Lobbyist Seeks 2nd Exemption from ‘Revolving Door’ Policy

A lobbyist is once again trying to get around San Jose's "Revolving Door" policy, which is designed to prevent former city workers and elected officials from holding undue influence on public projects.

Josué Garcia, the newly hired CEO of the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Construction & Building Trades Council, served as Councilman Xavier Campos’ chief of staff up through September 2012. That leaves him with another five months before he’s able to lobby the city on behalf of the trades council, which represents more than 25,000 union workers.

Last September, Garcia made the exact same request while working as lobbyist for the Northern California Fire Protection Compliance Group. The request was turned down flat.

He’s asking the city's Rules and Open Government Committee, which meets Wednesday, to make an exception this time around and forward his request to the City Council. In a letter to the city, Garcia writes that there was a “fire wall” between him and the trades council when he worked as Campos' chief of staff. The letter did not mention that Campos' brother in-law, Neil Struthers, was head of the trades council at the time, which could have rendered that wall more of a Dutch door.

“I think the policy is important. I do,” Garcia told San Jose Inside. “But I also represent a big organization that advocates for the working class. This is in the interest of the community, the working class, the people I represent.”

His repeated request—and his appointment to CEO by the trades council—could be seen as a lack of regard for the policy. The trades council knew Garcia’s hands would be tied in San Jose, the largest city in its market, when it hired him this spring. He disagreed with that suggestion, noting that his job requires him to represent thousands of members and merits an exemption.

“We have no voice now with the city of San Jose, because I’m the only one who can speak for the trades council and I cannot lobby for another fives months,” he said.

Garcia worked under Neil Struthers for 10 years before taking the job with Campos in 2011. Campos’ big sister, Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose), is married to Struthers, who stepped down as head of the trades council in February.

Struther’s surprise resignation, which reportedly came after he was denied more money for staff, left the trades council in a lurch and drew the ire of his predecessor, John Neece, who has since endorsed Magdalena Carrasco in Xavier Campos' re-election bid.

“[Struthers] quitting kind of pissed me off,” Neece told San Jose Inside in April. “You’re there for the members. You can’t ever forget it.”

Also on the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for May 21, 2014:

  • Councilman Sam Liccardo tells Casino M8trix to “pay up or close down.” The order comes after the state Attorney General accused the company of cheating the city out of money by hiding tens of millions of dollars in profits.

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.

One Comment

  1. The word for the day is “incestuous”. Camposes, Garcia, Struthers, Shirakawa,–it’s like a low rent Jimmy Hoffa organization around south bay organized labor these days.

    Mr. Garcia, sit down and shut up until Dave Cortese gets elected SJ Mayor. Then you’ll have easy access to your organized labor puppet Mayor to help SBLC reimpose the onerous pay/benefits packages that almost brought SJ to its fiscal knees.

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