Rules Committee to Discuss Enterprise Zones, Willow Glen Trestle

Since their advent in the mid-80s, enterprise zones have sparked economic development. But, in some cases, these geographic areas that provide companies a litany of tax breaks have also granted corporations a chance to game the system. Two competing bills in the state legislature could either eliminate these zones or modify their scope. On Wednesday, San Jose’s Rules and Open Government Committee will consider taking a stance on the bills, as well as discuss the future of the Willow Glen trestle.

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Councilman Sam Liccardo Suggests Participatory Budgeting for Districts

A form of fiscal democracy called “participatory budgeting” that started in Brazil and is slowly gaining traction in the U.S. may soon take hold in San Jose. Councilman Sam Liccardo submitted a proposal to the city Wednesday that asks to set aside $1.05 million from the Essential Services Reserve to fund a pilot program, which would give each of the 10 council districts $100,000 for residents to decide how to spend.

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Judge Orders County to Give $7 million in RDA Money to San Jose

Santa Clara County owes the city of San Jose nearly $7 million that was wrongfully diverted to county employee retirement accounts, according to a ruling handed down Friday by a Sacramento Superior Court judge. The ruling found that beleaguered county finance officials ignored “a half century of construction and application of California law governing allocation of tax increment financing.”

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Council Considers Revamp of The Alameda

Contractors’ bids overshot the city budget to revamp The Alameda last year, so the City Council will consider a second set of proposals when it meets Tuesday. Even this time, the lowest bid comes in 15 percent over the $3.487 million budget. The city will have to take $936,000 from the Department of Transportation to cover the difference if the council agrees to the plan. Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include the sale of several surplus city properties, as well as public safety and clean tech grants.


County Supervisors Look at Property Options

Santa Clara County has collected some valuable parcels of land near downtown San Jose in recent years. San Jose relinquished its old City Hall site in 2011 instead of paying cash for some outstanding debt. The county’s also about to acquire the old Private George L. Richey U.S. Army Reserve to turn into a first-responder training site, adjacent to the existing County Government Center at San Pedro and Hedding streets. Other items also on the county Board of Supervisor’s agenda include harmful prescription drugs in our water supply and funding for programs run by the District Attorney’s Office.

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County Finance Officials Caught in Lies, Enabled Shirakawa’s Deception

Based on numerous interviews and an extensive review of documents, Metro/San Jose Inside has learned that Vinod Sharma, county CFO and director of finance, and his second-in-command, Controller-Treasurer Irene Lui, repeatedly made false statements regarding how George Shirakawa Jr. avoided detection of his misuse of county funds. Sharma and Lui decided on their own to direct resources away from reviewing charge card expenses to focus on larger-scale audits in hopes of pleasing their superiors. And by blaming their subordinates and making confusing—if not cunningly calculated—statements at public hearings, Sharma and Lui seem to be more politically astute than some of the elected and appointed officials who listen to their explanations. The following is an excerpt from the full report, which can be found at Metroactive.com. —Editor

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Old Asylum Could be Converted into New High School

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) wants to turn an old insane asylum into a north San Jose high school serving up to 2,800 students. Other items going before the Rules and Open Government Committee on Wednesday include an update on banning pesky sidewalk bicyclers and support for state legislation that would free the city to spend housing revenue how it chooses.

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Next San Jose Mayor Needs to Get ‘It’

San Jose’s 2014 mayoral race will be as crowded as an elevator going down to the parking garage at quitting time. I view this as a good thing, because the issues need to to be discussed in detail more than ever. I am certain there are some announced and unannounced candidates that get “it.” The “it” is the results we get from our educational institutions.

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Council Takes on Annual Housing Report, Samsung Incentives

The dissolution of redevelopment agencies and state budget cuts to municipal housing funds have made it tougher for San Jose to meet its goal of building more affordable homes in recent years, according to an annual housing report going before the City Council on Tuesday. Other items on the council agenda include an incentives package for Samsung, a commendation for a police officer who never clocks off and a North San Jose cemetery that is running out of space.

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Board of Supervisors to Discuss Funding Nonprofits, Lowering Tax Threshhold

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider granting a fair chunk of change to a nonprofit trying to set itself up as a small business support center. This comes on the heels of greater scrutiny regarding public funds going to entities that are not required to disclose their financial dealings. Also on Tuesday’s agenda, the Board of Supervisors will consider supporting a change to the state Constitution that would lower the percentage of votes needed to raise local taxes.

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JP Morgan is San Jose’s Payday Lender

Last week, I participated as the alternate for Mayor Chuck Reed on the oversight board for the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency (SARA). The primary focus of the meeting concerned the approval of a one-year extension to the existing Letter of Credit (LOC) with JP Morgan bank. This extension had already been passed by the City Council, but it was still up to the SARA Oversight Board to approve the extension as well.

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Land Saved for A’s Stadium in Limbo; Legislators Look at New Finance Options

When Gov. Jerry Brown ordered in 2011 the dissolution of California’s 400-plus redevelopment agencies (RDAs), San Jose was forced to halt the kind of subsidized development that built much of downtown over the past two decades. Now the city might have to work out a new deal on RDA land it has been holding for a potential baseball stadium in the hope that the Oakland A’s can relocate to San Jose. But as the legal fight between the state and municipalities continues, other ideas for tax-increment financing (TIF) districts are emerging.

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West San Carlos

West San Carlos (WSC), with its cool vibe and eclectic mix of businesses, is not only a destination in-and-of itself, but it also plays a pivotal role linking downtown San Jose and Santana Row. This area also happens to fall within both the city and county jurisdictions. This dual jurisdiction has historically thwarted development, and has made consistent code enforcement difficult. But with recent annexations, there now exists the opportunity for positive private economic development to happen on WSC.

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Rules to Consider Library Funding; Rocha, Campos Memo on Immigration

The San Jose Public Libraries Commission wants the city to extend a parcel tax to avoid laying off 53 of its 314 full-time library employees. Other matters going before the Rules and Open Government Committee on Wednesday include a memo from councilmembers Don Rocha and Xavier Campos in support of immigration reform, a report on budget priorities and a letter slamming George Shirakawa and anyone else who eats on the public dime.

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Supervisors to Discuss Immigration Reform

Santa Clara County, inextricably defined by its immigrant population, has long been touted as one of the best places for foreign-born to become successful, engaged members of society. So, as the country tackles comprehensive immigration reform for the first time in decades, the county has a lot to add to the national conversation. The county Board of Supervisors will discuss this topic and others at Tuesday’s meeting.

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Shirakawa Holds On to Missing Funds, Misses Auditor’s Repayment Deadline

George Shirakawa has a reputation for missing important deadlines. It then comes as little surprise that the county supervisor under investigation for his misuse of county funds ignored Friday’s due date to reimburse roughly $12,500 in charges. If that wasn’t bad enough, Shirakawa also ignored an extension he was given to Monday, according to County Executive Jeff Smith.