Happy New Year!
I am honored that my colleagues nominated me to serve as vice president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors for 2013. And, I congratulate Supervisor Ken Yeager who has been nominated to serve as board president.
I look forward to working closely with him and the entire board, including our new District 5 Supervisor Joe Simitian. We have our work cut out for us as we balance Santa Clara County’s $4 billion budget so that we can continue to provide emergency, health, hospital, safety, recreation, parks, and other needed public services for our 1.8 million residents.
Numbers Don’t Lie: 2012 Was a Busy Year!
- 1 new county supervisor elected
- 88 board and board committee meetings Held
- 517 foster children reunited with their families
- 635 miles of roads maintained
- 1,170 animals placed in homes from the animal shelter
- 9,290 arrests made by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office
- 40,000 cases prosecuted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office
- 55,000 hours of volunteer work at Santa Clara County parks
- 833,350 patient visits to Valley Medical Center and clinics
- 972,605 ballots counted by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters
- 2,603,830 visits to county parks
Also in 2012, I personally drove 12,000 miles on county business, had more than 1,000 meetings, and received 32,000 emails.
2012 in Review
Government Openness. Public trust in government is essential for it to function properly. This is achieved through government openness and transparency. While the District Attorney is investigating recent allegations made against Supervisor Shirakawa, we are changing county policies regarding P-Card (Purchase Card) usage. I made sure that clear and serious penalties were added to the policy to ensure that anyone--staff, executive or elected official--found using public funds inappropriately will be disciplined immediately. Additionally, to provide complete transparency, all P-Card purchases will appear quarterly on a Board of Supervisors agenda for public review. As County Supervisor, I will continue to fight to ensure that taxpayer money is spent appropriately. All five county supervisor offices were audited recently and my audit is here for your review. As you will see, I have no inappropriate purchases, and I never personally used the P-Card.
Economic Development. Growing the local economy is vital for the health of our region. Last fall, Supervisor Dave Cortese and I hosted a series of economic summits focusing on the green economy, health care and small businesses. Expert panelists and members of the public discussed how Santa Clara County can improve economic activity that will lead to business growth and greater employment. Many of the ideas generated are now being evaluated by county staff and will come back to the Board for consideration in the next few months.
Public Safety and Youth. In June, we allocated $25,000 to the South County Youth Task Force to help tackle and remedy the impact of gangs on south county youth and the community. As the county representative on this task force, I serve alongside Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing, Gilroy Police Chief Denise Turner, and representatives from the cities and school districts of Morgan Hill and Gilroy. We also expanded the Child Exploitation Unit in the Office of the Sheriff by adding more detectives to combat child abuse. The unit works side by side with the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children (SVICAC) Task Force, and in partnership with the San Jose Police Department.
Homeless and Housing. Chronically homeless individuals are far more vulnerable than the general population. Since the County launched a new housing program in partnership with Housing 1000, the number of homeless who passed away on the streets went down to 39 in 2012 from 61 the previous year. The $1.2 million pilot program for housing the chronically homeless is modeled after similar programs that other jurisdictions have successfully implemented. The annual cost of providing homeless services falls drastically once someone is housed because they use far fewer costly public services. The program saves taxpayer dollars while doing the right thing for our most vulnerable population.
Social Services. Counties administer many federal programs including CalFresh (formerly known as Food Stamps). Last year, our County had an accuracy rate of 99.17% in certifying applicant households to receive food benefits—better than any state in the country! If the nation as a whole had achieved the same high accuracy rate as Santa Clara County, there would have been a savings to the taxpayers of more than $2.3 billion. This clearly demonstrates Santa Clara County’s commitment to feeding the needy while safeguarding tax dollars. We also launched the new Network of Care for Healthy Communities website which is a resource for persons with disabilities, seniors as well as their families, caretakers and service providers.
Seniors. We added $200,000 more in funding for the Senior Nutrition Program, which provides healthy meals for thousands of seniors throughout the County. We also finalized the "Seniors Agenda" which will improve and strengthen the quality and quantity of services for the County’s 200,000 senior residents. Coming up on Jan. 17, 2013, 9 a.m.–noon, I will be co-hosting an Older Driver Traffic Safety Seminar with the California Highway Patrol and DMV at the Morgan Hill Centennial Recreation Senior Center. Some of the topics that will be covered are myths about older drivers, compensating for age-related change, safe driving tips and much more. Space is limited so sign up now by contacting the Centennial Recreation Senior Center at 408-782-1284.
Parks and Recreation. Santa Clara County’s 45,000-acre park system of urban and mountain parks extend from the San Francisco Bay wetlands to the oak woodlands of the Diablo Range. And the park system is expanding! Mount Madonna County Park will soon be 260 acres bigger thanks to the recent purchase of private land west of Gilroy by the Peninsula Open Space Trust. County residents will also have new recreational opportunities thanks to a new perimeter trail around Stanford as well as new bicycle and pedestrian bridges. The funding comes from a $10.4 million payment Stanford made to the County previously to offset development on their campus.
Energy and the Environment. In order to serve our 1.8 million residents, Santa Clara County’s 15,000 employees work from dozens of facilities from Palo Alto to Gilroy including a 574 bed hospital, 4,550 inmate jail and correction facilities, and county government center. We build and operate our facilities as "green" as possible, which saves taxpayer money by improving energy efficiency. Our new Crime Laboratory is on track to achieve a LEED Silver rating. The Valley Health Center at Milpitas is planned for a LEED Certified rating. Additionally, the County is projected to save $18,630,989 (15.6 percent) in energy costs through a new 20-year contract for fuel cell and solar photovoltaic-generated electricity at county facilities. This is nearly $1 million annual savings of your tax dollars!
Wineries and Agri-tourism. Did you know that Santa Clara Valley is California's very first premium wine production region, dating back to 1798 when grapes were first grown at the Santa Clara Mission? Wineries and agri-tourism are a benefit to our entire region, and they got a big boost in 2012 when the Board unanimously approved my recommended winery ordinance. The improved ordinance streamlines the permitting process, reduces cost to the wineries and continues the County's efforts to promote agri-tourism. Changing public policy is rarely fast or easy, and is often misunderstood as was the case initially with the winery ordinance. But when you get results like this, it is definitely worth it!
Roads. We completed the Almaden Expressway Improvement Project, which will reduce commute time and improve vehicle and pedestrian safety for approximately 150,000 daily users. Fully funded by a combination of local funds (Measure B) and federal funds, the project was brought in on time and under budget!
Animal Services. It was another good year for pets and animal lovers in Santa Clara County. 100 percent of healthy animals who came in to the San Martin Shelter found loving homes. The Animal Care and Control Staff are to be commended on an excellent job of working with community partners to make this happen. Be sure to visit www.sccountypets.org if pet adoption is in your future this year.
I wish you and your family a healthy and prosperous 2013!
As always, you can reach my office at 408-299-5010, or you can email me at email@example.com with your comments and concerns.