June 7, 1991
By Yolanda Reynolds
PACT (People Acting Together in Community), a church-community federation representing over 25,000 families in San Jose, held an evening meeting with San Jose Mayor, Susan Hammer, Wednesday evening at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the city’s priorities as expressed in its budget and the obstruction of access experienced by PACT at City Hall.
The Mayor just announced recently the allocation of $5 million over the next 5 years beginning in Fiscal Year(FY) 1991-92 to ﬁnance a drug and gang prevention program, “San Jose Best” for San Jose youth – a program PACT has long sought. Hammer denied limiting PACT’s access to City Hall staff. PACT shared with its membership a City Hall memo which described PACT’s community activities (in an unfavorable light) and the recent assignment of a Deputy City Manager at all meeting between City Staff and PACT on the basis the City needed to coordinate its services when serving requests from PACT.
Though please with the Mayor’s announcement, the PACT spokesperson questioned the priorities of the City under the new Mayor’s leadership and pointed out that her budget priorities ran counter to the proclamations of support for the neighborhoods which she made while seeking the office of Mayor just last year. Also, many in the audience were not pleased with the attitude expressed in the memo towards PACT. Hammer announced, that in the future, a City manager would not have to accompany PACT at City Hall.
PACT spokespersons were concerned not only about the City’s priorities but the fact that children’s futures were mortgaged by the requirement of paying off millions if not billions of debts that the City has incurred for Redevelopment. The City recently voted extend Redevelopment bond debts beyond the year 2011 to the year 2026.
Frank Taylor, Chief Executive of the Redevelopment Agency was not specific regarding the need for his request to the City Council to extend the bond maturity date.
The City recently approved subsidies for the earthquake retrofit a number of downtown privately owned properties. One of the largest properties needing such attention are those owned by the former mayor, Tom McEnery, and his family.
Mayor Hammer, in response to PACT’s concerns, defensively reiterated her commitment of $1 million over the next five years for the new Sn Jose BEST program and mentioned other programs that have been in place over the years, such as the children’s art program at the San Jose Art Museum.
According to Frank Taylor, the San Jose BEST Program seeks to curb gang participation and drug abuse by providing funds to school districts for programs after school, to improve the safety of the school environment.
The Mayor also announced plans for a second program which is a residential drug treatment center for adolescents. The City plans to coordinate with the County of Santa Clara regarding the rehabilitation program and the financing of its operation. The City has committed another $1 million in FY 1991-92 towards a 50-bed dug treatment center.
Santa Clara County Board member, Zoe Lofgren, was present at the meeting. She said that it made her feel good to note that so many people were concerned about children. Lofgren said that by making the City safe for our children and grandchildren we make it safe for everyone in the City.
PACT spokespersons shared the ﬁnding of research that they have conducted with their membership, regarding the status of the City’ neighborhoods as well as the City’ budget. PACT contends that a City’s priorities are revealed in its budget. PACT says that the City’s youth are not receiving a fair share of the City’s budget.
The City is planning to shorten library hours, parks are unkempt, there is no money for youth recreation programs and the list goes on. The city is so short of money it has already implemented (two years ago) such additional fees and charges to the citizens of San Jose increased garbage fees, and surcharge for police tickets (as examples) which amount to an additional $11 million contribution of the citizens of San Jose to the City’s Fund budget.
In the meantime, the City contributes annually over $70 million to the City’ Redevelopment budget, money that would otherwise go to the City ($11 million), the County ($30 million) and most of the rest to the State.
California is closing schools, teachers are being laid off, the City has been unable to hire police, keep its parks safe and clean, and in parts of the City the children have no place to play because the neighborhoods are unsafe, even on the school grounds. The County may have to severely cut services at Valley Medical Center, the only place that many people in the city are able to obtain health care.
PACT spokespersons say that the city has a five year, long range program for building in downtown San Jose such as an arena more hotels, remodeling at the Convention Center. etc., but no plans or money set aside to address the needs of the youth of the City.
PACT presented another budget list for what they identiﬁed as “frills” such items as $757,000 for art at the Convention center, $100,000 for 10 ﬂagpoles at the Center For Performing Arts, $220,000 for seasonal banners hung on downtown streets, $100,000 for flora and fauna decoration for the San Carlos bridge portion of the Guadalupe River Park etc.
PACT points out that the City has rejected from the FY 91-92 budget such expenditures as a preschool childcare facility at River Glen School, (cost $125,000), $200,000 for a childcare Center next to 40 new units for new low income housing, $1 million for property acquisition for low income housing etc. PACT points to these and other unfunded programs as evidence of the priorities of the City. PACT says it is time to free the oppressed, especially the youth of the City.
PACT says that contrary to reports that the City is safe, it is not.
St. Patrick’s was packed. PACT members were present from St. Maria Goretti. Most Holy Trinity, 0ur Lady of Guadalupe. Cambrian Park Methodist. Alum Rock United Methodist, First Congregational, Immanuel Lutheran, St. John Vianney, St. Patrick’s, The First Congregational Church, and delegations from Oakland, Sacramento and Stockton.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral announced Wednesday evening that it’s church community organization was joining the PACT federation. The former Mayor is member of that congregation.
The City will be adopting a ﬁnal budget for the City’ General Fund and the Redevelopment Agency on June 17
PACT assured Mayor Hammer that representatives of its’ membership would be attending City budget meetings.
Many people in the audience were unsatisﬁed with the continued, aggressive Redevelopment program that, to date, has resulted in increasing City revenues by $5 million from a $500 million investment, according to Redevelopment staff. That 1% gain is hardly a sum tao be proud of.
Mayor Hammer frequently mentioned more programs for the East Side near Independence High School, but though PACT has reported serious problems in the Franklin McKinley School District and Alum Rock School District attendance areas, she did not address these areas.
As an example, Father Kidney said a riot erupted Wednesday at a Junior High School in that area that required 30 police officers and 7 probation ofﬁcers to quell.
How many public dollars have been invested in downtown San Jose is not certain. According to scare literature (a recent Fortune Magazine advertisement) produced by Redevelopment, it is claimed that the City has invested $1.5 billion. In any case an investment advisor would be fired for recommending such a huge commitment of money for so little in return. Indeed, the only people making money from San Jose Redevelopment to date have been the bankers and bond underwriters, some people in construction and the few developers who have received millions of dollars in subsidies.
PACT says contrary to San Jose’s focus on economic development in the execution of San Jose’s downtown redevelopment programs (which seems to beneﬁt a select few). Redevelopment law was, in fact, intended to expand the supply of low and moderate income housing, expand employment opportunities for jobless, underemployed, and to provide an environment for the social, economic, and psychological growth and well-being of all citizens.
PACT, in essence, says the best investment the City can make is not in buildings but in the youth of the city. They contend that the city must do this by developing meaningful long range plans that include, youth recreation, youth jobs programs, support for schools, creative education projects, especially to keep our youth in school, and school, and San Jose BEAST for quality after school programs.
PACT requests that proper attention be directed to the needs of the city’s neighborhoods and its citizens particularly its youth.
If you which more information regarding PACT, they may be contacted by telephone 998.8001.
If you have concerns regarding the budget priorities for the City of San Jose call the Mayor’s office at 277-4237. © La Oferta Newspaper.