½ Sunnyvale Garbage Rate Increase goes to Political Donor

Sunnyvale city council is plagued with self-serving, high-spending members, who have a history of asking companies, doing business with the city, to contribute money to the councilmembers.  

The council voted 6-1 to increase residents’ garbage rates.  About 50% of the increase, it turns out, is to fund payment of an added $1,517,500.00 to the garbage companySome Sunnyvale councilmembers received financial contributions from the company owner.   Subsequently councilmembers approved payment of the additional $1,517,500.00.   The payment comes while a valid and binding contract between the city and the garbage company (providing for a lower payment) is in effect.  The city and its residents got nothing in return for transferring the extra money to the councilmembers’ donor. 

The recipients of campaign contributions awarded a unilateral benefit to their donor.  This is one of numerous examples of conflicts of interest on the part of councilmembers who receive financial contributions from companies doing business with the city government.

Tony Spitaleri:  Among the ‘yes’ voters for the additional $1,517,500.00 payment to the garbage company, are Councilmember Tony Spitaleri.

Spitaleri took money from the garbage company and then cast his vote supporting the additional $1.5 million City payment to the donor.

Spitaleri also took money from the downtown developer and then voted to approve an unusual development agreement, in which the developer/Spitaleri’s donor was excused from the standard requirement of purchasing and posting an overall performance bond.  [Such a bond is a guarantee from a third-party(usually a bank or an insurance company) that money needed to complete a specified project will be paid if the contractor fails to fully perform.]

When residents complained, Spitaleri repeatedly denied that he had taken the money.  However, California campaign documents showed the payment and a photograph of Spitaleri posing with the developer at Spitaleri’s fundraiser was produced.   Spitaleri made the intentionally false denials because he knew it was wrong to take the developer’s money.

That developer delayed and then walked away from Sunnyvale’s downtown project, wanting to bid in the subsequent foreclosure procedure, pennies on the dollar for the city’s downtown land.   Spitaleri is now blocking legal action by the city to acquire title to the downtown property, saying he wants to maintain amicable relations with the parties, one of whom is his donor.

Spitaleri learned that an out of-town real estate development company had submitted a request for city approval of the multiple violations of the city’s General Plan and Municipal Code contained in the developer’s new project.   Spitaleri then solicited and got a $5,000  monetary contribution from the developer in support of Spitaleri’s bocce ball team.  The money went into a Political Action Committee account.  Spitaleri voted to approve the developer’s project with its multiple violations.

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