Mayor Reed Asks City Council to Remove Campaign Fundraising Limits

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed worries about the unlimited spending by independent expenditure committees during elections, saying it gives outside interests more sway than individual candidates. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Reed and his colleagues will consider a motion to lift voluntary spending limits on candidates to even the playing field with committees during campaigns.

The council in 2011 raised limits to $500 per donor for council candidates and $1,100 for those in mayoral races. The city’s election commission suggests leaving things as they are, at least until we see how some pending state legislation fares. Senate Bill 52, dubbed the California Disclose Act, would let voters know who’s actually paying for political ads by stamping it on the ads themselves. It would also require those ads to list their three biggest funders and institutes follow-the-money disclosures to help the public better track special interest spending.

The bill, authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), seeks to amend the Political Reform Act of 1974 by requiring political ads to list their top three funders and would apply to both ballot initiatives and expenses for and against candidates.

Two other proposals include nixing funding disclosures on campaign literature, which Councilmember Kansen Chu worries could be a First Amendment violation, and allowing for a candidate-funded recount if the results were too close to call, which was recommended by Councilmember Don Rocha. The elections commission recommends no change on either of these proposals.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for August 19, 2013:

• Since construction’s been postponed at the Environmental Innovation Center, the city has to update its lease agreement with Habitat for Humanity. The nonprofit was offered office space in the under-construction innovation center, but delay after delay—partly because the city tapped a broke construction firm for the job—has forced the city to re-write some contracts along the way, including this one.

• The San Jose/Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility has gone for nearly six months without an environmental safety office worker on staff, so the city has had to contract with an independent consultant until someone permanent is recruited. The treatment plant is one of the largest in the nation with 180 employees, miles of underground tunnels, concrete tanks, large motors and industrial machinery, more than 600 confined spaces, hazardous materials like natural gas and anhydrous ammonia, and a vast high-voltage electrical system.

• The city’s graffiti abatement efforts have improved by becoming a bit cheaper and more efficient, according to a city audit of the outsourced graffiti program. But the city needs to engage more of the public, encouraging crowdsourced reporting to pinpoint tagged areas and improving relationships with property owners.

One problem is that the city-contracted graffiti abatement team seems to keep covering up tagging on the same private buildings without making the property owner aware of the problem, councilmembers Rocha and Xavier Campos note in a joint memo.

Also, while the company is still under budget, it’s quickly approaching its limit about a year ahead of schedule.

• A four-year contract for shuttle service at Mineta San Jose International Airport will cost about $3.86 million, according to an agreement up for consideration.

• The council will vote on amending city code to include provisions for a second-tier pension plan for new hires.

• The Wal-mart at 4080 Stephens Creek Blvd. wants a permit to sell alcohol.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that two additional proposals to change campaign rules were submitted by Mayor Reed. San Jose Inside regrets the error.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.


  1. So, after their summer break, the only “core” issue the Council has on agenda is at Weepy-Seepy.  Problems recruiting you say?  Hmmm, who could forecast such a thing.  The rest of those issues are not a priority, not when the Mayor has replacement candidate that needs more campaign funds!

    One might think it’s a problem in the same vein as Dispatchers, Police Officers, Police Chiefs, Fire Chiefs, Airport Managers or Pollution Control workers… but Rufas would never admit that.  Besides, those jobs aren’t really necessary, are they?  Oops.

  2. So the Mayor wants to make it easier for himself to donate monies? all while trying to make it look/sound like hes doing it for the city.

    Imagine that, the city is having problems recruiting a department head for San Jose. Who could’ve seen that coming. one of the largest water treatment facilities in the nation AND nobody wants to take the head honcho job. What does that say about this Mayor,City,Reputation?

    Its a good thing San Jose doesnt have real issues such as Public Safety (P.D. , F.D. , Dispatchers , & multiple departments with no one to lead them)

    So the City hired a Broke Construction Firm . Most people would assume that could be problematic , but Not San Jose . lets force the issue and see how it turns out . I guess that what you get when “low Bid” is the only criteria for getting a job in San Jose.

    Graffitti Abatement is a Joke . keep lying to to residents , Im sure some still believe . Under budget but a year ahead of Schedule. Im gonna go out on a ledge here and predict that this will go WAY over budget

    Second tier pension? Has one been approved by the IRS yet? Is the Measure B trial over yet? typical ! cant wait for the Decision on measure B !

  3. Enron billionaire from Texas, John Arnold, continues to bankroll Reed’s attacks???  Is he gonna bankroll Reed’s choice for Mayor and continued war against gravy train/cancer employees??

  4. This is just too funny. reed is going to ask the council to remove campaign fundraising limits and half of the council voting on it will be running for mayor in the upcoming election. Self serving much? If they vote to remove the limits, it just goes one step further to show the underhandedness that goes on in this circle. Anyone know the outcome?

  5. This is just another example of how crooked and shady Chuck Reed and his adherents really are. Another example is the anonymous letter sent out by some city hall employee to the members of SJPOA trying to convince the membership that the insulting contract offer the city has made is anything other than the insulting POS we know it to be. Furthermore, the letter sent may be a violation of the Dills Act (section 3515.5) which ensures that employee organizations have the right to represent their membership as well as City Charter section 1111(b).

    Even more scandalous, though is Chief Esquivel’s response to his command staff. After 500 (for the record, that’s over half of the remnant Police Department) protested by sending a form letter provided by POA leadership, Chief Esquivel, in a ‘confidential communication’ to members of the command staff had this to say: “Stop by my office so I do not have to seek you out.” This is from a KTVU article found here:

    In the first place, Chief Esquivel has failed to recognize that these letters were sent to the POA membership at their homes. Therefore, it is clear that the city is treating the individual members as private citizens who happen to be employees, regardless of rank within the PD. Since the letters were sent in that manner, all replies to the City by employees must also be seen as individual communications with the city by employees and separate from the performance of city-related duties. Therefore, all those letters must be considered to be free speech protected under the First Amendment.

    The question of whether the command staff “stands shoulder to shoulder” with the Chief is irrelevant in this case. This is not a matter of department policy or the performance of their duties. In fact, their ability to send that letter without fear of reprimand or retaliation is as important to each individual member as their ability to freely vote on each individual contract. It is just as inappropriate for the chief to address the issue in this way as it would be for him to address the membership and either encourage or discourage the membership to vote a particular way on a contract. And, regardless of whether or not Chief Esquivel has assured the union that no disciplinary action would be taken, the mere fact that these employees are being called in to the chief’s office can only have a chilling effect on their free exercise of their First Amendment rights.

    At this point, both the city and, sadly, the Chief have left themselves open to a law suit against them for creating a hostile work environment. No matter what subsequent steps are taken by either party, the damage has been done and the only remaining question to my mind is this: will it be individuals suing them, or will it be a class action law suit?

  6. What were the results of this council meeting? Haven’t been posted on the city site yet…particularly want to know about the lifting of voluntary spending limits