Sam Liccardo stepped into his new role as San Jose mayor in the wake of a bitter campaign and years-long pension reform battle that left bad blood between City Hall and its unions. Especially the Police Officers Association, which waged a formidable campaign to prevent another Measure B proponent from succeeding outgoing Mayor Chuck Reed.
So in a show of diplomacy Liccardo rang in the New Year and first day as mayor inside a cop car, for an after-midnight ride-along.
Though tensions between pension reform-backers and labor persist, the two sides appear more willing to work out a compromise. Meanwhile, the mayor's first stretch into his term has been marked by ceremonies, celebrations, new spending plans, partnerships and, just last month, a tragedy that shook the city.
In an email to constituents this week, Liccardo summed up his first 100 days in office and reminded the public to get involved as the city finalizes next year's budget and starts looking for a new independent police auditor.
Below is a copy of Mayor Liccardo's letter:
I've been in office for just over 100 days. While we've collectively mourned a tragedy with the loss of Officer Michael Johnson, the community has rallied together to support Officer Johnson's family and our police department.
We've also been blessed with much to celebrate—the opening of major league soccer stadium, the arrival of companies employing hundreds of San Jose residents (like Vanderbend Manufacturing, BAE Systems, and Naprotek), the launch of new job-creating flights to Beijing and Dallas from our airport, and a reduction in serious crime rates, continuing a two-year trend.
We have much more work ahead, however. Last month, over a thousand members of our community gathered for my State of the City address, which we staged outside of downtown—for the first time in the city's history —at Independence High School on the East Side. I spoke about several initiatives we're launching to focus on improving safety, and on bridging the opportunity gap for many families struggling to make ends meet in our very expensive valley. The event also showcased the promising musical and performing arts talent among our youth. If you missed it, check out the video on my website.
The council unanimously approved my first budget last month. I identified improving safety as my top priority, and we've identified funding to boost staffing in the San Jose Police and Fire departments, hiring additional community service officers, and investing in gang prevention. We also focused resources on smarter ways to make our neighborhoods safer, such as by transforming our streetlights with brighter, more energy-efficient LED lighting, deploying tools to improve pedestrian safety like speed radar trailers and traffic calming, and by using data analytics to predict and prevent crime.
With the city of San Jose in stronger fiscal shape, I have used this budget message to focus the city's gaze on our future, encouraging investments in children, and on the long view. Through the budget message, we'll:
- open every branch library six days each week;
- partner with civic-minded employers like Bank of America, Home Depot, Lowe's, Microsoft, and Target and the County of Santa Clara to employ hundreds of teens this summer in gang-impacted neighborhoods through our SJ Works initiative;
- and invest $2 million over two years, combined with foundation and private-sector funds, to launch after-school programs for low-income kids through SJ Learns.
Looking to the future also requires a focus on those critical pieces of infrastructure—the water supply, BART, and roads—that will enable San Jose to thrive in the decades ahead. Through the budget message, we've set a path for the accelerated construction of a recycled water system that can recharge our underground drinking water supplies, the extension of BART to the Mineta San Jose Airport, and a dramatic expansion of road maintenance. The city manager will release his proposed budget on May 1, and we invite you to attend any of the many community meetings to discuss your priorities with your neighbors.
I recently launched the Office of Strategic Partnerships in the Mayor's Office. Silicon Valley companies, foundations, and other organizations have repeatedly expressed a desire to better work with the city to confront our challenges. This office, led by Khanh Bui Russo, recently from the Cisco Foundation, created an office dedicated to facilitating partnerships amongst the city, nonprofits, philanthropy, and business to engage in more innovative and collaborative work. We're focusing on substantial improvements to restore services and public safety, and in doing so we're going to have to find new ways of doing business. Through these partnerships, we can work smarter and benefit all of San Jose's residents.
Earlier this month, Councilmember Raul Peralez and I announced plans to reignite efforts to erect a memorial at City Hall for fallen public safety officers. The original memorial was approved in 2008, however, was never built for lack of funds. I have pledged $75,000 from my office towards the effort and I'll be partnering with my colleagues on the City Council, San Jose Police Officers Association and San Jose Police Foundation to raise the remaining funds. Please visit our website if you'd like to contribute.
- Thanks to Kaiser Permanente and Pinger for recently sponsoring the "San Jose Gateways" initiative, partnering with the Downtown Streets Team to engage homeless men and women in a "work first" approach to self-sufficiency, who beautify and clean the entrances to our city. If you think that your employer might also sponsor a "gateway," please contact Dylan Simon at [email protected].
- San Jose's security camera registry is live! If you've got cameras at your home or business, sign up at www.sanjoseca.gov/securitycamera. The program is voluntary and SJPD will only contact you when an incident occurs in the area and officers wish to review footage. This tool will be used to help combat burglaries and other neighborhood crime.
|Independent Police Auditor Community Feedback Meetings
The City will soon recruit for a new Independent Police Auditor and would like community input on the ideal candidate qualities. The information collected will help inform the process and evaluation of candidates. Two community meetings are scheduled to collect input from residents. See the flyer for the meetings schedule.
|Community Budget Meetings
The City's proposed budget for fiscal year 2015-16 will be released on May 1st, followed by a series of community meetings throughout the City to discuss. See the community budget meetings schedule.
|San Jose Works
Summer jobs are critical for neighborhood safety, keeping teens on a productive path and out of gangs. While we're starting with summer employment, launching the program this summer, we're also looking at longer term ways to engage youth in the workforce and put them on a track to develop skills. If you're interested in this issue, please join the working group at its next meeting on April 28th, please call my office for details at (408) 535-4800.
|San Jose Learns
Our SJ Learns initiative focuses on expanding afterschool opportunities for children in Kindergarten through third grade. When kids have positive alternatives and academic enrichment opportunities during the critical afterschool hours, they're more likely to choose learning and reject gangs. The next working group meeting is May 15th at 8:30 a.m. at Berryessa Library, 3355 Noble Ave.
|Black April Remembrance Month
On April 14th, I along with my Council Colleagues proclaimed the month of April, Black April Remembrance Month, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. Many community organizations are hosting events to observe this occasion, and I will be hosting a Mayoral Reception on April 30th at City Hall at 4:30 p.m. to honor the service men and women, immediately followed by a community event hosted by Councilmember Nguyen, Councilmember Kalra and the Vietnamese American Roundtable at 6 p.m. in the Rotunda. I invite you to participate in these events throughout the community.