Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Oct. 29 Campaign Contributions

Permanent Link: 

Update 11/5/2013: The campaign contributions have now been broken out into independent expenditures and direct contributions to the candidate's campaign.  Those making indirect expenditures in support of a candidate are legally required to disclose the candidate they are in support of and how much they spend on that candidate's behalf.  A correction to Larsson's self-contribution is made.  C.f. Tim Risch's analysis of independent expenditures at:

(Update 10/30/2013 - The official sources for the large ($71K) donations from the NAR are here:
https://www.specialinterestwatch.org/FPPC%20Reports/Campaign%20Forms/NARF/NARFForm465_10252013_2.pdf )

It appears at this time that it was PAC money that was spent on the candidate's behalf but not donated directly to the candidates and so they don't have to report it themselves.  This relates to the recent Supreme Court decision on the Citizen's United case which essentially allowed PACs to spend as much as they like.  There are judges on the Supreme Court who would like to reverse that decision but as of now, it is the law of the land.

It is highly unusual for national bodies like the NAR to spend so much on a local campaign, so there is some speculation that the NAR was used as a pass-through where a local interest donated money to the PAC and expressed a desire that it aid candidates Larsson and Hendricks.

Update 10/31/2013.  The NAR spokeperson said it was the local Silicon Valley branch which requested the donation - so it would appear to be one or more local donors working through the national PAC.

Seat 1:
Andy Frazer: $10,154
Indirect Expenditures: $0
Frazer Details at: http://specialinterestwatch.org/Andy%20Frazer.aspx
Largest donor: Andy Frazer = $6,000

Gustav Larsson:  $53,528.25
Indirect Expenditures: $104,220.47
Grand Total: $157,748.72
Largest donation/expenditure: National Association of Realtors Fund (NAR) = $70,580.00

Seat 2:
Steve Hoffman: $2,301.70
Largest donor: Steve Hoffman = $1,450

Glenn Hendricks:  $57,331.81
Indirect Expenditures: $103,113.60
Grand Total: $160,445.41
Largest donation/expenditure: National Association of Realtors Fund = $70,580.00

Gustavo MagaƱa: Total = less than $1,000
The 3rd Candidate, Gustavo Magana, cannot spend more than $1,000 because he elected not to form a campaign committee and therefore is limited by law in what he can spend.

Seat 3:
Jim Griffith: $57,845.51
Indirect Expenditures: $12,747.60
Grand Total: $70,593.11
Griffith contributor details at: http://specialinterestwatch.org/Jim%20GriffithC.aspx
Largest donation/expenditure: Jim Griffith = $47,714.97

Tap Merrick:  Total = $14,224               
Largest donor: Tap Merrick = $11,724.31

The indirect expenditures make a big difference in terms of providing polling data, and distributing campaign literature which is indistinguisable from that which a candidate would provide, including photos of the candidate.  Sunnyvale has never seen so much money in indirect expenditures.

The total amounts for Hendricks and Larsson set new records for Sunnyvale.  Four years ago, Seat 1 incumbent Tony Spitaleri raised $117,722 (which was then the highest ever raised), Seat 2 incumbent Chris Moylan raised $41,902.  Martin -Milius won with $27,666, Meyering won with $11,000,  For more details, see: http://specialinterestwatch.org/Default.aspx

If this were a CA state Senate or Assembly election there would be limits to individual and PAC campaign contributions of $4,100 - see:

If this were a US Senate or House election there would be limits to individual and PAC campaign contributions of $2,600 - see:

There do not appear to be local election limits set by Sunnyvale although the city certainly could.  Such limits have been upheld by the US Supreme Court numerous times.  See the NY Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/08/opinion/politicians-for-sale.html?hp&_r=1&

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cybersquatting Laws and Jim Griffith


Did Jim Griffith violate any laws when he registered the internet names "TapMerrickForSunnyvale.com" and ".net" in apparent imitation of his political opponent's election web address TapMerrickForSunnyvale.ORG"?

Without a court conviction it would be defamation of character for me to say so but you can certainly judge for yourself in the citations below.  Many, perhaps most, lay people are likely to say the law is pretty clear and that Jim Griffith quite possibly did violate the law, although only a court can decide definitively.

In the year 2000, CA. Governor Gray Davis signed into law Senate Bill 1319, California’s anticybersquatting statute.  Under Chapter 4 article 3 "Deceptive Online Activities" ELECTIONS CODE 
SECTION 18320-18323:

“Political Cyberfraud” defined:  “..deny a person (a political website) or cause a person reasonably to believe that a political Web site has been posted by a person other than a person who posted the web site.”

Found in the CA civil code here:

CA's business and professional codes cover cyberfraud as well:
17525.  (a) It is unlawful for a person, with a bad faith intent to register, traffic in, or use a domain name, that is identical or confusingly similar to the personal name of another living person or deceased personality, without regard to the goods or services of the parties.
C.f.: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=bpc&group=17001-18000&file=17525-17528.5

There is also, US Federal Law, "Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999" which was discussed by the US Patent & Trade Office (USPTO) in a report to congress found here:

In the legal text book “Internet Domain Names, Trademarks and Free Speech” By Jacqueline D. Lipton (Law Professor Case Western Reserve, co-Author Law Text Book – Cyberspace Law: Cases & Materials, Third Edition) ($31.20 eBook) the issue of whether this might be constitutionally-protected free speech is addressed:  'By making it too expensive to buy all the possible domain names'…“Political Cybersquatting might ..chill protected First Amendment Speech in the absence of remedy” (Pg 218)

Griffith took an oath when he assumed office to uphold the constitution and laws of CA.  Is he then an oathbreaker as well as a law-breaker?  To me this issue is so important that I would vote against anyone whom I felt violated these laws regardless of how I felt about their stance on the issues.  If lawbreaking by public officials is dismissed as "no big deal" then they have carte blanche to start breaking any laws - bribery, political extortion, corruption.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2013 Housing Development & Campaign Contributions


Politicians always say "How dare you, Sir!" when asked about large contributions to their campaigns as if no politicians ever traded a vote for money - legal or not (c.f. US Vice-President Spiro Agnew, who made his name preaching virtue until he was caught as a premier kleptocrat).  

Vidovich isn't buying politicians with his $3,000 contributions to Larsson and Hendricks - they already agree to the high density housing he wants to build. Larsson said in the League Of Women's Voters (LWV) debate that he has no problem with 70-80 ft high rise apts/condos in the Lawrence station development.  That is 7-8 story apt. buildings.  See question 5 at the 1:40:41 mark on the LWV forum tape or my transcription here:

The relevant excerpt is here (requires Microsoft's Silverlight):
Get Microsoft Silverlight

If at Lawrence Station, why not Butcher's corner? Vidovich's De Anza properties also owns the Mary/Fremont plaza.  If he can build a large apt. complex at Butcher's corner, why not at Mary/Fremont?

Vidovich Mary/Fremont Plaza now

Same place with 10-story apt. building
Griffith stated he sees the city needing to grow by 37% (=> growing from 150,000 to 205,000) due to all the employment the high rise office buildings have created (so far, but more to come) and says the city is already built out.  So he wants to solve the problem he helped create by building high rise apt. complexes?  See 10 minute mark on LWV video or Question 2. at

Griffith has loaned himself $37,715 for his campaign.  See:

It is perfectly legal to receive contributions after the election from anyone - including developers - often at "pay off the debt" parties.  If Griffith wins, Vidovich or anyone else can legally pay all or part of that debt.  Vidovich has a history of contributing (sometimes illegally) to politicians to get zoning he wants.  See article here:

Until now, the individual contributions have been on the order of $100-$200, $500 max.  Politician's have been able to win going door-to-door against huge odds.  Meyering won spending $11,000 vs his opponent's $70,000.  That $3,000 Vidovich contribution raises the ante a LOT!  Add a zero to all those contributions and we are looking at developer-backed campaigns of $300,000 or $700,000.  Vidovich spent well over $5,000,000 for Butcher's corner and will spend much more to build there so $3,000 or $30,000, or $300,000 is all the same to him but it will absolutely swamp any ordinary citizen like Frazer.

I just got a Larsson mailer saying he will finish the downtown (no details, of course).  In the LWV tape he clearly has no better idea how to do that than anyone else but that mailer will probably get some votes for him.  In fact the mailer seems based on a comment by Andy Frazer that finishing the downtown was the number 1 priority for voters.  See question 2 at the 1hr, 28 min 58 sec mark on the LWV forum tape or my transcription here:

Wiht large developer contributions, Griffith, Hendricks, & Larsson can afford multiple mailers thanks to Vidovich and other developers - people like Frazer can't.  See the campaign chests here:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Oct. 2013 League of Women Voters Candidates' Forum - Seat 1

Summary of Candidates Forum for Seat 1 - Frazer vs. Larsson

See also Seat 2 - Hendricks vs Hoffman vs. Magana - at:

and Seat 3 - Griffith vs. Merrick - at:

The League of Women Voters Sunnyvale City Council candidates’ forum on Oct. 15th, 2013 is available here:
At 1 hr 25 min 45 sec on video: Seat 1: Frazer vs. Larsson
1.       Intro:
a.       Frazer: 20 year resident, sustainability commission, engineering manager
b.      Larsson: Planning commission, worked on PA Medical Facility and took Sunnyvale Leadership course.

2.       1 hr 28:58 - Downtown
a.       Larsson: lives nearby and really wants it finished.  Favored talking with parties but found CC tried that to no avail.  Wants CC to report every meeting on status of Downtown with more attention.  Use this as a chance to look at city plans – less retail more open space.
b.      Canvassing neighborhoods and it is the number 1 issue.  Original developer went bankrupt, Wells Fargo took it over (ed. note - and finished some of the buildings) and now developer Peter Paul (sp?) is suing to get it back to complete it.  At this point there is one more lawsuit the original developer has lodged and honestly there is not much you can do at this point except wait out the one remaining lawsuit.

3.       1:31:35 - Pension and employee costs:  Is the city on track to have sustainable employee and pension costs?
a.       Frazer: this year $30M to subsidize employee pension costs + $5M to pay for lifetime health benefits. (Editorial comment - General Fund budget is $150M) Pensions got me into city politics.  Tap Merrick and I (Frazer) co-founded Sunnyvale Pension Reform to educate people about the issue.  The city is moving in the right direction to pay down the unfunded liability of about $250M.  It is still 5 years out until employees pay the 8% employee share.  Our costs will go from $30M to $35M so costs are still going up.  Can’t take away benefits – not fair & not legal.  Employees need to carry a lot more of the pension costs than current plan.
b.      Larsson:  We are on track.  Pensions are part of compensation.  On track but not there yet.  City has started a two tier pension system where new hires come in at a lower pension plan and city has hired an actuary to tell how much to pay down the unfunded liability.  The $30M is only 22% of overall pension costs.  On my own 401K total of my contribution and my employer’s it was also around 21-22% so it is on par with what private sector contributes if they are saving enough.  Need to look at overall compensation view.
c.       Frazer:  City Council and employees are saying they will be paying their full share.  What they mean is the minimum 8% state mandated “employee” share which they should have been paying all this time.  Full share means half of all pension costs like social security – I pay half, my employer pays half.  Should be closer to 30-35%.
d.      Larsson – full share is not necessarily a 50-50 split.  Really about total take home pay.  How much city pays directly to employee or indirectly to pension funding all works out.

4.       1:36:50 – High density development is planned along Mathilda and elsewhere like Butcher’s Corner and at the intersection of Mary and Fremont.  Do you support this trend?
a.       Frazer – My opponent and I disagree on this.  The city has a general plan encompassing all aspects.  There has been steady stream of developers over the last few years asking for general plan amendments to exceed the limits to building.  I am not anti-growth but high density office buildings require state-mandated housing to provide for all these new workers.  This impacts traffic, schools and parks.  Like CM Moylan’s plan to require all large development to come before the council.
b.      Larsson - Most general plan amendments are shot down by staff.  General Plan dates to 1997 so plans need to be flexible.  High cost of land is driving high density land.  Consider young families and older people who can’t drive.  They need cheaper housing which suggests higher density.  Some development provides parks and amenities so there are benefits.
c.       Frazer – as Steve Hoffman pointed out (ed. note – In Sept. COOL Forum see http://calpensionsbrief.blogspot.com/2013/10/sept-2013-sunnyvale-city-council.html item 4), if denser housing lowered rents, then NY, Shanghai, Moscow, and Hong Kong would be the cheapest places in the world.  Higher density brings in more people who wouldn’t otherwise move here.
d.      Larsson – those high housing costs are about supply and demand and there are an incredible number of jobs there (in big cities mentioned by Frazer).

5.       1:41:40 – Mixed use development (commercial and housing): For it or against it.
a.       Larsson – Support mixed use like Santana Row – mutual benefit to residents and businesses. – share parking – needs retail to be sustainable in that area.  Opportunities to downsize from house to apt and stay in neighborhood and walk to shopping.
b.      Frazer – favors mixed use in certain areas – traffic concerns.  Concern with Lawrence Station plan in the core it is intended to be 70-80 foot high buildings (ed. note - size of Nokia Building on Mathilda about size of 8 story apt building ) which is too dense for that area.
c.       Larsson – How does Mr. Frazer determine what is too dense? I (Larsson) am on citizen’s advisory committee for Lawrence Station.  That group has been nearly unanimous in support of the plan. 
d.      Frazer – I do support the location – just concerned about density – 3,000 jobs and 2,000 housing units with 1-2-3 bedrooms per unit.

6.       1:46:20 – Revenue – Sufficient or new taxes or fees?
a.       Frazer – revenue growth is extremely good, but employee costs have gone up even faster for over a decade.  City finance dept. told me that in past 12 years, employee costs have gone from 62% to 72% of revenue while eliminating 150 full time positions.  Want a city policy that won’t let employee costs grow faster than revenue.
b.      Larsson – Sunnyvale has an AAA credit rating - one of 8 in CA due to well-run financial management by Moody’s estimation.  Good position with 20-year budget process to keep us on track.  Supporting local business a growing economy will bring in more revenue. Redeveloping properties brings in raises property values which bring in more taxes.
c.       Frazer – Bond rating only means how reliably we pay off their debts.  We have been paying off our debts at expense of city services.
d.      Larsson – we are restoring services and expanding services.

7.       1:49:45 – Campaign finances: how much total spending and can campaign contributions lead to conflicts of interest.
a.       Larsson - I expect to spend about $32K so far from about 40 individuals and 25 volunteers – 11 last weekend.  I can’t keep track of all those people who gave me money so I can’t say they influence my vote.  The largest is $3,000 and the smallest is $100.
b.      My budget will be $8,000 of which $6,000 is my own.  All the other money is from residents and I do not accept contributions from developers, unions or anyone else that will have business before the city council.

8.       1:52:24 – City Communication with residents about developments?
a.       Frazer – Now 300 ft was the former notification radius.  Planning commission voted to make it 2,000 feet and Larsson was the sole vote against it preferring 1,000 feet.  I think 2,000 ft isn’t enough
b.      Larsson – Mailers aren’t that effective – prefer email.  Neighborhood associations work also.

9.       1:54:50 – Why should we vote for you?
a.       Larsson – need politicians who are pragmatic, have tangible results, and that’s me.  I’ve worked on grass roots issues and been through the school of hard knocks and on planning commission – proud of my work there – affordable housing and cap payday lenders in Sunnyvale – park dedication fee.

b.      Frazer – my priorities are the future of Sunnyvale, get employee costs under control, very careful about future development, plan to live here for the rest of my life.  I would have voted against the two recent sales of city land (ed note – referring to Murphy Park expansion land and Raynor Park buildings.)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Oct. 2013 League of Women Voters Candidates' Forum - Seat 2

Perma-link to here:

This is a summary of candidates forum for Seat 2: Glenn Hendricks, Steve Hoffman, and Gustavo Magana (34 minute mark)
See also seat 3 (Grifith vs Merrick) here:

This is part 2 for seat 2 in the Sunnyvale City Council Election covering the 2nd 50 minutes of the 120 minute video.  I made editorial decisions to select some parts and leave out others for the sake of readability.

The video of the League of Women Voters Sunnyvale City Council candidates’ forum on Oct. 15th, 2013 is available here:


Gustavo Magana: created a program at Santa Clara University to increase the enrollment of minority students

Glenn Hendricks: planning commission, and many other committees.

Steve Hoffman: Active in community, attends all city council meetings, bringing up civility and ethics.

1. 38 min:  Completion of downtown (It’s been 10 years!)

a.       Glenn Hendricks – city is too passive, try to get parties talking, pass disincentive to the current situation, pressure the developer.

b.      Steve Hoffmann – agrees – claims Hendricks took his (Hoffman’s) position.  Council has been spineless about this.  Notes he (Hoffman) has not taken developer money and would not be beholden to developers.  2 years ago when he (Hoffman) ran everyone claimed they would do something about the downtown and nothing has happened. 

c.       Magana – currently in law school.  Because it is in litigation there is not much that can be done.  Penalties on developer but cannot be done easily.  Why weren’t penalties levied beforehand? Those responsible should be held accountable.

d.      Hendricks – he has received no contributions from downtown developers – urges aggressive action.

e.      Hoffman – limits on contributions to federal campaigns are $2600 per candidate yet Glenn Hendricks has received more than that from an individual developer and also taken money from the head of the largest developer PAC (SunPAC).

2.       43 min:  How would you balance the need for econ growth, affordable housing, and preserve neighborhood character?

a.       Hoffman – we have a General Plan and we should follow it - not look at each little pocket in isolation.  Currently the city council is on a marathon to approve millions of square feet of commercial space as if they are afraid of losing their majority and need to get it all approved before a new city council takes over.  This is without accounting for the burden on schools and city services, including fewer police than 10 years ago.

b.      Magana – income disparity needs to be addressed.  People who have lived here for years are being forced out by the rising cost of housing.  The placing of buildings needs to be considered.

c.       Hendricks – the general plan is updated every ten years and you can get involved.  Zoning decides what goes where and that is the process – input from the community decides all this.

d.      Hoffman – Claims Hendricks says everything relies on community input but to Hoffman it is “open doors and deaf ears” - no one listens.  He (Hoffman) has been trying to give input for 2 years with no response.  He (Hoffman) went to the planning commission and they wouldn’t even answer a question.  If he (Hoffman) is elected, that will change dramatically.

e.      Gustavo Magana – If there were community input so many people wouldn’t be upset about the LinkedIn building.  Currently council listens and then ignores the input and does what they were going to do anyway.

f.        Hendricks – was at the planning commission meeting Hoffman attended (as a member of the commission) and notes that the meeting was only to receive input, not to answer questions, which comes later.

3.       50 min: Is the city doing enough to notify residents and receive input from residents about developments in their area and if not what would you propose?

a.       Hendricks – city is not doing an adequate job.  After the input from residents that their property values were going down because of the LinkedIn building he proposed on the planning commission that the notification area be extended (detail not mentioned: he proposed 2,000 foot radius instead of current 300 foot radius but was opposed by commissioner Gustav Larsson who felt 1,000 feet was enough).  He claims that the idea that people don’t listen is patently false.  He loves it when people come to planning commission meetings.

b.      Magana – there seems to be a complete lack of outreach to the community.  LinkedIn is a good example.  Why didn’t they go out and knock on doors and get input.

c.       Hoffman – the city doesn’t listen – Mr. Hendricks blames people for not showing up but he (Hoffman) has been going to the meetings for years and sees that everyone is ignored.  There needs to be citizen groups to work advise the city.

d.      Hendricks – the commissions that currently exist are the citizens groups Mr. Hoffman wants.  We want to hear from the public

e.      Magana – what we need is people who are actively engaged in the community.  Mr. Hendricks is like a teacher telling a class that isn’t learning that it is their fault.

f.        Hoffman – planning commissions get nominated by the council.  Mr. Hendricks was Council Member Jim Griffith’s campaign treasurer and shortly after was nominated to the planning commission.  Council nominates their own kind of people with the same mind-set.  He (Hoffman) applied to the planning commission and was turned down and now understands the reason.

4.       57 min: Do you think the city is on a sustainable course to maintain pay and pension costs.

a.       Magana – need better communication with the groups that receive pensions.  Respects pensions so people can have a decent retirement.  Should not take away the retirement from current retirees.

b.      Hoffman – the current course is not sustainable.  The average compensation for full time public safety officers in Sunnyvale is $250,000.  They can then retire with up to 90% of their highest earnings (editorial comment – the compensation includes overtime which is not included in retirement income in Sunnyvale though it is in other cities and counties).  By comparison, if you went to an insurance co. at age 55 when police and fire officers can retire after 30 years of service and bought an annuity to guarantee $100,000/year income for the rest of your life, you would have to give them $2.1 million.  The question is not whether they deserve it, they do, but whether it is sustainable and the answer is no.  Employees in the private sector get nothing like this and public employees should receive similar retirement to that of the private sector.

c.       Hendricks – the current course is not sustainable.  The employees need to contribute more.  We need to work with our bargaining units to make it sustainable. I think the bargaining units understand that it is not sustainable but they will want to negotiate the changes.

d.      Magana – Mr. Hoffman talks about facing reality but this is an expensive place and retirees should not have to move from the place they have lived all their lives just to afford retirement.

e.      Hoffman – That is not what I am saying, just that city employees should face the same realities private sector employees will face.  As for what Mr. Hendricks said, when the bargaining units negotiate with the city council Mr. Hendricks will have a major conflict of interest since much of his campaign is financed and supported by unions.

f.        Hendricks- Mr. Hoffman is dealing with half-truths – I do not believe the unions are spending 100’s of thousands of dollars on flyers.  I will not be beholden to the unions.

5.       1 hr 03 min: Revenues – will increased spending on public safety, parks, etc. require more taxes?

a.       Hoffman – Sunnyvale does not have a revenue problem so we don’t need to raise revenue in fact there are a lot of excessive fees.  The biggest expense is employee salaries.  We currently pay police and fire $50,000 more than the second highest in Santa Clara County.  If we paid only $25,000 more than the 2nd highest we could increase the police force by 10%.  We do not need to increase revenue.

b.      Hendricks – we need more revenue and we should increase the Hotel tax which Mr. Hoffman opposes.  I favor greater revenues in fees from developers

c.       Magana – I think we can live with the revenue we have now.  We need to set our priorities straight and make sure that we interact with the community so we give them parks they need.

d.      Hoffman - I find it curious that Mr. Hendricks brings up the hotel tax because that brings up the issue of integrity and civility in the council.  I spoke against it and Mr. Hendricks has misrepresented my position despite my emails informing him.

e.      Hendricks - Mr. Hoffman is speaking half-truths that I have somehow violated some rule or done something wrong.  The Federal campaign contribution limit does not apply to local elections.  That is a big difference between us in that I have had a very positive campaign.

f.        Magana – we should be more civil to each other.

6.       1 hr 10 min: Campaign finance – you have different approaches to campaigning, please estimate how much your campaign expects to spend this campaign?  Please share your opinion on whether campaign contributions can influence thinking or lead to conflicts of interest.

a.       Magana – I am trying to do it as grass roots as possible because I grew up understanding money doesn’t grow on trees.  I will keep my spending under $1,000. If you are taking money from people you already agree with that is okay, but if you are taking money from anyone that offers it, that leads to conflict of interest and is wrong.

b.      Hendricks – I am doing retail politics going door-to-door talking to everyone but I can’t reach everyone so I have to go to mailers.  This takes money and people have given me money to support this.  I have not accepted money from any negative organizations.  Some businesses and organizations have contributed to me they are reputable well-respected organizations or businesses in the city and there is no reason to run away or hide from that.  I do not feel I will beholden so I can do what I think is the right thing for Sunnyvale.

c.       Hoffman – Mr. Hendricks did not answer the question of how much he expects to spend. It is not only how much he will spend but how much will be spent on his behalf by special interests.  The Police Officer’s Assoc., which is like a union, is spending many tens of thousands, possibly up to $100,000 when you add all the money for all the candidates they are supporting. I am on a mission over here – I believe I will spend about $2,000 all contributed by individuals so I will not have any debt (editorial comment – he is referring to “pay off the debt” post-election “parties” where people can contribute to already elected officials). We have all seen what happens in Washington, D.C. – it has a corrupting effect.

7.       1 hr 15 minutes: Civility – what will you do to foster good communications on the City Council?

a.       Hendricks – there is a complete lack of civility.  I have been trained to actively listen and hear the content rather than tone.  It stops city business and hurts the business.  I have been working on the planning commission in a collaborative style.

b.      Hoffman - You need to communicate with those you oppose as well as those you agree with.  Mr. Hendricks has not communicated with Mr. Meyering or responded to my emails.

c.       Magana – People on the city council are not aware of the negative impact of their bickering.

8.       1 hr 19 min – why should voters choose you?

a.       Magana – I have lived here all my life and have seen people in poverty and homeless and beat up because of their color or gang affiliation.  I want to represent the dispossessed.

b.      Hendricks – I was born and raised here and love Sunnyvale.  I want to work on your behalf on the policies and general plan and make Sunnyvale a better place to live for you and my children.

c.       Hoffman – I have lived here since I graduated college.  We have all seen the decline in Sunnyvale in the last 10, 15 years.  I will try to get a law passed requiring all council members to recuse themselves from voting on issues affecting their campaign contributors. This may be the last chance to get a council not controlled by unions and developers.

Oct. 2013 League of Women Voters Candidates' Forum - Seat 3


This is a summary of League of Women Voters (LWV) forum for candidates for Seat 3 Griffith, Merrick.  This covers the first 30 minutes of the 2 hour video.  I made editorial decisions to select some parts and leave out others for the sake of readability.  The video of the LWV Sunnyvale City Council candidates’ forum on Oct. 15th, 2013 is available here:

See also Seat 1, Frazer vs. Larsson here:

and Seat 2, Hendricks, Hoffman, and Magana

Of interest:  Griffith says the current jobs-to-resident ratio is 2.6 and the ideal is closer to 1.9.  This implies a 37% increase in population (150K to 205K) if the job number stays constant.  See 10:00 minute mark question below.

Seat 3: Jim Griffith vs. Tap Merrick (Griffith is incumbent)
1.       After introduction they spoke of their background. 
a.       Griffith mentioned his years on the library commission and nearly 4 years on the City Council including two terms as Vice Mayor.
b.      Merrick mentioned his career in finance and on the Federal Reserve

2.       Question 1 was on selecting a new city manager.  Nothing interesting.

3.       10:00 minute mark on video: Question 2 on economic growth, neighborhood character, affordable housing:
a.       Griffith: new housing should be consistent with neighborhoods
b.      Merrick: mobile homes which are the most affordable housing are disappearing due to city council actions.  Maybe we don’t need to provide so many more jobs and instead should protect neighborhoods. We should be improving transportation so people can live in Gilroy or Tracy and commute in.
c.       Griffith: the ratio of jobs to housing is 2.6 and the ideal is closer to 1.9 and that needs to be looked at in terms of needing more housing. Telling people who want to live here that they should come in from Tracy is not right. (Editorial Comment:  to bring the ratio from 2.6 to 1.9 implies a 37% increase in the number of residents if no more jobs are created.  This implies a population growth from 150K to 205K.  Many more office buildings are going to be approved by December so more than 205K is highly likely.)  

4.       14:00 min:  Q. 3 On civility:
a.       Merrick: accepting campaign contributions from developers and then voting on their projects invites accusations of conflict of interest.  Since he (Merrick) isn’t accepting contributions from developers that won’t be an issue.
b.      Griffith: he gets along fine with 5 of the other 6 council members.  Claims a city lawyer and the city manager quit because of lack of civility (editorial note – both were fully vested in their retirement program and retired, the city manager at age 65).  Asks others to judge candidates on the tone of their campaign literature.
c.       Merrick claims his attacks were on Griffith’s voting record which is perfectly legitimate.

5.       18 Min:  Costs of employee pay and pensions:
a.       Griffith: Controlling costs is partially but not completely done.  Some employee groups are done but Public Safety will be done later.  Part of developing the "costs' plan he was part of.  City is restoring services.
b.      Merrick: Pension costs are coming under control but very slowly.  He and Andy Frazer founded Sunnyvale Pension Reform to raise council awareness which took a while to do but they finally got the City Council to raise the priority.
c.       Griffith: claims pay and pensions costs coming down fast and that Sunnyvale Pension Reform came after the city planning.

6.       22 Min: Revenue
a.       Merrick: Against tax increases on residents.  Prefers a tax on new development for new city expenses like expanding schools for the new development.  Developers should pay more for the costs their development imposes on the city.
b.      Griffith:  Favors a utility use tax so it can be tailored to industry more than residents.  Opposes tax on new homes since it penalizes new residents.
c.       Merrick: Opposes new taxes on residents like a utility tax.
d.      Griffith: Opposes more taxes on developers who already pay a lot.  Claims taxes on developers have gone up a lot since he took office.  Prefers utility tax on everyone including industry.

7.       26 minute: finishing down town:
a.       Griffith: prefers eminent domain but current city council opposes it.  Hopes new city council will go with eminent domain.
b.      Merrick: difficult topic – eminent domain requires $300M while we have an unfunded pension liability of $280M.  If we have $300M for eminent domain, he would rather pay off the pension liability and let the downtown take care of itself.

8.       28:30 Min: why should voters choose you?
a.       Merrick: My opponent has voted for high density 7 out of 8 times far exceeding the city’s already generous General Plan while he (Merrick) will adhere to the General Plan and try to find ways to cut expenses.  I (Merrick) have the experience and training to do it with his years in finance.  I (Merrick) don’t want to sell off city land, especially heavily used city land (presumably the Civic Center).  He thinks there are better ways to pay for things than to sell off city land.

b.      Griffith: I have served nearly 4 years and work hard to go to public meetings and online newsgroups.  I am doing the hard work and listening to citizens.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Meyering Censure on YouTube - Part 1

Permanent link to this:

On May 7th the Sunnyvale City Council censured CM Pat Meyering.  Here is a summary of YouTube links to videos related to that including the motion, public comments, CM Meyering's defense and counter-charges, and council debate.  A different format requiring Microsoft's "SilverLight" may be vewed here from Sunnyvale City servers:

Omitted for now are the 33 minutes after public comments when the council members discussed the motion of censure.  They will be provided later.  It is very time consuming doing this and I know from the other version of this that the Council discussion is the least viewed part of this whole thing by a ratio of 12 to 1.  That council discussion is available in a different format here:

1.  A $1M+ payment to Sunnyvale's waste management firm to replace equipment that did not do what was intended comes up.  CM Meyering points out that several members have received campaign contributions from an officer of the co. and should recuse themselves.  CM Meyering argues that the deal is overly generous to the garbage collecting co.

Meyering Censure 1:  Prelude

2.  Vice-Mayor Griffith proposes the censure measure and others comment on the motion:

Meyering Censure 2: Motion By Griffith

3.    Public Comments on the Day of the Censure Vote - 4 residents speak about the previous meeting's incident for about 3 minutes each:
Meyering Censure 3: 1st Public Comments

4.  Mayor Spitaleri Reads Charges Against Pat Meyering:
Meyering Censure 4: Charge Read

5a.  CM Pat Meyering (who is a lawyer) starts his defense claiming he only saw the formal charges a few hours before the council meeting.  CM Meyering says that there is no opportunity to mount a proper defense.  He then criticizes the management of the garbage contract that was the source of the censure motion.
Meyering Censure 5a: Defense pt 1

      5b. Pat Meyering continued his defense claiming he only saw the formal charges a few hours before the council meeting:
Meyering Censure 5b: Defense pt 2

6.   Before each agenda item, the public is allowed 3 minutes per individual to make comments.  There were 12 members of the public speaking for 3 minutes each.  It is broken down into four 6- to 9-minute segments 6a, 6b, 6c, & 6d.

6a. CM Meyering Censure 6a: 2nd Public Comments.  
Sandra Pacheco speaks in support of Meyering recounting her father-in-law's experience as mayor of San Carlos.  Terry Fowler speaks against Pat Meyering.

6b.  Meyering Censure 6b: Public Comments by Tap Merrick, Andy Maloney, Mei-Ling Stefan

6c.  Meyering Censure 6c: Public Comments by Andy Frazer, Ray Johnson, Barbara Fukumoto

6d.  Meyering Censure 6c: Public Comments by Larry Alba, Steve Hoffman