Pose Questions to Madison Nguyen

UPDATE: San Jose Inside has selected reader questions and sent them to Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen’s office. Thanks to all who participated.

Nguyen’s answers will be posted in a Q&A format. If an answer seems incomplete or unsatisfactory, SJI will do its best to follow up.

Born in Vietnam, Nguyen came to the US in the early 1980s and is a city councilmember for District 7. She was elected to the council in September 2005. Before joining the council, Nguyen was elected to the Franklin-McKinley Board of Education in 2002, becoming the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to that public office in California.

Nguyen notably survived a recall election in early 2009, which stemmed from a dispute over what to name an area of businesses in her district.

To submit a question, post below.

48 Comments

  1. As a homeowner in San Jose I am very disappointed with the council’s inability to control the City Manager. Although the City has seen record revenues for most of the past 15 years, the City has an enormous deficit, yet again. Now we find out that the RDA is the cause of the bulk of the deficit. How do you plan to rein in the City Managers Office and get the City out from under the crushing weight of the RDA’s debt and dead end projects that have hurt us Far more than they have helped us. As a voting resident I am very concerned with the current direction of the Council. You are too focused on feel-good projects rather than core services. Why should my neighborhood association and I put our faith in you in the coming elections?

    • Chuck Reed recently wrote a letter to Gov. Brown pleading that he sign SBX1-8.  In this letter he went on to say:

      “The San Jose Redevelopment Agency has $93 million in variable rate subordinate bonds secured by tax increment that are supported by Letters of Credit and Reimbursement Agreements…..  If the Letters of Credit cannot be extended , the Agency will be in default, resulting in a $200 million impact on the Agency’s finances and a $175 million impact to the City.”

      Q: With such a default looming and seeing the SJRDA in a near bankrupt state, how can you justify voting to give away stadium land for 1/3 it’s value?

      http://www.sanjoseca.gov/mayor/news/letters/2011/RDACleanUpLanguage_09142011.pdf

  2. What did you learn from the ‘Little Saigon’ fiasco and almost being recalled? What would do differently if given second chance?

  3. Mayor Reed has stated that he has no political aspirations beyond being San Jose’s Mayor. If you intend to move forward in the political arena, how will you be able to decide on an issue without his direction?

  4. Why did you agree to allow the (billionaire) Oakland A’s ownership group, to buy a downtown SJ parcel for less than market value?

  5. The Metro did a great expose on the Little Saigon issue, pointing to financial support your campaigns had received from Lap Tang, who developed Vietnam Town on Story Road, as a possible reason you pushed so hard to have the name of the business district include “Vietnam,” and in essence help market his development. As evidence of this, they cited emails you sent to Redevelopment Agency officials questioning whether or not the naming required City Council approval since Lap Tang had offered to fund all associated signage.

    In the same article, the Metro alluded to the fact that the shopping center “Little Saigon” on Story Road is owned by the family of Linda Nguyen, your opponent in your first city council election, and pointed this out as a possible reason why you so vehemently resisted naming the business district “Little Saigon.”

    Can you respond to these two facts and explain how either motivated your resistance to naming the district “Little Saigon”?

  6. Why havn’t you apologized to San Jose police officer Chad Marshall for demonizing and labeling him as a murderer when he justifiably shot and killed a Vietnamese women with what was reasonably believed to be a weapon according to the grand jury!! You led the charge to have him arrested for murder! So why no apology?

    • I agree…please answer this question; and don’t look to Chris Moore… it will take two months for him to get back to you.

      • Great question. I doubt she will answer. She is a politician, thank God a grand jury examined the issue with facts and NOT political aspirations.

  7. Why is the Mayor, City Manager and you hellbent on declaring an illegal “fiscal emergency”, pushing a ballot measure that will provide illegal pension changes that will lose in court and cost the City enormous legal fees instead of bargaining in good faith with the employees that have put forth real and sensible savings… One brown act violation is not enough for you and the Mayor?

  8. Vice Mayor Nguyen,

    I am extremely upset with the San Jose Police Department’s ability to respond to citizen reports. I literally call several times a week to report that some “gangster” looking types are drinking at my apartment complex’s playground. These individuals take over the playground as they drink beer and smoke pot – kids can’t even play on the playground anymore! Every time I call the police, they never come out! I have requested to speak to the district supervisor several times, but he or she usually tells me that they have no patrol officers to send. I’m upset that the police cannot recognize that this destroys my apartment complex’s standard of living. I understand that the police are busy and understaffed, but why not divert resources from other non-important programs within the department to attend to the lower crimes or chronic problems that are not being mitigated or addressed. Thank you for your time and concern.

    • the district Sergeant gave you your answer, there are no officers to respond thanks to this city council and it will only get worse!

    • Mr.Sandoval, I would like to take the opportunity to address this issue from the standpoint of the patrol officer.

      While the conditions you describe are, no doubt, frustrating, they are also what would be described as ‘quality of life’ issues. Although drinking beer and smoking pot in public are unlawful, their assignement of priority is far lower than calls for service in which there is a crime in progress, a felony crime report, a traffic collision or other calls for service which are not ‘quality of life’ issues.

      While I can’t be sure in which patrol district you live, if you are north of where 880 and 101 cross San Jose in the Oakland Rd/ Brokaw Rd area, I can tell you that district is quite busy and with more serious calls for service than that which you describe. In point of fact, that particular district is one of the largest and most difficult to navigate in the city. Despite this, and despite having up to 7 officers assigned to work that district on Day Shift just a few years ago, it is not uncommon presently for only 4-5 officers to be assigned to that particular district.

      While you may feel that the Police cannot recognize the impact on your particular complex of not responding to your particular calls for service (and others like it) the reality is that there simply aren’t resources available to handle them and there are no resources in other areas to divert to deal with those issues.

      It is important for you to understand exactly how dangerously understaffed SJPD is at present, so I will share with you some important facts and statistics.

      1. The national average officer/citizen ratio across the nation is 1.7/1000.

      2. Some municipalities make do with slightly less, and many make do with significantly more than the above average, however, none come close to San Jose’s present ration of approximately 1.1/1000

      3. According to research I conducted approximately 6 months ago, SFPD maintained an officer/citizen ratio of approximately 3.4/1000.

      4. According to research I conducted in roughly the same time frame. LAPD maintained an officer/citizen ration of 2.5/1000

      5. At it’s highest staffing level, a few years ago, SJPD had approximately 1400 officers or 1.5/1000 citizens. San Jose has lost 300 officers in the last few years to retirements and lateral transfers to other agencies.

      While I am entirely sympathetic to your plight, the reality is that ‘quality of life’ – type calls for service are going unanswered all over the city. In fact, this is so prevalent, the Department implemented a new code to close out such events as yours: NR, or No Resources Available. If you are curious, you can now find out from the Department how many calls for service are closed NR, much as yours likely are.

      Finally, I’d like to add this note: The only solution to this issue is to hire more officers, a task which I fear may be enormously difficult given the following facts:

      – SJPD is no longer competitive with other agencies from a wages/benefits standpoint

      – San Jose’s national reputation as a responsible and ethical employer is now in the toilet making recruiting insanely difficult.

      – San Jose has not held an academy in several years and doesn’t appear to have any intention of holding one in the near future, meaning that it’s only option for hiring to offset the anticipated retirement of dozens – if not scores – more officers in the coming year is to try to recruit lateral officers from other agencies – a near impossible task given the reputation that Mayor Reed and his allies have created for San Jose.

    • This is exactly what we were trying to get you to understand last year. When we told you citizens what the mayor was doing, gutting public safety so he could buy a baseball stadium, you accused us of using scare tactics.  When we pointed out how understaffed we were and how crime would skyrocket, you scoffed. Well I’m not gonna say I told you so but….what were you thinking? Wake up. We now have roughly 1039 cops with 25-30 slated to retire or get hired elsewhere by July. If you think it’s bad now, you have two choices. Brace for impact (cuz its gonna get nasty next summer on the streets) or Demand More from your council members. Good luck

  9. As Vice-Mayor, you have stated many times that libraries and community centers are essential City services, on par with Police service, Fire protection and Street Maintenance.  In fact, you once stated that not having libraries open would similar to 3rd World conditions.  The latest pension reform ballot initiative reflects similar language.

    How can you and Mayor Reed justify these as “essential” on par with public safety services?

    Library and other services are duplicitous, as the County operates libraries as do schools throughout San Jose. The latest San Jose Parks and Recreation Activity Guide is nearly 100 pages… do you really believe that there is a Fiscal Emergency while these decisions are being made?

    • County libraries are outside of San Jose and charge SJ residents for services. The pathetic school libraries are not open to the public – schools don’t want strangers on their campus for security reasons.
      Not sure about rec programs, but I think they are funded by user fees.

  10. The San Jose Airport has cost taxpayers billions of dollars and is protected within a City fund separate from that which provides “essential” services.  How much revenue does SJC bring to the City, if any?  How do you and Mayor Reed justify the enormous subsidy costs while so-called essential services are decimated?

    • I can answer this question.  The airport generates zero revenue for San Jose.  This is because San Jose has accepted FAA grant money, and the terms of the grant are that any money generated by the airport can only be used for airport projects.  It is illegal for the airport to generate revenue for San Jose and it’s residents.

      Now, airport supporters will point to voodoo economic studies showing the indirect and induced income generated by the airport.  First, indirect and induced income are simply guesses, and wishful thinking.  They are made up numbers with no way to be measured.  The idea being that people visiting via the airport will spend money for hotels, food, entertainment, etc., and all this money is the result of the airport.

      FALSE.

      These same people will still be visiting and spending money even if they arrived via SFO or Oakland.  They are not coming to San Jose because there is an airport.  They are coming to San Jose for other reasons. 

      The airport is an albatross around the neck of San Jose, and is ruining this city, and what quality of life is left.

  11. What ever happened to the Viet Heritage Garden and the Vietnamese American Community Center projects you were championing?

  12. The SJPOA supported you during the recall campaign and even made the POA hall your election night headquarters and helped you win your job back. Now, a couple of years later you turned your back on us and give no support back?

    • Nobody talks with the POA.  Why should they.  We give the city everything they ask for.  We even put a sweet offer on the table to help pension cost and the city hasn’t even looked at it.  we find out a couple days ago the City was using numbers that were old. (The reason for such a high pension cost)  Our team couldn’t even figure that out, the city has been using cooked up number for the last couple of years.  Fight team fight!

  13. Ha ha ha. Lol.  Tee hee hee… you guys ask some really good questions…. hahaha . A lot of thought will have to go into the answers – holidays are coming – many council fact finding and business recruitment trips upcoming. Can’t do it all. Ballot measures and meetings to attend to elections and stadium to deal with.  Campaign for mayor exploratory committee reports to review. Many important polls to study and decisions to make.  Hahaha LOL… see you in the New Year!

  14. why does the council (RDA) thats you, continue to use the general fund to cover the bad money decisions made by the RDA and did the city offer any discounts for land property to billionaire A’s owner to fund the future earthquake soccer stadium?

  15. Madison (Mayor Reeds Puppet)
     
    You Only only got elected because public safety came out in force to support you. You only survived recall because public safety came out in support of you. Do you feel any sense of remorse in helping the Mayor dismantle the Police and Fire Departments? Both of these Departments were the best in the nation before you and the Mayor castrated them. they are now the lowest staffed in the nation.we were at one time “one of the safest big citys in the country”, where do you think we are now on that list? let me help your peabrain , we are not anywhere on that list.you disgust me

    • there is Retired officer Pete Constant

      Message from Councilmember Pete Constant in his Seasonal email:

      I want to call your attention to a very important vote tomorrow on the city council. Item 3.4 is a proposed ballot measure on Retirement Reform to be scheduled for the June 2012 election. Approval of this proposal is critical to the future of San José. This is our chance to save and protect essential services for San José residents. The city council has delayed voting on this since May to allow time for the city administration to negotiate with our labor unions. After six months of negotiations, the time is up and city leaders need to act now. I urge you to contact the Mayor and my colleagues on the City Council to vote to approve this item and help steer our city in the right direction. Remember, it takes six votes on the city council to approve this item. Save our services! For more information on the Retirement Reform ballot measure, and how to contact your city leaders.

      This why this city is going down the tubes.

      • You, Pete, Chuck, PO……… anyway you get the idea.  This would not be coming up for a vote if you did not already have the votes.  Why even answer the questions.  Fiscal emergency. Yeah right!

      • THERE HAS BEEN NO NEGOTIATIONS…PERIOD! That is what the City is trying to make the public believe. THAT is why the City doesn’t want the negotiations made public. They don’t want the citizens to see that they have not made any effort. It is truly sad.

  16. “I urge you to contact the Mayor and my colleagues on the City Council to vote to approve this item and help steer our city in the right direction.”

    Seems unethical for a council member to blatantly attempt influence City Council vote in this manner? 

    Is there a political watchdog to prevent this type of politics?

  17. Interesting posts and I am wondering how many posts didn’t make the cut on this one?  I am really sick of the kind of blog entries such as “Pose” questions to the Mayor, Police Chief,Various Council Members and so on… Then have to wait weeks and weeks for a canned answer from a PR rep. 

    Really SJI, stop with this nonsense, your starting to look exactly like the Merc, same kind of stories and postings, leaning more towards the politicians not the public.  This kind of journalism cheapens your reputation. 

    Sad,very Sad indeed!

    Old Frank

  18. Do you feel Constants “seasonal news letter” to be unethical as it relates to asking citizens to contact council members to influence their vote.  If so as Vice Mayor will you officially censure him?

    • Pete takes his 50% tax free retirement on a questionable injury.  Then votes to cut other real current and future pensions.  He post his decision before the council vote.

      He should not have been allowed to vote on a pension matter that he already receives.

      Conflict of interest, DAMN RIGHT!

  19. San Jose has had more than 10 years of budget deficits

    Council and City Manager’s only solutions are: further reduce or eliminate very low city service levels, layoff more city employees, and increase the highest city taxes and fees in Silicon Valley with no end in sight to downward situation

    Meanwhile, Council votes after City Manager recommends week after week giving away many millions city taxes intended for essential city services or infrastructure improvements to politically connected non government individuals, groups, corporations, housing developers and sports team owners with city getting few or no new jobs or increased city taxes prolonging budget deficits

    San Jose has lowest numbers of business and job per resident, highest ratio of homes to jobs, highest cost of doing business and perceived as very business unfriendly preventing or driving away 100’s millions business tax revenues that city desperately needs to solve budget deficit problem

    Council and City Manager have failed miserably residents and local businesses while giving away to politically connected 100’s millions city and redevelopment taxes

    Residents and business owners are`not seeing anything different that same past 10 years of failed city actions and tax giveaways that have not worked to improve city business conditions, increase businesses, jobs and city tax revenues without further raising already highest city taxes and fees or increasing most costly and difficult city business regulations in Silicon Valley ?

  20. I called the police for a suspicious person walking through my neighborhood.  Over an hour later, I was called and asked if I still needed the police and that there were still none available to investigate my complaint.  It seems that we are reading about a shooting, stabbing, or murder in San Jose on a regular basis. As a San Jose resident, I am very concerned that you and the Council have put other City services ahead of my families safety.  Do you think that all City services are equal?  I no longer feel safe living in San Jose and am considering moving because of the recent decisions you have made.

  21. Does the income from the airport cover the bonds that were issued to construct the improvements.  How much is the difference?

    Does the 400+ million dollar city hall bring in any revenue and what are the bond payments?

    Does the city have to pay for shortfalls on the RDA bonds?

    Does the convention center bring in revenues to cover the cost of the bonds for building the site and the improvements.?

    I realize the union pensions are a problem, but I’m confused as to why other cities aren’t having the same pension problem since their pension payments are about the same.  I’m wondering if the fact that San Jose has spent far more money on construction projects than any other city in the state is part of the budget problem.  Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions

    • THe short answer to your very slaient questions are:

      1) Not even close.

      2) None whatsoever.

      3)Yes and the City is illegally using General Fund Money (the one with the supposed defecit) to cover the RDA’s costs.

      4) It brings in revenues but after yoiu pay the inflated management costs and get done paying off the recently retired director ther isn’t much left.

      You final paragraph makes a very very very important observation:  Other City’s are not experiencing the same problems that San Jose is because they are better run.

  22. Based on what proven legal precedents, case law or constitutional analysis (both California and U.S) are you basing your decisions to put forth a ballot measure that strips away vested benefits?

    Given that case law is well established, will you authorize the release of the legal analysis that is guiding your decision-making process so that the voters can make their own assessment of risk to which you are exposing them?

  23. now that you have voted to pass the ballot measure do you anticipate more layoffs for public safety and city employees next year.  Wat additional concessions do you want to see come forward from the unions?  In additional what is the status of the moth balled south valley police substation.

  24. Why do you have such a hard time developing coherent answers to direct questions from your colleagues on the Council?  Your response at today’s meeting to CM Rocha’s question was just plain laughable.

    Perhaps you and Rick should trade seats so that Chuck can pass you the answer your struggling for.

    Shame on you for what you’ve done to the City workforce and your misrepresentations to my fellow citizens.  Shame on you.

  25. Please identify six significant programs that you personally created and brought to fruition while on this council.

    Please identify six significant city council initiatives that you personally created and you moved through the political process to secure city council endorsement.

    Please do not include the many items which were the ideas of other council members that you simply signed on to support, and don’t include any of the ballot, pension, or fiscal initiatives for which you have simply been a quiet sixth vote in Reed’s pocket.

  26. When in the past four months have you voted against the direction or desire of the Mayor? Can you stand on your own or are you simply walking in his shadow spending his political capital?

  27. You and Chuck Reed are already in court for 1 Meyers-Brown act violation..(Saigon business Dist). Are you ready for another Meyers-Brown act violation in regards to the ballot proposal you just passed.  Oh wait, you obviously did not realize that Gov. Brown signed enhancements into law in October… There must now be a fact finding process… Oh no! Better hide your cooked books… The actuaries already found that Reed and Figone have been using inflated and misleading numbers.  Can you say prosecution for FRAUD!!!

    • Meyers-millias-brown is labor law for public employees. I think you mean the “Brown Act” which attemtps to allow the sun to shine on California government’s decision making process.

  28. You voted in favor of the ballot measure that will dictate what future benefits for “all” City workers will be in the future.

    Does the pension scheme contained in the measure also apply to the Mayor and City Council members pensions? If it does, what happens to the taxpayers money that was deposited into CalPers for Councilmembers who have not been inoffice for 5 years and are not vested in that system.

    If the ballot measure does not apply to teh Mayor and Councilmembers pensions then I want to know why it does not? What are thereasons why you exempted   yourselves?

    Thank You,

    The Honorable Meyer Weed

  29. Vice Mayor,

    Can you please explain to me how Councilman Pete Constant, a disability Retired Police Officer is (1) allowed to vote on a pension reform ballot measure when he receives his disability retirement pension from this very fund. (2) How is Constant allowed to sit on the very same Police & Fire Retirement Board that granted his disability. (3) Constant posts on his seasonal email that he plans to vote YES on the measure the day before the council is scheduled to convene and vote on the issue.

    Seems like a big conflict of interest to me.

  30. As vice mayor have you addressed disqualifying Councilman Constant from participation in decisions re- pension reform on grounds of prejudice or personal involvement?  If not why not?

    Also please comment of Constants seasonal newsletter’s attempt to influence councils vote.