Budget

2013: The Year in Review

The year 2013 will be remembered for its political turmoil, local and nationwide. A former county supervisor went to jail and the spotlight subsequently landed on his political buddy, a San Jose councilman. The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to get married, and the president lied to the nation about domestic spying. San Jose Inside runs down the list of stories that caught our attention this year.

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Early Education on the Way?

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, recently wrote a column for Huffington Post, arguing that America has “a moral obligation to provide a great education to each and every child, and we must create a new majority to make this happen.” I couldn’t agree more, and the time is now. We cannot afford to wait another three decades. Waiting patiently for change will cause the US to become a second-tier nation.

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Team San Jose Doubles Revenue Goals

Team San Jose, the city’s tourism and facilities management agency, vastly exceeded gross revenue goals last year. In 2012-13, the decade-old nonprofit generated $23.8 million—more than twice the projected target, according to an annual audit up for review at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Also on the agenda are plans to bring a music stage to St. James Park, a citywide financial audit and a discussion about changing building height requirements around the San Jose airport.

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County Child Abuse Hotline Still Failing

Despite calling it “a humanitarian issue,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese said he doesn’t want to assign blame to the the county’s Department of Family and Children’s Services, which has failed to answer thousands of calls to the local child abuse hotline—the public’s first point of contact with welfare services.

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San Jose Rep Rights its Course, Again

Ever since Rick Lombardo took the reigns and imprinted his vision on the San Jose Repertory Theatre, the performance center has had excellent seasons. But until recently, a behind-the-scenes drama was playing out—one that would test Lombardo, Managing Director Nick Nichols and the Rep’s Board.

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Shikada Will Face Moneyball-like Challenges

Every winter, Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane has one hand perpetually tied behind his back, as he tries to rebuild his rosters for the following season. Frugal ownership, a decrepit stadium, and multiple run-ins with raw sewage make the A’s one of the least desirable Major League Baseball landing spots for top free agents. So, Beane, the man profiled in Michael Lewis’ bestseller Moneyball, does his best to cobble together lineups with bargain basement prospects and aging journeymen. And because he’s exceptionally good at his job—and a little lucky—he manages to field competitive teams year after year. The city of San Jose faces similar obstacles in recruiting and retaining the best and brightest minds to run the day-to-day operations of America’s 10th largest metropolis.

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County to Discuss Measure A Spending

The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will decide how to allocate a third of this year’s Measure A revenue, or $15.3 million. They’re expected to spend the bulk of it on affordable housing and healthcare for the uninsured. Other items on the include guidelines for a 55-acre civic center in downtown San Jose, rapid re-housing for the homeless and downsizing a tobacco prevention and control program.

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Cuts Could Leave Poorest Residents in Silicon Valley Searching for Food

The government shutdown may be over, but the Republican-fueled hits keep on coming—especially for Silicon Valley’s most vulnerable citizens. Starting Nov. 1, extra funding provided by the American Recovery Act, President Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package, expire. As a result, people who rely on rely on food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or CalFresh in California, will see their benefits decrease. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill last month that would cut $40 billion from the program over the next decade—resulting in 3.8 million people getting kicked off the program next year, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

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Santa Clara County Down Another CFO

CFOs are dropping like flies—well, not this Fly—over at the County of Santa Clara offices. Last Friday marked the final hurrah in the tenure of Dave McGrew, the chief financial officer of Valley Medical Center (VMC) since August 2011. Word is McGrew was placed on administrative leave a couple weeks prior to his sayonara. While McGrew trotted out the boilerplate goodbye in an email to staff, citing a need for more time with his family, his admin leave was not voluntary, according to sources in the county. David Claude, the director of general accounting, will take over as interim CFO, which means the county now has temps staffing its two most important finance positions.

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Mayor Reed Files Forms for Statewide ‘Pension Reform Act of 2014’

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed on Tuesday filed to put a polarizing state constitutional amendment on the November 2014 ballot that would allow government agencies to dial down public pension benefits. If voters OK the Pension Reform Act of 2014, it would change the state constitution to empower government agencies to negotiate existing employees’ pension and retiree healthcare going forward.

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San Jose Officials’ Sister City Trip to Dublin Expected to Cost at Least $20,000

The Emerald Isle is calling. Ten San Jose officials will fly this week to Dublin, Ireland, for the bi-annual “Sister City” trip, which is basically a pub crawl disguised as a city-sponsored economic development junket. Among the lucky 10 are four councilmembers (Xavier Campos, Rose Herrera, Ash Kalra and Johnny Khamis); three department heads (budget director Jennifer Maguire; Joe Hedges, of economic development; and environmental services’ Kerrie Romanow); two council chiefs of staff (Shane Patrick Connolly, for Khamis; and Mary Anne Groen, for Herrera); and one soon-to-retire city manager, Debra Figone. If that seems like overkill, well, it is.

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Council to Review Annual Budget Performance, Semi-Annual Audit

City Manager Debra Figone’s annual budget performance review, which will go before the City Council on Tuesday, shows that 2012-13 revenue totaled $2.29 billion, about 1.2 percent ($28.6 million) below the budgeted estimate. Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include Xavier Campos hosting a gun buyback at a District 5 church, Kansen Chu pushing a solar panel incentive program and a semi-annual review of city audits.

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County Has $9.7 Million of Measure A Revenue up for Grabs

After spending most of this year’s anticipated Measure A revenue to pull out of a deficit and boost some service levels, Santa Clara County officials are looking for ways to spend a remaining $9.7 million of the 1/8 cent sales tax. Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include the county picking up the full cost of the Healthy Kids program—rather than getting a little help from San Jose, a plan by Supervisor Ken Yeager to save a Santa Clara library and Supervisor Joe Simitian looking to grade local restaurants.

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