An Effort to Diffuse Misunderstandings

By The Editorial Board
Work Daze

The Aug. 24 Stadium Authority Meeting was one for the books. In a seven-hour meeting with many contentious topics on the agenda, statements were made that might have slipped past unnoticed.

After Santa Clara Police Chief Mike Sellers’ broadside to the Stadium Authority, Stadium Authority/Council Member Teresa O’Neill followed with a scolding response. Along the way in her long retort, O’Neill said something that could not have possibly been true.

It was quick and perhaps an accident, but since a similar statement has been repeated on an online blog, this Editorial Board thought we should set the record straight.

O’Neill was speaking about the Draft Measure J Compliance Audit that was leaked. Here is her statement:

“I remember when the Mayor was interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board. I had already seen references in detail to that audit report, I believe it was from representatives of the Santa Clara Weekly. That came out before the Mayor went to the San Francisco Chronicle.”

O’Neill could not have possibly read details of the audit from the Weekly before Mayor Lisa Gillmor met with the Chronicle. To prove it, we have laid out a helpful timeline.

May 25, 2017: Harvey M. Rose Associates, LLC submitted the confidential Measure J Draft Audit to the Stadium Authority Audit Committee, Stadium Authority/City staff and the 49ers entities, according to the Final Audit documents.

May 31: Mayor Gillmor went on a Facebook Live video called “Santa Clara and the 49ers: Mayor on the Record” with the Chronicle’s Editorial Page Editor John Diaz after a meeting with their Editorial Board. The Mayor does discuss the audit in this video. Video Link: www.facebook.com/SFChronicle/videos/10155414565849524/

June 2: The Chronicle published their article called “Strains in the 49ers-Santa Clara partnership,” which had the May 31 video embedded and included quotes from the Mayor.

In an excerpt from the article, “An independent audit by the well-respected Harvey Rose Associates could help illuminate those questions about the stadium finances. Gillmor, who has reviewed a draft, suggested it would show violations of the 2010 ballot measure’s prohibition on the tapping of city general funds for the stadium.”

The full article is available on their website: www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/diaz/article/Strains-in-the-49ers-Santa-Clara-partnership-11192866.php

June 7: The Weekly published a Milestones that referred to the recently completed draft audit. Available here: www.santaclaraweekly.com/2017/issue-23/milestones-opinion-13/

Later that day we posted our article online, “Measure J Audit Finally Finished, But City Hall Says It’s Confidential,” about the draft audit report. The Weekly did not see or have possession of the draft audit at the time, but referred to trusted sources who had seen the draft audit. In our first coverage of the draft audit we even refer to the Mayor’s meeting with the Chronicle. The article is available on our website: www.santaclaraweekly.com/2017/issue-23/measure-j-audit-finally-finished-but-city-hall-says-its-confidential/

June 12: The Chronicle published an article called “49ers, Santa Clara argue over $2 million in Levi’s Stadium costs” with details of the draft audit and stated that they had possession of it. Available here: www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/49ers-Santa-Clara-argue-over-2-million-in-11212091.php Again, the Weekly had not seen or received the audit documents yet.

June 14: The Weekly published our article called “Measure J Draft Audit Report Leaves More Questions Than Answers” where we state we had gained possession of the draft audit. Available here: www.santaclaraweekly.com/2017/issue-24/measure-j-draft-audit-report-leaves-more-questions-than-answers-2/

Also on June 14, another Milestones column made references to the draft audit. Available here: www.santaclaraweekly.com/2017/issue-24/milestones-opinion-14/

Now, if we rule out time machines, is it humanly possible for O’Neill to read our June 7 coverage of the audit before the Mayor’s May 31 meeting with the Chronicle? Nope.

We’ll give O’Neill the benefit of the doubt and hope she did not mean to lie at a public Stadium Authority meeting in front of Santa Clarans and on live video. Perhaps she had read details of the audit when it arrived on her desk and just got a bit confused?