Telephone Taxes, Casinos and Elections

There is little doubt that if measures J and K, our local telephone taxes, do not pass on the current ballot, then the quality of life in San Jose is going to change a great deal—for the worse.

As in most elections recently, real estate interests and developers have put up a large amount of the money. That is not unusual. Yet it seems that some of those interests have not been heard from for some time, the casinos at the top of the list, and they are back in the fray. Along with the Irvine Company, Equity Residential and other big-name donors are two names that we have not heard lately except in court rooms,  legal briefs and city accusations: Garden City Casino and Bay 101.

These two casinos used to be at the forefront of such efforts, until time, indictments, and new sources of money took their toll: our city matured in some very unpleasant ways.

Measures J and K have raised more than $200,000 and more is on the way, but there is a subtle attempt at rehabilitation afoot. Now, far be it for me to say I know how we replace $45 million in the budget—we can’t—but I still think the return of the “Big 2” is worrisome. While they still may not contribute to candidates in local elections, they seem to have found a seam. And they are very good at turning a seam into a chasm. We will stay tuned.

Just one modest suggestion to help out the city’s budget: Perhaps we could auction off the Lin Utzon tiles on the Convention Center entrance, market them as artifacts from an ancient civilization, etc., and reap a windfall of dollars.  I think there are many that would gladly bid on such a prize—after all, thousands of us recently bid on a condo in the sky that didn’t seem to exist.

9 Comments

  1. Did Garden City and Bay 101 just wander into City Hall or we’re they invited to return?

    Do you think Mayor Reed had something to do with this by his effort to expand gambling in San Jose this summer?

    Do you think the Mayor’s budget director asking them for contributions sends a signal that City Hall and the card clubs can financially scratch each others backs?

  2. After the government just pissed away $700 BILLION, there’s no way in hell that I’m voting for any tax increases. I’m voting “no” on the lot of them and I urge everybody to do the same.

  3. Tom –

    You’re absolutely right about the negative consequences to our city if Measures J & K are defeated.

    In these tough economic times, I can appreciate that some residents are loathe to approve any continuation of an existing fee – no matter how small. With so many of our investments in free-fall, we’re all looking for ways to hold on to our hard-earned money.

    But what’s what I like about Measures J & K. If passed, the fee will be reduced by 10% – an important savings for those who are trying to save some extra money each month.

    It’s clear that if these ballot measures fail, city leaders are going to have to reduce or eliminate some essential city services that provide for the quality of life that we all enjoy.

    Vote YES on Measures J & K.

  4. Clark Williams:

    It’s okay for you to believe these taxes are essential it is dishonest to say that we are reducing our taxes.  The 911 fee was set to expire and will be extended.  The phone tax is being expanded to cell phones and text messages and other stuff.

    The campaign and its leader Mayor Reed are being dishonest.  Surprise given his desire to be Mr. Integrity.  I guess money/taxes are more important when your mayor.

  5. In the 90’s, I always said if we do away with the local casinos, we’ll bankrupt the city.  As I recall, GC’s annual city tax was $5M.  I’m not a gambler, but when so many other areas have opened up such establishments, how can we be so morally righteous to close these?

  6. It seems when Tom McEnery was the mayor, he wasn’t intelligent at all because even he thinks the mural of the convention center is not worth saving since the project was built during his tenure.  The whole downtown redevelopment is a disaster because San Jose, the 10 largest city-The Capital Of Silicon Valley, is smaller than Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Denver and Portland and don’t get me started on tier one cities such New York and Chicago.  Now, San Francisco is the capital of Silicon Valley as you read the articles from papers and magazines which datelines: SF, not San Jose.  Actually, Palo Alto is the capital of Silicon Valley, but San Francisco gets most of the credit.  It’s a redevelopment disaster because the glass is only half full.  Note: Kimble Small couldn’t get the rest of his Silicon Financial Center built. Only the Fairmont, Fairmont Plaza office building and the Pavilion were built, not phase 2 or phase 3 office buildings, let alone phase 4 office building.  If you look the downtown model for today back in 1984, it looked impressive, and I think we would have a decent downtown comparable to the cities mentioned above.  No, the downtown is only half built according to the model that dipicted what were to get built.  Maybe it was the market or the economy, but it’s a pile of waste of taxpayers’ dollars.  It’s no excuse.  You don’t expect the downtown or the city to succeed if you only half build it.  The product must be a completed one, not incompleted one, to succeed. That goes to all former administrations.  When you plan the revitalization of downtown, you build the whole thing based on the plan, which were shown on the model that the redevelopment agency housed for many years; therefore, the city today has nothing to show for, and it doesn’t look like the “Capital Of Silicon Valley”.  San Francisco does! Lastly, the blame also goes to Susan Hammer and Ron Gonzales.  As for Chuck Reed, so far, he’s a screw up.

  7. Clark #3—If you vote no, 100% of the tax will expire.  I’m no math whiz, but 100% reduction is better than a 10% reduction.

    Where does this money go, anyway?

    EBay lays off 10% of its workforce.  Mortgage brokerage houses closing everywhere.  Banks will be laying off soon.

    Does any level of our government have any plans to lay off anyone?  I doubt it.  Want to reduce taxes, reduce all the feel good programs and lay off government workers.  Cut the crap that has eased its way into government spending.  In SJ, start with the entire 16 member staff of the Dept. of Cultural Affairs.  A nice touch in good times; a waste of money in hard times.Let’s see if the public sector layoffs can compete with private sector workers for jobs.

  8. Dear 6, “Blamer”  — I have rarely seen a blog so accurately signed. The Downtown in the eighties was mostly a success, supported by our citizens as registered in the Arena vote. They love the museums and the buzz – a lot was lost since the mid-ninties and the last ten yrs. were a disaster to the confidence and feelings about the Downtown – but far from your pessimistic note, people still love much about it, and we did not end up Downtown Fresno or Watsonville – just give up and shut off the lights on your way out. Your blame is duly noted, though. TMcE

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