‘Principal Oliverio’ Assigns Homework to D6 Candidates

San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio terms out in 2016, which will be the first time in a decade the District 6 seat will be up for grabs without an incumbent. Already, six months from the deadline to declare candidacy, seven people have announced their intention to run for the Willow Glen seat. But in what some candidates called typical Pierluigi fashion, the lame duck councilman is trying to run the show, positioning himself as a kingmaker on his way out the door. Leading up to the council meeting this week, Oliverio emailed an assignment to his aspiring successors: send a yes or no vote on two items he picked from the agenda. The idea is that by the time a trio of candidate forums takes place next spring—which he’s also requesting the city fund—he’ll have compiled a months-long voting record for each candidate. “This will provide residents a definitive way to understand how a candidate would vote given the opportunity to serve,” Oliverio wrote. This wasn’t a voluntary exercise, though; candidates who refused to participate would be noted as such. This week, Oliverio’s questions addressed the Santana Row expansion and a lease renewal for the downtown Camera 3 cinemas. Some of the candidates found the request odd, but complied regardless. Willow Glen Neighborhood Association President Chris Roth joked that the whole thing felt like homework, but he responded affirmatively to each item. Others weren’t so cool for school. Political consultant Peter Allen had concerns the councilman may have crossed ethical and possibly legal lines, and parks advocate Helen Chapman refused to participate and posted her response to the councilman on Facebook. This prompted an online debate about whether Oliverio is improperly using his elected office to control the democratic process. City Attorney Rick Doyle apparently received a complaint from a D6 resident and is reviewing the matter.

UPDATE: Residents have started a petition to “take back our debates." The Change.org signature drive has collected 26 names so far.

UPDATE II: City Attorney Rick Doyle has reviewed the situation, according to communications director David Vossrbink. Oliverio has not used city funds or offered a political endorsements so “there are no legal issues as it currently stands,” Vossbrink said.

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  1. Tell that idiot Oliverio to shut his trap and go back to spoons and tend bar. What he did before. We was a big failure and follower for Reed

  2. Wow – Candidates already trying to dodge questions! I commend Pierluigi for asking “real life” questions of the candidates. If they can’t answer these questions now, how will they be able to actually do the job?

    No imaginary legal lines were crossed – although this already gives us insight into how Peter Allen will be as a councilman.

    They better get used to homework, it looks like councilmembers do a lot of it once they are elected. In reality, this is no more burdensome than the many endorsement questionnaires that special interests will insist they fill out, which, by the way, ask candidates how they will vote on potential future agenda items. Of course, those provide ample opportunity for the candidates to pander to these special interests. They are far more speculative than asking how they would vote on actual agenda items.

    (Josh, you should consider challenging all of the candidates to post on this site all endorsement questionnaires they fill out for the various special interest groups (once endorsement decisions are made) this would truly give the public insight into their positions and thought process, and we could see if they change their positions depending on who is asking the question)

    The city hosting candidate forums is a very good use of city funds – and in fact has been done many times before. The city should do more to engage and educate residents.

    As to whether this is Pierluigi is trying to become a kingmaker, how does hosting a forum and ensuring the candidates test their mettle in public benefit him? It seems to me like he just wants the residents to see who the best thinker is.

    Oh my! What would we do if the voters actually know more about the candidates?

  3. > This prompted an online debate about whether Oliverio is improperly using his elected office to control the democratic process.

    What the hell does this mean?

    How does an incumbent elected politician “improperly use” elected office to control the democratic process? Is he somehow preventing someone from voting?

  4. “Principal Oliverio???” I thought PLO was dropped from Denelle Fedor’s lawsuit accusing him of sexual harassment.

  5. “This wasn’t a voluntary exercise, though; candidates who refused to participate would be noted as such.” You mean like the voting pamphlet notes those who do not agree to a voluntary spending limit? So what’s wrong with either of those actions? “This prompted an online debate about whether Oliverio is improperly using his elected office to control the democratic process.” What a completely inane statement. Next you’ll be saying officeholders are improperly using their elected office when they endorse candidates. Who were the participants in this alleged “online debate”? I frequently disagree with Pierluigi’s positions (most notably the Lincoln Avenue Road Diet”, but he is the only free-thinking person ( perhaps the only thinking person) on the council right now; much like Dave Pandori was a long while back. The rest of them are mostly one trick ponies who kowtow to a particular constituency—the big contributors.

    • Well, I will step up and say I’ve participated in online debates/discussions. Sorry you haven’t been able to access them, but Facebook, local elists and NextDoor have all had scattered discussions/debates/questions. And people have been questioning the process and his use of his city office to assign campaigns homework for a variety of reasons. Based on his most recent posting of the homework assignment results, they will continue to question.

  6. Those candidates that didn’t participate weren’t identified in the PLO post on Next Door isn’t that a little slanted. I guess they won’t get any “free” publicity unless they play PLOs King making game.

  7. Let me preface by saying downtown Willow Glen and the surrounding neighborhoods are a gem of San Jose. I do not live in Willow Glen so I speak as someone who used to patronize the businesses there. I have visited these businesses a few times since the “road diet” went into effect. The congestion and lack of parking during my visits were horrible. I have gone on instead to other similar areas in the county which were thoughtfully designed and engineered. Willow Glen appears to want to isolate itself and make it as difficult as possible for outsiders to visit. As an outsider, it seems there was a total lack of planning in downtown Willow Glen, and lanes and lines were haphazardly thrown onto the street. I followed some of the rather vicious back and forth between WG residents, businesses, and Oliverio. It seems that the neighborhoods on the side streets are getting massive amounts of speeding traffic to avoid Lincoln Ave and no basic planning was done to avoid this. As an outsider, it seems there is a huge amount of cronyism between Oliverio and a very small amount of very influential Willow Glen business landlords. It seems Oliverio and the landlords have found their lackey in Chris Roth to perpetuate their wishes. It was more than ironic that in today’s Rule Committee meeting that Chris Roth had the only seat in the audience where he could plainly be seen while other members of the public spoke. Many in the audience said Oliverio lied to them about the road diet lasting only 3 months if certain WG community groups voted to get rid of it, and although the road diet was indeed voted down by the WGBA, the road diet is going to continue anyways. The rules committee and mayor then rubber stamped the item unanimously. Rose Herrera had some faux outrage that the public was lied to and it should not happen again, but then voted with the herd. No wonder most of our city council and the mayor are looked at as being unethical. There are no repercussions to their deeds or broken promises. These public “hearings” are obviously mere dog and pony shows for matters that have already been settled in backroom meetings. Though I really like Willow Glen, your councilmember and his enlightened and elitist buddies are such a turn off, that I will not be visiting anytime soon, and I know I am not the only one who sees Willow Glen in this light.

    • Observation, your observation of the WG climate and PO seem accurate. In my opinion. Let’s hope the voters take note. Thanks for sharing.

      Speaking of dog and pony show, I’m guessing we should be hearing about public “hearings” for the next Police Chief sooner or later.

  8. Mr. Chris Roth “sold out” thousands of D6 residents who are sick and tired of the lies and negative affects to their neighborhoods as a direct and proximate result of the “Road Diet” on Lincoln Avenue during yesterday’s Rules and Open Government Committee meeting.

    I’ll be very surprised if Mr. Roth is elected to, Councilmember D6.

    David S. Wall

  9. Dear Friends,

    Many of you may know that the current departing District 6 Council member has asked the candidates to replace him to provide him with a Yes or No answer as to how we would vote on issues selected by him from the weekly Council Agenda.

    The following is my response to him….

    Dear Councilmember Oliverio,

    Thank you for your emails regarding how I would vote on various issues selected by you on the upcoming Council Agendas.

    Without having all the Staff Reports, the pertinent Commission recommendations and reports, if any, and any analysis or memos from your own paid staff on these issues, it would be irresponsible for someone without access to all the information and public comment to state how they would vote prior to the motion actually being made at the appointed hour on Tuesday.

    Moreover, and far more important, I would want to see any and all correspondence, voice messages and emails that have been received from our neighbors and constituents to listen to their viewpoints.

    Finally, it is my experience from my service on the Parks Commission that the actual testimonies that may take place at the meeting and the discussion between the Councilmembers and the Mayor as well as pertinent questions to staff add to a deep understanding of the issues involved. This understanding leads to reasoned decisions. When these issues are debated, more often than not, there is room for compromises and accommodations that can forge better actions for all involved when issues are divisive.

    As a Councilmember, the ability to interact and listen to the various viewpoints is far more important than my prejudging any issue. That open door policy creates a more viable community fully engaged to do more for San Jose. I look forward to creating that open listening in District 6.

    Very truly yours,

    Helen Chapman

    • The Trump defense — “I don’t need to tell the voters my positions! I’ll learn all this stuff after I’m elected.”

      • Trump Defense? She didn’t use that at all. She simply says she isn’t going to decide without seeing/hearing any staff work or public comment.

        • Is she not aware that staff work is publicly available on the city’s website, posted along with agendas well in advance of any meeting? You can read extensive staff memos regarding both of the items mentioned in this article. This is totally the same dodge that Trump has made — saying that you will only feel comfortable taking positions after you are already elected.

        • Meyer Weed, just accept the fact there are people unable to write a sentence about anything without attacking Trump.

      • Carthagus: this reminds me more of Nancy Pelosi who quipped that Congress had to pass ObamaCare “so we will know what’s in it.”

    • You were right NOT to respond. This issue might finds its way to the Ethics Commission.

      You and all D6 candidates have an affirmative duty to read all council committees reports (which are always available on-line) and to attend council committee meetings and city council meetings.

      You and all D6 cndidates have an affirmative duty to understand and comprehend all city operations and integrate said operations with issues in D6, as they relate to the city as a whole, in real time.

      You and all D6 cndidates SHOULD NOT rely on “staff”-You must glean the truth from staff’s self-serving positions on a particular issue.

      I wouldn’t tout you service on the Parks Commission as having much political value. Parks, Recreation and Neighbor Services(PRNS) has been and is today, “a perpetual train wreck in progeress.” Which begs several probative questions as to the value of the Parks Commission as an advisory body to Council.

      Start by attending the Rules and Open Government Committee on a routine basis and then add; T&E, CED, PSFSS and NSC. Pay strict attention to the Airport and very strict attention the WPCP / TPAC.

      David S. Wall

    • Helen,

      You have been around long enough to know that everything you ask for above before wanting to make a decision is available to you. Remember, there are no hypotheticals here, the are all items on a council agenda. You can access all of the staff reports, including the pertinent commission recommendations. And, you can view the entire planning commission meeting to see the input from the public.

      It sounds from your response above that you do not have the skills to read, review, and analyze council issues without having lower level staff with the skills to do so for you. I remember a councilmember like that: Nora Campos. She could only read the bullet points and ask the questions from the green notes her staff would remind her. I watched the meetings and laughed out loud when she couldn’t pronounce some of the multi-syllable words. (anyone remember the time she “condemned” a young lady for her “selfish” acts, instead of commending her for her selfless acts? I still laugh when I think about that one! But I digress…)The funniest was when she spoke for 4-5 minutes on the wrong agenda item because she mixed up her notes. The mayor let her completely finish before letting her know about the very obvious error.

      From what I see Pierluigi’s “homework” are on items that really get down to where a candidate is on the real important issues and how they would react to special interest pressure.

      I hope now that you have clearly said you won’t participate in answering his real life, actual agenda items issues, then you will just as firmly refuse to answer all special interest endorsement questionnaires, since they all clearly ask how you would vote on general and specific issues. As far as the time commitment, the labor questionnaire alone will take you more time to answer than reading a couple of agenda items.

      As a Willow Glen resident for most of my adult life, I hope you address my concerns stated here. As a voter, I expect candidates to be more transparent. In fact, I challenge you to post all of the endorsement questionnaires you complete (after the groups make their endorsements, of course). We, the people, would like to see how you answer their similar inquiries.

      Helen, We are waiting for your response…..

      • What’s that I hear??


        Helen, You made a comment on this site and responded, asking for a response. Is this how you plan to “listen” and engage with residents if you are elected?

        “In fact, I challenge you to post all of the endorsement questionnaires you complete (after the groups make their endorsements, of course).” Do you except this challenge? You could also just post them on your campaign website.

        I really would like to hear more from you – as would the 2 other voters in my house and all the the residents of my small street that will be here for a BBQ this weekend.

        Helen, We are waiting for your response….. Helen… Helen…

  10. I’m sorry, did you people actually read Helen’s response or are you just reacting? Because she clearly points out that what precedes a vote is weeks, months and sometimes years that include meetings not in staff reports which may or may not be complete before the deadline candidates were given. It also includes weeks, months and sometimes years of discussions, phone calls and emails with staff, an applicant and the public.

    I’m glad four of the candidates didn’t answer. Maybe those are the four who think the voters can actually make up their minds what’s important to them rather than what Oliverio thinks is important. Maybe they think no one person should have the right to make demands this way as well as format and moderate the debates the city agreed to pay for.

    But that’s just me; I’m comfortable with the idea I will have my time to ask questions, talk to candidates and develop a better idea of who they are. I don’t need CliffsNotes and I don’t need the council member to tutor me in what he thinks I need to know.

    • >Maybe those are the four who think the voters can actually make up their minds what’s important to them rather than what Oliverio thinks is important.

      I’m sorry, but I do not understand your point. Knowing what’s important to you as a voter doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know what you’re voting for. I know what’s important to me and what sort of Councilmember I would like to see elected, but what I don’t know is what’s important to Helen Chapman. How can voters make an educated decision if Helen Chapman refuses to say how she would vote as a Councilmember?

      • How did you educate yourself before? I’m presuming there was some method. Are those methods no longer available? Were they not working for you? None of the candidates have refused to do anything.

        • Your question strikes me as odd. I’ve always based my votes on the policies of candidates. Sometimes you’ll find candidates taking policy positions in newspaper articles, often in debates, or occasionally in mailers. Often, however, candidates in down-ticket races can get away with taking vague half-positions, or avoid taking any position on certain key subjects. Pierluigi has shone a spotlight on those candidates.

          • My question was/is, how did you go about gathering this information before the spreadsheet he is offering? Did you find out information on your own? Did you rely on one person to develop all the questions, how they would be asked and then moderate all the debates? I must have missed the spotlight … which candidates would those be?

          • Yes Oliverio the courageous informed one… nah just a grandstander with lots of lone yay and lone nay votes based on some manufactured principle. He is a phoney…

  11. PLO is the poster boy for political sleaze. Not only because of the sexual harrassment accusations against him, but he was caught on video stealing another candidate’s signs:


    I don’t care how he tries to rationalize it, stealing someone’s property is still stealing. From other comments above, he lacks basic honesty and lies to constituents, so I suspect there are ulterior motives to what he’s trying to do here.

    Finally, it’s great that we have term limits. At least we can get rid of one dipstick. The first sentence at the top of this comment thread says it all.

  12. All candidates need to answer the following questions:

    What is the total number of police officers required to protect San Jose residents?

    If more officers are required:

    How will you fund the needed police officers?

    What is the timeline for hiring the needed police officers?

  13. This is a non-story. I think the councilman has invented an interesting experiment, although in his newsletter he just sent out, there were two vote “results” and all three candidates voted unanimously the same, as did the council. So, as a D6 constituent, what I’ve confirmed so far is that much of council’s business is mundane :) Anyhow, anyone who does not like the experiment does not have to participate, and/or does not have to read his results.

  14. Sexual lawsuit and was caught by police stealing measure B signs. Remember. And his Clone Chris Roth is in his pocket. Roth you don’t stand a chance to win.

  15. There’s an assumption here that PLO’s endorsement is important enough to provide an edge in D6. As he’s had more bad press than good of late, (and honestly has done little of note in his time on the council), I’m wondering how many points his endorsement is really worth. Voters tend to place more weight on labor, law enforcement, and chamber endorsements than previous office holders’ support. If I were running in D6, I’d be even more dismissive than Helen.

    • Candidates are eager for Luigi’s endorsement so they can access all the stolen lawn signs he took from police and fire personnel and reuse them.

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