The City Hall Land Swap

On April 2, Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio posted the following comment on San Jose Inside, responding to a blog post about the city hall land swap"I asked the same question you raise in your article with our City Attorney. I was told the language from Measure I gives the City the option to use sale proceeds of the old city hall “and/or” savings from lease and consolidation of city services, etc.” 

On April 17, the Mercury News Internal Affairs column reported that “City Attorney Rick Doyle points out that the full wording of the measure—not just the ballot summary—makes clear that the move is OK as long as some costs are paid for ‘using the proceeds from the sale or lease of the old civic complex and/or other land.’”

The intent of San Jose voters (and Measure I) was clear: trade in the old city hall for a new one downtown. Are the citizens of San Jose to be governed by the expressions of the people, or by local politicians’ interpretation of that expression?

When you add the word “or” to the language of Measure I, you change the subject, and render the question meaningless. Add the word, “or” to the sentence, and a specific question turns into a question without limits. Consider:  “”....using the proceeds from the sale or lease of the old civic complex and/or other land….” What other land?

The word, “or” allows you to shift away from the old civic complex entirely, and substitute any unidentified piece of property in its place. Measure I might as well have been written as follows: “...using the proceeds from the sale or lease of the Eiffel Tower and/or other land…”  Or, how about:  “...using the proceeds from the sale or lease of the Golden Gate Bridge and/or other land…”  You see, when you add the word “or” you can make anything you want disappear!

The old city hall property and its $10 million valuation belongs to the citizens of San Jose, not to the redevelopment agency or to the county government.

This is the language that appeared on the official ballot on Nov. 5, 1996:
I: City Civic Center Relocation
Without imposing additional taxes or taking money from other city programs, shall Ordinance No.14224.1 be amended to permit the relocation and consolidation of CIivic offices in the downtown so long as the costs are paid by using the proceeds from the sale or lease of the old civic complex and other land, savings from the elimination of leased office space and consolidation of city facilities and services?



    • This site is becoming more and more useless as they continue to NOT post truths, Censor and Delete posts. 

      San Jose Inside has now out-lived it’s usefulness for the blogging community.  By the way Hugh and Greg, great post, I’m surprised they let you post it.  I may start my own site that allows others to truthfully post political wrong doings and personal and professional thoughts.  I will though ban any author or editor from SJI.  give me some time guys I will come up with something.  I’ll be at the Library looking into how to put up and manage a blog site. 

      Old Frank

        • Yeah, this site is pretty much one sided and is on the side of Reed and other Politicians.  It no longer serves as a “public” Forum for our voices to be heard.  SJI was a great site but it is now fluttering out at the hands of editors like Eric Johnson and others.  Taking away common rights to have an opinion, but only his way.  Just looking to see how it’s done, and what we need to call it?  The truth needs to be told and it’s our money that is being used to corrupt this city.  Any Idea’s on a name?  Kick it around and get back to me. 

          Old Frank

  1. Pete, thank you for not letting this topic die on the vine.  It is a topic that needs to be investigated further. 

    It is most troublesome to know that our city leaders, including the mayor, the city council, the city manager and the city attorney are conducting deceitful practices against the citizens of San Jose. 

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again.  The arrangement the city has with the RDA is a money-laundering scheme.  They can spin the wording anyway they want but the citizens of San Jose know exactly what they voted for.  The city manager and the mayor know exactly what the citizens voted for.  So why the immorality?

    Why is the city bailing out the RDA?  Has Harry run it into the ground much like Team San Jose?  Many questions to be answered.

    • Actually Team San Jose is a Money-Laundering Scheme… $20 million wasted with a crooked CEO that is made to leave TSJ or it’s made to look that way?… and then goes to work for the company that is doing the Convention Center remodel.  Hmmm how does that stuff work. As the bid went to Dan Fentons company… Talk about FIXED, What scumbags.  So Fewnton still has his hands on our tax dollars….

      Old Frank

  2. It became apparent in early March 2007 that the City
    Attorney’s Office was limiting our access to pertinent
    information.  Our office attempted to remedy this problem by
    speaking directly with the City Attorney in early March
    regarding access to bond counsel; however, we continued to
    experience the same issues.  More specifically, the City
    Attorney’s Office and bond counsel did not completely answer
    questions we posed to them, provided contradictory responses
    to our various questions, and in May, the City’s bond counsel
    declined to provide further information to use in the audit.  At
    that point, we concluded that we could not rely on the limited
    information provided by bond counsel and the City Attorney’s
    Office and we therefore initiated an effort to procure the
    services of a public finance specialist.  While this impairment
    limited our audit scope, we were ultimately able to satisfy our
    overall audit objectives by contracting with a public finance

    page 7 San Jose Audit Report from 06-07

  3. “You see, when you add the word “or” you can make anything you want disappear!”

    They are always sneaking the public…and the public false for all of their BS. Because the public falls for their BS lies, smoke and mirrors, the City is going down the tube. The “politicians” are messing up this city. What a shame.

  4. This may qualify as a gray area.

    Panda Bears, Zebras, Orca Whales, Skunks and Penguins are black and white creatures

    My thanks to Rick Doyle and Chuck Reed for taking a nuanced approach and using their intellectual creativity to solve a very complex issue.

    • You’ll be crying foul soon enough, once you realize how many tens of millions of your dollars they are wasting and then trying to cover their tracks with moves like this.

      It no wonder that our city government is the butt of jokes through the state.

      • Long ago, I recognized that the unholy alliance of local politicians, lobbyists and developers, otherwise known as “dirtbagus gigantia,” would make every effort to screw SJ residents.  In doing so, those pus-filled criminals would spend billions on the downtown wasteland and cry that they couldn’t afford to do things like maintain our roads or staff our libraries or adequately fund fire and police.

        Knowing that I would have to fend for myself when it came to Beirut-like roads, I purchased a compact SUV that would allow me to hit potholes without doing any damage.  Likewise, I decided to stay put and not buy another home, thereby avoiding a monumental property tax reassessment.  I’ve taken other measures as well, all to avoid paying taxes for something the dirtbagus gigantia won’t provide – City services.

        My final act of consumerism has been to almost completely avoid buying anything – groceries, gas, big-box items – within the City limits of SJ.  Rather, I do my shopping in Santa Clara and other adjacent municipalities.  My hope is that starving the beast, dirtbagus, will eventually lead to its demise.

        • You are, of course, correct.  I hesitate to discuss the matter of firearms on this blog but your message should be heeded by all residents.  I have always admired the Glock. On the matter of DMV fees, I wouldn’t have even a twinge of guilt in not paying them, were they to become usurious.

        • Brilliant analysis. Perhaps you should be on the City Council. In the City the budget woes are all the fault of employees wanting to be paid. In your mind, the problems are all because of the legendary “indigent and non-documented.” That’s it? That is the best you can come up with? Wonderful. How will blaming some group solve the problem?

        • There are a couple more things you might want to prep for as well Greg.  For one, buy a gun, take some classes if you don’t know how to use it, and prepare to fend for yourself in all circumstances involving your personal safety.  Two, install a fire sprinkler system in your home if you can afford it.  If not, make sure you have good water pressure, multiple hoses, and fire extinguishers.  Police and Fire services are going to be nearly non-existent soon.  Third, you might want to analyze your vehicle situation a bit more.  Guess how the state plans on solving their budget crisis, try higher DMV fees and every other state fee.  But rest assured we will have all the social programs available for the indigent and non-documented.  Perhaps that is the answer…

        • Huh?!  Your message makes no sense whatsoever.  I made no statement regarding City employees, nor did I comment on indigent or illegal residents. 

          Rather, my message was all about politicians, developers and lobbyists conspiring to spend our tax dollars on the money pit known as downtown.

          Obviously, you have a severe learning disorder and your name, “Bozo,” is well chosen.

    • The PD does not use the old city hall except for training.  However, due to all the rat feces and other hazardous waste in the old city hall, nobody is allowed in there at all.  The PD does use the Health Building for the police academy but I hear that is going to be in the package to be given away.  No real loss though since the PD won’t be hiring for many years to come.  They might as well disband the recruiting unit and the academy staff as hiring is a thing of the past.

      • Also, the gym the police officers use is located in the building the city is giving away to the county. I know Pier said he was going to look into some alternative so officers could work out, but of course that never happened.

      • Since when has “Rat Feces” been a reason to shutter a building? 

        The answer is called a broom, followed by a mop with disinfectant in it (bleach)  I hear bleach also works real well for taking out mold.  Precede and follow up with poison and traps.

        If you’re really concerened with cleanup worker safety, buy them a 3m full facemask with bio agent filters for $300 @ worker.  Also get them a tyvek bunny suit.

        Is that really so hard?

  5. “the Mercury News Internal Affairs column reported that “City Attorney Rick Doyle points out that the full wording of the measure—not just the ballot summary—makes clear that the move is OK as long as some costs are paid for ‘using the proceeds from the sale or lease of the old civic complex and/or other land.’”

    In other words, the ballot summary was false and misleading.  Who wrote the ballot summary, and who approved the wording?

    • They “false and mislead” a lot. I think us citizens should organize and picket city hall about all of their misleadings and lies. We need to picket and demand honest government. It is very clear that they are not. We are never going to get out of this hole until we can elect honest leaders. Mayor Reed promised honest and open government and that, too, was not the truth. Probably just something he stated to help him get elected. Where does it end? This is a sorry, sorry place.

  6. I really don’t get what folks issue is with this.

    If we’re paying off a tax debt, and it’s staying within the realm of public service, what’s the big deal? 

    It’s way easier for our city government to talk to local county officials for money, than it is to approach the higher levels of government. In the long run, it’s a good political move.  It’s still owned by the public (you and myself included) 

    The county building is right next door.  It makes total sense.  The only thing left to do now is examine which county services have leases coming to an end, and move them in.

    For local resturaunts in Japantown, it will be a boon to their businesses.  Jobs, sales tax revenue, filling what would be an otherwise empty building?

    It makes sense to me.

    • I always wondered why the city just sat on the old city hall for all these years. It seems to me that they should have worked on either using it for all of the staff that won’t fit in the new CH or just get rid of it. Consolidating county offices makes sense, though, because county employees are scattered all over the place.

      • >>I always wondered why the city just sat on the old city hall for all these years.

        I wondered too.  I wondered why the lights were on at night (scare the roaches) and the HVAC was still running (servers).  Even asked them about it at open forum one day.

        To me it’s appeared they’ve kept it in a usable state. Everything from pest control to janitorial services are being performed at an adequate level for the building.  I was officially told “It’s too far gone to be recommissioned” by the city’s operations manager.

        Was that just a straight faced lie?

        • Cortese,

          Why don’t you go into the building and see what it looks like before you call anyone a liar.  You seem to “wonder” without any facts.  Your a typical SJ politician.  You speak without any actual knowledge or facts.  The building has mold and other issues.  Some city employees have become sick (recently)from working in there. 

          I think that is why they were so eager to get rid of it.

          When the federal building and new county building are erected in that San Pedro/Mission area, the property value is going to skyrocket. 

          By then it will be too late.

          I “wonder” if it was a good choice or a bad one?

        • I drive past it on a weekly basis to and from work. I see lights on at 2am.  You have to remember, I’ve worked in the area right down the street for the last decade in Japantown.

          I park in the old circle lot whenever I have to conduct business at the county building.

          While it’s true I haven’t been inside, I have recently as 2 weeks ago been on the outside looking in. I see people inside. It’s obvious that some departments are willing to take what they can get.  I’ve seen numerous times posted here that the police have been using it for training and a gym.

          So for the city to decide that “It’s not worth recommissioning”, how can I as a modestly intelligent person believe that when I see city departments wanting to use it? 

          Please Jaime by all means refute that. If you keep it up,  I’m near it daily, no skin off my back to stop by for 10 minutes and snap up pics with my phone.

          I’m not disastified with the trade, btw, just with what I was told in regards to it being “un recommission able”.  Again, evidence points to no, it’s been perfectly capable of being used.

  7. I wondered what happened to the county lawsuit against the city, and I found this site in my google search.

    We voted that no taxpayer money was to be used for a baseball stadium.  So the City/RDA starts buying propery next to the train station, for a parking lot.  Put the businesses that were there out of business.  Now every other time I hear Mayor upchuck on the news the parking lot is a “perfect” site for a baseball stadium.

    Then the state took back RDA money since it was not being used properly or the state needed the money.  Where is the blight for a baseball stadium.  The outrage from the politicans from this city, was that the state was taking away “their money.”  It is not their money, but money from us.

    So the city puts the parking lot in the name of some agency, like a shell game.  But the city owes the county $63M, for years.  So the county sues the city because the city is starting to transfer assets out of the reach of it’s creditors.

    I remember the new city hall vote.  Thing looks like it belongs on the moon.  The old city hall was to be sold and used to pay for the new city hall, so the new fancy city hall would not cost much for the taxpayers.  Instead, the politicians gave the old city hall to the county for a $10M credit against the $63M debt still owed to the county.  As a voter, I was lied to.  The old city hall property was to have been sold to pay for the new city hall.

    The ego run people at city hall needs to get fired.  File a bankruptcy.  Look for jobs in the City of Bell.  Turn the city over to the county for management.

    These guys want to change the name of the airport for a 4th time.  A baseball stadium does not create jobs, it takes them away from Oakland.

    I have lost track of how much the city has given to Zanatto’s, a private business.  First it was something $249K a year and now it is up to $1.7M.  Camera One is something like $817K.  Mercado Su Vianda was only $502K, but it filed for bankruptcy.  I forget how much taxpayer money was spent on the San Pedro square owned by a former mayor.

    Let the county take over the city.  They have the keys after all.  The county has the same building code as the city.  SJPD seems to like to kill or beat residents, that cost millions, like the lady with a vegetable peeler.  Or the recent $3.25M federal cout judgment.  Turn it over to the County.

    • There is No Such thing as a “Factory Made” Asian vegetable peeler.  Basically the lady had a 10” Meat Cleaver with a Vegetable Peeler welded to it on the back side of the blade.  I have traveled the Orient and have not been able to find one that was mass produced anywhere, even from knife dealers from Hanoi to Hong Kong to San Fransisco China Town.  When I asked for it, I described it they looked at me like I was nuts…  I’m pretty sure the lady was crazy and came at the officer with a huge 10-Ten Inch “Meat Cleaver”, which are pretty prevalent in Asian home kitchens.  I’m Asian so I know that story is full of crap and not a good example to use.

      • Vegetable Peeler?  Meat Cleaver?

        This sounds like a terrific premise for a reality TV show.

        Assemble a panel of Asian “community organizers”.  Assemble a panel of San Jose cops.

        Give each panel a box of the implements in question and let them go at it.

        Let the Asians skin kiwi fruit with the damn things, and let the cops hack apart elk and moose carcasses.

        American TV watchers will get to the bottom of this urgent national controversy and discover the real truth.

    • “Let the county take over the city”

      I would be happy with that. If the County took over, our salaries would be higher, with better benefits and working conditions.

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