan request for the Office of the Auditor, (not that the Auditor needs any directional beacons here. The Auditors are superior beings. They are all honest, fearless and exceptional in what they do.) Councilmember Liccardo must be feeling some “guilty pains” since this mess occurred under his very nose in District 3 and while his butt cheeks were getting sore from all that bicycle riding from that “free Bicycle Tour of the Netherlands, gifted by a third party…And with his buddies at the Downtown Business Association also not profiting as they would like to be, everybody, including my favorite former Mayor and San Pedro Square, the developers and bankers associated with those “High Density Living Projects is going to come to Lord Jesus on this one.

      Also, don’t forget the cost of the airport’s $1.3 billion dollar expansion. Who wants to fly to San Jose for a convention? Not even a convention of toothless, blind, reefer smoking hookers from Holland would make this trip.

      Now to be fair and accurate, the employees of OED are very nice people. You would like every one of them as neighbors. As a matter of fact so are all the people in the Office of the City Manager. (I cannot speak as to the character of TSJ employees because I do not know them. I can give accurate testimony that the Director of TSJ shaved his moustache off, thereby materially changing his appearance.)

      Of course, why hasn’t the San Jose Mercury News done their job and integrated the aforementioned in a timely and complete manner to the public? This type of story is sure to sell newspapers. (Especially how San Jose hookers are “run off” the Downtown streets and wind up in the “select few” lounges in “preferred nightclubs. “Slap me, beat me and make me write bad checks.”)

          That’s enough for now. There is a lot more.

              Try to have some fun today!

                  David S. Wall

  11. TEAM SAN JOSE = City of San Jose’s FENTON GATE, A suicidal business venture between Corrupt City Leaders and just as equally Corrupt TSJ/CVB CEO Dan Fenton.  The City has some serious explaining to do when the Fed’s come to town asking about FENTON /TEAM SAN JOSE and the Taxpayer Money Trail.

  12. The reason it keeps getting deferred every week is so that us dumb taxpayers will forget about it, and the City will continue to funnel our money to Team San Jose. 

    Would any of you like to make $550,000 a year off of the City of San Jose as a salary and not have even be a City Employee or have to answer to where $750K has gone missing without even supplying the a single receipt as to the uses for the money.  Nice concept.

    This sort of reminds me of the City of Bell California, what a mess that is and we are heading the same direction… 

    Good Job Chucky!

  13. Fresh from the Council Agenda today.

    Response to Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury Report entitled “Should the City Council Continue to Subsidize Team San José’s Increasing Losses?”
    Attachment – Memo from mayor Reed and Councilmember Constant
    Recommendation: Approve the response to the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury Report entitled “Should the City Council Continue to Subsidize Team San José’s Increasing Losses?” CEQA: Not a Project, File No.PP10-069(a), Staff Reports/Assessments/Annual Reports/Information Memos. Council District 3. (Economic Development)
    (Deferred from 8/24/10 – Item 3.2 and 9/14/10 – Item 3.2)

  14. Comic relief, anyone? The Health Trust is raising 18 million to bring fluosilicic acid (from Cargill Fertilizer’s smoke stacks) to our tap water.  It’s “for the poor children’s teeth”.

    From the California Dental Association Executive Bulletin, January 12, 2010:

    “Specifically, ADA granted CDA $200,000 to assist in our effort to prevent the placement of “fluoride and its salts” on the List of Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity that is produced by the State of California, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).  The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65) requires the governor to publish this list of toxic chemicals each year.  OEHHA is currently considering fluoride and its salts for inclusion in the Proposition 65 listing.  A determination is expected within the next 13 months.”

    Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer) and Fluoridation

    Cohn (1992).  The New Jersey Department of Health conducted a study of osteosarcoma occurrence in seven Central New Jersey counties.  The study finds a statistically significant relationship between fluoridated water and osteosarcoma among males less than 20 years old. 

    Bassin (2006) Above age-specific work published in Cancer Causes and Control 17: 421-8.  Among boys less than age 20 who consumed water with 0.3 to 0.99 ppm fluoride between ages 6-8, the risk of osteosarcoma was five times greater than for boys drinking nonfluoridated water.  At 1 ppm or more, the risk was seven times greater. 

    Takahashi K et al.  (2001) Journal of Epidemiology Vol. 11, No. 4 July.  From the abstract:
    Age-specific and age-standardized rates (ASR) of registered cancers for nine communities in the U.S.A. (21.8 million inhabitants, mainly whites) were obtained from IARC data (1978-82, 1983-87, 1988-92).  About 24 sites of the body (ICD) were associated positively with flluoridated water (FD).  Cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, colon and rectum, hepato-billiary and urinary organs were positively associated with FD.  This was also the case for bone cancers in males. The likelihood of fluoride acting as a genetic cause of cancer requires consideration. 

    New Scientist Jan. 22, 1981.
    Hydrogen bonding is a weak interaction that holds molecules together.  They make and break easily and this is what makes them so versatile – indeed the hydrogen bonds formed between amides (the links between amino acids) are the most important weak hydrogen bonds in biological systems.  That these can be disrupted by fluoride in the formation of much stronger bonds may explain how the chemically inert fluoride ion could interfere in the healthy operation of living systems.  Thus some of the serious charges that are being laid at its door – genetic damage, birth defects, cancer and allergy response – may arise from fluoride interference after all.

    Hip Fracture and Fluoridation
    Fluoride is incorporated more readily into mineralizing new bone rather than existing bone. Thus, adults retain about 50 percent of ingested fluoride whereas infants and children retain 87 percent.  When fluoride substitutes the hydroxyl ion in the crystal lattice of bone, it makes bone more brittle and diminishes tensile strength. The link between fluoridated water and hip fracture was found in nine published studies.

    Fluoridated Water and the Brain
    Varner JA et al.  Brain Research 784, 284-298 (1998).  Twenth-seven rats were divided into three groups and for one year were given either distilled water, distilled water with 2.1 ppm NaF – the same concentration of fluoride normally used in fluoridated drinking water – or distilled water with 0.5 ppm AlF3.  In both treated groups, the aluminum levels in the brain were elevated relative to controls.  Both treated groups also suffered neural injury and showed increased deposits of B-amyloid protein in the brain, similar to those seen in humans with Alzheimer’s disease.  “While the small amount of ALF3 …required for neurotoxic effects is surprising, perhaps even more surprising are the neurotoxic effects of NaF” at 2.1 ppm, the authors write. 

    Chronic Kidney Disease and Fluoridation
    The kidneys are exposed to significant amounts of fluoride as they try to eliminate it from the body.  At risk of retaining harmful levels of fluoride are the 16.8 % of U.S. population aged 20 years and over who have Chronic Kidney Disease (2004 NHANES). 

    Auge, K.  Denver Post Medical Writer.  The Denver Post, April 13, 2004. 
    (Note: Denver, CO has been fluoridated since 1954.)
      “Sippy cups are the worst invention in history. The problem is parents’ propensity to let toddlers bed down with the cups, filled with juice or milk.  The result is a sort of sleep-over party for mouth bacteria,” said pediatric dentist Dr. Barbara Hymer as she applied $5,000 worth of silver caps onto a 6-year-old with decayed upper teeth.  Dr. Brad Smith, a Denver pediatric dentist estimates that his practice treats up to 300 cases a year of what dentists call Early Childhood Caries.  Last year, Children’s Hospital did 2,100 dental surgeries, many of which stemmed from the condition, Smith said, and it is especially pervasive among children in poor families.

    Shiboski CH et al.  The Association of Early Childhood Caries and Race/Ethnicity Among California Preschool Children. J Pub Health Dent; Vol 63, No 1, Winter 2003.
      Among 2,520 children, the largest proportion with a history of falling asleep sipping milk/sweet substance was among Latinos/Hispanics (72% among Head Start and 65% among non-HS) and HS Asians (56%). Regarding the 30% and 33% resultant decay rates respectively; Our analysis did not appear to be affected by whether or not children lived in an area with fluoridated water.

    [email protected] (408) 297-8487   Fluoride Action Network –