In a 4-1 vote Monday night, the Cupertino City Council awarded its former City Attorney Randy Hom a $205,000 settlement.
Hom resigned in October 2018 – just weeks before the contentious 2018 city council elections. The City placed Hom on indefinite administrative leave in May 2018, amidst rumors that he had divulged information from closed city council sessions in public forums.
“He disclosed confidential information that he should not have,” Councilmember Rod Sinks said at the council meeting, voicing his opposition to the settlement. Sinks implied that, by approving the settlement, the city was rewarding Hom for his inappropriate actions.
Hom had been opposed to the Vallco Town Center redevelopment proposal, and its SB 35 approval. His October departure added fuel to the fire for Better Cupertino-supported candidates who used it to cry foul over a lack of transparency in the process.
Interestingly, Vice Mayor Liang Chao and Councilmember Jon Willey – both elected last November with Better Cupertino’s backing – supported the settlement on Monday evening rather than allow more information to come to light in a litigation setting for the public to see.
“I would like all this in the open,” Chao said, despite voting for the settlement.
Cupertino resident Jean Bedord noted the lack of transparency around the entire settlement during public comment period. She expressed surprise at seeing the item on the council’s consent calendar, usually reserved for non-controversial items, rather than as a regular agenda item.
Bedord said at the council meeting, “This council promised investigation and transparency into his allegations. Instead Mr. Hom is being rewarded by getting a severance bonus.”
“How is this money anything other than a political kickback?,”Bedord asked in her e-newsletter Cupertino Matters before the meeting.
The council meeting’s timing was itself bizarre, coming on the Monday after the long Fourth of July holiday, rather than on the council’s typical Tuesday meeting day.
Hom’s lawsuit had claimed that his firing had been retaliation for his opposition to the Vallco site redevelopment and had initially sued for millions of dollars in damages.
“We need to move the City forward and this potential lawsuit was a distraction,” Mayor Steven Scharf said in a press release.
Scharf was unable to detail at the council meeting how much the City of Cupertino has spent on legal fees to reach this settlement.
The settlement includes $85,200 in lost wages, $64,797.31 in emotional distress damages, and $55,002.69 to cover fees for Hom’s attorneys.