- Action – Grand Jury Investigation, City Council, Tuesday, May 9, 2023, 6:00, Special Meeting
- RECAP – City Council, Tues., May 2, 2023, 6:45, Regular; Closed 6:00 p.m.
May will be a challenging month for the City of Cupertino with special meetings addressing the independent investigation of the Civil Grand Jury Report and the Budget Survey Town Hall.
Prior dysfunction between councilmembers and city staff has proven problematic over the last number of years as evidenced by the churn in city managers and senior managers. Several citizen complaints were made, which the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury investigated, resulting in a watchdog report entitled, “A House Divided: Cupertino City Council and City Staff” on December 19, 2022. This was considered on February 21, 2023, and a required response to the findings was approved. Councilmembers Liang Chao and Kitty Moore questioned the methodology and the findings, so the council directed the City Attorney’s Office to independently investigate whether the violations of the Municipal Code with respect to Council-staff and commissioner-staff relations could be substantiated.
The Fact Finding Report has now been released to the public and the recommendations will be reviewed at the Special Meeting on Tuesday night, May 9. Sixteen employees and former employees were interviewed, in addition to reviewing thousands of emails (“governance by email”) and videos of council meetings. The Grand Jury’s findings were substantiated. Councilmembers Liang Chao and Kitty Moore were explicitly noted as contributing to the dysfunction and staff turnover. In addition, former Mayor Darcy Paul and former Commissioner Ray Wang were cited as interfering with hiring decisions, thus violating Cupertino Municipal Code. Readers can find the Fact Finding Report here.
Today, the Mercury News published an article on Grand Jury and Fact Finding Reports: ‘Devalued, demeaned and frustrated’: Cupertino investigation finds culture of distrust in staff from two council members The investigation comes after a Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury report issued similar findings
Readers may express their support for transparency, accountability. and adherence to the law by speaking at the city council meeting on Tuesday night, either in person or on Zoom or emailing the council.
UPCOMING – CITY COUNCIL – Tues. May 9, 2023, 6:00 Special Meeting
Agenda and Presentations (Includes the Grand Jury Report and the Fact Finding Report)
Item #1: Consider a report regarding the review of potential violations of the City of Cupertino Municipal Code and City policies regarding Council- and commissioner-staff relations (“Report”). The council will consider the recommendations made in the Fact Finding Report.
RECAP – CITY COUNCIL – Tues. May 2, 2023, 6:00 Closed Session, 6:45 p.m. Regular Meeting
Agenda and Presentations (Note the new order for the agenda)
In the Closed Session, council authorized the city attorney to file a cross complaint in Harshit Shrama & Poonam Salekar v. City of Cupertino.
Council approved six items on the Consent Calendar. Two items were pulled for consideration after the regular calendar: (1) Item No. 8, to consider approving the use of funds from the Art In-Lieu Fees for the Jollyman All-Inclusive Playground project, and (2) Item No. 11 to consider approval of a Semi-Rural Designation on the east side of Carmen Road..
Item No. 12: Consider a Request for Proposals (RFP) for garbage and construction and demolition (C&D) debris disposition services, including solicitation of options to process garbage for recovery of organic and other recyclables. After discussion, council approved unanimously.
Item No. 13: Consider a report regarding the review of potential violations of the City of Cupertino Municipal Code and City policies regarding Council- and Commissioner-Staff Relations (“Report”). This was a contentious item. At the February 21, 2023, council meeting when this report was last considered, Councilmembers Chao and Moore questioned the validity of the Report. During that meeting, the council approved the City’s response and directed the City Attorney’s Office to investigate and report back on violations of the Municipal Code with respect to Council-staff and commissioner-staff relations. The City Attorney’s Office retained Linda Daube, Esq., an experienced investigator (over 400 cases) and former public agency attorney to conduct an independent investigation of potential violations of the Municipal Code and related violations of City policies cited in the Grand Jury Report.
Council was provided with the confidential investigation report the preceding day. The action item was to decide whether to waive the attorney-client privilege in order to release the report to the public. Council took an hour to come to a decision. Councilmember Kitty Moore objected to the process and then claimed to recuse herself and walked off the dais. The City Attorney noted that there was no need for recusal, but that Councilmember Moore was free to choose to not participate. Councilmember Liang Chao again questioned the findings, though made by an independent party. Former Mayor Darcy Paul, spent an unprecedented 10 minutes in public comment, objecting to the report, though he didn’t cooperate with the investigator. Mayor Wei, Vice-Mayor Mohan and Councilmember Fruen cited the need for transparency and accountability in voting 3-1-1 (Moore absent) to release the report and to continue the matter to a later public meeting.
Item No. 8: Consider approving the use of funds from the Art In-Lieu Fees for the Jollyman All-Inclusive Playground (AIPG) Capital Improvement Programs (CIP) project,
Developments are required to fund public art either directly on their property, or through an in-lieu fund. Public Storage paid $338,146.86 as an in-lieu fee as part of the permitting and construction process for their new building along I-280. This was the first such time that a project applicant has paid into this restricted art in-lieu fund. Staff recognized the opportunity to add art elements requested by the public to a project currently under development with excellent public access. After discussion, council unanimously approved.
Item No. 11: Consider approval of a Semi-Rural Designation, eliminating the requirement for sidewalks on the east side of Carmen Road, between Scenic Boulevard and Stevens Creek Boulevard, pursuant to Ordinance No. 1925. This petition, brought by 11 property owners on Carmen Road, was originally considered on April 20,2021, but deferred to collect additional information. In this area, property owners who build a new house or increase square footage by 25% or more would be required to add sidewalks as street improvements. A semi-rural designation removes that requirement from the property owner. The caveat is that the city would have to pay for sidewalks if needed in the future. After discussion, council unanimously approved.
CUPERTINO COURIER: May 5, 2023
The front page photo and article on page 5 is entitled Vision quest: Cupertino De Anza Lions Club helps provide free eye exams for hundreds. Community briefs include (1) Post office dedication, (2) Community budget survey, and (3) New WVCS director. Page 10 is a previously published Mercury News article Cement Production Facility: County seeks to make quarry’s exit binding. There are no legal notices.
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