Yeager to Give State of the County Address

Gun violence, healthcare reform and community health lead the list of topics Supervisor Ken Yeager will speak about during his State of the County speech next week. But will Yeager’s colleague, Supervisor George Shirakawa, receive any attention? On that, we’ll have to wait and see.

The newly appointed president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will deliver the address at 11:15am Tuesday after the board’s weekly meeting. You can watch it online or in person. A reception will follow.

Much of Tuesday’s regular board meeting agenda relates to county health services, including approval for workshops, increased funding for emergency transportation and training to improve public drug and alcohol counseling.

Here are some other items that caught our attention on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agenda for January 29, 2013,:

• Anyone running for office the next election could face a daily penalty for filing late campaign finance disclosures.

The Board will consider adopting stricter fines as another measure to prevent the type of abuse that recently rocked the board, when San Jose Inside uncovered that District 2 Supervisor George Shirakawa repeatedly failed to file campaign disclosure forms.

The Finance and Government Operations Committee will decide on an appropriate price for the fine and bring the item back to the board at a later date.

In the same proposed resolution, supervisors will decide whether to apply a campaign contribution limit to officeholders as well as candidates. County election rules cap personal contributions at $250, or $500 if a candidate accepts the voluntary expenditure limit. There is no limit on how much money a supervisor can accept for their personal officeholder account. The proposed revision would apply to future officials as well as anyone already in office.

• Some 7,000 people make up the county’s homeless population, according to the last count in 2011. Of that number, 2,500 are considered chronically homeless. Long-term homeless men and women use up a disproportionate amount of public services, especially emergency care. The county plans to budget about $41,000 from its Mental Health Department fund to help pay for case management and permanent housing services in north county to offer the homeless, many of whom suffer from mental illness and addiction, some stability and a chance to get healthy.

• The county is eyeing a chunk of the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds as a spot for a new softball field, the last remaining project funded by a bond measure voters passed in 2000.

• The Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System is asking the board to OK a $300,000, three-year contract for grant writing services to get more money to fund the public hospital.

• The county’s hospital system also seeks approval for more than 1,000 additional hours for on-call nurses. The proposal says it would reduce overtime paid to full-time staff while they undergo training in the coming months on how to work with a new electronic health records software.

• Funding for HIV care and prevention in the county was bumped up by $250,000 to just over $1.7 million total for the coming fiscal year. The grant comes from the California Department of Public Health to pay for condom distribution, STD screening and linking the public to needed health services.

• District 4 Supervisor Ken Yeager will share a report about a $50 million fund that grants developers short-term loans for affordable housing. He heard about this program during the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) meeting earlier this month, he says. San Jose’s Leigh Avenue Senior Apartments were funded by one of those loans through the Low Income Investment Fund in San Francisco. Three more developments are planned for San Jose: One on Second Street Studios by First Community Housing, one on Monterey Road by Catholic Charities and another at Sunol Court by CORE Development. Once the loans get paid down, more funding becomes available, Yeager says.

• Yeager will also share a report about the MTC’s plan to hire 16 tow companies to patrol the freeways during rush hours to quickly remove broken-down cars and keep traffic moving. Interstate 117, I-880, State Route 85, I-101 and I-680 will all see an influx of tow truckers scouting for stalled cars.

• A $1.4 million Homeland Security grant will go toward salaries of a sheriff’s deputy and ambulance worker as well as pay for emergency training and fund some of the county’s contingency reserves.

• A three-year contract for $510,000 would pay for a company called Serenity Transportation to pick up dead bodies.

• The county will consider paying $3.75 million for a year of WiFi service.

• County hospitals want to beef up their mobile computer systems, called Workshops on Wheels, by entering into a $5 million contract with the company that provides them. The mobile workshops are basically computers and other equipment on a cart that doctors and nurses can move from room to room.

WHAT: Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meet
WHEN: 9 a.m. Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: 408.299.5001

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

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