Santa Clara is holding a special meeting this Wednesday for the purpose of ‘disciplining, dismissing, or releasing a public employee’ – thought to be City Attorney Brian Doyle, according to reports. Late last week, Councilmembers Anthony Becker, Suds Jain, and Kevin Park and Vice Mayor Raj Chahal called for the closed meeting, the first of its kind for the city.
Sources suggest the move to axe Doyle comes from the 49ers camp, of which Doyle has been a vocal critic over the issues of rent, information disclosure, revenues allegedly due to the city, and contracts conflicts of interest, among others. In April, the City Council hosted a special meeting to review Doyle, and in public comment, Councilmember Suds Jain affirmed, “Yes, the 49ers have expressed to me that they would like to see Brian Doyle gone.”
49ers Chief Executive Jed York spent a reported $2.9 million in the last election campaign to help elect three of the current councilmembers. While the majority opinion is that the pro-49ers council’s actions stem from the team management, Doyle’s performance evaluation and its result may also involve other, highly visible missteps. Part of the misconduct claim stems from Doyle’s mismanagement of a settlement offer in an expensive, nearly three-year lawsuit over district elections and the California Voting Rights Act, which the City ultimately lost under appeal. Doyle neglected to notify councilmembers of the opportunity to settle before the offer expired, according to reports.
In February 2020, former Mayor and Council Member Patricia Mahan filed a complaint with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) around the city’s voter education program, alleging that the city’s mailer around Measure C constituted campaign propaganda rather than an impartial analysis, and accusing Doyle along with Mayor Lisa Gillmor and City Manager Deanna Santana of using public funds for the purposes of elections.
The San Jose Spotlight reported last week that the city has been investigating Doyle for alleged misconduct for more than four months, but has declined to provide any information about its findings or the status of the investigation. The outside counsel retained to lead the investigation has argued that the city’s legal services agreement with outside counsel protects it from being forced to disclose the information under the Public Records Act, on the grounds of attorney-client privilege.
The City Council needs four votes in order to fire City Attorney Doyle. The meeting will convene virtually at 5:30pm on Wednesday. The public may provide comments regarding the Closed Session item just prior to the Council beginning the Closed Session, via zoom link Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.