12/01/2015 Council Preview – Minimum Wage

Things get busy as we try to wrap up the year. We start the evening with a closed session for the City Manager’s semi-annual performance review. This is followed by a study issue to go over issues related to a potential utility users tax increase. We’ve been talking about a UUT increase for several years now, for a couple of reasons. First, the “base” of our UUT is very narrow as compared to what most other cities do, meaning certain utilities don’t get taxed at all (certain telephone services and some other stuff). Second, our actual UUT rate is below that of other cities around us, which has an impact on our revenue. So we’ll be discussing what, if anything, can or should be done about that.

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Sunnyvale Ranked Safest City in America

CBS News/SmartAsset has released a survey of the safety of the country’s 200 largest cities in America, and in it, they rank Sunnyvale the safest city in America.  The survey’s authors specifically called out Sunnyvale’s low crime rate, our very low vehicular mortality rate, and our extremely low rate of drug use as factors in the ranking.

This is a testament to a lot of different factors. Our public safety officers operate the best safety department in the country. The Bay Area’s lifestyle is conducive to healthy living. And our residents take the time to look out for each other. Regardless of the reasons, yay us!

11/17/2015 Council Preview – Civic Center

Lots going on tonight.  We start the evening with another closed session involving ongoing labor negotiations.  This is followed by our annual discussion of next year’s intergovernmental relations committee assignments.  But the big one is a study session to discuss “planning opportunities and constraints” with various options for the Civic Center Modernization Project.  That should spark some interesting discussions.

There are no presentations or special orders of the day, so we get right into it. The consent calendar includes an MCC agreement with the county, a contract to overhaul a paint striper, rejection of a bid for tree maintenance (one bid was too high, the other didn’t actually address the final IFB terms), a contract for conducting an inventory and analysis of all city bridges, culverts, and levees, and a contract with the Santa Clara Valley Water District for construction of the East Channel Trail.  The final item is another round of council policy streamlining.

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The Library’s Global Future

Slate has an interesting article on the roles that libraries continue to play, and it does a lot to dispel many of the more common myths that are circulated by the ill-informed.  It’s a great read, and I’ll just call out some of the better points that are well-known to those who operate and use out libraries:

  • “…low-income and minority Americans are far more likely than others to assert that they would be negatively affected if their local library closed“.  One of the more common arguments is that libraries aren’t needed because “it’s all on the internet”.  But the reality is that even in Silicon Valley, libraries provide opportunities and access that aren’t affordable by or available to all residents.
  • Public libraries “provide access to economic opportunities available through few other venues“.
  • “…libraries contribute to government transparency and civic participation“.
  • Libraries are powerful precisely because they’re spaces of potentiality“.

The article makes a compelling argument that those who would champion governmental transparency, civic engagement, and empowering residents to overcome income inequality should champion public libraries.

11/10/2015 Council Preview

This is going to be a very long day, although there are a very few items.  We actually start the day with all-day interviews of City Attorney candidates.  That then goes into a closed session to discuss ongoing labor negotiations.  After that is an hour of interviews for Board and Commission candidates.

Despite a two-week break, the consent calendar is small – two second readings and a budget modification.  The modification is to provide ongoing traffic analyses for proposed projects (and paid out of those development fees).

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