tv Equal Time PBS September 8, 2012 2:00pm-2:30pm PDT
san jose is the third largest city in california and the tenth largest city in the united states. so what is it like to be at the helm? >> someone came and pointed a gun at me during the council meeting. >> the focus is on san jose on this edition of equal time. >> from san jose state university you are watching equal time. exploring new issues each week. >> hello from the campus of san jose state university. welcome to this editionover equal time. i'm bob rutger.
when california became a state in 1850 san jose served as the first capitol. throughout the state's history san jose has been on the leading edge which brings a host of challenges. mayors past and present sat down together at san jose university this spring as part of the don edwards' lecture series. >> i want to start the conversation by talking a little bit about the power of the mayor in san jose form of government. as we sort of trace the history of the office through you five and also tom mchenry we see a big change. when norman mineta was elected in 1971 he was only the 59th elected mayor. that gave him a certain power of mayor. beyond that mayor mineta provided over seven council meetings. i think your pay was $3600 a year norm. hope you're doing better than
that now. [ laughter ] and you had a staff of one of two maybe. one. staff of one. john spalding. remember him well. jan that grey haze game mayor in 1974. during her term in office several big changes happened. one a change to district council elections. only the mayor elected at large. also council pay. i think your pay got pumped to $24,000 a year. when council pay started in 1980-'81. and also the council established committees. the mayor had the power to opponent the committee. we had a little enhancement of the power of the mayor at that point. and council got staff. and janet gray you had a staff of more than one. yes, a few. yes. susan hammer becomes mayor
then. and before she became mayor when tom mcenery was mayor gave them the power to nominate the city mayor. and also gave the mayor a leading role on the budget. so we had fairly significant changes over time. do we need to think about a strong mayor form of government. there have been proposals dating back to norm's time. >> we have had years of good government through the city manager semi strong mayor former government. >> and we really are kind of a hybrid type of system. we are not a true council member form of government. we are not a true mayor form of government. kind of a combination of those two things. my philosophy is if you're going to be the nail that keeps getting hammered, and we all have been through that role many many times through our
terms as mayor, then you should be able to put the cabinet together. you should be able to run the city as a strong mayor form of government. >> if you made a list of the well run big cities and poorly run big cities there really isn't a clear argument about which form of government is best. i think there are many important factors in california and no one gets to be in charge of anything. so we just have to learn to work in this collaborative model of getting to six votes at a council meeting and even if i were a strong mayor, i think i would still be having to work in a collaborative model. i don't think it gains us anything. certainly it's hard to say that there is a model that we would be better than what we have. because we are generally regarded as a fairly well run city. despite the troubles we've had over the decades. >> there are a variety of reasons for san jose structural budget deficit. proposition 13 is one.
state fiscal arrangement is one. but public employee pensions are part of that too. so you all were chuck's predecessors as mayor. did nobody see this coming? why didn't anybody see this coming? >> well, you know i can't answer that question directly expect to say you know when i was mayor in the '90s we had plenty of money to do all sorts of good things. redevelopment was thriving. we could build more for the city hall. we built the library for san jose state. the arena, the theater. so no, i don't think we saw it coming. >> i think the other thing that happens is you know when you're trying to recruit particularly when it comes to police and fire which san area i don't think makes sense to be a pennywise and a pound full you have to compete with other
jurisdictions. when i was mayor we were behind in most of the salary surveys that the staff presented to us. both in terms of pay and pension. the other thing that factored in is going to sound strange but certainly 9/11 the impact on this country and the attitudes of people were very favorable to making sure that we had a well trained police and fire service employees. and that led a lot to the benefits that were created then. i often say that when 9/11 hit new york, no one really questioned how much those officers and firefighters that ran into that building were paid or how much their pensions were. and that certainly -- [ applause ] that is certainly you don't want to wish that on any community including san jose. what you try to do is the best you possibly can to make sure your employees are among the
best paid. not the best paid but among the best paid so you are competitive with the outside work force. >> terry 20-20 hindsight is usually pretty good. it's easy to look back and see all the things and decisions that were made, but you know that is really not been the focus of the work i'm doing. i'm just dealing with the fact that the amount of money we are putting into pensions retirement benefits is increased dramatically. so the auditors done some reports you can look at that. there is 82 different factors. but you sum it all up and the amount of many money we're paying out of our retirement plan today is seven times greater than it was 20 years ago. an enormous increase. not only in the level of benefits but the level of payments. so we are essentially a couple hundred million dollars more in dollars than we were 20 years ago. that is a big shift in the
percentage of our budgets and dollars and without regard to how we got here, you know, my job as the mayor is you take it as it comes your way. because you're the mayor and you have to deal with it. and every one of my predecessors had big problems to deal with. this happens to be mine. we are dealing with it to try to solve it so we don't pass it on. >> so during your terms in office, we've spent $1-$2 billion on downtown san jose. redevelopment is dead now. that is huge investment. do you think we got our moneys worth? do you think we are done? >> no city is done. all the great ones continue to grow and i think that will be the case with downtown san jose. i think every mayor here placed the downtown in his proper place. there were times when it needed more attention than other parts of the city.
and each one of us i think tried to deal with that careful balance of how much do you invest in downtown verses the neighborhoods. and what i think that the future of downtown is ready to go, when this economy does turn around in a very strong way, i think the plans are there. i think the only thing missing is a major league baseball team. >> i think every nickel spent in downtown san jose has been worth it. all you need to do is work out of this fine university and see the housing around here. you know. see the public buildings. the tech and the arena where hopefully the sharks are winning as we speak. you know. you can go on. the edition to the museum. you can go on and on. those facilities not only provide very good entertainment, but they bring
thousands and thousands of people downtown every month. if you didn't have that and the parking we spent money on, god knows. i don't know about you out here, but i remember what downtown was like when phil and i moved here in 1964. you know. president is shaking his head yes too. so i think every nickel that has been spent has been well worth it and i'll spend behind that until the day i die. [ applause ] >> one of the platforms i ran on we must make san jose better before we make it bigger. because we were sprawling all over the country side and we managed to have controlled growth so that we did the infilling. that has helped build up downtown. as a matter of fact, they were going to close the museum of
art downtown which was the old post office. but because of this they were able to keep it open with a little help from some of us. >> the police community relations have been a challenge in all of your terms in office. vice mayor newen was around a police community relations crisis, shooting. so have we really made progress on police community relations and why is this still plaguing us this problem? >> sometimes we forget how big we are. we are a large metropolitan area. you know. tenth largest city in the country. chuck, what are we just under one million people now? and when you have that many people living in a limited amount of space, you're going to have issues. and when you are patrolling the
neighborhoods and doing these kind of things, there are going to be encounters. i felt at least during the eight years i wases mayor that our police department was on top of a lot of good things. >> we have a great police department. the men and women have extremely difficult jobs. the kind of standards we set for their behavior. enormously high. far above the standards we set for anybody else in the city. why do we continue to have problems? because we are dealing with human beings. nobody is perfect. our men and women are not perfect and our communities are not perfect. i will put our department up against any big city department in the country by any way we want to measure them and we will come out close to the top of the big cities. that doesn't mean we don't have a lot of work to do. and one of the good things about our department is the willingness not only of the chief but of the police union to w on some of these problems and some of these issues. we have several initiatives under way to try to improve the department preponderate this is a problem around the country in
big cities and small cities alike. it will never go away because we get new crops of people. new officers, new people, new kids. it's a constant issue. we will be the best in the country in most categories. >> mayor reed when you think about metropolitan areas that are very large, i mean how many homicides did we have last year? i bet it was under 20. >> no last year we had 40. year before it was 20. >> last year was 40. >> yeah we had a spike last year. >> that is one month in d.c.. with the 600,000. >> we are still one of the safest big cities in the country. our homicide rate is very low. a lot of good things about san jose. >> in oakland it's like every third day. >> terry let me take the opportunity to enlighten our audience about a couple of good
things that happened vis save crime and gang when i was mayor. this isn't to toot my own horn. these programs are still going on today being carried on mayor gonzalez and mayor reed. and one is the mayors antigang task force which is made up of people serving youth in both the county and city and a lot of cooperation between those two governments. santa clara county and the city of san jose. the city put millions of dollars into youth programs and officers on the street. working at community centers and i certainly think that is one of the things that has kept expect for last year which was very unusual in san jose. but kept the youth violence and all lower than most cities a lot lower than cities of our size. and the other thing was and
chuck, i don't know if it's still going. we had much more money to do good things like this in the '90s than mayor reed is having to deal with today. so recognizing that, i'm not sure this program is still going. but we had something called san jose best. and the city through a variety of sources put several million dollars a year in the neighborhood centers for kids and you know if a child was arrested or picked up, they would go to a neighborhood center. his parents or her parents would be called. the child had a safe haven until the parent could come and get him or her. so you know there were programs like this that i think were you inputted san jose on the map and it still is today for having one of the lowest crime rates of any major city in the
country. yes, there is a problem with gangs. we don't like to see that. but it's nothing like what it would be without some of the programs that both mayor gonzalez and mayor reed were supportive of. >> let me give some credit to susan. it is the mayors gang prevention task force. i didn't start it. susan started it. we're the best in the country. we're a national model. i was in washington last week at the national forum on youth violence and prevention. they asked us to participate because we are a national model. we are a state model. it's something that works. that is one of the great things about being on the stage with these folks i'm really getting the benefit of lots of things that they did. it's amazing how long some things take to do. what ron started i got to finish. what susan started i got to finish. sometimes it feels like nobody
is thinking that far in the future but mayors do. i think as a group. these mayors and other mayors i have met really are looking add the long-term. and we have the benefit, the collective benefits of work that they have done and get back to that other question that terry asked why is it we have an area that is so good at dealing withty versety issues? i don't know exactly why but i know it's impossible to replicate. i will give credit to my fellow mayors by putting us in a position that we are the best in the world. [ applause ] >> on behalf of the forum thank you very much. expect it's very, very difficult financial times and nothing like the four of us experienced. you have done a good job and have been keeping a lot of those programs going. and it hasn't been easy. i think you get a lot of credit for keeping san jose one of the
safest cities. [ applause ] >> what do you want to talk about? talk to us. >> the former qualities of being a mayor. >> yes, go. >> okay supportive and understanding family. >> thank you. >> knowledge of the issues. a thick skin. [ laughter ] and strong kidneys. [ laughter ] is [ applause ] and i just say that you know being the mayor you have a certain sense of power and i just wanted to tell an antidote about what happened to me when we were in the old city hall.
i went over to the rotary club which was in the annex. they stopped me at the door and said i'm sorry we don't allow women in here. and i said well, all right we'll just buy the building or you know. [ laughter ] we already own the building and i said well we'll see about that. so then they let me in. that was a great -- i just want to say also when i went to the first time that i went to the u.s. conference of mayors which was the big city mayors all around the country, i was the first woman there and the guy next to me said oh who's secretary are you deary? [ laughter ] and i told him i was the mayor of san jose. and that made me decide i've got to go back and get more
women elected. and we got a lot of women elected. but we now have policemen at the council meetings. i think i told you that because someone came and pointed a gun at me during the council meeting. and it turned out to be a toy gun. but it certainly looked real. and i lean forward and i just said mr. so and so, put that gun down. put that gun down. and the city attorney and i dove under the desk the same way. and they arrested him. but since then they have always had a policeman present at all the city council meetings. which you can thank me for.
[ laughter ] >> you know as i reflect on having being born and raised here in san jose and that was 80 years ago. this little kid from san jose has had opportunities that would have glazed over the thought of what i might be doing as a ten-year-old or high school student. never imagined taking me through the trail i have been. and there were many times i would think about that. and yet as i reflected on all these positions i have had, including secretary of commerce under president clinton. secretary of transportation under president george w. bush,
mayor, council, there is no question that the best job was mayor of san jose. and i remember when there was commotion by my secretary's desk. so i saddled up to the door to listen. and this person was banging on alice wagner's desk saying i want to talk to the mayor and i don't want to talk to anybody lower than the mayor. that's when i stepped out from behind the door and said there is nobody lower than the mayor. [ laughter ] and whatever you are here for, the answer is no. no, that's not what i meant to say mr. mayor. but to me i wish more members of congress had the experience of people and local
governments. 80% come from state governments where they have been doing the same thing they do in congress. vote yes, vote no. they have never been part of the or being at the other end of the legislative pipeline trying to make these programs work. >> to me one of the interesting things about that panel was that there was a japanese american one of the first asians to be mayor of a major american city. janet hayes was the first woman to be mayor of a major american city. there was one white guy on the panel. we were missing one mayor. that is a diversity of mayors you wouldn't find in most places. the women mayors faced particular challenges. mayor hayes was mayor in the feminist movement. and women really emerging as a
political force. but she helped lead san jose to become what was called at the time the feminist capitol of america. because other women were elected to the city council. women were elected to county board of supervisors. one of the women in state assembly was elected from san jose. there were a lot of women elected officials on the rise. plus when we changed over to direct elections in 1980 -- that was one of the first to have a female majority. a majority of the council were women up until about 2002 i think. so women have done really well in politics and in san jose. janet gray hayes and susan hammer were some of the women that broke the ground that made that possible. >> why? what is the biggest message you want us to take away from this event? >> that we have a history. diverse di has been a -- diversity has been a part of our history. none of these inherited anything. none of them are rich.
none of them inherited anything from anybody in terms of the big name in politics or whatever. norman mineta was interned as a japanese-american in world war ii. his family came back and achieved middle class. and he gets on the council and gets elected. mayor hayes was a housewife that got involved in politics because she was trying to get a stop sign at a crossing for her kids to go to school. which is a way that a lot of women used to get started in politics before there were so many professional women. mayor hammer was more professional. she was very active in the community as a volunteer doing neighborhood work and public policy kinds of work which is how i knew her way before she ran for office. and so on. one message for students is, you know this could be you. these people weren't super stars. you could see they didn't all have the massive amount of charisma. some of them were pretty plain
spoken. and really any student could do it. a little lesson about history. a little lesson about diversity and lesson about really this is a possible thing for people. >> were there any disappointments of the might where you thinking i wish it would have gone this way or some mayors you were disappointed as far as answers? >> i wasn't disappointed in any of the mayors. they all had good stories. i was pleased they were brief. it's hard doing a program with five panelists all of whom are political leaders and could talk for the whole hour and 15 minutes. they were very good about keeping their answers brief and rotating through. my biggest regret is that because there were so many members on the panel, it wasn't feasible to do follow up questions and push them a little bit. for example i asked about the pension crisis, the budget crisis with pensions in san jose now. and i asked didn't anybody see this coming? and they all pretty much said
well no. but we had plenty of money when i was mayor so it wasn't an issue. somebody should have seen it coming. if not the elected officials, than the professional administrators. i didn't get a chance to push on that particularly with hammer and gonzalez the most recent mayors. hayes and mineta is too far back in history. i asked about whether we got our money worth with redevelopment. i think the answer is no. the city spent $1-2 billion on downtown. i still don't think we have a downtown. but they all said oh yeah we got our money's worth. it was all good. i would have liked to be able to have time to push a little biton-- push a little bit on that. that was my disappointment. i didn't get to do follow up questions. >> that does it for this edition of equal time. check with us on facebook and on our website