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SAN JOSE — San Jose City Attorney J. Richard “Rick” Doyle has survived the Cisco technology contract scandal — although just barely, according to at least one City Council member. Now, Doyle is making changes to his office’s procedures that he hopes will prevent another such mess in the future. Doyle was criticized by some council members after the scandal broke for failing to alert the city about conflict-of-interest problems in the $8 million deal involving Cisco Systems Inc. On Tuesday the City Council voted to end an investigation into city staff’s handling of the contract — but not before announcing that Doyle and City Manager Del Borgsdorf would be the subjects of a joint evaluation. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Councilwoman Linda LeZotte told Doyle and Borgsdorf, “It doesn’t come to asking for your resignations, but I don’t ever want this to happen again. I find it very, very troubling that you can sit up here and know that one of your staff gives a half-answer or half-truth and neither one of you speaks up.” In an interview with The Recorder on Wednesday, Doyle promised that the city attorney’s office will now closely resemble an outside law firm hired by the city, meaning business will be more formal. “The lesson I’ve learned is to check up on staff and their representations,” he said. “The [San Jose city] staff is very good, but as part of an in-house organization we didn’t require the documentation we should have.” San Jose awarded Cisco an $8 million contract earlier this year to provide a communications network for a new city hall. But news reports later showed that the deal wasn’t properly vetted and that several city employees had favored Cisco from the beginning. Brian Doyle, a senior deputy city attorney, had argued against the deal in the year before the scandal broke. Brian Doyle, who is not related to Rick Doyle, wrote a memo saying the deal was rife with conflicts and hadn’t gone through proper bidding procedures. Several council members said they didn’t hear any of those concerns until August 2004 — well after the deal was set to proceed. The council hired Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos & Rudy to investigate what had happened. The law firm’s initial report, issued Jan. 7, largely absolved Rick Doyle, stating that “the evidence fails to establish that the city attorney had knowledge of matters that were not properly disclosed and rendered advice to the City Council based on this misinformation.” A follow-up report issued Monday revealed that Brian Doyle had forwarded his concerns via e-mail to Borgsdorf in May, and that Borgsdorf had indicated he would request a meeting with Rick Doyle to discuss them. Rick Doyle has said publicly that he didn’t bring his deputy’s concerns to the council because he had been assured by city staff that the deal was legitimate. Specifically, staffers had told him the bidding process had been “standardized” — meaning the city can proceed with a certain product line without looking at competition. Doyle said on Wednesday that communications between staff and the city attorney’s office will be more formal in the future. In the past, he said, documentation was not provided for some work and word of mouth was occasionally accepted. “What works in smaller cities won’t work with us anymore because this is a big city and things are more complicated,” Doyle said. “We weren’t paying attention to providing documents,” Doyle said. “Now we’ll work with a protocol. I’ll no longer accept the word of someone. � I’ll need to see it in writing.” In the future, Doyle said, certificates from the city’s director of general services will be necessary for large contracts showing that the bidding process has been standardized. Doyle said the city attorney will also meet with the city manager every week to discuss all pertinent business and that the council will be alerted immediately to anything important. Council members LeZotte, David Cortese and Chuck Reed, who criticized the city attorney’s procedures after the scandal, were in a daylong ethics meeting and could not immediately be reached for comment. Former San Jose City Attorney Joan Gallo, now practicing land use law with San Jose’s Hopkins & Carley, said the new procedures will be “useful to the staff and give assurance to the public.”

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