Liccardese for Mayor

Two private school-educated Italian-American lawyers who have spent the majority of their careers in government jobs will face off in November with hopes to become mayor of Northern California’s largest city.

Both Dave Cortese and Sam Liccardo spent close to a million dollars to make the runoff for a job that comes with a long punchlist of challenges. San Jose is still paying off more than $5 billion in debt from a two-decade building spree that took off in the mid 1980s. The city bears the cost of providing services and amenities for a million residents, many of whom work in rich neighboring cities that, due to a structural jobs-housing imbalance, reap a disproportionate share of the region’s tax revenues. That’s the reason why the grass is literally greener in Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Palo Alto and Santa Clara, while San Jose’s parks are pitted with gopher holes.

Sam Liccardo, celebrating here with wife Jessica and a borrowed baby, will face off against Dave Cortese in November for mayor of San Jose.

Sam Liccardo, celebrating here with wife Jessica and a borrowed baby, will face off against Dave Cortese in November for mayor of San Jose.

Efforts to enforce budget discipline have left scars on San Jose’s political culture and on public safety workers, whose ranks have been depleted amidst scorch-and-burn strategies by both sides.

Mayor Chuck Reed, frustrated by efforts to cut a deal with the unions over pensions and pay, went to voters to enact takebacks that have been hamstrung in the courts. Four members of his pro-pension reform majority on the council ran for mayor in this month’s primary. Together they won 62 percent of the vote, seven points shy of the 69 percent who approved the controversial Measure B pension reform measure two years earlier.

Cortese says he wants to bring the city together again, heal the wounds and detoxify the polarized climate at city hall. Heavily backed by an undivided coalition of public employee unions and the labor-controlled local Democratic Party machine, the county supervisor and former San Jose vice mayor pulled two points more than the 31 percent who opposed 2012’s pension measure.

He ran a polished campaign, wearing gray mayoral suits and staying on message while his goofier opponent showed up in bicycle helmet, cream colored suits and brown shoes, talking about things like music pavilions, sidewalk cyclists and pop-up stores.

The supervisor’s battle will be to convince another 17 percent of the electorate that a Cortese-led administration won’t embark on a spending spree like the city did when Cortese was on the council in the dotcom boom’s wake, approving salaries and pensions that couldn’t survive an economic downturn. He may also have to answer questions about his political bedfellows, who’ve been getting voted out of office and going to jail after their corrupt activities were exposed.

Cortese has tried to position himself as a unifying statesman. He cites his 2005 vote to oppose 90 percent pensions as proof of his fiscal responsibility, though analysts disagree on the underlying reasons for the vote and suggest he may have wanted an even more generous package for the city’s firefighters.

Both candidates will make rebuilding the police force and improving public safety centerpieces of their campaigns. Cortese will call himself the candidate of “change,” citing rising crime as the product of failed policies. Liccardo will cast Cortese’s talking point as merely a return to the days when unions got everything they wanted at city hall.

Liccardo will also champion a new urbanist vision of high-rise housing, transit alternatives and downtown as a regional cultural destination. With shiny new housing towers popping up and the commercial vacancy rate dropping, the economic winds will provide visuals to illustrate his economic and social roadmap.

It’s hard to predict the future, but one thing's certain. The hard-fought race will clog mailboxes and break expenditure records over the next five months as two guys with similar backgrounds but different allegiances battle to shape the city’s future.


  1. Really, Liccardese for Mayor, is that supposed to be funny or you cannot spell. And you say, Four members of his (Chuck’s) pro-pension reform majority on the council ran for mayor in this month’s primary. (Don’t forgot you lost Constant as well) Together they won 62 percent of the vote. Well, I ask you how many are left standing. That should be a clue of what we as citizens of SJ want.

    Voting for Dave.

    • Regarding the group of so-called Mayor Reed cronies “together they won 62 percent of the vote” Actually that does tell a lot about what the citizens of San Jose want. 62% beats 30%. Why is it that Cortese backers can’t seem to grasp that the General Election will have a very different outcome. Now that the field is cleared the folks who like Reed’s reform policy have only one candidate to back with the entirety of their 62% and that is Liccardo. I sure hope Cortese is better at math & statistics than some of his supporters because he needs to really focus if he wants to be a contender.

  2. Long article …. Not that complicated if you want more of same, with cops continuing to leave Liccardo is the guy. If you want someone to negotiate a deal and everyone working together then cortese …

    The cops
    Hate an distrust Liccardo probably more then they disliked Reed.

    • Why would cops want someone (Cortese) who endorsed Xavier Campos’ re-election as Mayor? SJPD has enough criminals to catch on their own.

      • Because we have no cops to catch criminals thanks to Sam and the others who voted for Measure B. Be a victim and call and hope they (SJPD) can take an insurance report over the phone because there is no one to investigate a crime. If Sam gets elected look for another few dozen officers to leave plus the 150 who can retire next year.

        • You mean criminals like Campos? I guess if Cortese does get elected it will be easy to find Campos ‘Camp’ed out on the 18th floor.

      • He endorsed Campos, he went easy on Shirakawa if actions speak louder than words than Dave is telling the public we don’t have to worry about crime because he’s buddies with all the criminals.

  3. I agree and if I’m not mistaken, Sam made a statement that (paraphrasing) most of the remaining votes went to the people on his side, ie, council members, which he felt meant something. Well…those remaining voters evidently didn’t want to vote for you, Sam, or they would have. Other than Cortese, they didn’t have much to choose from. Herrera probably got votes from the people in her district and Madison probably got votes from her district, as well as many in the Vietnamese community. Oliverio benefited from his district. It doesn’t mean that all the remaining votes are now going to come to you, which you hinted. Cortese has the experience. You don’t. He will work with the employees. You didn’t. He will get this city back on tract, when all you did was to help tear it down. Who do you think the voters will choose?

    • If you don’t think that Liccardo is the most common second-choice candidate for an Oliverio supporter, you’re not politically astute. Expand your mind beyond the assumption that the voters supporting your chosen candidate are the only ones concerned with issues and not geography. Pierluigi trounced Steve Kline and Herrera trounced Jimmy Nguyen in 2012 because they supported Measure B while their labor-backed candidates denounced it. You don’t think districts elect Councilmembers with views they support? Of course Liccardo is likely to peel off more voters from these candidates who are much more ideologically similar to him than Cortese.

  4. What do Nora Campos, George Shirakawa Jr., Dave Cortese, Cindy Chavez and Xavier Campos all have in common?

    They’re all “unionistas”, one is a convict who gambled away hundreds of thousands of his constituents tax money on gambling, one lobbied for and threatened the DA if the DA didn’t drop the charges against her friend, three of them are being investigated for corruption by the FPPC and one is being supported by Pot Clubs (who were giving away free marijuana to voters that’d vote for him yesterday) and Casino Card Clubs (coincidentally, as already mentioned…the convict had a “gambling” problem).

    Like they say…”Birds of a feather flock together”

    And you expect Dave Cortese is the answer to our city’s current problems?

    Seriously? Wow…

    • And you expect Liccardo to be the answer to our city’s current problems when in the last 7+ years he hasn’t done anything except help tear it down? Seriously? Wow.


        Supporting a measure ballot (VOTED AND APPROVED BY 70% OF REGISTERED VOTERS WITHIN THE ENTIRE CITY OF SAN JOSE) that will save the city millions of dollars in the long run and stop public employee unions’ greed is one way to fix our city’s problems.

        The main issue is that the majority of city employees (bureaucracy obviously) want their cake AND they also want to eat it too!

        We can’t have that…and we definitely can’t afford it.

        The 15,000 city public employees DO NOT represent the entire City of San Jose…this is where all of you socialist unionistas get confused.


          You forgot to mention that the support of measure b was 70% OF THE FEW VOTERS who even bothered to show up at the polls. You also forgot to mention that it was an ILLEGAL measure.

          You are so NOT telling it like it is. I guess because you REALLY don’t know. The MAIN issue is that the employees wanted a fair negotiation and the mayor, with his clown council, wanted to hurry up and get the illegal measure b on the ballot. He would not even listen to SJPD’s proposal for a plan that would save the city $500 million dollars over the course of 5 years, versus the $30-$40 million the mayor and CC was trying to save with measure b. Wouldn’t even look at the proposal. Why was that?

          The employees all know pension reform is necessary but they want it done legally and fairly. THAT is the MAIN issue.

          Just by what you have publicly written, you have made it very well known to all of the readers that you don’t know what you are talking about and are so NOT TELLING.IT.HOW.IT.IS–maybe a name change???

          • SO SO “UNINTERESTED”

            Man…since when did the City of San Jose become the “Employees ONLY City of San Jose”? Last I checked, our city is a million strong and city employees are only 15,000.

            Since when did PUBLIC employees become the ‘face’ of the City of San Jose?

            You’ve proven my point!

            FYI: If you want to earn a top salary then working for a municipal government IS NOT the way to go. However, if you want to earn a top salary then you either (1) start and own your business, (2) study engineering, law, business, computer science and apply for highly skilled and highly technical jobs and go work for fortune 500 companies or (3) you go out, buy a lottery ticket and win the lottery.

            Working for any government type of entity (at any level) SHOULD NOT be a means or a way to make top dollar because it (1) yields corruption and (2) further feeds into the already slob bureaucracy many government entities already exercise and continue to manifest.

            In regards to your argument; the POA’s greed has gotten the best of them. And because of such, they are now suffering.

            To make it seem as though it’s not their unfolding Jim Unland has gone out of his way to use the “Clown Council’s” fiscal responsibility (approved by the “low” voter turnout of 70%) as their scapegoat and ‘Measure B’ as their war cry to assemble their troops (with the help of “The People’s Republic of the local AFL-CIO”) and wage the current war against “make sense” spending and investment.

            Again, since when did the City of San Jose become the “Public Employees ONLY City of San Jose”?

          • Corruption is a result of low pay and compensation. Therefore, should people who work for the government have a decent wage? I mean, the government isn’t charged with protecting our interests or anything important like that. So let’s pay them nothing because they’re not responsible for any large budget or safeguarding our lives, liberty and/or property.

            Oh, and you mentioned bureaucracy. Well, that’s created by people with no skill sets or brains. The smoke and mirror types.

            I’m summary, if you think government employees (mayors, policemen, marines, etc) don’t deserve decent compensation for their services…please don’t vote.


          No, 70% of the voters that actually showed up. And the courts are tearing it apart so your argument is moot.

          • People who don’t show up to vote aren’t voters, bro. 70% of voters approved Measure B, the fact that you laborites have to add that it was only passed by “the people who actually showed up” (As is the case with ANY ELECTION EVER) every time, just demonstrates your insecurity. Can you imagine if someone refused to acknoweldge Governor Brown’s victory in the June Primary as legitimate because he was only elected by “the people who actually showed up”? If your “supporters” don’t care enough to even show up and vote, then they aren’t trying participate in the public decision-making process. You are making excuses for being on the losing end of an electoral landslide.

        • “The 15,000 city public employees DO NOT represent the entire City of San Jose…this is where all of you socialist unionistas get confused.”

          Your statement illustrates how “uniformed” you are on the number of City of San José employees.

          The 2013-2014 City of San José budget allocates 5,655 employee positions.

          I entreat you to start attending Council committee meetings, reading all reports, interacting with all city department heads and then formulate an opinion on what “we can and cannot afford.” You will quickly find out it has been several city councils dating back to the spendthrift Hammer administration to the current council that have created the debt that will take generations to pay down and not to forget to mention the corrupt influences the aforementioned councils have wrought by making “deals” with special interest groups including developers.

          Your “uniformed status” is also clearly demonstrated by your lack of declaratory mention as to the associated costs that Measure B continues to wreak havoc on the taxpayers. The city continues and will continue to lose Police Officers at a staggering rate. The cost of continued litigation of a materially flawed Measure B that “duped” the “70% of registered voters” who showed up and voted illustrates how “uniformed” these voters (and yourself) were at the time.

          Before Measure B was sired from the bastard loins of lies and deceit, you must travel back in budgetary time to when the $650 Million dollar estimate was made on the pension cost issue. I was there it is obvious you were not. The aforementioned figure was an “off-the –cuff” remark with absolutely no basis in fact, made to council during a budget study session by a previous Retirement Services Director. Mayor Reed knew that this $650 million dollar figure was not to be relied upon but decided to “run with it” anyway. The results of Measure B can be accurately described as a “perpetual train wreck” with no end in sight.

          I questioned the Mayor and Council several times when they crafted the Measure B language concerning the erroneous $650 million dollar figure citing time and time again, but to no avail. Here is a copy of an old memo I wrote:

          February 22, 2012

          Mayor Reed and Members San José City Council
          200 East Santa Clara Street
          San José, California 95113-1905

          Re: $650 Million (or higher) “estimate” of pension costs not incorporated into public documents, why?

          Mayor and City Manager both have “Communication Czars” costing taxpayers plenty.

          So, how could such a “colossal omission” of the “estimate” escape inclusion into the record?

          If deliberate, is it Adolph Hitler’s “Big Lie?”

          Dateline: City Desk [Wednesday, (02.22.12)]. There’s too much “goose-stepping” around the truth going on.

          The issue of the “omission” of the word “estimate” in the “$650 million dollar or higher” figures used in public documents pertaining to city employee pension costs have created looming questions whether a catastrophic lack of oversight occurred versus intentional misconduct was used to deceive the public to achieve a political goal.

          Both the Mayor and City Manager Offices have “Communication Czars”, who in turn, have command and control over resources such as; dedicated staff and lush budgets for consultants to oversee and or to construct every communicative detail uttered by these “Offices” at considerable taxpayer expense.

          How could the word “estimate” have escape inclusion into the public record?

          Did elected officials intentionally use “$650 million dollar or higher” figures without the word “estimate” to intentionally “mislead” and or to “deceive the public on a premise if they “got caught”, let’s say by a television news entity, they would then “come clean” by stating that it was an “estimate” all along. By admitting the error of omission, the scandal dies and a modicum of confidence is restored in government.

          This formula of deception is a confidence scheme in which a desired message, the fear of financial collapse of the city, to achieve a political goal; the further “take down of city employee benefits is predicated on telling a “Big Lie”; the intentional “omission” of the word “estimate.” Yet, when caught and confronted the “Big Lie” is mitigated down to a negligent act and thereby excused upon admitting an “error was made.”

          In the world of high power communications, the damage is done. The “Big Lie” message is what is remembered by the voting public as the truth and not the admonition of error. Further, how many citizens would have ever thought about the aforementioned process as a series of intentional acts by their government?

          Adolph Hitler’s “Big Lie” technique thrives by, “telling a lie so colossal that no one would believe that someone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

          Why did San José Mercury News Editorial Board fail miserably to discuss the issue of; the “omission” of the word “estimate” in the “$650 million dollar or higher” figures used in public documents pertaining to city employee pension costs, since such an “oversight” should not have been possible with reference to the “Communication Czars and their lush resources” in their editorial, “Pension plot allegations against San Jose mayor miss the mark, (02.16.12)?”

          Methinks the goose-stepping Nazis at city hall are not alone in the perpetration of the “Big Lie.”

          I hope I have informed you.

          I hope you spend time at city hall.

          There are many, many more issues that the voters have been “taken for a ride.”

          What the city cannot afford is an uniformed voting public.

          David S. Wall

        • 70% of registered voters or 70% of those who voted. Someone’s not good at math or telling the truth? More like TELLING IT LIKE IT ISNT. dummy.

  5. Didn’t Dave endorse Xavier Campos for re-election??? No one with that kind of judgment should be taken seriously as a mayoral candidate.

  6. Sam Liccardo is completely delusional and out of touch with reality.

    This city is no longer safe and it is only a matter of time before the citizens get a wake up call. Without getting too specific, the roughly 70 officers who are on the streets from 1-6am can only handle 1-2 major emergencies at a time. There may come a day when a 3rd “big one” drops, and when there’s no one to respond, or the response time is severely delayed, the results could be catastrophic. I can already hear some people squawking, “that’s just hysterics and sensationalism.” To those of you who believe that, I genuinely feel sorry for you.

    The ONLY solution is to fix Measure B. Once again, the ONLY, SOLE, SINGLE solution is to FIX Measure B. Tier 2 will continue to force new officers to leave to other departments, push prospective candidates to other departments and as a result, stifle hiring efforts for decades to come. The proof is in the pudding and we’ve already seen this with half of September 2013’s graduating academy class defecting elsewhere, and the most recent academy only half full (30/60 open positions).

    What will Sam Liccardo propose to fix the issue of 160 cops retiring in the next 2 years? The city would have to run 2 academies every 6 months for the next 2 years just to break even. When resignations are accounted for, 3 academies of 50-60 new hires (accounting for the normal washout rate) would be necessary every 6 months. Then, when its all said and done how many will actually stay around? Any ideas Sam? Sounds like A LOT OF MONEY cycling down the drain.

    This is an impending reality. Along with the staffing crisis will come morale and conduct related scandals. Don’t buy it? Read the news. It’s already upon us. Desperate situations often result in people taking desperate measures. I’m not even going to scratch the surface regarding the “brain drain” which will have its own fiscal repercussions when the lawsuits come raining down.

    … No one will listen anyway until it happens. Dan Pulcrano, you don’t care. Carl Guardino doesn’t care. Tom McEnery doesn’t care. Chuck Reed doesn’t care! Scott Herhold couldn’t care less…

  7. We’re so lucky. In some third world countries the peoples’ socialist leader is chosen for them. Here in progressive San Jose we get to choose which socialist leader we want. Let’s see, do we want the socialist who will sell our interests out to the public employee unions? Or should we vote for the socialist who will sell us out for the developers and corporations? A guy who will fight for the divine right of public employees to take a bogus disability retirement? Or a guy who will work tirelessly to cram the city full of affordable housing to protect the divine right of businesses to have plenty of immigrant workers?
    It’s wonderful to live here among progressives where we can all pretend that our vote makes a difference.

      • > Don’t like it? Move.

        Well, the problem is that wherever Galt and the rest of us move to, the socialist parasites follow us.

        After all, they make their living as foragers. After they forage their hunting grounds into barren, treeless dust bowls, they have to find new colonies of producers to surround and live off of.

        America began when productive people moved to escape the statist and socialist parasites of Europe, and it worked for awhile. But then, Woodrow Wilson federalized the monetary system and Franklin Roosevelt began borrowing mythical wealth from future generations to institutionalize the takers’ “immediate return” life style.

        And now we’re statist/socialist Europe all over again.

        Obama even went to the Brandenburg gate and gave away free beer at a rock concert. The Europeans loved him.

        • >America began when productive people moved to escape the statist and socialist parasites of Europe

          Statism is the ideology that a state should exist. The Founding Fathers weren’t anarchists.

          And there’s nothing more statist than using the power of the state to own other human beings. America wasn’t exactly a beacon of freedom.

          • > And there’s nothing more statist than using the power of the state to own other human beings. America wasn’t exactly a beacon of freedom.

            You’re tribalist hunter-gatherer ancestors of 10,000 years ago knew that their nearby tribes were a rich supply of sex slaves, personal slaves, and tasty human snack food.

            States may or may not tolerate slavery.

            But tribalist foraging was the universal social reality paradigm and survival mode for most human beings over the entirety of human history.

            The majority of humans today undoubtedly qualify as tribalist foragers.

  8. I live in SL’s district and he hasn’t a clue. He has no clue how a PD should be run.
    Put injured officers on desk duty somewhere within the city? What? Did he really say that?
    So an officer is working in passports, and a Norteno comes in and recognizes him as the officer that arrested him, what do you think happens next?
    Hasn’t done anything from which he gets no return. Screwed up traffic with bike lanes
    that few people use.
    The bottom line is that we are in serious trouble. Crime is rampid and we need more well trained, well paid career officers, that will stay here. period
    I have lived here 60+ years, and never have I been afraid…until now.

    • Sam rides a bike. So, what does he do? He gets a I’ll scratch your back later if you scratch my back now from the rest of the council and establishes the Liccardo Lanes that few bicyclists use. It’s been 18 months since the double wide Liccardo Lanes were painted in DTSJ and still few bicyclists use them. The signs and little blue dots on the sidewalk are no help. The 98% of folks who travel by car to work in DTSJ get 2 lanes instead of three, to leave room for…what…10 bicyclists a day?? All the bike riders imperil pedestrians by riding on the sidewalks downtown. The last four police chiefs have said to me that they will not cite bicyclists who ride on the sidewalk, although state law allows them to do so. Scott Knies @ the Downtown Association finally woke up and made a weak statement on KLIV that something needs to be done about bicyclists on the sidewalks. They are a HUGE safety hazard. Wait until some little old lady gets run down by a guy on a bike and sues the city. Rick Doyle will pay big bucks, since he doesn’t have anyone in his office who can actually try a case in court.

      And so, in November, we get to choose between narcissistic/Machiavellian/bike boy Sam , and Dave, let’s load up the public employee pensions again Cortese. No wonder this town is so screwed up.

  9. Look at the big balls on Dan Pulcrano! FINALLY it is being acknowledged in some form of local “media” that:

    “San Jose is still paying off more than $5 billion in debt from a two-decade building spree that took off in the mid 1980s. …”

    A debt that stands north of 3 billion today… Does the average San Jose resident or voter understand that the debt that the City carries on its development “schemes” is at least 4.5 times the amount of Reed’s grossly overstated $650mill pension debt?

    Thanks for the subtle mention of an otherwise ignored FACT!!!

    • You’re absolutely right, Meyer.
      And ALL of this debt, both the pension debt and the development debt, brought to us courtesy of an endless string of union endorsed fiscally careless Democrat politicians, irresponsible with the peoples’ money in just about every way possible.
      And in this election, the unions are at it again.

      • Wrong. The pension “debt” and “unfunded liabilities” were a product of: #1 SJ’s conscious decision to take a “pension holiday” to the tune of $80 million from 1993-2004, when the market was performing above expectations and they did not hold up their percentage of contribution, resulting in a conservative estimate of a cumulative loss of $120 million to the employee pension funds #2 Reed’s 2010 initiative to replace elected officials from the pension investment boards with money managers from the financial industry, who proceeded to move upwards of 40% of the funds into high risk hedge funds which performed the worst (collectively) of any pension fund in the state.

        Fantastic right??

        Meanwhile, Sam and Chuck (& co.) have created a vortex in the city’s public safety which is hemorrhaging money as I type this and you read it.

        Changes will come and they will bring these irresponsible and divisive politicians to their knees at the mercy of the citizens (minus Galt of course).

        Go crawl down one of the “shiny green roads” please..

      • Its not so “black and white.” First the magnitude of difference between the size of the pension debt is significant. Note: I used the $650million lie Reed told and to this day stands by to arrive at difference.

        I could have used the real number at the time Reed started the lie ($270million) which mdd the pension unfunded liability (at that time) 12 times less than the development debt which remains pretty constant.

        If we wer to use current numbers (pension unfunded liability about $80million per Cheiron the CITY’s Actuary) then the redevelopment debt is more than 35 times the pension debt.

        What changed in the pension debt arena aid that the economy started to come back and investments that lost big in the crash …. have recovered (like we said they would)

        Debt coming form personnel costs and compensation for people providing services that taxpayers demand are far more palatable than debt from the insane real estate speculation that has only benefited the real estate developers that are cozy with Reed and Liccardo and others in City Gov’t.