Is Pat Dando Passing the Chamber CEO Baton to Pete Constant?

Last week, Pat Dando, who announced back in December that she would be leaving her post as Chamber CEO at the end of this month, decided to extend her stay in office. Her stated reason is that she wants to give the Chamber search committee more time to find the perfect candidate. What’s more likely is that she’s keeping the seat warm for Pete Constant.

The lone Republican on the San Jose City Council, Constant has made no secret of the fact that he covets the Chamber gig—as well as the Sheriff’s job, if Laurie Smith departs, which doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon. City Hall insiders suggest that he is loathe to depart until the city deals with its current $105 million budget crisis, which is almost guaranteed to go up if (when?) Gov. Jerry Brown kills the Redevelopment Agency.

Mayor Chuck Reed intends to pass his budget ASAP, and Constant’s vote is crucial if the mayor is going to win. Still, this fight could easily drag on until June. So Dando, who succeeded former Assemblymember Jim Cunneen as Chamber CEO in the summer of 2005, must hold down the fort until summertime.

Her presence around the office would also allow Dando—a celebrated micro-manager—to continue to influence the committee’s decision. Dando isn’t directly involved in the search process, but she did lay out criteria for the Chamber search committee chair Gerry DeYoung.

Having managed and owned photography studios over the course of three decades, Constant has small-business experience and would be yet another Republican in a long line of Chamber CEOs. But some of the Fortune 500 companies in the valley—such as Cisco, HP and Applied Materials, who write the biggest dues checks to the Chamber every year—might prefer someone less politically polarizing than Constant. Some will recall the battle that erupted when the ChamberPAC tried to endorse Larry Pegram—another right-wing Republican and former San Jose cop.

If he doesn’t get the Chamber job, formerly “Big” Pete will still have some options: stay in City Hall and make a run for mayor in 2014, or take on Campbell Councilmember Evan Low in a 2012 race for the 24th District State Assembly seat.

Meanwhile, Dando has moved to The Villages, in the eastern hills of San Jose. That could very well make the lawmakers who represent that adults’ ccmmunity—US Rep. Zoe Lofgren, County Supervisor Mike Wasserman, and (especially) Assemblymember Nora Campos—keep close tabs on her next moves.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. Pete claims he can no longer work as a law enforcement officer for the city of San Jose therefor collects a tax free disability retirement from San Jose with the 3% cost of living raise every year! Then wants to be a law enforcement officer again as a sherrif.  I guess your back is ok now Pete? I guess you can now give back your disability retirement! Why is nobody questioning this and his “double dipping” of a city salary? Chamber of commerce does not need a sleazy fraudulent person like this. Especially in times like this.

    • I guess you must not understand the difference between being a police officer on patrol and the Sheriff (which is an elected administrative position). Hope you figure it out soon!

  2. My vote is for Pete!  To take license with Al Smith’s celebrated utterance, “A donut shop on every corner and a gub’mint check for every resident who feigns a disability.”

  3. conspiracy theory/paranoia-ummmm. everyone knows each other, they pat each other on the back, wink and have a mutual understanding-you support me and I will support you. Who cares if it is right or wrong? Let’s make a deal…

    • “conspiracy theory/paranoia-ummmm. everyone knows each other, they pat each other on the back, wink and have a mutual understanding-you support me and I will support you. Who cares if it is right or wrong? Let’s make a deal…”

      And then we are left with the same old mess, different day.

  4. “The best thing about Pete Constant going to the Chamber of Commerce would be that he would no longer be in the City Council.  That’s about the only good thing though.”

    He needs to be further away than that. I vote that Campbell gets him. As for being the next sheriff…I highly doubt it. Not from what I heard about his success at being a cop.

  5. Pete Constant, in my opinion, is a disgrace. Our city council turns a blind eye to the fact he is collecting a disability from the city, and collecting a full time paycheck from the very same city.

    How is it that Pete was so disabled in his 30’s to be deemed fully disabled for life, and 15 years later holds a full time position with the city and also has a photography business. Now he is so fit that he is considering running for Sheriff or other assorted positions. If his disability is better, shouldn’t he be made to return to the police department?

    Maybe the fact that he is apparently ok to hold a full time job as long as it does not involve the rigors and physical challenges of police work, is exactly proving the point that it is ludicrous for the mayor to expect a police officer to do that job into their late 50’s or even their 60’s.

    Of course, this mayor is willing to turn a blind eye to old Pete, as long as he is willing to carry his water.

    • “How is it that Pete was so disabled in his 30’s to be deemed fully disabled for life, and 15 years later holds a full time position with the city and also has a photography business. Now he is so fit that he is considering running for Sheriff or other assorted positions. If his disability is better, shouldn’t he be made to return to the police department?”

      I understand that he has injured his back to the point that he can no longer work in field operations. In that instance, I think the disability is legit. I don’t think there is any way he would be able to go after and wrestle with criminals. What I question is the fact that he SEEMS to be doing okay, so why couldn’t he work on the inside of the station; something that would not challenge him, physically? Surely there is such a position??? I think that when a person gets a disability retirement, the decision is subject to being taken back should they find that the party in question is not longer fully disabled.

  6. It’s blantantly obvious that there are a handful of people on this site that don’t like Pete Constant. This small nuber of people post half-truths, exaggerations and down right lies on this blog.

    Pete has been one of the few sensible, fiscally conservative voices at city hall. If there had been a voivce like him years ago maybe San Jose wouldn’t be in the mess it is now.

    Anyone who can’t see that the job of a city councilman is not the same as a cop doesn’t have enough sense to really give an opinion.

    If the voters elected him, twice no less, he has eevery right to be at city hall even if he is gettig a pension.

    • “few sensible,fiscally conservative voices” REALLY!! are you kidding me. If thats the case then why is he stealing from the tax payers by collecting a tax free diability pension and what he calls stealing by continuing to get a 3% cola raise from the city every year from the same disability pension. He claims to be disabled and having a bad back preventing him from being a police officer but you see him wrestling on youtube and see him holding up heavy deep sea fish over his head on his facebook page. And now he claims he is well enough to be a cop again by wanting to be the santa clara county sheriff! And he still collects these TAX FREE DISABILITY PENSION CHECKS! Is that dislikeing a person or is that poining out FRAUD! Its both!

      • If he commit fraud, then report it. But you can’t because it’s not true. Keep exaggerating, I saw his fishing pictures. There’s not one of him holding a fish ‘over’ his head. A couple of small, I’m guessing 12-15 pounders, holding in front of him and one of him holding up the tail of a marlin that someone else is holding.

        But you make lies thinking no one will actually go look.

        Admit it, you’re a cop that’s crying that you have to give up 10% of your bloated fat salary. Meanwhile me and the regular people gave up 30% just to keep our jobs. But we still have to pay our taxes to pay you more when you retire then we do while you sit for hours at Starbucks and eat donuts.

        • Well, to answer your question to this opinion of yours regarding Pete.  I to have seen the pictures and yes he is assisted, but Pete claims he can NOT do ANYTHING physical.  Pete has been caught on video wrestling a kid and being thrown down on his back.  Pete claims that he can’t do anything physical, Ha!  Watch how fast he gets up off the ground, he claims that when he hurt himself “he fell” and could not move and thus was forced to retire…

          “Wrestling Pete”

          Seems like he is now cured from those life long back problems. 

          Come on, would you pull a stunt like this if you were really hurt and could possibly injure yourself further?

          Not to mention the twisting, turning, leaning and flexing his back muscles to land even those mediocre fish. 

          If your disabled, you don’t pull these types of stunts.  Pete needs to be on a “Rascal” Scooter if he continues to claim he is disabled. 

          I’m tired of hearing his diatribe of crap saying how much pain he is in and can’t move and how he hurt himself as a COP. 

          He didn’t look like he was pain when he “FLOPPED” onto his injured back wrestling that kid. 

          FYI- Pete could give a crap about you and how much you gave up.

          Have a Nice Day!

          Old Frank

  7. The Chamber of Commerce is nothing more than a Republican think tank.  Constant Pete would fit in so well there.  And I agree, why is no one in the council addressing his “double dipping”?  They are more than happy to discuss the massive overhaul of pensions and the need for fiscal reform.

  8. “He is a lone-voice on the Council”

    That is the best reason for him to be on the council, assembly, or chamber of commerce. I don’ t live in his area, but he’s the only one me and my neighbors agree with. It’s like he’s the only one who cares about the people who pay the bills.

    We’re hoping he moves to central San Jose so he can represent us!

  9. My father used to tell me, “you can always tell the lead scout in the wagon train, he’s the one filled with arrows.”

    Though I don’t always agree with Pete, he is the right guy, at the right time for San Jose.

    This is evidenced by all the “arrows” he receives, particularly here. 

    San Jose would do well to keep Pete in some position of influence, wether it’s the Chamber, Sheriff, of Assembly.

    Know this, Pete is loved by the residents in his district, particularly the neighborhood leaders.  It’s almost comical, but they guy’s got it.  The arrows only shows he’s doing what is right for San Jose.

    • I agree with San Joser. I lived in west san jose for a few years (including some time with Constant as my councilmember). He was friendly, very accessible, and I think he does what he believes is right, unlike many local politicos who just rubberstamp the dictates of South Bay Labor.

      I hope the city doesn’t lose him.

  10. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group grew over time and took over some of the niches that a strong regional Chamber could be working on.  The diversity of industry and innovation in this area, however, seem to have allowed the two organizations to both exist and grow.

    SGLI – Moderate/Coalition Building with big business and a focus on big projects (taxes for infrastructure like HWY 87/85, BART, etc.)  Includes coalitions with labor, politicians and others to get large projects done.  Go to folks for a tax measure.

    SVCC – More focused on San Jose politics and civic life, offering social/networking types of activities as well as targeted lobbying (mainly toward the City of San Jose).  A criticism I’ve heard of the Chamber is they are so enamored of having large corporate membership that they tend to ignore small business owners.  Definitely a non-labor political force in terms of local politics.

    While retired politicians, or those currently out of office waiting for the next slot to run for do have experience and something to contribute, I personally think a strong Pro-San Jose business Chamber could thrive without relying on this kind of leadership alone.  It might be nice to make sure the next Chamber Executive Director is not a professional politician but rather someone focused on and dedicated to growing the business community (large AND small) in San Jose/Silicon Valley.

  11. Maybe Constant is thinking bigger and will apply for his a 3rd pay check as Executive Director, Republican Party

    Then could get a 4th paycheck as Executive Director, Chamber replacing fellow Republicans Pat Dando and Jim Cuneen

    Chamber and Republican Party are like South Bay Labor and Democratic Party the same group of people using different names

    Constant could go to Chamber & Republican Party Office in Chamber building in morning, have lunch with McEnery, Mayor and future Mayors political consultant at San Pedro to make vote deals, then walk 3 Blocks to City Hall

    A new California record could be set by Constant being first Quadruple Dipper while beating out Triple dipper Cindy Chavez’s South Bay Labor, Working Partnerships and Team San Jose but she could move up to Quadruple dipper Partif she is paid by Democratic Party or maybe she is

  12. Santa Clara County Democratic Party Central Committee 2102 Almaden Road, San Jose, CA 95125

    South Bay Labor Council 2102 Almaden Road, San Jose, CA 95125

    Both Same address

    Why should Chamber be non partisan if their political opponent South Bay Labor Council provides office space for Democratic Party Central Committee in their building ?

    Santa Clara County Republican Party 522 North Monroe Street San Jose, CA 95128 

    Maybe is planning on sharing office space with San Jose / Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce 101 West Santa Clara Street San Jose, CA 95113 ( 3 blocks from City Hall ) after they find a new EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SANTA CLARA COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY ? 

    Any ideas ?

    • And your post and the next post are exactly tree minutes apart – so you must be the same people too!.

      Oh, and Jimmy Dean and San Joser are exactly 22 minutes apart so they must be the same too!

      Someone posted here 30 seconds before a post on Huffington, and 30 seconds before the smoking gun! Oh my god, one person is slamming all the blogs at nearly the same time, so it much be one person!!

      What will we do? Oh Know! The blogs are going crazy…….

      • [LIKE]*

        * Is this website going to get [Like] buttons at some point?
        The Sac Bee website has a good system that doesn’t require logging in but only allows an IP address to ‘like’ an article once.

      • The next post is three minutes from mine…but much different than mine; not trying to make myself look good in three different posts. Of course, you just didn’t get it.

        Oh “KNOW”!

  13. San Jose / Silicon Valley Chamber should return to being a San Jose only Chamber not 2nd tier Also-Ran regional Chamber and focus on small businesses, new businesses and success in local politics

    Silicon Valley Leadership Group is a very strong regional Chamber both locally, statewide and nationally

    San Jose’s years of city and redevelopment economic development mismanagement and wasting millions tax subsidies without getting adequate numbers of businesses, jobs needed for it’s residents and tax revenues to pay for city services

    Other Silicon Valley cites are both business and tax revenue rich because their City Council’s focused on new business development. lower business taxes and friendly city attitude towards start ups and growth businesses which resulted in more excess businesses, jobs and tax revenues

    San Jose Chamber can’t and doesn’t help city government because of conflict with other city’s Chambers if they give preference to San Jose

    Ask Chamber what business they themselves brought to San Jose – None but other Chambers can give you a long list companies

    If SJ/SV Chamber does not return to San Jose only Chamber it should not receive any city tax subsidies and taxes which is currently wasted and taxes should be spent on lowering business taxes and encouraging businesses to remain, relocate or start up in San Jose adding jobs and tax revenues

  14. All you people who are concerned about Pete Constant collecting a bogus disability retirement.

    Doesn’t it bother you that there’s probably hundreds of other ex-cops/firemen doing the same thing?

    Is it concern for your community that motivates this Constant attention?
    Or is it just plain selfish pettiness?
    Somehow I think it’s the latter.

  15. Does anybody really take the Chamber seriously anymore? They have become so partisan in their dealings that they don’t really seem interested in what is best for the City, just what is best for Republicans.
    A true, non-partisan Chamber would be of value. Constant will not bring non-partisanship to the Chamber. He is a lone-voice on the Council and relatively ineffective as a result. That is hardly what the Chamber needs but maybe that is what they want.
    As has been said, the only good thing about this is that it would remove him the City Council.

  16. Constant was injured during the apprehension of a violent criminal, which required extensive surgery, including spinal reconstruction. His disability was determined and approved by medical doctors, a Workmans Compensation panel, and an independent Retirement Board.

    Are the Pete Constant naysayers suggesting that all disabled people be prohibited from running for office, or only those disabled people that disagree with them? Should the voices of almost eight thousand District 1 voters that re-elected Pete Constant be overruled by a handful of bloggers? Thankfully, ideas like these will go nowhere.

    San Jose is fortunate to have an individual like Pete Constant in a leadership position, and thousands of San Jose residents clearly agree.

  17. A bunch of sour whiners on this site. I know pete and was with him during his many surgeries and years of recovery. I know for a fact he lives in pain every day, having had major neck operation almost 2 years ago and is staring another back operation in the near future. I’ve seen pictures of the reinforced spine he has – it’s a big plus considering the spineless politicians who hide behind there staff and the union people who make there decisions.

    I know he still has serious limitations, but still works hard for San Jose residents. I for one am glad he stands for and speaks for the vast majority of people and not the anonymous whiners on this site.

    I’ll sign my name to this because I’ll stand behind my words.

    Keith Johnson
    Proud resident of West San Jose
    Lynhaven Neighborhood

    • There are plenty of guys and gals still at the police department having had very major surgeries and with various plates and screws holding their bodies together. I know one in particular that the city was trying to retire because of his numerous back surgeries and fused discs, but he fought his way back because he did not want to be medically retired in his 30’s.

    • A signed post trumps 20 anonymous weenies.  Real men say what they mean and stand behind those words. 

      We don’t print anonymous rants on the editorial page, nor should we give much credit to anonymous bloggers in the new media age.

    • Pete’s injuries are very unfortunate but are there no suitable jobs within the SJPD, e.g., a variety of administrative jobs, student outreach, etc.?  Retiring someone who can still perform useful work is shameful.

  18. Evan Low is running in the 2th Assembly primary, which probably means he first cleared his run with Yeager, who apparently wasn’t interested, and so if Low does wind up the being the Democratic nominee,* (although Yeager isn’t the only other potential serious candidate on the Democratic side; Low may still have a fight on his hands to make the run-off), well, I’m sure Mr. Low is a very nice young man, workin’ as hard as one is likely to do on the Campbell City Council and all, but he seems rather young & unseasoned (“a greenhorn”), if you will, and otherwise not really a candidate who has, as yet, really established himself as a major presence in the minds of local voters.  In a decade, he may be Mike Honda’s successor, but in 2012, I think he’s a rather weak candidate for the Democrats, from a the perspective of his ability to defeat a credible Republican nominee in the run-off.

    With an actual chance to win a seat on the Assembly in the Santa Clara valley, I suspect Constant will be too tempted to make such a big scoot up the greasy pole, from D1 Councilman to a member of the Assembly, to launch any other major career plans at this time.

    On the other hand, the Chamber previously absorbed Rebecca Morgan and Patricia Dando, so perhaps Constant is just the next amongst the few, local hardy GOPers-not-automatically-set-to-lose-any-race-they-enter, culled from the herd via assimilation to the Chamber?

    *So to speak; its a somewhat meaningless term, within the context of the new election laws.

  19. “I know pete and was with him during his many surgeries and years of recovery. I know for a fact he lives in pain every day, having had major neck operation almost 2 years ago and is staring another back operation in the near future.”

    I doubt anyone here genuinely doubt Mr. Johnson’s veracity with respect to these claims, its just that there’s a very rotten vibe in American politics these days, so that people who identify as belonging to a particular political orientation, feel that it is somehow appropriate to say almost anything, no matter how ugly, inflammatory, unfounded, and not infrequently slanderous, about a member of whichever party, or whatever, they have conceptualized as “the enemy.”

    Its often funny, and also just plain too difficult to refrain from heaping scorn down upon the heads of distant and inept “leaders” like Sarah Palin or Barney Frank, but that practice ceases to be nearly so mundane, when people are spattering vileness over folks who live four miles down.  I mean…really?  That’s way some of us want to conduct civic affairs at the local level?  Seems like a pretty cockamamie way to nurture the sort of organically-integrated community that will be a place where people would wish to live.

  20. I just noticed that the last paragraph suggests Dando might comprise an electoral threat to Zoe Lofgren or Nora Campos.  Yeah?  I hear that Dale Warner will be elected Chuck Reed’s successor in 2014 – and without even having to endure a run-off!  I guess we’re going for wide margins of error on the political predictions these days?

    I suppose she might be able to beat Wasserman in 2014, but unless Wasserman turns out to be a disappointment, it would be sort of odd for her to try to unseat someone with a virtually identical ideological profile & partisan affiliation.

    Its also true that incumbents almost never lose in this county; when a person gets elected to the County Board of Supervisors, or the San Jose City Council, the likelihood they will be re-elected, if one did an analysis base on the previous 30 years, would probably hover around 97 percent.  I can not recall the last time an incumbent Supervisor, or an SJ Councilman lost a bid for re-election.  Does anyone have a guess when (and in what race?) such an event might have actually taken place?

  21. I’ve known Pete for years and he would be great as Pat’s replacement at the Chamber. Pete is tech, media, business and politically savvy – a rare and essential combination for the role.  And, he won’t be intimidated by anonymous blog commentators.

  22. “Ouch” my back hurts, time to go sport fishing, body-boarding,skateboarding,wrestling,weightlifting,go-kart racing,running 10k’s,walking neighborhoods for votes, golfing at eagle ridge, riding the rides at amusement parks, flying “first class” on the taxpayers dime. 

    Did I mention my back hurts?  Because my back hurts and I injured my back and my back hurts, back injuries hurt and my back hurts from being injured from a back injury. Did I mention that?

    Constantly Pete

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