Metro Endorsements: Local Measures

City of Santa Clara Measure J
Last week, the National Football League decided that the 2014 Super Bowl will take place in New Jersey’s Meadowlands Stadium, home to the New York Giants and Jets. Everyone in the New York metropolitan area is happy about this—and not just football fans. The nation’s biggest sporting event will bring hundreds of millions of dollars in direct revenue to the region, along with other economic benefits.

If voters in Santa Clara decide to allow the San Francisco 49ers to build a stadium, the same thing will happen here—that’s a stone-cold lock. The Meadowlands was selected for Super Bowl XLVII because the New Jersey Sports Authority just built a new stadium there. Last year, the Superbowl was held in North Arlington, Texas, right after Dallas Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones built a stadium there. That’s how it works.

This is not to say that Santa Clarans should vote yes on Measure J just to bring a Super Bowl to the neighborhood (or the World Cup—also a possibility). This measure deserves support because the stadium will have a big positive impact on the region—economic and otherwise.

Building the stadium will mean a bunch of construction jobs right now, in a down economy. Every year after that, the stadium is projected to generate $249 million in ongoing economic activity from home games, concerts and other big events. That’s full-time and part-time jobs, hotel stays, restaurant meals and tax dollars for local coffers.

This would also have powerful symbolic value. It will be a new piece of evidence that Silicon Valley has arrived as a center of power and activity.

The vast majority of the $823 million cost of the stadium will be born by the 49ers. Measure J calls for Santa Clara to pony up $114 million, which will come from Redevelopment Agency funds and a hotel tax that voters passed last year.

San Jose just saw an example of what a sports arena can do for a town a few weeks ago, when HP Pavilion hosted the semifinals in the NHL Stanley Cup tournament. The Shark Tank was built with almost 80 percent public money, and that investment has paid off big time, week after week, in hockey season and throughout the year. It’s a safe bet that this one will too.

School Bond Measures
In this age of after-school program cuts and increased class sizes, when it comes to education-supporting measures like A, B, C, E, G, H, I and L, it’s foolish to say no.

In the case of Measure I, there’s one caveat. The measure would bring $3.3 million to the Alum Rock School District, and that school board needs to get its act together. Alum Rock has had a history of questionable spending, and oversight may be needed to ensure that this money go to its intended use: helping keep East San Jose K-5 classes small.

The Alum Rock school board also must become more open to sharing the revenue with some of the district’s public charter schools—so far, Alum Rock Superintendent Jose Manzo has made sure they are cut out from the measure’s language. However, overall these measures deserve and need the public’s support.

San Jose Measure K
As sin taxes go, San Jose’s Measure K is actually pretty tame: it would increase the city’s card room cap from 40 to 49, and raise taxes on casino revenues from 13 to 15 percent. The biggest change it would bring about is the lifting of San Jose’s long-established $200 bet limit.

Detractors say that decreasing card-room regulations will damage neighborhoods and bring increased crime and loan sharking, particularly in Silicon Valley’s gambling-plagued Asian communities. However, most civic leaders have come out in support for K because it will rake in about $5.25 million a year to help curb San Jose’s mammoth budget deficit.

In the age of the internet, online casinos offer gamblers unfettered access to the action. If locals choose to drive to the Garden City Casino or Bay 101 instead, the city’s residents might as well benefit from it. Measure K will do more good than harm.


  1. Metro endorsements, like the Mercury News, are good for entertainment purposes and sometime increase my knowledge about a candidate or an issue, but generally are clearly coming from a partisan political perspective and are more informed by the political preferences of the ownership/senior staff than anything else.

  2. “No” on every single one of them, with particular emphasis on the especially pernicious J and K.

    The people of Santa Clara shouldn’t be paying to build a stadium for the NFL.  Its obscene to even ask them to do so.  And the last thing San Jose needs is more legalized gambling.  We need less, not more.

    More money for public education is a waste.  We could double their funding, and the kids still wouldn’t get a good education from the public schools, alas.  Its an admittedly sad state of affairs, but the simple reality is that the government is no longer capable of educating children.  I don’t know how that is ever going to change, and I suspect that as long as the United States of America exists, and California remains one of its constitute republics, that is frankly isn’t going to change.  In the meantime, people should try to revert to private schools, home schooling, and not giving one damn dime more to a public education (K-12) system that is worthless, at best, for anything other than free daycare.

    • Hardly the last honest man.  I just enjoy good debate and discussions about more than the weather and sports teams.  Sometimes my opinions come across wrong, so if I hurt your feelings, sorry.

      Its just fun to talk about stuff like our political process and really dig into issues.  Sometimes its nice to poke fun at traditional authority (church, state, press) too.

  3. I want to take a moment a way from all the campaigning and ask that you all join me in remembering what this holiday weekend is really all about. Memorial Day is not about BBQs, a three-day weekend to frolic at the beach; it is about remembering those who are fighting for, dying for and whom have fought for our freedoms. It is a time to thank these military men and women who have sacrificed so much for us. It is a time to thank our Police and Fire Fighters along with our men and women in the military for their service to this country and to we citizens.

    I ask you to join me in praying for our military’s quick return home from the war, and that our Police and Fire Fighters return home safe from harm to their families everyday. To our Vets, our military, and our Police and Fire Fighters, God bless you and keep you safe from harm!

  4. When you advocate spending RDA funds to subsidize pro football, remember that RDA funds are taken away from the schools and county social services.

    I can’t believe Metro thinks it’s a good idea to take millions of dollars away from schools, and then give the money to a professional sports franchise.

    • Metro and the Mercury News think taking public dollars to give to professional sports franchises is a good idea because they know The Fix Is In. Look at the snarky comments here whenever someone tries to question the wisdom of the 49ers settling in Santa Clara or the A’s accepting a land-gift from San Jose—jeez, just look at the money the 49ers are spending to pass the measure in Santa Clara! Those folks don’t gamble on elections…they invest in winners. The Fix(es) Are In.

    • Tax increment financing used by redevelopment agencies all over the state freezes property tax levels at the start (blight levels) then borrows against future tax revenue and gets a lump sum of cash that they use to fix up the area, which raises property values.

      The tax on the improved value minus the original blighted level is the increment that the RDA gets as a revenue stream for the life of their bonds.  Many argue that with 15-20 or more commonly 30 year bonds, this robs local schools and other social services of that property tax revenue that would otherwise go into the pool they share.

      I don’t know the City of Santa Clara well, but I suspect they already have a Redevelopment District around the convention center/park so this measure may not really change the playing field for local schools.

  5. The Metro needs to realize that elections are about more then ballot propositions; they’re also about PEOPLE!

    For those of you who have been suffering from “Political Correctness Withdrawal” and have been hoping for a great big dollop of high-calorie, sugar-coated, organically grown, free-range, non-fat soy latte political correctness, well, JOSH BECKER is YOUR GUY!!!

    This guy is SO PC that his farts don’t smell.  As a matter of fact, he probably travels to the Brazilian rain forest just to breathe in polluted rain forest air and fart sunshine.

    My first clue that the guy was not all there was his campaign mailer featuring a great big photograph of himself looking like a lovesick teeny bopper sharing a micro-climate with an exceptionally well-nourished rock star, Al “Airbag” Gore.

    Doesn’t Josh know?  Al Gore is s-o-o-o-o OVER.  This is 2010, Josh.  Al Gore is now “that Climategate guy” who used to have some eccentric theories on “global warming” or something, but now is trying to make a living charging eighteen hundred bucks per handshake at U.N. climate conferences. 

    No one is quite sure, now whether we are saving the planet from “global warming” or the next ice age, but just in case, Gore has offered to collect and hold the money until we know what problem we need to be taxed to solve.

    For those doubters who might not be completely convinced by a mere photo op of The Candidate with the Nobel Prize Winning, Academy Award Winning, mega-carbon footprint fading climate guru, Josh has ALSO been endorsed by former Obama “Green Jobs Czar” (and, oh yeah, communist) Van Jones.

    For the PC trust fund children, “hope and change” is just around the corner.

    • I read your comment, and you didn’t do a very good job in explaining why Josh Becker oozes Political Correctness, or whatever.  I researched all the candidates in the District 21 Assembly race (my wife votes in the Democratic primary, and she leaves such drudgery to yours truly), and I got the impression Becker was the most reasonable of the trio.

      • > I read your comment, and you didn’t do a very good job in explaining why Josh Becker oozes Political Correctness, . . .

        I apologize.  I’m an inadequate blogger.

        Next time, I will make an extra effort to make sure that even you can understand my explanation.

    • Josh, Rich Gordon and Yoriko are all pretty good candidate for the democratic nomination (which amounts to a coronation in this non-competitive seat.)

      Rich has paid his dues and seems more like a policy wonk with a track record, but its all in San Mateo county, which turns off some who like local candidates (this district spans sections of two counties thanks to some old school gerrymandering.)

      Yoriko has a decent track record with her city, and some proven public record, which makes her another strong choice.

      Josh is plugged into the venture capital sector and brings new energy and money to the race.  He talks like a democrat is supposed to and has come very far without having to work his way up from school board or city council like others.

      I suspect the above poster has an ax to grind because they don’t like someone who hasn’t paid their dues with the party working on local races and such before going for a bigger position.  Its a democracy, and we will continue to get the government we deserve no matter who wins the June primary in this partisan race for state assembly.

  6. Greg Perry and others – Please be more accurate in you RDA statements

    “When you advocate spending RDA funds to subsidize pro football, remember that RDA funds are taken away from the schools and county social services.”

    1/4 right and 3/4 wrong

    Local government: cities, counties and school districts lose some general fund – incremental property taxes to city and county ( yes counties have RDA’s too ) redevelopment but not all incremental property taxes as many have been incorrectly told goes to redevelopment

    2) Some cities take RDA funds and move the same amount of lost city property taxes to city’s general fund ( San Jose pays for 20% Council, police , code enforcement, other city services out of RDA funds ( $20- 25 million in past years ) for city services in redevelopment areas so there is no loss to San Jose’s city general fund

    3) San Jose and SCC court settlement gives $30 or so to Santa Clara County general fund to make up for county redevelopment tax loss probably not all county loss

    4) California says it gives school districts money that redevelopment took away so unless formula is wrong schools don’t lose incremental property taxes to RDA but not sure if all tax loss is made up

    5) Over all cities with RDA benefit from incremental property taxes with new property income while special districts and some loss not 100% loss to other local governments unless they waste redevelopment taxes which some do

    6) Another common mis-understanding: Not all redevelopment areas collect incremental property taxes – San Jose Strong Neighborhood areas are not incremental tax areas so the increased SNI property taxes go to city general fund not RDA which RDA calculated paid back to city general fund all RDA money spend in 7 years

    7)  Billions RDA funds have been wasted as City Councils spend RDA taxes on:

    – political ego projects:  City Hall, Mexican Heritage, World Class Excessive capacity overbuilt airport, Golf courses, Hayes Mansion, Grand Prix, Convention Center, Festivals, Circus etc

    – special interest political paybacks – San Pedro Square, city and airport prevailing labor wage construction projects, sports stadiums etc

    – Special Built or purchased city leased facilities are mostly but not always –  3 way – tax losers because:
    a) $ O, $1 year or under market corporate for-profits or non-profits leases
    b) non- profits than require yearly general fund subsidies and bailouts
    c) city leased facilities don’t pay property taxes so for profit and non-profits save costs or make more profits by not paying taxes

    – redevelopment projects that don’t pay property taxes, parks or city fees – low income housing adds to San Jose’s general fund deficit

    – San Jose building excessive low income housing for other cites who won’t build low income housing for their business workers further increases San Jose budget deficit

    – unneeded or tax losing tax subsidies to corporations, developers, mismanaged non profits etc

    8)Depending on how city or county redevelopment spends incremental property taxes the city or county can benefit with new tax paying businesses for general funds revenue sales, licenses, business taxes etc , good jobs and improve neglected areas and economic development

    There is a easy test question to see which cities and counties wasted their redevelopment funds based on the purpose of redevelopment since Proposition 13:

    Did you city or county increase the number of tax paying businesses and city revenues for your increased population while increasing property tax values to pay back redevelopment bonds

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