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Update from the City Council Campaign Trail

By The Left Hook

As the date for the 2016 primary election approaches, campaign spending is starting to flow more freely.  Here’s the latest:

Earlier this week, the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce ChamberPAC dropped $11,000 on a mailer for San Jose District 6 City Council Candidate Dev Davis, and that was after the Chamber had already spend $9,000 on research, polls and surveys for Ms. Davis.

In addition to the $20,000 the Chamber spent supporting Davis, they dedicated $40,000 for attack mail and $10,000 on research against Sergio Jimenez, a City Council candidate for San Jose District 2.

Using their own personal wealth to fund their campaigns are Pat Waite, Norm Kline, Chris Roth and Steve Brown, each of whom loaned himself an additional $10,000 in the last week.

Full disclosure reports covering the last four months come out tonight.  More to follow.

Cat wearing glasses

Policy Watch: Your weekly tip sheet to what’s going on in your community

By The Left Hook

County of Santa Clara

Code enforcement revisions include fee/fine adjustments and creating a Community Restitution Fund

At the November 19, 2015 HLUET meeting, the Department presented a strategy to reduce the incidence of violations and the costs and staff time associated with abating violations once they are identified. Staff is returning with a report that provides an update on Code Enforcement’s current program improvements and describes further improvements that require ordinance modifications. Staff is proposing a new “Community Restitution Fund” (CRF) to receive code enforcement fines. Deposits in the CRF would serve as a source of funds to conduct specific types of code enforcement projects such as code abatement operations and community clean-up projects. Under this proposed framework, fines would not accrue to the General Fund (unless a pre-set maximum fund level was achieved in the CRG), or be used to fund the routine operations of the Code Enforcement Division.

Staff has been actively focusing on a review and prioritization of the backlog of code enforcement violations within the department.

Upon receiving HLUET input and direction, staff will prepare ordinance language for consideration by the full Board at the May 24th Board meeting.

 Where:  Santa Clara County Housing, Land Use, Environment, and Transportation Cmte

When: April 21, 2016, 3:30pm

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Sunnyvale Votes to Increase Minimum Wage to $15 by 18

By The Left Hook

By a vote of 4-1-1 last night, the Sunnyvale City Council chose to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018, four years sooner than mandated by California’s new minimum wage law.  Sunnyvale is the first city in California to advance the timeline by which it gets to the $15 minimum wage since Governor Brown signed the legislation into law earlier this month.

The extraordinarily high cost of living in Silicon Valley makes it nearly impossible for minimum wage earners to pay rent and put food on the table. For these workers, getting to $15 an hour faster than required by the state means a greater ability to pay for their basic needs.

Yesterday’s decision, led in large part by Councilmembers Jim Davis and Jim Griffith, is a perfect example of a City Council understanding the needs of its families and moving forward with policies that help its residents.  Joining Councilmembers Davis and Griffith in support of $15 by 2018 were Vice Mayor Gustav Larsson and Councilmember Tara Martin-Milius.  Mayor Glenn Hendricks was the sole no vote and Councilmember Pat Meyering abstained.

Sunnyvale’s decision to join Mountain View in raising the minimum wage faster than the state’s $15 by 2022 puts pressure on other regional cities, like San Jose, to keep up.


Statement from California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski on signing of SB 3 to raise California’s minimum wage to $15

By Art Pulaski

“With the Governor’s signature on SB 3 today, California strikes a serious blow to income inequality. This new law lifts families and strengthens our communities.

The statement California made today will echo throughout the country. By boosting 6 million workers across the state, we’re saying that all work is valued and all working people have value. No matter your job, you are contributing to the economic success of your company, your community and your nation. By lifting those at the bottom of the economic ladder, we level the playing field for everyone. California is setting all workers on a path out of poverty and restoring the American Dream.

This historic signing is testament to the power working people hold when we stand together to fight for justice. California has once again set the bar for the rest of the country. We’re on the leading age of a movement to change America. The wave of higher wages that starts here today will cascade to other states, bringing with it fresh hope to millions of working people across the country.”


This statement was originally posted on the California Labor Federation’s Labor’s Edge Blog


SCOTUS 4-4 Split Means Victory for Unions

By Richard Alexander

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 4-4 on the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that sought to break public employee unions.

In our state, public school teachers don’t have to be members of the California Teachers Association if they have religious or political beliefs about being a union member.  Teachers can opt out of the union, but have to pay about 65% of the CTA dues as an “agency fee” to cover the costs of collective bargaining, of getting the higher pay and benefits the CTA negotiates for all teachers.  In lieu of paying for the union’s political activities, the alternative is to contribute the other 35% to a charity.

If SCOTUS still had Scalia, the final vote announced today would have been 5-4 in favor of the dissident teachers and that would have exonerated the dissidents from paying the 65% “agency fee,” and at the same time ring the death knell for public employee unions. And it would add to the disgraceful decisions in Citizens United, Bush v. Gore and gutting the Voting Rights Act as bellwethers of a country speeding back to the 1880s. For anyone who doubts the significance of Friedrichs, open the Supreme Court Docket for this case and see the flood of amici briefs that have been filed.  Today we can be thankful that SCOTUS split 4-4 and the dissidents lost.  That was too close for comfort.

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Policy Watch: Your weekly tip sheet on what’s going on in your community

By The Left Hook

County of Santa Clara

 Adopting policy for Community Workforce Agreements on public works 

In its February 23, 2016 meeting, the Board directed Administration to require the consideration of a Project Labor Agreement for all public works contracts over $2,000,000 and to include a hiring program that (1) targets employment for current and past County clients, including but not limited to clients of Social Services, Reentry, and Foster Care, (2) to not include targeted hiring if prohibited by federal or state law or would jeopardize federal or state funding; and (3) provide that the Office of the County Executive may recommend individual exemptions to considerations/use of a PLA.

Administration and representatives from Santa Clara & San Benito Counties Building & Construction Trades Council (SBTC) are currently working on a PLA template that includes a targeted hiring component for the Board’s review and approval upon completion.  Such template will expedite and streamline future PLA negotiations.

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BREAKING NEWS: DONALD TRUMP endorses CA’s $15 Minimum Wage!

By The Left Hook

April Fools!

While we all know that Trump refuses to support any good policy that helps working families, our Governor, State legislature and labor movement prioritize our workers.

This week’s passage of the $15 minimum wage was historic and when Governor Jerry Brown signs the bill, he will again show the nation why California is a champion for worker rights and protections.


Beloved Community Leader Dennis Kennedy Passes Away

By The Left Hook

Last night, Dennis Kennedy, former Mayor of Morgan Hill, passed away after a long battle with cancer.  Kennedy, who up until recently served as a Board Member for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, was considered by many to be a mentor and true public servant.  His years of leadership, volunteerism and time as mayor not only helped shape the City of Morgan Hill, but earned Kennedy the respect and admiration of his peers.

Kennedy was passionate about the betterment of his community, which was clearly reflected in how he chose to spend his time. He was an American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley senior fellow, a member of the Rotary Club, former president of the Morgan Hill Downtown Association and recipient of the 2007 Morgan Hill Leadership Excellence Award. In 2015, he was honored by Gavilan College with the Lifetime Community Spirit Award and on December 4th of the same year the city renamed the Morgan Hill Aquatics Center the Dennis Kennedy Aquatics Center.

Kennedy served as mayor of Morgan Hill from 1992 to 2006 before re-entering the political arena in 2013 when he was appointed to the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

Dennis Kennedy was a great leader in Morgan Hill and the surrounding region.  His absence will be felt.

Gov Brown

Governor Brown, Legislative, and Labor Leaders Agree to $15 by 2022

By The Left Hook

Today, Governor Brown, Legislative leaders and the Labor movement made history by announcing a policy that would raise the wages of underpaid Californians to $15 per hour by 2022. More than one in three California workers, or nearly 6 million Californians, will receive a raise under this policy. Combined with workers who are already on a path to $15 because of local efforts by organizations such as Silicon Valley Rising in the South Bay, more than 6.5 million workers will now have a path to a $15 wage.

The agreement in California is the latest victory for the Fight for $15 and underpaid workers who three years ago launched their movement for higher pay and union rights. In California, local Fight for $15 organizations have won key victories in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In Silicon Valley, cities such as Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto, have already committed to a $15 minimum wage, thanks to the regional work by Silicon Valley Rising.

Additionally, the policy ends an unfair exclusion of home care workers from a state guarantee of three paid sick days for all workers. When this agreement is signed into law by Governor Brown, California will be the first state in the nation to adopt this  standard for all workers.


Take Up Our Quarrel – Bob Brownstein’s 2016 COPE Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech

By Bob Brownstein

In two months, I’ll be 70 years old. I’ve been fighting for the rights and well-being of working people for longer than many of the people in this room have been alive.

I made my first speech in favor of health insurance for all Americans in June of 1964. The MediCare Act was signed a year later, but after that the next steps took decades. Finally, the Clinton Administration managed to provide health insurance for quite a few children. But in the Year 2000, the SC County labor movement launched an effort to make us the first county in the country to provide coverage for ALL children. And we didn’t stop there. With a little help from President Obama, we helped launch Covered California and expand MediCal. And now our BOS has approved a new initiative to generate coverage for undocumented. We are finally virtually there — where every other modern country has been for years — health coverage for all.

What should we learn from this story?  We’re on a long road — a road with few short cuts and a lot of steep hills.

Well, when you’re on a long road, it’s critically important to keep your eyes on the prize so you don’t make a wrong turn. What’s the prize? There’s a lot of pieces of it — wages, and health care and housing and retirement — there’s the right to organize.

When you put them together — it’s all about justice.

Unfortunately, we have to do more than simply walk that long road to justice.

There are people and organizations that have built road blocks to stop us.

At many points, we have to fight to open the way.

Sometimes, the opposition will try to stop us by confusing the issue.

If you listened to the Republican presidential debates, in the few minutes when the candidates weren’t hurling crap at each other, they talked about freedom. The right wing economist, Milton Friedman, even wrote a book entitled, Capitalism and Freedom.

When you think about it, that’s funny. Modern Capitalists and Corporations have found a way to get along with virtually every dictatorship on earth. They had no problem with Pinochet in Chile. They can work with Putin in Russia. In Beijing, corporate capitalists are members of the Chinese Communist Party. But there’s one kind of organization dictators absolutely cannot tolerate — free trade unions. Why? Because when they say freedom, they mean the 1% should be free to control the lives of everyone else. When unions say freedom, we mean the right of people to stand together to determine their own future.

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Policy Watch: Your weekly tip sheet on what’s going on in your community

By The Left Hook

County of Santa Clara

 Forwarding letter of concern over San Jose Crime-Free Housing proposal

 The City of San Jose is considering adopting a new law enforcement program that focuses on reducing crime and calls for service at multi-housing complexes. San Jose staff will present a draft report on Crime-Free Housing to the Housing and Community Development Commission on March 10, 2016, and to the Rules Committee on March 30, 2016. The Rules Committee can either accept, reject, or modify the recommendations in the report; following approval by the Rules Committee, the report will go before the City Council.

The spread of these ordinances throughout the nation is cause for great concern, as they lead to costly consequences not just for tenant families but also for the entire community. These ordinances can undermine public safety by silencing crime victims and others who need to seek emergency aid or report crime. They can increase housing instability and ultimately homelessness for victims of domestic and sexual violence, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable tenants. They can reduce the availability of desperately needed affordable rental housing. And they can result in violations of tenants’ and landlords’ rights – including rights to be free from discrimination, to contact the government for assistance, and to receive due process – and thereby expose municipalities to legal liability.

The Domestic Violence Council first discussed the Crime-Free Housing proposal on November 6, 2015. On January 8, 2016, the Domestic Violence Council discussed forwarding a proposed letter to the City of San Jose. Also on January 8, 2016, the Child Abuse Council approved submitting a joint letter from both Councils, and approved the letter as amended. On February 5, 2016, the Domestic Violence Council approved submitting the amended letter to the City of San Jose. Given the potential for this policy to disproportionately impact domestic violence victims, the letter urges the City of San Jose to consider the unintended consequences of a crime-free multi-housing program on the residents of San Jose, and in particular, the strong likelihood of harm to domestic violence victims and their children.

The Domestic Violence Council and Child Abuse Council are requesting permission to forward the letter to the City of San Jose.

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San Jose Does Not Have a Spending Problem; It Has a Revenue Problem

By The Left Hook

To turn a catch phrase on its head — San Jose does not have a spending problem; it has a revenue problem.  The City has a structural deficit because revenues are insufficient to pay for essential services.  That structural deficit predates the catastrophic losses to the City’s two pension funds, and without more revenue it will continue, despite the fact that the City is instituting pension reform.

Even the City business community now supports a tax increase.  At yesterday’s City Council meeting, Chamber of Commerce head Matt Mahood and Silicon Valley Leadership Group head Carl Guardino joined organized labor in backing an additional 1/4 cent sales tax.  Now, for the first time in memory, there is a consensus that City taxes should increase.  The City Council voted 9-2 to put a 15 year 1/4 cent sales tax on the June ballot.

San Jose State Professor Scott Meyers-Lipton and others have argued that a gross receipts tax (GRT) would generate more revenue to close the City’s structural deficit and it would be more equitable.  The City staff’s memo on the GRT provided evidence in support of those arguments.  However, the business community hates the GRT, and Mayor Liccardo managed to address tax equity concerns with an alternative proposal to double the City’s business license tax.

The Mayor’s proposal helps ensure that the increased tax burden does not fall only on City residents, but is borne as well by City businesses.  In combination with the 1/4 cent sales tax, the increased business tax will close the structural deficit and restore essential City services in a way that is fair to residents and businesses.  The City Council passed a motion to pursue a doubling of the business tax on a 10-1 vote.  In June the Council will vote on the language of a tax measure for the November 2016 ballot.


Pierluigi Oliverio for Congress?

By The Left Hook

In an unexpected move, it appears that San Jose District 6 Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio has declared for California’s Congressional District 17 Seat.  According to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voter’s Website, Mr. Oliverio has paid the $1,740.00 candidate ballot filing fee and was issued his candidate statement last Friday.  He joins an extremely competitive race with longtime incumbent Mike Honda, serial congressional candidate Ro Khanna, and Republican Ron Cohen.


Santa Clara Gets Mayor and More Collaborative Feel as it Seeks a New Council Member

By The Left Hook

With the unanimous appointment of Lisa Gillmor to the Mayor’s seat, the characteristically divided Santa Clara City Council has taken an important step in becoming a more collaborative policy-making body. Mayor Gillmor was widely considered the best choice to follow Jamie Matthews, who unexpectedly resigned earlier this month. “Mayor Gillmor will provide us a platform to come together, work harmoniously, and tackle the issues that are important to promoting our working families,” said Councilman Dominic Caserta.

With her move to Mayor, Gillmor leaves an open City Council Seat. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the Council declared a vacancy in City Council Seat No. 6, for the unexpired term ending in November 2016. The timeline to appoint a new Council Member is aggressive, with the application deadline on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm and the interview date on Monday, March 7, 2016 at 7:00 pm. The Oath of Office is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 7:00 pm.

Now, we will keep an eye on who throws their hat into the ring and hope that the Council selects a candidate who is not only well-qualified, but keeps up the new, more collaborative feel in Santa Clara City Hall.



Policy Watch: Your weekly tip sheet on what’s going on in your community

By The Left Hook

Santa Clara County

Approving financing plan & design-build construction for $281M new jail 

On August 11, 2015, the Board of Supervisors considered the Administration’s proposal to construct a new jail facility, including housing, programming, treatment, and the financing necessary to complete this complex project. On December 17, 2015, the County received a letter from the BSCC notifying us that the County had been conditionally awarded $80 million in state lease revenue bond financing to build the requested facility.

In response to a request from the Board, County staff has conducted several community meetings regarding the new facility. Based on community input, County staff has been working to some add in-person non-contact visitation and additional special management beds to the new facility.

Possible action:

  1. Adopt Resolution authorizing the application for Senate Bill (SB) 863 Jail Construction Financing.
  2. Approve delegation of authority to Chief Operating Officer….
  3. Approve modifications to the County’s proposal to allow for six additional months for construction, increased special management step-down beds, medical and dental space, visitation space, and change in construction method to design build.
  4. Approve plan to finance the County’s New Jail Facility and accept award of $80 million from the State SB 863 Jail Construction Financing.

Where:  Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors

When: Feb. 23, 2016, 9 am

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