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2011 Newspaper Columns

Published on: 4/24/2013 3:57 PM

Remembering the Less Fortunate over the Holidays

Every year during the holiday season, I am humbled by the time and effort that everyday residents provide to help those less fortunate. Whether it is donating books and gifts to foster children or volunteering in a soup kitchen or shelter, these volunteers help to give a sense of normalcy for those in need. I commend all volunteers and donors for your service and dedication both during the holiday season and throughout the year. If you want to help, but are not sure how, here are a few ideas. read more

Lend Your Voice: Become a Commissioner

I invite you to join a board or commission to provide regular advice to me and the entire Board of Supervisors on issues that interest you. As an elected official, I represent you. It is my job to ensure that your voice is heard. Therefore, I am always pleased when I see residents voice their opinions on matters that come before the Board of Supervisors. Your advice helps to guide my decisions.
The mission of the County's boards and commissions is to advise the Board of Supervisors in their decision making process through direct resident participation. There are numerous commissions on issues ranging from mental health and homeless healthcare to veterans affairs and plumbing examiners. read more

A Critical Public Need: Parks

I am happy to announce that over five new miles of the Bay Area Ridge Trail was recently opened to the public. This section is located in the hills above Alum Rock Park in the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve. The Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, along with other partners, made this trail possible. This addition brings the total amount of completed trail to over 338 miles.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail Council is dedicated to creating over 550 miles of continuous trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians along the ridges overlooking San Francisco Bay. On the trail, you can enjoy spectacular, expansive views of the Bay, Pacific coastline, mountain ranges, and city skylines, while crossing diverse landscapes of towering redwoods, open grasslands and dense California forests, wildflower-covered meadows, coastal bluffs and world-famous bridges. read more

Restorative Justice: Santa Clara County's Youth Court

In my State of the County Address, I stated that my big, hairy audacious goal as a county supervisor is to put Juvenile Hall out of business. My vision is that we will transform the Juvenile Justice System, shifting the emphasis from punishment to reform. I believe that quite often these young children can be shown how to become good-standing members of their community. This is possible even if they have made an early detour into the justice system.
I am excited to announce a key piece of that transformation, Santa Clara County's Youth Court. This court offers youth offenders a second chance through restorative justice and peer accountability. The roles of a typical court, such as the prosecutor, defending attorney and jury, are filled with youth volunteers. The only adults involved will be the judge and bailiff. The benefits are twofold - youth offenders assume responsibility for their behavior and the volunteers receive insight into the legal system and possible career opportunities. read more page two

Transforming Neighborhoods: One Street at a Time (the Corazon Project)

I am often asked by residents, "What can I do to make a difference?" This summer, a group of volunteers, calling themselves Community con Corazon, decided that they would make a difference with their hands.
I'm sure you have all seen the ugly bruise of our streets: graffiti. It can be something as simple as kids getting into trouble or it could be as serious a gang marking. Either way it casts a pall over the neighborhood just by being there. read more

Thousands Attend Free Multicultural Festival

I would like to thank everyone who joined me at the Second Annual Day on the Bay: A Multicultural Festival on Saturday, September 17 and who made it a huge success. Over 5,000 Santa Clara County residents joined us with their friends and neighbors at the beautiful Alviso Marina County Park. Held in coordination with the Santa Clara County Parks Department, the Day on the Bay featured over 110 exhibitors passing out information on their services. These included everything from county and city services to nonprofits and local businesses.
This event would not be possible without the generous support of many local organizations and volunteers. The Santa Clara County Firefighters donated their time and barbecue grills to provide the free hamburgers for attendees. I would like to give a special thank you to the McDonalds Restaurants on White Road and on Tully Road for donating the condiments for the BBQ. Over 700 local children were able to pick out their own pumpkin for the holidays. read more

Santa Clara County Day of Remembrance

I would like to invite you to join me at Santa Clara County's Second Annual Day of Remembrance event for domestic violence. This year's event will feature a candlelight vigil as we are "Shining the Light on Peaceful Relationships." So far in 2011, we have lost 5 members of our community to domestic violence related deaths. Each of these people was a valuable member of our community. They may have been your neighbor, co-worker, fellow faith worshiper, or friend. They left behind parents, siblings, and children who now have to cope with the loss and search for the strength to heal and move on with their lives. The candlelight will be held on Thursday, October 27, 2011 from 5:00pm to 6:30pm at the County Governmental Center, 70 W. Hedding Street, San Jose. Organized by my office and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, this event is intended to be a time of healing as we remember the victims of domestic violence and it is also a time of strength as we learn how to recognize signs of domestic violence and stop these violent acts. read more

A True Silicon Valley Hero

I would like to share with you the story of a True Silicon Valley Hero. Walter Cottle Lester is one of the few remaining farmers in Silicon Valley. That alone makes him special. But the extraordinary story is how Mr. Lester gave up the chance to receive almost three quarters of a billion dollars in order to achieve his dream to preserve an agricultural park for the benefit and education of all future generations. I had the unique opportunity to work with Walter on the ground floor as his private sector attorney and then later as a public official in San Jose and now at the Board of Supervisors.
Walter's family has been working the land at the corner of Branham Lane and Snell Avenue for many generations. They grew everything from cotton to barley and cherries to apricots. Walter and his sister were the last two heirs in the family, carrying on the tradition of farming. Unfortunately, when his sister passed away, Walter came under immense pressure to sell the property. read more

Day on the Bay: A Multicultural Festival

I would like to invite you to the Second Annual Day on the Bay: A Multicultural Festival. This year's festival will be held on Saturday, September 17th, from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the Alviso Marina County Park located near Mills Street in Alviso.
What does multicultural mean to you? To me, it means a strong community; a community that values diversity and acceptance. By encouraging the spread of diverse ideas and accepting all people for who they are, the strength of humanity shines forth. read more

A State of the County Update

I want to thank you for your support during my year as President of the Board of Supervisors. I am very honored to work on your behalf. As we just adopted our $4 billion balanced budget and are preparing for the start of the next fiscal year, I would like to take this opportunity to give you an update on the initiatives I began as part of the 2011 State of the County Address. read more

The Fair: A Santa Clara County Tradition

Last week I shared with you some ideas for fun family activities as well as places to look for additional activities, such as your local library or community center. I would also like to invite you to another great FREE family event this summer, the Santa Clara County Youth Fair. It runs from August 4-7, from 10AM to 8PM each day, at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, 344 Tully Road, San Jose. Parking is FREE on Thursday and Friday and it's only $5 per car on Saturday and Sunday. This year's theme is Get Ready to Saddle Up! read more

Fun Summer Activities for all Families

Summer has finally arrived. The rains are gone and the temperature is rising. The kids are out for summer. While school is very important for our kids, it shouldn't mean that the learning stops for the summer. There are many activities available for families that provide learning, recreational and bonding opportunities. I would like to give you a few ideas for summer activities and places that you can find additional information. read more

$24 Million Funding Approved for Second Phase of Highway 101

I just received great news - the California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved our funding request of $24 million to rebuild the Highway 101 interchanges at Capitol and Yerba Buena! You may have seen the work already in progress at the Tully Road interchange. This next round of funding is for the second phase to complete the entire Highway 101 rehabilitation project from Story Road to Yerba Buena.

Just like you, I travel through this stretch of 101 - often several times a day. I know how dangerous and frustrating it is – and how much time it adds to our lives as we try to get to work on time, or as we try to get home to our families in the evening. read more page two

Sacramento Bus Trip: Legislators offer new ways to support education system

Last month I took a group of eighty residents to Sacramento to discuss our school funding concerns with our legislators. This trip was cosponsored by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation. We happened to be up there on the exact day when Governor Brown released his May Revised Budget. You can imagine how happy the group was to get good news: extra money was recommended to be put in the budget for education this year by the Governor! The extra $3 billion is only a small payback for all that has been diverted the past few years. It was a very important day for us to demand of our legislators that education be a priority in the budget. Not surprising, all of the legislators we spoke to agreed that education is important. One must wonder, then, why are schools in such financial crisis that we are seeing our school class sizes rise, our counselors, and other levels of support staff shrinking, and cuts in art, music, and sports programs. read more page two

Protect yourself from wildfires

This winter was unusually wet, which was good for our water supply. Unfortunately, as we can see by seeing the hills surrounding the valley turning brown, it means this year will also bring high fire danger. Like all disasters, the best way to protect yourself from fire is by being prepared. Here are a few tips for you.
The large wildfires that make the news, like the Oakland Hills Fire, are typically in rural lands. But regardless if your home is in the rural country or the urban city, protecting your home is the same: remove fire hazards away from your house. read more

Required vaccination for kids going back-to-school

The school entry law has changed in California - many students will need a 'Tdap' booster. I wanted to share this important information with you now so, if you are the parent or guardian of a teenager, you will have time to either get your child vaccinated or bring a proof of vaccination to your child's school if your child has already had this booster. There is a new California law that starts on July 1, 2011, that says that all California middle and high school students must be vaccinated against pertussis (whooping cough) for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year. This means that all students entering into 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades will be required to show proof of a 'Tdap' booster before starting school. read more

Speak Up for Better Education

Are you concerned about the funding cuts that are hitting our schools? I certainly am. Over the past few years, our schools have lost teachers, libraries, sports programs, art and music programs, clubs and more. They have put off buying new textbooks and have increased class sizes. All of this is detrimental to the quality of our students' education. If you too are concerned, then I would like to invite you to join me in the fight for better education funding by attending our annual bus trip to Sacramento and the Education Summit that I am hosting this May. read more

State of the County: Reaching out to the vulnerable populations

This is the third and last in a series of columns sharing aspects of the State of the County address that I delivered on January 25, 2011. In my first column, I shared the steps needed to make Juvenile Hall obsolete as I declared 2011 to be the Year of the Child, including phasing out the jailing of preteens, creating pre-trial diversions for minors, elimination of the overrepresentation of ethnic minorities, and creation of dedicated youth probation officers.
In my second column, I spoke about my goals for the creation of a teen court, a resurrected school linked services, support of A-G requirements, child impact statements, and a stronger Youth Task Force.
While I am focused on supporting the healthy development of all children and youth, I will be working to ensure a healthy and successful county for all residents. Today, I want to share with you my plans for economic development, supporting ethnic and elderly populations, and recording the wonderful history of Santa Clara County. read more