The Real Conspiracy

The Real Conspiracy

The interesting thing about all of the rumors and attacks from my opponent and the incumbent-supported candidates is that no one is denying the issues created by the current council majority block.

None of the incumbent-supported candidates are defending the high salaries of the city manager and her assistants.

None deny that they supported measures and lawsuits to limit minority voice.

And none are explaining why the relationship with the ‘49ers is so bad.

My opponent made a few weak assertions about the nature of the districts and the unwillingness of the ‘49ers to come to the table, but she was provably wrong on both, and those statements stopped (I hope).

Now my opponents are stating, falsely, that I want to do away with the stadium curfew, but nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, not only would I keep the current curfew, I would raise the fine for breaking curfew. People would be shocked to know that the current fine is about $1000.

Not only did the critics, or their supporters, not fact-check the information they have been spreading, they will not even discuss how much the city is losing out with the current council’s management. But that is kind of their point now, isn’t it? And the revelation at the end of this post will give you an idea of how deep, and how far back, that disinformation campaign goes.

The only other point they seem to try to get people to know about is Jed York’s independent expenditures, and that literally has nothing to do with us, other than we are who the ‘49ers favor over the incumbent-backed candidates. The crux of their argument seems to be that support from an external group would color our independent thinking and make us pawns of our supporters.

That certainly says quite a bit about them, doesn’t it? I am not swayed by money, and my supporters know that my value is in my rational and independent thinking. But the incumbents seem to feel beholden to the people that give them money and support. And looking at their decisions historically, that is consistent with the way they have voted.

Fact: I have not taken a single cent from special interest groups or partisan organizations, including the ‘49ers. Not now, not ever. I did not even accept endorsements from any special interest groups or partisan organizations. 

Fact: Teresa O’Neill and the incumbents have ALWAYS taken money from special interest groups and have ALWAYS been endorsed by partisan organizations. In a non-partisan race, no less.

Fact: The news organizations that support me include The Mercury News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper that is one of the Bay Area’s largest and oldest news sources.

Fact: The only news sources Teresa O’Neill and the special interest groups who support her reference is a “news” site run by the City’s PR consultant and a blog site run by a Gillmor shill — seemingly set up at the behest of Teresa O’Neill. The last link is pretty important. It is a little bit of a read, but it is well worth it, especially if you follow the links in the article itself.

Here is an important part of the article:

Back in 2016 Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilmember Teresa O’Neill were actively looking for a captive news channel and proposed the project to fired Weekly employee Robert Haugh, according to texts in The Weekly’s possession. [Texts]
“Teresa and Lisa are going to take me to lunch sometime next week to discuss news in Santa Clara and ideas how there could be another news medium digital based,” Haugh texted in September 2016.

The Silicon Valley Voice; https://www.svvoice.com/santa-clara-spin-docs-fingerprints-on-questionable-news-site/

If you read the article, Sam Singer seems to be a person in the middle of all of this mess, but the black hole everything seems to be drawn to is Lisa Gillmor herself. Someone recently shared this link on social media: https://www.reddit.com/r/santaclara/comments/j8zssb/cant_run_from_the_past/

Just as interesting is the link in the post. Evidently, the Gillmors had plans for a stadium in Santa Clara years before it came up in the city itself.

Gary and Lisa Gillmor are advocates for building a professional football stadium near Great America. They disagree with critics who say their support is motivated by the boost in property values a sports complex could bring. Gary Gillmor owns three office buildings on De La Cruz Boulevard. Lisa and her siblings own a supermarket on Lawrence Expressway worth more than $3 million, in addition to two apartment buildings on Lewis and Monroe Streets. All properties are about five miles away from the proposed stadium site.

MetroActive article from 12 September 2007; http://www.metroactive.com/metro/09.12.07/coverstory-0737.html

Are the independent candidates supported by the independent expenditures of Jed York in the pockets of the ’49ers? No. Are the ’49ers trying to create or engage in new conspiracies for Santa Clara? No. The only conspiracy in Santa Clara seems to be the one that has always been here.

On Representation

My opponent has stated:

“As important as civil rights are to all of us, I don’t for a second believe that is Jed’s motivation. He cares about being able to use Levi’s Stadium to further enrich himself and not be accountable to the people of Santa Clara.”

Teresa O’Neill, in a letter to residents

She is likely pointing to the fact that the ’49ers helped defeat the council majority-backed Measure C earlier this year. What she is not saying is that she speaks publicly about supporting minority rights, yet backed the two measures that would have limited the voices of under-represented minorities and supported fighting the CVRA lawsuit that brought minority representation to the city council for the first time in the history of Santa Clara. Rather than fight CVRA, she could have simply helped legislate changes that were compatible with CVRA guidelines and saved the city from fighting two lawsuits that will likely cost in excess of $5 million. She says many things in favor of representation, but she does not do anything to back up her words. She may say nice things, but she does the WRONG thing.

On civil rights, I was surprised myself when the ‘49ers came out supporting minority representation and opposed Measure C, which would have limited minority voting groups, earlier this year. We can question their motives, but they did the RIGHT thing.

I could just as easily paraphrase that, “as important as civil rights are to all of us, I don’t for a second believe that is Teresa O’Neill’s motivation. She cares about being able to use Santa Clara to further enrich her council majority bloc and not be accountable to the people of Santa Clara.” Actions speak louder than words.

On Independent Expenditures

tl;dr

  • I am not working with any special interests, nor have I accepted money from any organization of any type, unlike my opponent.
  • My opponent and her council majority bloc will not even sit at the table with Jed York to negotiate a deal more favorable for Santa Clara.
  • Independent expenditures in support of me or against my opponent are an indictment of the poor handling of the stadium, not proof of collusion or “selling out”.

The council majority bloc were the biggest backers of the ‘49ers, and Measure J which brought the stadium to the city. For example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57F4_X2PIJU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwxwFLbJO0k

They went to ‘49ers events. They worked with the ‘49ers on advertisements. They bought season tickets to ’49ers games.

People need to remember that I fought the stadium coming to Santa Clara from before the inception of Measure J. I spoke out against the stadium at city council, commission, and committee meetings, and helped campaign against Measure J when it was introduced. I spoke in favor of allowing residents to re-vote when the terms of the deal changed. But the measure passed, a motion to re-vote was never approved, and the stadium in Santa Clara is the reality we have to deal with. That means the hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, parking issues, traffic, closed bicycle trail, and messy event management, including curfew.

But the stadium is not the problem by itself. Poor stadium management that does not provide the maximum benefit for Santa Clara is the problem. Terms less favorable for our city, yet originally negotiated and backed by much of the council majority bloc, are the problem. A council majority bloc that will not sit at the table to renegotiate those terms for the better benefit of Santa Clara is the problem. And that is the issue that the council majority bloc is avoiding, wagging the dog of big independent expenditures.

The fact that the ‘49ers organization would support historically anti-stadium candidates like me shows the problems with their relationship with the council. This is the first time in history the council majority bloc finds themselves on the losing side of independent expenditures. This is not me, or any other candidate, “selling out” to the ‘49ers, it is an indictment of the poor business relationship the council majority bloc has with one of the most important business partners in the city, and their inability to negotiate with them. The stadium needs to be treated as an asset to the city, regardless if it is used for football events or not, but the council majority bloc cannot seem to understand this. We need the stadium to make more money. And we need the city to get as much of that money as possible to pay off our loans and benefit the residents.

I am an independent candidate. I am not endorsed by special interests or partisan organizations, and I have not taken money from any of them, unlike my opponent and her council majority slate. I am not in collusion with Jed York or his organization and have not — and will not — accept money from them. I could not be bought by the council majority bloc when they asked me to support the stadium almost ten years ago, and I cannot be bought by any organization today. I am transparent in my civic work and operate as a resident with a family that needs the city to be successful for their sake. Most importantly, I am open-minded and fair. I will work with any city partner to seek solutions that benefit everyone, because it is the city that reaps the benefits of any local success. And it is this last point that seems to have caught Jed York’s attention.

My opponent claims that it is the ‘49ers that will not engage in conversation, yet Vice Mayor Karen Hardy and Council member Raj Chahal, who are not part of the council majority bloc, seem to have no problems meeting with the ‘49ers on a regular basis. The current majority bloc will not even sit at the negotiating table, yet claim that they are making progress in the management of the stadium. This progress amounts to suing the ’49ers and trying to gain more control of stadium management. People do not realize that the city council acts as Stadium Authority as well. The council majority bloc could not come up with a deal favorable for the city and have a terrible record with management, which all makes sense because what kind of experience do the current council members have with managing a billion dollar stadium? This is not the same as negotiating a business transaction, it is a relationship with an organization that makes a billion dollars per year. We need better people, and I would ensure that we get them: people who know about stadium management.

The questions of “why do the ‘49ers want to renegotiate their rent”, “why do they want to use our soccer fields for parking”, and others should really be replaced with: Why did the City of Santa Clara, including the council majority bloc, negotiate such a bad deal, with not enough parking, not enough amenities, and the option for the ‘49ers to request rent reductions? With a good relationship, we could get the amount we are suing the ’49ers for every year, with benefits to both sides. They clearly have the money. We need to find a way of using that money to benefit the city instead of funding campaigns, but it is clear that until the council changes over to more rational and positive thinkers this will not happen.

While some council members may claim that there was nothing that could be done as the negotiations were mostly complete before their time, or that they were not necessarily in support of Measure J, I will point out that they had the better part of EIGHT YEARS to establish a relationship with ‘49ers and sit at the negotiating table with them, for the benefit of the City of Santa Clara. They do not seem to understand business or the importance of teamwork, and that is hurting our city.

And that is the real issue with the ’49ers and their independent expenditures.

There are no opposition candidates in the pockets of big money, there are no sell-outs or conspiracies here. There is just a player that is finally bigger, and more involved, than the people who back the status quo, and that is only a problem to the status quo. They want this change. Santa Clara needs this change.

On Term Limits

I recently took some questions on my comments about my opponent’s campaign for “an unprecedented third term in a row”. This was actually one of the major reasons I ran; if Teresa had backed up what she said in 2016, this race would likely have very different people running in it. Although many of the questions are recent, I addressed this issue quite a while ago. Now it seems worthwhile to make that public.

From an e-mail sent by her former treasurer on 30 September 2020 at 00:39 in the morning:

“The incumbent in District 4 is running for an unprecedented third term in a row,”

Please explain this part of your Facebook page, after considering Patty Mahan’s terms in office. It’s OK for Mahan to bounce around for decades by switching seats but not someone else?? How is this “unprecedented” given Mahan’s history shown below? I thought you had more integrity than to play those games. And if you are going to play those games, then you must admit that Teresa’s not running for seat SEVEN again (since there are now only six seats) which would still invalidate the claim. Can you please explain what’s so “unprecedented” now?

I think he actually means my website as opposed to my Facebook page, but that is beside the point. My response was as follows:

Patty Mahan is an interesting case. If you recall, she and I had a rather contentious relationship in council. I routinely spoke out against her and routinely opposed her elections. I can state that I have never supported a Patty Mahan campaign and that I have instead supported people running against her in every election she participated in that I was a voter. Her tenure is pretty impressive. And was allowed by the charter prior to the charter amendment. While long, it was not something she had to defend.

Teresa O’Neill’s case is different, both in spirit and in letter. She was on the council when the recommendations and subsequent change in term limits were made. The measure set a lifetime term limit (two terms), and it was likely Patty Mahan’s example that instigated the change. But the change came with a loophole.

Teresa has stated on several occasions that she believed in term limits. She left the school board after her terms because of this stated belief, to allow new people like Noellani Sallings to participate. On the loophole, Teresa seemed to be very clear:

“Council Member Teresa O’Neill said that she hoped current and former Council Members would honor the spirit of this law.”

https://www.svvoice.com/city-hall-observer-july-27-2016/

And now she is the first to use that loophole without any uncertainty or doubt. Why do you think her case is the same as Patty Mahan’s?

The fact that the names of the seats changed, a requirement by our change to districts, does not change the people who are in the seats. I voted for the term limits explicitly to oppose the kind of “recycling” we had been experiencing. I do not believe anyone would have accepted that a change to the seat numbering would have invalidated a term. But now you seem to be saying it does. Teresa does not seem to mind. Who is playing games here? Who is the one that lacks integrity?

I never supported the loophole and spoke out against it many times. The explanation for the loophole was to “avoid potential lawsuits with former councilmembers who could sue the city”. I do not support frivolous lawsuits, but this seemed like a potential that would play unfavorably to anyone that wanted to sue the city and run for a third term — or more — in the city.

The interesting thing is that I never made my disagreements with Patty Mahan personal, and now she is a big supporter of my campaign. Her last term, dealing with her health and a toxic city council that moved to censor both her and Councilmember Pat Kolstad for standing up to the council majority bloc, showed how much she supported the City of Santa Clara. We did not always agree. But Santa Clara was always the subject of the conversation. And on that we both agreed, and agree to this day. History will show, stains and all, that it was Patty that was a true daughter of Santa Clara, not a council majority bloc voting in unison to repress the citizens.

With Teresa O’Neill, it seems her first disagreement starts with herself.

On the 2018 Districting Process

It seems that my opponent and I remember the 2018 Districting process a little differently. Actually, “remember” is a bit of a misnomer, because my “memory” involves quite a bit of going back to my notes and the presentations given during those meetings. I will link files as I refer to them, because I do save every one.

Contrary to my opponent’s statements, one of the concerns the city demographer had was indeed keeping then-current city council members in separate districts. This was a common topic of discussion from city council when coming up with district criteria to give the court, and it was a common point brought up by the demographer herself when discussing the maps that were submitted. You can see her references to this in slide 7 of her presentation to the districting committee on 3 July 2018 and again when considering the final maps on 5 July 2018 (see slide 2). The separation of existing council members into their own districts is a reason map option 3 was accepted. For my opponent to say that this was not a consideration is not only false, but would have been against the council’s — and the court’s — criterion.

I went to every districting committee meeting, as well as city council meetings relating to districting and Measure A. I was deeply involved, and participated in every public event and exercise that was made available. I spoke out on many occasions and presented to both committees and council. I gave presentations on districts and provided an analysis of the map options at the Santa Clara Citizens Advisory Committee. I attended every court meeting during the CVRA lawsuit in San Jose from before the verdict through the end of the remediation phase (in fact, I sat next to the city demographer for every meeting she attended).

There were many issues with the districting process itself, from the makeup of the committee to the process created by the demographer the city hired, Jeanne Gobalet. We verified problems with the committee members when at least one was recycled to be on a subsequent Charter Review committee, again addressing the issue of districts, but seemingly without any of the knowledge gained from previous experience. The problems with some of the process I detailed in my submissions to the city, some of which you can see here: 20180705-DistrictingSubmission-KevinPark. I will sum up my points below.


The “tools” Gobalet provided for the public were rudimentary at best: a spreadsheet that few people could understand, and one that contained a number of errors when initially presented. In fact, there were only three residents who submitted maps — note that all residents were from technical fields — which was a disappointment because there were a few other residents who would have liked to have submitted maps if they could have understood the process better. This was a distinct departure from other cities, like Menlo Park (in English and Spanish! [local copy]), which had easier-to-comprehend online tools provided to residents. You can get a copy of Gobalet’s original 6-district spreadsheet, or my modified spreadsheet for 7 districts.

It was obvious that the pieces, and the tool, were designed for the 2-district maps used for Measure A earlier in 2018 and modified for 6 districts. The fact that minimal changes were made to both pieces and tools contributed to the initial errors in the tool and the inadequacy of the pieces when going to 6 districts. From my submission:

There seems to be some work done to create additional pieces since the last districting committee meetings earlier this year (there are an additional five pieces created by splitting some of the original 31 pieces, for a total of 36 pieces in the most recent Pieces map). It would have been nice to have also spent time dividing the most populous areas into smaller pieces as well, especially since the definition of more districts essentially requires an increase in the “resolution” of each area with respect to population. Perhaps a guideline stating that each piece should contain no more than some number (on the order of (total_population / number_of_districts) / pieces_desired_for_each_district, where pieces_desired_for_each_district is at least 3​) people/CVAP.

This may be largely due to the time frames involved (short, as there was an election in just a few months time and a nomination period that was already in progress), but the process, and push, certainly did not give the residents of this city their due. Why was improper preparation of pieces such a big issue? From my submission:

While the “pieces” data may have seemed sufficient to split the city into two parts, we can see with just a little bit of work that they are not sufficient when considering six and especially seven districts. If we try to make seven districts with the pieces Dr. Gobalet defined, Piece #17 has to stand on its own and adjacent pieces are often too populated to be combined. This is similarly true with six districts. I tried to work off of the block data, but it is unlikely that I will finish or that Dr. Gobalet can validate such a submission within the timeframe.

Even with six districts, the size of the pieces obviates several groupings once a single district is created. When creating an initial group based on the districting criteria (namely: Topography; Geography; Cohesiveness; contiguity, integrity, & compactness of territory; and “Communities of interest”), the other districts tend to define themselves once you try to meet the population deviation guidelines. This is why so many attempts look almost exactly, if not exactly, like Dr. Gobalet’s original drafts.

Consider Piece #17 alone and you will see that there are only a few options with six districts — and, as mentioned above, only one possible option with seven districts.​ This is largely true of Piece #28 as well.​ In fact, Piece #17’s population alone deviates more than 2100 between the 2010 census and 2017 estimates.

While there seems to be some freedom with the large pieces that contain fewer people (see District 2 in Draft Plan1 and District 1 in Draft Plan 2), that is a false hope that does not help balance the numbers or improve representation.

Gobalet’s admission that she, as a professional demographer, could not think of how to break up Piece 17 in any way other than along main thoroughfares — and did not see this as an issue when coming up with the 6-district tool — was disappointing to say the least, and doubly so when we were able to meet additional demographers and experts in court and take a look at their maps. Their maps more-closely resembled the heat maps that defined minority areas, and it was clear how their districts tried to keep communities intact. Gobalet’s maps looked like they could be 6-piece toddler puzzles. Her biggest problem with the plaintiff maps? The plaintiff’s maps looked “gerrymandered”. When asked to explain the gerrymandering she saw:

“I don’t know what gerrymandering is, but I know it when I see it.”

Jeanne Gobalet, court testimony during the 2018 CVRA lawsuit

It is unfortunate that we were not allowed to record the court proceedings, as there was quite a bit of eye-opening discussion. But we can see and hear what the city demographer said in council and committee meetings. In addition to not being able to create a good basis for the maps the public was supposed to create, she was not entirely truthful as to the splitting of precincts in court, which her pieces also did to her own admission in a council meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHrE5v1bAlQ&t=7450

We deserve better districts for better representation in Santa Clara. We deserve council members who will do more than give lip service, but actively take notes on major issues before them and make changes that are consistent with what they say. That is why we need change.

Kathy’s World

Kathy Watanabe is the incumbent running in District 1. I am running in District 4. So why am I writing? It is concerning when a candidate in another race can stifle discussions in public forums for everyone.

Anyone who has seen Kathy in council would question her readings of the packets, and certainly any knowledge she would have gained from the discussions, as she routinely ignores much of the input and moves along with the majority bloc agenda, as if incapable of processing new information. Her participation in the candidate forums has not done anything to improve her optics, and now it is the capabilities of her supporters to process this information that I am concerned about. The fact she is unwilling to participate in open discussions without knowing the questions in advance, or without having to address — let alone defend — the issues that have happened on the current council’s watch, has affected every “forum” she participates in, and every candidate response. It seems that she can only ignore issues in council chambers.

She does not seem able to answer questions on her own with any prompts, cannot seem to address current city issues, and has outright refused to participate in candidate meetings that did not follow her ground rules. At the Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce’s Santa Clara Business Council forum, Kathy stopped the proceedings even before she began, chastising the moderator and reminding him that she had set the terms for the meeting: https://www.facebook.com/SVCChamber/videos/3472318039478235/ (around 4 minutes in).

The closest her opponent Harbir Bhatia had gotten to a direct attack on Kathy seems to be:

“My opponent proposed and supported the reduction and removal of the Visitors Bureau, which brought in $130,000,000 of economic benefit. But ’til this year we still don’t have another one and we’re paying $500,000 still without a new Visitors Bureau.”

Harbir Bhatia, candidate, District 1

Kathy shut the moderator down when it was her turn to introduce herself:

“I have my reservations, Christian, because we have discussed this. I have already provided the ground rules. And if this is any indication of what this is going to be like, then I refuse to participate because this is not what I was told this was going to be about. This is about questions and answers and statements, not attacks.”

Kathy Watanabe, incumbent, District 1

What an introduction. But it was not new; she did a similar thing at the Stonewall Democrats’ interview: (link forthcoming)

So now every forum allows her to read her responses, without having to deviate to respond to issues or comments brought up in the discussions. Actually, “discussions” is the wrong word, because they are essentially readings or recitations of public statements. And every other participant has to follow suit. This makes it harder for candidates in other races to bring up issues or respond as well, even in their own races.

Kathy is just reading.

Every other candidate seems to be able to handle comments about current issues and statements that support or oppose candidate stances. But not Kathy. The fact that her supporters are okay with this kind of behavior and level of representation has me concerned about the residents in her district as well.

Kathy could at least read with a little more emotion.

As an engineer, when am I worried about the quality of a product? When the demo team only allows the product to be seen from one viewpoint, or the interactions are controlled by the product team. When every in-person interaction can be replaced with a video, the question we have to ask is: What are they hiding?

Donations

Thank you to all who have donated. I do not take money from special interests and am endorsed only by individuals and non-partisan organizations. This makes every donation from residents important to me.

My 460 forms will show you all of my contributions and expenditures, and I have always put 30% of my own money into every campaign.

Please share your support with others and ask them to join the campaign!

Sincerely,
Kevin++

I am running for Santa Clara City Council District 4

Kevin Park

And check out my Campaign Page on Facebook!


It has been a while since I have been in the public spotlight, but it seems that there is still a need, and I have even more reasons to want to improve my city. When the job is not getting done, and when hope for solutions dims with every city council meeting, someone has to step up.

This time there are four people. Check out Suds Jain, Harbir Bhatia, and Anthony Becker as well.

The incumbent in District 4 is running for an unprecedented third term in a row, after supporting term term limits, but allowing a provision that zeroed out her served time.

No more excuses. No more frivolous lawsuits. No more unnecessary spending of taxpayer money. No more unilateral decisions by people who should know better, but evidently do not.

Let us bring the people back into the city discussions, and remind the majority voting block what democracy really means.

Development versus Planning versus Vision

One of the biggest complaints about the city is development. Whether you think the projects are too big, too small, focused too little on retail and commercial, focused too little on housing, or located poorly, one thing is clear: development is being done with a lack of vision, and against our plan.

This is the General Plan Phase II diagram.

This is the Approved and Pending projects list from Appendix J of the Santa Clara Gateway Village project.

This is list of Residential and Residential Mixed-Use Developments from July 2016.

This is the list of Residential and Residential Mixed-Use Projects for the last four years.

Note how many of the projects changed their zoning to PD (Planned Development) or High-Density Residential development, and how many mixed-use projects went to 100% housing.

Note the numbers of housing units.

Then look at where the projects are going. How many of them are on El Camino Real, or smaller streets? This happened in the last four years. The situation has actually gotten WORSE.

I am not against more housing. I am not against higher-density housing. I am against bad planning, or the lack of planning altogether.

Look at the General Plan map; it represents the plan for our city for the next 10 years. But by focusing on only housing in areas designated for mixed-use, we’ve pushed out the markets, restaurants, and stores that bring balance to our city by providing resources for the people who live here. These are the same markets, restaurants, and commercial areas that the council used to justify the high-density housing in the first place.

People on council say they want people to walk and use bicycles more, while we remove needed shops and make people travel farther. We say that “The Mission City” represents a lifestyle and a community, as we break down the neighborhoods by putting high-density housing, and just housing, in the middle of single-family communities.

I will repeat: Let us restore vision, emphasizing planning over mere development, to create new communities with homes and families while preserving the nature of existing neighborhoods. Let us return focus on infrastructure, including streets, sewers, and open space, so that future generations of Santa Clarans will have room to grow and reasons to stay.