Closed Door Vote Revealed

As I have shared in prior blogs, issues that are discussed in closed session meetings are suppose to remain confidential until the City Attorney reports out at a public council meeting. Well, that is the way it is supposed to work anyway.

I have wondered how people associated with interest groups speak to issues that were discussed in closed session that have not been made public yet.  I will speak to that in another blog.

Votes that happen within closed session are not always unanimous. Just as in open session, councilmembers sometimes vote “yes” and sometimes vote “no.” Of course, since the voting takes place behind closed doors, the public does not know how the electeds vote. However, when the Council chooses to enter into litigation, or sometimes when a legal settlement is reached, the vote is reported out at public session.

At the June 21 Council meeting, the City Attorney publicly reported that the settlement with the County of Santa Clara and the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) was recorded and that the vote was 10-1 with Oliverio voting no. This is the settlement that involved Old City Hall being given to the County due to threatened litigation. In my view the City blinked by giving direction to settle. 

To be fair, there was the chaos that RDA was going to end any day, and folks were thinking “how will the City survive?” The County, also fearing the end of RDA, wanted to get what it could before the governor terminated the RDA.  San Jose RDA has been paying the County each year, more money that any city RDA pays any county government in the state of California. There were some agreements reached with the County in the past so the RDA could borrow even more money. These terms carried in my opinion loan shark penalties if the RDA was unable to make the full payment—even with the situation of declining property values and thus less RDA tax increment revenue.

There is an old adage that when you owe the bank money the bank controls you, however when you owe the bank a lot of money you control the bank. This was my view of the relationship between the San Jose RDA and the County.  I felt we should pay what we could afford to pay at that moment but no more. Thus leaving a small portion of money for economic development, which helps both the City of San Jose and the County of Santa Clara with new private sector jobs, which increases cash flow in the local economy. Charity starts at home and we need to take care of San Jose first as the Old City Hall could have been sold to benefit the general fund.

In addition, the settlement put liens on 18 city properties, which if ever sold require the permission of the County, and probably require paying the County a portion of the proceeds of land sale. An unnecessary shackle for a future city council in making choices.

27 Comments

  1. PO

    “Old City Hall could have been sold to benefit the general fund.” 

    - How can city use general fund money / property to pay off redevelopment debts ?

    Is that legal since Council frequently says general fund and redevelopment tax money are separate funds and can not mixed or used except for designated uses?

    ” In addition, the settlement put liens on 18 city properties, which if ever sold require the permission of the County, and probably require paying the County a portion of the proceeds of land sale. An unnecessary shackle for a future city council in making choices. “

    - Again that mean general fund money / 18 properties pays off redevelopment debt ?

    - Do all the sales price for 18 properties go to pay redevelopment debt or only a ?? percentage ? 

    - Where the city properties sold at last Tuesday’s meeting also partially paying off redevelopment debt ?

    I agree Council did questionable settlement on many points Does not seem they were not thinking clearly.

    Thanks PO for answers

      • Wasn’t the $$ from some of them going to be used to buy the land for Lew Wolff to build his stadium?…if Bud Selig ever gets off his duff and puts the rights to SJ to a vote of the owners.

    • D6,

      You should know that the rules about commingling and use of funds are subject to the whims of the Mayor/Council and their crack City Attorney. 

      We, the residents and taxpayers, are on the receiving end of a pack of lies generated and perpetrated by our politicians.

      In the near future, that will all change. The groundswell of voter discontent will result in new ballot measures to reallocate funds in a manner consistent with our wishes.

    • “- How can city use general fund money / property to pay off redevelopment debts ? “

      Isn’t that what they did when they took over the 4th Street parking garage debt from the RDA?  So now they’re raising rates at all city-owned garages and ending the free until 6:00 p.m. on Sat. & Sun.  Just what DT biz needs—another reason for people not to go there.

  2. What were the 18 city properties that acquired liens as a part of this settlement? Is that a secret?
    In its financing statement for the new City Hall, Gonzo said that the old City Hall Property was worth $50 million. Now it has been sold to the County for $10 million! Was some one telling less than the truth?

  3. Congrats chuck reed and police chief figone for being the 1st mayor and police chief in the citys history to layoff cops….your leadership is inspirational and your legacy is set.  Statues of your likeness should be made and placed in Capitol Park (that’s located in east san jose for all you almaden/willow glen bloggers)….you guys are the greatest, keep up the good work!!!!

    • Put a statue of each in the appropriate bathrooms in their new city hall with a view for the falcons that crap on their dome.  Thank God I move out of San Jose, feel sorry for the rest waiting for their taxes to go up on everything from water to garbage so these greedy politicians can get their way.

  4. What a Shame and others

    Why do you and others waste everyone time endlessly calling for recalls and other unworkable ideas like moving airport etc that

    1) never will happen
    2) if recall did, will not be successful

    Use your limited time to work on changing City Hall to be accountable to voters and taxpayers and not political cesspool

    1) elect responsible San Jose residents who are loyal to San Jose and residents Not outsiders like Ron Gonzales who only moved to San Jose as political stepping stone to state or national political office

    2) work with community and neighborhood groups to find people who will be responsible to residents not more politicians that use taxes, rezoning, contactx and political favors to special interests and same political insiders to advance their political careers while San Jose declines

    3) work to have open transparent accountable city city government not current closed door secret back room deals as we see frequently while council lies or hide what is going on, taxes are spent, deals done, property sold or contracts signed and we find out later when it is too late to be undone

    • Your have a great heart but need to get real.

      Can’t tell you how many times I knew ahead of time the council already made up it’s mind on votes and had to go thru the public speaking process before they voted on their already made up minds.  They might as well take a nap, which some appear to do.

      Transparency does not exist, sorry.

  5. I see in the 2009-2010 budget that approximately $2M was budgeted to the RDA but in the budget showing the actual money spent in that fiscal year, it shows over $19M spent on the RDA. 

    Can someone explain: 1) the purpose of the original $2M; 2) the purpose of the additional $17M; and 3) where the $17M came from when the City is in such a budget crisis.

    With respsect to transferring the old city hall—how can City assets be used to pay RDA debts if RDA funds cannot be used to fund City debts?  If one is true then the other should be too and all that money spent on the prospective ballpark, which would significantly reduce the deficit, should be available.  Also, why wasn’t the ball park money, which is RDA money used to pay the debt as opposed to selling City assets to pay RDA debt.

    • Query,

      You ask too many questions, all of them right on the money.  The greasy politicians may tire of your questions and get you a new job, trying to find the bottom of Lake Tahoe.

  6. ” why wasn’t the ball park money, which is RDA money used to pay the debt as opposed to selling City assets to pay RDA debt. ”

    because Reed and Liccardo want to payback their political mentor, downtown insiders and large campaign contributors who all will make hundreds millions off Soccer and Baseball stadium deals which taxpayers were legally obligated in back room deals that are not fully disclosed to public to pay $$ millions each year from General Fund to make insiders richer

    Look closely at HP Arena, Soccer and Baseball Stadium; Wolff’s side deals with politically connected local businessmen who helped him get highly profitable political stadiums deals: and giveaway San Jose city and VTA Parking Lot lease deals.

    You will see political insiders not San Jose make hundreds of millions while taxpayers get sc**wed and get fewer services and higher taxes

    City politicians and senior managers get get future election contributions or after their terms are up high paid jobs, consulting or contract deals

  7. ” I have wondered how people associated with interest groups speak to issues that were discussed in closed session that have not been made public yet. “

    Council members are recruited by, trained in campaign classes and owe their election to heavy political support and contributions from special interest groups that see state and city government elections as a business strategy to obtain
    - millions tax money,
    - under market services or city property sales or leases,
    - highly profitable city contracts
    - favorable Council votes/ rezonings that make them millions

    except that their “bought and paid for” Council career politicians and city management to report back to special interest groups who own them and hide insider deals from public, residents and voters

    Which Special Interest group controls city government changes from time to time as does who get insider deals although some long time political insiders have gotten multiple decades long term city deals so their candidates can occasionally lose an election without losing their high profits

  8. ” So you are saying that Proposition I in 1996 was a bunch of b.s.  “A city hall can be built at no net cost to the taxpayers”. Instead you are making the city workers pay for it. “

    Yes, got that right, New City Hall was construction union’s political payback and highly desired city management perk who twisted law and hid high costs

    What really angers labor unions now is both

    1) losing millions in union’s political campaign paybacks

    2) city employees are forced to giveback pay and pensions to pay for corrupt city government that spends millions taxes yearly for political paybacks and insider sweetheart deals to Chamber and downtown businesses who control Council majority

    Chamber and downtown businesses will control Mayor and Council majority for years due to labor’s inept leadership, campaign mistakes, weak candidates, well known city corruption abuses and political inability to address voters concerns

    Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private or political gain

    We have seen city government corruption vary, but includes cronyism favoring friends or political supporters, nepotism, patronage, bribery ( Terry Gregory ), influence peddling to achieve sweetheart city contracts, tax subsidies, under market sale or lease city property, favorable Council votes, etc.

  9. It’s funny how politicians say, “I’m the only on that voted no.” Just to make them self’s look good. Same way king Chuck was the only one that voted “no” for the new city hall. He had no problem moving in when the place was built.

    If he felt so strong about it, he could have stayed at the old city hall and worked out of there for the past 6 or 7 years by himself, but he didn’t.  You can’t pass up that great view from the top floor, somebody’s gotta keep an eye on the peasants down blow.

    Chicago politics add it’s best.

  10. So you are saying that Proposition I in 1996 was a bunch of b.s.  “A city hall can be built at no net cost to the taxpayers”. 

    Instead you are making the city workers pay for it.

    nice going.

  11. Mr. PO,

    you brought it up, what are the other 18 properties?  If you want to put this out in the open then tell us.  Is the 92 million moth-balled substation one of these.  Why is the city sitting on an empty building, and do not tell me this is an empty police building!  Any company could come in and adjust the building to fit their needs.  This alone could recoup more than half of the cities financial problems.  Or is Chuck still wanting to save (and hide) money for a failed ball park
    plan.  And isn’t that in your district?  Go figure……… seems your not responding anymore to our comments.

    • The substation will open once figone/reed get police down to 800/900 warm bodies…..the downtown police station will be closed down and moved south.  The downtown station will either be sold or given away to the county.  Just be patient smile

  12. These blogs just show the lack of leadership that this san jose has, and why this city is going downhill fast. The lying and shamfull decisions that the mayor and council members make is downright un-ethical. Treating employees like a number and putting their own selfishness above the good of the city. And yet they do not change their ways. They all have their own agenda and nothing anyone says at the council meeting will change their minds. Honestly just look how Chuck Reed and everyone responds and what they say during the meetings. Very disrespectfull!!!

    • This is so typical of all SJ council.  Legitimate questions but no answers. If they talk enough and scare you enough you will buy anything.

      Another example, after the AG sent its letter indicating it believed the fiscal emergency plan was unsupportable, Mayor Reed was quoted in the Merc. News as saying the “attorney general seemed to misinterpret the proposal. He said the city isn’t attempting to use the Emergency Services Act.” I wrote to the Mayor asking him was was misinterpreted and under what authority he was intending to act if not the ESA.  I never got a response.  I received three emails from the Mayor’s office but no one answered the basic question providing support for his quote in the Merc. News.  Typical.

  13. “I wrote to the Mayor asking him was was misinterpreted and under what authority he was intending to act if not the ESA.  I never got a response.  I received three emails from the Mayor’s office but no one answered the basic question providing support for his quote in the Merc. News.”

    Everything is smoke and mirrors with this administration. Transparent, open government promised by Reed??? Hardly.