Elected officials and bureaucrats often try to score cheap points and win the day’s headlines, either ignoring or unaware of the long game. That appears to be changing a bit in Santa Clara County, where county executive Jeff Smith is now strategizing moves that will pay off 70 years from now—all while tweaking his political adversaries at San Jose City Hall. A recent list of proposed acquisitions, at first glance, would suggest Smith is getting county taxpayers into the hotel/property management business. But the places the city of San Jose is selling as it finally dissolves its last Redevelopment Agency assets—such as the Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton Four Points and Market Gateway Apartments—have ground leases that go decades into the future. The Hilton property, appraised at $96,000, only needs approval from the city’s Oversight Board on May 26 to fall into county hands. With 70 years remaining on the lease, and an annual rent of $1, it’s a loser for the better part of a century. But after that the county—assuming it still exists in a post-Donald Trump presidency—will have the option of jacking up the rent, selling the property (say, back to Hilton) or tearing it down and starting fresh. Deputy county exec James Williams, who’s overseeing the proposed acquisitions, says it’s “a way to convert one-time money into ongoing money,” which would then go to subsidizing county services and staff. A public agency having control of the properties would also keep tenants accountable on upkeep. But then there’s the politics. San Jose still owes the county $80 million in RDA debt and has refused to pay up until after all other bond payments are made. That’s a long time coming, and Smith absolutely knows it burns San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and others to see some of the city’s flagship properties falling into county hands. These properties have nothing to do with the county’s overarching mission, but it’s probably a more effective strategy than letters like this.