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metroactive.com | sanjose.com | metrosiliconvalley.com | MAY 17-23 2017

An inside look at San Jose politics

BY THE NUMBERS

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San Jose police have been stocking up on riot gear, and at a faster pace than some other law enforcement agencies. That’s according to MuckRock, a journalism nonprofit that publishes data gleaned from public records. Documents unearthed through a Freedom of Information Act request found that the San Jose Police Department have shelled out $1.3 million since 2012 for helmets with visors and throat guards, aluminum batons, less-than-lethal weapons and other defensive equipment. The city authorized SJPD to spend $530,000 on protective gear in 2015 through last year. To San Jose’s credit, MuckRock notes, the agency has spent less on weaponry than other major cities.

Cloudflare Alters Milpitas Top Exec Billed Taxpayers for Personal Legal Fees Reporting Policy BY JENNIFER WADSWORTH for Racist Sites BUSTED Newly released records confirm that Milpitas’ city manager used public money for personal bills.

Milpitas City Manager Tom Williams tried to get taxpayers to cover $37,000 in personal legal expenses, San Jose Inside has learned. Invoices obtained through a Public Records Act request show that Williams charged his city-issued credit card $7,000 to pay Claire Cochran, his personal attorney at Ad Astra Law Group, and later requested another $30,000 for the same firm. In a letter disclosed to San Jose Inside last week, Milpitas’ city attorney, Chris Diaz, warned Williams that he had misused public funds and the actions were not only grounds for termination, but could also be a felony punishable by imprisonment. The city’s outsourced legal counsel also described in the May 5 notice that Williams had been directed to reimburse the city for the charges. Since that report, San Jose Inside has obtained copies of the financial records,

which show two separate payments for “outside legal advisory services.” The statements—available online here—show that Williams got his executive assistant, Rachelle Currie, to sign off on a $7,000 charge on March 17, and a request for $30,000 more on April 28. Sources say those expenses were incurred because Williams was building a legal case against Mayor Rich Tran, who has publicly criticized the city manager’s connection to several high-priced legal settlements. Williams’ lawyer from Ad Astra sent Tran a cease-and-desist letter in April, accusing the 32-year-old mayor of discriminating against the 53-yearold city manager because of his age. The letter also accuses Tran of harassment and demands more than $1 million from the city. In his cautionary letter dated May 5, Diaz indicates that Ad Astra was

hired for Williams’ own benefit. He also describes how city auditors might not have discovered the inappropriate charges were it not for media reports linking Ad Astra to the cease-and-desist notice from Williams to Tran. The city manager defended the expense, saying he reached out to the law firm because several city employees had filed complaints about Tran. However, Williams tried as recently as the end of April to get the city to pay for his legal issues with the mayor. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to San Jose Inside on Monday that it is keeping an eye on the situation. “Right now we are monitoring,” said John Chase, the prosecutor in charge of the DA’s public integrity unit. Chase added that his office is “waiting to see what the city of Milpitas learns, what those legal services were.”

Cloudflare, a Silicon Valley-based content delivery network that counts racist websites among its clients, changed a key company policy last week, following a story by ProPublica that was republished in Metro. The company announced that “it will change its policies to allow people to more safely lodge complaints about the material on the hate sites,” ProPublica reported, rather than passing over personally identifying information to the hate sites as it had done in the past. “We have to have ways for people to report that abuse and not have people feel they are being bullied or threatened,” Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince told the news organization. Based in San Francisco, one of Cloudlfare’s largest data centers is located in San Jose. Cloudflare also helps manage some of Metro’s online properties. —Silicon Valley Newsroom

Msv1720  

May 17-23, 2017

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