This week, I’m turning my column over to a guest blogger, Jim Cunneen, President and CEO of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce. Jim has asked that we use this blog to share his concerns, and the chamber’s, for the handling of Terry Gregory’s alleged misdeeds by the City Council.
Since it seems too early for me to have been built up a large fan base, and since this is a critical issue for the city, I agreed.
For The Sake Of His District And The City, Terry Gregory Should Resign
In the life of a community, there come moments that reveal both the very best and worst in us. The events surrounding alleged abuse of political power by District 7 Councilman Terry Gregory illustrate both good and bad about political power – and how it’s exercised – in San Jose. The San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce commends the December 19th unanimous City Council action to censure Councilmember Terry Gregory and to strip him of nearly all Council responsibilities. The Chamber believes that these actions by the City Council coupled with Gregory’s ethical violations make him unfit to serve as a Councilmember.
Therefore, in a letter to Councilmember Gregory delivered this week, the Chamber joined Councilmembers Lezotte, Cortese and Reed, as well as former Vice Mayor Dando, in asking him to resign from the San Jose City Council.
By way of full disclosure, the Chamber did not support Councilmember Gregory’s bid for City Council. In fact, the Chamber’s political action committee actively opposed his candidacy, in part because of an unseemly pattern of questionable judgment in his public life, including disclosures of “hard to defend” expenses charged to the school district where he served as a school board member.
Such ethical lapses are part of a consistent pattern for Councilmember Gregory and the Chamber strongly believes that it is time for this pattern to end.
Being an effective City Councilmember is more than just attending the Tuesday Council meetings, which is truly the only role Gregory will be allowed to play. Councilmembers are active advocates for their constituents. Critical work on the City Council is done in Council sub-committees focused on driving economic development, improving our transportation systems, and providing critical social services for our community—all of which are critical issues affecting District 7. Because of the Council’s decisive and correct action to punish Councilmember Gregory, he can no longer serve on these sub-committees. In addition, Councilmembers represent their constituents by serving on the Valley Transportation Authority, the California League of Cities, the National League of Cities and other regional bodies. Gregory has been stripped of these responsibilities as well. Councilmember Gregory cannot represent the broad interests of his constituents given his newly limited responsibilities.
We ask for Gregory’s resignation because the people of District 7 deserve a Councilmember who can represent them fully and broadly at City Hall and beyond. A person who can powerfully and passionately speak on their behalf should represent District 7 and, unfortunately, Councilmember Gregory can no longer do this. District 7 deserves better. Therefore, the Chamber will help District 7 get the representation it deserves in whatever way possible.
As an organization that represents the business community, what is of particular concern to the Chamber was Gregory’s strong-arming of the business community for tickets, wine, and in the most egregious case, financial support, in exchange for favorable treatment by the Council. This is unacceptable. The Chamber hopes all elected officials learn from Gregory’s case that strong-arming the business community for personal benefit is unethical, leads to bad public policy, and will not be tolerated.
It is time for the City Council to show that its bite is as strong as its bark. We applaud Councilmembers LeZotte, Cortese, and Reed and former Vice Mayor Dando for calling for Councilmember Gregory’s resignation. It is time for the others to join their colleagues and the Chamber in calling for the same.
If Councilmember Gregory does not resign, the Chamber stands committed and will pledge resources to help neighborhood associations and other community groups in District 7 recall Councilmember Gregory. District 7, like all City Council districts, deserves to have effective representation at City Hall.
What do you think?
Should other civic organizations join us and call for Gregory’s resignation?
Should other business groups?
What about those folks that helped Gregory get elected in the first place?