Coyote Valley Boondoggle

Having just returned to my downtown lair from a week of hiking in the southern desert, it is easy for me to see and feel the positive effects of open spaces on the human psyche. Perhaps that is why I am finding it even more difficult than usual to tacitly swallow the Coyote Valley development boondoggle as inevitable. Apparently, given the facts presented in the new financial analysis of the planned community there, and the strong “go-slow” position taken by the Mercury News in a recent editorial, others feel the same way. However, I would describe my own attitude as more of a “no-go” for the development.

How big is big enough? Do you think that the developers—who are salivating at the prospect of getting their grubby little fingers on all of that perfect, beautifully situated, USDA Prime, revenue-generating space—care one whit about the 1 million citizens of this city? Well, don’t fool yourself—they don’t. They are interested in filling their infinite, voluminous pockets with yet more dough, and looking out for number one. “And,” as Frank Zappa aptly put it, “number one ain’t you; you ain’t even number two.”

In the meantime, if you want to see what the future of Coyote Valley would look like if the pro-development evil-doers get their way, look no further than the recently minted “developer’s paradise” of Santa Clarita. The next time you pass Magic Mountain on your way to LA, take a look out of the left side of your car. Even better, take a detour off of I-5 north on Highway 14 for a few miles—you won’t believe your eyes. Thirty years ago, this area was ranchland and wide open spaces too. The unrelieved ugliness that you will see in Santa Clarita is what we will get here if we are not very careful.

Our mayoral candidates need to let us know exactly where they stand on the issue of further development around the fringes of the city, and Coyote Valley in particular. So far David Pandori is the only one to state opposition to any development planning in Coyote Valley. This is what I would like to hear from the others too, but I won’t hold my breath.

I know that we are lucky in that there are a number of beautiful and well-maintained county parks ringing the city. But Coyote Valley is special: a physical and psychological buffer zone between San Jose and the quickly emerging metropolis comprised of Morgan Hill-Gilroy-Salinas. It’s the kind of rapidly-dwindling open space that reminds us natives, of more than 50 years of age, what this state used to look like before the big-money real estate barons got power here. Let’s leave it as it is to give ourselves a place for feasting eye and soul—a picture postcard of what the countryside used to look like before Santa Clarita became the model of modern Western civilization.

61 Comments

  1. If I read all this correctly, and I’m pretty sure I do, the City wasn’t able to account for the park fee money being spent for about a year AND they can’t spend it all right now anyway—BUT they still want more money. 

    A few questions:

    Will they be able to spend it since they can’t use the money for operations?

    Will they account for the money?

  2. Boy Jack you are really right on.  I support your post 100%.  I’m a native prune picker and anyone my age who was born here is a prune picker.  That’s a complimentary title.  There will be those who accuse us of being tree-huggers, and salamander lovers, and burrowing owl protectors but I’m not concerned about that.  One of the nicest rides left in the area is to drive south on Santa Teresa from Bernal and go over the little hill into Coyote Valley and pause to look.  It’s like a look back in time to the valley as it once was.  Then….take a drive south on 101 from the 85 interchange south of San Jose and view the hillside development on the left (east) as you approach Coyote Valley.  Terrible!  As you drive east on Metcalf Road from the fish ponds you pass a gate on the left which is the access road into this hillside scar.  This is being built at the northern end of Coyote Valley.  How did it get approved?  Planning Commission or City Council?  Now which of the mayor candidates supports this development and which don’t. DAVE PANDORI has told me personally he does not support developing Coyote Valley.

  3. There are two different objections here:

    1) housing-only development will wreak further havoc in SJ finances. Instead, need to follow the “Master Plan” to ensure tax-generating businesses in place as a prerequisite

    2) any development to this rural area is bad. Keep it green!

    While I think #2 would be nice, I’m not sure how practical it is, or how fair it is to people wishing to move here.

    I’m strongly in favor of #1. To fill Coyote Valley with housing only would be a disaster for traffic and SJ finances.

    Is it correct that Pandori (only) is taking position #2? Which candidates can we count on to follow #1?

    John B.

  4. Nicely said. If the people of San Jose care at all about preserving the last remaining agricultural lands in San Jose they must speak out now. It’s too bad that saving this land has to be political, but that is the only way to save. If you do not care about saving this beautiful land for current and future generations, that is is unfortunate. If you care at all about sane planning, good environmental policy, and saving Coyote Valley, your only choice is to vote for David Pandori. No other candidate running for mayor will save Coyote Valley (I know some of you think that would be a good thing and the more buildings we can put up, the better.) But, if you don’t care about saving the land, then think about the future generations. If that doesn’t do it, then we have a long educational process ahead of us—and that means it will probably be too late to save San Jose.

  5. How refreshing. The council mutes, Campos and Pyle, suddenly find their voice (or at least open their mouths so others can voice the words.) The sit silent through all of the scandals of the past years, then suddenly “see the light” and level an attack on Cortese. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that they both support Cindy and that Campos is the 2nd Lady of Labor (just behind Cindy.) This is such a shocking turn of events—I hope Cindy will call mmediately for a task force to be formed so this matter can be studied. Then, after the study begins, she can call for an end to the study. Time to dump them all.

  6. Yes, Many residents and voters agree San Jose has poor basic city services,  city repairs and maintenance and investment in traffic and other improvements which if voters and residents do not insist that City Council use some of our tax money to repair and maintain and improve our quality of life San Jose will decline as it did in the older neighborhoods for decades until Strong Neighborhoods reversed the decline

    Blighted neighborhoods are getting some tax increment money to fix decades of neglected necessary streets, sewers and sidewalks repairs – many of which were on list of worst San Jose streets for decades and had frequent water line breaks and sewer backups. There are hundreds of millions in other city neighborhoods still to be fixed as part of our neglected basic city services

    In my neighborhood, we had to write a federal CDBG grant as part of money to fix city streets and sewers which shows the neglect of San Jose city infrastructure

    SNI projects are regulated by California state law and are not nice to have but necessary city repairs to long neglected older neighborhoods to encourage private investment and increased economic activity which has occurred in many older SNI neighborhoods and is reflecte din increased property values and higher city tax revenues

    Economic development is a secondary use of Tax increment money under California Health and safety law which many cities have been heavily criticized and California Legislature was looking at significantly restricting the much abused economic development only redevelopment policies that San Jose and many other cities did before Strong Neighborhoods which has been highly praised as an outstanding program and is the model for many other cities

    San Jose / Silicon Valley Chamber continues to support economic development over a balanced combination of repairing city infrastructure as required by state law and economic development as shown in a recent Rotary speech and their position papers and lobby for more

    San Jose need a balanced use of redevelopment funds and Audits of all redevelopment projects especially the widely recognized much abused redevelopment economic development projects to see if taxpayers got good value for their tax dollars

    There has never been questions about the value of fixing our city streets, sewers etc or if it was a good use of tax increment money except by those lobbyists, big box stores and Chamber’s that want all the tax increment money for their many questionable redevelopment economic development projects too numerous to list.

  7. #4 Mo Money,

    The money was accounted for.  What you are hearing is the lobbyists/developers are trying to spin that money was lost (or spent on a Grand Prix).

    When you have a mayor and council that takes away land that was planned as park and use it for a parking lot for a new unapproved Ballpark, of course the money can’t spent.

    We could spend the money if we had a mayor that made Parks a priority.

  8. Perhaps Coyote Valley will need to be developed in the future, but we are a long way from that point.  Until we have rationally examined our current in-city land use it makes no sense to contemplate or make plans for the development of Coyote Valley.

    A common issue I hear over and over is that San Jose has a poor jobs to residents ratio.  This imbalance results in lower tax revenue for city services, which leads to a corresponding lower quality of life for all city residents.  To me, the question becomes how can we increase jobs on existing land within San Jose that will result in an increase of tax revenue and improve city neighborhoods without a major population increase.

    One area of the city that can use improvement is East San Jose (ESJ).  Currently, ESJ is simply a bedroom community with no major job centers for current, or future residents.  This is especially bad when one considers that the high-tech industry has contributed to a better quality of life in many bay area neighborhoods, but has not helped the East San Jose area.  So, it stands to reason that if we can bring high-tech jobs to ESJ we can help improve the neighborhood, and reduce the demand to develop Coyote Valley.

    When one considers that the Reid-Hillview (RHV) airport in ESJ occupies 180 acres of land, and is directly in the middle of a residential neighborhood, we realize that this is the ideal location in San Jose to develop for jobs.  Some of the benefits of developing RHV as a high-tech campus are:

    <ul>
    <li>The tax revenue from the companies located on the site will benefit Santa Clara County, and San Jose.</li>
    <li>The high-tech campus will provide a variety of jobs for local residents.</li>
    <li>The high-tech companies locating at this site can be encouraged to support the local schools with equipment, supplies, and
    voluntary help.</li>
    <li>Workers at the high-tech campus will move into the neighborhood.</li>
    <li>The additional sales tax revenue generated from increased sales at adjacent Eastridge mall will benefit the entire city.</li>
    <li>The increased sales will result in more profit for the Eastridge stores.</li>
    <li>Most, if not all, local businesses will see an increase in sales.</li>
    <li>The increased sales at Eastridge, and other small local businesses, will provide more jobs for local residents, including entry
    level jobs for area youth.</li>
    <li>The livability and desirability of the surrounding neighborhood will immediately increase.</li>
    <li>As East San Jose becomes a more desirable location the school system and other social institutions will benefit. </li>
    <li>Blight and crime in the area will decrease.</li>
    <li>Instead of the 180 acres of land used as a general aviation airport producing approximately $300,000 local tax revenue per year, it will probably produce millions of dollars a year in local tax revenue.</li>
    <li>Home equity will increase for local home owners allowing them to remodel their homes, send their children to college, and otherwise help the economy.</li>
    <li>The increased property tax collection from home sales will benefit San Jose and the local school system.</li>
    <li>The entire Bay area will benefit from reduced and redistributed freeway traffic.</li>
    <li>Since the high-tech campus will be virtually deserted at night, weekends, and holidays, permanent local traffic will only
    minimally increase.</li>
    <li>Light rail can be extended down Capitol Expressway providing an alternative commute vehicle.</li>
    <li>Local residents can either walk or bicycle to work.</li>
    <li>All county residents will benefit from a revitalized East San Jose.</li>
    <li>Developing Reid-Hillview will delay and minimize development in Coyote Valley and Edenvale.</li>
    <li>No more pilots flying in circles, over and over and over, practicing takeoffs and landings and disturbing thousands of Eastside
    residents at any hour of the day or night.</li>
    <li>No more lead poisoning of pregnant women, children, and adults from RHV aircraft exhaust.</li>
    <li>No more physical and psychological harm to children and adults from the constant RHV noise.</li>
    <li>Improved academic performance from students no longer distracted by RHV aircraft noise, either at school or at home.</li>
    </ul>

    Granted, this is simply one scenario for the use of RHV versus Coyote Valley, but it is clearly apparent that intelligently developing RHV will help San Jose much more than developing Coyote Valley. 

    The time has come to close RHV and develop rational, reasonable alternatives that will benefit all of society.

    Please see http://www.reidhillview.com for the facts about RHV.

  9. I agree completely with Jack’s essay above. Developing Coyote Valley is a Bad Idea. But on a previous blog, someone tried to link Coyote Valley and North 1st, saying they were equally bad which is NOT true. If you developed North 1st at a higher density, taking advantage of existing infrastructure and a currently underutilized light rail system this city would be a better place. And the high density proposed for Coyote Valley should be built the proposed BART stations if that stupid boondoggle is ever to justify its existence.

  10. It’s really about San Jose.  San Jose was more famous from the 40’s to mid 80’s.  Then, we lost out way.  We’re no more than the suburb of SF.  The national media snub us now.  We had international flights briefly to London, and they all knew about San Jose because of news issues and the song “Do you know the way to San Jose?”.  Now, nobody has even heard of San Jose outside the Bay Area.  San Francisco must not hold the 2016 olympic.  San Jose’s new mayor must aggressively campaign and win to host the olympic.  Also, he must get the world’s fair and expo before 10 years, so San Jose can act like the 10 largest city in the U.S. instead of being a little stepsister to our north!  We must also get the demacractic or replublican convention.  The new mayor must fight for SJ recognition.  In other words, San Jose must act its size, stop being a geeky edge city.  Forget Coyote Valley!  The new mayor must beef up the downtown area and pump it up with high density housing and offices, also add major public facilities to upgrade it to major league status.  What’s the matter with you guys?!  Lastly,  the new mayor must advertise San Jose aggressively, preferable on Time Magazine or Conde’ Nast Travel Magazine.

  11. #4 More Money,

    While it’s unfortunate that the San Jose Park Trust Fund wasn’t originally set up by an accountant to track income, expenditures and accrued interest in detail, none of the money was used for unauthorized items.  A reconciliation of the fund has been completed by the Parks Dept. and it’s time to move on.
     
    Since City ordinance (and presumably the State Quimby Act) require PDO/PIO park fees to be used within a 2 mile radius of the development generating the fees, an analyst will be utilized to handle the detailed tracking from now on.

    Why do park advocates and others want fees brought in line with current land values while there is money sitting in the account?  The ordinance required dedication is 3 acres of raw land per 1000 new residents (based on census data).  IE, it’s a land based dedication.  When a development doesn’t have more than 50 units (based on Quimby Act), the developer pays fees in-lieu of land dedication.  Also, since the City of San Jose avoids land dedications of less than one acre in most cases for practical reasons, many infill developments are paying fees in-lieu.

    There is currently a great disparity between what is collected in in-lieu fees (70% of 2001 land values with old census data) and what it actually costs to purchase land.  This creates a disincentive to land dedication and tends to drive piecemeal infill.  Since there are two-mile nexus requirements for use of the money, there is rarely enough money in any nexus area to make a land purchase (which is supposed to be the #1 goal of the PDO/PIO).  The money either sits in the fund or gets used for park improvements or renovations of existing parks in the nexus (assuming any exist).

    We don’t want to create and have and have-not city, with those in new developments paying the most and having the least.  We also don’t want quality of life to be compromised, which hurts business recovery.

  12. So, if the developers get their way, what will the end product look like? Is there a master plan that we can look at, like a scale model or drawing? How much sprawl are we talking about here? A solid block all the way to Morgan Hill?

  13. Why do we need to promote ourselves?  Who cares?  Don’t we just want a city that provides us with safe neighborhoods, parks, shopping, jobs, and doesn’t waste our money. 

    Do we really want to deal with crowds?  Take your kids downtown tomorrow night and ask yourself if you want more of this?  You will be lucky if you don’t get hit with a beer bottle or knifed.  Downtown is too much of a party town already.  SF is no place to raise a family, let’s not model ourselves after that crime-ridden smelly city.

    Please don’t give these idiots in city hall any stupid ideas like trying to host the olympics.  It will make the grand prix race look like chump change and our grandkids will be paying it.

  14. You people don’t seem to hear well.  You don’t know who I am and my opinion does not mean anything to you.  I really don’t care what you think. All I’m trying to say is that anyone currently on the City council,  running for mayor,  is or has appoved anything that our poor excuse for a mayor has persuaded them to do, if you don’t remove them then expect more of the same. and this is the last time you will see anything from me ……….

  15. Stand with Sam – I don’t think that anyone is advocating that SJ become more of a place where all the trouble people in the bay area come to party. What I do think is that we do need to market ourselves somewhat like Dave L says because those coventions, tourism,etc, brings in the money to help pay for a nice quality of life in our neighborhoods. The best marketing job that we can do is to have features and amenities that people want to be a part of: the arena, grand prix, etc.

  16. Jack-Good post. I’d love to see Coyote Valley preserved, especially since no one has really demonstrated a compelling need to develop it at this time unless, of course, we feel compelled to add to the wealth of developers.
    But, the reality is sooner or later Coyote Valley is going to get paved, and it’s probably going to be sooner than you or I would like.
    The next best thing: a development that makes sense, jobs close to housing with lots of parks & public transportation, walkable neighborhoods, etc. That COULD happen. Maybe.
    Meanwhile, enjoy the drive down Monterey Highway to Morgan Hill while you can. It’s very nice this time of year.

    #1. I agree.
    Were we supposed to believe that those two rocket scientists thought this up on their own?
    It’s not very “nice” to send minions to do your dirty work!

  17. Dear San Jose:

    I agree with #9 (Rast) that, “San Jose needs a balanced use of redevelopment funds and audits of all redevelopment projects…”  I also agree with #16 who wrote, “Why do we need to promote ourselves?”  I’ve always been amazed at how much money our city government spends on “promoting” the location of an existing major American city.  High school kids in India know “The Way To San Jose.”  A clean, safe, well run city is always the best promotion. (Too bad we don’t have that here!)

    Everyone should check out last weeks Business Journal.  Tim Roberts writes that there’s word of a poll that shows Chavez running third!  Can you imagine if we have a run-off between two reformers!  The citizens of San Jose would be spared a four-year extension of the Gonzales Administration!  Happy Days are here again!!!!!!!!!!

    Pete Campbell

  18. We “saved” Coyote Valley for decades so now-bankrupt Calpine could have a nice spot to build a power plant.  Maybe if we save it for a few more decades, Exxon-Mobil will build us our own refinery. 

    After watching Sierra Club, Lung Association, Unions, Chamber,  NAACP,  SVLG cheer on Calpine to change the Coyote Valley general plan I wonder if a temporary stay of development will only lead to more poorly planned piecemeal development.

    The only way to truly “save” Coyote Valley is to buy it.  A delay will only increase the likelihood we will see another questionable project come along complete with a huge budget for lobbyists and “public outreach”.

  19. I’m no Dave Cortese apologist, but today’s story about Nora Campos and Nancy Pyle filing a complaint against Dave Cortese is crazy.

    Nora and Nancy collectively haven’t said more than 10 intelligent words on the City Council during their tenure.  Frankly, having sat through dozens of Council meetings, I’m surprised Nancy Pyle even speaks.

    They are complaining about something that happened over a year ago…good timing kids.

    I wish, beyond anything, that the reporter from the Mercury News had asked who researched their complaint. 

    I can see the line of questioning,

    Reporter:  “Nora, how did you research your complaint against Dave?”

    Nora:  “I have long been a thorough and careful researcher.  I used Lexus/Nexus to find the relevant information and I wrote the complaint myself.  I have been doing this all over the past year, not wanting to miss any important information.  Anyone who knows me understands that I am a stickler for details and good public policy…”

  20. Deadline for San Jose Mayor Candidates Debate for All early candidate questions is tomorrow –

    Friday, May 5th – 6 pm

    You will have an opportunity to ask individual Mayor candidates direct questions during the Meet the Candidate times,

    1) Willow Glen Neighborhood Association will have on Wednesday, May 10 – Meet Candidate for District Attorney and Board of Supervisors (Dist 4)  – 6:30 – 7:15 pm and SJ Mayor Candidate Debate 7:15- 9 pm at Willow Glen Baptist Church – Minnesota and Hicks Avenues. 

    Email debate questions to [email protected]

    2) Neighborhood and Community Leader’s Saturday, May 13th – Meet Candidate for District Attorney between 8:30 – 9 am and SJ Mayor Candidate Debate betwen 9- 11 am at San Jose City Council Chambers Meet Mayor Candidate before and after debate.

    Email debate questions to [email protected]

    Audience questions will be taken during the debates, Please hand in questions early.

  21. Jack, you’re right on the money!  We have some pretty tired infrastructure here in San Jose as it is… terrible roads, second rate neighborhood services (unless one lives in a “blighted” RDA area), libraries strapped for money, etc.  To develop Coyote Valley will further exacerbate our situation, pulling City finances away to build new infrastructure as thousands of new homes are built. It is almost certain that our politicians, lobbyists and developers will win out on this one.  I’d suggest, therefore, that a good dose of Mello-Roos type taxes be levied on each and every new home in Coyote Valley.

  22. Large Discounts / Credits / Years of Delays – Developer Park Fees DELAY in goingfrom 70%  to 100% land value and using 2001 – not current land values – San Jose gets LESS PARKS due to Chamber and Home Builders UNFAIR DELAYS – NO adjustments since 2002 – Many NEW CREDITS

    Mercury News Thu, Dec. 02, 2004

    Developers may get new park credits
    San Jose is considering significant changes to two ordinances that bring in money to develop neighborhood parks, including a new definition of recreational uses that could allow funds to be spent on trails, gardens, community centers, theaters or projects on school grounds.

    – also would give downtown developers parkland credit for swimming pools, spas, recreational rooms and rooftop gardens. Now, they get credit for more active areas such as tot lots, picnic areas and playing fields. They also would get credit for areas open to the public such as plazas, paseos and street design that would create gathering spaces.

    Chamber , Home Builders Delays COST San Jose PARKS

    On June 21st, 2005 the City Council will consider staff recommendations regarding adjustments to the in-lieu fee schedule associated with the Park Dedication Ordinance.  One of those recommendations is to increase the in-lieu fee from 70% of land value to 100% of land value over the next two years.  – DELAYED

    QUIMBY ACT: 1965 LAW IS A VALUABLE TOOL FOR THE STATE’S CITIES
    http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/13967091.htm

    Thu, May. 04, 2006 S.J. council delays parks vote GROUP BLOCKS MOVE TO RAISE FEES

    t the meeting, Keri Hamilton, a member of the Berryessa Citizens Advisory Commission, pointed out that the developers’ fees have not been adjusted since 2002 and are tied to 2001 land values.

    “We don’t see this as fee increases,’’ she said of the proposed changes, “but a take-away of a big discount’’ that developers have been getting.

    The parks commission, the planning commission and neighborhood leaders support a change in how the fees are determined, which in most cases would raise the costs to housing developers.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/the_valley/14497821.htm

  23. OK, Don, now I understand. I see the similarities in the “smear.” Cortese gets attacked by two Councilmembers who collectively have never had more than two sentences uttered publically and who just happen to be supporting Cindy. The “smear” against Cindy, according to you, was a calculated hatchet job by a rogue reporter with an agenda who was backed by his editor and the entire editorial board. Which scenario do you think smells more?? Most of us on this board can tell the difference, even if you can’t.
    As #28 points out, read today’s paper. Unlike Cindy’s secret emails, the Cortese attack doesn’t hold up. At least Cortese shows up at the public events to answer questions about the allegations. It’s unfortunate that at least twice now, Cindy has been “unable” to attend the debates on the day news breaks so she can respond to questions from citizens. Others, more cyncial than I, might see a continuing pattern from Cindy—keep avoiding answering questions and you might just pull this off. Heck of a way to win an election—although it worked for our current president and other less than stellar elected officials. I kind of hoped Cindy actually believed in the open and honest government she keeps alluding to. Too bad.

  24. Anyone know who’s running the dirty tricks dept. for the Chavez campaign? 

    Campos and Pyle are acting on their conscience and in good faith on this one? 

    Why should they start now?  smile

  25. I have decided my support based on compaign statements by the candidates and based on their past voting record on major issues which have come before the council.  I cannot decide my support based on heresay, inuendo, or wild unsubstantiated statements by hysterical bloggers and outsiders. Nor statements by in-active council members who are supporting a collegue. My support hasn’t changed for David Pandori but I also feel that Mr. Cortese would be a fine mayor.  I just think he’s too much in the pocket of land developers, speculators and pave over builders.  I look at what’s happened to the hilltops and hillsides of the beautiful Evergreen area and am reinforced in my decision.

  26. Pete #20 – Below is the quote from the Business Journal article. To be fair I don’t think this “unseen poll” carries much weight.

    “One much discussed but mostly unseen poll has Ms. Chavez in third place with Mr. Reed in first followed by Mr. Cortese. The source of that much-discussed poll remains unclear and, since it was taken before Mr. Mulcahy’s candidacy had become a factor, its accuracy today is suspect. Other polls are underway and likely will become public as election day nears.”

    Still, the BJ article is quite interesting. 

    Here’s a link:
    http://sanjose.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2006/05/01/story2.html

  27. #s 28 & 29:  This morning’s Mercury News story, in which it is reported that the lobbyists-in-question deny having met privately with Dave Cortese, underscores my point that it is the Mercury News which requires closer scrutiny concerning its ethics and professionalism. 

    Shouldn’t the Merc have interviewed these lobbyists before running yesterday’s story?  Wouldn’t that sort of thing have been taught as part of journalism 101?  I don’t know whether the lobbyists’ denials are true (and neither do any of you), but they should have been reported in the original story.  Yet, the Merc, in its rush to scoop a sexy story, overlooked a modicum of due process and recklessly reported allegations against Cortese, evidently before interviewing relevant, easily identifiable and readily located, witnesses. 

    Does the Merc bother to apologize for essentially having to write a retraction of yesterday’s news today?

    Today’s spin from the Mercury News is that, per the lobbyists, councilmembers Campos and Pyle misconstrued the ambiguous formal lobbyist reports.  Maybe, maybe not; the reports are evidently pretty straightforward in saying Cortese met with lobbyists, in direct opposition to Cortese’s assertions he did not.  But seemingly for the first time this morning the Merc recognizes that maybe there is such a thing as ambiguity.

    Might it also be that the unsupported innuendo against Chavez, namely that she supposedly did a “secret deal” with grand prix officials, is a misreading of the recently released and far more ambiguous emails?  After all, the emails apparently say nothing of the sort—nor do they suggest she lied to her colleagues.  (All of Chavez’s colleagues not running for mayor themselves still support her.)  Oh, and has the Mercury News interviewed the grand prix officials to ask them whether they deny any secret deal was done when they met with Chavez last fall?  I don’t recall reading about what these officials have to say. Shouldn’t their denials also be reported in the Mercury News?  And, if they are, shouldn’t the Mercury News apologize for not reporting the whole story?

    Chavez voted for the grand prix in public and on the record four months ago.  I disagreed with her vote on the merits then and continue to do so now.  She deserves to be criticized for her public vote (the Merc won’t do it because the paper apparently thinks the substantive vote was a good thing).  Yet, further, unsubstantiated long-after-the-fact allegations of improprieties leading up to that public vote are—without evidence apart from the emails themselves (evidence which if it exists the Merc hasn’t reported)—a smear against Chavez, pure and simple. 

    Let me repeat:  Logically, there could not have been any “secret deal” involving Chavez to the exclusion of her colleagues or the public because the grand prix subsidy required a majority vote of the council in public.  Even after other councilmembers say they were sandbagged by the late staff memo (I agree the public certainly was), they nevertheless voted 8-3 for the subsidy.  Throw out the votes of the mayor and vice mayor, and the subsidy still passes by a two-thirds majority.  Blame these councilmembers for their public votes after a faulty process, but don’t blame Chavez for a “secret” deal.  The real news happened in public and on the record four months ago, and the Merc didn’t need to subpoena any emails to know about it. 

    You may believe the Merc is not capable of participating in a smear, but as we’ve seen the last couple days, the Merc is not above reporting reckless allegations as fact.

    This morning’s story vindicates me in blaming the messenger.

  28. All of this garbage delivered to the door step of the council must stop. Cortese vs. Chavez, Chavez vs. Cortese, Reed vs. the entire council. These characters have had audition and have failed miserably.I would take my chances with the unknown because the probability of a professionally run city will be much greater with the infusion of a new leader. We have two viable alternatives. Both Mulcahy and Pandori bring refreshing alternatives to the debacle at city hall. I prefer the business leader because I believe this city needs an infusion of revenue and cost containment to give the people what they expect from the city. But Pandori seems like he would fight the culture at city hall and that is good in itself.

  29. In spite of Don’s spin on Cindy’s innocence, there is information within City Hall that clearly indicates Cindy’s involvement in the Grand Prix issue and certainly in the NorCal mess. Perhaps, those with the information will ultimately make it public. Perhaps the DA’s investigation will reveal it unless he takes Rich’s advice that we don’t need to know anymore.
    Don is correct though, that the rest of the Council who voted for these things is also very much to blame. I guess that makes Cindy look good—she was just a part of a leaderless and gutless council that took bad positions on a number of issues. What a ringing endorsement.

  30. # 13 you’re right when you say forget about building out Coyote Valley and concentrate on maintaining and developing what we have. Stop trying to be like San Francisco. I for one would like to see Coyote Valley preserved as a historical landmark.

    San Jose needs to stop acting like a 12 year-old girl wanting breast implants so she can look like girls twice her age, or or a 12-year-old boy wanting to take steroids so he can play football with the big boys.  When the time is right, and we have the right mayor in power, San Jose will grow naturally in the right direction and be recognized for the great city it is.

    And so I ask you: Which one of the five major candidates for mayor do you think has the best plan to get us there?

  31. #24 (Outraged):  Your allegation of hypocrisy cuts both ways.  Dave Cortese has secret meetings with lobbyists (according to the lobbyists’ official reports, per the Mercury News), yet none of the hooded “sunshine” bloggers on this board have a problem with that.  Based on the evidence, to use Cortese’s own logic (as quoted by Single Gal), it appears Cortese made a “secret deal” with these lobbyists and then “lied” to his colleagues by not telling them about it last year. 

    If the Merc’s story is to be believed (and it’s based on reports by lobbyists and city staff), it appears that Cortese violated the city charter by treating city staff like his personal servants (whoop-de-do-da), and he may have also misled his colleagues about meetings with lobbyists, though he denies having the meetings the lobbyists reported. 
    This is the sort of allegation that, were leveled against Cindy Chavez, would cause a run on rope at the local OSH.  Yet not a peep of outrage in SanJoseInside-ville when Cortese get slimed. 

    The charges against Cortese—like those against Chavez before him—are obviously a smear motivated by the ongoing mayoral campaign.  Cortese understands a smear when it’s directed toward him but cannot seem to figure it out when it’s directed at his leading opponent, Chavez.  Many of you partisan bloggers have the same problem, so blinded are you by your primordial hatred for the blonde candidate.

    I really love the statute-of-limitations defense Cortese (and Blogger #1 above) raise:  it happened a year ago, so why bring it up now?  That’s exactly the point I made regarding the Grand Prix; that story is four months old.  Cortese and Blogger #1 are both right, and so am I.  The timing of these stories aimed at both Cortese and Chavez are evidence that they are smears, not bona fide news. 

    I think this whole escapade underlines what Rich Robinson has said.  There are too many rules being used for purely gotcha purposes.  Cortese appears to have been caught with his hands in the cookie jar.  So what?  He’s basically a good man, even if he does talk to lobbyists.  The same is true of Cindy Chavez—she’s a good person, too, even though she met with grand prix officials last fall. 

    As for the Merc, this smear against Cortese was contained in the local section, whereas the smear against Chavez was prominently featured as front-page news.  (Believe it or not, newspaper editors actually place stories based on how newsworthy they consider them; their decision-process reveals a lot about their mental state, and their unconscious or not-so-unconscious biases.) 

    Also, I doubt the Merc will follow it up with an editorial against Cortese the next day—as it did against Chavez.  (Editorial decisions are also mirrors into the paper’s mind-set.)

    Further, the Merc felt compelled to collaborate in the smear against Cortese because (1) it came from prominent sources (other council colleagues), (2) was based on documented evidence (in the form of lobbyist reports), which if true (3) show an actual violation of law, namely the city charter.  So the Cortese scandal qualified as actual news whether the Merc wanted to run with it or not (they would have looked silly if the Metro, or God forbid the Chronicle, had scooped them).  The Chavez scandal, on the other hand, was an internal hatchet job manufactured by the Merc’s designated hatchet man, Barry Witt, who as I have said had been trolling for something to carve up Chavez with for some time.  (Witt may have gotten help from the Cortese camp, who knows.)

    A smear is a smear is a smear.  You Pandori supporters will understand when your candidate gets the treatment.  He has a record on the city council, too, after all.  Wonder what “secret” meetings Pandori has had?  I know I’ve talked to him, and he probably didn’t tell his council colleagues or any of you.  Considering how evil I am, that’s quite a transgression.  Think Barry Witt might be interested?

  32. #34 (Too Bad):  If you have information that “clearly indicates” improprieties by Cindy Chavez, I wish you—or the DA, or the Merc—would share it.  As I’ve said, it might color my view.  Right now it’s not even clear to me what the charges are against her, let alone the evidence to support those charges. 

    I’m open to the possibility that I may be wrong about Chavez’s character, but vague allegations by anonymous bloggers are not persuasive to me.

  33. Don,

    Are you saying two wrongs make a right?

    The Merc’s point has always been about sunshine for citizens like you and me.  I don’t like to be surprised and neither do you.

    What is Campos’ point?  Evergreen was not a surprise.

    One thing we can agree on, this was probably not Cindy’s idea.  She could not be this dumb.  This was all Campos, the queen of taking it from lobbyists.  Poor Gomer Pyle.

  34. Don #27
    Why is Cindy the only condidate that bloggers feel is dishonest. Are the supporters of the four other candidates part of a plot? Other than from Cindy’s camp, I have not read one word questioning the honesty of Cortese,Reed ,Pandori or Mulcahy from any of the apposing camps.

    Did you see Pandori’s statement about the attack on Cortese?  He sure is a class act!  Looks like he has what it takes to lead this city.

  35. #36:  I’m not defending Nora Campos.  As I said yesterday before the Merc effectively retracted its story, I think the allegations against Dave Cortese are a transparent smear.  The real question is why the Mercury News got itself caught up in the mud-slinging.

  36. “Shouldn’t the Merc have interviewed these lobbyists before running yesterday’s story?  Wouldn’t that sort of thing have been taught as part of journalism 101?”
    Don Gagliardi (#32)

    Is it now the media’s job to deprive the public of the stupid statements of its elected officials? If Nora Campos and Nancy Pyle feel the urge to turn a questionable discrepancy into a serious, career-threatening, public allegation, doesn’t the responsibility to stop them from doing so fall upon their advisors (or, in this case, their respective organ grinders)?

    Contrary to Mr. Gagliardi’s assertion, Journalism 101 teaches reporters to treasure the reckless allegation, the revealed idiocy, the foot-in-the-mouth statement, especially when uttered by an official or bigwig. The public deserves to know its Marion Barrys, Ray Nagins, and Cruz Bustamantes.  Get the quote into print immediately, is the classroom lesson—before it can go stale or be retracted. As for an investigation regarding the validity of such statements, there will always be time for that later. No use taking a chance on diluting the great entertainment by serving it up with a bunch of factual information.

  37. Please

    Connect the dots

    Labor Council…..former employer
    Labor Union…….Endorsement
    Garbage Contract….. increase wages
    Garbage Contract…… no provision for wage increases
    union pressure………. friends on the council
    Cindy Chavez……….. best friends with union
    The mayor could not have pulled this off alone.

  38. Why are we so worried about who said what to whom?  Did Ms. Chavez get caught with her hand in the cookie jar?  If not then what’s the point.  Judge her on her honest record on the council.  Judge her on her leadership in her council district.  Did she talk to anyone this past year about the race?  Probably if they came to her seeking advice.  Did she make any deals with them?  Maybe.  Did she promise to support a request for funds for the race?  Maybe Are any of these items illegal. No.  Vote for her or don’t vote for her based on the above.  During political campaigns there will always be those trying to sway votes with retoric. I have stated my choice.  David Pandori.

  39. You people make me sick,Why? I’ll tell you why,everyday its the same thing, you complain like little children Cindy did this and cortese did that ,when you have a choice ,its the only choice your going to get so dont screw this up ,so when its time to vote do the right thing,Vote For David Pandori,If you vote for anyone else ,then just shut up and deal with it …………..

  40. Where are Cindy’s legions?? Why aren’t they screaming to kill the messenger after today’s “hit” piece on Cortese? No attacking the reporter? No blaming the biased Mercury?I guess it’s OK to report the news as long as it is not about Cindy. Show some consistency, folks. Your true colors are showing.

  41. Don,

    Read the news today.

    There is a big difference, timing.

    All the reports have been public months.  Campos could have raised the issue at any time.

    The Merc had to beg for the info on the Grand Prix, while the city keep it secret to protect Chavez.

    The Merc printed the article when they got the info and they did because WE the public are angry that vote took place without notification.

    Campos and Pyle smeared and this only speaks to the type of person that would support Chavez.

    Keep trying to claw your way out of 3rd place.

  42. Not so fast Don. Once again, the spin does not work.

    On Thursday the Merc accurately reported that two members of the City Council had made a serious ethics charge against a fellow council member. The Merc further reported that this charge would be the subject of a council discussion at the next meeting of this governmental body. Far from a smear of Cortese, the newspaper reported that the two council members making the charge were supporters of Chavez, an opponent of Cortese’s in the mayoral election.
    I would hope that in “Journalism 101” students are taught that such facts are NEWS that the public has a right to know.
    Newspapers are supposed to report facts, not supress them.
    The original story was accurate, clearly attributed and balanced.

    By Friday the Mercury was able to develop information that all five lobbyists essentially agreed Campos and Pyle grossly misrepresented the situation and the only “meetings” with Cortese were during the course of legitimate on-the-record public meetings attended by others, never in private.
    To call the Friday story a “retraction” is amazingly disingenuous. The Merc simply pursued a fast-breaking story and added more information when it became available.
    I’m willing to bet we will read more about this sleaze job as the Merc continues to find information, although I suspect you may not like the results.

    You also raise the issue as to why the newspaper editors ran Cortese’s story in the local section and the story of Chavez’s back room dealings on page one. The answer should be obvious: The allegations made against Cortese lack credibility and are therefore less newsworthy. This does not seem to be the case with the Vice Mayor’s less-than-honest stance on the Grand Prix subsidy.

    You suggest that the Mercury’s stories were a smear against Cortese. Give me a break!
    Any Mercury reader with a brain would be disgusted with Pyle, Campos and their puppet master.
    The stories did not hurt Cortese although they probably brought the Chavez campaign down a few more notches in a lot of people’s estimation.

    Dirty tricks have a way of backfiring, no matter how you spin them.

  43. The CamposPyle charges go to Council on Tuesday. The Rules Committee couldn’t wait to get these out for public discussion. Guess who chairs the Rules Committee—if you guessed Cindy you are right (and probably not surprised.)
    Should be interesting to see how they spin this stinker of an attack on an opponent. Can’t wait to hear Cindy’s nonanswer when asked what she had to do with this.
    Stay tuned.

  44. #37, you say:

    “I have not read one word questioning the honesty of Cortese, Reed, Pandori or Mulcahy from any of the opposing camps.”

    Chuck Reed is profoundly dishonest. Here is just one example. In 2004 when he was campaigning for re-election to the office he holds, a major issue arose from homeowners about the expansion of an asphalt & concrete crushing company on Berryessa Road along Coyote Creek. There were serious noise problems, water pollution problems, and air pollution issues.

    At a Monday evening meeting, he told the audience that he had not made up his mind on the issue.

    On the next day, Tuesday, many of us attended a city council meeting to speak against expansion of the crusher company and what did we find? A memo signed by Reed and the mayor dated four days earlier.

    So we know that he lies easily and without apology.

  45. RE#27, Don…“prominent”, but certainly NOT credible sources when it comes to Campos. She has had an ulterior motive to discredit Cortese for several years now. It has everything to do with her allegiance to Gonzales and to a lesser extent Chavez now.

    RE#31, Dan…PLEASE don’t blame Cortese for the transformation (to date) in Evergreen. He wasn’t in office when Silver Creek Country Club and The Ranch were approved. Ask Mr. Pandori if he was in office (and how he voted) during those approval processes. At least Cortese has tried to give residents / community members a chance to weigh-in on the development process by trying a Task Force based approach. 

    RE#32, Don…the other Council members support Chavez just as they’ve supported the conduct of Gonzales over the years. Come on, that’s what Cortese and Reed have said ENOUGH!!!!

  46. #47:  As I’ve said, I’m not defending Nora Campos’ actions in smearing Dave Cortese.  Even if the allegations are correct (they may still be despite the denials of lobbyists), such allegations amount to much-ado-about-nothing a long time ago.  But, likewise, no one should be defending the Mercury News in this affair, particularly not Cortese supporters (are there any on this blog?).  Campos would have remained effectively mute had not the Merc given her a mouthpiece without the least effort to investigate the substance or the motive for her charges first.  Surely some damage has been done to Cortese’s reputation by virtue of the Merc having rushed to get the story out before interviewing readily available material witnesses.

    My point is that if the Merc is this reckless about the charges against Cortese, isn’t it fair to assume the Merc may have been equally reckless (if not deliberately malevolent) in casting aspersions against Cindy Chavez?

  47. Yes, Don, do not suspend suspicion of anyone during what I call “silly season” or political campaigns. It is equally important to look at who supports each candidate and which special interests, business, labor, or development, are doing “independent expenditures for certain candidates. These violate the spirit, if not the letter, of our local campaign rules – these should be condemned and those who conspire to do them severely criticized.    TMcE

  48. Dan #5:  I’m certainly glad for you and your “environmentalist” friends that you have the money, at current gas prices,  to DRIVE through all these pristine areas you wish to save, polluting the salamanders with the noxious emissions from your cars.

  49. Mal # 19 and others:  despite what you and Dan Sturges and other salamander-lovers (though Dan does pullute the air they breathe with his drives through Coyote) may believe about me, I have yet to see a compelling case to develop the valley right now.  We have lots of land that is currently served by infrastructure that can be developed for housing before we tap into coyote valley.

    But in the longer run, where do all y’all expect people who work in the bay area to live in order to preserve coyote valley—Los Banos, and farther away?  The shorter distance working folks have to drive to get to work helps out in lots of areas, not the least of which is global warming.

    As long as we continue to breed, there will be a need to “develop” other areas in which the newly-born can live when they grow up.  Serious voluntary population control is perhaps our only hope.

  50. Steve #21:  at last I have an ally—if someone wants to save some land that is owned by others, JUST BUY IT!

    Otherwise, you’re a bunch of elitist NIMBYs who call themselves environmentalists, like Dan who drives his car through pristine areas spewing noxious fumes, and then tells landowners that he knows better than they how to deal with their land.

  51. #49:  Just because I support saving the Mercury News doesn’t waive my right to critique it.  I’m a patriotic, flag-waving American, and as such I will criticize my goverment when in my view it is warranted.  The Merc deserves the same courtesy. 

    #50 (Tom McEnery):  Not sure what exactly you mean, but I haven’t suspended my suspicion of any of the candidates or those who support them.  They are all politicians, and as such I keep them at arms length.  All I can say is that I’m not a special interest aligned with business or labor.  I’d like to see a good, clean campaign focused on substance, not with the process of who talked with whom “in secret” many months ago.  I’m very disappointed that the Mercury News (along with many folks on this blog) seems to have foolishly abandoned substance for the slogan, “it’s all about the process, stupid.”

    I don’t play guilt-by-association.  I judge individuals as individuals.  Just because Cindy Chavez and Ron Gonzales or Nora Campos may be political allies on some issues doesn’t make them interchangeable.  (Believe it or not, Tom, your support for certain candidates causes some consternation among some of my neighbors (not me) because they believe the candidate must be a McEnery clone.)

    If someone’s a crook, show me the real evidence of illegality; otherwise let’s talk about what distinguishes the candidates in their substantive vision for San Jose.  Your candidate, David Pandori, has to his credit been trying to do that, with precious little help from the Merc or some of his nameless supporters on this blog who are so fixated on the gotcha stuff. 

    Happily, in my view, we have 5 decent people running for mayor, all of whom want to make San Jose a better place.  Who has the better vision, and who is more likely to make progress in realizing that vision once in office?  Those are questions we should be debating as citizens of San Jose on this blog and elsewhere.

  52. #49:  Thought I had responded to this yesterday, but apparently not.  As to why I publicly support saving the Mercury News while simultaneously criticizing it:  Very simple.  I love my country, and proudly display the flag, but will freely criticize my government when warranted.  I treat the Mercury News the same way.

  53. Tom McEnery, #50:  I thought I had responded to you yesterday, but apparently not, so here goes again: 

    I haven’t suspended my suspicions during the election season.  I simply have a much higher standard of proof than many anonymous folks on this blog before I’m prepared to conclude that someone I know and trust is a liar or a crook.  (And that goes for all five mayoral candidates, all of whom I know or have met and, except obviously Michael Mulcahy, have dealt with as councilmembers.)

    As for judging candidates by their supporters, I disagree with you on that score.  Guilt-by-association is scurrilous charge.

  54. John #56: On the contrary, Ben Bradlee and other serious journalists followed the developing Watergate story from what was initially a “third rate burglary” to the resignation of Richard M. Nixon.
    They most deffinately did NOT wait until “ALL (emphasis added) facts were verified.”

    You are, however, right to call me a “salamander lover.” They are great on the grill with a little mesquite and a nice savignon blanc. Best of all, they’re not chewy like California Condor!

  55. Mark T, Dan S, and salamander lovers everywhere:  ALERT! 

    You guys have to hold the line on Coyote Valley development until all the triggers have been squeezed.  That way you’ll have enough time to do what I just read was done in South County—The Silicon Valley Land Conservancy paid $2.1 million to buy development rights on Taylor Ranch, south of Gilroy.

    Everybody wins—the salamanders are left in peace, except for the ones Mark enjoys with his sauvignon blanc; the landowners get value for their money; and Dan can drive through it in his automobile in peace.

    If you hold up the process long enough, you can raise the money to buy out Gibson-Speno, or whoever owns the rights.