Manny Diaz Shilling for Loan Sharks

Emmett Carson, CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, says it is “hard to understand” why the San Jose City Council chose to delay action on accepting a $50,000 grant to look into anti-predatory lending policies, what with so many people falling deeper into debt. He should ask Manny Diaz, a former city councilmember and state assemblymember who is now a registered lobbyist for Community Financial Services Association of America, a trade group that represents the payday loan industry.

San Jose has more than 40 payday lending offices. Some charge annualized interest rates for short-term loans that can exceed 400 percent, and most are located in low-income communities. Diaz himself represented such a community, east San Jose, until 2000, when, following a racially tinged, last-minute political hit piece, he defeated then–U.S. Assistant D.A. Tony West (now the Assistant U.S. Attorney General in charge of the Civil Division) and moved to Sacramento.

In January, Diaz met with eight of the 10 councilmembers about payday lending, and apparently it was not to stick up for his constituents who were getting shook down when they couldn’t come up with the vig. According to a lobbyist report, Diaz was in contact with councilmembers and their staffers, as well as staff members for Mayor Chuck Reed and City Manager Debra Figone, no less than 31 times between Jan. 1 and March 31.

Councilmembers Nancy Pyle, Xavier Campos, Donald Rocha and Ash Kalra each met with Diaz and at least one payday lending official, according to the councilmembers’ calendars, while Campos and Rocha both toured a payday lending office with Diaz. Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen was supposed to take a tour but cancelled.

Pierluigi Oliverio was the only councilmember not to get any attention from Diaz, while Sam Liccardo was in contact with Diaz just once.

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

8 Comments

  1. Emmett Carson, CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, says it is “hard to understand” why the San Jose City Council chose to delay action on accepting a $50,000 grant to look into anti-predatory lending policies, what with so many people falling deeper into debt.

    Could it be That Council did not want to look at anti-predatory lending policies ever or after next election ?

    Say it isn’t so Council, say it isn’t so

    Will we see Council silence or will City issue another of their famous ” delay and it will go away”  press releases

    – ” mumble. mumble Council is dealing with with mumble, important,  mumble issues like mumble but will deal with anti-predatory lending policies mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble “

    ( Political Translation:  Council wants large campaign contributions from predatory lending companies to kill or make worthless any city policy )

  2. Eric,

    While you once counseled me on my choice of words (the “W” word), you’ve now taken to tossing my comments without so much as a word. 

    On the subject of words, I surmise that using “pimp” is now forbidden.  Too bad because so many of our politicians and lobbyists are aptly described by that word.

  3. Since San Jose’s questionable lending division (the RDA) is shutting down, perhaps the Council was shopping around for another means of keeping itself afloat?!?

  4. Do other council members in other cities shill for developers and development service groups like outdoor advertisers?  Perhaps Fly should check around to other cities.

  5. The city of San Jose has an online system for viewing lobbyist reports.  Last year most of the reports were viewable online.  Since the start of 2011, only one of the many lobbyist reports is viewable online. To see the rest you must visit city hall.  Why go through all the trouble to create an online system if none of the reports are viewable online?

    p.s. According to their calendars, both Ash Kalra and his chief of staff went on a payday loan store field trip on Feb 2.  With San Jose heading for bankruptcy, why are so many of our city leaders (other than Pierluigi) working so hard on this issue?