There was a brief mention in Sunday’s Mercury News about the HP grant funds that are allocated by elected officials in San Jose. I thought that I would take a more in-depth look into the topic by sharing my perspective and providing greater information regarding my allocations.
Each fiscal year, councilmembers are allocated $20,000 that can be utilized to provide grants to cultural, educational or recreational groups. The mayor is allotted $50,000, for a grand total of $250,000 in available funds. These funds are allocated solely at the discretion of the elected official. As the name implies, HP grant funds became available to city officials as a result of the naming rights arrangement for our arena, which will be known as the SAP Center in the future.
HP funds are separate from the annual $1.3 million that goes to the city’s general fund, which is also attributable to naming rights.
My allocations, listed below, represent my personal priorities and values not only as an elected official, but also as a proud citizen of San Jose.
Public School and Youth Athletics: $52,000
Upon review of my allocations since taking office, I found that my largest allocation by a wide margin was for public schools and youth athletics. I myself attended K-12 public schools in San Jose, and perhaps because of this, I have an affinity for public education and feel that supporting local school organizations is valuable. I have great respect for PTA and youth sports organizations. Volunteers staff them all, they work within timelines towards measurable goals and they spend every dollar judiciously.
Beautification & Revitalization: $13,000
I have also allocated funds to efforts aimed at the further beautification of San Jose. Specifically, I funded the Art Box Project organized by community volunteer Tina Morrill. Her volunteer work brings art to the neighborhoods in the most cost-effective manner I know of, and it has the added benefit of dissuading graffiti. I also allocated funds to Friends of the San Jose Rose Garden. Earlier this year, the Great Rosarians of the World presented the city of San Jose and Friends of the San Jose Rose Garden with an international award and inducted the garden into the “Rose Garden Hall of Fame.” With this honor, San Jose joins award-winning gardens in New York and England.
Community and Cultural Organizations: $11,000
In my opinion, San Jose is such a desirable place to live due in large part to its diversity, both in terms of the multiculturalism of our city and the vibrancy of our LGBT community. Thus, I have allocated funds to such worthy organizations as the Billy De Frank Center, the African American Heritage House, the Italian American Heritage Foundation and Gay Pride.
These are larger groups like the YWCA, American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood and Stroke Foundation. In each case, these groups help San Jose residents not only in times of need, but on an ongoing basis as well. They also host local events like Relay for Life, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes and the Stroke Walk.
City Foundations: $8,000
My allocations also went to foundations associated with city services, such as auxiliary organizations that support our police, police chaplain, library, parks, and Happy Hollow Zoo. Allocations in this category provide funds that can be utilized to augment core services by providing financial support above and beyond the city budget.
Performing Arts: $8,000
I enjoy the performing arts and appreciate the added economic stimulus that groups such as City Lights Theater and San Jose Stage Company provide to our downtown. Cultural groups that perform for audiences of all ages deserve our continued support. To this end, I have allocated funds to Children’s Musical Theater, San Jose Jazz, San Jose Young People’s Theater and Shady Shakespeare Theater Company.
Other allocations I made that do not fit neatly into any of the categories listed above include: Veteran’s Day Parade; Rose, White & Blue Parade; San Jose Day Nursery; Books for Treats; Christmas in the Park; Good Karma Bikes; California Pioneers of Santa Clara County; Pat Tillman Foundation; Turning Wheels for Kids; and Silicon Valley Roller Girls.
These allocations were all made directly on behalf of my office, and reflect my values as a citizen of San Jose. My colleagues on the City Council have given their support to many of the same organizations, as well as others. I cannot speak on behalf of my colleagues nor would I criticize any choice they made. Ultimately, there are many good causes. The funds that are allocated, although small, are helpful to these organizations and their beneficiaries.
Pierluigi Oliverio is a councilmember for San Jose’s District 6. Click to read more of his columns.