The Next Mayor

When I think of the qualifications that I will look for in our next mayor, it is much different than what I would have looked for eight years ago.  I believe that ethics will be at the top of everyone’s list this time. Moral character and ethics are absolutely critical to the person that is going to lead this city for the next eight years. 

My mom used to say we’re judged by the company we keep and I think that’s as true today and it was then. It’s important to see how and where our mayoral candidates have spent their time, and who they have associated with and worked with over the past few years. If they have a voting record, we must look closely at that voting record. 

Our mayor needs to understand the importance of the history of this valley and where we’ve been—from the Valley of the Heart’s Delight to Silicon Valley—with a deep respect for that history.  It is said that if you don’t know history you’re liable to repeat it, the good and the bad.

Another critical issue is that the next mayor of San Jose has to be a collaborator and work closely with our county leaders—not a bully, but someone who works out issues that will have impact on our city and county residents. We cannot continue to sue each other.  When government agencies sue each other, the only ones that lose are the taxpayers.

The person at the helm of San Jose has to have a sense of balance.  They cannot be committed to any one particular interest group—that means business, labor, environment and social services. No individual group has all the right answers all the time.  If there’s an issue coming before the city council, and you know what the outcome is going to be before the vote is taken because the council and the mayor are beholden to one particular interest group, you’ve got a major problem. San Jose needs to be open for business—all business—and not bent toward any particular interest group.

The next mayor needs to be energized about what our city can become—bold enough to make the hard decisions and focused enough to get us there.  There are many big decisions facing the next mayor on important issues like delivering an international airport and developing Coyote Valley.

I think the city has to refocus its attention on redevelopment. We are taking away too much money from redevelopment and using it as a neighborhood benefit rather than an economic benefit. Some very good things have resulted, but redevelopment was originally started to be an economic engine for this city to generate jobs and taxes which will then help pay for services in neighborhoods. 

Coyote Valley is going to be extremely important to the future of this city.  A lot of people forget that North First Street’s development was a success because of a long-term, 30-year plan and infrastructure put in place by the Redevelopment Agency. That’s the golden goose that drives the engine of San Jose.  Coyote Valley is not going to happen overnight—it’s a 40-year plan.  So when people talk about generating 25,000 homes and 50,000 jobs, it is going to take some time because it has to be developed in a smart way.  If we do it correctly, we will not have to worry about the transportation and traffic problems that some are fearful of because it’s supposed to become a self-contained, walkable community
 
There isn’t anything that can ignite a community like professional sports.  Baseball has been floating around San Jose for a number of years and it’s time to do or don’t.  It’s going to take leadership from the mayor’s office to get that done.  San Jose also needs to focus on creating a great arts and entertainment district and wonderful schools. These are some things that are basic to developing a great city. When you’re the tenth largest city in the country, you have to provide opportunities for people who move here to enjoy life.

San Jose is a great city. We have great things to do and great places to go. There are several candidates for the job of mayor and we have a huge responsibility ahead of us to scrutinize each of them closely and decide which one can deliver the San Jose we want in the next decade.  This is not an option, this is a necessity. 

(A former city council member and vice mayor, Pat Dando is President and CEO of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce. This is an edited abridged version of the speech she gave to the San Jose Rotary Club on February 15, 2006.)

 

29 Comments

  1. Pat, while I agree with most of what you say I am in total disagreement with you on the issue of more money for redevelopment.

    I firmly believe we need to take care of what we have before we add more to the mix. As an example, drive around the neighborhood of Willow Glen south of Minnesota and west of Almaden Avenue. Thry to avoid the potholes by driving on the crown of the roadway. Can’t be done.

    This problem is so great that not even the VTA busses can get into these areas to pick people up and transport them to where they need to go.

    Let’s arrange with VTA to run lightrail to the airport. This would be mutually beneficial to VTA and the City by increasing revenue while reducing automobile traffic.

    Finally, if a sports team is such a good idea, why aren’t private parties lining up to purchase teams and build the venues for them to play in? Why must the city get in the business of professional sports?

    In respect to my last query, how much money has our esteemed hockey team returned to the city? Anybody know? For sure, and not just a guesstimate? 

    And yeah I know that the city doesn’t own Da’ Sharks. But they were supposed to bring in millions of dollars to the city. Sorry, I just don’t see it. Is it there?

  2. You make many interesting and intruiging points.  North First Street has been developed with good sense, but, you are right it did take years of planning. I disagree with you about Coyote Valley but, I am aware where you are coming from.  Representing the Chamber of Commerce, you must be pro-development or you wouldn’t be in your present position.  The Chamber doesn’t promote empty farmland.  Whether I agree with all your points or not, your stated need for the focus of the next mayor is good. As far as sports are concerned, I think the people should decide if we should promote major league baseball or any major league sports here.

  3. JohnMichael-

    It was a good speech, and there was lots of red meat included, but you have to take into consideration that she spoke for about 35 minutes, so we had to cut a HUGE amount of her substance in order to make it fit on this site.

    So if criticism is needed, direct it towards me and not Pat. 

    We tried to preserve the overall ideas and themes of her speech in order to continue our dialogue and debate about the race for mayor with original thoughts from a leader in our community.

  4. Gelvey, re: people lining up to build ball parks, the baseball owners are right up there with the oil barons when it comes to greed.  There are plenty of other cities that, like SJ, are looking for the recognition a baseball or football franchise would bring.  These owners don’t have to lift a finger to build anything because the cities are so desperate to get a team, the owners just wait for the city to get the ball park built and then they move in.

    Giants owners didn’t build Pac Bell Park in SF.  The local phone company put up the money.  Seems to me if I remember right, there’s a local company by the name of Google that has become a multi-bazillion dollar enterprise and would surely have the spare change to build a ball park in SJ, sponsor it, and not even feel the slightest financial twinge in the process.  Why aren’t Baseball SJ people hounding this type of company to get the job done, get it done right, and have the A’s ownership, not the city of SJ, scrambling to get Mr. Selig to re-work or just rescind the ridiculous territorial rights?

    Over-simplified?  Probably.  But if Pac Bell could do this I don’t see why a Google or any other wealthy local corporation couldn’t.  I guess that’s the difference between a dignified old money company based in SF where the corporate community recognizes and embraces civic responsibility, and some hot-shot new money Silicon Valley enterprise where civics is sorely lacking as a part of their corporate culture.

  5. Dear San Jose:

    I beg to differ with Ms. Dando’s comment that redevelopment was started to be an economic engine to generate jobs and taxes to help pay for neighborhood services.  Redevelopment was started to eliminate blight.

    The public trust should not be used to underwrite a private developer’s risk!  Developers used to go to the banks for capital.  Why would anyone borrow money from a bank when you can go to your friends on the San Jose city council and get money?  All you have to do is dangle a few affordable housing units and say that what you are doing is “good for the community.”  (Banks ask pesky questions like, will there be a return on investment and will the loan be repaid?)

    Another comment~  The next mayor of San Jose will be the person who the voters think will fill the most potholes.

    Pete Campbell

  6. The last sentence of the 4th paragraph quoted here “When government agencies sue each other, the only ones that lose are the taxpayers.” should be carved into the desk of every city official.

    Now that the judge has tossed out San Jose’s SLAPP suit against the County’s plan to build a concert venue at the fairgrounds the only remaining question is: How much will San Jose’s taxpayers have to pay in damages?

    This should make for some interesting questions at candidate’s forums, especially those candidates who hope to transition from the San Jose City Council to the Board of Supervisors.

  7. Mr. Content-

    The only question remaining is how soon does the county get their venue built at the fairgrounds and lose the land, when the loan is called in after their inflated revenue proformas prove wrong.

  8. Joseph P. is right.  A music hall at the fairgrounds is a losing proposition.  I don’t agree with government agencies suing each other but the fairgrounds is absolutely the wrong place for a music hall.  Why are the supes so bent on doing this?  Where are people supposed to eat before the show?  The Bold Knight???  Fast food at Tully & McLaughlin???  A fairgrounds venue is the most moronic concept the supes have come up with yet.  Downtown SJ makes infinitely more sense but it’s not worth suing over.  That was just plain stupid and irresponsible.

  9. Joseph P.

    I don’t necessarily disagree. I question if either the fairground or downtown venue should be built when most of the area’s major entertainment venues seem to have trouble getting butts into seats.

    The lawsuit, however, was a dumb move. Now the city will pay the price. Oh well, just add it to the running tab of bonehead decisions out of City Hall. It is, after all, only taxpayer money.

  10. I agree with many of the posts in responsse to Pat Dando here.  Tom: where can one find a web-available transcript of Ms. Dando’s full speech to the San Jose Rotary Club?

    Dando should have also noted that she served on the VTA’s Board of Directors from 2000-2003.  She approved several fare hikes and service cuts which contribute to why you see buses and trains run nearly empty in the Valley in non-rush hour periods.

    The initial design of light rail in the Valley had it serving the airport but was scrapped in favor of the future (back then) of tech companies along North First street.

    Regarding (re)development – anyone notice that much of the current proposed development (Coyote Valley, Evergreen, and North First Street in San Jose) is far away from the proposed BART extension into the Valley?  Accessing such development from the proposed BART line would require a VTA bus and/or light rail transfer. 

    San Jose’s next mayor needs to be more consistent in future development – particularly when he or she will also decide where public transit will go as a VTA Board member.  On the other hand, this is also a conflict of interest – the results can be seen in the sprawl that forces you to drive further away to and from work and school.  The only people I see who benefit from San Jose’s willingness to spread out are developers, construction companies, and the labor unions who work at the construction companies.

    Any future development in San Jose needs to be where current VTA buses and light rail operate, and feature as little parking as possible to encourage public transit ridership.  The current philosophy of development away from existing public transit is one reason why you see VTA buses and trains nearly, if not, empty.  What’s currently there does not really serve where people go, when they want to get there. 

    San Jose’s next mayor must change that philosophy.  He or she has to believe that bringing BART to San Jose is not a panacea that will help the local economy recover.  The philosophy needs to be that the current bus and light rail system today, when properly managed, is more effective and more cost-efficient for EVERYONE’s benefit.

  11. Pat Dando’s comment – “Redevelopment was originally started to be an economic engine for this city to generate jobs and taxes which will then help pay for services in neighborhoods. “

    Ignores California state law and history that redevelopment was originally started to fix blighted areas that were long neglected or that private investment could not fix the problems

    We have hundreds of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance of city streets, sewers, etc throughout San Jose in the redevelopment and other city areas

    The worst examples are streets on the Top 10 list of the worst streets for over a decade and human waste coming out of sewers and no general fund money to fix the decades old problems that redevelopment funds are now fixing as they were intended to do.

    Mayor Gonzales will be remembered by many neighborhoods for fixing many of these decades old problems with the Strong Neighborhoods Initiative and to imply that these neighborhood services were not necessary or of lower priority that economic development is totally false

    Our elected officials may have started redevelopment for economic development as a way to obtain additional tax revenues not available after Proposition 13 but that was not what state’s health and safety code intended purpose although cities have used it that way

    Previous to Strong Neighborhoods there was almost no ”  pay for services in neighborhoods. ” but mostly economic development for campaign contributors, large developers and large retailers not local small and neighborhood businesses which many were destroyed or went out of business when redevelopment came to their area

    Many of your points are valid but as you stated ” San Jose has to have a sense of balance ” and part of that balance in investing in basic infrastructure and fixing decades of city deferred maintenance problems

    I absolutely agree that economic development is necessary with redevelopment funds but it should be restricted to generating new San Jose jobs that can not be moved out of San Jose and sales tax increases as the best use of our taxes not projects with questionable benefits or tax subsidies to companies that move jobs out of San Jose or do not create long term local jobs or tax revenues are we have frequently done in the past

    We have less than 1 job per employed residents (.93 ) and a loss of 25-40% of our residents sales taxes to other cites resulting in one of the lowest taxes per resident which is why we can not afford many basic city services, adequate city staffing and have more proposals to close community centers or further restrict city services and basic infrastructure maintenance.

    Many past redevelopment economic development projects were justified with questionable economic benefit forecasts and never audited to see if San Jose taxpayers actually received forecasted benefits or if audited the benefits contained questionable numbers especially the economic multiplier effect

    “Let’s make San Jose better before we make it bigger.”  is good advise and that (1) involving the public in decision making to include looking at all the alternatives about where we spend our tax dollars (2) carefully spending our tax money on things that matterand have real benefits to the public , ( 3) auditing the result of any economic development investments, (4) actually following our city’s Smart Growth policy which we have not on most past developments shown by doing a Smart Growth audit ( 5) fully disclosing to the public the full impacts and future taxes needed to do ” green field ” development projects since they almost always require future tax funds than infill projects since most approved development projects do not pay the full cost for fixing their actual impacts or future maintenance costs which means we have to further reduce our significantly reduced basic city services and city staffing that provides city services

  12. Tom,

    Please consider inviting Pat Dando to write a Blog comments about her and Chamber’s viewpoints and respond to SJI reader comments or have you and she will not ?

  13. The next mayor needs to focus on downtown because its in a state of decline.  Downtown is very sleepy.  The new mayor needs to pump it up with lots of highrise housing and a strong base of retail with various department stores. It needs street level retail activities on atleast 3 streets that goes 5 blocks.  It also needs A’s baseball stadium and a decent concert hall, preferably designed by the same architect who designed the one in Spain, albeit in glass instead of alluminum or metal.  The vacant store-fronts need to be fixed up and leased to family owned businesses by provideing special incentives.  Downtown also needs highrise mixed-used project such as the Four Seasons in SF.  Lastly,  downtown needs a Pavillion entertainment mixed-used complex like the one in Denver and soon, Houston.  He or she needs to squarely focus on downtown before working on other issues.  The mayor should also sell San Jose and make it the famous city it should be for its size. Note:  alot housing and tons of housing and more commercial expansions will make strong retail pencil out!

  14. I’m reading many well thought ideas about what San Josr needs in the way of leadership. 
    I’m concerned when writers like JohnMichael criticize with worn out cliches but don’t put forward any constructive ideas.  Willow Glen must be full of tree huggers, just look at our streets.  Our gardens have salamanders, heaven forbid!
    Let’s hear it JohnMichael, instead of smart remarks, what are your ideas?

  15. Ike,  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  That’s not to say we haven’t been dragging our feet here.  Lately it’s more like they’re all dragging their knuckles at CH.  And that’s not to say we’ll ever be in the same league as Rome.  New York!  Sorry, I couldn’t resist but am I that far off?

    The plan you envision has been put in motion to a certain extent.  High rise housing is under construction.  But I’m afraid “various” department stores is a looooooong way off.  The margins for big retailers are such that a dowtown SJ demographic isn’t going to pencil out for many years.  Small business will be the back that the revitalized downtown is built upon, and CH should do all they can to promote downtown as a place to set up shop.  The current state of affairs seems more like an effort to discourage anyone from starting a business downtown.

    Will the next mayor please start moving this town forward instead of backward?

  16. Mark T, Silicon Valley businesses know all about civics. There parking lots are full of them…

    And how about e-bay Park for a baseball venue?

  17. Santana Row certainly did what downtown should have done.  Santana Row is a good mix of all types of businesses, residences, and restaurants and they have plenty of FREE CONVENIENT PARKING. 
    Somehow our downtown planners just don’t get it.
    When Valley Fair was built with plenty of FREE CONVENIENT PARKING that was the beginning of the end for downtown.  The free weekend and after hours parking downtown isn’t the same.
    When I was a child, we shopped So. First and So. Second Streets from St. John to San Salvador.  We parked free on the street.  Now we have to pay to park for the privilege of shopping downtown.

  18. I worked with Pat’s son Kyle for a few years, he left right before the company was closed down. An off shore invested colosed our company down with no notice, no nothing. This investor also closed 6 other companies at the same time. We need to bring big business into San Jose but not companies owned by Off Shore people. Businesses owned by people that live in the City of San Jose! People that have a committment about our wonderful City!!!

  19. John,

    My point exactly, we need to focus San Jose’s economic development efforts, especially whose that are funded by local tax money, on creating and retaining local jobs by locally owned and managed companies that clearly commit to retaining the jobs here and attracting and retaining knowledge companes in San Jose

    Many local business leaders and elected officials and Chamber people still do not understand that how and where jobs are created has significantly changed especially since 2000 and what is necessary.

    San Jose has missed many opportunities and not taken the necessary steps for years to attract and retain local new economy jobs and additional tax revenues to pay for basic city services.

    If we all worked together to solve what is a complex jobs creation problem for a high cost job market we could since we have many talented people.

    My business for the last 20 years has been executive recruiting and management consulting throughout North American for startups and high growth companies and have lived and worked in Europe and Asia so am aware of the changes and job trends.

  20. John McE #5:  I was just guessing—didn’t know it was an edited version of a speech, just sounded like one.  Is there a link where I can read it all?

    Wondering#6:  I played San Juan Oaks the other day.  They have erected cloth fences and are doing a salamander count.  Maybe we could just add the Coyote Valley salamanders, open up the gene pool a bit, and that way we could pave over Coyote Valley faster without that pesky EIR slowing things down.

    Pete”8:  the next mayor of San Ohaze will be C. Chavez.  She’ll get lotsa dinero from labor disguised as in-kind, non-candidate-directed help, and more importantly, lots of bodies in the precincts.

    Meanwhile, more candidates enter who will merely divvy up those who won’t vote for Cindy.  Then we’ll see who will pout and not endorse the #2 vote-getter in the primary, thus assuring Cindy the voctory.

    Mal #9:  You think Doyle would have learned after having to pay Dennis Fong’s lawyers over the Tropicana debacle.  Can you impeach a city attorney?

    Dan # 17:  As it happens, when I ran for city council in 1988, one of the planks of my platform, if you will, was high density mixed used development in downtown and along light rail corridors in order to entice folks not to move to Los Banos and Tracy.  I also believed RDA should have subsidized seismic upgrades for non-reinforced masonry buildings which make up much of what passes for our downtown retail district.  I did not believe, and I still don’t believe light rail to SJC makes sense.  Who wants to drop a car off at park and ride before jumping on the light rail with wife, kids, and luggage to go to the airport?  Think I’m wrong—look at the numbers of BART to SFO—which is a public transit town.

    I also was in favor of a mixed use dowtown retail business district on Lincoln Ave.  That’s the only idea I had then that got any traction for 15 years.

    More later, Dan.  I’ve got to tee it up @ Pasatiempo @ noon and assasinate some banana slugs.

  21. No, but San Jose’s City Attorney should be elected and subject to recall so he/she is not always saying – If we do it this way, we can go around the law
    to serve Mayor / City Council political or special interest agenda

    City Attorney should help City Manager and city government staff be independent

  22. Can’t wait to see who Pat thinks will fill the mayors roll she has outlined here.  I would just vote for the most decent and honest person and one who has no other motive but to imporve San Jose.  Hate it when this is a stepping stone for some other office.  Can’t people just serve and then leave.  Look at most office holders.  They run from one position to another, city council, supervisor, assembly etc.

  23. Dan Sturges,

    Just so you know.  They are getting ready to take away all free parking downtown.  More reasons for people to pick other places to do business and visit business.

  24. HJ:  You just catchin’ on?  Career politicians have been our bane for a few decades.  They are supposed to be public servants, but the necessity of raising obscene amounts of money to get re-elected means they are beholdin’ to those who pay to play.

    I ran for city council in 1988 in District 6.  I lost in the primary, thank god, and the salamanders got a reprieve.  The total cost of that race in 1988(that is, the total amount spent by all candidates in the election) for one district city council seat in san ohaze was almost twice what it took to get a US Senator elected the same year in Idaho!!!  Whew!

    The same holds true today.  I think I recall (I’m getting older ya know) reading that Cindy has raised over $300k so far to be mayor of san ohaze.  Whew!  But of course, Phaedra will have no better access to her than you and I would.  Right!

    Is this the “democracy” DUBYA wants to introduce to the warring clans of Iraq?

    Just a local note—anyone drive down Alma from 87 to Monterey Rd lately?  it’s a third world road.  Where does the money go?

    Someone in another of these blogs asked the other day :“how many SJ workers does it take to change a city stret lightbulb?”  Wrong question.  The real question is, how long would it take them given local union work rules?  If the crew of five manages to change five a day, I would be stunned.

    We all drive freeways.  CalTrans sends a gazzilion folks out on the roads each day to “WORK”.  As you drive by, count how many are on the job versus how many are actually doing something (without slowing down and impeding the flow of traffic, of course) and email Will kempton—the head of CalTrans—and ask him why he doesn’t fire 40% of the employees, and require the remaining 60% to put in an honest five hours work each day.  That’s right, just five. If that happened, sound walls would not cost $1.5 million/mile (that’s right) to build.

    I’ve rambled on enough for now.

  25. #27—Do you have a single fact to back-up any of your rambling? I imagine you don’t and you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but an opinion based on fact would carry more weight.

  26. JohnMichael, I heard a humorous riddle not too long ago, “what’s painted orange and sleeps four”?  A Caltrans truck of course.  They do need the extra personnel to set out orange cones for 5 miles beyond their actual
    project site.