Robert Cortese on Fireworks and Sulu

It looks like the irrepressible Robert Cortese has picked a pet issue to back this election season: repealing San Jose’s fireworks ban. Two Tuesdays ago, the magnificently-coiffed karaoke king of San Jose-turned District 9 council candidate turned up at the San Jose City Council meeting. Sensing an infringement on every pyrotechnically inclined, red-blooded American’s right to handle gunpowder while partying, he pleaded for the council to change its ban on explosives. By the looks of his Facebook page, he’s also trying to drum up a grassroots effort to bring fireworks back to the city.

A week earlier, responding to a question about same-sex marriage at a form held at Cambrian School, he launched into a speech about being an unashamed fanboy of George Takei, the actor who played Sulu on the original Star Trek. “I’m a Star Trek fan, and I love George Takei, and George Takei is in a same-sex marriage,” he told the 50-some residents gathered. “I’m really a fan of that actor, and I can’t say that I want to deny him the right to be married.”

Cortese later e-mailed Fly to report that his forum response was inspired by a YouTube video posted on a Metro reporter’s Facebook page. In that video, Takai and his partner Brad Altman were encouraging same-sex couples to fill out their censuses properly.

“Seeing that video with Sulu and his partner really touched a nerve with me,” Cortese wrote. “I am a fanatical trekkie. I never knew George Takai was gay before that. I think it really opened up a lot of eyes at that meeting last night that they should put some of that bigotry and hate aside.”

For the record, District 9 candidates Jim Cogan and Don Rocha both said everyone should have the right to marry, but did not state an opinion about Star Trek. Larry Pegram and Chad Greer, said they support only “traditional” marriage, but did not mention Caption James T. Kirk or his penchant for alien chicks. No word yet as to Cortese’s position on the Prime Directive or the current state of Ferengi Trade Alliance.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

55 Comments

  1. I’m glad San Jose Inside wrote an article about the proposal to repeal the “safe-and-sane” fireworks ban within the city of San Jose…but it would have been nice if the issue had been treated a little more seriously. 

    District Nine City Council candidate Robert Cortese first brought the proposal to the attention of Mayor Reed, and the City Council, at their May 11th meeting.  Inspired by his action, I also addressed the San Jose City Council on this topic, at their May 18th meeting.  While we each were limited to just two minutes, during the Council’s “Open Forum” period, here are some of the points we raised, as well as some of the ones we might have raised, had we been able to do so:

    1) This ban was instituted nearly thirty years ago, at a time when San Jose was a very different place.  For one thing, the highly-flammable shake (or shingle) roofs were very much the norm in those days.  Today, roofs are customarily topped with ceramic tiles, and other materials which are far less hazardous with respect to fire danger.

    2) Thirty years ago, San Jose was finally emerging from one of the very worst droughts in the recorded history of Northern California.  If you’re around my age (39), you probably remember your entire pre-teen childhood as little more than one continuous drought.  That fact, combined with the more hazardous construction methods of another era, made legitimate concerns about fireworks-related fire hazards much more salient than they realistically are today.

    3) The proposal to repeal the ban on fireworks is exclusively within the context of the “safe-and-sane” variety.  This is NOT a proposal to legalize firecrackers, bottle rockets, or anything truly hazardous, but merely to legalize the sort of “cones” that shoot colorful sparks into the air, while situated upon the pavement.  Such fireworks present no realistic fire danger, nor any realistic danger to human health.  They don’t explode, and they aren’t rockets, or anything like that.  They are also readily available for sale & use in relatively nearby communities such as Giroy and Merced.  This isn’t some extremist proposal to legalize something dangerous or peculiar, but rather a proposal to RE-legalize a perfectly safe form of family-oriented recreation, that was still a part of the fabric of our city life during Tom McEnery’s first term as Mayor.

    4) Every year, illegal fireworks (primarily unsafe bottle rockets) do cause one or two house fires.  If legal fireworks were readily available for sale at “safe-and-sane” fireworks stands on Blossom Hill Road and such, the impetus to acquire the much more dangerous illegal variety, would be greatly reduced.  Why drive to Chinatown, up in San Francisco, to pay a premium for illegal fireworks, when one can get cheaper ones right nearby?  Market forces clearly dictate that making “safe-and-sane” fireworks legally available for sale & use in the city of San Jose would make the unsafe, illegal varieties less common, and would thus likely lead to a reduction in Fourth of July-related fire hazards, rather than an increase.

    5) Thirty years ago, parents felt safe and secure enough to allow their children to run loose over hillsides, creek beds, and all sorts of places where, even then, we certainly wouldn’t want unsupervised young people to be possibly playing with fireworks.  The sad reality of 2010, and for the foreseeable future, is that kids just don’t have nearly the opportunity to get into that sort of trouble any longer.  While that is an unfortunate aspect of our modern society, the silver lining on that cloud is that arguably the principal basis for the ban at the time is no longer much of a factor in this age.

    6) The sale of fireworks in places like Gilroy and Merced, and formerly right here in San Jose, was handled by non-profit, charitable organizations, and was used to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for their good works.

    7) The proposal envisions the purchase of fireworks requiring a Fireworks Purchasing License, which one could purchase for $5-$10, at the fireworks stand.  Additionally, fireworks could only be legally used in designated Fireworks Display Zones.  These Display Zones (which could simply be a family’s driveway, just like we used to do on an informal basis) would be established by a Fireworks Warden.  The permit authorizing one to serve as a Fireworks Warden would cost around $25-$35.  All fireworks-related licensing fees would be delivered to the City of San Jose, and depending on the rate of fees and the level of participation, could easily raise between one and three million dollars annually for the Municipal General Fund.

    8) When the ban was first instituted, the City Council assured us that there would be a municipal fireworks show downtown, which would serve as a substitute for individual family use of fireworks.  2010 marks the fifth straight year in a row where the City Council has determined it can’t afford a municipal fireworks show.  If the City Council can’t meet its part of the bargain, then it behooves them to repeal the ban.  The Fourth of July celebration within our city has become rather hollow, after half a decade of no municipal display.  Repealing this unjust and dated ban would be an excellent way to revitalize the celebratory atmosphere associated with the anniversary of our nation’s Declaration of Independence.

  2. On a related note, and in conclusion, the Fourth of July is a national holiday intended to celebrate what is, quite arguably, the single greatest birthing of human liberty & freedom in the history of civilization.  Allowing people the freedom to once again celebrate the Fourth of July, in the traditional manner people have been doing for literally over 200 years, is very much in keeping with the spirit of American independence, and is perhaps the finest tribute our City Council could offer, in honor of America’s freedom-loving heritage.  Repealing the ban is the right thing to do, on every conceivable level.  It was an unnecessarily Draconian measure back when it was first passed in 1981 or ‘82, but it was then an action over which reasonable persons could differ.  Today, however, the reasons for the ban simply do not exist in the manner they once did.  There is literally no good reason what-so-ever that this pernicious ban remains in effect.  It is an unfair restriction on a wholesome, good-natured recreational pursuit, and the repeal of this ban, which is emblematic of the dreary nanny-state mentality, would be a triumph for all the people of San Jose, irrespective of whether they personally enjoy fireworks.

  3. Hate to throw water on this idea that some of you have a whole lot of time to spend on, but nowhere in this grand scheme are there any expenses listed. All of these permits and fees have to be handled by somebody and what about enforcement costs? I guess if you’ve got the time to spend on an activity like this you will come up with the answers but it seems like a lot of time and energy that could be so much better spent on just about anything else. Personally, neither me nor my family need a few minutes of fireworks to celebrate the 4th. I wonder how many sparklers Jefferson or Franklin needed to celebrate?

    • Taken from the star spangled banner…

      “rockets’ red glare”, and “bombs bursting in air”

      Back in those days, they didn’t use safe and sane fireworks, they celebrated with real ammo, firing their guns into the air. (Sort of like east side San Jose on the 4th.)

      I didn’t spend a lot of time on this either.  Maybe 10 minutes thinking it up, and another 2 at city hall for open forum. 

      As far as expenses, let me spend another 10 minutes on it….

      250 booth permits.  Figure a permit is about 1/2 a sheet of paper so you’ll need 125 sheets.  Even on my color laser, it comes out to about $0.07 per page. $8.75

      Purchase permits, about the size of a drivers license.  Who said they need to be printed on fancy card stock?  My fishing license isn’t.  Make them about the size of a business card. You can fit about 10 per sheet of paper.  10,000 sheets of paper at $0.07 per page, $700 dollars.

      Safety captain cards.  Same deal, fit 10 per page.  $70

      Safety zone permits are sort of arbitrary and depends on the size of the safety zones.  Let’s just play devils advocate and say that there are no zones greater than 1 acre.  3000 permits, 2 permits per page, 1500 pages, $0.07 per page $105

      You’ll need permit processors.  They can be minimum wage, seasonal, and not full time. Let’s get 12 of them for 2 weeks. You might even get folks to volunteer to do this (I know myself and Kevin would)If you think we need more just say so. $7680

      They’ll need a space to work, we can get them a portable building with AC for [email protected] 2 weeks, $1000

      Enforcement would be the same as it is now so the cost wouldn’t go up at all.  If a cop gets a call about “illegal fireworks” being shot off, they investigate it like they do now. If it’s safe and sane, and the folks don’t have a permit they get a citation. If they’re doing everything by the book, the officer goes onto the next call.

      So…

      $ 883.75 printing
      $7680 for 12 minimum wage workers for 2 weeks
      $1000 for office space

      $10447.75 sound about accurate?  Maybe double that for incidentals? $20895

      The costs are so negligible, and there are area’s that the costs can be reduced further. So deducting the above, we’re still at $1,176,105 into the general fund.

      • Of course, the “Rockets Red Glare” and “Bombs Bursting in Air” refer to bombs in the theater of war and not to fireworks.  Not to mention that the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner were written the century following the founding of our country.

    • There really wouldn’t be any enforcement costs; the police are heavily out in force every July Fourth as it is.  We could simply continue that policy, with a net increase in costs of approximately zero.

      Allowing fireworks stands to sell & issue the various permits would presumably cost the city something on the order of a pittance.  The records wouldn’t even have to be kept on file after the holiday had passed.

      “Personally, neither me nor my family need a few minutes of fireworks to celebrate the 4th.”

      Its unclear that anything which people do strictly for enjoyment is needed by anyone.  By the same token, do we really need a formal ban on fireworks? How about letting people who enjoy them have them, and those who do not, may refrain?

      If you have any children, you might want to poll them, before you claim no one in your family would be interested, however.  That’s one of the worst things about this ban ie., it has taken yet another holiday, and taken the thing kids like most about it, and transformed it into basically just another day for adults to take off from work.  When I was a child, I used to look forward to the Fourth of July fireworks all year long.  We don’t actually need Trick-or-Treating or Easter baskets either, but neither do we need a city ordinance banning them.

      • As for asking our children whether they like fireworks, I don’t see how that is relevant.  We could also ask them if they like to play video games and eat fast food.  We know what they’ll say.  Should we ask the kids who have lost limbs or damaged their hearing due to misuse of firworks whether they want fireworks in their yard or street?  If it weren’t for the inherent danger, government wouldn’t be interested.  Not quite analogous to the Easter Bunny.

        • The type of fireworks consumer firework that can blow off a limb are illegal in California now.  Below is the law

          CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS SEC. 980(F)(1)

          The term “firecracker” means a device consisting of an explosive pyrotechnic in an amount not to exceed 50 milligrams (.772 grains) in weight in a fused container whose primary function is to produce an audible effect. All firecrackers are classified as “dangerous fireworks”. Devices similar in construction to “firecrackers” which exceed .772 grains shall be considered as EXPLOSIVES in accordance with Health & Safety Code 12000, et seq.

          So anything even resembling an explosive device can’t even be sold anymore.  Sure, there will be the dumbshit that gets his illegal stuff smuggled on a shipping container from chinatown, but that will happen if general consumer firework sales are illegal or not.  An even greater dumbshit if they let their kids run around with small scale explosives which again, not what we’re trying to promote.

        • Unless your in a protect ethnic group enclave where selective amnesty (non-enforcement) is encouraged for multicultural inclusiveness.

          What’s that mean?  If you’re asian and celebrating Chinese New Year you can generally get ahold of and use firecrackers without too much risk.  And no one has burned down SF or caused a barrage of lost fingers during the annual celebration.

          Maybe the child-proofing government knows best folks are just a bunch of intrusive idiots who think people can’t be trusted with anything.  Let’s repeal the state bans also.

        • You make a good point, actually.  But at this time, we’re just trying to get the “safe-and-sane” variety of fireworks re-legalized in San Jose.  Its a modest goal, but one which I’m sure you’ll agree moves things back in the correct direction, as well as one which won’t be at all easy to accomplish.  Please feel free to give us a hand.

          San Jose Safe and Sane – Repeal the fireworks ban

          http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=126591564018353&ref=ts

        • If you take a (legal, “safe and sane” firework) known as a Piccalo Pete, and crimp it with between the “o” and “P”, it will blow up like an m-80. Ask any 10-year old living in Gilroy, where they are sold legally.

          Fireworks, by definition, shoot out showers of sparks. Are they fun to play with? Yes. Do they, each and ever year, set off fires, burn buildings and maim people (often children)? Sadly, yes.

          When it comes to fireworks, I think it’s worth listening to the firefighters!

        • My dad used to set off Piccolo Pete’s every year, and we never knew that, nor would it occur to us to try, even if we’d found out.  I guess the trick is to raise the sort of kids that won’t steal fireworks from their parents (I knew I’d get more than some little pansy-ass “time out,” if I messed with my parents’ fireworks), or, failing that, to store them somewhere where the little miscreants can’t get their mitts on them.

          Should we ban everything that is potentially harmful when in the possession of a child?  That’s going to be a long list….

  4. Is Cortese crazy?  This is the same guy who called some kiddy playground a crown jewel.  Sheesh.

    Trying to legalize fireworks is just throwing bread to the commoners to keep them happy.  Try doing something constructive for society, not destructive.

    • 1/3rd of sales goes to the charity running the booth, that’s a California law, and most other states have a similar law.

      On average a booth sells about $75,000 during the 7 day sales season, netting the charity $25,000.

      How many uniforms would that buy for little league?  How many schoolbooks could that buy?  How many art or music supplies?  How many homeless people could be fed?

      I was there during the budget hearing a week or two ago when nearly every social program in San Jose was fixed to get the axe.  There was nearly 3000 people crowding city hall, they had to open some of the lower meeting rooms to accommodate the overflow.

      I’ve seen some of these programs, and I feel that most of these programs are essential to the city.  This would be a much needed boost to the local charities at a time when they are losing funding. How is that destructive?

      Trying to legalize fireworks is just throwing bread to the commoners to keep them happy.

      I consider myself to be a commoners. You may be right, I may be trying to just keep myself happy.  Isn’t the pursuit of happiness part of what’s outlined in the bill of rights?

    • All politics is local – Tip O’Neal

      Your comment is rude and offensive.  Implying that only lofty thinkers tinkering with major social issues are worthy public servants is foolish. 

      Doing the little things right adds up.  Every little thing that local government does is important and how you’re treated at the planning department or in the neighborhood when you’re not politically connected is even more important than the stand on childhood obesity (happy meal ban).

      You are anonymous because you want to take a political jab at a candidate but you think your too important to let your name be used.  I’m guessing you are either career civil service or a political appointee in a local council members office staff and you sir, are part of the problem.

      Thank god for this budget crisis as we can finally see past this kind of juvenile quasi-intellectual crap and get some of the cretins like you off the payroll.

  5. The thing I like about Robert Cortese is that he does NOT have the endorsement of any public employee unions. In my cocky opinion this places him head and shouders above both Cogan and Rocha.
    Also it’s refreshing to hear a candidate utter such an un-PC idea as this fireworks ban repeal. It means he’s an actual person- not some slick, politicaly ambitious, shrewdly managed automoton who’ll say whatever he thinks people want to hear.

  6. Thanks for the love fly!

    Facebook group is here
    http://www.facebook.com/toqer#!/group.php?gid=126591564018353&ref=ts

    The group is actually gaining some serious traction with 219 members, and the famous founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s Nolan Bushnell as a part of the group.

    Even if I don’t get elected, I care enough about this issue because I see it as a positive for our cities moral, and I would love for my kids to grow up in a San Jose that somewhat resembles the one with the same freedoms I enjoyed. I will continue to push this no matter what happens.

    I can see a lot of corporations getting behind creating large scale places for folks to set off safe and sane fireworks, and run concession stands (a night of work for a few 1000 citizens and tax from those sales never hurt nobody right?)

    Below is a copy/paste of what’s on the facebook page.

    —————————————————————

    When the CSJ banned all consumer fireworks in the early 80’s the rational at the time was that they would provide a civic show for the citizens free of charge.

    Well, times have changed in the last 30 years. The city can no longer afford to run a civic fireworks show. There is less open space to burn, and less wood shake shingle roofing to catch fire. The definition for “Safe and Sane” fireworks has changed a lot in the last 30 years. Safe and Sane fireworks is even safer and saner than it was 30 years ago.

    At a time when the city is facing a $112 million dollar deficit, we cannot ignore the fact that bringing safe and sane fireworks back to San Jose in a controlled manner would benefit not just the general moral of the city, but it would increase tax revenue as well. If you live in San Jose and love the idea of having Safe and Sane fireworks, please join this group and spread the word.

    Initial Proposal:

    Repeal / Ammendment of SJMC 17.12.730 / Fireworks Ban

    Fireworks in the US sold over $960 million dollars last year. That is $3 spent by every man, woman, and child in the US.
    (source cnbc http://www.cnbc.com/id/31683036/Are_Fireworks_Recession_Proof
    )
    Based on that figure, San Jose will gross around $3 million in gross sales for Safe and Sane Fireworks.

    Cause of the initial ban

    Injuries resulting in the improper use of fireworks
    Fires resulting in the improper use of fireworks

    Reasons for above

    Rocket type fireworks were still legal and would land on shake shingle houses
    Rockets and other types of fireworks would be lost in the then plentiful tall grass open space of San Jose
    Children weren’t as supervised then.

    Differences today

    Rockets, wire sparklers, roman candles, incendiary “snakes” and explosive (firecracker) types which were the major cause of fires are all illegal according to CA HSC 12500-12534
    San Jose has less tall grass open space
    Shake shingle roofing is less common
    Children are more supervised today

    More reasons to repeal the ban

    Community empowerment
    Money for non profits
    tax revenue for the city

    The Cities of Salinas, Stockton and Manteca have repealed their fireworks bans. In Manteca they’ve enacted a $500 “safety fee” charged to each booth, which goes directly to fire services.

    San Jose could be the leader by enacting several municipal codes to make sure that consumer fireworks are safe for the community.

    Safety proposals.

    1.Anyone purchasing fireworks must also purchase a $5 “Safety License” which will allow them to purchase fireworks at any booth during the fireworks season.
    2.Booths will be charged a $500 “Safety Fee”
    3.Fireworks may only be ignited in “Safe Area’s”
    4.“Safe Areas” are defined as Area’s that have been given permits from the SJFD to operate on the 4th of July for a ($25 an acre)fee . Safe area’s can be but not limited to
    a)Parks
    b)Closed off streets
    c)Private Property
    5. Safe area’s must be manned by no less than 2 “Safety Captains” per acre.
    6.Safety Captain certification training is provided by the SJFD for a nominal ($25)fee. Training includes basic fireworks safety, first aid, and proper disposal of fireworks.

    Estimated city benefit:

    $3,000,000 gross sales

    $247,500 tax revenue
    $125,000 “Booth Safety fee” 250 booths
    $500,000 “Purchase Permits” 100,000 10% of residents
    $250,000 “Safety Captain” Fees, 10,000 1% of residents
    $75,000 “Safety Zone” Fee’s, 3000 acres

    $1,197,000 gross revenue for the city.

  7. I like your idea Robert.

    How could we possibly afford Cinco de Mayo though if we allow fireworks on the 4th of July? Doesn’t Cinco de Mayo come first now in San Jose?

    • @Steve,

      I’m not sure if “Cinco De Mayo come first” was truly the councils motivation for letting it go on.  Do you remember 1997?  Here’s a link to a sfgate article on it.

      http://articles.sfgate.com/1997-05-06/news/17749237_1_street-party-large-festivals-gang-graffiti

      and a juicy quote:

      The parade and fiesta, which drew an estimated 400,000 people to downtown Sunday afternoon, deteriorated into chaos as police tried to clear a crowd of 2,000 from Santa Clara Street.

      A small group that had been drinking and flashing gang signs went wild—attacking police, smashing windows, looting three businesses and destroying a gas station, police said.

      While no official comment has been made, methinks the officials feared a repeat of 1997’s looting, rioting, and overturned cars on fire if they had not had the regular Cinco De Mayo celebration.

      That might be a pretty shitty, un-PC thing to come out of a political candidates mouth, but sadly I think it’s the truth.

    • Sounds just like the arguments about marijuana.  You don’t need to legalize it, there’s plenty around.

      Maybe we just have a stupid law on the books and rather than repeal or modify it, we’ll keep it to prove we were right and that people can’t be trusted and that government knows best.

  8. The city is out-of-bounds here.  Every year I see thousands of fireworks go off in San Jose.  In fact a couple of years ago I saw a whole block cordoned off with City of San Jose police officers standing guard while fireworks were going off.  July 4th was meant to celebrate freedom and yet San Jose goes out of it’s way to restrict celebrating freedom.  One again, government get’s involved where it doesn’t belong.

  9. I’d love to see some sanity return to our laws and allow these fireworks.  We need the tax revenue, people are going to buy them anyway, why not re-legalize them?  I second the comments below about the market forces – people are much less likely to buy the dangerous stuff in SF if they can get less dangerous stuff easily locally.

  10. Hmmm, what’s the cost of enforcing the fireworks ban? That’s one of the big arguments to legalize pot right? I would estimate enforcement costs at $3.213 million/year over the last 30 years or $96.4 million. Oh wow! That just happens to be the City budget deficit!<sic>

    Right, fireworks are a symbol just like the stripes on the flag represents the original 13 colonies and a squating fat guy represents Buddha. So what? Who gives a rat’s rear end? Ban Buddha and end childhood obesity? Taking it to this logical absurdity would really be a stretch. The ‘aunties’ use the “little Timmy blew off both his arms and was blinded by a sparkler” hyperbole. Little Timmy as such does not exist. Yes people have been maimed and even killed by such things as M80s and homemade explosives but they have nothing to do with the current argument. Maybe it is The Gateway Fireworks argument?

    Osama Bin Laden was quoted as saying “Yeah, I started off with sparklers which led to the hard stuff. I eventually got into nerve gas and thermonuclear devices. Anybody got some yellow cake?”

    That seems to be the crux of the argument. If it was just “I don’t trust myself to not get maimed or burn down my house so I won’t be buying any” that would have been the end of it 30 years ago. The argument now comes down to “I don’t trust you not to burn down my house or poke my eye out.” Thanks for the vote of non confidence. You may want to ban scissors to keep me from running with them while you are at it.

    Yeap

  11. I also grew up in San Jose before the fireworks ban and it was safe, sane and fun. I just recently unearthed a picture of me in ‘70’s garb excitedly watching my grandfather set off fireworks. And it’s true we suffered a lengthy drought during the early ‘80’s, making a fireworks ban very reasonable. But times have drastically changed, and like most bay area cities extra revenue would be welcome. Mr. Cortese is not a clown, and though he may refer to himself as a commoner, I prefer to think of him as a hard-working, forward thinking civil servant.

  12. I support the repeal of the fireworks ban in San Jose.  Things have changed so much in the last 30 years, mostly for the worse.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have good old fashioned fun like we used to.

  13. “Mr. Cortese is not a clown…”

    - Fireworks is Cortese’s signature issue?
    – Self-described George Takei fanboy?

    Haven’t we already had enough Cortese “si se puede” pandering to last us the next 8 milleniums?

    • - Fireworks is Cortese’s signature issue?

      I wouldn’t really say it’s my “signature” issue.  In fact, I never intended this to be tied into my campaign at all, but it came up a few weeks back during the measure K discussion on Sanjoseinside.com.  Fly decided to spin it that way, and that’s OK, I don’t have a problem with it.  It’s selling papers and getting web hits so the Fly is doing her job.

      My issue with measure K is it’s expanding a vice activity to fund our police and fire, at the protest of the POA and SJPOU. Fire doesn’t care about the illicit activity that will occur with expanded card rooms because they won’t have to enforce it, police will.

      My “signature” issue, the one that made me decide to run, the opening statement at every candidates forum was seeing the parks closed Mondays.  Seeing Alum Rock Park closed Mondays.  It’s been here since 1872, and even through the great depression, it was open 7 days a week.  How badly are our elected officials screwing up when they have 100x more tax revenue now than in the great depression, yet they can’t seem to keep services funded.

      It just kind of grinds me that instead of finding ways of cutting actual waste, our council chooses to pit citizens against the unions, and department against department.  It’s a shell shuffling game to keep us from figuring out what the real problem is.  The real problem is unless we vote these jokers out, it’s going to be business as usual. 

      And if liking Star Trek is a reason to not be taken seriously, then maybe you shouldn’t take the fly’s article seriously, because I did find that video on the fly’s facebook page.

      • “It just kind of grinds me that instead of finding ways of cutting actual waste, our council chooses to pit citizens against the unions, and department against department.”

        I totally agree with you. While both sides have made mistakes, the city has spent billions of dollars over the decades on things that have nothing to do with basic city services. Of course, it would be unfair to blame our current city council for the spending of past councils, but it is equally unfair that hard working city employess are being blamed by the city council as being the sole reason for the economic mess the city is in. Our current city council has done virtually nothing to attract new business into the city, aside from cannibas clubs. I hope you make it onto the city council.

  14. A week earlier, responding to a question about same-sex marriage at a form held at Cambrian School, he launched into a speech about being an unashamed fanboy of George Takei, the actor who played Sulu on the original Star Trek.  “Seeing that video with Sulu and his partner really touched a nerve with me,” Cortese wrote. “I am a fanatical trekkie. I never knew George Takai was gay before that. I think it really opened up a lot of eyes at that meeting last night that they should put some of that bigotry and hate aside.”

    Let me see if I got this straight…

    You’re saying that anyone who believes that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman is a bigot and a hater?

  15. “some 70 percent of African-Americans voted Yes on 8, as did 52 percent of Latinos and 49 percent of Asians”

    “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.”  Barack Obama

    So you’re still on board with smearing anyone that believes that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman as being a bigot and a hater?

    Or is your position more “nuanced”? 

    ie.  You think that only white people that believe that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman are haters and bigots.

    Which is it?

  16. Crickets from the ebullient Robert Cortese? 

    Liberals around here are much like Star Trek’s Mr. Spock – only with even more awe inspiring powers. 

    Whereas Mr Spock has to physically lay hands on someone’s head to mind-meld, bay area liberals can peer within the hearts and minds of individuals simply by being in the same room (like at the Cambrian School) or even on a blog like sanjoseinside.

    For example..

    When a citizen at the Cambrian School candidate forum stated that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman, Robert Cortese, endowed with his bay area liberal mind-meld powers, was able to peer inside the person’s psyche and know instantly that that person was a homophobic hater.

    But there’s more.

    Bay area liberals, endowed with vulcan-on-steroids mind meld powers, have the innate ability to detect racism and bigotry in large numbers of people.  And they’re able to do all this from the comfort of their own office chair.

    Robert Cortese’s psychic powers have allowed him to peer within the souls of hundreds of thousands of people he doesn’t know and effortlessly and correctly sort them into groups of haters and non-haters.

    - Blacks, Latinos, Asians go into the non-hater bucket. 
    – White people that opposed Prop 8 go into the non-hater bucket.
    – White people that supported Prop 8 go into the hater bucket.

    Were D9 to elect Robert Cortese the effect would be as if the city of San Jose had been hit by a V’ger sized phaser set to stun.

    • I actually responded to that, but I’m guessing the packets somehow got sent using tachyon particles instead of electrons, and wound up somewhere else on the timeline.

      I’m not sure why you’re throwing down the race card, but your use of it is along the lines of Godwins law.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin’s_law

      Maybe you thought bigot meant racist?  Here’s the definition in case you forgot.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigotry

      I’ve done nothing but present compelling, fact based arguments when it came to the fireworks, and when you couldn’t win the debate you shifted gears with non sequitur arguments accusing me of being a racist. 

      Considering you didn’t even know what “bigotry” means, I’m going to go ahead and post the link here to non sequitur as well.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur

      In any event, have a nice day.

    • Typical. You don’t have to be liberal to believe that two people in a loving, committed relationship should be allowed to marry. You can make it a liberal issue and spew your usual anti-liberal drivel but it just shows your own intolerance to loving couples and those you define as liberal. Doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about but it does indicate where you stand. I’m not liberal or gay but I believe it is none of my business who chooses to marry or not. Loving couples should have the chance for the same happiness, sadness, good and bad as the rest of us.

  17. *You* are quoting Godwin’s law?  fyi.  Irony is not something that gets wrinkles out of shirts. 

    Let’s go to the tape.

    You called out those in attendance at the Cambrian school’s candidate forum as bigots and haters.

    You:  “I think it really opened up a lot of eyes at that meeting last night that they should put some of that bigotry and hate aside.” “

    Me:  “You’re saying that anyone who believes that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman is a bigot and a hater?”

    You:  “Well I wouldn’t exactly call them open minded.”

    Here’s a couple of slogans for your campaign. 
    – “Robert Cortese, Smears you can believe in!”
    – “Parse we can!”

    So if the folks in D9 lose their minds between now and June 8 and elect you to office we can expect to tune in to Channel 26 each week to hear you pontificating what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.

    • So wait, let me get this straight, you’re not throwing the race card down anymore, but instead are trying to get simpatico from everyone at the Cambrian forum when I said some of that bigotry and hate? 

      Some != all

      So let’s recap..

      You tried fanning the fire on fireworks
      You tried throwing down the race card
      Now you’re going to twist and nitpick my choice of words.

      I clearly didn’t use the word all but had used the word some.  Well, with your logic all at the Cambrian forum are open minded towards gay marriage since some=all. 

      That would mean Pegram and Greer are solid in their in their choice to support it along with all the attendees at the Cambrian forum.

      They answered that question before me, no ESP required.  Had I answered my question before Pegram/Greer then you could have accused me of all the ESP, witchcraft and voodoo hex’s you wanted to.

      But I guess in your world, some=all.

      • Oh I get it now. 

        You’re trying that Captain Kirk trick where you issue forth a bunch of illogical nonsense and the computer explodes and the androids all deactivate.

        Won’t work here but maybe, just maybe it will down at City Hall.  We need more guys with your unique abilities to help grind the City Hall Borg to a halt.

        • Nowhere, and I mean nowhere did I ever call anyone a racist.  Quite the contrary.

          My beef is with synaptically challenged Cortese-types who smear *others* as bigots, haters, etc. with all the nonchalance of getting a drink of water.

        • Novice,
          My apologies Novice. Robert is right about one thing though; there are people who hate gays and fight very hard against gay marriage. I think that is the group he is referring to.

          I for one don’t want to elect anyone who will use that office to further his or her own personal agenda. For some reason, these candidates seem to forget whom they represent! They don’t serve the people; they serve themselves and their buddies. I wish we could do a way with the way candidates collect money for campaigns and make it more honest.

        • Novice,
          If it helps at all, I know Robert. He isn’t a racist. He is too far to the left of tolerant for me, but he’s a great guy. His heart is in the right place, and he does care very much about our community.

          He is far from a politican. He’s just a hard working guy who wants to see our electeds do the right thing for we taxpayers. Rather then complain he’s stepping up to the plate and trying to effect the change we all want.

  18. Robert,

    Saw you at candidate forum and was undecided about who to vote for and last weeks of fireworks discussion decided me and family to not to vote for you

    You had a great public opportunity to discuss the many important issues that Council and city will have to vote on in coming years but chose to waste time on your less important trivial personal issue – fireworks rather than more important issues: budget deficit, public safety, community centers, streets , libraries, general plan update etc that you had opportunity to discuss and make yourself better

    Enjoyed your fireworks discussion but San Jose needs Council members who discuss and tell voters how they will deal with important not trivial issues

    Look forward for you to run in future political races since I heard some good ideas from you at debates.

    Please get involved in neighborhood, community and city government’s boards, commissions and next time stay focused on city important issues

  19. @lost votes

    Just curious,

    What were the good ideas that you liked?  The only reason I’m hammering on the fireworks issue is to me it’s the simplest way of bringing back funding for our safety and social programs, without a sin tax like measure k. 

    After my fireworks repeal work is done, maybe I’ll work on one of the ideas you like.

  20. With all due respect, I am OUTRAGED at your fireworks suggestion.

    I have in my possession “pipes” that have rocketed into my yard, I have turned over to SJPD “bundles” of explosive rockets that were set off on the sidewalk AWAY FROM the user’s own home.  Either of these would do serious damage to anyone getting in the way.

    You have NO APPRECIATION whatsoever of what we endure because the existing laws are not enforced.  Come and spend some time on the East Side with your kids and pets – plan to stay the week before and after 7/4.

    You may be seeking to represent your district, but be reminded that your agenda impacts the entire city.

    • “Come and spend some time on the East Side with your kids and pets – plan to stay the week before and after 7/4.”

      Will there be BBQ?

      Discussing issues that effect an entire populace is always tempered over a good meal.

    • D5 Resident said, “You have NO APPRECIATION whatsoever of what we endure because the existing laws are not enforced.  Come and spend some time on the East Side with your kids and pets – plan to stay the week before and after 7/4.”

      Of yes we do. Every July 4th, graduation, New Years, and during the summer, our district is a blaze with illegal fireworks. Why don’t you stop by and see for yourself sometime? Calling the Police is useless. They are too busy running from call to call.

      I think what Robert is trying to say is simple enough to understand:

      1.)The City banned fireworks 30 years ago to prevent fires. Both the way things are built and the way fireworks are made are very different now. TRUE. He is correct in stating that CONTROLED and safely overseen usage would be a better way to combat illegal fireworks.

      2.)He correctly points out that the City took away fireworks to hold public fireworks events in downtown, to make money off of folks who went to said events. The City is now canceling those events, and LOOSING revenue because of it.

      3.)Millions of dollars could be made if the City found a safe and sane way of enacting his idea. This is a fact. Some of the money can be used to hire professionals to over see these neighborhood events.

      4.)At no time did Robert advocate the irresponsible usage or sale of fireworks. He is simply making a suggestion on ways to create added revenue, and to keep our American heritage alive.

      What may I ask is so outrageous about that?

      You sound like someone who serves on a Neighborhood Association Board. Are you?

      • Millions of dollars could be made if the City found a safe and sane way of enacting his idea. This is a fact.

        Personally, I doubt if the city would make more than a few thousand dollars in tax revenue from fireworks sales.  Do you have any idea how many fireworks would have to be sold to make “Millions of dollars”?

        Since it is a “fact”, please provide the data and/or link to support this fact. 

        Thank you.

        • http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31706833/ns/us_news-july_4_special/

          $960 million for 2009

          US population: 307,006,550

          960,000,000 / 307,006,550 = 3.126969115154057788017877794464 spent per person in the US on fireworks.  This is without taking into consideration some of the population is in areas where fireworks are banned.

          A pyrotech contacted me recently and pointed that out.  So here’s a better example… Manteca sales.

          http://www.mantecabulletin.com/news/archive/4816/

          $600,000 raised for charities.  We know that 1/3rd of fireworks sales goes directly to the charities, so….

          $600,000×3=1.8m
          Population of Manteca = 50,000
          1.8m / 50,000 = $36 per person spent on fireworks.

          So based on that, San Jose will gross $36,000,000 in sales.  8.25% tax will result in $2,970,000 tax revenue. $12 million will go into local charities.

          So do the total sales in a town like Manteca count as fact?  I could find another town if you like.

        • Sounds like Reagonomics, or VooDoo economics.  Game over.  You lose.

          “It marks the fifth year Manteca non-profits are able to sell fireworks. More than $600,000 has been raised to benefit a wide array of Manteca organizations.”

          Your VooDoo economics is over 5 years.

        • Haha OK you’re right.  Thank you for pointing out my mistake. Still though, that’s $7.20 spent by every resident of Manteca.  In San Jose dollars, that’s $7.2m gross a year.

          $7.2m x 8.25% = $666,000

          Booth estimate wasn’t far off, I kind of grabbed that number out of the air, but based on Manteca 14 booth’s for 50,000 people San Jose would need 280 booths.

          Now I have another fun article.  Stockton repealed their ban, and they’re charging each booth $647 for “safety fees”

          http://www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offices-regional/14394197-1.html

          280 booths X $647 = $181,160

          Add in the other fee’s I’m proposing and a million isn’t that hard to reach.

        • Come to think of it with the proposal as it’s structured now, it can actually make it much easier for police to respond to reports of illicit fireworks being used.  They would know in advance the registered locations of where fireworks were being permitted and be able to devote patrols in a more focused manner and respond more quickly.

          I think a fair trade-off to address Madame D5 Residents concerns would be to increase the minimum fine for illegal possession and use, including usage of (not possession) safe and sane fireworks outside of permitted areas, it could curb usage and generate additional revenue from those willing to break the law.