SJSU in the News: Nonprofit Exec, a Politics Grad, Honored “For What I Believe So Strongly”

Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits exec recognized by United Way

Originally published by the San Jose Mercury News Oct. 7, 2011.

By Mary Gottschalk

Patricia Gardner, a Rose Garden resident, has been recognized by United Way Silicon Valley with its Community Builder Award.

Gardner has served as executive director of the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits for the past 10 years.

The council represents more than 200 health and human service nonprofit agencies in Santa Clara County.

In her role, Gardner mobilizes the nonprofit sector and the people they serve to be advocates and to educate policy makers on the importance of the nonprofit sector and the impact of budget reductions on client care. The council works to ensure that government funding is not cut for critical services.

Prior to taking the helm of SVCN, Gardner was development director of AchieveKids.

She earned her B.A. in political science at San Jose State University and her master’s in public administration nonprofits at California State University Hayward.

“To be recognized for what I believe so strongly in for our community is truly an honor. I feel so overwhelmed to receive this honor, given to me by my peers, by my sector, by my friends,” Gardner said.

The annual community breakfast held at Villa Ragusa in Campbell also honored Ned and Jimi Barnholt as philanthropists of the year; Live Oak Adult Day Services with its partner agency excellence award; and Intel with its corporate support award.

Fabian Nunez

Fall 2011 Don Edwards Lecture: Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez

Fabian Nunez

Fabian Nunez

Date: October 19, 2011

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Morris Dailey Auditorium

Summary: The Fall 2011 Don Edwards Lecture — with presenting sponsor PG&E — will feature Fabian Nunez, former speaker of the California State Assembly. Nunez will present “The Most Progressive Climate Change Law in the World: How We Got It and Where Do We Go from Here?” In 2006, the legislature passed and Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, which set the 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal into law. In 2010, AB 32 survived an initiative challenge (Proposition 23). Former Speaker Nunez will tell us the inside story about the process by which California’s AB 32 was passed, how the policy was formed, its progress to date and challenges of the future. This event is free and open to the public thanks to the sponsorship of The Hispanic Foundation and Latino Leadership Alliance, Cesar E. Chavez Community Action Center, Mineta Transportation Institute, the departments of Political Science, History, Environmental Studies, and Mexican American Studies, the College of Social Sciences, and the Commonwealth Club of California/Silicon Valley.

SJSU in the News: Why So Few Asians and Latinos in Silicon Valley City Halls? Politics Professor Comments

Diversity defines Silicon Valley, except at town halls

Originally published in the San Jose Mercury News April 16, 2011

By Joe Rodriguez

Silicon Valley may have the most dynamic, multiracial society on earth, but you wouldn’t know it at city hall. With the 2010 census in, minorities now outnumber whites almost 2-to-1 in Santa Clara County. Yet non-Hispanic whites hold the vast majority of local city council seats, as well as every city manager’s office in Santa Clara County’s 15 towns and cities.

“I cried when I saw those numbers,” said Ed Sanchez, a veteran community and voting-rights activist in Gilroy.

A look at who holds the most powerful positions in municipal governments shows that the political representation of Asians and Latinos — the largest minority groups in the county — lags far behind their surging populations. Countywide, three out of four city council members are white.

“It’s a little bit shocking to me,” said James Lai, an associate professor of Asian studies and political science at Santa Clara University. “It’s a fair, rational request — should the pool of elected officials reflect the population?”

Especially since minorities together had eclipsed the number of whites in the county a decade ago and in some cities before that. The question of political equality is long-running. San Jose, for example, switched from citywide to district elections in 1981 in part to give minorities a better chance at council seats.

Thirty years later, minorities hold half the city’s 10 seats, but the level of racial diversity has dipped lower in every other town hall but one. Cupertino’s City Council, with three Asian-American members, comes closest to reflecting the population it serves.

A number of forces and reasons, from entrenched incumbents and at-large elections to the diminished power of voting-rights organizations and low voter turnout for some minority groups, have emerged to keep local governments from reflecting the real face of the valley. At the same time, enough minorities have won election to foster some degree of optimism in new political strategies.

Countywide, non-Hispanic whites make up 35 percent of the population in the county’s 15 cities but hold 76 percent of city council seats. All but three mayors are white. Every city manager, the top administrator appointed by a town’s council, is white.

The picture of diversity doesn’t improve much in the seven cities where Asians, Latinos, blacks and other people of color outnumber whites: Minorities on average hold only a third of city council seats.

Moreover, five municipalities — Santa Clara, Los Altos, Monte Sereno, Los Gatos and Los Altos Hills — have no minorities on their councils.

Terry Christensen, a political scientist at San Jose State, said there is a natural lag time of a generation or so before immigrant communities show some power at the polls. But lag time doesn’t explain the dearth of Mexican-American officeholders with deeper roots here.

“By 2010, the numbers should be higher,” he said.

The census results threw some towns into new demographic and political territory as minority-majority towns, or close to it.

For the first time, whites became a minority group — 36 percent — in Santa Clara, a city of 116,500 blessed with some of the world’s largest high-tech companies. While its long-established Latino population grew steadily to 19 percent, the Asian population skyrocketed to 37 percent. Yet the town’s all-white power structure remains.

Asking why sparks furious arguments here, with many fingers pointing at incumbents for manipulating an at-large voting system to stay in power. As opposed to district voting, where candidates run to represent their neighborhoods, at-large systems force them to run citywide. Around the country, at-large voting has come under attack for allowing voting blocs to keep power long after their populations have plummeted.

Some at-large systems are tougher for nonwhite candidates than others. In cities such as Campbell, all the candidates run in a pool, and the top vote-getters fill the number of council seats that are open. But in Santa Clara, candidates must run for specific seats — a system that diffuses the influence of newcomers. The successful candidates in Santa Clara often are members of political families with a network of connections: council members Lisa Gillmor and Patricia Mahan are the offspring of former city councilmen, and city clerk Rod Diridon Jr. is the son of a longtime county supervisor.

“Santa Clara is the place with the most entrenched old-boy and old-girl network,” Christensen said.

Nine years ago, Mike Rod- riguez seemed to have everything going for him when he ran for Santa Clara City Council. The Latino candidate had grown up in town, gone to college and paid his dues on the city’s Planning Commission. But when the incumbents didn’t back him, Rodriguez said it was game over.

“Even though I never had a chance after that,” he recalled, “I still felt I was the best-qualified candidate.”

Mayor Jamie Matthews rejected any notion of racial politics.

“We don’t select people here by race or ethnicity,” Matthews said.

He pointed instead to weak Latino political activism in town, and he said he expects a more energized Indo-American community to produce a winning candidate soon.

One interested outsider has the proven ability to turn Santa Clara politics inside out.

Voting-rights attorney Joaquin Avila, who once lived in Fremont, won a prestigious “genius award” from the MacArthur Foundation for forcing cities with “racially polarized” at-large elections to adopt district voting. He has been watching Santa Clara from his perch at Seattle University.

“Santa Clara is vulnerable” to a voting rights lawsuit, he said.

Avila’s observation raises a question: Where have the Latino and Asian political watchdogs been?

One of them, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, closed its Bay Area office several years ago.

Alberto Carrillo, a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said Latino politicos became complacent after winning the battle in San Jose for district elections.

 “We need to take responsibility ourselves, too,” Carrillo said.

 Meanwhile, the Asian Law Alliance in San Jose concentrated on redrawing the lines for state and congressional offices.

At the same time, the county’s Asian population was becoming more diverse, with many newcomers arriving from India and parts of Southeast Asia. SCU’s Lai says Asians increasingly arrive and settle in new “21st-century gateway cities,” where they tend to fan out as opposed to clustering in enclaves as they once did. That also makes it more difficult to build Asian political power.

Consequently, Asian and Latino officeholders in some gateway cities don’t see district voting as the answer. They see what state Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, calls “pipeline development.”

One believer is Otto Lee, a Chinese-American and the only minority on the Sunnyvale City Council. The at-large system in Sunnyvale has been more open in practice than Santa Clara’s. He and another Asian were elected in 2003, three short years after Sunnyvale became a minority-majority city. Lee said he believes district elections might get one Latino elected, but he’d rather recruit and groom minority candidates on local boards and commissions — a pipeline to the City Council — where they can learn how to appeal to all voters, not just minorities. That would deliver racial parity at City Hall sooner, Lee said.

In another seismic result from the 2010 census, Milpitas joined Cupertino as the only cities in the county with clear Asian majorities. Both have become more than 60 percent Asian, but with very different town hall complexions.

According to Lai, Cupertino’s first Asian council members succeeded in feeding a pipeline to the council, which now has an Asian majority. However, Milpitas’ elected minorities failed to groom successors. Today, non-Hispanic whites make up only 15 percent of Milpitas residents but have a majority on the council.

Meanwhile, in South County, Gilroy became the only town with a Latino majority — 58 percent. However, only two Latinos sit on the mostly white seven-member council. Next door in Morgan Hill, the Latino population grew to 34 percent, but there are no Latinos on the council. The city does have a black council member.

Ed Sanchez, the semiretired founder of the Gilroy Citizenship Educational Program, said Gilroy Latinos should look for a model nearby in Salinas, a Monterey County town that elected a majority of Latinos to its City Council in 2004 after adopting district elections.

But Sanchez says the Latino community also has to help itself, by persuading Mexican immigrants to become citizens and getting more Latinos to the polls. For a host of reasons, many of them socioeconomic, Latinos tend to turn out on election day in smaller percentages than whites, and white-controlled town halls won’t fix that on their own, Sanchez said.

“It has to come from the Latino leadership. It has to come from the heart.”

SJSU in the News: From San Jose State Internship to Public Service Career

A long legacy: Mountain View’s city manager retires after 20 years

Originally published in the Palo Alto Daily News April 1, 2011.

By Diana Samuels, Daily News Staff Writer

In 1971, when he was a junior at San Jose State, Kevin Duggan accepted an internship at the Mountain View city manager’s office to “find out whether this city government thing is really something I might be interested in.”

Apparently he found it interesting.

Duggan spent the next four decades in local government, including almost 21 years as Mountain View’s city manager. On Friday he worked his last day in the same office where he started his career, and today he is officially retired.

Duggan, who took the helm of Campbell for 18 years before returning to Mountain View, acknowledged it’s unusual for a city manager to stay in just a couple of cities during his or her career.

“You can’t plan it,” said Duggan, 60. “I chalk it up to good fortune as much as anything else.”

During his tenure in Mountain View, Duggan oversaw the construction of the city’s public library, creation of the Stevens Creek Trail, and completion of 10 neighborhood parks and three fire stations. Amid all the city council meetings, staff reports and budget debates, he remembers special moments such as shaking former president Bill Clinton’s hand when his plane landed at Moffett Field. Ten years ago, Duggan visited a new company that had just moved to Shoreline, called Google (GOOG).

“The thing that I’ve really enjoyed about Mountain View is that there’s great variety,” Duggan said. “I tell people that there’s never an issue that pops up anywhere that doesn’t pop up in Mountain View sooner or later. It just seems to be that kind of place. Every day is different.”

Colleagues joke about Duggan’s reputation as a “penny-pincher,” a “tightwad” and a “tightfisted” manager of Mountain View’s finances. Community Services Director David Muela said the city’s financial solvency will be “one of (Duggan’s) legacies.”

“It’s been tough for the last few years,” Muela said. “It’s been hard for all cities. I think Kevin has managed to really keep the core programs and services we offer intact.”

Council Member Laura Macias described Duggan as “sort of old school as a city manager. He’s very polite, very respectful to residents and employees, to the council. It’s just kind of amazing how even-tempered he is.”

As a manager, colleagues said, Duggan let people in the city do their jobs and presented the city council with unbiased information.

“He wasn’t a minutiae kind of person,” said Nadine Levin, former assistant city manager. “He had the larger picture. He made sure that we knew, all of us in the organization, what the council wanted and what the community wanted, and it was up to all of us, as staff, to make that happen.”

In a “farewell” presentation at his last city council meeting on March 22, Duggan urged city officials to be good stewards of the “delicate” cohesive culture of Mountain View’s city government.

Not every relationship has been smooth, though. In 2001, Duggan and then-city attorney Michael Martello accused former council member Mario Ambra of ordering city employees to do favors for him. The accusations resulted in a three-week jury trial, with Ambra ultimately found guilty of one count of misconduct. He ultimately lost his council seat, which Ambra’s supporters alleged Duggan and Martello wanted all along so they could horde power for themselves.

“It was one of those things where it doesn’t matter if it’s uncomfortable, it doesn’t matter if there’s somehow some job risk involved,” Duggan said. “You don’t have a choice — you have to confront it. And since we couldn’t get it resolved through counseling and talking to the individual, we had to do what we had to do.”

Vice Mayor Mike Kasperzak said Duggan “got through that experience well” and “embodies the highest ethical standards, in my view.”

The city is still searching for Duggan’s replacement, and Assistant City Manager Melissa Stevenson Dile will take the reins in the meantime.

Duggan said he doesn’t yet have any specific plans for retirement, but hopes to volunteer at a couple of nonprofits and finish some projects at home.

Will he ever attend another city council meeting?

“No,” he said adamantly. “I think 40 years is enough for one lifetime.”

Sam Liccardo is teaching a spring 2011 politics course.

SJSU in the News: San Jose Councilmember Teaches Politics Course

Sam Liccardo is teaching a spring 2011 politics course.

Sam Liccardo

San Jose city council member to teach local civics at SJSU

Originally published in The Spartan Daily 1/31/2011

By Alex Wara

(Liccardo is teaching Political Science 103: Local Government and Politics)

This semester students in the political science department will be able to learn from a current politician. Continue reading