Media

2013: The Year in Review

The year 2013 will be remembered for its political turmoil, local and nationwide. A former county supervisor went to jail and the spotlight subsequently landed on his political buddy, a San Jose councilman. The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to get married, and the president lied to the nation about domestic spying. San Jose Inside runs down the list of stories that caught our attention this year.

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Help Homeless Youth during the Holidays

Stories on the plight of the homeless during the recent cold weather have focused on adults living in encampments. But in San Jose there is another homeless population that rarely gets any attention:  homeless college students. CNN Money wrote about a homeless college student who was turned out of her Midwest school during winter break. Where do homeless students living in local college dorms go during winter break?

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Getting Covered in California

It’s been nearly four years since I fought on the front lines of the health care reform battle, eventually resulting in the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). But that feels like a lifetime ago, as the landmark policy now serves as a punchline. Not long from now, though, the joke will be on the critics.

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San Jose State Icons Set Precedent for Equality Protests at Sochi Olympics

Raising their black-gloved fists in the night air of Mexico City in 1968, Tommie Smith and John Carlos were almost universally condemned. National broadcaster Brent Musberger, then a young sportswriter, referred to the men as “black-skinned stormtroopers.” Bringing home gold and bronze, the Olympic medalists received little more than spite from the country they proudly represented. But the iconic moment transcended sports and politics and time has corrected perspectives. Russia, now the host country of the upcoming Winter Olympics, presents a similar opportunity for athletes across the world to have their voice heard.

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City Manager Debra Figone’s Exit Interview

San Jose Inside’s Josh Koehn sat down in late October with City Manager Debra Figone, who will retire at the end of next week, to discuss her 44-year career in public service. The free-flowing discussion, which has been edited for clarity, touches on topics such as the city’s adversarial relationship with the Police Officers Association, the validity of international travel for elected officials, the possibility of another sports franchise coming to San Jose if the Oakland A’s cannot relocate here, and how Figone views the media’s coverage of local politics.

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San Jose’s Next Mayor Can Lead on Education

There is a dangerous shortsightedness about constricting the role of mayor in San Jose and the campaign to only things that he/she can influence. Doing so makes San Jose seem small minded and insignificant. Are we not the Silicon Valley, the economic engine for the state, nation and world? Are we not the 10th most populous city in America? We must think bigger or we will lose out.

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The Shirakawa Grand Jury Transcripts

George Shirakawa Jr. is currently spending his days in the Santa Rita Jail infirmary, while his county-provided attorney is attempting to seal grand jury transcripts that shed new information on his alleged role in a political mail fraud scandal. Since the documents remain public for the time being, San Jose Inside has decided to publish the grand jury transcripts in their entirety.

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Why NBC Bay Area’s Reporting on Xavier Campos is a Sham

As previously noted in this space, it’s nearly impossible to get Xavier Campos to agree to an interview. It helps, however, if you have a close relationship with the media-dodging councilman like NBC’s Damian Trujillo, who scored a rare on-camera chat last week. What did we learn from Trujillo’s interview and a follow-up report? Hardly anything. But we did learn plenty about Trujillo and NBC Bay Area.

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California’s Student Testing the Next Battleground

I have been so preoccupied with writing columns on the local war between charter and traditional public schools that I have unwittingly neglected another contentious public battle. The standards for testing in California’s public schools are changing, and the looming fight could be as partisan and ugly as the roll out of the Affordable Care Act.

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Campaign Ethics: Lies, Inconsistency and Money

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University held a program on campaign ethics Friday. The central question posed: Do campaigns have ethical standards? It is not a question that can be fully answered in a sound bite. So let’s start with the three core issues: lies, inconsistency and money.

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Did Xavier Campos Relinquish His Ability to Take the Fifth?

Getting San Jose Councilman Xavier Campos to agree to an interview is a difficult proposition. Unless you’re the New York Times or NBC Bay Area’s Damian Trujillo. The latter scored an on-air interview Thursday with the councilman, who invoked the Fifth Amendment in front of the grand jury last month. In his interview, Campos claims that he had nothing to do with a fraudulent political mailer that helped his defeat his opponent, Magdalena Carrasco, in the 2010 council race. He also said he took the Fifth because he doesn’t trust the District Attorney’s office. But, according to NBC’s legal expert, Campos might have said too much, and he could be recalled in front of the grand jury.

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Congressman Mike Honda’s Wake-up Call

Mike Honda—Silicon Valley’s globe-trotting, karaoke-singing, hard-partying congressman—has had a charmed career. Now, a well-funded challenger, Ro Khanna, asks whether being likeable is enough, or whether the public expects a lawmaker to work hard, write laws and fight to keep valley industries competitive.

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Shirakawa Sentencing Date Set; Mercury News Editorial Board Member Could be Defense Witness

More than seven months since he resigned from office and pleaded guilty to five felonies and seven misdemeanors, former county supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. will finally be sentenced for crimes that include perjury and a misuse of campaign funds. Judge Daniel T. Nishigaya, the third judge to handle the case, set Nov. 8 for sentencing. Defense attorney John Williams said he might call a character witness, who happens to be a member of the Mercury News editorial board.

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