Skip to content

Policy Watch

By The Left Hook

County of Santa Clara

Funding for the Housing Authority’s Potential Acquisition of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park

County administration is recommending that the Board approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara and the City of Palo Alto relating to funding the Housing Authority’s potential acquisition of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in order to maintain it as a source of moderate income housing for existing residents, in an amount not to exceed $14,500,000 for period June 28, 2016 through June 28, 2018. The MOU has been reviewed and approved by County Counsel as to form and legality. Administration is also recommending the authorization of County Executive, or designee, to negotiate, amend, or terminate Memorandum of Understanding and to take all related subsequent actions with the Housing Authority and City of Palo Alto relating to this MOU. Delegation of authority will expire on June 28, 2018.

Read more

AFL-CIO Votes to Endorse Hillary Clinton for President

By The Left Hook

Yesterday, the AFL-CIO announced that its General Board, which represents 12.5 million members, voted to endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. The endorsement reflects a comprehensive, democratic process started a year ago to capture the interests of the working people the AFL-CIO represents.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “Hillary Clinton is a proven leader who shares our values. Throughout the campaign, she has demonstrated a strong commitment to the issues that matter to working people.”

Lee Saunders, AFSCME President and Chair of the AFL-CIO Political Committee stated, “This election offers a stark choice between an unstoppable champion for working families and an unstable charlatan who made his fortune scamming them.”

While Clinton has earned the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, the federation recognizes that Senator Bernie Sanders brought an important voice to this election that has elevated critical issues and strengthened the foundation of the labor movement.


Mayor Liccardo speaking at the SBLC Election Night Party.

Labor Wins Big on Election Night

By The Left Hook

Yesterday’s list of election winners was a near perfect match with the list of candidates and measures endorsed by the South Bay Labor Council. Here’s a quick rundown:

Assembly District 27 saw labor’s candidate, Ash Kalra, make it past the primary election despite the nearly $2 million spent against Kalra and in favor of his opponent by outside interest groups.

In the San Jose City Council races, the labor endorsed candidate advanced in every race but one. The November General Election will see the following Labor backed candidates:

  • District 2 – Sergio Jimenez
  • District 6 – Helen Chapman

While Josh Barousse did not make it to the runoff for District 8, the two candidates who did, Jimmy Nguyen and Sylvia Arenas, are good for the labor movement and will no doubt have an open door of communication with the Labor Council.

The Labor Council’s endorsed 9- county Measure AA, passed with 69% of the vote. Meanwhile, a historic  collaboration of labor, Mayor Sam Liccardo and the business community lead to the passage — with 62% of the vote- of San Jose’s Measure B, a quarter cent sales tax to fund vital City Services.

This election cycle however was not a success for the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce that, despite spending $120,000 on attack ads, lost all but one race.

Labor-backed candidates and incumbents who won are:
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren
State Senator Bill Monning
State Senator Jerry Hill
Assembly Member Mark Stone
Assembly Member Evan Low
Assembly Member Kansen Chu
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez
Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese
Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian
San Benito County Supervisor Jaime de la Cruz
San Benito County Supervisor Mark Medina

Historic San Jose

The Fiscal History of San Jose — or – Why does the City always seem broke?

By Bob Brownstein

Any grassroots, community or neighborhood activist who has struggled to get the City of San Jose to expand public services has likely encountered a perennial refrain – We’d love to help but the money just isn’t there.

A year ago, my think tank, Working Partnerships USA, and SPUR, a Bay Area urbanist organization decided to take a cold look at the city’s finances since the passage of Proposition 13 in the late 1970’s. Our goal was to determine just what were the problems, what caused them, and what could be done about them? You can check out the entire report here. In this column, I’ll just point out my interpretation of some of the major findings.



Contrary to the hysterical pronouncements that emanated from the Reed Administration, San Jose isn’t Vallejo or Detroit, and bankruptcy isn’t imminent. However, the city does confront some significant fiscal difficulties. Compared to other cities, San Jose does poorly as regards property tax and sales tax receipts – the bed and butter major revenues for urban California. So the city has to scramble to patch together other revenue streams to compensate. Because the patchwork is only of limited effectiveness, San Jose is vulnerable to economic downturns – which translate quickly into painful service reductions. Also, San Jose’s service levels rarely get very high even in good times; it’s staffing levels are noticeably lower than other places. Together these factors mean when you look at San Jose in relationship to its nearby competitors, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto and Mountain View, San Jose seems underfunded and understaffed with lower service levels and less financial stability.

Read more

Recent Articles


Candlelight Vigil #WeAreOrlando

By The Left Hook

Please join us tomororw at 5:30PM for a Candlelight Vigil for the victims of Orlando.


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

By The Left Hook

County of Santa Clara

 Annual budget hearings; approval of $6.1B budget for FY 2016-17

 The County Executive’s Fiscal Year 2017 Recommended Budget represents a $6.1 billion spending plan (all funds) for the County of Santa Clara for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016.

Since the analysis of major revenues was performed in March 2016 for the FY 2016-17 Recommended Budget, the Administration has identified ongoing net revenue increases of $15.5 million, primarily due to increased property tax revenues.

In addition, an additional $13,000,000 in Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Fund Balance is projected to be available after final accounting for the fiscal year, due an unanticipated payment from Anthem Blue Cross to Valley Medical Center (VMC).

Among the notable budget recommendations are an additional $626,000 added to existing grants for legal assistance and related services for unaccompanied immigrant children; $200,000 for a “New Americans Fellowship” pilot to employ 10 DACA youth; $120,000 to add an additional staff position to the Office of Immigrant Relations; $200,000 to contract with two community-based organizations to provide voter registration services; and $500,000 to Sacred Heart, PPMA, SIREN, and Teenforce for projects formerly funded by Measure A funds..

Read more »


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

By The Left Hook

City of San Jose


Review of the Fire Department Strategic Plan (Vision 2030)

Recommendation from the Fire Chief that Council adopt the San Jose Fire Department Strategic Plan, which includes a roadmap to provide ongoing quality services to the community and establish the San Jose Fire Department as a national leader in all-risk emergency response and fire prevention services. Strategies outlined in the Vision 2030 Plan include maximizing existing infrastructure and resources; use of new technologies; refinement and development of systems; seeking opportunities through interdepartmental, interagency, and community coalitions and partnerships; and empowerment of Department personnel.

The Fire Department Organizational Review was completed in Feb. 2016, and a number of the conclusions offered in the review were found to support the direction already identified in the Department’s Strategic Plan. Where the conclusions differed from the Strategic Plan, the findings were reviewed and the plan updated where appropriate.

Execution of the Vision 2030 Plan positions the Department to not only maintain current, essential services but also serves as a guideline for restoration and expansion of services consistent with the findings of the Organizational Review as funds become available.

Read more »


Former Staffer Claims Khanna Lied About Owing Him Money

By The Left Hook

In an article published on, Bill Ferguson, a former Ro Khanna staffer, says Khanna refused to pay him $6,000 for work done during an unsuccessful 2004 Congressional race and is now lying about the money owed.  Khanna claims that Ferguson has been paid.  However, emails sent between the two men, starting as far back as July of 2004, show Khanna acknowledging his debt to Ferguson.  Ferguson spent 10 years asking Khanna to pay him.  Each time Khanna came back with an excuse and no payment. Up to now, the focus has been on Khanna’s refusal to pay a debt he owes, but the bigger issue is Khanna’s credibility.  Not only does Khanna owe Ferguson money, but now Khanna appears to be lying about it.

merc opinion

Brownstein: San Jose rent control law still falls far short of the need

By Bob Brownstein

Special to The Mercury News

By adopting only minimal improvements to San Jose’s rent control law, the City Council has allowed our affordable housing crisis to grow worse each year. Wildly escalating rents are the most damaging effect of the region’s housing problems.

High rents displace seniors and low wage workers; they force multiple families to crowd into a single apartment; they make it impossible for working parents to meet the needs of their children.

Contrary to the recent column by the California Apartment Association, the new changes in the law were anything but “harsh” to landlords. In addition to the allowable 5 percent increase, landlords may profit from:

  • Rent increases above 5 percent in order to make a “fair” return.
  • Pass-throughs of many capital improvement costs.
  • Unlimited rent increases to market levels after a voluntary vacancy or an eviction for cause (50 percent of apartments turn over every four years).
  • Full capital appreciation of their property (estimated by the city’s consultant to be 400 percent over 10 years).

In reality, San Jose’s revised ordinance provides renters a mere fraction of the protections guaranteed in other large California cities. By failing to act decisively, the city’s leaders are allowing 44,000 apartments to become unaffordable (state law limits rent control to these older units, about 1/3 of all apartments in San Jose). No combination of other affordable housing strategies can make up for this massive loss.

Similarly, the City Council’s actions on retaliation address only a small part of the problem. The proposed protections cover only tenants who file code enforcement complaints. The ordinance leaves out the renter evicted because she protested drug dealing on the premises or because she yelled at an apartment manager to keep his hands off her daughter or because she had the courage to speak out at a city council meeting.

To respond to our affordable housing crisis, the City Council must strengthen its existing rent control ordinance. Building on this base, it can help generate additional solutions.

Allowing more market rate apartments to be built can be helpful. City leaders must recognize that the reason old and poorly maintained units can command exorbitant rents is that the city restricts the housing supply. However, this strategy has limits.

The amount of new housing needed to actually bring down rents would be massive, possibly doubling the size of the city. Our elected leaders believe — with justification- that there are fiscal and environmental obstacles to allowing new construction on such a gigantic scale.

Recognizing that city planning limits supply, the city council should demand that the effects of this policy be allocated fairly. But right now, the limits force the transfer of millions of dollars from low wage workers to investors. They turn San Jose into two separate cities — one composed of those who gain from a housing shortage and one of families devastated by the lack of affordable shelter.

After strengthening the rent control law and permitting additional apartment construction, there is much that local governments can do to address the crisis.

The county and cities should work together to support a large scale affordable housing bond. Every city should adopt residential and commercial impact fees to generate revenue that allows non-profit developers to construct affordable units.

Homelessness is a blight that we should no longer accept. It is broadly agreed that supportive housing works. All that is required is political will and adequate funding.

However, leaving 44,000 households facing displacement because of inadequate rent controls is the absolutely wrong place to start this effort.

Bob Brownstein is director of policy and research at Working Partnerships USA. He wrote this for the Mercury News. The link to Brownstein’s opinion piece can be found here.






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

By The Left Hook

County of Santa Clara

 Special election to be held August 16 to fill vacant Sunnyvale City Council seat

 The City of Sunnyvale submitted a resolution on April 27, 2016, requesting that the Registrar of Voters (ROV) provide services for a special election to be held on August 16, 2016 to fill the Council seat vacated

Where:  Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors

When: May 24, 2016, 9 am

Link to item:

Link to agenda:

Read more »


Chamber Continues to Face Backlash for Hit Pieces

By The Left Hook

The San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce has been getting a lot of heat for its mudslinging against District 8 candidate Joshua Barousse.  Last week, Pat Waite, another contender for the District 8 seat, found the hits on Barousse so petty and overinflated that in a letter published in the Evergreen Times he stated, “I have returned the contribution that the Chamber made to my campaign, and will no longer use their endorsement in my materials.”

Earlier this week, the Silicon Valley Young Democrats, along with two former Presidents of the California Young Democrats sent an open letter to Matt Mahood, CEO and President of the Chamber. The letter called on Mahood to immediately stop the personal attacks, citing that at a time when voter turnout is at an all-time low, the ads only serve to “further disillusion young people to the realities of community service.”

Council Member Raul Peralez has also spoken out against the Chamber’s focus on attacking candidates on “minor traffic infractions.”


Opportunity to Work Headed to San Jose City Council, Supporters Urge Adoption

By The Left Hook

Today, the San Jose City Clerk announced that the Opportunity to Work Initiative has the signatures needed to be placed on the November 2016 ballot. The Council, which will hear the item at their May 24th meeting, has the option of placing the measure on the November 2016 ballot, adopting the ordinance or requesting an impact report. Silicon Valley Rising, community and religious leaders, and impacted hourly workers are urging City Council to adopt the measure.

Last month, a new report by Working Partnerships USA, The Center for Popular Democracy and the Fair Workweek Initiative, uncovered an epidemic of underemployment in San Jose. To help combat the crisis locally, Opportunity to Work would require employers to offer current, qualified part-time employees the opportunity to work additional hours before they hire any additional staff. This is the first initiative of its kind, aimed at providing part-time employees across all industries access to the hours needed for a reliable, livable paycheck.



Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in response to new overtime rules unveiled by the Department of Labor

By The Left Hook

Below is the statement released by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in response to the new overtime rules:

“New overtime protections mark a major victory for working people that will improve the lives of millions of families across America. The new rule more than doubles the salary threshold, ensuring workers who make less than $47,500 are eligible for overtime. We applaud the Obama Administration heeding the call for action to ensure working people get paid for all the hours we work. Taking this step to restore overtime is one of the many ways we are beginning to change the rules of our economy that are rigged in favor of Wall Street.

“The fight for even stronger overtime protections and to raise wages for all working people continues. But today, millions of workers will receive a long overdue raise, healthier and more productive jobs, and more time to spend with our community and loved ones.”



Statement online here:


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

By The Left Hook

County of Santa Clara

Approving Master Development Agreement with Lowe for master plan & entitlements/CEQA review for redevelopment of 55-acre Civic Center site

 This is the next step in the redevelopment of the 55-acre County-owned Civic Center site in north San Jose.

Pursuant to the terms of the Predevelopment Facilities Agreement with Lowe Enterprises, approved by the Board on February 4, 2014, as amended, Administration has negotiated the proposed Master Development Agreement (MDA) for preparation of a Master Plan and the potential subsequent development of public, residential, commercial, industrial and/or cultural uses, at the Civic Center site.

The proposed MDA lays out a roadmap for preparation of a Civic Center Master Plan and laying the groundwork for subsequent development. This is significant because it represents preparation of a comprehensive plan that would be implemented over the next decade to replace/renovate aging capital facilities at the Civic Center. At this point the County would only be committing to completion of Phases A and B.

The MDA also includes the commitment that Lowe would be the developer of the first $150 million of new County buildings during the next 7 to 10 years, depending on how long it takes to complete CEQA and the Master Plan.

Read more »


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: