January 29, 1991
By Yolanda Reynolds
The Mayor’s 1991 Unity Breakfast brought together community leaders, policy makers, business persons, educators and interested citizens at the San Jose Convention Center to hear the newly elected mayor present her plans for the city this coming year.
Mayor Hammer’s remarks and the focus of Wednesday morning’s address stressed her commitment to the city’s neighborhoods and to the residents of the city. To emphasize her priorities, Hammer said “creations of steel and concrete. Though necessary and impressive, are not ends in themselves… Buildings, be they convention centers or arenas or hotels – are the skeleton of a city. People are the heart of a city… our greatness as a city depends on how well we live together within our boundaries.”
Hammer laid out a number of “specifﬁc objectives” for the coming year as goals of her administration. They are as follows; 1. A greater responsiveness to the City’s diversity and the inclusion of the different communities in the decision making process at City Hall. 2. Televised City Hall meetings. 3. Develop a concerted multi agency program directed at eliminating gang activity in San Jose. 3. Establish a “Counter-Recreation Advisory Council” to highlight export opportunities, a services program for high tech start-up firms and a Hire Local campaign. 4. Seek Federal assistance for local firms impacted by any long term shift in the pattern of federal defense system expenditures. (Hammer is working with U.S. Congressman Edward for assistance in this quest.) 5. Complete the downtown arena and find a way to bring the Giants to anew stadium in San Jose. 6. Build additional affordable housing along a transportation corridors and near a job centers. 7. Direct City Hall attention to the environment, in particular to: identify water supply options for the City of San Jose, establish; a “Sustainable City Committee” which will address growth in San Jose with consideration to environmental protection and economic development and creation of an “0pen Space District” in cooperation with other nearby cities and the County Board of Supervisors in order to preserve the remaining hillsides in the County.
Hammer will also bring the power of her office to bear in addressing traffic problems and other regional issues such as housing in and around San Jose, by serving on the County Congestion Management Task Force and by playing a leadership role in the design of a new regional governmental structure suggested by the Bay Vision 2020 Study as necessary to address the twin regional problems of congestion and housing shortages, in particular the shortage of affordable housing. 8. Attracting to downtown San Jose, a headquarters of a major corporation, a major department store and additional cultural “headquarters.”
Hammer also plans to use Redevelopment dollars to build a permanent building for the Technology Center and the San Jose Repertory Theater. 9. Convene A Mayor’s Conference on Education, bringing together superintendents of School Districts, School Board members, teachers, city staff and elected city officials in order to define goals for city programs that can help educators in their work of educating the city’s youth.
She also plans to establish an “Urban University Committee “that will promote the new downtown to San Jose students and also explore ways in which the city could take advantage of the expertise of the University faculty by employing their knowledge for the beneﬁt of the City.
Mayor Susan Hammer commended the former mayor, Tom McEnery for the recreation “of a true downtown” in San Jose with the construction of many new buildings. Mayor Hayes began the rejuvenation of San Jose during her administration.
Hammer concluded her speech by reiterating the words, “Juntos Si Podemos,” the theme of her inaugural address.
The breakfast honorees reﬂected this administration’s stated intent to focus its attention on the involvement of the community in the decision making at City Hall.
Indeed, this administration has much to do to meet the many neighborhood and community requests and concerns. Some of these requests have yet to be addressed, such as recreational youth programs. Hammer did mention that the City will be a major contributor in the building of a youth center at the Lee Matheson school site in East San Jose. Others feel that some programs or services should be less costly to families with young children, especially the Technology Center and the Children’s Discovery Museum.
The entrance fee at the Technology Center is $6.00 for adults and $4.00 for children under 18 years of age. There are additional hourly fees for the use of the computer and other equipment. The entrance fee at the Children’s Discovery Museum is $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for children 18 and under. Both of these facilities offer programs that promote educational experiences and activities that merit repeated visits by school age children. The cost of admission would undoubtedly be a deterrent for even one visit, let alone several visits, to many low middle income families. Free admission would require greater subsidies from the City.
The last years of the previous administration brought long aid loud protests from various arts and cultural groups for recognition and financial support. Hammer did announce at the Breakfast that finding a permanent and appropriate home for the San Jose Repertory Theater is a priority. Already other groups, primarily the various ethnic communities, point to the disparate distribution of city funding and support given to a few traditional arts and cultural groups.
According to Felix Alvarez of El Teatro de los Pobres, the San Jose Symphony, Ópera San Jose, The Museum and the San Jose Repertory Theater receive more than 80% of the total arts funds available from the City Council and the city’s ethnic and cultural groups receive the remaining dollars. That percentage has remained basically the same for the last 10 years even though Hispanics now make up 21% of the total population and Asians form 14% of the population.
The new Hammer administration has stated that decision making at City Hall will be a more open process and that concerned citizens will be encouraged to attend City Council meetings she encouraged citizens to serve on the various committees and commissions that make recommendations so the City Council regarding a great variety of issues including the Parking Commission, and the Arts Commissions. The Library Commission, The Salary Setting Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission as well as smaller committees like the recently formed Historic Arts Advisory committee, (HAAC) established to resolve the Fallon controversy.
Announcements requesting applicants to City Committees and Commissions are frequently published in this newspaper. One of the most rewarding beneﬁts for serving on a City committee or commission is the opportunity to learn how a city is run and to learn the vocabulary used to describe the work of a city and, depending on the circumstances, the opportunity to influence City Hall decisions.
Already this new administration is facing a budget “shortfall.” The mayor and the rest of the Council this year have decided where to make additional cutbacks because of an additional 35.1 million expense they face this current fiscal year.
According to a memo sent by City Manager, Les White, to the staff in December this shortfall came about because the county of Santa Clara now charges the city of San Jose a fee for booking arrestees and for collecting property taxes. According to County Executive’s office, the new fees are necessary to help the County replace money not coming from Sacramento and to increase its own revenues to help meet the costs for the many services that the County provides its citizens.
This ﬁscal year, 1990, the City Manager announced that San Jose’s projected budget was unexpectedly short $7.5 million. This shortfall resulted in cutbacks for some programs. primarily non personnel items and a freeze on hiring people for vacant staff
That same 90-91 budget year the City Council made an “expenditure savings” of $2,842.400.00. That is it identiﬁed $2,842,400.00 in budgeted items in the 89-90 year that had not been spent and which were also included in the 90-91 budget. The City calls these “rebudgeted” items “expenditure savings.”
The City Council will begin planning the next ﬁscal year’s budget soon. The first budget meeting will be February 14 at 9:00 a.m., for a mid-year review of the current Operating Budget. In March, the Mayor will give her 91- 92 “Budget Message” on the 21st at 9:00 a.m. These budget meetings are held at the Council Chambers, located at 801 north First Street.