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

Dear Readers: Summer agendas are typically light fare allowing elected officials to escape on vacation. We’ll still be covering local policy issues we think you should pay attention to, but when the agendas are light (like this week) we’ll use this space to link to other things we think you should know about. Read more »


The Substance of a Unique Legacy

John Vasconcellos family and friends said good-bye last Saturday.   For 38 years he represented Silicon Valley in the legislature, fighting for the under served, and seeking to live an authentic life worthy of the talents he possessed and inspiring others to take up that same challenge.  To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, he did it his way.

Brian Murphy, a longtime friend and adviser, set the tone for the event.  He reminded us that John was comfortable utilizing power for good. He had over 15 pages of accomplishments that were a result of John’s work in the legislature.  As he served as the powerful Ways and Means chair in the Assembly, nary a bill of significance did not have his imprint. As a Senator, and dean of the California State Legislature, he became its conscience. Read more »


Trauma to Triumph Gang Intervention is Proving Its Worth

When the Board of Supervisors passed the new Santa Clara County budget last week, one of the most important new public safety items was the Trauma to Triumph program I supported at Valley Medical Center.  While the $289,480 one-time cost will cover only one year of this gang intervention program – on which we partner with the City of San Jose – the results we’ve seen since it began last fall are so encouraging that I hope we can make it a permanent program next year.

Trauma to Triumph swings into action any time a gang member is admitted to Valley Med as a result of gang violence. Read more »


AB 60: The Road to CA Driver’s Licenses

Assembly Bill 60, passed and signed into law in 2013, will allow undocumented immigrants in California an opportunity to apply for a driver’s license in California effective January 1, 2015. Since February of this year, Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN) has engaged activists, community members and other stakeholders by holding nearly two dozen community education presentations in Monterey, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. The trainings cover the core of the legislation, required documentation for the application process and effective strategies for passing the written test. Read more »


Whopper of the Week: Tenure Decision produces multi-whoppers

This week’s whopper is an editorial by the San Jose Mercury News regarding Superior Court Rolf M. Treu’s decision declaring California’s tenure rules for teachers to be unconstitutional.  Part of Judge Treu’s reasoning was that the tenure rules allegedly make it extraordinarily difficult to discharge incompetent teachers and incompetent teachers deny students a quality education.

The first component of the whopper is the Mercury’s assumption that teacher quality is automatically improved by making it easier to fire poorly performing teachers. The problem with this “reasoning” is that it completely ignores the fact that there may be a relationship between changes in the tenure rules and the ability of school districts to hire superior teachers. Read more »


Living Wage Policy is Gaining Momentum

Get ready to voice  your opinion about what a good job really  looks like.  It’s one with wages that allow workers to support themselves and their families; it’s one where workers have a voice on the job to speak up about abuses or inequity; it’s one where a mother or father whose child is sick, can stay home for a day or two and take care of them, without worrying about losing that day’s pay.  You’ll get the chance to speak up about a comprehensive Living Wage policy in Santa Clara County this summer.

The campaign for the country’s most comprehensive living wage is gaining momentum.  Today, Supervisors Dave Cortese and Cindy Chavez meet at the County’s Children, Seniors and Families Committee to move forward the plan to complete research and a policy framework in three months. The law would effects thousands of workers whose employers have contracts with the County. Read more »


Silicon Valley’s Minimum Wage Success Story: Businesses concerned with minimum wage increases need look no further than tech’s capital

Minimum wage increases are being enacted in cities across the country, from SeaTac, Washington, to Washington, D.C. Wherever a hike is proposed, free market conservatives offer the same dire warnings: Raising the minimum wage will increase unemployment, depress growth and hurt workers.

The latest example is Seattle, where Mayor Ed Murray finds himself under pressure from the city’s businesses after supporting the widely popular campaign for a $15 per hour minimum wage, which he signed after the city council approved it June 2. Read more »


Transit Improvements Can Help Close the Valley’s Economic Divide

Silicon Valley badly needs transportation improvements. Without investments in transit, expressways, bike lanes and more, our quality of life and our economy will deteriorate.

Soon our community may have the opportunity to make decisions that can help make progress on these critical infrastructure issues. The Valley Transportation Authority is considering placing a quarter-cent sales tax on the November ballot. As has been done before, the voters of our region will have the chance to raise local revenues to fund our own local priorities. Read more »


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

City of San Jose

Fire department response time and action plan

Staff will report back to the San Jose Public Safety, Finance and Strategic Support Committee about actions that have been taken to improve response times for 9-1-1 emergency calls in San Jose, including future actions to improve response times and sustainable data collection for accurate reporting.

The City is doing it’s best to make up for cutting public safety to unsafe levels. However, it’s still very much a work in process.

Where:           San Jose Public Safety, Finance and Strategic Support Committee
When:             June 19
Agenda:          link Read more »


A Minimum Wage Adjustment is Needed Countywide

Given the increasing disparity among wage earners here, passing higher minimum wage laws in all cities in Santa Clara County is long overdue. The City of San Jose set a great example that should be emulated. 

If we are committed to creating and supporting a healthier, more vigorous and equitable community, this is one way to begin to address the issues. The cost of living (such as housing, food, and transportation) will continue to accelerate; without adjustments to wages, the unemployed, underemployed, and working poor in all communities will continue to struggle to make decent livings because their “buying power” purchases less and less over time. The disparities will increase. Read more »


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