Mayor’s Race Imperils Carl Guardino’s Transportation Tax

Political horse whisperer Carl Guardino didn’t become one of the valley’s kingmakers with just an uncanny ability to speak in breathless tones normally reserved for kindergarteners. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO has deftly straddled both sides of the Democratic fence for years. In 2012 he allied with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed to push through Measure B pension reforms before joining now-county supervisor Cindy Chavez’s proletarian revolution to renew a water parcel tax (another “Measure B”). But Guardino’s current push to get a transportation sales tax expedited for the November ballot could prove more difficult than internal Leadership Group polling suggests. In his enthusiasm for mayoral candidate and cycling buddy Sam Liccardo—he organized a PAC that raised around $300 grand—Guardino expended some political capital. Supervisor Dave Cortese, also a candidate for mayor, and Chavez could withhold support for any measure. (Chavez is not known to forgive political slights easily.) That means Guardino may have to convince the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to place it on the ballot. If that’s how it shakes out, County Executive Jeff Smith would be thrilled, as the tax would save the county more than a million dollars, and next year’s budget has to be finalized by the end of this month. Guardino, ever a kumbaya chanter in local politics, said it would be “a shame” if his personal politics affected the measure, which would cost taxpayers a ¼-cent sales tax for the next 30 years to improve Caltrain, expressways and also pave the way for BART to downtown San Jose. Noting strong opposition to past transportation measures, Guardino said, “I can’t control the actions of others. If we can’t agree to disagree, I’m not going to let something like that make me lose an ounce of sleep.” A decision to go forward with the measure or hold off until 2016 should come down in the next two weeks.

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  1. I find it interesting that you put Caltrain first in the improvements list seeing as it’s been last in terms of spending in the past in favor of BART to San Jose. I have little faith Caltrain will get more than lip service if this measure passes.

  2. I am so sick of more parcel taxes, bonds for schools, local cities and counties. Enough, Carl, Jeff, Dave (don’t do it) Cindy and Sam. Chuck does not give a damn because he is history. WE need a break. I am sick and tired of being taxed to death. How about saving and spending money responsibility, instead of bike lanes, can we pave residential streets? San jose has lost its public safety but no one on the current city council seems to care about that.

    • San Francisco–49 square miles. San Jose 180 square miles. San Francisco about 825,000 residents. San Jose about 1 million residents. San Francisco, about 1,729 cops with ten district stations and the highest paid police chief in the NATION. San Jose, about 875 cops, one main station, and they have trouble finding a police chief.

      R U getting the picture? Where is all our tax money going here in SJ?

      • San Francisco rakes in sales and hotel taxes from tourists. It also has far more jobs than residents. San Jose has neither tourists or jobs. That is the difference.

      • Great Question . We should have the right to know what our total budget is where are monies are being spent . Sadly , we the Taxpayers here in San Jose will never get an Honest and complete answer , least of all from the current Mayor & Councilmembers

        • The previous mayor and city council which was dominated by SBLC supporters sold the future by saddling us with excessive pension benefits and no means to pay for them. Just like Jerry Brown has brought adult supervision to state government, Mayor Reed and the current council majority have brought it to San Jose city government.

  3. TOT taxes don’t go into the general fund.

    I do not believe SF has a city income tax, and people who work in SF but live elsewhere generally shop close to home, not close to work.

    • Tourists, including tourists in the Bay Area spend lots of money in SF which generates huge sales tax revenue. SF tourism is a giant cash machine. Doesn’t everyone know this. Also, SF does have an employment tax although they just made a deal with Twitter to suspend it for them. This has been written about in all local papers. San Jose is a tax poor city which has been documented extensively in many places including the New York Times in a recent article.

  4. First of all Carl – what’s with the name of your posse – the “Leadership Group?” Is this the same outfit started many years ago at the SCV Manufacturing Group? Of course this is when we still made things here. What degree of hubris does it take without any election or anybody’s say so to anoint oneself – The Leadership Group? Leader of what or whom exactly?
    Yes you have an assemblage of high end managers from different backgrounds and no doubt good in their particular fields but under whose regal crown can they advocate for more taxes?
    And that’s the second point. Sales taxes are regressive – the blunt of these taxes will fall on the middle class (now dying out) and the low income. a half cent here, quarter cent there will mean nothing to those lofty enough to be in a leadership group.

  5. What? Guardino and SVLG have decided not to pursue a tax increase? Is this the same Guardino and same SVLG that supported Mayor Reed’s “three pronged fiscal responsibility plan? You remember that one: (1) Cut the budget (2) Get employee buy in to a 10% salary reduction to purchase goodwill from taxpayer/voters showing them employee-unions were serious partners in achieving fiscal responsibility so that (3) there would be widespread voter/taxpayer support for a TAX INCREASE to specifically fund Public Safety (police-fire) services.

    The “three pronged”plan became the “two-pronged plan” shortly after the budget was slashed, employees were laid off and the 10% salary reduction was secured and the SVLG announced that it would not support ANY tax increases and Reed blamed projected “low voter turn out” for the 2012 General (Presidential Election Year) when there was a high probability that Obama’s backers (pro TAX) people would turn out in high numbers????

    I recall hearing about a conversation that took place between Former SJPD Chief Moore and Guardino surrounding the first signs of police officer exodus after Measure B passed where Moore reminded Guardino of his initial support for the Reed plan. Guardino supposedly said he (SVLG) was not in favor of tax increases for anything much less “public safety” because of a fear that the tax increase would be used to fund salary and benefit packages rather than services. After further discussion Guardino supposedly told Moore that if he had known all the things that Moore was telling him then he would have not have had the SVLG ACTIVELY OPPOSE the tax increase and most likely remained silent on the matter.

    So which taxes are good and which are bad Carl?