Ash Kalra

DA Office Completes MACSA Investigation

UPDATE: The District Attorney’s Office is charging former MACSA CEO Olivia Soza-Mendiola and CFO Benjamin Tan with grand theft for illegally diverting more than $1 million that should have gone to employee retirement accounts. Check back later in the day for a story about the charges.—Editor

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office plans to hold a press conference at 11am Thursday unveiling its findings from the investigation into the Mexican American Community Services Agency (MACSA). The announcement will come 28 months after former DA Dolores Carr was notified that MACSA, a nonprofit organization, stole $400,000 from employee pension funds from two of the schools it operated.

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The Great Constant, Kalra Pension Debate

The much anticipated San Jose Rotary Club debate between Councilmembers Pete Constant and Ash Kalra did not disappoint. Both Constant and Kalra were spirited advocates for their positions: Constant defending Measure B, the pension “modification” measure; Kalra, a lawyer, presenting the views in opposition. By the end of the debate, to the disappointment of many, it was Kalra who gained the most.


Council to Discuss Smoking, Bike Lanes

Starting May 25, it could be against the law in San Jose to smoke a cigarette while sitting in a bar’s outdoor patio, standing outside of one’s apartment door or waiting in line. On Tuesday, the City Council plans to vote on expanding restrictions on where people can smoke, and many at City Hall believe the item will pass with little resistance. According to Joseph Okpaku, Councilmember Ash Kalra’s chief of staff, the new ban would go into effect 45 days after the vote.


Radio Rebuke?

Never mess with Bob Kieve—that’s the lesson San Jose Councilmember Ash Kalra learned after trying to bow out of San Jose Rotary Club’s pension reform debate next week against council colleague Pete Constant. David Ginsborg, a Rotary member and the right fist of County Assessor Larry Stone, says Kalra was scared he would be branded as anti-pension reform in the debate when really he’s just anti-Mayor Reed. But others tell a different tale.

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The Big Payback

Money talks during election season, and it seems the closer a person is to San Jose’s City Hall, the louder their voice. That could be why San Jose Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio and planning commissioner Edesa Bitbadal raised the most money in the first two and a half months of the year with more than $121K and $86K in campaign contributions, respectively. Councilmember Rose Herrera didn’t do too shabby either, hauling in almost $49K. But Kansen Chu just topped Herrera’s total and, according to his campaign disclosure forms, the money he spent suggests he might be currying votes and/or future favors with cash.

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Show Me the (Campaign) Money

One of the best ways to raise money this election season appears to be counting Chuck Reed as an enemy. The mayor of San Jose’s apathy for labor-backers appears to have lit a fire under the fundraising efforts of union candidates.

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People Speak Out Against Citizens United

A day before the two-year anniversary of the Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission Supreme Court ruling, more than 200 protesters gathered Friday at St. James Park in San Jose. The rally was held in support of the Move to Amend demonstration, a proposed constitutional amendment that would reverse Citizen’s United, which paved the way for corporations and unions to spend an unlimited amount of money on political campaigns.

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Council Sees White, Figone Sees Red

Four San Jose councilmembers want City Manager Debra Figone to explain how she hires and ensures diveristy in senior staff positions. Few outside searches take place for qualified candidates, and just as few minorities currently hold director-level positions. As a result, Councilmembers Kansen Chu, Ash Kalra, Nancy Pyle, Xavier Campos and Don Rocha sent a memo to the city’s Open Rules and Government Committee asking for data. They also want a discussion on hiring practices to take place at the council level.