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January 21, 2014 > Supervisor Dave Cortese Column: New Year thoughts

Supervisor Dave Cortese Column: New Year thoughts

As a new year begins, itÕs good to look back on 2013, a year focused on outreach and initiatives aimed at serving residents in our diverse community.

The best way to know your community is by being a part of it, so last year we put an extra emphasis on visiting senior and community centers, giving presentations at schools and attending neighborhood events and meetings. The input we received from you helped to shape our work plan. We also worked hard to produce our own events that brought our diverse community together.

Many of you - 12,000 to be specific - joined us for our annual multicultural festival, Day on the Bay, on October 13 at Alviso Marina County Park in San Jose. The event was a collaboration of my office and the County Parks and Fire Departments, City and County service agencies, nonprofits, local businesses and more than 240 volunteers from high schools, youth organizations and Scout groups. Our focus on health provided important connections between residents and services as well as on-the-spot health screenings and flu shots. The multicultural dances and music were performed against a beautiful backdrop Ð the Alviso Marina Ð where hundreds of children tested their skills at kayaking.

As an added feature, the Alviso Marina was officially designated as a site in the San Francisco Bay Water Trail at the 2013 Day on the Bay.

Other successful 2013 events, included:

Unity Day event in March, which helped neighborhood residents get rid of hundreds of unwanted weapons and gang colors, and was followed by a peace march through the Most Holy Trinity neighborhoods.

Bus trip to Sacramento in May, which was co-sponsored by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, allowed 120 parents, teachers and community members to express school funding concerns to members of the State Legislature.

The Health Fair in October treated more than 300 uninsured, low-income and homeless men and women to flu shots; glucose, dental exams and other health screenings as well as blankets and connections to services.

And most recently, 50 boxes containing food, clothing and other supplies for victims of Typhoon Haiyan were shipped to the Philippines thanks to the generosity of dozens of donors and volunteers who joined me, Supervisor Cindy Chavez and Filipino community groups at a relief drive in November.

Of course, the year was also busy in our office as we successfully proposed policy changes and pushed forward budget items that are helping to stabilize communities and bring equality to disenfranchised communities.

Some of the highlights:

Pay for Success is an innovative model to fund critical services and save taxpayer dollars. The plan, also called Social Innovative Financing, relies on private investment and mandatory performance measures. ThatÕs a fancy way of saying we use private investment to fund programs after they have proved to be successful.

During the budget process in May and June, I successfully pushed for funding to support a mentor parent program, fund job training and transportation passes for homeless adults and helped Asian Americans for Community Involvement launch a new project for families to bridge the cultural divide.

Transportation projects made significant progress in 2013. Construction is under way for a new Eastridge Transit Center and the Santa Clara/Alum Rock Bus Rapid Transit Project. And, at last, roadwork to fix the Highway 101 bottleneck, which I have been working on since 2001, is nearly complete.

We were able to pump more money into the Senior Nutrition Program, which provides meals for seniors, and boost transportation services so more participants can get to community centers for lunch. The Low-Income Pass Program offers eligible residents a monthly VTA pass for $25 a month.

I look forward to serving you in 2014 and hope that you will contact my office at (408) 299-5030 or email me at

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