After launching a statewide ballot initiative to scale back pension benefits for public employees, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed reached out to union leaders, suggesting an open dialogue in the process. The move has already been described as shrewd, naive and/or insincere.
What in tarnation is Chuck Reed up to? Pension reform, of course. The mayor of San Jose got future benefits for city employees scaled back last year with Measure B, and now he’s taking aim at a state ballot measure with the help of Texas moneymen and California libertarians.
A gut-and-amend state Senate bill that would restrict nonprofits from spending taxpayer cash for political purposes has elicited opposition from K-12 and community college associations, various local governments—including San Jose—and the nonprofits that get money from them. That and more at Wednesday’s Rules and Open Government Committee meeting.
City officials will hold a study session Tuesday on how to restore public services lost in the past decade of budget cuts, namely by considering a couple tax increases for the 2014 ballot. Police pay and staffing is a top priority, according to several memos.
In what may turn out to be one of the most expensive races ever for a local county office, Cindy Chavez has captured the District 2 Supervisor seat held by her disgraced former ally, George Shirakawa, Jr. The victory places the largest county government in the global home of leading edge technology—from Teslas to Google Glass—firmly in the hands of an old-fashioned political machine; a classic one that delivers votes, wins elections, rewards its followers and dispenses benefits. Over the next two years, the board will vote on billions of dollars in employee compensation contracts—the county spends $3 billion a year on salaries, benefits and pensions—for the members of the unions who returned the former San Jose city official to public office.
The office of Attorney General Kamala Harris granted the San Jose police union’s request for a judicial review of Measure B, the controversial pension reform ballot measure voters passed last year.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District paid nearly $70,000 in membership fees last fiscal year to a long list of chambers of commerce and other networking associations. Not surprising, almost every single chamber of commerce on the list endorsed the Measure B water tax.
On March 24, Metro/San Jose Inside reported that Santa Clara Family Health Foundation (SCFHF) executive board member and officer Cindy Chavez participated in a board decision to provide $250,000 in funding to the Yes on A committee, on which she and Kathleen King—CEO of SCFHF—constituted a majority of the three-member committee. The committee subsequently turned over a large portion of the funds to the South Bay Labor Council Issues PAC and Democratic Central Committee’s PAC. Because of Chavez’s obvious conflicts of interest—she headed up the SBLC at the time—and the importance of a countywide sales tax increase, which will be paid by all residents, Metro/San Jose Inside felt this was a matter of public interest.
On Friday, nine nonprofit executives wrote a letter to express their thoughts on recent articles. They worry that investigative reporting could make nonprofits “the target of unfounded accusations and public reproach.” Because we feel this is a useful debate to have, and because we want to give differing points of view the proper attention they deserve, we are running below the letter in full, in addition to its appearance in the comments section where it was submitted. —Editor
Teresa Alavarado made it official Thursday, when she filed papers and paid the $1,430.31 fee to run for the vacant District 2 county supervisor seat. San Jose Inside just so happened to be checking up on Registrar of Voters records when Alvarado and her campaign manager, Peter Allen, walked into the office.
Funds from two local non-profit health care foundations made their way to phone banks and mail campaigns of the South Bay Labor Council in 2012 after routing the money through a Measure A’s campaign committee. Both the VMC Foundation and the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation gave more than a quarter-million dollars each—a total of $539,000—to support an 1/8th cent county sales tax measure, Measure A. At least $90,000 of those monies were transferred to the South Bay Labor Council. An incestuous tangle of organizations, directors and consultants characterized the transactions, with common decision-makers on both the giving and receiving ends. None of the organization are willing to discuss how the funds were used and how decisions were made. Former San Jose vice mayor and South Bay Labor Council CEO Cindy Chavez currently heads up the nonprofit SBLC-linked Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA) and sits on the board for the Health Trust and Santa Clara Family Health Foundation.