April 5, 1991
By Yolanda Reynolds
The Historic Landmarks Commission in a 6 to 3 vote decided to recommend that the City Council determine themselves among a number of different recommendations which are suggested by the Commission for naming the new San Jose Convention Center. One suggestion is to leave the name as is the “San Jose Convention Center.”
The Historic Landmarks Commission also unanimously agreed that the Commission needed criteria for the naming of publicly owned properties. They were concerned that such be developed before they are again asked to take on such a task.
In response to the various groups and their supporters, regarding the need for an ofﬁcial lasting commemoration honoring the City’s veterans. the Commission unanimously voted to request that the Fine Arts Commission give consideration of such a memorial high priority.
The Landmarks Commission also unanimously approved a motion made by Commissioner Mitchell that a communication be sent from the Historic Landmarks Commission to the Historic Art in Public Places Committee, recommending that the latter consider an appropriate memorial honoring Dr. Ernesto Galarza.
The evening meeting began with a number of people testifying before the Commission. The hearings lasted for two hours. Michael Fox, a local business man (a Budweiser Beer distributor), spoke in favor of naming the New Convention Center for Mayor McEnery because of the “skyline” the former mayor gave the City of San Jose.
Fox also claimed that “mainline” veterans group supported his proposal to rename the Convention Center honoring the former mayor. Fox claimed that the former mayor had “vision, ability, compassion, and had changed the City to a great place to be.”
Martin Galinsky, a veteran, said that in I936 the San Jose City Council declared that it would name a room in the old Convention Center in memory of the City’s veterans. The promise was a gain made during the Ron James administration. To date the veterans still have no memorial in this city honoring its thousands of veterans.
Business man Al Rodriguez spoke in opposition to Fox’s proposal and said that if it should be renamed it should be named in honor of the veterans. He said that if he had taxpayer money to spend on projects. He too could build a very impressive City. He advised the Commission to exploit the name of San Jose for the name recognition that it seeks. He said that in in his travels throughout the nation and abroad. it was only when he explained that San Jose was the major city within the Silicon Valley that people understood where San Jose was. He said that if San Jose wants to become known as a City, it must promote its name.
Indeed, that seemed to be major concern of a representative of the City’s Visitors & Convention Bureau who said that it was imperative that the name “San Jose” be a prominent part of the name in any proposed name charge.
Many thousands, if not millions, of dollars have gone towards promoting the name “San Jose” during the last ten years. According to marketing experts, it is usually disastrous to change a name in the middle of a marketing blitz. It is also very costly to change a name; there are stationary costs, roadway signs to change and new communications must be sent to cities, organizations and convention groups to inform them of the name change.
Even though part of this cost might b assumed by Redevelopment, part of the cost would likely come from the City’s General Fund budget. The later is particularly short of money, between 19 and 24 million. The Redevelopment Agency is also requesting budgetary adjustments in the anticipation that tax increment (property tax) dollars will be down. It seems highly inappropriate to spend such money needlessly when faced with the City’s dire budgetary problems.
Some people credited a number of projects to the former mayor and said that “crime was down in the City of San Jose, that library hours had been expanded and the construction of many new buildings have been constructed in downtown San Jose during his tenure.”
Soﬁa Mendoza reminded the Commission that the Convention Center was an especially inappropriate place to memorialize the former mayor, whose action had displaced many people (most of whom were Hispanic) from their homes in order to build that Convention Center.
Kathy Chavez Napoli reminded the Commission that for too long, only a select few had been making the decisions in the City and that fairness required that everyone should know the rules. She requested that the Commission decline making a decision until it had developed criteria so that the decision making could be made objectively, and not because of personal friendships. She also said that having well defined criteria “allows others to know the rules of the game so that they too can play.”
The Commission was also reminded that the rosy scenario of conditions in San Jose that was presented to the Commissioners, was somewhat misleading.
The Commission was also reminded that many parts of the City have been ignored and that ridicule would fall upon the City for claiming an “improved City,“ when in fact so many residents and areas of the City have been left behind.
Just this last week, this reporter wrote about a community meeting that was held at St. Maria Goretti Church, where that community was pleading for police assistance in order to address an alarming increase of violent crime that is hounding them and their families at the schools, on the streets, and even at the shopping centers.
As for extended library hours, the City’s library staff is now considering how best to absorb over $7S0,000 in reduced funding. Already it is thought that the likely way to meet this shortfall will be to reduce
the library hours. The City can hardly cut back on ordering books (a major library cost) because it has the worst ratio of books per capita of most of the Bay Area cities. Reportedly it even lags behind Daly City.
A representative from Dublin, and Irish City Sister, said that he was sorry that the Convention renaming issue had pitted the Irish against the Mexicans. That was a curious remark because no one ever mentioned “Irish.” Sarah» McCall, a spokesperson for the San Jose Irish Task Force, requested that the Commission consider their recommendation that the Convention Center be renamed after a woman posthumously. This recommendation was adopted by the City’s Human Rights Commission. McCall pointed out that the there was a “dearth of memorials to women” in this city, when there were so many that are worthy of such an honor.
The City Council will be expected to act upon the recommendation made by the Historic Landmarks Commission shortly.
It was obvious that the support for naming the Convention Center for the former mayor was felt to be premature with only 3 of the 9 favoring the Fox request and the Commission unanimously voted for the establishment of clear criteria for such proposals.
It will be interesting to see how much weight the City Council will place upon the recommendations of its Commission and how much upon past political associations.
When this subject is scheduled for discussion by the Council, time and date will be announced in la Oferta Review.