By Robert Haugh
Last night, the Council approved working with San Jose, Cupertino and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) on a Stevens Creek Corridor Study. The goal is to figure out new and better transit options for the busy corridor.
But the cities and the VTA don’t have the staff and resources for this. So they’ll need grants for a study. After that, they’ll need a plan to fund something. Maybe Elon Musk and the Boring Company want to help Silicon Valley commuters. (Hint, hint).
Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill promoted the move. She’s also the Chair of the VTA.
But O’Neill could not convince her colleagues to work with San Jose on an “Innovation Zone” near our border. This idea was promoted by San Jose Vice Mayor Chappie Jones. But Jones and his staff couldn’t say what would be tested in the zone or what ideas companies had proposed. It sounded like they were hiding something or they were a little clueless. So the Council punted the decision to January when they look at Council priorities. But they didn’t sound too interested in the idea. And they’ll want a lot more info from Jones and San Jose.
The Council approved the ballot language that was recommended by the Charter Review Committee to create 3 council districts with 2 councilmembers each. The vote was 4-2, with Vice Mayor Patty Mahan and Councilwoman Karen Hardy opposed. Councilman Raj Chahal was on vacation.
Some members of the public who opposed the Charter Review Committee’s recommendation suggested the Council and City staff were biased and racist. (We saw those charges, too, during the 2018 advisory vote campaign. Some racist comments were sent to this site).
But there were strong rebuttals from the Council majority. Councilwomen Kathy Watanabe and Debi Davis made excellent personal statements about the biracial families. So did City Attorney Brian Doyle who also talked about his biracial family.
City Clerk Hosam Haggag was criticized, too, by Santa Claran Wesley Mukoyama. Mukoyama is one of the plaintiffs who sued the City using the California Voting Rights Act.
But Haggag delivered a strong statement about the integrity of the charter review process. And he reminded everyone that he ran successfully city-wide as a member of a non-white “protected class.”
It’s a shame that some people, including elected officials, have made this an issue about racism. I’ve lived in Santa Clara for 35 years. The Mission City is diverse and welcomes everyone. In fact, it’s racially and economically integrated, not segregated. That’s why Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Thomas Kuhnle had to play with the numbers and the district lines so much to come up with his ruling. That’s why some political experts think Santa Clara will win a court appeal.
I’m glad the Council decided to appeal Kuhnle’s ruling. To accept it would be to accept the argument that we’re racist in our voting. We’re not. But that doesn’t mean the opponents won’t argue we are again during this coming election.
The good thing is that this ballot language is much simpler. 2018 was confusing. And the City’s communication effort was weak. Let’s hope it’ll be better this year. Then, we can create new districts that work well for Santa Clara.
Editor’s Note: At the end of the meeting, Doyle announced that the 49ers have sued the City again. This is their seventh lawsuit. They believe the City can’t take away their purchasing authority after they got caught for wage theft. We’ll write more about this issue soon.