Playing Politics with Election Dates

Santa Clara political consultant and blogger James Rowen believes that some members of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors were taking direction from the South Bay Labor Council when the four survivors picked a June 4 election date for balloting to replace George Shirakawa Jr. The March 1 meeting tape shows Democratic Central Committee member and former union official Carol Garvey speaking in favor of a June 4 election before the supervisors picked that date over June 25. The 21-day difference would presumably favor a candidate with an organization and funding at the ready over independents and community members who step forward to run. The supervisors are expected to make a final determination at their March 12 meeting.—Editor

By James Rowen

This video of the Supervisors’ Shuffle may just go viral to anyone interesting in the future of Silicon Valley:

I don’t regularly watch Board of Supes meetings. Let’s face it, they’re just not as exciting as Santa Clara City Council meetings, and Santa Clara school boards remind me of the old Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment’s RAW IS WAR.

Sure county issues are important, but I’d rather watch a council grapple with the issues of building an NFL stadium that will one day, and probably soon, bring a Super Bowl to the South Bay.

But I watched on Tuesday because I don’t often see a board trying to figure out how to replace a colleague who is being charged with five felonies. (Sorry, George Shirakawa, it has nothing to do with you being a Raiders fan. That would have been cause enough for a sixth felony.)

The board decided to hold a special election on June 4 because they didn’t want to look like 4 white guys telling East San Jose who should represent them. Brilliant political move.

I noticed something interesting in the process. Right around 1 hour and 10 minutes into the meeting, Supervisor Wasserman asks County Attorney Lori Pegg why they had to choose between June 4 and June 25. Pegg says June 25 is the latest date they could request, so the staff was preparing that as a recommendation. And they only added June 4 because an unnamed board office asked them to do so.

Wonder who the supe was? And why? Did someone move the meeting to help a friend? Let’s see, Supervisor Yeager and Supervisor Cortese are close to labor chief and failed mayoral candidate Cindy Chavez. She’s the candidate who has been gearing up to run for this since she stepped down from the South Bay Labor Council earlier this year to take over Working Partnerships.

Maybe Yeager and Cortese are her working partners….


  1. If the Supervisors can just order up a response from the Registrar and the staff, why even bother to hold a hearing?  They are the same people who let Shirakawa use a credit card and run up the bills.  Where is the sunshine in their decision making?  Where can the people find a place where they can be listened to?

  2. Good story
    They all knew Shirakawa was toast, and so they developed a game plan to replace him as soon as possible.  The “old boys” have never gone away, just recruited more people.

    *Did the Supervisors all know what Shirakawa was doing was wrong, did they care?

    *Why has the community been shut out of the picture?
    *What are the pros and cons of holding the election later than sooner, has that even explained to us?

  3. Cortese has been a disappointment lately.  I sure hope he is not pandering to the labor council interests by backing yet another damaged and dubious candidate like Cindy Chavez.  His misstep in being such a voracious supporter of first Patricia Martinez Roach and then Jimmy Nguyen when Roach failed miserably in District 8’s council race should have repercussions that last into his own rumored Mayoral race.  If the public cannot trust you to use sound judgment in deciding who you back to be the stewards of the public money then we also have to question whether we can continue to trust you to watch over those taxpayer dollars as well.

    Mr Cortese please do the right thing and vote for the June 25 date.  If even the rumor of a backroom deal is applied to the June 4 date you should distance yourself swiftly and deliberately.  So should board president Yeager.  The public has many reasons to not trust the wisdom of the Board of Supes right now since you all seemed asleep at the wheel while Gluttonous George played fast and loose with public funds right under your noses (or at least right beside you on the dais).  Don’t be the “stupid guys” anymore.  Smarten up and LEAD.  June 25 allows a few more precious weeks for community leaders to surface new leaders.  Give the public the chance to make up their minds who they think is the best candidate. 

    Chavez and the labor party did nothing to stop Shirakawa in fact they are some of the biggest enablers of his scandalous behavior all these years.  What you do Tuesday will not be forgotten the next time your name is on a ballot.  Smarten up San Jose!

      • There are too many cases of cyberbullying and people who take pleasure in targeting people who have different opinions both online and in real life to warrant putting personal information.

        Your attempt at intimidation of people who post differing opinions from you is a clear indication of the wisdom of some anonymity ëse.  I put my name to the letters and emails I send directly to my elected officials so they know that there are voters who expect accountability from them.  People are getting tired of the Cindy Chavez, George Shirakawa era of bully politics. Its about time all of them go.  Chavez should weigh her options carefully because a big loss for her now would have lasting repercussions for the union agenda she’s pushed all these years. But she’s welcome to throw her name in the ring and suffer the humiliation of a loss as bad as the Measure B, W &V did recently. 

        So you can take your attempts to bait back to the park ese no one is interested in your ghetto net intimidation.

  4. “I am also dismayed that our Board of Supervisors chose a special election over an appointment. Plain and simple, an appointment would have been the cheapest alternative. We would have had an appointee who would immediately start to repair the damages caused by Shirakawa and his staff. Making a tough decision like an appointment is why most of you were elected in the first place. At the conclusion of this ongoing saga in August, it is going to cost the taxpayers of Santa Clara County approximately 2.5 million dollars. What a waste of taxpayers-money! This total includes money Shirakawa scammed and the expensive investigation that ensued.”

    Omar Torres

    Now, Omar, you see why they do not listen to us?

    Yeager and Cortese are not minorities nor do they live in District 2.  We do not matter!

  5. Rowen

    You are a complete wacko.

    You can never back up anything you write.

    No one takes you seriously.  They never do.

    Let the grownups handle things, since you have never been anything except a nine year old with a big mouth.

    Hey, hotshot, show us one email, one serious piece of evidence. 

    You know you can’t!

  6. Set up is the word for it!

    Set the election when the people want it!

    Late June is our choice!

    Stop the closed door play making!

    Give us what we want, our choice!

  7. Not so fast.  Doesn’t moving the election up by 3 weeks also mean that the new supervisor can be seated 3 weeks earlier too?  That’s why Cortese, at about 1:09 in the video, said he favored the June 4 date over the June 25 date.

    Since you seem to be selectively picking out things that support your agenda, I’m going to have to watch the whole thing.  I will post on anything else I see when I finish looking at the video.

  8. This is rather curious.  Yeager’s rationale that someone will be elected by the budget is thin and weak.  If there’s more than 4 candidates, there will be a runoff.  You’re not going to have Supervisor for the district seated in June. Yeager’s no dummy so he must have his thumb on the scale for someone.  Solid theory by Rowen.

  9. I think Rowen may be on to something here. Looks like Cindy’s pulling strings. Why, is the question. She is going to be ripped to shreds in this election, there is so much dirt on her. Even if she wins, she will be damaged, it will be a Pyrrhic victory. The garbage deals and Grand Prix scandal will come back to haunt her, and that’s just for starters…

    Let’s cast the net wide and see who steps up to the plate. After four years of corrupt representation and six months of no representation, D2 residents deserve a chance to have a fair and democratic election, not a stacked deck set up by supervisors from outside the district.

  10. People that wanted an appointment said that District 2 needed someone to fill Shirakawa’s seat as soon as possible.  People that wanted an election said that because the 4 current supervisors represented other voters, that it shouldn’t be up to the people that represent others to decide the next supervisor for District 2.

    A June 4 election will result in District 2 getting a new Supervisor 3 weeks earlier than a June 24 election.  That’s 3 weeks earlier even if there is a runoff election.

    Those of you complaining that a June 4 election vs. a June 24 election favors certain candidates are probably right.  I just don’t think it’s going to be the deciding factor though.

    Any election still leaves the choice up to District 2 residents, and an earlier election will result in an earlier elected official.  It gives the people that want a quick selection something, and it gives the people that want an election something.  That’s a win-win in my book.

    • Watch the video.  The only argument for a June 4 election is that 5 supervisors will vote on the budget in June.  But that rationale is total bunk cause there will be a runoff in Aug.  I just read that the last special election in 1997 Don Gage had to win it in a runoff even though he was the only serious candidate in the race.  It that’s the history, why do they think that someone is going to change history and win in June.

      • I watched the video.

        It was clearly stated that if the process starts earlier, it ends earlier.  If there is a runoff, the runoff election can start 3 weeks earlier, and the runoff election can be certified 3 weeks earlier.

        I also noticed that the great majority of public comments favored an election.

        I don’t live in District 2.  Do you?

        • Public comment?  A handful of people showed up who could miss work on Tuesday morning just 3 days after Shirakawa resigned.  I vote for Cortese, but don’t know district #.

  11. James, Lets be real- your post “Playing politics with election dates”, relates more to wanting to tear the unions down rather than to bring everyone else up.

    • I’m not anti-union.  I’m pro- transparency.  That’s why I’ve made a public records act request for all the emails from Dave Cortese and Ken Yeager to County Staff.  By the way, if Cindy ran, I would likely endorse her.  I note with interest that if the June 4th date for the election is chosen, the nomination period starts the next day.

  12. Disappointing that San Jose Inside would give any space to James Rowen, who has been cyberbullying and harassing many people since 2006. He is not a credible source for anything.

    After all of the good work SJI has accomplished with its reporting, such as exposing the P card issues and George Shirakawa Jr. issues, please don’t tarnish your reputation by giving any credence to James Rowen.

    • For more information about the author of this article, and who hires him as a “campaign consultant” please see:

      The last article in the following metro list of articles is about James Rowen:

      “If he continues to be good, Santa Clara political bottom-feeder James Rowen will successfully complete his one-year court probation this month. Last year police charged Rowen with battery on a transit employee when trying to retrieve a $200 briefcase he left on a bus. According to court records, when a female transit staffer couldn’t help him immediately, Rowen thanked her by hurling a gender-based epithet. The Limbaugh-sized pol, once a high-ranking county Democratic official and campaign hand for Councilman James Arno, then punctuated his verbal flourish by allegedly shoving the recalcitrant female bus servant. Ultimately, Rowen left with briefcase in hand, into the waiting car of his mother, who drove him home from the bus yard. Rowen tells Eye that he never shoved the woman or cussed. Yes, he admits he lost his temper and raised his voice. But he felt as though these bureaucrats were giving him the runaround. Rowen later pleaded no contest to a less grievous charge of disturbing the peace. “

      The first article in this list of Metro articles is also about James Rowen:

      “Longtime resident James Rowen is blogging local Santa Clara politics with a page he calls Mission City Lantern, but one of his regular targets says he’s got a hidden agenda. Rowen, who describes his blog as the “John Stewart show” of blogs,” has been using it to cement an outsider status, despite his insider history as a political consultant for Santa Clara politicians, including Councilmember Kevin Moore. “Santa Clara politics is made up of people I dearly love,” says Rowen. “I just think that sometimes they don’t reach their own potential.” Moore, the powerful Santa Clara councilmember noted for his prominent role in attempting to lure the 49ers to Santa Clara, has another take. “He used to be a pretty good guy,” says Moore, who has found himself a repeat Lantern target. “Now, he’s very bitter. You know what he is? He’s an angry ball of hate.” Moore says that he believes Rowen is using his blog to “bully” people to get a seat on Santa Clara’s Planning Commission.”

  13. At about 0:23:00 Yeager asks when an election held on June 4 would be certified, and when the County’s budget process is scheduled to start.  He is told that a June 4 election would likely be certified on June 12 or 13, and that the budget hearings are scheduled to start June 17.  So if there is a clear winner in June, that person can represent the district in the budget hearings.

    About 1:00:00 Simitian favors an election. Incumbents have a big advantage, and he is reluctant to select someone that is likely to serve for almost 12 years.  He would prefer waiting a week to vote on the election, because he believes second readings are perfunctory.  He prefers the June 24 date because it allows a longer nominating period and a longer campaign period.

    In the end, everyone agrees that an election, and a June 4 election is the right choice.  It balances the goal for a quick selection of a successor with the goal to have the District 2 voters decide.

      • Your link was for last year’s budget.  The 2013 budget is decided in 2012.  The budget they will decide this year is the 2014 budget.  Jeff Smith is not going to “misrepresent” the June 17 date.  No one is that stupid.

        I’m going to guess that anyone campaigning for office is going to meet with any and all organizations in District 2, so they can be ready to represent the district if an when elected.  Nonprofits are probably never going to get as much attention as they’re about to get.

  14. James,
    Thank you for sharing your concerns about this. I know you are well versed in these things, and I know you care very much about Cindy.

    My hope is that the Board of Supervisors will give careful consideration to allowing candidates as much time as possible to give perspective candidates the opportunity to file, and run, rather than rush things.

    Having said that, I hope you are feeling better. Take care of yourself.

    • If everyone would stop coddling James Rowen and enabling him to live a lifestyle of cyberbullying and harassing anyone who has an opinion with which he disagrees, perhaps he would spend time taking care of himself instead of spending hours per day blogging hateful garbage.