St. Louise Regional Hospital Earns High Marks in New Report

In Saint Louise Regional Hospital, Santa Clara County will be buying a hospital in need of improved computer systems, but with a dedicated, quality staff providing adequate care.

That’s the view of a special ombudsman appointed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to conduct a required assessment of the quality of care provided by the hospital during its period of protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code.

“The general milieu of the hospital during our time spent showed administration’s significant dedication to the hospital, and the patients they serve,” concluded Jacob Nathan Rubin, the court-appointed ombudsman.

The bankruptcy judge on Dec. 19 was expected to approve the purchase of the Gilroy hospital, along with O’Connor Hospital of San Jose by the county from Verity Health System. Santa Clara County was the sole bidder, at $235 million.

The ombudsman’s report is required by law to ensure continuing acceptable patient care. The report gives a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a local hospital.

Report Highlights

A final decision has not yet been made whether the county will continue to contract for hospital and intensive care physicians with San Jose Medical Group, which is part of Verity Medical Foundation.

The hospital’s Electronic Medical Record system “remains a system-wide problem that limits the organization from performing well … despite their efforts at providing quality patient care,” the report said. St. Louise does not have a computerized physician order entry system to elicit and extract information to accurately demonstrate appropriate care to outside accreditation and monitoring organizations.

Psychiatry and neurology are lacking for inpatient cases. Rubin said that although a peer review system was changed, St. Louise “does a great job of monitoring its physicians.”

The hospital’s accreditation report revealed several plant management issues “that were of low likelihood to cause harm with corrective action.” All the findings were corrected, or at least a plan of action was deemed acceptable by the accreditation commission.

St. Louise got a C grade from hospital safety site hospitalsafetygrade.org for the fall of 2018, the spring of 2015, fall of 2015, spring of 2016, fall 2016, spring of 2017 and fall of 2017, and a D grade for the spring of 2018. The negative mark largely related to data and safety because of the “inadequate electronic medical record requirements.”

Few problems with Surgery

The hospital scored well in the categories of dangerous objects left a patient’s body, surgical wound splits open, dangerous blood clots, and cuts and tears.

Below are some other measures listed in the evaluation.

Collapsed lung data: hospital score was 0.32, best hospital score 0.11, average hospital score 0.29, and worst hospital score 0.47.

Serious breathing problem: score 11.35, best hospital score 1.71, average hospital score 8.23, and worst Hospital score 17.91.

Doctor’s order medications through a computer: score 15, best hospital score 100, average hospital score 69.80, worst Hospital score 5.

Safe administration of medication, hand-washing, communication about medications: scored well in these categories.

Communications about discharge: score 83, best hospital score 96, average hospital score 86.88, and worst hospital score 69.

Staff work together to prevent error: score 92.31, best hospital score hundred 20, average hospital score 114.54, and worst hospital score zero.

Scored well in dangerous bedsores, prevention of falls.

Track and reduce risk to patients: score 0.21, best hospital score 0.02, average hospital score 0.38, worst hospital score 1.91.

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff did well in scores for communication.

Effective leadership to prevent errors: score 110.77, best hospital score hundred 20, average hospital score 117.14, worst hospital score zero.

Enough qualified nurses: score 94.12, best hospital score 100, average hospital score 97.68, worst hospital score 29.41.

Specially trained doctors care for ICU patients: score 15, best hospital score 100, average Hospital score 49.17, worst hospital score 5.

Responsiveness of hospital staff: score 92, best hospital score 96, average hospital score 91.16, worst hospital score 82.

Op-Ed: Mayor’s Bonebreaking Bike Collision Was No ‘Accident’

On New Year’s Day, Sam Liccardo, the mayor of San Jose, fractured his sternum and two vertebrae due to a traffic accident after colliding with an SUV while riding his bike.

Thank goodness he’s OK—but was it really an accident?

“Accident” is a word almost universally used to describe traffic collisions. That’s understandable. After all, it’s not like the nice person driving the Toyota Highlander started their day intent upon hitting Liccardo. But for those of us on the inside of the street-safety movement, the word “accident” perpetuates the notion that the crash was unavoidable, just an unfortunate incident that couldn’t be prevented.

The reality is, how we design our streets is no accident. Cities are full of engineers, planners, and public works professionals who go to school for years in order to plan, design, and build vital city infrastructure.

So what happened here? Is it right to call this an accident?

The mayor was pedaling east on Mabury Road, a route I ride at least once a week. Mabury is a thoroughfare that many recreational bicyclists use to get to the East Foothills because, comparatively speaking, it has a nice bike lane with good sight lines.

The mayor’s crash happened at Salt Lake Drive, where a driver was crossing Mabury. The driver says they did not see the mayor and, as a result, crossed the street directly into his path. Is there some way that this intersection could be changed that could have prevented this collision? Is the street overly wide? Does the on-street parking impact visibility?

The scene of the collision.

First, a little background.

Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers. On average, 35,000 people die in car crashes every year with an additional 2.5 million injuries. In San Jose, the good news is that fatalities on our streets have been declining. In 2015 there were 60 traffic deaths and in 2018 there were 52, 18 of which were drivers or passengers. To put that in context, that’s about 4.3 deaths per month on our streets. That’s everyone—cars, pedestrians and bikes. The bottom line is that our streets are not safe for anyone, regardless of transportation mode.

Is it an accident that our streets happen to be one of the most dangerous places to be?

The answer is no, and that answer has been taken up by a global movement called Vision Zero. Vision Zero is the bold goal that we will reduce to zero the number of major injuries and fatalities on our roadways. One of its main premises is that with better street design, our roads will be safe.

Design is no accident.

Take this orange couch, for example.

How many people will sit on it? The answer is two. Why? Because the couch designer made it with two seat cushions and in our brains, that signals that just two people will fit. In reality, however, the couch is big enough to comfortably seat three. If the designer made a version with three cushions, people would be more likely to fit three across.

This seemingly small design element impacts how we behave. The same is true of our streets. Wide roads with lots of lanes trigger us to think we can drive fast. Narrow the lanes down to 10 feet and we instinctively slow down.

Slower speeds equal safer streets. This is only one example of how design impacts safety.

San Jose is in the midst of a bicycle renaissance. Calling it the Better Bikeways Network, the city is rapidly designing and implementing a grid of protected and enhanced bike lanes downtown. But the changes are causing some confusion. People are asking why the city put those bollards on that corner like that? Why was that tan box painted there? And why can’t I drive my car all the way through on St. John Street?

There is intentional thinking behind all of this. Take the intersection of San Fernando Street and Almaden Avenue. There, the city has used paint and bollards to create a right turn that, for most drivers, is now a pain in the tuchus. This is no accident. Those bollards and paint have been arranged in a way that make it next to impossible to take that corner at high speeds. It forces drivers to slow down, making the roads safer for all.

These kinds of changes don’t come easy. Reallocating street space, slowing down speeds and placing greater emphasis on other forms of transportation typically faces strong resistance, despite the safety payoff.

But imagine this: a transportation system in which folks arrive at their destination with a smile, a system that doesn’t create stress, frustration, fear, obesity, or air pollution. This is what the city of San Jose is striving to do and what we at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition will continue to pedal toward.

We look forward to the mayor’s speedy recovery, and will continue to work aggressively with the city to create safe streets for all. Will you join us? Get involved here or sent a note to info@bikesiliconvalley.org.

Shiloh Ballard is the executive director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. In addition to serving on numerous nonprofit boards and community commissions, she enjoys reading, cooking, growing vegetables and mountain biking. She lives with her long-time partner, Dan King, and their cats Lily and Butter in San Jose. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to jenniferw@metronews.com

Homeless Man Jailed on Suspicion of Raping a Good Samaritan

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office arrested a homeless man in South County on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman who was helping him survive on the streets.

At about 6:30pm on Tuesday, authorities responded to a house in San Martin on a report of a sexual assault. The victim told deputies that she was raped by a local transient, identified as Sharwian Bobian.

The victim and her family had been providing food and shelter to 43-year-old Bobian, authorities said. Over the past several months, the family had provided him with food, toiletries and a heater to keep him warm in the recent cold weather.

On the evening of New Year’s Day, the victim visited Bobian at his makeshift shelter—assembled with a series of tarps and shopping carts—to deliver food and supplies, authorities said. The woman told deputies that he pulled her in and raped her.

Deputies found Bobian at his shelter and took him into custody, police said. He was booked at Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of sexual assault and false imprisonment. Anyone with further info about this incident can call the sheriff’s Sexual Assault Investigative Unit at 408.808.4500.

Netflix Bows to Saudi Censors, Pulls Episode of ‘The Patriot Act’

Pundits routinely conflate clapback with censorship, claiming persecution when private companies like Facebook, Apple and Twitter police their platforms by ousting racists and conspiracy-mongering trolls. But one Silicon Valley giant came under fire in recent days for ceding to actual, civil rights-violating suppression of free speech.

Last week, Netflix bowed to an autocratic government’s order to silence a critic.

According to a Jan. 1 Financial Times report, the Los Gatos-based streaming service yanked an episode in Saudi Arabia of “The Patriot Act” over host Hasan Minhaj’s condemnation of the kingdom’s murderous monarchy.

In the show’s second installment, which first aired Oct. 28, the California-bred Muslim-American comedian rebuked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the slaying of renowned columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen.

“It blows my mind that it took the killing of a Washington Post journalist for everyone to go, ‘Oh, I guess he’s not really a reformer,” Minhaj observed of 33-year-old bin Salman, who’s accused by the U.S. Senate and the CIA of orchestrating the gruesome killing.

Minhaj also slammed Silicon Valley for choosing money over morals.

The crown prince has famously cozied up to tech industry elites as oil-fueled Saudi wealth became the biggest funding source for U.S. companies, including Uber, Twitter, Tesla, DoorDash, Slack and Nvidia, among others. Last year, bin Salman touched down in East Palo Alto to hobnob with bigwigs from Palantir, Clarium Capital, Valar Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Y-Combinator.

“WeWork won’t let you expense meat,” Minhaj remarked about the startup going vegetarian over environmental concerns, “but you take money from Saudi Arabia? So you’re against slaughterhouses unless they’re in Yemen?”

The show’s commentary—which should resonate with the South Bay politicos and business boosters who joined a delegation to Riyadh last spring—prompted a legal warning from Saudi officials who claimed it violated the kingdom’s cybercrime statutes.

Samah Hadid, the Middle East director of Human rights group Amnesty International, called Saudi Arabia’s censorship further proof of a relentless crackdown on dissent and an assault on international norms.

“Netflix is in danger of facilitating the kingdom’s zero-tolerance policy on freedom of expression and assisting the authorities in denying people’s right to freely access information,” he said in a statement to reporters.

Netflix downplayed its decision as banal and benign.

“We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal demand from the government—and to comply with local law,” the company insisted.

That same broadly worded local law has been used by Saudi prosecutors to justify the jailing, torture and death of people who dare to speak out against the royal regime.

In a tweet, Minhaj scoffed at the futility of attempting to silence him considering that Saudi citizens can still find the offending episode on another popular platform.

“Clearly,” he wrote, “the best way to stop people from watching something is to ban it, make it a trend online and then leave it up on YouTube.”

New Local Podcast Spotlights Rising Political Stars

Let the record show that Ryan Coonerty was the first to declare that Elizabeth Brown will be elected president of the United States in 2036.

He’s kidding … sort of.

Don’t sweat it if you’ve never heard of Brown. She’s one of seven members of the city council of Columbus, Ohio, and she’s not quite nipping at Kamala Harris’ heels yet.

But projecting unknown political talent onto the national stage is an understandable side effect of Coonerty’s new side gig. The Santa Cruz County supervisor is now the host of a new podcast called An Honorable Profession. And its mission is not unlike that of a grizzled old baseball scout traveling the roads of rural America looking for the next starting shortstop in the big leagues.

An Honorable Profession is a political talk show that makes no mention of the current occupant of the White House, or the daily circus of Washington, D.C. Instead, it casts its eye to the state and local levels of American politics in order to identify bright young potential leaders of the future, to demystify the experience of running for and holding political office for anyone thinking of making the jump, and to fight the pervasive and cynical notion that politics is by definition a sleazy game.

“There are two purposes,” Coonerty says of the podcast. “The first is we are in a crisis of democracy, and we need thousands of people to consider giving up their comfortable lives to run for office, especially at the state and local level. The second is we need millions of people to have faith in ... government, so we start to solve some of these problems we’re facing. Hopefully, by hearing from a really impressive group of people about what they do and how they do it, that will start to restore some of that faith.”

Besides Ohio’s Brown (whose father is U.S. senator and possible 2020 presidential candidate Sherrod Brown), Coonerty’s show has thus far featured interviews with former California assemblyman and combat veteran Jason Kander; Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Steve Benjamin; Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

In each case, Coonerty explores with his guests the nature of their work, their decisions to pursue public office, and the political values that drive them. Because he’s one of them—Coonerty served on the Santa Cruz City Council and as its mayor before being elected supervisor—he has a natural rapport with the people he interviews.

Talking with politicians on the state and local levels is, Coonerty says, an invigorating antidote to widespread political despair.

“I would go to these [political] conferences and I would meet these people at the state and local level,” he says, “and I would feel incredibly inspired and fired up. Then I’d come back home and people are just hopeless because of the rhetoric that we’ve had for 35 years about how terrible the system is.”

The podcast is sponsored by an organization called The NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a nonprofit devoted to finding young and promising (and progressive Democratic) elected officials in state and local government.

“Republicans have been good at supporting young leaders,” says Coonerty, a Democrat. “They really do a good job at pulling people up through the ranks and giving them opportunities. Democrats have never been good at that. This is an effort to identify some younger folks, and supporting them, helping them with policy ideas that they can bring back to their constituents.”

As a first-time podcaster, Coonerty did not want to do another political talk show that re-hashed the news of the day and fed the dysfunction of the federal government. Instead, he seeks to have conversations that avoid partisan posturing and talking points.

“I’m interested in three things: How did you make the leap? What’s your typical day like? And what are you getting done that people should know about?” he explains. “When I talk to people running for office for the first time, they’re often worried about the impact on their family. So there’s a professional part and a personal part. Elizabeth Brown was campaigning seven months pregnant, gave birth three days before a debate, and between speeches and interviews, she was pumping for her baby.”

“That just proves, no matter what, this is doable.”

This article originally appeared in San Jose Inside/Metro Silicon Valley’s sister publication, the Santa Cruz Good Times. 

More than 1,000 New California Laws Take Effect in 2019

Gov. Jerry Brown signed more than 1,000 new laws into existence during his final year in office—some bizarre, some useful, some designed to temper the disruptive reign of President Donald Trump. The laws, most of which went into effect at the dawn of the New Year, tackle a vast range of issues, from corporate leadership and gun control, to crime, punishment and labor. Here’s a look at some of what was enacted in 2019.

Climate. California’s utility companies must generate at least 60 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2030. That’s 10 percent higher than before. Policymakers, who pitched the new mandate in reaction to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, also set a goal of weaning the state off fossil fuels by 2045.

At the behest of another new law, California will study ways to curb the effects of climate change, protect Obama-era plans to remove hydrofluorocarbons from refrigerants and promote use of bio-methane. The Trump administration is also banned from expanding oil drilling off the coast.

Justice. Kids younger than 16 can no longer be tried in court as adults—even for homicide. The reform legislation also keeps kids under 12 out of criminal detention unless they’re accused of murder or sexual assault.

Gender. California is the first state in the union to require publicly traded companies to appoint at least one woman on their boards of directors by the end of this year. Companies need to have two female board members by the end of 2021.

Another law inspired by the #MeToo movement bans secret legal settlements over sexual misconduct or discrimination claims. Meanwhile, Californians may now list their gender as non-binary on driver’s licenses.

Wildfires. Utilities can pass the buck for legal costs related to the fatal 2017 wildfires onto consumers, even if the companies are found at fault for the infernos that wreaked more than $10 billion in damages. That’s one among a raft of wildfire-related laws that took effect Jan. 1. Other fire-inspired legislation eases restrictions on logging and controlled burns, modernizes emergency alert systems and requires for-profit utilities to upgrade aging equipment that could potentially spark fires.

Guns. California bolstered its gun laws in response to a rash of high-profile mass shootings. From now on, anyone convicted of domestic violence will be barred for life from getting their hands on a gun. Meanwhile, those under 21 can no longer buy a rifle or shotgun unless they’re in the military or law enforcement or have a hunting license.

Labor. California’s hourly wage floor rose from $11 to $12 for businesses with 25 or more workers. For smaller employers, it went from $10.50 to $11. Locally, the minimum wage is markedly hire. In San Jose, it’s now $15 an hour.

UPDATE: Mayor Expects ‘Full Recovery’ From Cycling Collision

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo will return home from the hospital this evening after being treated for multiple fractures, scrapes and bruises from hurtling into a 2002 Toyota Highlander while on a New Year’s Day bike ride.

According to San Jose Police Department spokesman Sgt. Enrique Garcia, the motorist was driving southbound on Salt Lake Drive toward Mabury Road just as Liccardo was headed east on a bike lane through the intersection. The Toyota stopped at the stop sign and, just as the driver proceeded to cross Mabury, Liccardo broadsided the SUV.

The driver was issued a traffic citation for failing to yield to another motorist, Garcia said. Drugs and alcohol were not suspected in the run-in and the driver was not arrested.

Mayoral spokesman David Low sent an update to reporters Wednesday afternoon saying Liccardo won’t require surgery but will likely wear a brace until his injuries—including a broken collar bone, broken chest bone—heal up.

The mayor—a bicycling enthusiast who often bikes to work—“remains in good spirits” and was up and walking the morning after the collision in North San Jose, Low added. Doctors at San Jose Regional Medical Center expect him to make a full recovery.

Liccardo posted a statement on social media this morning to again thank first responders and residents who helped him at the scene of the collision.

“Thank you to the many thoughtful neighbors and friends who reached out with their well-wishes since my bike accident yesterday. I’ve got fractures to two of my vertebrae and my sternum, but felt blessed to be able to walk on the hospital floor today with the help of the great folks at Regional Medical Center. I’m told the prognosis is good—although I’ve got a couple months of physical therapy ahead, I expect to be working from home this week, and back at City Hall doing the job I love next week. Thanks to neighbors like Linda Dutra and Tom who magnanimously helped at the scene, the firefighters at Station 19 for their quick response, the AMR paramedic crew, SJPD, and the hardworking staff at Regional.”

This article was updated with additional details about the incident from SJPD.

Donated Workspace Helps South Bay Nonprofits Stay Local Despite Skyrocketing Rents

Cayce Hill, the executive director of urban farming nonprofit Veggielution, works at a small desk in a centrally located downtown San Jose office. She’s surrounded by a host of colleagues who share virtually all that typical co-workers do—paperclips, spare pens, lunch breaks, professional advice and workaday banter—except for the same employer.

That’s because Hill works from NextSpace, a communal hub at the bustling corner of Second and Market streets.

Throughout the week, the nonprofit director rotates her desk with five other Veggielution staffers, which gives everyone a half- to full day to focus on work that doesn’t require their presence at the farm east of the Highway 101-Interstate 680 interchange. Like an increasing number of folks employed by cash-strapped nonprofits, the co-working arrangement is their best—and arguably only—option outside of working from home or jockeying for empty tables at crowded coffee shops.

“Not everyone on our team has a single-family home that has access to a separate home office situation or quiet space where they can sit and do that kind of work,” Hill explains. “Because we’re working on an urban farm, there’s not a lot of opportunities for quiet conversations, and holding meetings is a challenge in a rural setting.”

Silicon Valley’s headline-grabbing cost of living displaces more than just renters and homeowners: It squeezes out struggling nonprofits, too. But thanks to a national initiative by the All Good Work Foundation, charitable endeavors like Veggielution have a place to take root and thrive.

The foundation’s so-called social impact residency matches do-gooders with companies willing to donate office space. By giving nonprofits a stable place to work despite soaring commercial real estate costs, the tax-exempt community organizations can allocate more of their budget on their core mission. All Good Work launched the program two years ago in New York City and have since expanded to Silicon Valley, securing 32 donated office seats in San Jose, Los Gatos and Sunnyvale.

“People are looking for a professional environment that they can call their own,” says Amy Feldman, program director for All Good Work Silicon Valley. “Often it’s flexible seating, and in some cases, it’s a dedicated desk where you sit … every day. It creates more of a routine for the person that’s participating in the program [and] gives them that flexibility to not be worried where they’re going to be doing their work from tomorrow.”

As Feldman continues to connect nonprofits like Veggielution with donated workspaces, she says she’s heard dozens of stories from employees at other public-benefit organizations who work nomadically from coffee shop to coffee shop because they’re unable to afford a desk at even a coworking setup. At the downtown San Jose NextSpace, a monthly pass for one desk costs around $250. With the help of grant money from All Good Work, Hill says Veggielution is only on the hook for $50 a month.

“It would be much more of a stretch,” Hill says about paying full price. “Those are expenses that ... aren’t always covered in grants. Right now, where we are as an organization, it would be tough.”

The shared-space setup doesn’t work for everyone. Nonprofits come in all sizes, and some need dedicated programming space that makes coworking ventures unrealistic. Hill says she knows of one San Jose nonprofit that needed more room than just one desk and struggled to find an big enough location for less than $30,000 a month.

Northern California Grantmakers, a regional resource-sharing association of philanthropy groups, recently released a report on how the affordability crisis affects 180 nonprofits in Silicon Valley. Nearly a third of nonprofits surveyed for the study reported being forced to relocate over the past five years. Some 57 percent of those same groups cited high rents as the reason for displacement.

“If nonprofits are unable to find affordable space that’s in the community that they need to be, their ability to fulfill their mission is really compromised,” says Sarah Frankfurth, a manager for Northern California Grantmakers. “There can be really negative impacts on the communities they serve if these institutions go away [and] it can further destabilize communities that are already under pressure for displacement as well.”

To help create more stability for Silicon Valley’s public-benefit organizations, Northern California Grantmakers founded the Nonprofit Displacement Project. The regional initiative has helped nonprofits find and afford places to work by aiding in lease negotiations and educating them about paths to ownership. The displacement-prevention project played a key role in bringing All Good Work from the Big Apple to Silicon Valley.

Frankfurth says that’s just the beginning. The project is in the early stages of launching a real estate holding entity and exploring more ways to raise money for office space.

“It’s something we really need to think about all the time if we want to have strong, stable sustainable nonprofit organization,” Frankfurth says. “In our high-price real estate market, how do we support these organizations and make sure that they’re here and doing the important work they need to do?”

Part of the answer, she says, is to make sure nonprofits are part of the conversation and play an active role in carving out affordable spaces in the communities they’re dedicated to serve. “Because we’re in such a dire situation with housing, that’s really where people are paying a lot of attention,” Frankfurth says. “But this impact on nonprofits is really important as well because nonprofits provide services to people. They’re cultural institutions, and they are really crucial parts of our communities.”

For Hill and her Veggielution cohorts, the perks go beyond the dedicated work station, cost-saving and camaraderie with people from other organizations. It helps them grow the Veggielution name.

“When you have access to space like that and you’re connecting with more people, that comes with more ideas and relationships,” Hill says. “I’ve already met more people that learned about our work, and they’ve put forth ideas to me. I think that building relationships is at the heart of what our organizations does. It’s paying for itself.”

Milpitas Councilman Bob Nuñez Hired as Interim Superintendent of Evergreen School District

Right after ending a five-year tenure as chair of the Santa Clara County GOP, Bob Nuñez landed a new gig as acting superintendent of Evergreen School District. Nuñez, who also serves on the Milpitas City Council, accepted the offer a week before Christmas.

“I told them I’d be happy to help,” Nuñez says. One of his top priorities over the four to five months he plans to spend as interim will be finding a long-term successor to Superintendent Kathy Gomez, who announced her retirement after the election.

Nuñez boasts 40 years in public education. A coalition builder liked by labor, he gets along with veteran trustee Jim Zito, a fellow county Republican Central Committee member who clashed with Gomez.

But Nuñez has some black marks.

The career K-12 official left a SoCal school district amid allegations of misspending—charges he denied. Years later, he left the East Side Union High School District shrouded by similar claims about his spending habits.

While a 2009 audit found nothing illegal, it did show sloppy record-keeping and arguably excessive spending habits. According to the 2,100-page report, Nuñez would routinely charge the cash-strapped district anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 a month on meals, travel and lodging. In 2007, he awarded an out-of-work Cindy Chavez a $79,000 contract that looked suspiciously like a payoff to not challenge then-East Side trustee George Shirakawa in a run for county supervisor.

But Nuñez says none of those issues came up during the closed-session interview last month. “It’s not that they didn’t know about them,” he tells Fly, “but my sense is that those things have been vetted and they realized that there’s nothing there.”

Evergreen Teachers Association President Brian Wheatley, who was recently elected trustee in San Jose Unified, seemed ambivalent about Nuñez’s hire. “As interim, it makes sense,” he says, adding that the board “really just needed somebody with experience to get them through the end of the school year.”

SJ Mayor Hospitalized After Colliding with SUV While Cycling

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo struck an SUV while riding his bike on New Year’s Day, according to a statement from City Hall. The collision took place around 12:30pm on the 600 block of Salt Lake Drive, mayoral spokesman David Low told reporters.

“The driver of the vehicle pulled over and stayed at the scene, while Mayor Liccardo was taken to the hospital to be checked out,” Low explained in an email Tuesday.

Liccardo, 48, is expected to stay for a couple more days at San Jose Regional Medical Center, where he’s being treated for “minor fractures” and other injuries that “are not considered overly serious,” Low said.

In a comment through his spokesman, Liccardo thanked first responders from Fire Station 19, the San Jose Police Department, the team of doctors who treated him and a pair of onlookers who rushed to help after the accident.

Low said the mayor is in good spirits. Liccardo quipped: “Fortunately, the doctors state that all defects to the head were pre-existing conditions.”

Throughout his tenure on the City Council, Liccardo, an avid cyclist, has tried to make the city safer for bicycles. Recent efforts include adding bright-green buffered bike lanes throughout downtown.

Shiloh Ballard, head of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, said she’s “very, very glad” that Liccardo is in stable condition. She added that she looks forward to collaborating on bike-friendly policies as he continues to serve on the Valley Transportation Authority board and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

“He’s one of [Silicon] Valley’s best champions of bike-friendly cities ...,” she said. “We look forward to continuing to work with him to make the streets safe for all.”