Santa Clara City Council again postpones decision on 49ers settlement offer

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The Santa Clara City Council held an acrimonious town hall meeting on Tuesday, disappeared behind closed doors for more than 2 1/2 hours and ultimately failed to vote on the San Francisco 49ers’ bid to settle the mining lawsuit. by the Levi’s Stadium team.

The next day, Mayor Lisa Gillmor said council had only received details of the proposal just before their meeting and had “no time to even consider all of the impacts”. A 49ers spokesperson disputed Gillmor’s timing, saying city officials had been discussing the deal with the team for three months.

Earlier on Tuesday, the open portion of the City Council meeting turned hostile and confrontational – notably pitting longtime 49ers critic Gillmor against Anthony Becker, who has historically supported the team on stadium issues (and who opposes Gillmor in November election). Becker is one of three board members who were elected in November 2020 with the help of $2.9 million in donations from 49ers CEO Jed York.

One of the central issues at stake Tuesday was whether the board should discuss the team’s settlement offer in open session, for the public to hear. Gillmor made that argument, pointing out that the 49ers shared details of their proposal with some media outlets earlier this month.

Becker responded angrily, saying he wondered if he ‘lived on a planet called hypocrisy’, alleging Gillmor leaked information to the media and citing Acting City Attorney James Sanchez’s suggestion not to discuss of the 49ers’ offer in open session. Becker also accused Gillmor of “political theater” for his opposition to the settlement.

“Your accusations are baseless and inaccurate,” Gillmor replied.

Board member Kathy Watanabe, another longtime 49ers critic, introduced a motion to debate the team’s offer in open session and request an independent analysis of the terms “in the interest of transparency and fair play.” public confidence”. The move lost 4-2, with Becker, Sudhanshu “Suds” Jain, Karen Hardy and Kevin Park opposing and Gillmor and Watanabe supporting. (Raj Chahal was absent due to a family emergency, according to Gillmor.)

A petition posted on change.org also sought to garner support to “discuss the deal in public” and for “independent experts” to evaluate the 49ers’ proposal. The petition had 236 signatures as of 8 p.m.

Last week, the 49ers sent a letter to acting city manager Rajeev Batra in which they made their “last and best offer” to settle the lawsuits. The team claimed the deal would result in $13 million in benefits for the city, but a Chronicle analysis found the offer included a cash payment of just $1.35 million to Santa’s general fund. Clara.

Most of the $13 million cited by the team was based on assumptions about how much money the city might save or get from other sources if the lawsuits were settled, as The Chronicle previously reported.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Gillmor raised the question of whether any action taken by the board could later become “null and void” if a state ethics investigation uncovers wrongdoing by Chahal and Hardy. They are facing an investigation for allegedly accepting illegal gifts from the 49ers.

Former city attorney Brian Doyle filed a complaint against Chahal and Hardy on Aug. 1 with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Doyle’s complaint claims that the two council members received football tickets worth well over the $520 limit imposed on officials.

The tickets were “all-access” passes to a 49ers-Rams game in November 2021. Chahal and Hardy also failed to report receiving the gifts as required by law, Doyle argued; Chahal defended his attendance at the game, saying he was there for an “operational tour”.

Sanchez, the acting city attorney, did not offer a definitive answer to Gillmor’s question about how the state’s investigation might impact a city council decision on the settlement offer. .

Before the meeting became tense, most public comments were in favor of the 49ers’ proposal. Several people used language nearly identical to one of the team’s recent Facebook ads, imploring the citizens of Santa Clara to encourage the council to “end the lawsuits and protect concerts and other live events at the stadium.” “.

Many speakers echoed this point, although Gillmor later explained that the two issues are unrelated. She said concerts and other live events were “never risky”.

“We want what was promised and we want what the city is owed,” Gillmor said of the lawsuit.

Ron Kroichick is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and Lance Williams is a freelance writer. Email: [email protected] and [email protected] Twitter: @ronkroichick and @LanceWCIR.

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