Independent investigation confirms Grand Jury report of Cupertino Council dysfunction   

Photo courtesy of City of Cupertino website.

An independent investigation commissioned by the City of Cupertino has confirmed many of the troubling findings the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury outlined in a December 2022 report about dysfunction created by the Cupertino City Council. The independent report suggests that the conduct in question may have resulted in violations of the law. 

The Grand Jury report, entitled “A House Divided,” determined that a “culture of distrust” and “dysfunction” fostered by members of the Council had led to a toxic work environment and an exodus of staff from key positions. The report suggested that “the behavior of Councilmembers may need to be reviewed and good government practices implemented to remediate the dysfunction that currently exists.” 

This February, the Council directed the City Attorney to investigate the Grand Jury report’s findings. The City hired Santa Rosa-based employment attorney Linda Daube to conduct its independent investigation. Her report, published as a part of Tuesday night’s Council meeting (the report begins on page 68 of this packet), upheld many of the Grand Jury report’s findings. 

Ms. Daube’s report notes that there is “substantial evidence” backing the conclusion that the City’s high staff turnover rate was directly related to the conduct of former Mayor Darcy Paul and Councilmembers Moore and Chao. The report also found substantial evidence to sustain findings that former Mayor Paul, Councilmembers, and Commissioners had attempted to direct the hiring and firing of staff – a responsibility vested by local law to the City Manager, not elected or appointed officials. The report notes that there is no evidence of this practice continuing after January 1, 2023, when the new Council was seated. 

The news of the independent report comes as the City faces an impending fiscal catastrophe related to a State tax agency’s audit of a tax-sharing agreement between Apple and the municipality. The results of that audit could lead to an anticipated $30.7 million in sales tax revenues, amounting to a whopping 73 percent reduction in local tax revenue.