October 9, 2012 > SANTA CLARA COUNTY AND LOCAL MEASURES
SANTA CLARA COUNTY AND LOCAL MEASURES
MEASURE A (ONE EIGHTH CENT SALES TAX) (requires majority vote)
Shall the County of Santa Clara enact a one-eighth cent sales tax, that cannot be taken by the state, for local priorities such as: Law enforcement and public safety; Trauma and emergency room services; Health coverage for low-income children; Economic development and job creation; Housing for the homeless; and Programs to help students stay in school; for a limited period of ten years, with annual public reports to ensure fiscal accountability?
YES vote means approval, for 10 years, of a County-wide sales tax increase of 0.125 percent (one-eighth cent tax).
NO vote means rejection of a County-wide sales tax increase.
SANTA CLARA VALLEY WATER DISTRICT
Measure B (Safe, Clean Water Program) (requires 2/3 vote)
To: Ensure safe, reliable water supply; Reduce toxins, hazards and contaminants in waterways; Protect water supply and dams from earthquakes and natural disasters; Restore wildlife habitat and provide open space; Provide flood protection to homes, schools and businesses; Provide safe, clean water in creeks and bays,
Shall Santa Clara Valley Water District renew an existing, expiring parcel tax without increasing rates, and issue bonds, described in Resolution 12-62, with independent citizen oversight and annual audits?
YES vote means continuation, at the same rates, of the special parcel tax on parcels within the Santa Clara Valley Water District's combined Flood Control Zone for 15 years.
NO vote means not to continue the parcel tax.
MAYOR, CITY OF MILPITAS (Vote for 1)
Candidates: Jose Esteves; Rob Means
TCV: Are you in favor of a convention center in Milpitas?
Esteves: Yes. In fact, we are pursuing this project by collaborating with our hotel businesses in Milpitas and neighboring areas. We are also reaching out to potential developers to join this venture and offering help in locating a good site in Milpitas. This will definitely increase occupancy in our hotels, promote restaurants, retail stores and other businesses as conventions bring visitors to Milpitas. It will definitely create new businesses and jobs in Milpitas. Milpitas is a great location because it is close to San Jose airport, has easy freeway access and has central location in the South Bay.
Means: While a convention center might be a desirable luxury in more affluent times, Milpitas is a family-oriented town that must first maintain its many parks, sports facilities and quality of life. Better investments would be upgrading our community center and helping build the badly-needed new school in the transit area around BART.
TCV: What will be the focus of economic development following the loss of redevelopment agency funding?
Esteves: We will be doing a lot of things to help develop the Milpitas economy. Specifically: reaching-out to complementary businesses to come to Milpitas; encouraging people to shop in Milpitas; pursuing EB5 to encourage foreign businesses to come to Milpitas and have legal documentation of residence status; continuing our Housing Developments as defined in the Milpitas Transit Area and Midtown Plans; strengthening the City's programs for business retention and development; developing ordinances and incentives to support existing and attracting new businesses; and providing quality and responsive city services for new businesses and expansion of existing businesses.
Means: Much of the next 10 years' development will occur in the transit area around the new BART station. A secondary opportunity is not an area but a technology. As our nation is learning, economic development depends on public infrastructure that cities and governments provide. In Milpitas, we have an opportunity to introduce and "grow" an automated transit network (ATN) that serves the BART station. If successful, every property within a quarter-mile of the system guide-way will rise in value because of ATN's clean, quiet, responsive public transit that offers automated non-stop service, available 24 hours-a-day.
TCV: What is your vision of Milpitas 10 years from now?
Esteves: Milpitas is a great place to live and work. In 10 years, we will have a financially strong city, full funding of unfunded liabilities, increased reserves, funding of asset/infrastructure replacement accounts and a top financial rating. We will have new commercial and industrial developments serving a growing City. We will have a good balance of residential, industrial and commercial areas and BART and our Transit and Midtown plans will be a reality. Our hillsides will still be beautiful and protected, reflecting a clean, safe and green Milpitas and well-maintained parks and streets. We will have a wonderful Youth Center.
Means: By investing $2M per year over a 10-year period, Milpitas could grow an ATN that provides service to most of the popular destinations in the City including schools, shopping centers, churches and community facilities (www.electric-bikes.com/prt/prt-sna.html). It would reduce our dependence on foreign oil, keep that money in the local economy and improve public health by reducing automobile accidents and pollutants. Such a network, by providing quick and easy access to the BART/LRT/bus multi-modal transit center and, thus, to the entire Bay Area, promises a desirable alternative to much of the driving we must do today.
CITY COUNCIL, CITY OF MILPITAS (Vote for 2)
Candidates: Gary Barbadillo (no response); Debbie Giordano; Ola Robert Hassan; Deepka Lalwani; Rajeev Madnawat; Carmen Montano; Mark Tiernan (no response)
TCV: Are you in favor of a convention center in Milpitas?
Giordano: While serving on City Council, in 2008, I supported allocating funds for a consultant to explore the needs of our city, how it could be best served by a convention center and the associated construction cost. After survey, and work by the consultant, it was found neither feasible nor cost effective to build at that time. However, with current economic growth increasing and future demands in Milpitas, I would consider investigating into the possible need again for a convention center.
Lalwani: Milpitas has been in need of a convention center for quite some time. Finding a location, working with the business community to make it viable has always been a challenge. It is not something the City can afford to do but we could facilitate permitting processes and work with the Chamber to find a location that would work for their needs. We can look at sites that could be a model like they have in South San Francisco where they have a lot of one-day seminars that draw people and could be viable.
Madnawat: Yes. I am in favor of a convention center in Milpitas. A convention center would bring thousands of people to the City and would vitalize local business and create local jobs. Many businesses have left McCarthy Ranch shopping complex; given its good location, I believe a medium-size convention center-cum-hotel would provide a good economic impetus to the City.
Montano: There has been discussion in the past that I agreed with, about the possibility of building a convention center in Milpitas. This will be a good investment for our community and Milpitas would benefit economically. A convention center will provide a venue for regional events located in a prime location with accessibility to transportation and lodging. The cost would have to be factored in and I would consult with the community to present a feasibility study.
TCV: What will be the focus of economic development following the loss of redevelopment agency (RDA) funding?
Giordano: I supported the "Roadmap for Improved City Services" as Councilmember and co-author of this recommendation to our City Council. Streamlined and more cost-effective services provided by City Staff have attracted more businesses to Milpitas. Today, we enjoy two large auto dealerships and the tax revenue generated from these enterprises. The money/time savings are an attractive factor to the business community. Unfortunately, budget constraints forced the City to eliminate its Economic Development Director. As revenues begin increasing again, funding this position should become a high priority. The City must continue to "market" and do "outreach" to remain competitive with other local cities to attract new and retain existing businesses.
Hassan: Small business development and increase in tax base revenue by attracting more technology and non-technology companies to Milpitas. And changes in the way we budget and resource allocation through fiscal awareness and responsibility. Stop wasting money on unnecessary consultant and unreasonable expensive visibility studies.
Lalwani: "IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times" to quote Charles Dickens; Milpitas is going through this phase and maybe there is a silver lining in this. RDA funds have been eliminated and the City is going through a budget crisis.
Economic development will be a crucial focus for the City as we move forward without redevelopment dollars. It will definitely need to be a partnership with businesses and the Chamber.
We are not a bedroom community, a quiet and sleepy town, but a Silicon Valley Town with big high tech companies along with many small mom-and-pop businesses. Many ethnic eateries and grocery stores catering to community. Diversity of the community is a great opportunity to attract a wide variety of businesses.
Madnawat: If a developer sees a good return on investment, the developer would still invest, even without RDA funding. I would focus on bringing private investment by providing tax incentives and easier processes to set-up businesses in Milpitas, if these businesses would create more local jobs and provide more revenue to the City treasury. We are running out of space due to continual conversion of industrial land into residential land. I would focus on reserving land for commercial development.
Montano: Originally, the RDA was set up by Congress around 1945 to fix blighted areas. Over time, cities were allowed to use RDA funds for new projects. Recently the governor eliminated the RDA, so now cities need to budget within their means. We need to keep cost down and focus on closed businesses and promote new businesses.
My focus is to have an aggressive economic development department to attract new business to our City. An example can be to develop businesses near the new Santa Clara stadium. This will benefit the people of Milpitas and create job opportunities.
TCV: What is your vision of Milpitas 10 years from now?
Giordano: Ten years from now, Milpitas will have become the "gateway to Silicon Valley." That transformation will occur due to BART entering service in 2016. The central transportation hub will occur, at that transition point (near the Great Mall), where commuters will be able to use the light rail and/or walk to their homes, built in the "Transit Area," that was designated for this type of living/working near transit. The additional residents that this development will attract will inject much cultural diversity, increase shopping in the City and be able to enjoy the trails, parks and open space the City has designated to preserve. I believe Milpitas, which offers newer library and senior centers, will attract those residents looking for a high quality of life!
Hassan: Dr. Ola is running on the platform of change not a typical rhetoric change used by every politician. I have overcome and still overcoming various health, business, personal, financial difficulties and challenges and deal with it the way nobody has ever done with lots of success; this by no means will hamper my ability to serve my fellow citizens in bringing Milpitas to light. If elected my 10-year plan will include bringing my years of experience in leadership, business and entrepreneurship to create and formulate immediate team building to our divisive City Council members, timely decision-making process on issues, safeguard and maintenance of our infrastructures, small business development, Milpitas road improvements, accident-reduction plan on our roads, timely Milpitas mid-town development, security and safety of our citizens, technological elimination of odor in some of Milpitas' areas. I will accomplish all the aforementioned independent of special interest groups. I will also create and implement a plan to make Milpitas a destination city with everybody's input.
Lalwani: My vision would include having a viable, economic, business-friendly city that is fiscally sound and does not spend money it does not have. Finding ways to ensure there are funds available for infrastructure needs as the City infrastructure ages and public safety, streets, core services are a high priority.
These are opportunities and challenges which Milpitas is facing.
Madnawat: In terms of development, I would like to see a vibrant Downtown and continue with mid-town development plans. With BART coming to Milpitas, with proper planning, we can bring businesses to Milpitas. We don't have much vacant space to build, so I would encourage single-story business complexes to grow vertically. In the next 10 years, I would like to see a modern hotel and convention center and many more technology companies and small businesses in Milpitas.
Montano: The projected vision I would have of the City of Milpitas is that it will be a thriving economic base for Silicon Valley. BART will be highly utilized with a new shopping center nearby. A new convention center will be in place. Small and large businesses will create jobs. New schools will be built to accommodate a healthy learning environment for students. The police and fire departments will continue to provide prompt services and community safety. Our seniors and youth will continue to benefit from community programs. Milpitas will be the best place to live and raise a family.
MILPITAS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, GOVERNING BOARD, SHORT (Vote for 1)
Candidates: Danny Lau; Vance Vuong (no response)
TCV: Should communications with the City be improved? How?
Lau: There is a City/School District communication committee that holds regular public meetings. Every time the City makes a decision on land use, it could have an impact to the Milpitas Schools. In addition, we have a number of joint-use projects that we must review regularly to ensure they are meeting our common goals and objectives. We will continue to have regular meetings (and special meetings if warranted) to share and review each other's ideas that could have an impact on each other's long-term strategic plans.
TCV: What should schools consider a core curriculum? How would you prioritize extracurricular activities? How can they be supported?
Lau: Core curriculum should be a set of learning that meets the needs of the majority of the students. We need to continually assess, monitor and update our curriculum to ensure students learn the right skills so they can be successful in this global economy. Extracurricular activities could include such activities as arts, clubs, community services, music, sports, etc. Many colleges and universities review student's participation in extracurricular activities as part of their acceptance criteria. It's important for students to be involved in those activities that interest them. Depending on the type of activities, we need to involve the community, parent support group and companies to support such activity.
TCV: What should school boards do to insure significant community involvement?
Lau: Good communication is key to any team work. MUSD communicates regularly with parents and with the community. Everyone realizes good schools are a major component of a good community, so getting the community involved for the benefit of the schools is paramount. The recent Measure E was passed not just by the parents but by the majority of the community that do not have children attending the schools. It shows that our community cares and is deeply committed to our schools. I have been actively involved in community activities and the School Board shall continue to communicate regularly to the community at-large to ensure student success.
TCV: How can board meetings be streamlined and become more relevant?
Lau: School Board meetings are televised and have been averaging between 1.5 - 2.5 hours long. Most of the topics are required by the state to be reviewed and approved in open sessions. The public is always invited to make comments and suggestions. The agenda is posted before-hand so everyone knows the agenda topics. We always try to make the most relevant/interesting topics up front so that those interested don't have to wait for the end of the meeting. We encourage all community members to provide input for topics of discussion.
TCV: Are you satisfied with the current school model and integration between grades and schools? If not, what can be done to improve this?
Lau: For almost 100 years, the school model is that a teacher is the subject matter expert and everyone learns the same materials for the same amount of time. Now we all know some students learn faster than others and some students might be fast at learning one subject but might take longer on another subject. With the advance of technology and the support from our School Board, our Superintendent has developed a new 21st Century learning model which we are currently piloting in two elementary schools. The new model calls for small group learning with integrated technology, as well as learning skills in communication, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.