BART Point and Counterpoint

At its recent September meeting, a healthy majority the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce board voted to support Measure B, despite the fact that some members had reservations about the BART tax. A fair question would be: Could they possibly come out against it, when one of their power players has so much at stake? Not only would the employees of Applied Materials benefit greatly from BART, but the company’s CEO, Mike Splinter, even signed on to the measure.

The buzz was that Applied Materials had even threatened to pull out of the Chamber unless the organization supported the BART tax. Members dispute that, saying the company never went for the nuclear option (Applied Materials reps didn’t return Fly’s call by presstime).

Of course, no one’s disputing that the board was fully cognizant of the AMF (Applied Materials Factor—yeah, we just made it up). “There wasn’t pressure from Applied Materials,” said Nanci Williams, immediate past chairwoman of the chamber board. “There was discussion [about how] they are a major supporter of the Chamber ... and so would it be upsetting if we did not support this?” Um ... yes?

It was no shocker that San Jose Councilman Pete Constant was against Measure B. But he did surprise the mayor’s office when he signed the opposition to the BART measure, a signal that he’s actively campaigning against it. It was surprising because Constant previously had a conversation with Mayor Chuck Reed in which he explained that although he’s against the BART tax measure, he wasn’t planning to campaign against BART. Moreover, he told the mayor that if he planned to join the opposition efforts, he would certainly let him know.

“The mayor relayed to me that Pete was gong to stay out of the BART campaign,” said Jeff Janssen, senior policy adviser for the mayor. “When we saw that Pete had signed the ballot in opposition of BART, I personally was surprised. I assume it took everyone by surprise.”

Constant claims he wasn’t pulling a fast one on the mayor, who is co-chairing the Measure B campaign. He does regret not having given Reed a heads-up over his change of heart.

“It slipped my mind,” Constant said. “I screwed up.” True to form, Constant’s slap-in-the-face move hardly stirred reaction from Tickle Me Reed, one of his closest allies on the council. Staffers said that Reed just doesn’t get upset when people disagree over policy matters. “He’s not happy that I’m opposing it, but he’s not mad at me personally,” Constant said.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. Chuck Reed should be ashamed of himself. During his campaign for mayor, he correctly identified the Taj Gonzales as an example of a huge unnecessary government expense. Then he turns around and supports blowing $6+ billion on a poorly designed, misrouted, gold-plated boondoggle of a rail line when better alternatives exist and have been ignored. I guess he’s just another dishonest politician after all.

  2. Chuck does indeed have his head in the sand on this one.  What could he be thinking?!  It would take some pretty bad Polaroids for me vote yes on this pig.

  3. I guess we all know what the ‘B’ stands for now:

    Entire companies, organizations, executive offices, and political staffs act like big BABIES whenever they take a position on Measure B—for or against.

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