Councilmen Campos, Constant, Kalra Defend Russian Sister City Relationship

After Russia imposed a number of draconian anti-gay laws over the summer, LGBT advocacy groups asked U.S. leaders to sever sister-city ties with any Russian towns. San Jose fielded some of those requests, but councilmembers Xavier Campos, Ash Kalra and Pete Constant say the city’s in a better position to use that international relationship with Ekaterinburg to open up a meaningful dialogue instead.

“The mission of the Sister Cities program is to create bonds between people from different cities around the world by creating cultural and educational exchanges as well as economic partnerships, and humanitarian assistance,” reads a memo the three submitted to Wednesday’s Rules and Open Government Committee. “Severing this relationship would deny us any chance at having a productive exchange of views on these critically important issues of freedom and equality.”

Instead, San Jose should continue the relationship to advocate for equal treatment of gays and lesbians, the memo continues. Plus, not all Russians share the views of their government, so it’s unfair to cut ties entirely, they add.

The 2014 Sister Cities International Annual Conference will be held in San Jose, which will further enable dialogue about equality since the Bay Area holds one of the most culturally diverse populations in the world.

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for October 9, 2013:

• There should be some sort of local inter-agency guidelines for developing charter schools, Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilman Don Rocha say in a memo. The city will work with the Santa Clara County Office of Education to come up with rules as the region grapples with dozens of new charters popping up over the next couple decades.

• City Clerk Toni Taber’s employment package will get agendized for an upcoming City Council meeting. The agreement says she earns an annual salary of $142,000.

Local businessman Jim Piazzo apparently filled in for David Wall in the letter-writing department this week, asking in a letter to the public record why the city chose to build the Environmental Innovation Center even after earlier reports called the site unsuitable for development.

• In another letter, Piazzo wonders if children at George Mayne Elementary School have been exposed to toxic chemicals because of the campus’ proximity to a waste processing facility.

• There’s a guy whose YouTube channel is all about Santa Clara County’s alleged elder abuse and San Jose cops intimidating homeless people at The Plant shopping center. He wrote in to the public record, too, to gloat about one of his videos bashing Judge Socrates Manoukian going viral. With a little more than 1,100 views—and how many by him?—it isn’t anywhere near viral.

• San Jose should ready itself for driverless cars, says Palo Alto resident Wayne Martin, who sent in several pages to the public record with links about the subject. Martin says elected officials should start thinking of ways to integrate and promote driver-free vehicles or some type of robotic assist in public transportation, public works and virtually any other industry that requires some degree of automation.

“The emergency, and acceptance, of this technology will have major impact on our way of doing business, both in the public and private sector,” Martin writes. “There is no doubt that drivers of service vehicles will be in less demand in the future.”

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Driverless cars.
    Unionized PRNS employees won’t have their newspaper reading interrupted by the bothersome chore of driving to the next pretend to work site.

  2. > but councilmembers Xavier Campos, Ash Kalra and Pete Constant say the city’s in a better position to use that international relationship with Ekaterinburg to open up a meaningful dialogue instead.

    FOR GOD’S SAKE!  Can’t you people just back off and let John Kerry be Secretary of State.

    The poor guy has been trying to be relevant for decades, but no one ever gives him credit for anything other than being a male trophy wife for a Ketchup Queen.

    If Ekaterinaburg needs talking to, what’s the harm in letting Kerry have a go at it.  The worst that could happen is that we get into a shooting war with Ekaterinaburg, but it’s not like they’re just up the road or in the Bay Area.

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