County Funds Sales Tax Poll to Support Labor Council Agenda

Earlier this year, Santa Clara County announced a $64 million plan to shelter 6,000 of the region’s chronically homeless. The ambitious proposal stemmed from an ad hoc Housing Task Force formed by Board of Supervisors prez Dave Cortese. To answer what Supervisor Cindy Chavez called the “$64 million question,” the board decided to appeal to constituents. Any week now, pollsters from EMC Research will start calling likely voters to gauge their willingness to bump up the countywide sales tax. But the questions don’t exactly relate to homelessness—rather, the poll will query three groups about a special, general and combined tax. This isn’t the survey’s first run, either. South Bay Labor Council (SBLC) chief Ben Field had EMC ask voters those same questions last year, yielding less-than-favorable results. The labor council attempted to give it a second shot by teaming up with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group on a transportation tax, but the answers were apparently even less promising and that partnership has since fallen through. The SBLC has now targeted taxpayer funds to ask the same questions until they get the answers they want. A no-bid county contract approved by supervisors will spend $50,000 to conduct the three-pronged poll, by the same firm, EMC, used by the SBLC. One miffed insider compared the back-door polling efforts, as well as conducting three different surveys on the county dime, to taking “three different bites at the apple.” The ploy is especially disingenuous considering the county just asked voters to approve a half-billion dollar sales tax in 2012. Measure A pushed the county’s sales tax to one of the state’s highest at 8.75 percent, and ended up raising more money than the county needed. Supervisors put $9.6 million in “surplus” funds up for bid in 2014. It came as no surprise when Kathleen King, who ran the county’s Measure A campaign along with Chavez, nabbed $6 million for her fledgling nonprofit, the Healthier Kids Foundation.

Send a tip to The Fly

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


  1. Isn’t Ben Field a convicted felon or something? I think he was the Santa Clara County prosecutor that got disbarred for withholding evidence and lying to the court.

  2. If anything has “Silicon Valley Leadership Group” attached to it. I run from it. If anything has a “non-profit” attached to it, I research it like hell to find out what they are up to and if it’s legit. Things in politics have gotten so bad here I have to take off days from reading about this stuff just to keep my cortisol level from staying so high. Man this stuff is really pissing me off.

    • > If anything has a “non-profit” attached to it, I research it like hell to find out what they are up to and if it’s legit.

      The tax forms that report the compensation and benefits of non-profit officers and officials are often very interesting.

      Your skepticism of “non-profit” organizations seems to be warranted.

      Take, for example that apparently “former” executive director of the Billy DeFrank Silicon Valley LGBT Community Center.

      She seems to have become a classic communist regime unperson.

      I don’t recall her name at the moment, but it seems that she and her $235,000 per year compensation package have completely disappeared from local news archives.

      Even though she wrote for San Jose Inside, her articles can’t be found in SJI archives.

      Nor, can they be found in the documents library of the Billy DeFrank Silicon Valley LGBT Community Center.

      Only this:

      “The center has cut expenses and now has an annual budget of $310,000.”

      Well, I guess that if we are no longer able to “follow the money” we can at least take comfort in the fact that the group was “non-profit”.

  3. Anything that has to do with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, I run from. If they are teaming up with anyone to do anything, I am immediately suspect of.

    From Silicon Valley Leadership Group Website:

    “The Regional Economic Association Leaders (R.E.A.L.) Coalition is a partnership of 20 of the most influential regional business organizations in California, originally convened in 2008 by Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino and his counterpart at the Orange County Business Council, Lucy Dunn. Coalition participating organizations represent more than 11,000 employers who provide more than 3 million jobs in our state. The regional nature of these organizations means that they are able to maintain strong relationships both with area business leaders and with regional legislative delegations. You can learn more about the Coalition, including the issue areas in which it works, at”

    Go ahead…click on the above link. We are already seeing San Jose losing local control. This is just the trail of one place our local control is being given over to.

    Mark my word, if Licarrdo doesn’t get re-elected for a second term, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has a home for him I’m sure. If not them, then certainly the MTC regional body that he currently a commissioner of. San Jose is now a haven for non-profits of questionable motives.

    • SVLG and Carl Guardino give crony capitalists a bad name. They’re all about raising sales taxes on the little guy so that nobody thinks to raise corporate taxes.

  4. To answer your question Arizona, this is from the California State Bar website:

    BENJAMIN THOMAS FIELD [#168197], 46, of San Jose was suspended for five years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with an actual four-year suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. The order took effect Sept. 10, 2010.
    The State Bar Court review department found that Field, a former Santa Clara County deputy district attorney, acted unethically prosecuting four cases. He violated a court order by obtaining a dental examination of a minor accused of sexual assault. As a result, the court ordered the evidence suppressed.
    In another sexual assault case, he intentionally withheld a witness’ statement that was favorable to the defense in a habeas proceeding. The judge handling the case found that Field committed a discovery violation. He also withheld a defendant’s statement that would have helped co-defendants in a murder case. The court dismissed a 25-year gun enhancement.
    In the fourth matter, Field made an improper closing argument in a sexually violent predator (SVP) case. The appellate court reversed the judgment committing the defendant as a SVP and described Field’s closing argument as “deceptive and reprehensible.”
    The bar court’s review panel found that Field abused his office and violated the due process rights of several criminal defendants and said he “disregarded prosecutorial accountability in favor of winning cases.”
    In recommending the harsh punishment for Field, review Judge Catherine Purcell wrote, “Although our system of administering justice is adversarial in nature and prosecutors must be zealous advocates in prosecuting their cases, it cannot be at the cost of justice.
    “Field lost sight of this goal . . . and in doing so, he disregarded the foundation from which any prosecutor’s authority flows — ‘The first, best and most effective shield against injustice for an individual accused . . . must be found . . . in the integrity of the prosecutor.’”

    The MPRE is The Multistate Professional responsibility Exam, which tests one’s knowledge of professional ethics. Mr. Field apparently has chosen not to “prove his rehabilitation” and apparently has not passed the MPRE yet.

    This is the person who leads the SBLC. Make of that what you will.

    • While on the topic of unethical former attorneys who influence public policy in San Jose, I’m surprised no one has written about City Councilman Tam Nguyen’s latest transgressions. On November 15, 2015, Councilman Nguyen submitted an application to resign with charges pending to the State Bar of California, “I, Tam Nguyen, against whom charges are pending, hereby resign as a member of the State Bar of California and relinquish all right to practice law in the
      State of California. I agree that, in the event this resignation is accepted and I later file a petition for reinstatement, the State Bar will consider in connection therewith all disciplinary matters and proceedings against me at the time this resignation is accepted.”

      There are eight different charges stemming from one case. They include: Count One: Failure to Notify of Receipt of Client Funds; Counts Two & Four: Failure to Maintain Client Funds in Trust Account; Counts Three & Five: Moral Turpitude – Misappropriation; Count Six: Failure to Comply with Laws- Violation of Probate Code; Count Seven: Illegal Fee; Count Eight: Failure to Cooperate in State Bar Investigation.

      In a remarkably similar case in 2004, “TAM NGUYEN [#159601], 48, of San Jose was suspended for five years, stayed, placed on five years of probation with a 45-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Dec. 24, 2004.

      Nguyen stipulated that he misused his client trust account by writing checks against insufficient funds, releasing checks to clients prior to their funds actually being in the account and depositing and commingling personal and client funds.”

      This man has a history of misappropriating money, yet is a sitting San Jose city councilman. Go figure.

  5. As for Ben’s partner in the picture and a supporter of yet another tax, this on Cindy Chavez from Wikipedia:

    After her time on the City Council, Chavez considered running for county supervisor but decided not to run for the seat that George Shirakawa Jr. was subsequently elected to. Chavez founded and was principal of California Leadership Services, offering clients comprehensive and diversified consulting services issues such as government relations, organizational development and nonprofit management. Chavez received a $79,000 contract with the East Side Union High School District, of which Shirakawa was a board member, to set up a foundation. However, Chavez never filed articles of incorporation or filled the board seats and news media speculated that the contract given to Chavez to discourage her from running against Shirakawa. The foundation was subsequently decertified by the Internal Revenue Service. [5]
    Chavez subsequently became the Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council in March 2009. The South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council represents ninety unions and over 100,000 union members in Santa Clara and San Benito counties.
    Chavez is also Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA, a labor-aligned advocacy group funded by foundations and contracts with the County of Santa Clara. [6] Among its signature accomplishments are pioneering the Children’s Health Initiative, making Santa Clara County the first in the nation to provide health coverage to every child…
    When the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office began an investigation into Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr.’s misuse of county funds, Chavez resigned her position with the South Bay Labor Council while staying on as CEO of Working Partnerships USA. After Shirakawa resigned and pleaded guilty to five felonies and seven misdemeanors, Chavez announced that she would run for the District 2 seat, with her ballot description reading “Mother/Non-Profit Director.”
    In early 2013, Chavez was elected as the Vice-Chair of the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee.

    Make of that what you will.

    • > Chavez received a $79,000 contract with the East Side Union High School District, of which Shirakawa was a board member, to set up a foundation. However, Chavez never filed articles of incorporation or filled the board seats and news media speculated that the contract given to Chavez to discourage her from running against Shirakawa. The foundation was subsequently decertified by the Internal Revenue Service.

      Da munny, JOHNMICHAEL.

      What happened to da munny?

        • > You’ll have to ask Cindy, who’ll probably take The Fifth.

          You have to understand, JohnMichael, that there is somewhat of a difference in social and political stature between me and Madame Chavez.

          I understand that she, as a practical matter, constitutes “royalty’ on the local scene, whereas I have been told on numerous occasions that I’m just an inconsequential little pisssant.

          Do you think it would be possible to have someone else ask her about the money?

          I’m afraid that if I ask her, my political career would be over.

          • Bubble guy: people of all statures need to ask these questions of their elected representatives instead of voting mindlessly based on poll results, many of which are rigged. Just look at the polls that come out almost daily on the presidential candidates. There are wide differences within the same week as to who has what percentage of “likely voters” in their camp. As I said in a different thread, I have voted in every election at every level for which I have been eligible to vote since I first became eligible to vote. That’s 40 years. Yet I have NEVER been contacted by a pollster. It must be like the Nielsen TV ratings—the same couple of thousand people get contacted over and over again. Most voters are sheep, and an even higher percentage are just plain lazy, which is why the Founding Fathers established a Republic, and not a Democracy as it is called by most of the morons we elect, all the way up to our current president, who has spent millions to keep his school records from being released so we won’t know how stupid he really is. Voters follow the crowd, as defined by the pollsters.

    • After years of watching – reading – seeing how Ms Chavez operates, and following her ever wanting need to stay in the forefront of the Political Scene, she should change her first name from Cindy to” Windy” !

      It is apparent to this over taxed citizen that she has only disdain for the those of us who pay taxes and is only concerned about her special interest groups: the Unions she represents.

      When she ran (as the favorite) for Mayor against Chuck Reed, was only too delighted to see her fail in her effort to win that post! Have no doubt she would have added significantly to the city’s deficit had she been elected and used her influence to the benefit of the few and to the detriment of the many!

      In a city “famed” for its highly Liberal approach to most all political activity, it warms my heart to read about the “real” Ms Chavez and ever wanting desire to “sock it to them!” philosophy of more taxes on the public!

  6. I posted data on Ben Field from the State Bar website a few minutes back. It appeared. It has since been removed. I also submitted information from Wikipedia about Cindy Chavez. It has not appeared. I was about to submit information regarding the alliance between Ron Gonzales, Cindy Chavez, and Joe Guerra, Ron’s chief aide; also from Wikipedia, but that would probably be fruitless.

    • The info you posted on Ben Fields and the wiki info on Chavez both appear now (at least I can read them) Thank you it is interesting reading. Post the other stuff too please. Some of us aren’t in the know about those connections and maybe we should be as Chavez’s name still comes up on ballots even if Gonzalez seems to have moved permanently to the non-profit sphere.

  7. And these are the “Power Brokers” running our County!? They are all crooks that hide behind the guise of being noble and looking out for the poor worker, but in reality are playing expensive machine politics, and are in fact ruining our community. I can’t wait for the next election when their candidates will hopefully all lose, and their members will have to seriously reconsider following the weak leadership of that fat cow and her felon lackey. We deserve better.

    • Sometimes it takes a bit for comments to go through the system. That’s on WordPress. It has nothing to do with anyone censoring or monitoring your comments.


      • Thanks, Josh. But what concerned me most was that the first one–the one about Ben Field– went through, came up and was absent just a few minutes later before it was back up again.

  8. No story about shady labor shenanigans supported by shady local officials would be complete without a mention of the Gonzales/Guerra/Chavez triumvirate. Mayor Ron Gonzales, and his top aide Joe Guerra, ruled the City Council with an iron fist for years. Cindy Chavez was a major ally, and was Vice Mayor for a while. This also from Wikipedia:
    In 2003, Gonzales and his top aide, Joe Guerra, negotiated an agreement for a nine-percent, $11 million increase in garbage rates for garbage hauler Norcal Waste Systems, Inc., then advocated the rate increase before the San Jose City Council, which approved the plan. However, he did not inform the Council of a quid pro quo arrangement by which the company would use the money to increase wages of its unionized Teamsters workers, who were part of Gonzales’ political power base. [additional information on the Norcal deal from SFGate: Gonzales and his chief budget aide, Joe Guerra, were indicted June 21 for their part in negotiating a deal with Norcal Waste Systems Inc. for San Jose’s trash-hauling contract. They were accused of secretly agreeing to give Norcal an additional $11.25 million in public money in exchange for the company having its recycling subcontractor, California Waste Solutions, switch to the Teamsters union and pay employees more.]
    In June 2005, the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury issued a report on the incident.[5] An independent investigator released a subsequent report,[6] finding Gonzales to have misled the public and violated the city charter’s ethics provisions.
    Council member Dave Cortese demanded Gonzales’s resignation,[7] and member Chuck Reed began proceedings to remove Gonzales from his office as mayor. The Council voted to censure Gonzales for his dealings in the garbage scandal, but took no further actions. On January 11, 2006, the mayor resigned from several committees that he chaired.
    A grand jury indicted Gonzales for bribery and other charges [8] and he was prosecuted over the incident. However, a judge later threw out all charges, on the basis that the prosecution’s claims were novel as a matter of law, and even if true, did not amount to illegal activity. In the court’s opinion, the judge [Judge John Herlihy] wrote “This is not bribery, this is politics.”[9]
    In 2002, Mayor Ron Gonzales created the Silicon Valley Leadership PAC [12] and started collecting donations for this fund. In March 2004 Gonzales announced he would stop collecting donations because of controversy about the fund. Gonzales was criticized for a contract with Cisco Systems after an auditor sent a memo to the mayor’s office.”
    Make of this what you will.

  9. It is like a “Breath of Fresh Air” to read your report ! This is the first time I have received it but a Loud & Hearty ” 3 Cheers!” for informing the general public about some of the “shenanigans” that are happening in our city !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *