– Mayor Tom Springer says the City Council’s recent split
decision to annex a property that could become a new public high
school was so clear a breach of ethics that he may decide not to
run for mayor in the November election.
GILROY – Mayor Tom Springer says the City Council’s recent split decision to annex a property that could become a new public high school was so clear a breach of ethics that he may decide not to run for mayor in the November election.
City Council voted 4-2 to move the Gilroy boundary 60 acres north Monday night to include a property that is being developed by Glen Loma Group and the Catholic Church for roughly 250 homes, a parish and a Catholic elementary school. Springer and Councilman Peter Arellano opposed the annexation because the environmental review did not take into account the likelihood that Gilroy’s second public high school will replace the development of the homes.
“When I started seeing what’s going on with all the pressure that was put on with the phone calls and meetings and arm twisting and knowing how campaigns get financed, I just call into question whether or not this is something that I want to do and watch happen over the next four years,” Springer said. “It may happen, but I don’t necessarily have to be at the table watching it happen.”
The filing deadline for the mayoral post is still more than two weeks away, however Springer is sifting through serious doubts over ethical breaches related to other issues – namely the purchase of land for the cultural arts center – as well. Currently, only Councilman Al Pinheiro has thrown his hat into the mayoral ring.
Springer, who is in his first mayoral term, says members of the committee who recommended the Seventh and Monterey location for the arts center also were in a conflict of interest. Springer said committee members who own property next door to the future cultural hub will benefit from increased property values.
As for the Day Road decision, Springer is threatening to not sign any of the resolutions or ordinances related to the Day Road annexation when they come before him likely in August.
“My serious question is having to sign underneath the phrase ‘approved by’ when I believe the document is based on fraud,” Springer said.
Springer said he is investigating whether “approval by” means he attests to the fact the document was prepared and typed correctly and contains all the information reflected in the action by Council. If “approval by” means attesting to the validity of Council’s action, then Springer said he may not sign it.
City attorney Linda Callon said Springer’s signature only means he is attesting to the fact the vote took place. She said in the event he does not sign the documents, the mayor pro tempore – Councilman Bob Dillon – would be asked to sign.
From developers to city staff and Gilroy Unified School District, Springer has called a number of players into question over the annexation of Day Road.
“I was really surprised when the city attorney, having first told us we were going to need a new environmental document, all of the sudden seemed to cave in Monday night saying ‘You can go either way it’s up to you,’ ” Springer said regarding Callon’s direction to City Council before the annexation arguments were heard.
Callon told City Council it could annex the Day Road parcel if members felt the applicant – Glen Loma Group and the Catholic Church – were presenting an “accurate and stable” project that did not contain a misleading project description. She told Council members it was up to them to decide if the school district’s interest in the site made the homes and parish project inaccurate or unstable.
Springer said Callon’s legal interpretation contradicts advice she gave Councilman Craig Gartman before Monday’s meeting. Gartman, after meeting with Callon, declined to vote or be a part of discussion on the annexation Monday. Gartman said, based on his dicsussion with Callon, his work as a substitute teacher with the school district constituted “an indirect conflict of interest.”
“I see these things, and I’m having more and more trouble dealing with it,” Springer said.
Glen Loma Group developer John Filice and Catholic Church representative Monsignor Michael Mitchell both told Council Monday their intentions to build the parish and the homes were sincere.
They acknowledged GUSD’s intent to purchase 50 acres of the Day Road site to build a high school, but said the year’s worth of state mandated environmental work – which includes a review of alternative and potentially better school sites – should rightfully allow the current developers to pursue their plans which have been on the books since 1999.
Springer also predicted that embattled Councilman Charlie Morales, who was arrested June 29, will not resign since Filice and the Catholic Church need his fourth “yes” vote before formally annexing the Day Road site.
“I’m not saying the Filices are forcing him to stay on. I think Charlie wants to annex the site and stay on the Council as long as he can, but there’s pressure on him from (The Dispatch) and other sources to resign,” Springer said.
Morales was arrested for his second driving under the influence violation in the last four years. He is facing up to a year in jail if he is convicted of the crime.