Working Partnerships

The Redemption of Cindy Chavez

In what may turn out to be one of the most expensive races ever for a local county office, Cindy Chavez has captured the District 2 Supervisor seat held by her disgraced former ally, George Shirakawa, Jr. The victory places the largest county government in the global home of leading edge technology—from Teslas to Google Glass—firmly in the hands of an old-fashioned political machine; a classic one that delivers votes, wins elections, rewards its followers and dispenses benefits. Over the next two years, the board will vote on billions of dollars in employee compensation contracts—the county spends $3 billion a year on salaries, benefits and pensions—for the members of the unions who returned the former San Jose city official to public office.

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Key Voting Bloc Trending Toward Solar

A new survey recently commissioned by the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) and supported by Californians Against Utilities Stopping Solar Energy (CAUSE) reveals some striking trends in key voting demographics in California and nationwide.

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Endorsement: Teresa Alvarado for Supervisor

The District 2 county supervisor’s race is one of the most important in this region’s history. Two-thirds of the county budget—about $3 billion annually—goes to compensation and retirement benefits. Virtually all of the public employee union contracts are up for negotiation in the next two years, and there’s an unfunded $1.7 billion liability for retiree health care. The election will determine whether those issues are tackled by a board majority firmly in the pocket of the South Bay Labor Council—or one that might be a little more independent. For this and many other reasons, Metro and San Jose Inside endorse Teresa Alvarado for county supervisor.

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Family Health Fiasco: King Broke Law by Asking Campos for Endorsement

The Santa Clara Family Health Foundation was created to help raise money to pay for poor children’s health insurance premiums. In recent years, however, the tax-exempt organization has also acted as a political entity, helping the South Bay Labor Council and Working Partnerships USA fund local tax measures through year-round planning and coordination. While there are some allowances for tax-exempt organizations to get involved in issue campaigns, nonprofits and public agencies cannot play a role in individual candidate campaigns. Kathleen King, executive director of the Health Foundation, has not always followed this rule.

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Family Health Fiasco: Cindy Chavez Wanted to Sue Metro

County supervisor candidate and labor organizer Cindy Chavez has not always been the biggest fan of San Jose Inside and Metro‘s coverage of local politics. In fact, she was so perturbed by a report in March about the political activities of the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation, on which she was previously a board member, that she suggested a lawsuit.

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Family Health Fiasco: Kathleen King Wanted Better Push Polls for Measure A

Push polls are a common occurrence in campaign season. They are designed to leave voters with a more positive or negative reaction to topics and/or individuals after answering questions. Political consultant Rich Robinson recently wrote a column on San Jose Inside about his distate for the leading questions, which are often asked without proper context, he argued. Based on email records obtained through a court order last week, it can be said that Kathleen King, executive director of the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation, does not share this opinion about push polls.

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Family Health Fiasco: Board of Supes President Lets Organized Labor Write His Letters

Kathleen King expressed concern earlier this year to Working Partnerships USA policy director Bob Brownstein that the city of San Jose would stop funding the Children’s Health Initiative (CHI) after Measure A passed in the 2012 election. As executive director of the the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation, King realized this would have an adverse effect on the foundation’s ability to continue operations. A plan was then set in motion to tap trusted elected officials.

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Working Partnerships Rides Half-Million Dollar County Gravy Train

When Teresa Alvarado announced that she was running for George Shirakawa Jr.’s vacated county supervisor seat, County Executive Jeff Smith helpfully forwarded the email to Working Partnership USA’s executive team: Bob Brownstein and Cindy Chavez. The forwarding of memos by Smith highlights the cozy relationship between the County of Santa Clara and Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA), the organization led by longtime labor union executive and current supervisor candidate Cindy Chavez. WPUSA is joined at the hip to the powerful South Bay Labor Council (SBLC), with whom it has historically shared offices, facilities, equipment, political objectives and allocated employees. Last year, SBLC led the effort to raise county sales taxes by $500 million over the next ten years and to increase San Jose’s minimum wage by 25 percent. It also endorsed 70 candidates for political office. Working Partnerships has been the recipient of at least $518,163 from the cash-challenged county in the past two years, performing a grab bag of services. Newly released documents obtained via a San Jose Inside public records request show the county’s contracts represented about 15 percent of Working Partnerships’ revenues for those years.

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