This week’s quote was a bit unusual in that it comes from the redoubtable Scarlett O’Hara, but how else to emphasize the incredible stupidity of the former Executive Director of the Redevelopment Agency, Susan Schick. I remember how several members of the Rotary Club suggested that I was too tough on her when I criticized her plan in 2001 to seize over fifty pieces of private property, our citizens “land,” in an astonishing, wrong-headed and aggressive plan invoking eminent domain in San Jose.
It had taken us a generation to win back public support and ease the resentment that classic big-government assemblage of property and condemnation had done in our city. Fueled by some mistakes I made in the Auzerais area, Schick erased that goodwill in one arrogant year. Her feckless edict was exacerbated that day by a few members of the Rotary Club who thought that such criticism should be more muted. What misguided defenders!
I followed that with a strong attack on the attempt to dig up Chavez Plaza for three or four years to build a parking garage. As I said then and say now, wherever Schick is – floating on a sailboat in the Caribbean perhaps – she neither knows nor cares about San Jose. However her bosses, the mayor and council, remain and hopefully have learned something.
On another foolish front, as the city looks for more restaurants to subsidize – this time in the new City Hall – many small businesses wonder why the help does not go to the little people who have weathered so much on South First Street and Market Street. Why do the subsidies not go to establish a book store or for other uses that would compliment, not injure, those same dutiful business owners, many from ethnic minorities? The last two giant grants of city assistance went to the restaurants that most directly compete with ones we already have. Send a memo to Ms. Schick near Arruba.
Last but not least, last Sunday’s “Mercury News” editorial, as pointed and caustic as any seen in recent memory, issued their opinion of the Gonzales inspired rebuttal to the scathing grand jury report. It condemned Ron Gonzales in language that reminds one of the attacks on the excesses of the Watergate era or, locally, the Terry Gregory affair. It is striking and ominous to consider both the rebuttal and the editorial attacking his “self righteous tone. ”
There is one significant item that still remains to be seen: the reaction of Ken Yeager and his council colleagues to the news that they indeed, as Ron Gonzales has said, knew “everything” about Garbagegate. And it also remains to be seen, just how much they can take before they express some genuine outrage on this issue. It seems that the council’s boundless patience is eternal on ethics issues.