DA Dismisses Complaints Against Mayor
Story by Carolyn Schuk
The Santa Clara District Attorney has dismissed complaints against Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor that allege Brown Act and conflict of interest violations. The complaints were filed on Sept. 29, 2016.
The first complaint alleged that Gillmor privately lobbied individual Council Members to appoint her Mayor in Feb. 2016 following the resignation of former Mayor Jamie Matthews. Gillmor was unanimously appointed Mayor at a Feb. 17, 2016 meeting.
"We took no action on Brown Act violations that allegedly took place in January 2016 because the Brown Act's time limitations had long since expired," wrote Deputy District Attorney John Chase in an email.
Under the Brown Act, complaints must be made within 90 days.
The second allegation was that Gillmor violated the Political Reform Act's disclosure requirements by failing to disclose on her 2011 form 700 a $97,329 IRS tax lien, failing to disclose on her 2013 form 700 that she had sold a $5.75 million property at 777 Lawrence Expressway, and failing to disclose her former financial interest in the property and recuse herself from discussion of it at an April 22, 2014 City Council meeting.
"We looked into the ... allegations concerning Mayor Gillmor's financial interests and determined that she committed no crime," wrote Chase.
Although the April 2014 meeting minutes don't show it, the video recording (3:26) of the meeting shows that Gillmor did, in fact, disclose at the meeting that she sold the property in 2013. The agenda item was a routine motion stating that the subdivision of the parcel didn't require a new Environmental Impact Report (called a "negative declaration.")
What should have been a routine action turned into a lengthy discussion of whether the owners could be required to share their parking with the adjoining commercial plaza. After stating that she had sold the property in 2013, Gillmor said that this was a matter of property rights and business owners couldn't be forced to provide parking for other businesses.
California laws about conflicts of interest refer to public officials' potential conflicts of interest with regard to their personal finances, not someone else’s, says the Fair Political Practices Commission's Jay Wierenga.