Santa Clara County Local News


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San Jose Spotlight logo From San Jose Spotlight...

06/23/2024
Image for display with article titled San José Spotlight’s PolitiBeat Tackles the Future of Silicon Valley

San José Spotlight’s all-day political festival returned for its second year to tackle pressing issues facing Silicon Valley, from artificial intelligence and county elections to the region’s evolving identity.
Roughly 200 attendees heard firsthand from local leaders in government, education, technology and development, converging on June 14 at the Hammer Theatre in downtown San Jose on topics such as philanthropy in journalism, opportunity gaps in East San Jose schools and immigration. Keynote speaker Chuck Todd, the NBC news journalist and former host of "Meet the Press," capped off the festival and explained why American divide always seems unprecedented — but rarely is.
“I’ve often said, is this the 1850s or the 1950s? The 1850s it took a civil war to resolve. The 1950s, McCarthy died. Arguably, if you look at our history, we’ve gotten out of these moments when there’s been another existential threat. Is that war with China? It’s not a pandemic — we learned that. That’s not going to bring us together,” Todd said during a keynote talk moderated by San José Spotlight co-founder and executive director Josh Barousse. “Our democracy needs repair. It needs updating.”
The event has become a sponsor-filled fundraiser for San José Spotlight — the first nonprofit digital newsroom in Silicon Valley — and in turn, put the issue of funding news into painful focus.
A discussion on philanthropy's role in journalism puts a spotlight on the issue of newsroom funding in America. From left to right: San José Spotlight co-founder Ramona Giwargis, Mauricio Palma with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Hannah Stonebreaker with the Emerson Collective, Neha Gohil with the Hewlett Foundation and Allan Madoc with the Knight Foundation.
During a panel on philanthropy’s role in journalism, San José Spotlight co-founder and CEO Ramona Giwargis said she learned the Knight Foundation — one of America’s premier nonprofit funders of journalism — funded Silicon Valley the least out of the foundation's entire news portfolio.
“Before coming tonight, I did not expect that was the case,” panelist Allan Madoc, the Knight Foundation’s San Jose director, said during the panel. “It’s counterintuitive to me. In the valley here — not just San Jose but more broadly San Francisco, right down the peninsula — we haven’t as an organization really seen the innovation in journalism which we have seen in other parts of the country and, as a function of that, the funding hasn’t flowed through.”
A burgeoning coalition between San Jose government and artificial intelligence interests was top of mind during a panel on the future of AI in the valley. Last year the city released its first set of employee guidelines for generative AI, a technology that has the ability to generate text, images and other media in response to prompts. But how will local officials make sure it’s applied responsibly?
Silicon Valley tech leaders discuss the future of artificial intelligence and its role in local government in the Bay Area. From left to right: San José Spotlight editor Moryt Milo, Peter Leroe-Munoz with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, ScoreData CEO Vasudev Bhandarkar, San Jose Chief Information Officer Khaled Tawfik and SJSU professor Ahmed Banafa.
One panelist, San Jose Chief Information Officer Khaled Tawfik, said local governments in the valley are fragmented and need to coordinate their voices when demanding information from tech companies about their AI models.
“No. 1, we let the big companies understand that your future development has to be guided by our principles, otherwise the 250-plus agencies will not purchase your solutions,” he said. “If you’re not going to be transparent, you’re not going to be able to retain the information in a certain way. If you’re not going to demonstrate how bias is removed from the data and how your model functions, the government is going to have some concern and may not likely use the model.”
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors candidates debate some of the hardest pressing issues in Silicon Valley. From left to right: San José Spotlight reporter Brandon Pho, D2 candidate Madison Nguyen, D2 candidate Betty Duong, D5 candidate Margaret Abe-Koga and D5 candidate Sally Lieber.
The August closure of lifesaving services at Regional Medical Center by its private owner, HCA, loomed large over a candidate forum for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors for Districts 2 and 5.
“There aren’t enough words in my vocabulary to describe the sheer calamity, the devastation this closure will have on our residents,” District 2 candidate Betty Duong told the audience. “The most vulnerable population in the county, the most low income district in the county, needs the Level II trauma center to stay open.”
Her opponent, Madison Nguyen, said the county needs to work with HCA.
“These conversions need to happen right now, at that level,” Nguyen said. “There might be solutions for how we can save the trauma center for residents.”
Local education leaders tackle the opportunity gap in San Jose's schools for PolitiBeat 2024. From left to right: San José Spotlight freelance reporter Lorraine Gabbert, ARUSD Board President Corina Herrera-Loera, Dilza Gonzalez with SOMOS Mayfair, former San Jose Planning Commissioner Rolando Bonilla and Lisa Andrew with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.
A discussion on the opportunity gap in San Jose schools compelled Lisa Andrew, CEO of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, to call out the state’s school funding formulas.
“Our state is funding the students of East San Jose far below other students in Santa Clara County. That perpetuates poverty; it perpetuates a lack of access and opportunity; and it perpetuates the idea that those students are not going to be able to become economically mobile,” Andrew said.
City, county, activist and religious leaders discuss the effects of immigration on Silicon Valley. From left to right: San José Spotlight reporter Joyce Chu, San Jose Councilmember Peter Ortiz, Santa Clara County Supervisor Sylvia Arenas,  Maritza Maldonado with Amigos de Guadalupe and John Pedigo with the Catholic Diocese of San Jose.
East San Jose Councilmember Peter Ortiz raised concern over President Joe Biden’s executive order closing the U.S. border with Mexico to asylum seekers during a discussion on immigration in Silicon Valley.
“We believe it is a human right for individuals to seek asylum in any country and by closing our border he’s infringing on these individuals' rights,” Ortiz said. “They’re coming to be entrepreneurs, to be local small business vendors, to be service workers, farmworkers. These are the individuals who play a vital role in our economy.”
Santa Clara and 49ers leaders reflect on the 10-year anniversary of Levi's Stadium at PolitiBeat. From left to right: San José Spotlight reporter Sakura Cannestra, Harbir Bhatia with the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Santa Clara Councilmember Suds Jain, former Santa Clara Councilmember Kevin Moore and Jihad Beauchman, executive VP with the 49ers.
A discussion about the 10-year anniversary of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara had local leaders pondering what’s to come in the next decade, especially with Super Bowl 60 and the FIFA World Cup just a couple years away.
“If you talk to Santa Clarans, a lot of them say we don’t have a downtown. There’s no place to go in Santa Clara,” Councilmember Suds Jain said. “Having a lot of events at the stadium will create some good support for restaurants. We need to have more events.”
Development and tourism leaders discuss San Jose's evolving identity at PolitiBeat. From left to right: San José Spotlight reporter Annalise Freimarck, Alexandra Urbanowski with SV Creates, Mercury News columnist Sal Pizarro, Ben Leech with the Preservation Action Council, SJSU professor Kelly Snider and Benjamin Roschke with Visit San Jose.
A discussion on San Jose’s evolving identity raised the question of what keeps people in Silicon Valley when the cost of living is so high.
“I think it’s if you have a safe and healthy place to live. Whether that’s a little rental that you share with 10 of your family members or if it’s a house you inherited or were lucky enough to buy or had access to wealth,” San Jose State University professor and land-use consultant Kelly Snider said. “I think generally most of the other people are being lured away because it’s simply too hard to work here. You can’t make enough money to be comfortable in a typical middle or working class existence. It’s very hard.”
Contact Brandon Pho at brandon@sanjosespotlight.com or @brandonphooo on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The post San José Spotlight's PolitiBeat tackles the future of Silicon Valley appeared first on San José Spotlight.

San Jose Spotlight logo From San Jose Spotlight...

06/22/2024
Image for display with article titled Silicon Valley Transit Agency Services Off Track, State Audit Shows

Santa Clara County’s main transportation agency needs to change how it is governed and improve its transparency with the people it serves, a recent audit reveals.

California Local Pin Marker From CalMatters...

06/22/2024
Gov. Newsom and legislative leaders announce an agreement to bridge the state budget deficit by dipping into reserves and reducing some spending. The deal also calls for a bill in August to set aside more money and a 2026 constitutional amendment to grow the state’s rainy day fund.

Morgan Hill Times logo From Morgan Hill Times...

06/21/2024
Image for display with article titled Morgan Hill Native Serves Aboard USS Kentucky

Petty Officer 3rd Class Alan Cox, a native of Morgan Hill, is one of the sailors serving aboard USS Kentucky, continuing the U.S. Navy’s 124-year tradition of service under the sea to help ensure Americans’ safety.

Gilroy Dispatch logo From Gilroy Dispatch...

06/21/2024
Image for display with article titled Letter: Gilroy Celebrates Donald Prieto

For years, I had a vision of bringing a fun and creative pop-up park to downtown Gilroy, and in October 2022 we, the city council, embraced this idea. The goal was to create a space that would not only beautify our downtown but also serve as a venue for events and gatherings.

San Jose Spotlight logo From San Jose Spotlight...

06/21/2024
Image for display with article titled San Jose Advocates Want More Money for Non-Police Crisis Team

San Jose officials plan to allocate additional funding toward mental health services in the upcoming budget, after advocates pushed for more non-police emergency response.

San Jose Spotlight logo From San Jose Spotlight...

06/21/2024
Image for display with article titled Op-Ed: San Jose Stands Together for Fair Construction Practices

A thriving economy relies upon the rule of law, the assurance that fairness, equity and justice will prevail. It drives investment decisions around the globe and here at home. And for the tens of thousands of victims of wage theft who are still waiting to be paid, it is well past time for San Jose to reclaim its position as a legal and moral authority.
Wage theft affects every aspect of our economy, none more than the workers that directly feel its effects, most often low-wage earners, disproportionately women, immigrants and people of color. The crime takes many forms: not paying minimum wage or overtime, denying meal breaks, unpaid sick leave, tip theft and bounced paychecks. The costs add up, no matter how you look at them. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average worker lost an equivalent of a month and half of rent, or money to cover critical household costs, such as child care and groceries.
Wage theft also undermines fair competition, hurting responsible businesses that choose not to cut corners by underpaying workers. Those who do not only gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding companies, but also enable a race to the bottom that damages entire industries and our local economy. The median construction worker in San Jose now brings home less wages per year than construction workers in Alameda, San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin or Contra Costa. With workers likely to seek employment elsewhere, allowing contractors convicted of wage theft to avoid consequences has actively contributed to workforce shortages in San Jose.
With more than eight years of being known as the center of construction wage theft and low-road jobs, San Jose has discouraged investment in growing a skilled construction workforce, driving up costs for responsible businesses and deterring them from taking on projects here.
San Jose has a long and proud history of championing working families, fostering a vibrant business community and leading the way on policies that put people first. Today, that spirit of collaboration and shared purpose is on full display as we rally together to tackle wage theft in the construction industry. The Responsible Construction Ordinance — the product of extensive dialogue and compromise between diverse stakeholders including city government, elected representatives and the labor and business communities — represents a significant step forward in our collective effort to protect workers, ensure fair competition and build a stronger, more resilient and equitable San Jose.
The policy requires companies that have already been convicted of wage theft to pay back what they owe before obtaining another building permit. By creating new means to ensure equitable enforcement of the law, it will not only protect workers' livelihoods but also support local construction contractors who play by the rules while holding bad actors accountable.
This ordinance is a testament to the commitment of our city, community leaders and business advocates to finding solutions that work for everyone. We commend our colleagues and partners for their dedication to bridging divides and fostering consensus, rooted in prioritizing the needs of our city above all else. Through open dialogue and compromise, we have crafted a policy that addresses the needs of workers, protects responsible businesses and strengthens our city's economy. This process demonstrates that we can achieve more when we work together, putting aside our differences for the greater good of San Jose.
The passage of the Responsible Construction Ordinance is a crucial step in addressing the multimillion-dollar issue of wage theft that has plagued our city's construction industry. While other cities in our region such as Sunnyvale, Milpitas and Mountain View have already taken the lead on this issue, San Jose's ordinance signals our renewed commitment to protecting workers’ rights and creating a level playing field for responsible businesses.
We hope that this ordinance will not only bring much-needed relief to our construction workers, but also position San Jose to reclaim its role as a regional leader in setting an economic agenda that rewards innovation and fair play.
Jean Cohen is executive officer of the South Bay Labor Council. Dev Davis is a San Jose councilmember representing District 6.
The post Op-ed: San Jose stands together for fair construction practices appeared first on San José Spotlight.

Morgan Hill Times logo From Morgan Hill Times...

06/21/2024
Image for display with article titled Study Calls for Higher Sewer Rates From Morgan Hill Customers

A new study commissioned by the City of Morgan Hill has found that the city needs to raise its wastewater customers’ rates by 8-9% per year through 2029 in order to keep up with the system’s ongoing operating expenses and debt payments.

San Jose Spotlight logo From San Jose Spotlight...

06/21/2024
Image for display with article titled State Bill Threatens Landline Services in Santa Clara County

After public outcry across the Bay Area, state regulators this week barred AT&T from pulling out of a crucial lifeline for hard-to-reach residents in remote pockets of Santa Clara County: basic landline services.
But on the eve of the California Public Utilities Commission’s Thursday decision, a state law proposal about horse racing was gutted and amended to legislation that would give the telecommunications giant another way to phase out its statewide landline duty. The new Assembly Bill 2797 would relieve telephone carriers from their “carrier of last resort” designation if they submit a notice showing a lack of basic customers or that alternative carrier services are available in a given area.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to oppose AB 2797, which connectivity advocates have slammed as an attempt to get around state regulators. The disconnect could leave county residents in rural parts of South County, Santa Cruz Mountains, Diablo Range and San Jose in the dark during natural disasters.
“It would essentially relieve AT&T of its carrier obligations by circumventing the process that the California Public Utilities Commission has in place,” Deputy County Executive David Campos told San José Spotlight. “Many county residents live in areas where mobile phone and internet service is nonexistent, so the idea there would no longer be landlines in these areas means that these residents would not have access to safe, reliable and affordable phone service. These are areas more prone to disasters like wildfires and earthquakes.”
The above map shows the portions of Santa Clara County where AT&T was seeking to withdraw landline services (shaded in blue). Violet shaded sections represent the territory where AT&T California may seek to withdraw from as a carrier of last resort in the future. Courtesy of Santa Clara County.
AT&T applied to exit its designation last year, prompting more than 5,000 letters to the utilities commission from members of the public who mostly opposed the request, which would have withdrawn minimum service from areas across Silicon Valley. Significant portions of those areas fall within high fire threat districts, state earthquake fault zones and seismic hazard zones. In various parts of the county, alternatives to the landline services that AT&T guarantees as the carrier of last resort are nonexistent, unreliable or costly, county employees said.
The issue is also drawing yet another battle line in the contentious race for Congressional District 16.
"I urge @Evan_Low to vote no on AB 2797. Releasing AT&T of its obligation as the ‘Carrier of Last Resort' would strand thousands of residents who need landlines to contact emergency services during natural disasters, when their lives are most in peril," reads a tweet from former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo directed at his opponent, state Assemblymember Evan Low.
In 2016, Low pushed an Assembly bill that would have allowed AT&T to phase out landline service. Critics called the bill an attempt to relieve the company of regulatory monopoly checks. He has now changed course.
Low said he supports modernizing California's telecommunications infrastructure but he won't support Assemblymember Tina McKinnor’s bill in its current form. The language in the latest bill says that the ‘Carrier of Last Resort' designation requires AT&T to provide minimum telephone services in exchange for the right to cross state-owned lands.
“I cannot support legislation that would cease landline service or change ‘Carrier of Last Resort' obligations without being confident that rural areas can still quickly reach emergency services during storms and disasters,” Low told San JosĂ© Spotlight. “I will therefore vote against Assembly Bill 2797 if it remains in its current form, in order to protect rural access to emergency phone service.”

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