San Jose’s Bad Press

It was a tough week, image-wise, for the City of San Jose. The nation’s seventh-smartest city looked pretty stupid thanks to two stories that received a fair amount of press attention.

First, there was the somewhat embarrassing news that the city may not be able to host the popular downtown holiday parade next year due to staff and budget cuts. I heard one radio report that estimated that the event was attended by nearly 100,000 people, and that it is one of the largest parades in America. Yet, the event is in jeopardy for next year unless $200,000 can be raised.

KPIX Channel 5 News ran a story on the parade and the city’s budget problems and then signed off with an invitation to have viewers go to the Channel 5 website where they could find a link to donate money for next year’s event. At one level, you can appreciate Channel 5 for their thoughtful gesture of help. On another level, it’s pretty embarrassing that the city has to pass the hat to hold a parade!

The second blow to San Jose’s image came in the dust-up over the City’s efforts to annex “Cambrian 36,” a 103-acre pocket of county land. About 850 people live in the area, and many have voiced their strong desire to be aligned with the City of Campbell rather than San Jose.

Mike Krisman of the Campbell Village Neighborhood Association told the Campbell Reporter: “San Jose already has taken draconian cutbacks to all of its citizens…by adding additional territory, the city would be spreading their resources even thinner in their responses to their residents.”

KTVU Channel 2 sent a reporter to cover the San Jose City Council meeting Tuesday night when the issue was debated. The program’s Bay Area audience got to see and hear impassioned pleas by residents of the area wanting to be annexed by Campbell rather than San Jose. Of course, the residents were free to express their preference for the City of Campbell…but did they have to be so passionate about it?


  1. I am not in the least surprised by the fact that the people in Cambrian 36 wish to be aligned with Campbell.  Everyone living there has been living with a Campbell zip code (95008), with Campbell phone numbers, and thinking that they are effectively (if not de jure) a part of Campbell.

    Now, here comes the big bad City of San Jose, telling them that they are now going to be part of a city that has to struggle year-in, year-out to make its budget balance, that has a dysfunctional public safety leadership, that has trouble filling potholes in the streets but plenty of money to fund the Cinco De Mayo parade…

    …and they are not being given a chance to vote the question.  The local LAFCO has drawn the line, and evidently according to you, The Line Must Be Respected. 

    Campbell wants them, and is prepared to adjust its infrastructure and public safety deployment to support them.  They want to be in Campbell, and do NOT want to be in San Jose, and some have specifically made housing decisions to not be in San Jose.

    About the only people who want Cambrian 36 to be in San Jose is the City of San Jose itself.  Frankly, that’s not reason enough for me, or for them. 

    I hope they continue to fight, for this is truly an example of whether or not a large city will respect the wishes of the people it purports to govern.

  2. Scott Herold front page article ” City Council strikes out with AT&T ballpark deal ”

    is another city government public embarrassment that Council showed Council”s ugly political quid pro quo backroom deals being done to get downtown baseball stadium while making city budget deficit larger as more commercial land is converted losing needed potential tax revenue again

    Have you noticed how Mercury frequently renames web articles – ” Herhold: San Jose council whiffs in allowing town homes near Santana Row ” from more provocative attention getting newspaper titles

    We can see that losers are residents, city employees, local businesses with higher taxes, fees and less services, local jobs and city revenue

    The wimners who will become richer from Council spending 10’s millions RDA and city taxes to acquire land and build improvements to support new stadium will be developers, baseball team owners, lobbyists, land use consultants and downtown property owners

    Oh watch as downtown and baseball supporters will again tell you the BS lies ” no city money will be spent on stadium or city tax subsidies ”  Yea really

    That is about as truthful as City Hall saying city user fees, permits, licensees, hotel room charges, assessments etc – the highest in Silicon Valley – are not really city taxes that residents and businesses are required to pay for less services than other cities

    San Jose highest city taxes and fees make up for taxes given to developers, corporations, mismanaged non profits, tax losing economic development and below market or free sports. parking, city property lease deals to political insiders

  3. “On another level, it’s pretty embarrassing that the city has to pass the hat to hold a parade!”

    I don’t know why this is a city responsibility at all, especially in hard times like these.

    The grandest Parade of all was started in 1924 by Macy’s employees in NYNY.  No government subsidy.  Macy’s has subsidized it ever since.

    What are the costs?  $200k?  What is that—police and fire?  The groups march, they aren’t paid. There’s a cost to put up the street barriers, but how much can that really be.  Ooops, it’s done under union work rules, so it probably is a bit more costly than it should be. If this city is so dangerous that we need police protection for a Christmas parade, then we need to be moved down in the ranks of the safest cities.

    It should be paid for privately.  A Christmas parade is not an essential function of city government.  Same with Cinco de Mayo, and any other holiday parade.

    • John M. O’C should get his energetic self out there with a few of his friends and organize, setup and direct traffic for the parade on a volunteer status in full compliance with the rules alrady established not by the unions but by the City Council – he and his friends will quickly realize why unions are a necessary evil.

      • “not by the unions but by the city council?”

        Pfff.  Made me lose my coffee there.

        The SJ council is little more than the unions’ lap dog on issues like work rules.  It’s akin to saying “I didn’t type this, my fingers did.”

    • Most of these things were and are private deals like the Veterans parade which is organized by the United Veterans Council (all the vet clubs in the county get together).

      But doing a parade, like trying to shop downtown, is too lucrative of a revenue opportunity and simple courtesy services like closing a street and putting up some one day no parking signs now require expense reimbursements to the city whose wage scales and resultant cost recovery formulas make a basically all volunteer operation into a huge pain in the ass.  And it doesn’t help that these traditions enjoyed voluntary in-kind contributions in the past and now are selectively targeted for revenue just like the wayward shopper who stays a couple minutes past the meter timer during a shopping jaunt downtown.  Its about the money and how to squeeze as much as can be gleened from the community in ways large and small without having to call anything a tax.

      And in the name of Social Justice…anything traditional and American like Chistmas/Holiday Parade, 4th of July Fireworks and Festival and even Veterans Day parade will be gouged and run out of town while “inclusive?” multicultural events will enjoy both in-kind and monetary support allowing these new traditions to continue (and replace the others) even during hard times.  Nice.

  4. > KPIX Channel 5 News ran a story on the parade and the city’s budget problems and then signed off with an invitation to have viewers go to the Channel 5 website where they could find a link to donate money for next year’s event. At one level, you can appreciate Channel 5 for their thoughtful gesture of help. On another level, it’s pretty embarrassing that the city has to pass the hat to hold a parade!

    Oh, wow!  What a radical idea: citizen volunteerism!

    Maybe people will finally realize that life is possible without government provided bread, circuses and parades.

  5. Didn’t Ron Gonzales give a speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2000 extolling the virtues of San Jose.

    Saying when people want to know how to get something done, they will look to San Jose.

  6. Mayor Chuck Reed
    – and –
    Council Members
    Pete Constant (Dist 1)
    Ash Kalra (Dist 2) 
    Sam Liccardo (Dist 3)
    Kansen Chu ( Dist 4)
    Nora Campos (Dist 5)
    PierLuigi Oliverio (Dist 6)
    Madison Nguyen (Dist 7)
    Rose Herrera (Dist 8)
    Judy CHirco (Dist 9)
    Nancy Pyle (Dist 10)

    – and –

    City Manager Debra Figone

    -and ( worst of all) the VOTERS who bought their line of garbage when the ran for office and bought it again in the case of those who are second termers.

  7. So lets summarize how things really are in San Jose city government

    Requires residents and businesses to pay highest taxes and fees for least services while being are asked to:

    1) volunteer more of their time, clean up neighborhoods, parks, streets, sidewalks attend neighborhood watch meetings
    2) contribute money or pay fees for services, events or activities

    since city spends money on insider deals unlike other other cities that provide or get wealthy individual or companies to sponsor

    City government unnecessarily spends tens millions taxes on

    1) excessive pay and millionaire pensions for government managers and workers
    2) gives ten’s – hundred’s millions to politically connected insiders contracts, tax subsidies or lobbyists clients
    3) grants permits, rezoning and general plan conversions from jobs land to residential to make millionaire developers or corporations richer while losing thousand’s jobs and millions dollars tax revenue

    If Council is cause of dysfunctional city government than change Council, if not time for Council to change city government to a government for all people not just rich special interests

  8. First of all, let’s stop pretending that San Jose, when compared to its neighbors, has ever demonstrated that residential services were a priority. You could go all the way back to the Mineta administration and, had they been polled, the residents of that county pocket would’ve chosen Campbell over San Jose. So, rather than focus on San Jose’s current budget problems as the deciding—and politically safe to utter in public—factor, let’s examine what it is these residents are REJECTING in voting against joining the rest of us poor bastards.

    1.San Jose’s spectacular city hall—the one that cost us a fortune, is still costing us a fortune, and didn’t deliver on its primary promise, that being the rent-saving consolidation of all city services into one building. I can only assume that these Campbell wannabes weren’t knocked over by our bitching dome.

    2. Quetzalcoatl—the half-million dollar monument to Mayor Susan Hammer’s disdain for America’s Christian heritage, in the form of an unsightly snake once worshipped by an ancient tribe that had nothing to do with San Jose, nothing to do with our nation’s culture or history, and whose only connection to anyone living here can best be measured by the fact that Quetzacoatl has no standing in the Catholicism they practice.

    3. Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport—a large, really expensive facility that is hardly used, hardly international, and named after an egotistical politician who is hardly famous.

    4. San Jose’s billion-dollar downtown—the place to be after dark, if you’re into fisticuffs, public urination, and projectile vomiting.

    5. San Jose’s Norteño and Sureño gangs—responsible for most of the city’s serious assaults and murders, and a major drain on law enforcement and social services, but two groups sorely underrepresented in nearby Campbell (which should be ordered to expand its diversity outreach).

    6. San Jose’s A’s Stadium—the never to be built facility for the never to arrive team, championed by a never to have a clue mayor who’s buying up property at top dollar with money we supposedly never had.

    7. The Mexican Heritage Plaza?/Foundation?/Fiasco?—perhaps the members of the “Cambrian 36” believe that they can take care of their own heritage needs and have no desire to subject themselves to San Jose’s shove-it-down-their-throats approach to social engineering.

    8. Evaporating tax base—the council’s unwritten policy based on the premise that properties zoned and designated for industrial development were set aside not for job-creating industries, but for future council members to sell to the highest bidding housing developer.

    9. Chuck Reed—San Jose’s “reform” mayor who’s getting headlines denouncing contracts and policies he approved as a councilman.

    10. San Jose Mercury’s Sean Webby—this police car seat-sniffer and delusional, race-obsessed crusader who is so mesmerized by people of color that he doesn’t even realize there are people in Campbell.

    11. Plaza de Cesar Chavez—a centrally-located park named for a union activist whose insignificance to the history of San Jose could only be overcome by naming a park after him.

    12. San Jose’s Living Wage—either an honorable minimum wage policy conceived by the city (but paid for by private sector employers) or an obstacle to a productive business environment condemned by the city (leaving private sector employees to suffer), final judgement dependent on the state of the treasury.

    13. Card rooms—branded a scourge to the city and threat to families when the economy is up, and showered with favors when the economy is down. San Jose is a city whose moral compass always points to political expediency.

    14. Celebrating diversity—it appears those Cambrian residents would rather celebrate competence and sound municipal management, something for which you can dance to without the accompaniment of mariachis.

    • Congratulations to “BS Monitor” for including twisted reporting among his or her 14 points:

      “10. San Jose Mercury’s Sean Webby—-this police car seat-sniffer and delusional, race-obsessed crusader who is so mesmerized by people of color that he doesn’t even realize there are people in Campbell.”

      Seat-sniffer Sean Webby has a bad case of self-loathing.  For example, in one Merc story he described Latinos who depart California as “the Latino diaspora” and described white Americans who departed California as “white flight.”  Just more highly-rewarded hate speech by his bosses toward the newest minority group in San Jose and California.

    • Wow! A concise summation of the mediocrity and municipal mayhem that results when a city expends all it’s resources trying to project an image, and has nothing left over to deal with reality.

  9. Hired by Mayor Chuck Reed and a majority of the City Council.
    Team San Jose: in operation for several years under the supervision of Reed , the Council, The City Manager, The City AuditorThe City Council and RDA Board of Directors (who is the Mayor and Council) . 

    Lets not forget the crack staff at the.MercuryNews who was busy checking out public safety salaries while Fenton and Company where robbing the taxpayers blind and is carrying Reed and Company’s water now!

    Great Job of oversight, OVERSEERS!

  10. Paul,

    I couldn’t have said it any better.

    I saw Dan Fenton the other day near City Hall, he had his “Snake Oil” Stand set up at the corner of 4th & Santa Clara St’s looking to make a buck as Team San Jose has TANKED…. 

    One bottle of Fenton’s “Magical” Snake Oil Elixir – goes for $366,000 and some change.  When he asked if I wanted some, I said I remember Jim Jones and Jonestown and his Kool-Aide.

    I told Dan, “NO Way” I won’t buy that crap your selling and haven’t you hurt San Jose enough? 

    Dan couldn’t look me in the eye as he had the look of a condemned man.  He then crawled back into his shabby old refrigerator box covered with and held together by “Reed for Mayor” bumper stickers, and bedded down for the night.

    Old Frank

  11. BS Monitor, don’t forget the millions poured into the Convention Center, which has proven repeatedly to have been too small from the outset necessitating the Circus McGurkus tents out back, along with the public subsidizing of the Shark Tank and half of the businesses downtown including grocery stores, malls, and hotels.

    I also believe San Jose is home to some of the worst roads in the state, the smallest police department per capita of just about anywhere, is completely business unfriendly in terms of taxes, fees, and regulations, and whose cultures consists of whichever minority can scream the loudest at any given opportunity.

  12. Annexation – makes sense to eliminate pockets where uneven law enforcement coverage has allowed abundant crime and other issues.  Inconsistent planning rules allow some things in county pockets also that wouldn’t fly in the city limits.  But maybe that wasn’t a bad thing if you believe in a real and diverse city and not some redeveloped Disney produced caricature of Silicon Valley Yuppieland.

    If you lived in a neighborhood on the outskirts of LA, would you want to be annexed for the “prestige?”  Probably wouldn’t matter as the Post Office probably already has LA on your mailing address.  If you had a choice of going with the big city to the left, the medium sized one to the right or perhaps even creating your own micro-city with an overpaid city manager and council, which way would you vote?  What if someone told you that you could get $20,000 per year to serve part-time on the city oouncil of the new city?

    Seem like Cambrian 36 is missing a trick here, how about a new Silicon Valley town called East Campbell.  They could contract with the neighboring cities for police and fire and have all sorts of fun playing at government in their 1/2 mile bubble of independence.  Ban smoking in the whole town or go the other way and allow it everywhere?  Make a statement, be different…don’t just pick a brand between Apple and HP, Nike and Addidas…

    Or maybe that’s all that civic identity really is today.  Or maybe it matters who’s budget balances every year without shutting libraries, closing fire stations and trimming holiday parades.