On June 26, in the “Internal Affairs” column, the Mercury News reported on the San Jose City Councils’ decision to approve the transfer of the old city hall property site to Santa Clara County. Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio was the only member to vote No. He said, “‘The old City Hall could have been sold to benefit the general fund.’”
Several weeks prior to the council vote, and after having learned that the City of San Jose was planning to eliminate a $106,000 subsidy to the Health Trust’s Meals On Wheels Program for needy seniors, I sent a letter to the Merc in an effort to bring attention to the fact that the money could easily be found if the city would simply re-examine the land swap deal with the County of Santa Clara. Here’s the letter:
In Sunday’s edition of the Mercury News, Patty Fisher, of the Health Trust, lamented the likely loss of a $106,000 from the City of San Jose. Due to the budget crunch, the Health Trust’s Meals On Wheels Program will have its funding cut, and the seniors served by the program will simply have to do without.
Truth is, the San Jose City Council can easily reinstate this $106,000 Meals On Wheels subsidy. In addition, the City of San Jose need not layoff the 100 police officers as planned. The City of San Jose can obtain a $10 million influx to its general fund by simply reviewing the language of a 1996 ballot measure. The Measure I Initiative, passed by San Jose voters in 1996, authorized the building of a new city hall downtown, “...so long as the costs are paid by using proceeds from the sale or lease of the old civic complex and other land…” Several months ago, a deal was announced to transfer the old city hall property to the Santa Clara County Government as part of a negotiated debt settlement between the San Jose Redevelopment Agency and the county government. (The city hall property was assigned a valuation of $10 million). This $10 million valuation belongs to the citizens of San Jose. The money should go to the city’s general fund, rather than the redevelopment agency.
Tell the seniors that the Meals On Wheels subsidy will not be cut. And tell Chief Moore that not one San Jose police officer needs to lose his/her job.”
My letter was never published, and by e-mail, editor Barbara Marshman told me it would not be. Perhaps some other San Jose citizen will raise this question and submit a letter to the Mercury News. Apparently, I’ve been banned!