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October 21, 2009 > Give us your voices

Give us your voices

The County of Santa Clara has a four billion dollar budget, with over 15,000 employees. At the Board of Supervisors we continue to seek cost savings and increased efficiencies within county operations so that we can maximize our tax dollars without eliminating vital services. I have worked hard to recommend such improvements. Besides hard work, another way to identify improvements is through an employee "Hotline", a concept which I recommended to the Board of Supervisors recently and which they agreed to pursue. Such a program creates an anonymous way for employees and members of the public to report anything they perceive as government waste or even make allegations of mismanagement of public dollars without fear of reprisal or retribution. I want everyone to be our eyes and ears in the community and in the workplace, and to feel safe doing so. (For more information, please visit www.supervisorcortese.org).

Fortunately this is just one of many ways to provide your input on how the county can better invest your tax dollars, support healthy families, and build strong neighborhoods. Another great avenue for input is by serving on a board or commission. These are advisory bodies that were created in order to give the public a greater voice in the County's workings and often make direct recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.

Now why would I be asking you to join a commission? Well there are numerous benefits, both for me, your elected official, as well as for you.

For me, the benefits are obvious. I get to hear what you have to say on the issues that you are passionate about so that I can become more informed and make the best choices for our county. Now on the flip side, how does it help you? First and foremost, it will allow you an opportunity to learn the inner workings of local government and have an understanding of how policies are created.

For example, there is currently an opening on the Domestic Violence Council.

Perhaps growing up, you knew someone who was a victim, or maybe you had a friend who was abused by a relative. If so, you have intimate knowledge of the hardships that victims go through and this means you have great insight to share with us as we make policy decisions. Another commission is the Planning Commission. Having a person on the commission that has an understanding or interest in local planning issues will help us make fair decisions when voting on ordinances and policies that will affect a large number of residents. Perhaps your experience stems from your career as a business person, contractor, or even a real estate agent. Or maybe you just have an interest in how communities are laid out and you would like to share your valuable opinions and judgment; either way, we need your vision and ideas to help us.

Yet another example might be, the Historical Heritage Commission, there you would be able to give your input on the value of the history of Santa Clara County. And you would learn how historical structures are saved and preserved for future generations.

While I have great professionals here at the county with a broad spectrum of experiences, education, backgrounds, and interests, we unfortunately don't know it all. That is why we need you. It is after all, your government.

These boards and commissions are another way that you can take action to help me in my quest to make this county a leader in efficiently investing your tax dollars to better serve all of its residents. If you interested in accepting my call to action, please read the complete list of vacancies by clicking the "Boards and Commissions" link on my website, http://www.supervisorcortese.org. Or you can contact Michelle Pelayo-Osorio at (408) 299-5030 or by email at michelle.osorio@bos.sccgov.org with any questions you may have.

At the end of all my columns, I ask you to contact me with your comments or suggestions. And I thank each and every one of you who do just that. As always, I am here to help and listen to your suggestions. Please give me a call at (408) 299-5030 or email me at dave.cortese@bos.sccgov.org.

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